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Halachot of Berachot

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Halachot of Berachot  

Order of Brochos

Chazal created an order of importance for brochot and therefore, when one has multiple foods in front of him, he should preferably go in this order. However, this is only as long as both foods are in front of him and he wants to eat both (It’s not that he has to eat stuff he didn’t want to, just to make the right order of brochot.)

The Order is:

1) Mezonot
2) Ha'Gefen
3) Ha’etz
4) Ha’Adoma
5) Shehakol
6) Ray’ach (for Smells)

Therefore when you have two foods of two different Berachot, you should follow the above order.

Additionally, even when you have two foods of the same beracha you still have a hierarchy of an order to follow. This time the order is for which foods you should make the beracha on and take the first bite from. Within each of the earlier categories, here are the subdivisions:

1) Hamotzei – [This is only applicable when you eat less than a k’zayis of bread OR if the other food would require a bracha in middle of a bread meal. This topic deserves its own discussion, but for the time being, deserts generally require a beracha on middle of a bread meal (like candy or fruits). As far as Mezonot deserts go, they only get a bracha in middle of a bread meal if the item qualifies as pas haba bikisnin according to all 3 opinions (like chocolate filled wafers).]

2) Mezonot wheat > barley > spelt > rye > oats > rice

3) Ha'Gefen

4) Ha’etz The “seven species” [olive > date > grape > fig > pomegranate] > complete > personal preference

5) Ha’Adoma – complete > personal preference

6) Shehokol – complete > personal preference

Interesting Exception: In truth, the difference between Ha’etz and Ha’adoma is rather small. Therefore, as long as you like the two items equally you would maintain the order and first say Ha’etz then Ha’adoma. If however you like the Ha’adoma food better, then in such a case your personal preference could override and you would first say Ha’adoma then Ha’etz. Moreover, this preference for the Ha’adoma could even override a “7 species” fruit. However personal preference could only override this level (Ha’etz and Ha’adoma), but all other levels remain objective.

Common Examples

1) If you have in front of you a date, wine, and a cake – then the order is cake > wine > date
2) If you have two mezonot items before you, but one comes from wheat and one from barley, so you should make the mezonot on the dish of wheat (cake) rather then on the dish of barley (grits or groats).
3) Make Ha’adoma on the complete vegetable and not on the cut up vegetable (even if you like the cut up one more).
4) If you have two pieces of shnitzel (or chicken cutlets), then the bigger one is considered the “complete” one and that is the one you should make the beracha on and eat first.
5) If both vegetables are cut – then make the beracha on the one you like more.
6) If you have grapes and melon in front of you, and you like melon more then grapes – then make the Ha’adoma on the melon before the Ha’etz on the grapes
7) You have a piece of a carrot and a piece of chicken, and even thought you like the chicken more – you would still make the ha’adoma before the shehakol.  (However, If the piece of carrot is only “serving” the chicken, then it would be considered tofel and would receive no brocha. See Ikur and Tofel for more on this).

Times When Standard Order of Brochos Does Not Apply

1) If there is a custom for a meal which you normally follow, then order of Berachot doesn’t apply. For example, you can say shehakol/ha’adoma on soup and eat it first before the main dish which is mezonot (even if both in front of you).
2) Additionally, it is allowed to go out of the order to avoid sefek (doubtful cases).

(Hopefully I’ll discuss this topic in its own right at some point, but for now here are some examples:

a) If you want to eat an apple and drink apple juice – you should first say shehakol on the juice and then after say ha’etz on the fruit. Because otherwise, you would have a sefek: Since there are some opinions that juice should also be Ha’etz, so by first saying the Ha’etz on the fruit you might have covered the juice as well. And then you would be left in doubt as to whether you should then say shehakol on the juice or not.
b) Also chocolate; since some say the beracha on chocolate is Ha’etz.
c) Also soy; since some say the brocha on soy is Ha’adoma.
d) Sugar is a big problem because that’s a three way argument if it is shehokol or Ha’etz or Ha’adoma. Obviously, the minhag Olam (common practice) is to say shehakol on plain sugar, but in a case where one is eating a fruit or vegetable along with plain sugar (I’m not talking about sugar on the item, because then it’s a case of ikar and tofel) he sould go out of order and first make a brocha on the sugar.



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