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Hakhel Email Community Awareness Bulletin


Beginning a few weeks after Rosh Hashanah 5772, Hakhel began a daily series on Brachos, with practical Teshuvos in Hilchos Brachos given by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Shlita, author of Halachos of Brochos (Feldheim).  Of course, one should consult with his own Rav or Posek on every Shailah that he has.



Q:  Last year at Kiddush on the second night of Pesach for some reason I forgot to say Shehechiyanu.  What should I do if it ever happens again?


A:  If one recited the Shehechiyanu on the first night, but forgot to recite Shehechiyanu on the second night, he should recite it whenever he realizes his mistake, up until the end of the last day of Yom Tov (Mishna Berurah 473.1).


Understanding the meaning of a brocha will usually help us avoid making mistakes. In a previous post we wrote about the simple meaning of the words of Shehechiyanu.  The Poskim explain that the term “Shehechiyanu” refers to Hashem’s act of kindness for keeping us physically alive. “Keyamonu” means He maintains our spiritual well-being and strengthens our emunah and ability to perform His mitzvos.  With these two great acts of kindness, (sustaining us physically and spiritually), “heigeiyonu”, He enabled us to reach this time and to perform the mitzvah at hand (matzah, marror, etc.) correctly and sincerely.  It is such a profound opportunity, and so easy to become distracted not to have Kavannah and miss the whole thing.


Dear Readers, rabbosei - thank you for reading the 100 brochos shailos and teshuvos that were posted on these Hakhel Bulletins.  In the zechus of elevating our d’veykus to Hashem may we all be zoche this Pesach to the Geulah Shleimah!




Q:  (Continued) – Shehechiyanu at the Pesach kiddush are  there any special kavonos to have?’


A:  Yes. The person reciting Shehechiyanu at kiddush, and the persons being yotzei, should, preferably,  have specific intention to be yotzei Shehechiyanu for all of the mitzvos of the Pesach seder.  Thus, they should have specific intent to include the mitzvos of matzah, marror, and haggadah, and all other mitzvos of the seder. Rav Shlomo Zalmen, zt’l, would announce before Kiddush: “Remember to be michaven well for the brocha of Shehechiyanu and to thank Hashem besides for the advent of the zman also for all the many, many mitzvos we will be performing tonight!” (Halichos Shlomo, Hilchos Pesach, Chapter 9, Footnote 151)



Q:  I am always confused about making a Shehechiyanu at kiddush on the second day of Pesach (the second seder night).  Also is there any special kavonos to have?


A: We will answer these two questions in two posts. Here in Chutz La’aretz we treat the second night of Pesach as a sofek first night (i.e. perhaps the real start of Pesach was on the second night, and thus the first night’s Shehechiyanu was invalid). Therefore, a Shehechiyanu is required on the second night as well (Ohr Zoruah Volume 2, 120).  It should be noted that although we set new fruit on the table on Rosh Hashanah for the purpose of making a Shehechiyanu for kiddush, it is not necessary and would be a mistake to the same on the second night of Pesach (or Shavous, or Succos or Shmini Atzeres) (Mishna Berura 600.5).




Q.  When I make a brocha for lightning and thunder, how long is the brocha good for?


A.  The brocha for lightning or thunder is valid all day--until the next morning--for all the subsequent lightning and thunder of that thunderstorm (Shulchan Aruch 227.2).  If the storm continues overnight, one who wakes up the next morning to lightning and thunder should make new brochos (Mishna Berura 227.8).  Rav Shlomo Zalman, Z’tl, ruled that even if one wakes up before dawn of the new day, a new brocha should be made (Halichos Shlomo, Volume 1, page 267).



Q:  In a recent Hakhel Bulletin you wrote that cereal made from rice flour is mezonos.  I did not understand that.  Shouldn’t the brocha be shehakol?  Even for bread made from rice flour the brocha is shehakol.


A:  You are partially correct in that the brocha for products made from “kemach shel kitniyos” is  shehakol. Kitniyos are beans, corn, millet, and the like (all the produce that we are noheg not to eat on Pesach). Indeed the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim (206:8) states that even for bread made from kitniyos the brocha is shehakol. Flax seed flour is a popular alternative in bread recipes for people who can’t eat wheat flour. If bread were to be made from flax seed it would be shehakol. However, the Shulchan Aruch clearly (208:7) states that products made from rice flour, including bread made from rice flour is subject to a borei mini mezonos, because, as the Mishna Berurah (208. 28) explains, rice and rice flour are satiating (minei mezonos means foods which satiate). The brocha achrona is Borei Nefoshos.



Q:  I inadvertently made a borei pri hoetz on finely ground applesauce. Was I supposed to stop eating and make the correct brocha – shehakol?


A:  You are correct in that fruit or vegetables which are finely ground or mashed to the extent that they are no longer recognizable (i.e., I can’t tell by looking at it if it is ground apples , ground pears, or ground something else) is shehakol. Nevertheless, b’dieved, the borei pri hoetz is valid.





Q:  Could you clarify the following: When I make a brocha and take a bite of an apple will the brocha cover other fruit that I will want to eat?


A: When a person makes a brocha he can extend his brocha to cover other items having the same brocha. He does this by having specific intention when he makes the brocha.  For example, if he makes a brocha on an apple and thinks “I want this brocha to be effective for any other fruit which might be brought” his brocha will be valid for all subsequent fruit.  If he does not have specific intent (or was spacing out) when he made the brocha, then he opens the door to an involved and complicated set of halachic issues regarding subsequent items. (This subject is explained in detail in Halachos Of Brochos Chapter 7). In your case, b’dieved, the brocha will be valid only for the same type of item – more apples. It will not be valid for other types of fruit. Mishna Berurah 206, and Shaar Hatziyon 206.20.




Q: I saw that you wrote that an “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis” should be recited when one sees the Alps.  Our family will be going to the Grand Canyon , do we make that brocha when we see the Grand Canyon ?


A:  Yes.  The Shulchan Aruch states to make the brocha for seeing mountains and “geva’os (heights).  The achronim define this to mean when one sees an awe inspiring canyon. (Shulchan Aruch 228, Mor V’ktzeyah 228).  Two additional points:  Some claim that the Grand Canyon was formed after Ma’aseh Bereishis, as a result of a drying effect, in which event no bracha would be made.  Additionally, there is discussion among Poskim as to whether one would recite the bracha if the Alps or the Canyon was seen through the window of a plane.  Accordingly, one should consult his Rav or Posek.




Q:  Q I take my lunch during my work break in a lounge which is adjacent to a bathroom.  Sometimes the bathroom door is opened when I make the brocha. Is there a problem with this?


A. No. As long as there is no odor, a brocha may be made (Igros Moshe, Even HaEzer, 1:114; Halachos of Brochos, page 20).





Q  As a businessman, I sometimes must attend a luncheon where I can not avoid facing a woman who is not properly dressed.  Am I allowed to make a brocha, or should I not eat?


A.  In cases where you can not avoid facing a woman who is wearing inappropriate clothing, you may close your eyes or face downward (perhaps make believe you are reading your notes) and make a brocha.




Q: May I ask what brocha to make on an ice cream sandwich?


A: First break off a piece of cookie and make a Mezonos and eat the piece of cookie. Then make a Shehakol and eat come of the ice cream without cookie. (Igros Moshe o”h vlm4 43) If a k’zayis of mezonos is eaten within 3 minutes (b’dieved within 4 minutes) make al hamichya. (Halochos of Brochos pg 247). If between the cookie and the ice cream you eat at least one whole k’zayis, but less than a k’zayis of Mezonos make a Borei Nefashos. (M”B 210.1).




Q:  I will be reading the Megillah at an early morning minyan and again a second time for a later minyan.  Since I will have been yotzei the brochos from the first minyan, should someone else make the brochos for the second minyan?


A:  Even if a baal koreh has already recited the brochos, nevertheless, the minhag is that he recites the brochos again at the second minyan in order to be motzi those listeners. (Mishna Berurah 585.5) Don’t forget when you recite the Shehechiyanu in the morning to be motzi the listeners for the mitzvah of Megillah as well as for the mitzvos of Mishloach Manos and seudas Purim (also matonos l’evyonim).




Q: Each year on Purim evening I go tzedakah-hopping to collect for a wonderful cause.  I have a big problem with brochos. I know that some brochos I make in the first house will not work for the next house, but others will work.  Can you give me a clear heads up on what to do?


A: Good question.  Don’t be daunted, the subject of shinui mokom can be a bit complicated.  Ultimately you can get a good handle on the subject by reading Chapter 9 (page 133) in The Halachos of Brochos.  Meanwhile here are some guidelines for this Purim.


The best eitzah is to wash for a k’zayis of bread before you start, and have intention to continue wherever you go.  Eat and drink whatever you want in all of the stops you make.  Make a borei pri hagofen for the first drink of wine, a shehakol for the first candy and a hoetz at the first occasion of eating fruit (wine fruit and candy are not covered by the hamotzi that you made on the bread) and these brochos will cover all the subsequent wine and candy till the last stop - where you will need to eat a small bit of bread and then bentsch.


If it is not practical for you to wash, then the following is the second best eitza for bypassing many halachic uncertainties. (Based on Ram”oh and Mishna Berura 178, and Shevet Halevi volume 10, 41.3)


1- For cake or other mezonos, eat a k’zayis the first time, and have intention to continue wherever you go. This will cover you for mezonos at all subsequent stops.


2- For wine or fruit of the 7 species (e.g., grapes, raisins, dates, etc.) make a brocha at each stop, and have specific intention NOT TO COVER that type of item in any subsequent stop. Make a new brocha at each new location.


3- For candy, popcorn, potato chips, etc., make a brocha and have specific intention NOT TO COVER that type of item at the subsequent locations.


4- At the end, make only one al hamichya (include al hagofen in this brocha if you also had wine, and al hoetz if you also had fruit of the 7 species).  Make only one borei nefoshos for the candy, popcorn, potato chips, etc.  This eitza presumes that you had at least one k’zayis at any one of the locations and that you did not have a lapse of more than 72 minutes between eating.




