Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…