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Thought for the Day: Order of Brachos

I thought to title this "Brachos are So Cool!"; but I may want to write several TftDs on various aspects of making brachos.  So whenever you see a TfdD concerning brachos, please mentally append the subtitle: "Brachos are So Cool!"  (Hey... that makes this interactive; its the new iTfdD!)  Today's thought is brought to you by my excitement had having finally gotten clarity on the correct order in which to make brachos.  As they say, if at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try again.

The Mishna Brura at the end of siman 211 gives a summary of the order in which to make brachos.  Basically, the idea is that we want the utterance of our bracha to express the largest possible praise for HaKadosh Baruch Hu given the foods we are eating.  To achieve that, Chazal have given us an order of preference.  In broad strokes, the order of considerations is as follows.  The narrower that category of food to which the bracha specifies, the better.  Once we are within a category, the next consideration is shleimus (a whole strawberry beats a large slice of watermelon).  Next comes size.  Finally, finally comes what you generally like.

The categories in order of importance are: motzei, borei minei m'zonos, borei pri ha'gafen, borei pri ha'eitz and borei pri ha'adama (one category), she'hakol (no difference between solids and liquids, though the Aruch HaShulchan is of the opinion that solids should take precedence).  What I really didn't appreciate for years is that foods that take either a borei pri ha'eitz or a borei pri ha'adama are in on category.  If you have a strawberry and an apple to eat, you first eat whichever you like best.  I am partial to strawberries, so that would go first for me.  It is only if you like them equally that ha'eitz goes first.  Again, for me, apples and bananas are about equal, so I would eat the apple first.

There is one wild card, namely, shiva minim -- the seven fruits for which Eretz Yisrael is praised in the Torah haK'dosha.  But the chashivus of shiva minim goes by bracha, not category.  So, if I had a strawberry and a grape, the strawberry would go first because I like it better.  The fact that the grape is one of the shiva minim is irrelevant since they are different brachos.  That leads to the famous bracha paradox:  Suppose you like kiwi better than strawberries, which you like better than grapes.  If you have a kiwi and a strawberry, the kiwi wins.  On the other hand, if you have a kiwi and a grape, the grape wins; shiva minim trump anything with the same bracha.  What about a kiwi, a strawberry, and a grape?

The answer to that, why "oh; just wash already and be done with it" doesn't solve the problem, and other fun bracha sh'eilos, soon-ish.  Im Yirzeh HaShem.  Bli Neder.  Etcetera,  etcetera, etcetera.


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