Q:  Is there anything I have to know or any special kavaanah to have when listening to the brochos before and after the Megillah and to the Shehechiyanu?


A: The most basic rule is that in order to be yotzei the brochos the baal koreh must have specific intention to be motzi the listeners and you must hear every word, and have specific intention to be yotzei.  Furthermore, when the baal koreh recites the Shehechiyanu he must have specific intention to be motzi the listeners with a Shehechiyanu for the mitzvah of Megillah as well as for the mitzvos of mishloach monos and seudas Purim (also matonos l’evyonim) since these mitzvos come but once a year. You, the listener, must have specific intention to be yotzei with the Shehechiyanu for all three mitzvos.


The best special Kavannah for Shehechiyanu (and for all brocha and tefillos) is simply focusing on the meaning of the words that we are saying. This is especially true when we acknowledge Hashem’s kindness in keeping us alive yet another year.  The Poskim explain that the term “Shehechiyanu” refers to Hashem’s act of kindness for keeping us physically alive. “Keyamonu” means He maintains our spiritual well-being and strengthens our emunah and ability to perform His mitzvos.  With these two great acts of kindness (sustaining us physically and spiritually), “heigeiyonu”, He enabled us to reach this time and to perform the mitzvah at hand correctly and sincerely. It is such a profound opportunity--one should not miss it by becoming distracted--and use it to its fullest extent to demonstrate your appreciation to Hashem!




Q:  I would like to know what the brocha is for Crisp Rice cereals.


A:  The main process for making Crisp Rice cereals is as follows: the rice kernels are cooked with sugar and flavorings. The rice kernels are then dried and slightly squashed.  They are then placed in an extremely hot oven for puffing, after which they are toasted.  In another process the rice is ground and made into a batter, then extruded into small pellets which are puffed and toasted. Cooked rice products are mezonos, and rice made into flour or ground and made into a batter and baked or toasted are mezonos. The brocha achrona is borei nefashos. (Halochos of Brochos, page 526).




Q:  Last week, we were about to wash for bread, and I made a shehakol and noshed a slice of salami while waiting for my turn to wash.  Someone said that was wrong.  Is that the halacha?  If so, why?


A:  According to many Poskim if the table is set and one is about to wash for bread he should not make a brocha for any food that will shortly be covered by the bircas hamotzi.  Doing so is called gorem brocha sheaina tzricha, causing a brocha to be made which could have been avoided (the salami would have been covered by the hamotzi.) (Mogen Avrohom 211.9, Mishna Berura 176.2 and Halachos of Brochos page 215).





Q:  I was eating a bag of pretzels and drinking a can of juice.  When I finished drinking the juice, I wanted to make a borei nefashos but was concerned that it would exempt me from the al hamichya.  I was not finished eating pretzels, so I did not want to be exempted from the al hamichya.  Was it correct not to make the borei nefashos?


A: The Mishna Berurah writes (206:8) that if one has two fruits in front of him, for example an apple and a banana, and he makes a hoadoma for the banana it does not automatically exempt the apple – even though a hoadoma made on an apple would be valid b’dieved.  If he had specific intention to cover both the banana and also the apple, some Poskim say it will be valid for the apple.  In your case even if borei nefashos would be valid b’dieved for mezonos (see yesterday’s post), if you made the borei nefashos for the juice it would not automatically cover the mezonos.  Therefore, you would be safe in making the borei nefashos when you finish the juice.  Then go ahead and make the  al hamichya when you are done with the pretzels.



Q:  What if someone does not know how to say al hamichya by heart, can he say borei nefashos, when he ate mezonos and does not have a siddur?


A:  Good question. The reason you presume that borei nefashos will be valid is probably because borei nefoshos can be viewed as a general purpose brocha Achrona.  In fact, there is a machlokes haposkim on this point. Some Poskim are of the opinion that borei nefashos is indeed a general brocha achrona and will work for everything b’dieved.  In the opinion of Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim, Volume 1, 74) one who is required to make an al hagofen and cannot do so without a siddur, may make a borei nefoshos.  The Mishna Berurah (202.42 and 202.55 and 208.62) sides with the many Poskim who rule that a borei nefoshos is totally not valid – even b’dieved – for an al hamichya or al hagofen.  According to this view, reciting a borei nefoshos for al hamichya would be a brocha l’vatolah. (See Halachos of Brochos page 386)





Q:  Yesterday, I had some talmidim over.  We set a platter of sliced cake for the boys. There was one large whole cookie in the platter.  A question arose about the brocha: Since it is preferable to make a brocha on a whole item, should each boy take a slice of cake and one person (like the Rebbi) make a brocha on the whole cookie in order to be motzi all the others?


A:  The Mishna Berurah (213.12) states that the prevailing minhag is not to be motzi others, even though being motzi creates a hidur mitzvah (b’rov am hadras melech - when persons come as a group to appear before the king, it is a greater show of honor and appreciation than when single individuals appear).  Nevertheless, we are permitted to be motzi in certain specific instances.  For example, if a person has a sofek if he already made a brocha, he may ask someone else about to make that brocha to please be motzi him.  Since our general practice is that one does not ask someone to be motzi him just to gain the hidur mitzvah, the Rebbi should not be motzi the talmidim to gain the hidur mitzvah of making a brocha on a sholaim (a whole intact item).  However, if it ever comes up again I have a simple eitza.  Everyone should simultaneously hold onto the large whole cookie and each person should make his own brocha.




Q:  This past Motzaei Shabbos at the end of the shalosh seudos meal, my wife said boruch hamavdil before she bentsched.  She wants to know if she should say r’tzei in bentsching, since it is no longer Shabbos for her.


A:  A Shabbos meal which starts before sundown, even if it continues well after nightfall, requires r’tzei (Shulchan Aruch 188.10).  However, if one davened Maariv in the middle of the sholosh seudos meal, and then comes back to bentsch, he should not add r’tzei to bentsching (Mishna Berura 188.32).  If one made Havdalah before bentsching, he should also not add r’tzei to bentsching (Shulchan Aruch Harav 188.17).  If he said boruch hamavdil in the middle of the meal, it is questionable if he should add r’tzei to bentsching (Mishna Berurah 263.67).  Therefore, the best advice would be that she should first listen to Havdalah after which she may surely bentsch without r’ztei.  If she cannot do that, she should bentsch without r’tzei.  



Q:  We were in Florida recently, and we cracked open a coconut to drink the coconut milk. I wondered what the correct brocha was for the coconut milk.


A:  The brocha for coconut milk is shehakol.  However, a borei pri hoetz made on the coconut exempts the coconut milk from a separate brocha (Kaf Hachaim 202.62).  I presume that you asked permission to take the coconut or that it was hefker (otherwise there would be no brocha on it).




Q:  (Continued) Would seeing the awe inspiring underwater coral formations in the form of magnificent natural coral mountains arches and cliffs require the scuba diver who sees it to make the brocha “Oseh Ma’aseh B’reishis”?  


A: No.  Granted that these sights are more awe inspiring to you than the Alps, and granted that there is no question that a brocha Oseh Ma’aseh B’reishis is required when one sees the Alps, nevertheless, it is not to be recited on coral mountains and cliffs and other coral formations.  The reason for this is that the brocha Oseh Ma’aseh B’reishis may only be made on a natural creation which was made during Ma’aseh B’reishis.  Any natural creation which grew or developed after Ma’aseh B’reishis obviously cannot be the subject of a brocha being made for creations from Ma’aseh B’reishis (Mishna Berura 228.1) Coral reefs often resemble rock formations or even plants but such resemblances are only superficial.  HaKadosh Boruch Hu creates coral reefs from many tiny animals known as coral polyps.  Thus the awe inspiring coral mountains and formations that you see is even profoundly more awe inspiring when you realize that it is made of the skeletons of live and constantly growing coral.  Nevertheless, since much of the formations that you see were created after Ma’aseh B’reishis, the brocha of Oseh Ma’aseh B’reishis is not applicable.




Q:   (Continued)  One sees an awe inspiring mountain or other natural creation and cannot make the brocha while seeing it. Is he permitted to make the brocha at a later time (in this case when the scuba diver surfaces)?


A:  With regard to the brocha oseh maseh b’reishis for lightning or thunder the Shulchan Aruch (227:3) states that it may only be made within two (at most three) seconds after the occurrence (i.e., within the time frame of toch k’dei dibbur).  (If one hesitated for more than three seconds after seeing the lightning flash or after hearing the sound of thunder, he should not make the brocha).  What about seeing an awe inspiring mountain?  May the brocha only be made within toch k’dei dibbur?  Rav S. Z. Auerbach zt”l is of the opinion that one may make the brocha later after leaving the site, as long as he still has the awe inspired feeling (Halichos Shlomo volume 1, page 287).  Rav Y. S. Elyashiv, Shlita (may he be granted a refuah shlayma) is quoted as saying that if he leaves the site he must make the brocha within toch k’dei dibbur.  This machlokes would affect whether or not you may say the brocha after you surface. (Continued in the next Bulletin).





Q:  In a previous Hakhel Bulletin you wrote that the brocha for major awe-inspiring mountains such as the Alps , and for oceans and other natural creations is “oseh maseh b’reishis. I recently became certified for scuba and was exposed to the most awe inspiring sights of underwater coral formations in the form of magnificent natural coral mountains arches and cliffs.  I have been inspired by seeing the Alps, but these sights were even more awe inspiring.  I wanted to make the brocha “oseh maseh b’reishis” but wasn’t sure.  What should I have done?


A: There are really 3 shailos in your shaila, (so this will be continued): 1- Since you obviously were underwater and had a regulator in your mouth your first question is: can you make a brocha without reciting the words audibly? 2- If you must make the brocha audibly, can it be made after you reach the surface? 3- Are coral reefs subject to a brocha? 


1.  Can you make a brocha without reciting the words audibly? The Shulchan Aruch (206.3) states that a brocha must be recited loud enough so that one hears himself say the entire brocha.  B’dieved if a brocha was whispered so quietly that he could not hear it, as long as the words were actually recited, it is valid.  However, if one merely formulates the brocha in his mind without actually reciting the words, it is not valid.  In your case you would have to wait until you surfaced.  So let us continue in the next bulletin.





