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The Proper Beracha on Foods

This list covers both beracha rishona and beracha achrona. 

There are many rules of berachot, and at times they can be quite complicated. To start, here are a few of the basics:

  1. You should say a beracha rishona before eating even the smallest amount of food. A beracha achrona, on the other hand, is not recited unless you eat a minimum of a kzayis of solid food or a rviyis of liquid.

  2.  You should not recite a beracha achrona on foods unless you eats a minimum of a kzayis within the time of 3 to 4 minutes.  Similarly, you should not recite a beracha achrona after drinking liquids unless you drink a minimum of a rviyis without interruption. However, there is considerable controversy in this issue. Therefore, some foods that are normally eaten very slowly, such as a sucking candy, do not require a beracha achrona.

  3. If you eat a meal of cake, pie or crackers, an amount known as kviyas sudah, you must wash netilas yadayim and recite hamotzee beforehand and recite Bircas Hamazon after the meal. Certain mezonos foods, such as cheese cake and certain knishes, have such a small grain content, that eating them rarely constitutes a kvias sudah.  In addition the status of certain mezonos foods is subject to a dispute among Poskim whether or not they are subject to the rules of kvias s’udah.  This list reflects those differences.

Some other important halachot:

  1. All fruits or vegetables require the beracha indicated only if they are eaten in the usual fashion, such as a cooked, not raw, potato.  If, however, the fruit or vegetable is eaten in an unusual fashion, a shehakol may be required.

  2. Certain foods are subject to a dispute among Poskim as to their proper beracha rishona or beracha achrona.  In such cases this list follows the general rule of safek beracha l’hakel - a doubt pertaining to a beracha should be resolved in a lenient manner. Therefore, you should recite the more inclusive (less particularized) beracha or the fewest berachas possible.

  3. Often a combination of two foods requires two berachas, in which case you should recite the berachot according to the rules of the proper sequence of berachot. At times, due to halachic doubts one must recite the beracha of lower stature first.  This list reflects those halachic doubts, so that any food requiring two beracha has its beracha listed in the proper sequence.

  4. Whenever the food is subject to the rules of ikar v'tafel (primary and secondary ingredients), we often stated the beracha in terms of which ingredient is the majority.  This is true only if you have no particular interest in any of the ingredients.  If, however, you specifically wants one of the ingredients, that is considered the ikar and its beracha exempts the other ingredients from a beracha of their own.

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