Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: The Almost Anything Bracha

Most everyone knows about the everything bracha: she'hakol.  It works, for anything you care to consume orally that requires a bracha.  Why all those qualifiers?
  • consume: it does not work for fragrances.  Nothing substantive enters your body, so fragrances have their own set of brachos.
  • orally: nutrition that enters your body via injection or feeding tube does not require a bracha because you get no immediate pleasure from it
  • that requires a bracha: a catch all.  Drinking plain water when you are not thirsty (eg, to wash down pills), does not require a bracha.  (That's why I add a bit of flavoring to water I will need for exercise.)  Forced eating may not require a bracha.
Sometimes it work l'chatchila.  A food whose bracha is the subject of an unresolved machlokes ha'poskim may end up with a she'ha'kol.  B'di'avad, of course, she'hakol works for anything even if it was said by mistake.  (Darn it!  I meant to say a borei pri ha'eitz!)  Important aside: she'hakol does not work -- that's right does not work -- if you just don't happen to know the appropriate bracha and have been too lazy to go find out.  In that case, says the Mishna Brura, continue your laziness by being too lazy to eat it.  If you have enough energy to chew and/or swallow, you have enough energy to learn the correct bracha.

Less well known, as far as I can tell, is that that is another bracha that works like that: borei minei m'zonos.  That bracha (with the same caveats as above) works for anything except water (including diet soda, plain coffee and tea) and salt.  The reason for those exceptions is the language of the bracha: "Who creates various categories of nourishing foods."  So as long as the food has any nutritional value (yep; even empty calories), it qualifies.  So even if you are about to eat a steak and accidentally make a borei minei m'zononos, you are covered.

As long as we're on that topic, R' Moshe has an interesting chidush about brachos that work b'di'avad (IM O.Ch. 4, 40)  Since the bracha only works b'di'avad, says R' Moshe, you should only eat the minimum shiur and then stop.  The Mishna Brura is not machmir like that, but if it's not too much trouble you may want to cover your bases.

Comments

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…