Q:  I made a brocha on a fruit, then after I made the brocha I changed my mind and wanted a different one, may I do this?


A:  No, you are required to eat (at least the first bite) from the fruit upon which the brocha was made.  For example, if you made a brocha on a red delicious apple and then change your mind because you see a more inviting one, or because you rather have a yellow apple, you must first take a bite from the apple upon which you made the brocha (Halachos of Brochos page 38).




Q: My wife and I were visiting new neighbors and we were offered a drink. We made a Shehakol and partook.  A bit later they offered us chocolates.  When we made the brocha we had absolutely no inkling that we would be eating anything else.  Does that mean that we should have made another Shehakol when we were served the chocolates?


A:   No, your first Shehakol was good for everything your host would subsequently serve.  When you are at home and you eat one item, then later take a different item you must make a new brocha.  However, when you are visiting and are being served by the host, you cannot know what you will be served, so you automatically subconsciously have intention for all that the host will serve (Halachos of Brochos page 120).




Q:  In a previous Hakhel Bulletin regarding the brocha achrona for “trail mix” containing less than a k’zayis of raisins, you wrote:  “If you would have eaten a k’zayis of raisins within three minutes you would have indeed been obligated to make an al hoeitz.”  My question is: so what if there is less than a k’zayis of raisins, would you not have to make al hoeitz anyways because each raisin is a ‘beryah’?


A:  Good question.  Let us divide your shaylah into two shaylos. 1. What is the brocha requirement for a beryah?  2. Does a raisin qualify as a beryah?  1.  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 210:1) states that some Rishonim say that natural items which are whole (such as a whole grape or a whole blueberry) may possibly require a brocha achrona even if they are smaller than a k’zayis. This is because something which is whole is possibly as choshuv as if it were a k’zayis. To avoid this sofek, the Shulchan Aruch advises to avoid eating a whole natural item if you are not planning to eat a k’zayis, but rather to break it, (or bite off a bit) or squash it before eating it. Since many Rishonim are of the opinion that a beryah less than a k’zayis does not warrant a brocha achrona, one is never permitted to make a brocha achrona for less than a k’zayis, beryah or not.  2. By the way, raisins--being dried out and shriveled, are not considered beryah in the first place (heard from Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl).




Q:  I would like to know if I am I required to make the brocha HaGomel on a plane trip from New York to California?


A:   Rav Moshe zt”l was unequivocally of the opinion that a one is required to make HaGomel after a plane trip, because while he was up in the air--regardless of whether he was over land or over water--he was in a matzav of sakonah (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim. Vol. 2: 59).  Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, was also of the opinion that a HaGomel is required for all flights, even those over land (Halichos Shlomo, Vol. 1, p. 276).  However, the minhag ha’olom is not to make HaGomel except for flights overseas. Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach zt”l has a wonderful eitzah for people who have a sofek if they should make HaGomel.  When we recite the Birchos HaShachar every morning, the final brocha is: HaGomel Chasodim Tovim L’Amo Yisroel.  This brocha is valid for being yotzei the obligation of one requiring Bircas HaGomel.  Therefore, one who has a sofek  should recite this brocha in front of ten people (example, be the shliach tzibur in shul to say brachos), and have specific intention to be yotzei for your Bircas HaGomel obligation.




Q:  Continued: We just spent a week’s vacation in a high-rise condo, overlooking the ocean.  Should we make a brocha when we first go out on the balcony and see the ocean?


A:  I assume that the ocean that you overlooked was the Atlantic , the Pacific, the Caribbean , or the Gulf of Mexico .  All of these are connected and are referred to by the Poskim as “Okianus” (meaning the great ocean that spans the world).  According to most Poskim the brocha to be recited upon seeing this ocean for the first time in 30 days is: “Oseh HaYam HaGadol.” (Mishna Berurah 228.2)  There is one important condition--if you live near the ocean, and can easily see the ocean anytime, it is as if you have seen the ocean within 30 days, in which case you are not going to be impressed or awe-inspired by seeing the ocean, and a brocha should not be made.  But if you come from the Midwest or not within close proximity to the ocean, and have not seen the ocean within the prior 30 days, you do make that bracha. (Rav S. Z. Auerbach in Halichos Shlomo volume 1, page 287). 




Q: Continued:  Is a brocha made on a balcony or in an apartment valid for fruit and tea which we take to eat at the poolside patio, and vice versa?


A: A change of location from your apartment or condo into the hall, elevator, poolside patio, or another person’s condo will terminate the eating session and necessitate a new brocha. Since your condo is your own private domain, and the public area is a different domain, the brocha you made inside your condo or on the balcony becomes invalid as soon as you step out the door into the hall. (See Halachos of Brochos page 139). 




Q:  We just spent a week of vacation in a high-rise condo, where we ate our meals on the balcony overlooking the ocean.  We would take our tea and cake and finish dessert at a poolside patio.  If we made a brocha on the balcony, does it work for inside the condo, and for our fruit and tea at the poolside?


A:  It sounds like a beautiful vacation. There are actually three shaylos here. 1. Is the brocha valid from inside the condo to outside on the balcony, and vice versa? 2. Is it valid from balcony to poolside, and vice versa? 3. Should you make a brocha when you first go out on the balcony and see the ocean? We will take number 1 here, and continue in subsequent posts. In general, a brocha made inside a house or apartment is no longer valid when one steps outside. Outside is defined as not under the same roof.  Thus, your question is very apropos, since the balcony probably is not under a roof.  Nevertheless, the Poskim rule that if there is no exit to the street from the balcony, it is considered as another room of the house and the brocha made on the balcony is good for the apartment, and vice versa. (See Halachos of Brochos page 139).




Q:  I would like to know what brocha to make for quinoa (pronounced kinwah)?


A:  Quinoa is not a true grain product and not related to the five types of grain which require mezonos. Rather it is a grain-like crop closely related to species such as beets and spinach. Therefore, the brocha is borei pri hoadoma and borei nefoshos.  Kasha has similar qualities. It is called “Buckwheat Groats” but is neither a true grain nor a wheat product.  Its brocha is also borei pri hoadoma and borei nefoshos.




Q:  Continued from last post:  What should we do l’maysah regarding the machlokes of how to calculate the k’zayis of cakes?


A:  We spoke about the machlokes between the Mishna Berura and Rav Moshe zt”l regarding how to calculate the k’zayis of cakes whose volume comes from ingredients other than flour (Igros Moshe O”C volume 1, 71) . What should we do l’maysah? I asked Rav S. Wosner shlit”o (bal Shevet Halevi) what to advise the oilom.  He advised us to tell the oilom to follow the minhag ha’olom as written by the Mishna Berurah, and any individual who wishes to be machmir can do so.  With regard to being machmir - there is an unconfirmed ruling from Rav Moshe, Zt’l, that the most one would have to add is another quarter of a k’zayis to be sure he has enough to make an al hamichya.  I asked my daughter-in-laws to help with some (very limited) experiments, to make a cake (e.g., a chocolate cake) with just the flour and liquid, and another same cake with all the regular ingredients.  I found that indeed the other ingredients never added more than 25% to the volume.  Additionally, in some cakes the added ingredients made the cake denser and actually yielded less k’zaysim. You are welcome to make your own experiment for your favorite cake (please let us know the result!). 



Q:  Continued from last post--(I would like to know what brocha to make on carrot cake):  What is the machlokes regarding how to calculate the k’zayis of cakes?


A:  There is a machlokes regarding how to calculate the K’zayis of cakes whose volume comes from ingredients other than flour.  As we all know, the shiur of a K’zayis is measured by the cubic volume of the item (See Halachos of K’zayis, p.17).  Suppose the cake can be made two ways:  (a) as a plain cake with just flour and liquid, or (b) as a carrot cake with shredded carrots and other ingredients.  Suppose the plain cake will yield a pan that can be cut into 20 little squares of one K’zayis each.  Suppose further that the carrot cake will yield 40 little squares.  The Mishna Berura writes that the minhag ha’olom is to consider all the ingredients as mezonos and treat each square as a K’zayis (Mishna Berurah 208.48).  Accordingly, if you eat one square of carrot cake an Al Hamichya is required.  Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, ruled that you only consider the volume produced by the flour and liquid.  In this example you would need two squares for an Al Hamichya (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim, Vol. 1, 71).  ( To be continued…)




Q:  I would like to know what brocha to make on carrot cake.


A: The major ingredient of this cake is flour, therefore the brocha rishona is borei minei mezonos. The brocha achrona is al hamichya, provided that you eat a k’zayis of cake not including any cream topping or filling.  There is a machlokes regarding how to calculate the k’zayis of cakes whose volume comes from ingredients other than flour (such as ground carrots). This will be discussed in the next post.



Q:  I am told that the minhag is not to make a Shehechiyanu for new Kailim; would this Minhag also apply to not making a Shehechiyanu for new clothing?


A:  The Shulchan Aruch states that a Shehechiyanu should be made upon the purchase of (a significant article of) clothing such as a suit or coat (as opposed to a new shirt, tie, or robe etc.).  The minhag is to recite a Shehechiyanu for new clothing the first time one wears it, provided that it is a important garment (i.e., one does not buy such clothing every few months), and that he feels happy with his acquisition. (Mishna Berurah 223.17).  Thus, one may recite a Shehechiyanu for a new tallis, and even for a new Shabbos hat if he feels happy with the purchase (Halichos Shloma Chapter 23, par 22).  According to some Poskim there is a requirement to also recite the brocha malbish arumim.  Preferably, one should arrange to wear the garment for the first time in the morning, and when he recites malbish arumim (in the morning brochos) he should have intention to also be yotzei his obligation for the new garment.  (Shulchan Aruch 223.4) He should then recite Shehechiyanu. (Eliyahu Rabba 223.7)




Q:  My partner and I have a route servicing technical equipment.  In one large non-yehudi establishment there is a staff lunch room which has a sign ‘For Staff Use Only’.  My partner usually helps himself to a coffee every time we are there (which is a few times a week).  Two questions, first of all is he permitted to take the coffee, and secondly if he makes a brocha in the lunch room will it still be valid in the basement where we service the equipment?


