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Can one use any type of bread product for lechem mishneh?
Matzos, bagels, pitas, or any other type of bread, may be used for lechem mishneh.
- It is preferable to eat only pas Yisrael on Shabbos. One who does so, may use bread that is not pas Yisroel for the second loaf. Pri Migadim explains that if one only has loaves that are pas akum, they may be eaten on Shabbos, even though one is normally stringent. (Pri Megadim M.Z. 274:2).
- One may borrow achallah (or any other bread) from a neighbor to use as lechem mishneh, even though it must be returned and cannot be eaten (Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasa 55:13).
- Rivevos Efraim (1:202) writes that one may even use dairy bread (which was made according to halacha, either made in a small batch or with a unique shape) as the second loaf for a meat meal, even though it may not be eaten at the meat meal.
If one does not have a second loaf, hamotzi should be recited on a single challah.
Can I use a frozen challah for lechem mishneh?
There is a disagreement among poskim as to whether a frozen challah that cannot be eaten at the moment may be used as the second loaf for lechem mishneh. The Shevet Halevi (6:31) writes that this should be avoided if possible, since it is questionable if bread that is currently inedible can be used for lechem mishneh. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l (Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasa 55:39) held that if one anticipates eating the bread when it defrosts later in the meal, it may be used. However, many poskim including Minchas Yitzchak (9:42), Rav Ovadya Yosef (Orach Chaim 8:32), and Tzitz Eliezer (14:28) held that a frozen challah may be used in any event. Minchas Yitzchak explained that since the bread is fully baked, and the thawing is something that happens on its own, the bread is viewed as being completely edible even while it is in a frozen state.
A small piece of my challah broke off. Can it still be used for lechem mishneh?
Ideally, one should use challahs that are completely intact. If a challah is missing a small piece, less than one part out of forty eight, there is a disagreement as to whether it is still considered whole (see Shaarei Teshuva 274:1). Many poskim are lenient (Minchas Yaakov, Machatzis Hashekel). The Aruch HaShulchan (274:5) writes that if one has no other bread, they should still use two loaves, even if they are both missing more than a forty-eighth.
If one can attach two halves of a loaf with a toothpick so that it appears that it is one complete loaf, then this may be used for (one loaf of) lechem mishneh as well (see Magen Avrohom 168:4).
May I use very sweet cinnamon challahs for lechem mishneh (the two Shabbos loaves), even though they are more like cake than bread, and their bracha would be borei minei mezonos?
Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:155) was asked a similar question: May one use egg matzos for lechem mishneh? Although there are opinions that hold that certain types of egg matzah are hamotzi, Rav Moshe writes that the dominant opinion is that egg matzah is considered pas haba’ah b’kisnin, and is therefore mezonos. If so, one would assume that egg matzos cannot be used for lechem mishneh. Nonetheless, Rav Moshe ruled that egg matzos can be used for the following reason: Pas haba’ah bekisnin has a status of mezonos because it is a dessert item. However, when egg matzoh is used for lechem mishneh, it is considered to be the staple item of the meal. In halachic terms, we refer to this as kevias seuda, and the bracha is elevated to hamotzi. Therefore, one may use egg matzos for lechem mishneh. From this ruling of Rav Moshe we can extrapolate that cinnamon rolls, or any other cake roll, can be used for lechem mishneh, and the bracha of hamotzi would be recited.
The Machatzis Hashekel (274:1) writes that if one will be reciting hamotzi on a regular loaf of bread, they may not use pas haba’ah b’kisnin as the second loaf. In this situation, there is no kevias seuda on the cake since they are reciting hamotzion the bread and not the pas haba’ah b’kisnin. The cake roll remains mezonos and cannot be used for lechem mishneh.
What is the mitzvah of lechem mishneh (having two loaves of bread at the Shabbos meals)?
The Gemara (Shabbos 117b) teaches that on Shabbos one is obligated to recite Hamotzi on two loaves of bread. This serves as a remembrance to the double portion of mon (manna) that fell every Friday during the forty years that the Children of Israel traveled through the desert. Although the Biur Halachah (263:2) maintains that this is only a rabbinic requirement, the Aruch HaShulchan (274:1) writes that having two loaves of bread at the Shabbos meal is derived from a Biblical reference. Women are obligated as well, since they too were included in the miracle of the mon. Therefore, everyone should be given a piece of challah from one of the two loaves (Mishneh Berurah 167:83). If an individual at the meal has a dietary restriction and can only eat certain special types of bread (e.g., gluten free, spelt), that individual should place the special loaf (even if it is not whole) together with the loaves of the one reciting hamotzi, so that this bread too will be included in the lechem mishneh.