Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: The Bracha on the Tafel (Subordinate) Food

Such a boring title for such an exciting message... sigh...

First, some background.  Suppose one discovers (much to his shock and dismay) that he forgot to make a bracha before eating that delicious apple.  If he has already finished, then he simply makes a bracha acharona and does t'shuva.  If there is apple left, though, he must now make the bracha rishona before continuing.  Trust me, this is cool.

When eating a bread meal one only makes a bracha of "ha'motzi", even though there is lots of other food.  This is one example of ikar (principle) and tafel (subordinate).  Usually the majority ingredient is the ikar.  One exception is anything cooked/baked that contains any of the five grains (wheat/barely/oats/spelt/rye) for flavor (as opposed to binding/texture); for that sort of food, the grain is always the ikar.  Another example would be chocolate covered raisins.  If your intention is to eat chocolate enhanced by raisins, the bracha is "sh'hakol"'; raisins enhanced by chocolate, "al ha'eitz".  If you want both, meaning that neither is tafel to the other, you make both brachos.

When you have a mixture of ikar and tafel, though, you only make one bracha; the bracha that the ikar takes.  The Chazon Ish explains that the tafel is not exempt from a bracha, rather it takes the bracha of the ikar ingredient.  Since the food is subordinate in this meal, it loses its importance as an independent food and therefore loses the bracha it takes when eaten alone.  That explains, for example, why you do not make a bracha on the frosting you saved for the end when eating cake.  Even though there is no grain food left; you wanted that fat/sugar combo all by itself.  Why not make a sh'hakol?  Because the bracha on that frosting, as tafel to the cake, took a bracha of "borei minei m'zonos" -- which already made

Now... put these two together.  You are eating your cake and are down to that last bite of yummy sugar/fat with artificial color... when suddenly you remember -- horror or horrors -- that you forgot to make a bracha before you started!  Now what?  You need to make a bracha, of course.  But what bracha?  According to the Chazon Ish's explanation, it seems like you should make a m'zonos; but that just feels wrong.  In fact, it is wrong; but why?  After all, saying the bracha doesn't change the food; we aren't blessing the food.  The bracha is first determined by the situation, then you are (supposed to) respond by making the correct bracha.  We already determined (ala the Chazon Ish) that the bracha on that bit of frosting is "m'zonos"!  What happened to change that?

What happened was a little detail in forgetting a bracha till half way through your eating.  Once you remember that you didn't make a bracha -- it is now forbidden to eat more until you make a bracha.  That means you are not going to continue eating, but you are starting a new eating.  That means that you need start again working out what bracha to make.  There is no more grain product to which the frosting could be tafel, so its bracha reverts to its "bare" bracha -- sh'hakol.



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: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

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…