A: What your partner is doing is considered gezel akum.  The Shulchan Aruch categorizes gezel akum as ossur M’dorayisa (Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 328.1).  A minority of Poskim are of the opinion that it is only ossur M’drabonon. (See Halachos of Other People’s Money, page 33).  In either case, your partner may not make a brocha on that coffee, and you are not permitted to say amain (Shulchan Aruch 196.1).  If your partner gets permission to take from the staff only lunchroom, he may make a brocha, you may answer amain, and the brocha would be valid in the basement of the same building (Halachos of Brochos, page 144).




Q:  I was in the coffee room this morning and started making a shehakol for my coffee but in the middle realized that I had taken a piece of cake and not coffee, so I quickly ended the brocha by saying mezonos.  Is the brocha “locked” when you say Hashem’s Name, in which case it was wrong to change it midstream?


A: When one recites Hashem’s Name, he must be fully cognizant of the purpose for which it is being said.  Therefore, anytime we are about to make a brocha we must know in advance what brocha will be needed, and what we want to subsequently cover with the brocha.  The Rambam is of the opinion that whatever your intention was at the time you say Hashem’s Name is what determines what type of brocha it is.  Most Poskim disagree and are of the opinion that even if you had intention to say one brocha (in your case shehakol) and you end off saying a different brocha (mezonos), the brocha is valid.  Therefore, since you could not end it as shehakol, you did the correct thing, and your mezonos was valid b’dieved.  





Q:  I have enjoyed (and learned from) the brochos “situations” you have published for the last few months, and one occurred to me that I’d like to pose to the Rav.  My wife occasionally makes a casserole that has noodles, vegetables and chicken.  Everything is distinct and clearly visible, and I have no real preference for any one (no ikar and tofel).  I take a piece of pasta and make a mezonos on it, then a vegetable and make an hoadoma, and finally a piece of chicken and make a shehakol.  Is this correct, or should I be making one brocha on the whole dish?


A:  Not all foods cooked or mixed together are deemed a single entity, whereby one brocha, and only one brocha is required.  Only when the pieces are small and usually eaten together in a single spoonful do we deem it a single entity subject to the rule of ikar v’tofel.  Casseroles and cholents are like fingerprints--no two are alike.  Thus, if the ingredients in your wife’s casserole are small and are eaten together on one spoonful the brocha would be mezonos, which would cover all the other ingredients (Aruch Hashulchan 212.2, Halachos of Brochos, p. 64).  When mezonos is one of the ingredients in the single entity mixture (i.e., the various items together can be found on one spoonful) it is automatically the ikar.  The Mishna Berurah (168.23) states that after one makes a brocha on the ikar, he should not try to be machmir by making a brocha on the tofel.  Doing so is not only unwarranted, but more critically it is prohibited as it is a brocha she’ana tzricha.





Q:  Those who eat cholent outside of a Shabbos meal... where there are large chunks of potatoes and meat. What brocha (or brochos) should the Thursday night/Erev Shabbos cholent partaker make?


A: There are a great number of variations of this food--all generically referred to as cholent.  The appropriate brocha for cholent consisting of small pieces of potato, meat and barley is mezonos--provided that the potato, meat and barley are eaten together on the same spoonful or forkful.  Other cholents do not contain barley and the primary ingredients are beans and/or potatoes and/or kasha (eaten on the same spoonful). This type requires one brocha--borei pri hoadoma, which will cover the meat as well.  Yet other cholents have large pieces of meat and large pieces of potato which are not eaten on the same spoon with the other ingredients. This type of cholent requires separate brochos, borei pri hoadoma for the potato and shehakol for the meat, and if there is barley and it is eaten separately or mixed with beans, that would require borei minei mezonos. Finally, some cholents contain kishka. Generally the kishka does not become mixed with the other ingredients, but is eaten separately (not on a single spoonful).  The borei minei mezonos required for the kishka will not exempt the cholent from its appropriate brocha(s) if other than borei minei mezonos. Some cholents contain large portions of meat. Such pieces, not being part of the single entity, require a shehakol. (See Halachos of Brochos, page 80).  





Q:  I usually take my pills in the morning with a glass of orange juice.  I have heard that one should not make a brocha on something one drinks in order to take pills.  Please advise.


A:  You heard correctly with regard to water. A brocha is not required for water taken to swallow pills. However, this is not the case for orange juice, or any other pleasant tasting beverage besides water.  If you drink orange juice with your pills you must make a Brocha Rishona and a Brocha Achrona. (Mishna Berura 204.42, Halachos of Brochos page 201).




Q: I enjoyed the sobering question and answer in a recent Hakhel Bulletin regarding not saying a brocha while engaged in an activity. Sad to say, that a few minutes after reading that I ran out to daven Mincha and caught myself saying Asher Yotzar as I ran to the car, started the engine, and started driving to a minyan.  How can I correct this?


A: We have already taken the first step up the ladder of perfection, by realizing that we have a problem.  The next step is to stop and think a few seconds about the pirush hamilos, before reciting the brocha . The brocha of Asher Yotzar is an acknowledgement to Hashem of the total workings of the human body.  As science discovers tools to probe deeper into our anatomy, amazing facts are uncovered - displaying an awesome intricacy and precision that continuously boggles the mind. Chazal tell us that the frequent act of making a brocha, when done correctly, is a foolproof means for instilling in oneself yiras shomayim (and reality). (See Halachos of Brochos page 5).




Q:  May I ask what brocha to make on sugar-coated almonds?  The sugar coating on sugar-coated almonds can be quite hard, and you may have to suck the sugar before getting to the almond.


A:  Since the almond is the ikar and the sugar coating is tofel the correct brocha should be borei pri hoetz which would cover the sugar (tofel) as well.  If you bite into the candy and eat some of the almond and some of the sugar coating in your first bite, there is no question that you make only one brocha-- borei pri hoetz.  However, if the coating is sucked first without tasting the almond, it is not so simple.  According to Rav S.Z. Auerbach, Z’tl, you first make a shehakol on the sugar coating.  As soon as you are ready to bite the almond you make a borei pri hoetz. (Halachos of Brochos page 418).  In the opinion of Rav Wosner, Shlita, you should make a borei pri hoetz (and no shehakol) even if you only taste the sugar first. (Shevet Halevi, Vol. 7 Teshuva 27).



Q:  When I drink a l’chaim for a Yahrzeit in shul after davening I often drink a small ‘schnapps cup’ of schnapps and two or three crackers.  In a recent Hakhel bulletin the Rav wrote that if one eats a total of one k’zayis of food, containing half a k’zayis of mezonos and half a k’zayis of something that requires a borei nefoshos (all together there is a k’zayis of food that was eaten) you would make a borei nefoshos.  May I assume that the same applies to my situation--and I can make a borei nefashos?

A:  No.  We can take the sum of two types of solid foods each requiring a different brocha achrona and if the total amount eaten is a k’zayis a borei nefoshos is required.  Even if one eats a half k’zayis bread and half k’zayis apple the two halves total one full k’zayis requiring a borei nefoshos.  However, solid foods and liquid drinks do not combine to their respective shiur.  Thus, the schnapps cannot supplement the amount missing for the shiur of crackers, and the crackers cannot supplement the amount missing for the shiur of drink (Mishna Berura 210.1)--but there is another important point to be addressed that may be implied from your question.  May I guess that you really are not a schnapps drinker, and you need the two crackers to offset the undesirable harsh taste of the schnapps that you only took in order to say “l’chaim” to the ba’al Yahrzeit.  If that is indeed the case then there would be no brocha for the crackers, because they are tofel to the schnapps. (Mishna Berura 212.5, Halachos of Brochos page 57).  




Q:  I often quickly take something for breakfast while standing and eating with one foot almost out the door.  Am I permitted to make a brocha while standing?


A: Yes, you can make a brocha rishona for food while standing, or while sitting. Bentsching is different, as you are required to sit for bentsching and may not recite it while standing. On the other hand, Birkas HaMitzvos should be made while standing and not while sitting (according to many Poskim). (See Halachos of Brochos, p. 37).  




Q:  I would like to know the following.  I was on the phone in my office and did not notice that my yarmulke had fallen off.  An associate brought me a coffee and I made a brocha without having my head covered.  My associate told me to put on my yarmulke and make another brocha.  Was that what I was supposed to do?


A:   No. B’dieved if one made a brocha while his head was uncovered, the brocha is nevertheless valid. (Aruch Hashulchan 206.6, Halachos of Brochos, p. 17).




Q: My chavrusa, when he is not learning, works as a doctor, and is a very quick thinker.  Last week he was eating lunch and made a borei pri hoadoma for some vegetables, but after saying boruch atoh Hashem Elokeinu Melech Haolom realized that he had already said that brocha.  In a flash he decided to prevent saying Hashem’s name in vain, by continuing with borei nefoshos.  Was that correct?


A: He sounds like a great chavrusa and a great doctor.  His solution in preventing a brocha l’vatolah was original and very quick-thinking indeed.  I have never seen this advice given by any of the Poskim, but I have seen similar aitzos to save a brocha from becoming a brocha l’vatolah.  The Aishel Avrohom (on Shulchan Aruch Siman 51) writes that he once davened Shacharis and mistakenly said Boruch Ato Hashem Elokeinu Melech Haolom  and before ending with “yotzer or” he realized that he was still in the middle of psukei d’zimroh.  He writes that he would have finished the brocha by saying Shehakol, but did not have anything to drink.  He decided to end the mistakenly started brocha with a shehecheyonu for new utensils that he happened to have.  A friend of mine related that he asked HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, what one should do if he started saying Asher Yotzar and realized after saying Melech Haolom that he had not used the bathroom.  Rav Chaim told him that he should finish with a Shehakol and eat or drink something.  In the case at hand, I would have suggested that after saying borei nefoshos, he wait a while, then go outside for a few minutes. Then come back, make a new brocha rishona, and eat the rest of his lunch.




