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Thought for the Day: Bracha Before, Bracha After

You can't possibly be getting tired of bracos, can you?  I'm not...

Usually the bracha rishona and bracha acharona go together.  That is, ha'motzi at the beginning will mean birkas ha'mazon at the end; m'zonos => al hamichya; ha'adama or she'hakol => borei nefashos.  There are a few cases that are odd, so I thought it would be fun to go through some of those.  To appreciate why these cases are different, I would like to start by clarifying what we are doing when making a bracha acharona.  One could ask: Am I praising HaKadosh Baruch Hu for the food which He has provided to me, or  for the eating experience?  I propose that the bracha acharona is going on the eating experience and that's why the bracha acharona is not determined solely by bracha rishona.  It is only after all factors that contributed to the eating experience that we know with which bracha to finish.

Suppose you eat a few grapes (more than a k'zayis) and and apple.  Eaten separately the bracha after an apple would be borei nefashos and after grapes would be al ha'eitz.  In this case, however, since the apple is a pri eitz and I am already making al ha'eitz, the borei nefashos is unnecessary.  On the other hand, if I eat more than a k'zayis each of crackers and rice, even though they both take a m'zonos beforehand, you would make both an al hamichya and borie nefashos afterward.  That is because rice is not one of the five species of grain (wheat, barely, rye, oats, and spelt), so al hamichya is not relevant for it.  I got this p'sak from R' Fuerst, shilta, but it is probably a good idea to eat something else that requires a borie nefashos since there are other opinions in the poskim.

Here is an example the other way: if you eat a bowl of raisin bran because you want the bran flakes and the raisins are a nice addition (ie, tafel to the flakes), the one makes only a m'zonos (and not ha'eitz) on the cereal bowl.  Suppose you eat less than a k'zayis of bran flakes, but more than a k'zayis of raisins.  Since you didn't eat a shiur of bran flakes, you can't make al hamichya.  Since the raisins were tafel (and therefore lost their identity as a shiva minim fruit), you can't make al ha'eitz.  In this case you would make a borei nefashos.  Another case where that happens is if you eat half a k'zayis of (for example) grapes and half a k'zayis of apple (or corn, or meat, or any other food that takes a borei nefashos afterward).  Since there is not enough shiva minim to warrant al ha'eitz, the borei nefashos kicks in.  In that case, the borei nefashos really covers the grapes because there wasn't enough to elevate the eating experience to an al ha'eitz level.  Even if you would then find another half k'zayis of grapes to eat, they would not combine with the first k'zayis because a bracha acharona has already been said. (R' Shteinman, as brought by Dirshu Mishna Brura.)

There is more... but I feel the e-hook pulling my off the e-stage....

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