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Halachot of Berachot

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Halachot of Berachot  

Devarim Ha’bayim Machmat Ha’sueda
(Food that comes during a meal)

1. Background

In Gemara Brachot 41b, Rav Papa divides our sugya into three categories. (1) Food brought during a meal and for the meal, doesn’t require a bracha before or after, (2) Foods that are not brought because of the meal [but during the meal] one makes a bracha before but not a bracha after. (3) Lastly, if the food comes after the meal, one must make a bracha before and after. Consequently, The Shulchan Aruch rules (Siman 177) that foods that come because of the meal, even if they are not eaten with bread directly one doesn’t make a bracha before or after because the hamotsei over the bread covers the bracha before and the brichat hamazon covers the bracha afterward. For example, foods such as meat, fish wouldn’t receive a bracha during a bread meal.

2.  Prerequisites

To establish a halachik meal, one needs to eat a kazayit of bread within 4 minutes (see K’dea Achilat Pras).  If one eats less than a kezayis of bread, the food during the meal isn’t exempt by the bread since the bread isn’t chasuv (significant).

Within one’s house, we have an assumption that when he makes a bracha he subconsciously intends to exempt any other food of that same beracha. Therefore, if one makes a shehakol on orange juice, he can also eat other shehakol foods without making a new bracha. Additionally, when one makes hamotzei in his house, we assume his bracha covers all meal-like foods in his home. Unless one normally receives gifts of food from neighbors or friends during the day, such gifts that arrive during one’s meal would require their own bracha (even if it’s chicken).

Bread should not be eaten with the intent to merely exempt oneself from the other brachot, because in that case there is a question among the poskim if that it in fact exempts other foods (being that the bread may not be chashuv (significant), in order to exempt other foods). Nevertheless, on Shabbos or Yom Tov, it would exempt  since on those days one eats the bread to fulfill his obligation of the day, and thus, the bread is considered chasuv.

3. What Items are covered in the meal?

Food eaten to satiate, even if they aren’t generally eaten with bread are exempt from their own brachos.  For example, chulent, kugel, meat, farina, oatmeal, noodles, and soups are all exempt from both their bracha rishona and bracha achrona.

Beverages that one consumes to assist in the eating process or to satisfy thirst are exempt. (When it comes to a Shabbat or Yom Tov Meal where one drinks wine in addition to the bread – then all drinks are covered. This is because, although bread only covers meal like drinks, wine covers all drinks.)

Some Specific Drinks:

Wine – because of the importance of wine, it isn’t exempt and requires a separate bracha rishona

Whiskey – when used to intoxicate, it isn’t exempt. When used to help the eating process, quench thirst, or stimulate an appetite it is exempt. The Poskim indicate that the minhag is not to make a bracha on whiskey during a meal, since it’s considered an appetizer and so is exempt. The same is true if one makes a toast during a meal on whiskey.

Coffee – The Mishna Berura quotes authorities on both sides of the debate whether coffee is primarily drunk to assist in digestion or eating and therefore advises to avoid the safek by either bentching first and afterwards drinking the coffee with a defiantly bracha. Alternatively, one could avoid the safek by saying a shehakol on a candy and have in mind to exempt the safek coffee.  If one can’t avoid the safek then the bottom line is that one should NOT make a shehakol on coffee during a meal

Tea – It seems almost everyone agrees when it comes to Tea that it is considered a normal meal drink and therefore wouldn’t require it’s own beracha during a bread meal.   

4.  Desserts

  • If one is already full, and he is only eating the deserts because he enjoys its taste, he would have to make a new bracha on the item.
  • Ice cream, sherbet, and candy all receive a separate bracha rishona.[1] However, many Sephardim hold that one should not make a Bracha on ice cream in a meal. [2]
  • A sugar cube placed in tea wouldn’t receive its own shehakol, since it is tofel to the tea.
  • Mezonot items like cakes and cookies technically deserve a bracha if they are eaten for their taste and not satiation. However, a mezonot item which is also classified as pas Ha’bah Bikisnin would NOT receive a bracha during a bread meal.

The reason is because there are three different opinions as to how to define pas haba bikisnin. For example, although Cake is pas haba bikisnin according to the Rambam, Rabbenu Chananel and Rav Hai Goan would both treat the cake like ordinary bread. Therefore, according to these two opinions, when on eats cake, even if it’s just for its taste – it wouldn’t require a new bracha since the bread from the start of the meal can cover this bread (the cake).  Therefore, although we generally hold that anything that has even one pas habah bikisnin qualification receives a mezonot for its bracha rishona, during a bread meal we are cautious for all three opinions.

However, there is a cool exception: If an mezonot item fits all three opinions, then everyone would agree it is NOT bread, and therefore it would need its own bracha during a meal.

Examples of mezonot items that qualify as Pas Hab Bikisnin according to all three opinions are: chocolate filled wavers, Apple Pie, Sandwich cookies, and Ice Cream Sandwiches

Lastly, if the mezonot item isn’t Pas Habah Bikisnin (like rice crispy treats) then they would also require a bracha during a meal.

5.  Fruits

A. If eaten as the only main course it’s considered a meal-type food and is exempt by the bread. (There are some minority opinions that hold a separate bracha is needed even when the fruit is made into the only main course. If one wants to satisfy these opinions, then one can exempt oneself from this bracha by beginning to eat the fruit with bread, thus indicating that the fruit is an integral part of the meal.)

B. Fruit eaten as one of the courses requires a new bracha. (If one wants, he could exempt the fruit by eating the fruit directly with bread at the beginning and end. However there is a view that every bite must be eaten with bread to exempt it from a bracha. Therefore it’s preferable to make the bracha and eat the fruit separately right away.)

C. Fruit eaten as the first course (appetizer) usually serves to promote an appetite for the meal and is exempt according to the accepted practice following many poskim. This applies to fruits that only whet the appetite such as grapefruit. However when it comes to melons or fruit cocktails which are eaten as satiating first courses, there is a dispute among the poskim whether it is exempt or not. Due to this uncertainty, before the meal, one should eat a piece of fruit smaller than a kzayis and intend when making the bracha to cover all the fruit in the meal. Alternatively, once one has started the meal and one plans on eating a satiating first course of fruit (melons) one should make a bracha on a fruit not used as an appetizer (a fresh apple) and have intention for this bracha to cover the rest of the fruit as well.

D. Fruit as a dessert requires a separate bracha unless it’s eaten entirely (every bite) with bread.

E. Fruit cooked into a dish which is a meal-type food is exempt (because the fruit is a tofel to the meal-type dish and is exempt by the exemption on the whole dish). On the other hand, if it’s cooked into a dessert, the dessert requires it’s own bracha. (see ikar ve’tafel section)

Summary Chart for Fruits



Minority Opinions

The only main course


some hold that one should start eating with bread

One of the courses

Not exempt

can exempt by starting and finishing to eat with bread or some hold that one must eat every bite with bread to exempt it.

First course

Exempt, unless it’s a satiating fruit

In which case it can be exempt by a bracha on a fruit before the meal.


Not Exempt

can exempt if eat every bite with bread

Cooked into a meal dish



Cooked into a dessert

Not Exempt



[1] Halachos of Brachos (chap 5 , pg 87) quoting Rav Shlomo Zalman, Vezot HaBracha (chap 8, pg 74 note 8) quoting Rav Elyashiv and Rav Pinchas Sheinburg, and Shevet HaLevi 1:205

[2] Yalkut Yosef (Brachot pg 198, 807 and Sherit Yosef vol 3, pg 299) quoting his father Rav Ovadyah Yosef and Or Letzion (vol 2, 12:12)


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