Q: Yesterday my friend and I davened at an early out of town Shacharis minyan so that we could get an early start on traveling back home. I helped myself to a coffee from the Shul’s kitchen. There were some wrapped platters of cake in a box marked “For Bris – Don’t Touch”. I took a small danish and ate it, but my friend felt it was not right. I reasoned that the owner would not be makpid. As we were leaving the Rav came for the Bris minyan and my friend asked the Rav if he can also take a danish. The Rav said come lets ask the owner, who gave my friend permission. I asked if it was ok that I had eaten a small danish, and the owner said ok. The Rav told me that I should not make al hamichya for the danish that I had eaten, but instead that my friend should be motzi me with his al hamichya. I am totally perplexed by this. Can you explain?


A: That Rav is really top notch, and was totally correct. Since the platters were wrapped and the box was marked “don’t touch” it would be very reasonable that owner would be makpid. Since at the time you took the danish you did not have permission, the danish had the status of a stolen item. According to most Poskim since the owner had not consented before the item was taken, even if he later consents, nevertheless, you were eating a stolen danish. The Shach, in a minority ruling says that if the owner consents after the fact, it is retroactively acceptable.  (See Halachos of Other People’s Money, pp. 26 and 56). The Shulchan Aruch (196.1) states that it is prohibited to make a brocha on food which was acquired illegally. (See Halachos of Brochos, p. 207). The Rav did not want you to make an al hamichya, since according to most Poskim you acquired your danish illegally. Nevertheless, since there is a minority opinion that the consent works retroactively, in which case you would need an al hamichya, the Rav told your friend to be motzi you (i.e., he had asked permission and had acquired his Danish legally, thus his brocha would be valid).  




Q: I see people washing their hands after using the bathroom, and saying “Asher Yotzar” during the process of taking a paper towel, wiping their hands, walking to the waste paper can, and tossing the paper towel.  It doesn’t seem right to make a brocha in this way.  I would like to know what the halacha is in this regard.


A: Your instinctive feeling is correct, those people are absolutely wrong. The Shulchan Aruch states that it is forbidden to make any brocha while one is working or engaged in an activity. (Shulchan Aruch 183.12 and 191.13). The Mogen Avrohom states that even engaging in a simple light activity while reciting a brocha is forbidden, because one is demonstrating that his observance of the mitzvah is superficial and not serious.  Therefore, people should stop and say “Asher Yotzar” as if it is the only important thing to be doing at that moment. B’dieved, if one recited “Asher Yotzar” (or any other brocha) while performing a task, the brocha is nevertheless valid. (Halachos of Brochos, p. 37).




Q:  In a recent Hakhel bulletin you wrote that a person should not make a Brocha Achrona for the wine he drinks for Kiddush before the Shabbos morning meal.  You wrote that most Poskim say that since you cannot eat without first making Kiddush, that wine is needed for the meal and therefore covered by bentsching at the end of the meal. Here is my problem: I usually make Kiddush in shul and eat Mezonos to be yotzei “Kiddush b’Mokom Seuda”.  So when I come home and make Kiddush for my family, I really don’t need the Kiddush in order to eat the meal.  Does this mean that I should make a brocha Achrona for the second Kiddush?


A:  Excellent question. Actually this question was posed to the “Shevet Halevi” in Volume 9, Siman 40. Rav Wosner, Shlita, answers that you do not have to make a Brocha Achrona, because the wine at the second Kiddush is also needed for the meal, i.e., to permit your wife and family to eat the Shabbos meal.  Since it is needed for the meal--it becomes part of the meal and that wine is also covered by bentsching at the end of the meal.  




Q: The other day I took a handful of “trail mix” which contained mostly nuts and raisins.  I made a Borei Pri Ho’etz and ate the mix but did not know what to do for the brocha Achrona.  There was more than a Kezayis of mix, but about half of it was raisins which should get Al Ho’etz, and the other half was nuts which should get Borei Nefashos.  If you subtracted the raisins there probably would not have been Kezayis there.  What should I have done?


A: You were correct in not making an Al Ho’etz on the less than a Kezayis of raisins. If you would have eaten a Kezayis of raisins within three minutes you would have indeed been obligated to make an Al Ho’etz.  In your case, since all together there was a Kezayis of food, the correct brocha Achrona would be Borei Nefashos. (Mishna Berurah, 210.1, Halachos of Brochos pg 382).  By the way, a large percentage of bags of raisins will contain a few raisins that are infested (with larve or pupa of  drosophila).  You can avoid the problem by making your own raisins, or purchasing raisins with a good Hechsher (such as Badatz).  To do this you purchase fresh grapes, remove any rotten ones, rinse well, and place overnight in oven at lowest temperature.  There are Heterim for not checking raisins (see Taz Y”D 64.12), however the Shach argues on use of these Heterim, (since this is not the proper forum, we will not elaborate on this issue).





Q: (Continuation from last Shailah) So based on what the Rav writes, does that mean that when I buy a coffee from the vending machine in our coffee room, and then sometimes I want a second cup, I do not make a brocha on the second cup?


A:  Absolutely correct. Yesterday, we noted that when you buy one bread and leave the store you show that you had no intention of eating a second bread, therefore your brocha was specifically for only one bread. If you change your mind and want a second bread you must make a new brocha. In this situation, when you bought the first cup, you did NOT show that you only wanted one.  You knew that if you  would want a second you could simply deposit a few coins and vend a hot second one. There was no da’as at the time of brocha against having a second cup. However, if you were trying to limit your caffeine intake, and made a brocha on a cup of coffee with specific intention to have only one cup and no more--no fooling, and no cheating-- and then changed your mind and decided to have a second cup anyway, you would need a second brocha. (Mishna Berurah 174.18, Sha’ar Hatziyon 174.25, also see Halachos of Brochos pg 122).




(Continuation of yesterday’s Shailah)


Q: When I start driving to work I make a Shehakol and I start eating, and after about a half hour I always stop at the rest stop and buy a coffee.  Do I make another Shehakol for the coffee?


A: Yesterday we spoke of the Shinuy Makom issue, and said there was no Shinuy Makom. (Halochos of Brochos pg 148) There is another issue: Will a brocha be valid for something you do not as yet own or have in your possession? Since you did not own the coffee when you made the brocha, will the Shehakol you made before the coffee even came into existence be valid? The Mishna Berurah (174:18) rules that if one buys a bread and makes HaMotzi, and when done wishes to eat another bread, and goes back to the store to buy another one, he must make another HaMotzi. That is because when he first left the store with only one bread he shows he did not intend to eat a second one. However, in your case the fact that you did not have the coffee in your car when you made the Shehakol in no way indicated that you did not want a coffee. Since you always (or usually) stop for the coffee it is as if you had da’as at the time of the brocha to also have a coffee. Therefore, bottom line, your coffee was covered with the Shehakol you made when you started driving. (Based on Ma’amar Mordechai referenced in Sha’ar Hatziyon 174:25).





Q: I have a simple question:  When I start driving to work I make a shehakol and I start eating a candy bar, and after about a half hour I always stop at the rest stop and buy a coffee.  Do I make another shehakol for the coffee?


A: Your question is far from simple.  There are actually two different halachic issues, which have very practical applications to many everyday situations.  We will take one issue today, and BE”H continue with the second issue in the next two posts.  The first issue is:  Is travelling in a car itself considered Shinuy Makom, which requires a new brocha. Let us rephrase your question.  You make a Shehakol, and a half hour later you pour yourself a coffee from the thermos in your car. When you made the Shehakol over the candy bar you were in New Jersey , and when you are ready to drink the coffee you are in Pennsylvania .  Does that constitute Shinuy Makom which requires a new bracha?  The answer is no, your brocha is valid for any subsequent food that you may want to eat during your entire drive.  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 178.4) rules that holchei drochim, pedestrian travelers, make one brocha which is valid during his entire travels. The Poskim opine that this applies to a person traveling in a car as well. (Halachos of Brochos, p. 148, based on P’sak I heard from Rav Elyashiv, Shlita). Therefore, if the coffee would have been together with you in the car, then there would be no issue of your not needing to make another Shehakol. We have another issue to be discussed in the next two posts. 





Q:  I would like to know if I forget to say Retzei when I bentsched after Shalosh Seudos must I bentsch again?


A: Since you ask about forgetting Retzei in the bentching of Shalosh Seudos, you are obviously and correctly aware if one forgot to recite Retzei at the two main Shabbos meals, the Friday night meal, and the Shabbos day meal, he must recite the entire Birkas HaMazon again making sure to include Retzei. Most Poskim rule that eating a beizah (2 kezaysim of) bread at Shalosh Seudos is mandatory. According to this opinion, Retzei would also be mandatory. However, there is a minority opinion that one can be Yotzei Shalosh Seudos with foods other than bread. In deference to this minority opinion, if one forgot Retzei at Shalosh Seudos he should not bentsch again (Sofek brachos L’hokel).  (Shulchan Aruch, 188:8, Mishna Berurah 31, Halachos of Brochos pg 318).





Q: In a previous Hakhel post to someone who was not sure that he had bentsched you wrote: When you have a Sofek, if the Sofek is for a D’Oraisa obligation you must adopt the stringent position and bentch again.  Isn’t bentsching always a D’Oraisa obligation?  Shouldn’t anyone who ever has a Sofek be required to bentsch again?


A: The Torah commands: And you shall eat and you shall be satiated, and you shall make a brocha to Hashem… (Devorim 8.10). Since the Torah connects bentsching with being satiated, the  D’Oraisa obligation is only when one ate enough and became satiated. (S. Aruch 194.4)  When a person washes for bread and eats a meal, but is not satiated, then his obligation to bentsch is Mi’Drabbonon. After such a meal, if he is not sure that he bentsched, he is not permitted to bentsch M’sofek.  For more details of what is considered “satiated” see Halachos of Brochos p. 285, note 16.




