Sunday, August 20, 2006

Certain Foods in the Middle of a Meal

I've always been fascinated with the way the olam in general views halacha; sometimes justifying non-compliance with explicit halacha by saying, "the minhag is not like that" (standing in place after Amidah), yet other times refusing to budge from code (talking after Barchu). I also find it interesting that there are certain halachos that the majority of people aren't even aware of. It is one of these halachos that I wish to discuss.

The laws of which Brachos to make on foods can become quite complex. Artscroll and Feldheim have both published informative books on the matter. People have various customs regarding making a bracha on foods eaten for dessert. However, regarding food eaten during the main part of the meal, a seemingly easy way to avoid having to make brachos on other foods is to wash and eat bread, thus alleviating the necessity of making any further brachos - after all; once you wash, the bread covers all food. Ahh, not so fast, the Shulchan Aruch (177) rules that:

ואם הם דברים הבאים שלא מחמת הסעודה, דהיינו שאין דרך לקבוע סעודה עליהם ללפת בהם את הפת, כגון: תאנים וענבים וכ מיני פירות, אם אוכל אותם בלא פת, טעונין ברכה לפניהם…

"And those things that are not brought because of the meal, which is, things that it isn't the normal way to establish a meal upon them, to give taste to the bread; for example: figs, grapes, and all fruits - if eaten without bread, they require a bracha before eating them".

This halacha uproots the notion that haMotzi covers all food eaten after it at the meal, and implies that all fruits eaten during a meal, if not eaten with bread (I don't know anyone that eats fruit with bread), requires a bracha. The previous explains that those things that are normally eaten with bread do not require a bracha during the meal, and it lists: meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and cheese. Fruit seems to be singled out as the thing that requires a bracha, as it is never eaten with bread, and never eaten to satiate (at least according to the SA/MB)

Below are a couple of counterintuitive examples of things that do require a bracha in the middle of the meal in addition to those requiring a ha'etz:
  • those things that are brought as a treat, even if their bracha is "ha'adamah" (watermelon, strawberries)
  • chocolate/sweets (same reason as above)
  • fruit soup, even at the beginning of the meal (SVT Shibolei haLeket, R' SZ Auerbach)

Disclaimer: as with anything, always check with your local rabbinic authority.


Anonymous Greg said...

I dont think this has what to do with the olam's view of halacha, rather it's due to most people's ignorance of specific details.

There is validity to the "minhag is not like that" approach, especially when the details are "trivial" for lack of a better word.

7:25 AM, August 21, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Right. I was grouping this, as stated, under the category of "halachos that the majority of people aren't even aware of".

To me, not talking after Barchu is seems just as "trivial" as standing in place after finishing the Amidah, yet you're likely to get rebuked for the former, and certainly not for the latter.

7:29 AM, August 21, 2006

Blogger Danny the Manny said...

How about raisin challah? Should I make a separate bracha on the raisins? Or maybe you'll argue that the raisins are a part of the challah, and cooked inside, so therefore are covered by the motzei. Then, I'll bring the nafka mina of a raisin spread--or even poppyseed--that you might shmeer on your bread when eating it. Would that receive a separate bracha? Strawberry jelly, jam, or other preserves are each typically eaten with bread, after all. Would they get their own bracha?

9:06 AM, August 21, 2006

Blogger SephardiLady said...

I can't think of a more complicated area of halacha that I have tried to learn. I don't think that we can fault the olam for ignorance because it is so counterintuitive, as you pointed out.

9:14 AM, August 21, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...


I am intimidated by your post, not because of the halachic questions you pose, but rather, because you use the word "shmeer" instead of "smear".

SL- I would say the reason it is counterintuitive is because most are ignorant regarding this halacha.

9:22 AM, August 21, 2006

Blogger Danny the Manny said...

How about the other issues involved here? Case in point: I'm at a friend's Shabbos table and they serve fruit for dessert. My friend, who doesn't know this halacha, doesn't make a bracha, while I do. He would then see me doing this and be embarassed that I am halchically superior to him. As a result, our friendship may deteriorate or even worse he may decide to go off the derech.

Or another case where I may be eating with a non-Jew who is aware of the Jewish ritual to wash before the meal, but not about making a separate bracha on fruit. He may come to resent me for constantly be making more and more brachot, and as a result will view all Jews in a worse light. Shouldn't we take these scenarios into consideration before deciding whether or not to tighten our individual halachic knots?

9:28 AM, August 21, 2006

Anonymous The RR said...

With respect to making a bracha on dessert, it's worthwhile noting that R' Ruderman paskened that one does not make a bracha on desserts (and I have heard in the name of R' Mendel Zaks, the son-in-law of the Chofetz Chaim, that the Chofetz Chaim himself, in his later years, held that one does not make a bracha on desserts (contrary to what is written in his mishna brura.) The reason is because, nowadays, dessert is an integral part of a formal meal and is "machmas haseudah" (even though it is not usually eaten with bread. I know of people that act in accordance with R' Ruderman's p'sak but eat some bread with dessert just to be safe.

So don't automatically assume that a person is acting out of ignorance when there often (latter-day) poskim that he may be relying on.

Also, when you say that people "sometimes justify non-compliance with explicit halacha by saying, 'the minhag is not like that'", you should be aware that this is often a legitimate position. One example that pops into my mind is the halacha that everyone in shul should follow the Torah behind that chazan as the chazan brings it from the Aron to the bimah. R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach explains why we are not noheg to do this today.

1:22 PM, August 21, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

The RR - thanks for reading.

I'm sorry if it wasn't clear, but I thought I was pretty clear in saying that I was not talking about dessert in this post when I say, "People have various customs regarding making a bracha on foods eaten for dessert. However, regarding food eaten during the main part of the meal..." I am talking about the latter case, and I am aware that there are various justified minhagim regarding dessert.

Also, it sounds like RSZA, in your case, is just being meyasheiv the already established minhag, not taking a stance l'chatchilah. That being said, I haven't seen it inside, and if you had a source I'd love to check it out.

1:31 PM, August 21, 2006

Blogger Danny the Manny said...

How about regarding dessert? Is the halacha different by dessert? What if you serve fruit for dessert? How about cake? Own brachas then? What about strawberry shortcake which is both cake and fruit?

4:00 PM, August 21, 2006


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