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Thought for the Day: How Ha'Motzi Works

In case this wasn't obvious till now, let me state explicitly: Don't bet your soul and what you read in a blog.  Case in point: I discussed the case of having a grape, kiwi, and strawberry for a snack and needing to decide which to bracha to make first and what to eat first.  Right after I sent it out, I realized I had made a mistake, so I sent out a correction.  I re-double checked this morning and discovered that I was wrong about being wrong.  (Note 18 to siman 211.)  I have fixed the blog and added some details.  I feel it is worth discussing these cases because brachos are complicated, but we tend to learn brachos early in our development as Jews.  It is therefore a good idea to review, especially fun cases like these.  See?  Its not that I don't like to have fun, its just that I have a different definition of "fun" than most people...

First, its a good idea to know why when you sit down to a snack without bread you make all sorts of brachos, but include bread and "Shazam!  Prest-O Chang-O!", only one bracha needed (more or less).  Its really not magic (I know, you are shocked).  Chazal (who predate Atkins and South Beach by centuries) determined that a real meal means you are having bread.  Moreover, the bread is so important, that everything else -- meat, kugels, salads, sauces, etc -- are all subordinate (tafel) to the bread.  That's why you only need make the one bracha of ha'motzi.  A word of caution: you need to eat enough bread for it to be honestly the ikar of the meal.  If you eat one little bite of bread that might not be true.  Which means you might need to make a bracha on everything else.  That gets you into safeik bracha territory; which is very uncomfortable because if you don't have to make a bracha you aren't allowed to, but if you need to make the bracha you can't eat till you do.  Better to eat a reasonable portion of bread with the meal.  The Mishna Brura actually recommends eating a k'zayis of bread at the conclusion of the meal just to be sure.

That's why "oh, just wash" doesn't really work to get you out of bracha sh'eilos.  If you are washing just to get out of a bracha sh'eila, you may have just made the bread automatically tafel!  At that point you are really stuck... now its not even clear whether you need to wash before eating the bread.

See how fun brachos are?  Starvation on one side, chillul HaShem on the other.

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