Q: My son will become bar mitzvah in a few months. I am very proud of him because he is very excited about being Mekayeim the mitzvah of Tefillin. Is it proper to make a Shehechiyanu when he performs the mitzvah on the day of his bar mitzvah? 

A: May you have a lifetime of Yiddisher nachas from your son. Most Poskim rule that a Shehechiyanu may only be recited for a mitzvah which regularly occurs once a year (e.g. shofar, lulav, etc.), and not for a mitzvah being performed for the first time. (M”B 22.2). The Poskim advise, therefore, that when performing a mitzvah for the first time one should preferably create a situation whereby he will be obligated to legitimately make a Shehechiyanu for another reason. (Biur Halacha22). Hagoan Rav Shlomo Zalmen, Z’tl, gave his sons new Tefillin a month before their respective bar mitzvas, but stipulated that the Tefillin will not become their property until the day of their bar mitzvah. On the day of the bar mitzvah, he instructed them to recite a Shehechiyanu and have specific intention both for the first time performance of the mitzvah as an adult, and also for the joy of acquiring a new pair of Tefillin.




Q: The other night I was eating dinner (not with bread) with my family, when my wife discovered that we were out of drinks for the kids. She dispatched me to a nearby store to buy drinks. Was I required to make new brochos when I came back and resumed eating?


A: You are correct about this being a Shailah of Shinuy Makom.  Usually when one leaves the location in the middle of eating and then returns he must make a new Bracha Rishona.  There are a number of exceptions, and your case is one of them.  If one is eating with others (family, or friends) and they are still at the table waiting for him, his meal continues when he leaves and then returns, and he may continue eating without a new brocha when he returns. (Shulchan Aruch, 178:2, Halachos of Brochos, p. 145).





Q: In your recent Hakhel Bulletin you wrote that to avoid the halachic uncertainty of making a bracha when tasting food one should “first make a bracha and eat a bit of a food for enjoyment rather than for tasting, then she may continue tasting for the next half hour without a new bracha being necessary”. What is the source for only half an hour?  What caused the bracha Rishona to be interrupted?  In fact, Rabbi Bodner himself writes (Halachos of Brochos) on pages 157-158 that a lapse of time does not affect a Bracha Rishona.


A: There is a Machlokes between the Mogen Avrohom whose opinion is to make a new Bracha Rishona after shiur ikul, and most other Poskim.  The Mishna Berura rules in accordance to the opinion of most Poskim.  Therefore if one already ate a snack and later wishes to eat another snack even (after shiur ikul has elapsed), he should not make a new Bracha Rishona. However, if one plans to eat small amounts over an extended period of time (with lapses of a half hour), he should not cover all that he plans to eat with one bracha.  Rather, if more than a half hour will elapse until the next snack, he should make a Bracha Achrona after each snack and a new Bracha Rishona for the next one.  If each snack does not require a Bracha Achrona (i.e. less than a Kezayis), then before he starts--before he makes the first Bracha Rishona, he should have specific intention not to include the food which might subsequently be eaten.  Then when he eats again after a half hour or more, he makes a new bracha. (See first Biur Halacha, 190; Minchas Yitzchak (5: 102); and Halachos of Brochos, p. 163).   




Q I would like to know what bracha should be made for rice cakes made from corn.


A. Products made from corn flour would require a Shehakol, but since the “rice cakes made from corn” are made from corn kernels which are whole and intact like popped corn the brocha would be Hoadoma and Borei Nefashos.





Q: May I ask what brocha to make on ice cream in a cone?


A: . Most people eat ice cream cones to enhance the ice cream.  Therefore, the ice cream requires a Shehakol, and the cone (even though it is a tofel) requires a Mezonos (thus two brachos rishona are to be made).  If wafer cone is used in place of a cup (just a convenient way of holding ice cream and eating it without a cup or plate) no brocha is required for the cone.  If you do not eat a k’zayis within a maximum of 6 minutes (i.e., you lick the ice cream and nibble on the cone) then no brocha achrona at all is required.





Q: My office will be having a small Chanukah party today.  I ordered potato latkes with sour cream and apple sauce and jelly doughnuts.  What are the correct brachos?


A: Mezonos for the doughnuts, no additional brocha for the jelly.  Hoadoma for the latkes, no additional brocha for the sour cream or for the apple sauce eaten together with the latke. (Halachos of Brochos, p. 58).




Q:  Erev Shabbos my Chanukah menorah was set up next to my neighbor’s menorah. He lit my menorah by mistake, and rushed off to shul. There was no time before Shabbos to run and ask him permission to light his menorah. So I just lit his. Was I correct?


A:  When similar items are mistakenly switched, such as switched galoshes in shul, it is customary for people not to mind if the other person uses theirs. Therefore you were correct. (Based on Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. V 9, 7, see Halachos of Other People’s Money p. 199).





Q:  This Chanukah we are staying in a hotel. The hotel provides our group with a ballroom where we daven and have our kosher catered meals. The ball room does not have windows to the outside. The hotel dose not allow candle lighting in the bedrooms. Should we light in the bedrooms anyway, since only the bedrooms have windows to the outside, and hopefully they will not go so far as asking us to put it out, or should we just light in the ballroom?


A. Since the hotel specifically does not allow placement of the Chanukah menorah in the bedrooms, doing so would be considered “gezel”. (See Halachos of Other Peoples Money pg 55, note 132). The Shulchan Aruch rules that gezel of an akum is totally asur. ( S Aruch C”M 348, Halachos of Other Peoples Money pg 32).Therefore doing the mitzvah of lighting in the bedroom would be considered “mitzvah haboah b’avairah”. Thus you should light in the ballroom, where there is ample parsumei nissa for your Jewish family/group.




Q: My wife is an exceptional cook, but is always busy tasting the food till she feels it is perfect. She would like to know if she is required to make a brocha whenever she tastes her food.’


A: If she can taste the food by savoring it in her mouth without swallowing, she may do so without making a brocha.  If she feels that this is not practical, then she do as the Mishnah Berura advises which is to first make a brocha and eat a bit of the food for enjoyment rather than for tasting, then she may continue tasting for the next half hour without a new bracha being necessary. (Mishnah Berura 210:19, Halachos of Brochos, p. 204).




Q: What bracha do I make if I want to eat a half of a cheese blintz, where the Mezonos part is less than a Kezayis?


A: The brocha rishona is Mezonos. For the brocha achrona you may not make an Al Hamichya since you did not eat a Kezayis of Mezonos. Normally a Borei Nefashos is not valid for a k’zayis of Mezonos. However, in situations where you have part of a Kezayis Mezonos and the other part of a Kezayis Borei Nefashos (all together there is a Kezayis of food that was eaten) you would make a Borei Nefashos. (Halachos of Brochos pg 382).




Q:  Last year I forgot to say Shehechiyanu on the lighting of the first night of Chanukah. Somehow I did not realize it until the third night. I thought that since the happiness of the arrival of Chanukah was over, I would not have to make the Shehechiyanu at that time. Was that right?


A.  Unfortunately, it was not right. If one forgot to recite the Shehechiyanu, he should recite it the next night when he performs the mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah menorah. If he forgot to recite it the second night he must recite it the third night and so on, until the last night of Chanukah.




Q: I would like to know what to do if I forget to say Al HaNisim in bentsching.


A: First of all, if you forgot Al HaNisim and finished bentsching you are not required to bentsch again. If you realized your mistake right away before concluding the second brocha of bentsching (i.e. you said Boruch Atah and were about to finish the brocha of “Nodeh L’cho and caught the mistake before saying “Hashem”- you should recite Al Hanisim at that point, and then conclude the brocha Boruch Atah Hashem Al Ha’aretz V’al HaMazon. If you realized your mistake after that point (after saying Hashem in that second brocha), you should not go back, but you still have one eitzah. You should continue bentsching till after you recite the HaRachaman text, then add Al HaNisim to the end of the HaRachaman text: HaRachaman Hu Ya’aseh Lanu Nissim VeNeflaos Ka’asher Asah LaAvoseinu Bayamim HaHem BaZeman Hazeh (Shulchan Aruch 682,1, Halachos of Brochos p. 320)





Q:  The other night we were eating supper and I had forgotten if I had made a particular brocha. My wife was about to make that brocha.  In a situation such as this may I ask my wife to be Motzi me, and will a woman’s recital help for a man’s bracha obligation?


A: Yes, your wife could and should be Motzi you to help you bypass your Sofek.  The Gemorah (Succah 38.2) states that a woman may be Motzi a man, but cursed is the man who has not learned how to make a brocha and must rely on his wife.  In your case you have done nothing wrong, you know how to make a brocha but have a Sofek.  It is, therefore, perfectly fine for your wife to be Motzi you.  She may not be Motzi a group of men, but she may be Motzi a group of women.  (Tosafos ibid, Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Halachos of Brochos p. 196)





Q:  I heard that it is not so pashut that the wine I drink for Kiddush before my Shabbos meal is covered by bentsching, and that I should have Kavannah when I bentsch to include the wine I drank for Kiddush and also for the wine that I drank during the meal. Is what I heard some type of chumrah, or is it required?


A:  In two situations wine before the meal would automatically be covered by bentsching and would not need special Kavannah at bentsching to cover it. If you drink wine to give yourself an appetite to eat the meal, it would be covered by bentsching, because the wine before the meal is being used for the meal. If you drink wine before the meal and make a Borei Pri Hagofen with specific intention to exempt the wine you plan to drink during the meal, that wine before the meal is also covered by bentsching, because it too is being used for the meal. Wine used solely for Kiddush is subject to a Machlokes Rishonim. Most say that since you cannot eat without first making Kiddush that wine is needed for the meal and covered by bentsching. Others say since it is not being used as an appetizer, or to exempt wine in the meal, it is not really part of the meal. The Poskim advise that although we accept the first view, nevertheless, in this case when you benstch have Kavannah for the wine from Kiddush. (Biur Halacha 174.6, Halachos of Brochos pg 332).





Q:  On Shabbos we like to mix wine with seltzer. What is the bracha?


