| Halachah |

Brachah Basics

Bring blessing into your life — and into your food


Prepared for print by Faigy Peritzman

I had my coffee in the morning and then decided I had enough time to also eat a yogurt. Should I make a new brachah on the yogurt?

This depends on your routine. If you never (or almost never) have anything else to eat along with your morning coffee, then you’ll need to make another shehakol on the yogurt. If, however, you sometimes eat other foods at that time, then the shehakol on the coffee will cover all the other shehakol foods you eat at that time.

If I like meatballs more than spaghetti, should I make shehakol on the meatballs first even though the spaghetti is mezonos?

Mezonos is always recited first over the spaghetti, followed by a shehakol on the meat, even if you like the meatballs better. But, if before beginning to eat, you mix the spaghetti and the meatballs together on your plate, and each spoonful contains both foods, then only a mezonos is recited over the mixture. This is because the meat is considered secondary to the spaghetti, even if you like the meatballs better.

Must I be sitting when saying a brachah acharonah or bentshing?

You’re supposed to sit while bentshing (at least until “Harachaman”) or reciting al hamichyah, even if you ate while you were standing or walking. Bedieved, if you said it while standing, you’ve fulfilled your obligation. There is no requirement to sit for borei nefashos.

At a shul kiddush, where one person makes Kiddush, am I yotzei even though the person making the brachah didn’t specifically have me in mind?

Yes. The person reciting Kiddush intends to include anyone who is paying attention to his Kiddush who wishes to fulfill her obligation of Kiddush in that manner.

I walk around with a water bottle and sip it throughout the day. I’m not sure if I should make borei nefashos after drinking a revi’is and then make another brachah of shehakol when I take my next drink.

If you’re drinking throughout the day, then you make a shehakol before your first drink and continue to drink the rest of the day without repeating the brachah no matter how many hours have passed since you began to drink. But your original shehakol will only remain in effect as long as you remain in the house or building where you made the shehakol. For instance, if you began to drink at your workplace at nine a.m., and you continue sipping throughout the day, you don’t make another shehakol for the rest of the day. But if you must leave your office building to run an errand, then you should recite borei nefashos before leaving (provided that at some point during the day you drank 3 fl. oz. within a span of four minutes) and then recite another shehakol when you return and begin to drink again.

Is a woman obligated in 100 brachos a day?

Women aren’t obligated to recite 100 brachos a day. This is evident from the fact that women aren’t obligated to daven Maariv and are exempt from positive mitzvos such as tzitzis and tefillin, which would make it almost impossible for them to reach 100 brachos on a normal day. But certainly a woman who is able to accomplish this is praiseworthy.

I grabbed a pear late at night, but I was so tired, I made a shehakol instead of ha’eitz. What do I do?

You may finish eating the pear, since bedieved the shehakol covers the pear as well. But if after eating the pear you became thirsty and decide to take a drink of water, you’ll need to make another shehakol on the water.

I was in middle of eating lunch when I realized I had to drive carpool. I grabbed my food to take with me. Should I say a new brachah in the car?

If you already ate a k’zayis of either bread, a baked or cooked mezonos item, or a fruit from the Shivas Haminim, then you may continue eating in your car without reciting another brachah rishonah. But if you were eating regular fruit, vegetables, rice, or any shehakol type of food, or if you ate bread or mezonos or a fruit from the Shivas Haminim but didn’t yet eat a k’zayis, then a new brachah is required on the food you’ll eat in the car. You’re not required to first make a borei nefashos on whatever you ate at home.

When we go out to eat, the waiter often brings our drinks before the bread. Can I make shehakol on the drinks even though I plan to wash?

If you’re thirsty and the bread isn’t yet served, you may make a shehakol on a drink. If you drank 3 fl. oz. within a span of four minutes, then recite borei nefashos before washing.

I made Kiddush Shabbos morning and also ate mezonos. But when I made a brachah achronah, I mistakenly only made an al hamichyah. Should I now say an al hagefen?

No, you shouldn’t. Although l’chatchilah one needs to recite al hagefen over wine, if you forgot, then, bedieved, al hamichyah covers the wine as well, since wine is considered a filling and nourishing drink, similar to baked goods which are filling and nourishing.

What is the correct brachah rishonah and achronah for rice cakes?

Most poskim recommend reciting ha’adamah/borei nefashos over rice cakes. Although rice and rice products are generally mezonos, this is only true if the rice has been cooked or baked. Since rice cakes are just steamed or puffed, they’re considered like uncooked rice, whose brachah is ha’adamah.

I make my own trail mix that includes about an equal amount of walnuts, raisins, peanuts, and several types of seeds. I also added in a few chocolate chips to give it flavor. What brachah would I say on it?

Since this product is eaten as a mixture, and no one specific ingredient is more important than the other, the brachah follows the majority ingredient. In this case, if the walnuts and raisins together are more than the peanuts and seeds, only ha’eitz is recited, and if the peanuts and seeds together are the majority, then only ha’adamah is recited. If you can’t figure out which group is the majority, then recite only ha’adamah.

In seminary, we often hear Havdalah in a crowd, but I don’t get to smell the besamim or benefit from the fire. What do I do?

If you don’t actually smell the besamim or are not close enough to benefit from the fire, then you have not fulfilled that part of the Havdalah service. But, regardless, you have still fulfilled your obligation of Havdalah, and you have no requirement to search for besamim or a fire to fulfill those mitzvos.

I like dunking cookies in milk, but my husband says I now have a problem with the brachah. Why?

If you’re not planning to drink the milk at all, but only use it as a “dip” for the cookies, it’s considered as if the milk is merely enhancing the cookies, and it loses the requirement of a shehakol brachah. If, however, you’re also planning to drink a little bit of the milk, then the milk will require a shehakol, even if the main purpose of the milk is to be used as a dip.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 881)

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