(Before reading this post please read Pas Akum parts 1 and 2)
The Definition Of Pas Palter:
1. The Rama (112:2) explains that although palter is a baker, pas palter, regarding the halachos of pas akum, is defined as bread that was baked with the intention to be sold. Therefore, the bread of a non-Jewish housewife who bakes bread to sell to others is considered pas palter even though it was not baked by a baker. Conversely, if a non-Jewish baker baked bread specifically for his family it is considered regular, prohibited, pas akum since it was not baked to sell.
2. The definition of pas palter depends upon the actual baking of the bread, not whether it was eventually sold or it was given as a gift. Therefore, if a non-Jew purchased bread from a baker and gives it as a gift to a Jew, the Jew may eat the bread. Conversely, if a non-Jewish housewife baked bread for her own family and decides to sell it instead, a Jew may not eat the bread. (Shulchan Aruch 112:7)
Jewish Owned Bakery:
3. The reason that the edict was partially relaxed and pas palter is permissible was because it was too difficult for most Jews to observe. However, the edict remains in effect when it is readily observed. Accordingly, the Shach rules that bread that is owned by a Jew and baked by a non-Jew is prohibited. In such a circumstance it is relatively easy for the Jewish owner of the bread to at least participate in some minimal fashion in the preparation of the bread. The only thing that is permissible is bread owned and baked by a non-Jewish baker. The Chochmat Adam (65:6) also rules in accordance with the Shach.
4. It would appear, accordingly, that bread baked in a Jewish owned bakery should be required to be Pas Yisrael even according to the most lenient opinions. However, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Y.D. 45) rules that one may be lenient in such a situation if it is difficult to ensure that the bread is Pas Yisrael. Rav Moshe argues that the Shach is strict only in a situation where it is very easy for a Jew to participate in the baking. However, if it is difficult to hire Jewish bakers, as is sometimes the case in large factories, one may rule leniently and treat the bread as pas palter. Just as the Rabbi’s forbade pas akum and yet they permitted pas palter due to the the fact that it is difficult for many Jews to use a Jewish baker. Likewise, the sages forbade Jewish owned bread baked by a non-Jew and they permitted it in a situation where it is difficult to hire Jewish bakers.
5. Rav Elazar Hakohen Kahanow zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Torah V’Daas, cites the view of Harav Moshe and questions his permissive view. He writes that according to the Shach, Jewish owned bread baked by a non-Jew was forbidden by the original ban and was not rescinded, therefore it should function like all rabbinic prohibitions and be forbidden under all circumstances. Even though in a factory setting it may be difficult to hire Jewish bakers, this case should still by forbidden under the prohibition of pas akum. (Hamesivta 5753 page 53)
What Is Considered Pas-
6. Only bread made from the five grains (wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye) is considered bread regarding the rules of pas akum. However, bread made of other grains, such as rice bread or cornbread (into which no significant amount of flour from the five grains was added), is not considered bread with regard to the laws of pas akum. These breads are, by their very nature, inferior and eating them will not lead to intimacy. These breads are also exempt from the laws of bishul akum, since they are not fit to be served to nobility (See next chapter).
7. Cookies and Cakes: The Rama, in his Sefer Toras Chatas (75:12), writes that a sweet dough baked with a thick batter (belilah avah, such as cookies) has the status of bread and if baked by a palter, has the leniency of pas palter. Although, the bracha on such foods is Borei Minei Mezonos (which implies that they are not bread), since they can achieve the bracha of Hamotzei by merit of kevias seudah (eating them as a meal) they can be classified as pas palter.
The Rama is referring to the ruling of Pas Habaah Bikisnin. This teaches that one who eats cake, pie, or crackers as a meal (the amount of consumption required to be defined as a meal is beyond the scope of this work and for practical halacha a rabbi should be consulted) must treat the cake, pie or crackers as bread. He must wash, recite al netilas yadayim, and recite hamotzei, and then birchas hamazon after the meal. (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 168:7)
Since all these foods have the potential halachic status of bread, they are subject to the rules of pas akum and pas palter, even when not eaten for a meal. [Were it not for this potential status of bread, these baked items would be considered bishul akum, and not pas akum. There status would then be stricter, since bishul akum is prohibited even when cooked by a professional chef – a palter.]
The Shach limits this ruling to Pas Habaah Bikisnin that is baked with a thick batter (Belilah Avah, such as most cookies). Pas Habaah Bikisnin that is baked with a thin batter (Belila Rakah, such as most cakes), rules the Shach, is subject to the rules of Bishul Akum.
Most authorities, including the Aruch Hashulchan (112:31), Beis Meir (112), Avnei Nezer (Y.D. 94:3) and Pri Chadash assume that even a thin batter of pas habaah bikisnin which is baked is treated as bread and has the rules of pas palter. This opinion is quite logical since this batter could have the status of bread, if one were to eat as a meal, they have the status of bread for our discussion. The Kashrus organization OU follows this view as well.