A:  The criteria for whether to make a Borei Pri Hagofen or Shehakol is as follows:  If most people would drink this particular mixture in place of wine (e.g., it tastes just like wine) then the brocha is Hagofen.  If most people would not consider this drink to be wine mamash then the bracha would be Shehakol.  Practically speaking, I think you will find that even a small amount of water will corrupt the taste of any of today’s wines.  However, if you drink the mixture at the Seuda, and it required a Shehakol - the Hamotzi will cover it.  If it required a Hagofen--the Hagofen you made for Kiddush will cover it. (See Halachos of Brochos pg 448).





Q: I am aware that if I eat a large amount of Pas Haboh B’kisnin (bread family product), I must wash and bentsch. On Chanukah, my office supplies us with what seems to be an unlimited supply of jelly doughnuts.  Some of us could get pretty full from coffee break.  It would not be too comfortable to wash and bentsch, but if we have to we will.  What is the halacha?


A: Doughnuts are generally made from dough which is deep fried. According to most Poskim they are not considered Pas Haboh B’kisnin, and there would be no requirement to wash and bentsch. (Halachos of Brochos, p. 497). 




Q  My 10 year old son ate supper with bread but did not remember if he bentsched. What should I tell him?


A. A child’s obligation to bentsch is Mid’rabonon, and therefore, technically he is not required to bentsch again.  However, since an adult (who is satiated) who is in this situation must bentsch again, we are required to instruct the child to bentsch. (Halachos of Brochos p. 296).




Q: We have been struggling with a clunker of a car for a few years.  We just bought a used car, which to us is equivalent to a luxury car.  Should we make a Shehechiyanu?


A: Although the minhag is not to make a Shehechiyanu for kaylim, nevertheless, if this new acquisition brings you and your family such joy that you really want to recite a brocha, you are permitted to recite a Shehechiyanu.  However, bear in mind that if your wife and/or children and/or others will benefit from this purchase, the brocha would be HaTov V’Hamaytiv. (Heard from Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Z’tl).





Q  In a recent Hakhel Community Bulletin you wrote that the brocha for rice cakes is hoadoma and borei nefoshos. I buy what looks like square rice cakes but they are made from puffed wheat.  Do they require the same brochos?


A. The Brocha Rishona is the same, because the brocha on roasted wheat kernels is hoadoma.  The same is true for puffed wheat (See Igros Moshe O”H vlm4 44 and 45). However, if you classify yourself as “Yorei Shomayim” you will have a problem with the brocha acharona for a puffed wheat products.   The Shulchan Aruch refers to roasted kernels as k’loyos. As we have written in previous posts, the problem is that Chazal never created a text for the brocha acharona for k’loyos (there is no text of “al hoadoma”). The Shulchan Aruch states that a Yorei Shomayim should only eat k’loyos during the course of a bread meal to avoid the need to make a brocha acharona. (Shulchan A 208.4). This obligation to avoid eating a k’zayis of k’loyos is only directed to persons who are Yorei Shomayim, and all others may make a borei nefoshos. (Shulchan A 208.4)  Perhaps the Jewish companies who manufacture these wheat cakes should print the equivalent of the surgeon general’s warning on the label!   





Q We are planning a family trip to Switzerland.  Is there a brocha for seeing the Alps ?


A. Yes, the brocha for major mountains oceans and other natural creations is “Oseh Maseh B’Reishis.”  (Shulchan A 228).  It would be hard to find a mountain range more awe inspiring than the Alps .  The  Mishna Berura explains that when we see creations that were obviously created in Shayshes Yemei Bereishis, it is an opportunity for us to praise Hashem. (Mishna Berurah 228.1)  I assume that your family does not live in the vicinity of the Alps , and has had not seen the Alps within 30 days prior, and will truly be awed by the awe inspiring natural creation. (Mishna Berurah 228.2)





Q: I usually wear my hat and jacket while bentsching. Last night I had already dressed in my pajamas when I remembered that I had not bentsched, so I bentsched without a hat and jacket. Was that acceptable?


A: The Shulchan Aruch likens the recital of Birkas HaMazon to the recital of Shemone Esrei in many respects (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 193:8).  This correlation has a number of halachic implications, one of which is to be respectfully dressed while reciting the brocha. Wearing a hat and jacket for bentsching is preferable, but not mandatory. However, it is not correct to bentsch while dressed in pajamas. Ordinarily, one should not bentsch while attired in a bathrobe. However, if he is ill in bed, he may bentsch while wearing a bathrobe, but not in pajamas or nightgown or undergarments.  (Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Z’tl, Halachos of Brochos pg 311).  





Q After I washed mayim achronim, the phone rang. I answered it. Do I wash mayim achronim again, or just bentsch?


A. According to many Poskim, when one washes mayim achronim it is as if the mitzvah of bentsching has begun. He may not answer the phone, speak, eat, or even speak Divrei Torah. However, if an urgent matter arises, he may take care of it, but should wash mayim achronim again and start bentsching without delay.  (Shulchan Aruch 179.1 and Halachos of Brochos pg 306).






Q  I would like to know what brocha to make on kugel made from mashed vegetables (carrots, celery, kosher broccoli, sweet potato)?


A.  Often vegetable kugel contains solid pieces of vegetables which would be recognizable. That is to say if you showed the kugel to a few friends and asked them to identify the vegetables they would be able to do it.  In that case the brocha would be hoadoma. However, if the kugel was made by mashing or blending the vegetables, to the extent that the individual vegetable is no longer identifiable, the brocha is shehakol. (Halachos of Brochos, p. 408).


                                                                                                                                            SITUATION #22

Q: You recently wrote that one should eat granola bars during the meal or alternatively should eat less than a k’zayis (to eat less than 3/4 of one Nature Valley bar then to wait 6 or more minutes until you eat another 3/4). We eat granola cereal for breakfast, and if we would eat less than a K’zayis it would not be much of a breakfast. Must we wash on bread?

A: First of all, the obligation to avoid eating a k’zayis of k’loyos is only directed to persons who are yorei shomayim; all others may make a borei nefoshos. Your children are probably not yet in the category of yorei shomayim, and may make due with a borei nefoshos. (Shulchan A 208.4) You and any other person who may be considered yorei shomayim, can avoid the brocha achrona problem by washing for bread, but there is an easier way. Mix the granola cereal with a k’zayis of cooked oatmeal or cheerios, or a k’zayis of any other mezonos, and eat the bowl of cereal within 3 or 4 minutes. The mezonos becomes the ikar and covers the granola as well. The brocha rishona would be mezonos and the brocha achrona would be al hamichya. (Halachos of Brochos pg 65).




Q:  This past summer we experienced a very minor earthquake in Lakewood.  As it was happening I wasn’t even sure that it was an earthquake, but there was no mistaking it, the doors were swinging and the chairs were moving and ground was actually shaking.  Should I have made a brocha?


A:  Any tremor, no matter how minor, can cause fear and awe of Hashem.  Therefore, if one experiences a tremor, even a minor one, he should recite the brocha.  Chazal noted that earth tremors are natural creations which can be quite fearful and awe inspiring.  They therefore mandated that a brocha be recited when one witnesses these phenomena--preferably “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereishis.”  (Shulchan Aruch 227, Shevet Hakohosi 5: 26).  The brocha should be recited during the occurrence, or no more than a second or two after it occurs (Shulchan Aruch 227:3).



Q: I was in Eretz Yisroel for YomTov, and after making an al hagefen on wine I ended the brocha with al hagefen. My son, who learns there, gently corrected me to end with “al gafnoh”. Do I end with al gafnoh when I drink Israeli wine here in America?

A: When we drink wine in Eretz Yisroel, from grapes grown in Eretz Yisroel, we acknowledge Hashem’s benefaction of giving us special wine, wine from Eretz Yisroel–al gafnoh “on her wine”, rather than simply “on wine”. The use of this special phrase is based on where the grapes were grown, not you were when you drank the wine. So if you made kiddush Shabbos morning on a bottle of wine from Eretz Yisroel, you can be sitting in your dining room in Brooklyn and still have the opportunity of using the special phrase “al gafnoh”. 




Q.  I often sprinkle a sizeable helping of wheat germ and mix it into my corn flakes.  Would that make the brocha of my corn flakes borei mini mezonos?


A. No. Wheat germ is a part of the wheat kernel which is roasted or toasted. It is not cooked. Toasted wheat kernels are “kloyos” (similar to granola, which are toasted oat kernels) for which the brocha is borei pri hoadoma. (Igros Moshe Volume 4, 26) If mixed into other ingredients, the brocha becomes that of the ingredient with the most volume. Therefore, in your case, if you had shehakol cereal and the kloyos produced the most volume the brocha would be hoadoma, if the shehakol cereal produced the most volume, the brocha would be shehakol. If your corn flakes were made from flattened grits (cut pieces of corn) then both components would be hoadoma. (Halachos of Brochos pg 524). 





Q  My son enjoys slicing an orange into wedges.  He keeps the orange wedge in his mouth and sucks out the juice, and then throws out the wedge.  He claims that the brocha should be shehakol because all he is getting out of the orange is orange juice.  Is he right?


A. He is right that the brocha for orange juice is shehakol. (Halachos of Brochos pg 428).  However, since the fruit goes into his mouth whole, and the juice extraction takes place after it is in his mouth, it is considered being eaten, and the brocha is hoetz. (Kaf Hachaim 202.63)




Q: The other day I was working on a pile of bills and I could not remember whether or not I had made a brocha on the gum drops that I keep on my desk, so I made a another brocha just to be sure. My daughter said that it was a brocha l’vatolah.

A: My complements to your daughter (and to her halachos teacher). The Shulchan Aruch (215.4) states that making a brocha which is not needed is tantamount to taking Hashem’s Name in vain - which is a serious transgression. If you wanted to be sure, you should have made a shehakol on something not included in the first brocha. The Mishna Berura (ibid) explains that even though Hashem’s Name is being recited in the context of praise, nevertheless, since it was not needed it is considered a transgression. He continues to write that if this is a transgression, how much more so, chas vesholom, when a person uses the Name of Hashem in some sort of conversation, even if the Name is said in another language. I always cringe and think of this Mishna Berura when I hear a Frum Yid say something like “Oh my G-D, what a hilarious story!”




Q It was raining and thundering this morning, and I made a brocha for lightning and thunder. Now (later the same day) it started raining and thundering again.  Should I make another brocha for the thunder and lightning?

A. If there are two thunderstorms in one day--i.e. the sky clears and the sun comes out, then a second thunderstorm occurs--a second brocha will be required for the lightning and the thunder of the new storm. (Shulchan A 227.2)




Q.  I usually wash for breakfast. This morning I ate fruit – an orange and a shiur of grapes.  Then instead of washing, I decided to have a bowl of oatmeal.  Since I usually wash, I made a mistake and out of habit, I bentsched.  When I got to the Beis Midrash 10 minutes later it hit me that I had bentsched instead of making an al hamichya and al hoetz.  I decided that since I had already bentsched, it was good b’dieved.  Was I right or wrong?


 A.  You were right, but you also were wrong.  Bentsching acknowledges Hashem’s kindness for giving us satiating foods.  Since all mezonos foods including oatmeal do satiate, it was a good brocha b’dieved for the oatmeal (M”B 208.75).  However, fruit requires a specific brocha.  Had you made an al hoetz it would have covered the orange as well.  But bentsching is totally incorrect for fruit.  So when you realized that you did not make an al hoetz, you should have made one at that time, provided that you did not exceed the time limit within which you may still make a brocha achrona. (Shulchan A 208.17).




Q: What is the brocha for avocado?


A: Avocado grows on a tree, so when eaten alone the brocha is borei pri hoetz and borei nefoshos.  However, if it is sliced or cubed and mixed into a salad, consisting mostly of hoadoma produce, the hoadoma made on the salad will exempt the avocado, as well. (Halachos of Brochos, p. 68).





Q: I wanted to come to Seder on time today, and I did, but it seems that I forgot to bentsch.  Am I allowed to bentch now in the Beis HaMidrash?


A: First of all, if you exceeded shiur ikul (the time it takes for digestion to begin) then there is nothing to talk about--the opportunity to bentsch has been lost (Halachos of Brochos, p. 156).  If you are within the shiur, then l’chatchila you are required to bentsch where you ate (Shulchan Aruch 194.1).  Therefore, if you can find some bread in the Beis HaMidrash (e.g., in the coffee room) you should eat a small piece of bread, even less than a k’zayis (M.B. 194.9).  You should wash, but do not recite netilas yodayim, then make hamotzi, and then bentsch there (Halachos of Brochos pg 283, and 291).  If you do not have bread, and it is not inconvenient, it is preferable to return to the original location and bentsch there.  However, if you have no bread, and returning to the original location is very inconvenient, b’deived, you may bentsch in the Beis HaMidrash. (Halachos of Brochos p. 291).





Q: My wife is expecting and finds it difficult to eat bread. We are at a family sheva brochos and she felt obligated to wash. She washed, ate a tiny bit of the challah roll, then nibbled on it throughout the meal but did not eat a k’zayis within the span of 6 minutes. What is she supposed to do now?


A: Bentsching is required only if a k’zayis of bread is eaten within k’dei achilas praas. Since this did not happen, she is not required nor permitted to bentsch. (Halachos of Brochos pg. 283). Normally when you wash for bread the bentsching covers all the other foods eaten during the meal. In your case, since your wife did not eat the minimum choshuv amount of bread, the other foods were not covered by the hamotzi and will not be covered by the bentsching.  You should tell her to make a brocha achrona for any foods that she may have eaten during the meal, providing that she ate a k’zayis of those foods within k’dei achilas praas. (Halachos of Brochos pg 96).




Q I keep hearing that there is a problem with eating granola bars, what is the problem?


A. Granola is made of sliced oats which are toasted.  When oats are cooked (e.g., oatmeal) or milled into flour and made into baked products, they satiate, and are therefore subject to the brocha rishona and brocha achrona for mezonos.  There is no problem with brocha rishona for roasted grain (which the Shulchan Aruch calls “kloyos”).  Since roasted grains do not satiate as much as cooked grain or baked products, it would not be correct to call them mezonos. Therefore the brocha is borei pri hoadoma.  The problem is that Chazal never created a text for the brocha achrona for kloyos (there is no text of “al hoadoma”).  Al hamichya or al hoetz are obviously not appropriate.  Since granola grains should have a choshuv brocha achrona, but we have no text for such a brocha, the Shulchan Aruch states that a yorei shomayim should only eat kloyos during the course of a bread meal to avoid the need to make a brocha achrona (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 208.4).  Alternatively, you can also eat less than a k’zayis, which will avoid the need to make a brocha achrona (e.g., Nature Valley packages contain 2 granola bars.  Eat less than ¾ of one of those bars, wait 6 minutes before eating another ¾.). (Halachos of K’zayis pg 130).





 Q: I came to a Bar Mitzvah, and stayed for the chicken main course but did not wash for bread. The problem is that I ran across the street to daven Mincha then came back for ice cream dessert. Do I make another brocha since I changed locations?


A: No. Since you were dining with others, the seuda continues for you when you return.  You do not lose the brocha reshona or achrona. (Shulchan A 178. Halachos of Brochos pg 145).





Q: My apartment is being painted, and there is a very strong foul odor of paint wafting into the kitchen. I am about to eat lunch. May I make a brocha in the kitchen, or must I go upstairs where there is no odor? 


A: You may make the brocha and eat your lunch in the kitchen. Although a brocha may not be made where there is a strong odor, this only applies to a foul odor from waste material such as dirty diapers, a stuffed, overflowing bathroom, or rotting garbage. Chemical odors, no matter how unpleasant, do not prevent us from making a brocha. (M”B 79.23. Halachos of Brochos p. 27).





Q: Someone sent us a fancy fruit basket with some exotic fruit like passion fruit. I haven’t eaten a passion fruit this year for sure. Do I make a Shehechiyanu?


A: The Poskim explain that the voluntary Shehechiyanu is not simply an expression of gratitude to Hashem for giving us the pleasure of a new fruit or new garment, rather it is a much deeper expression of gratitude. The new fruit is a symbol – it is an opportunity to thank Hashem for giving us life, and for sustaining us and bringing us to yet another new season. However, in modern times, storage and transportation advances enable us to enjoy most types of produce throughout the year, diminishing the benefit and happiness we used to feel every new fruit season. This being the case, Hagoan Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, advised that in this country generally one should not recite a Shehechiyanu on new fruit. (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim, Volume III, 34).





Q: I usually wash netilas yodahyim and wait for my wife.  She makes her netilas yodahyim brocha out loud.  Should I answer amain to her brocha even though I did not make the hamotzi yet?  Other times she washes and makes the bracha after I said hamotzi before I had a chance to swallow the bread.  Should I answer amain then?


A: An amain between washing and hamotzi is not a hefsek, so answer amain.  But an amain between hamotzi and eating some bread is a hefsek, so don’t answer amain until you swallow some bread. (Halachos of Brochos pg 42).





Q: I washed for dinner, then became very involved with something, and don’t remember if I bentsched. I feel terrible.  What should I do?


A: When you have a sofek, if the sofek is for a D’Oraysa obligation you must adopt the stringent position and bentsch again. If the sofek is for a DeRabbanan obligation you may assume a lenient position and are not required to bentsch again. Therefore, if you ate enough to feel full, and have not exceeded the shiur ikul, your obligation to bentsch is D’Oraysa. Your sofek is a sofek D’Oraysa which would require you to take the stringent approach and bentsch. (Shulchan A 194.4. Halachos of Brochos pg 293).





Q: My chavrusa was not sure if he ate a shiur for brocha achrona and asked me to be motzi him, which I did.  He must have been a little distracted, because he forgot to say Amein.  Was he yotzei, or should he get someone else to be motzi him again?


A: He was yotzei without the Amein, but if he was so distracted that he did not pay attention and have kavona to be yotzei, then he is not yotzei. (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 213.4. Halachos of Brochos pg 186).




Q: I make a mezonos for rice cakes, right?


A: Wrong.  Mezonos is designated for cooked rice or cake made from rice flour. Rice cakes are produced by applying hot air, steam, and pressure to rice grains.  Therefore the correct brocha is hoadoma and borei nefoshos. (Heard directly from Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Zt’l. Halachos of Brochos pg 519).




Q: What brocha should I make on sushi?


A: Sushi is a combination of two ingredients 1-rice 2-fish or avocado. If you were eating a plate of rice and a serving of fish, two separate foods, you would make two brochos. However, since you are eating one food comprised of two components, only one brocha may be made, that of the ikar. In this case the ikar is the food that has the majority of the volume. Thus, since the rice is the majority component – the brocha is that of rice. Therefore, brocha rishona for sushi is mezonos, and the brocha achrona is borei nefoshos. (Shulchan A 208.7. Halachos of Brochos pg 68).




Q: Is it true that if I make kiddush and drink wine, I do not have to make a brocha on any of the other drinks?


A: Yes that is true. Wine with regard to other beverages is like making a hamotzi on bread and then eating meat and fish. The hamotzi exempts you from making a brocha on the other foods. Similarly, when you make a hagofen and drink wine, it exempts you from making a brocha on the soda, beer, whiskey, etc.  There are two important conditions. 1. You must drink at least two or three ounces of wine and 2. The other drinks must have been on the table or in front of you when you made the hagofen. (Shulchan A 174, Halachos of Brochos, p. 100).




Q:  At the office I often send out for a tuna wrap. Today I ate two and a half wraps and was quite full. Was I required to wash and bentch? 


A: No. The correct brochos would have been mezonos and al hamichya. Had you eaten croissants (which are classified as pas haboh bkisnin) instead of wraps, and had a shiur k’vius seuda of the croissants you would have had to wash and bentch. (Halachos of Brochos, p. 485).But wraps are too thin and floppy and do not have the consistency of a bread product. Therefore, you may eat a shiur seuda without the requirement to wash and bentch. (Heard from Maran Hagoan Rav Elyashiv, Shlita).