8. Bagels: Bagels are made by first boiling them in water and then baking them. One might think that since they are boiled they should be subject to the rules of Bishul Akum. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:33), however, writes that since the boiling does not render the bagels even minimally edible, the bagels are not considered to have been cooked. Therefore, bagels are subject to the rules of Pas Akum, just as one recites Hamotzi on bagels.
9. Doughnuts: There is a great debate amongst the poskim as to whether we treat doughnuts as pas (and it is treated as pas akum) or as a cooked item (and it has the rules of bishul akum). This argument is very closely related to a different argument amongst the poskim as to whether one recites the bracha of hamotzei on doughnuts or the bracha of mezonos and if the halacha changes if one eats enough doughnuts to constitute a meal.
The Shulchan Aruch cites an argument amongst the poskim regarding one who cooks or fries a thick dough (doughnuts), some feel that the bracha is mezonos (even if one eats a meal’s worth- Mishnah Berurah 168:70), while others recite the blessing of hamotzei. The Shulchan Aruch therefore concludes that those who fear Heaven should only eat such food during a bread meal. The Rama writes that the common custom is to recite mezonos and to follow the first view. (Shulchan Aruch Rama O.C. 168:13)
Harav Yisroel Belsky shlit”a, in a OU Kashrus Manual dedicated to the laws of Bishul Akum, writes that since normative halacha is to follow the view of the Rama and not to recite hamotzei on doughnuts therefore one can not treat it as bread and it does not have the laws of pas akum, rather it has the laws of bishul akum. It seems that this is also the view of Harav Herschel Shachter shlit”a.
Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l, however, writes that one may rely on those opinions that doughnuts are considered bread and are therefore allowed the leniencies of pas akum (Yechava Daas 5:53 and Halichos Olam vol. 7 page 106).
All would agree that a thin batter deep fried would not be considered bread.
10. Thin Dough – Crepe/Blintz: In the aforementioned OU Kashrus Manual, Harav Yisroel Belsky shlit”a and Harav Herschel Schachter shlit”a explain that the determining factor as to whether a food is a tavshil (cooked item and subject to the laws of bishul akum) or pas (and subject to the laws of pas akum) is whether one would recite hamotzei upon being kovea seudah on the food. As such, very thin crepe dough is a tavshil and is subject to the laws of bishul akum.
11. Pancakes and Waffles: Pancakes fried by a non-Jewish palter may be prohibited, depending upon whether or not they were fried in a significant amount of oil. Pancakes fried in a significant amount of oil are considered cooked, not baked. Even one who eats a meal of these pancakes recites a mezonos, not hamotzei. Therefore, they are included in the rules of bishul akum, not pas akum, and are prohibited even when made by a professional chef.
Pancakes fried without oil, or in a minimal amount of oil to prevent them from sticking to the pan, are considered pas and are permitted when fried by a palter. (Kaf Hachaim Y.D. 112:37,43)
The bracha for waffles is mezonos. According to most authorities one recites hamotzei upon being kovea seudah on waffles and such should be treated as bread and not a tavshil.(See Vezos Habracha page 28, Olas Yitzchak 36)
12. Glazed Bread: The Shulchan Aruch rules that bread that has an egg glaze is still considered pas and would have the permissible heter of pas palter. Although there is egg on the surface of the bread, and eggs are a tavshil and should be treated with the stringencies of bishul akum, it is deemed insignificant in comparison to the bread and is treated for this halacha as a part of the bread. The Rama, however, rules that bread that was made by a non-Jew and that is glazed with an egg is prohibited (assuming none of the leniencies of bishul akum apply).
In the OU Kashrus Manual page 47 it states, “This discussion raised the question that there should be a concern of bishul akum on white bread since it is glazed with egg (and the OU certifies white bread without addressing this)? Neither of the aforementioned reasons apply in this case because bread is served at shulchan melachim and the glaze is on the bread. Rabbi Luban noted that Gr”a (112:14) implies that Rama is discussing even a thin glaze of egg but Aruch Hashulchan (112:21) clearly rules that only a thick layer of egg is forbidden. Thus, according to Aruch Hashulchan there would be no concern of bishul akum for the glaze on white bread according to Gr”a there would be. Rav Belsky said that although the simple reading of Rama does not agree with Aruch Hashulchan’s interpretation, the glaze on the white bread is nonetheless permitted because it is barely visible and is not even the “b’en” which Rama refers to. Thus, although we do not agree with Aruch Hashulchan we can rely on it in this case. [However, the egg in French toast is quite visible and does not qualify for this heter].”
13. The following is a statement from the OU website: “Many cereals may be eaten during Asseres Yimay Teshuva because they lack tzuras hapas (for example shredded wheat and flakes). Rav Belsky and Rav Schachter also maintain that Cheerios is not considered pas, because of its small size and the way it is dried.”