The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.
For final rulings, consult your Rav.
You will eat and you will be satisfied and bless Hashem... (8:10)
AMOUNTS OF FOOD THAT REQUIRE BLESSINGS
Washing hands is required before eating at least 1.1 oz. of
bread, and is strongly recommended when any amount of bread is
Al Netilas Yadayim is recited when washing for at least 2.2 oz.
of bread (2). Some poskim (3) hold that a blessing may be recited
even for 1.1. oz., and one may follow this view (4).
Hamotzi is recited for any amount of bread (5).
Birkas ha-Mazon is recited after eating 1.1 oz. (6) of bread
within a time-span of no longer than 3-4 minutes (7). One who is
unsure whether or not he ate this amount of bread should not
recite Birkas ha-Mazon (8).
NOTE: When measuring amounts of bread [and cake], small air
bubbles are included in the measurements (9), while large ones
are not (10). Note also that the amounts are measured by volume,
not by weight (11).
Mezonos is recited for any amount.
Al Hamichyah is recited for 1.1 oz. eaten within a time-span of
no longer than 3-4 minutes (12).
Since the basic halachah is that the 1.1 oz. must be composed
entirely of flour--the other ingredients do not count towards
the 1.1 oz. minimum--one should adhere to the basic
halachah (13). Many people, however, are not precise in
ascertaining the amount of flour they have eaten, and some
poskim find a source for their practice (14) if at least the
majority (.6 oz.) of the mixture is pure flour (15).
Washing hands, reciting Al netilas yadayim and reciting Birkas
ha-Mazon are required when eating an amount of cake (16) that
constitutes kevius seudah, i.e., an amount of mezonos that has
the halachic status of eating a regular meal (as opposed to a
snack). When one eats such a substantial amount of cake, we
treat the cake as a substitute for bread.
There are several opinions as to the amount of cake which is
necessary for kevius seudah. Some poskim rule that 8.8 oz. of
cake is an amount which may be considered as a standard kevius
seudah. Ideally, one should avoid eating this amount of cake so
as not to enter into a halachically gray area (17). In practice,
however, Al netilas yadayim and Birkas ha-Mazon are not
recited (18) unless one eats an amount of cake equal to the
amount of bread he would eat at a main meal, which is about two
rolls or five pieces of bread, or about 18-20 oz. of cake. This
is a very rough estimate (19) and the actual amount varies
according to the differences in eating habits between men and
women (20), different age groups (21) and different locales (22).
Another disagreement among the poskim is how to calculate the
amount of cake necessary for kevius seudah when cake is eaten
together with other foods at the same sitting.
Some hold that the entire amount must be composed of the
cake (23) itself. Other foods eaten at the same sitting do not
Some hold that other foods eaten at the same sitting do count--but only if a minimum of 8.8. oz. of cake is eaten. The other foods are counted towards the larger amount required for kevius seudah mentioned earlier (25).
Some hold that other foods, like chopped liver or tuna fish,
eaten along with mezonos items that are bread substitutes, like
crackers, bread sticks or egg matzah, are also included in the
amount for kevius seudah. But pastries etc., which are eaten
before or after the other foods, do not combine with the other
foods to form a kevius seudah (26).
Some hold that all foods eaten at the same sitting, whether
eaten with the cake or not, are counted towards the amount for
kevius seudah (27). According to this opinion, even a small
amount of cake eaten at a kiddush or buffet dinner will combine
with the other foods to form a kevius seudah.
Shehakol [and Borei pri hagafen] is recited before drinking any
Borei Nefashos [and Al hagefen] is recited only after drinking
at least 3.3. oz. L'chatchilah, one should not drink an amount
between 1.1 oz. and 3.3 oz., since there are poskim who require
a berachah achronah for that amount (28).
Many poskim hold that the 3.3. oz. must be consumed within shiur
shesias reviis (29), which is a very short time period (30).
L'chatchilah, therefore, the amount required should be drunk in
one or two sips. One who failed to do so, e.g., when drinking
hot tea or coffee, should not recite Borei nefashos unless he
leaves over 3.3 oz. to cool off and drink within a few
FROZEN OR GELLED FOODS:
We have seen that there are two basic differences between solid
food and liquid regarding their blessings;
The minimum amount of solid food that requires a berachah acharonah is 1.1 oz,
while the minimum amount of liquid that requires a berachah acharonah is 3.3 oz;
Food may be consumed within a time span of up to 4 minutes, while liquids must be drunk within a very short time period.
There is a debate among the poskim (32) about how to classify
foods which are solid but do not need to be chewed in order to
be swallowed, such as ice cream, frozen yogurt and ices.
Contemporary poskim, too, are hesitant (33) and divided on this
issue. Some rule that these items are considered as foods, since
at the time of consumption they are solid (34). Accordingly, as
long as 1.1 oz. is consumed within a time-span of up to 3-4
minutes, the correct berachah achronah is recited.
Other poskim, however, consider these items as liquids. Since
they will melt in the mouth without chewing, they cannot be
classified as foods (35). Accordingly, unless 3.3 oz. of the item
is consumed within a very short time period, no berachah
acharonah is recited (36).
Some authorities differentiate between ices, which is frozen
water and therefore more of a drink than a food, and ice cream,
which contains ingredients which are food (37).
Several poskim (38) make a distinction between the amount of
frozen and gelled food which necessitates a berachah acharonah
and the time in which it must be consumed. According to this
opinion, we view these items as solid food in determining the
amount necessary for a berachah acharonah; thus, 1.1 oz. will
suffice. Concerning the time-span within which they must be
consumed, however, we view frozen and gelled foods as drinks.
Accordingly, if 1.1. oz. was consumed within a short time
period, a berachah acharonah is recited.
All poskim agree (39), however, that food which is not in solid
form at the time of consumption, such as "liquidy" leben, is
considered a drink and a berachah acharonah should not be
recited unless 3.3. oz. are consumed within a very short time
period, which is not the rate at which such foods are commonly
1 Mishnah Berurah 158:10.
2 Mishnah Berurah 158:9.
3 Gr"a quoted in Sha'ar ha-Tziyon 9.
4 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:41; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Vezos
ha-Berachah, pg. 15 and pg. 255).
5 Shulchan Aruch Harav 168:7.
6 O.C. 184:6. This is a rabbinical obligation. Biblically, one
does not recite Birkas Hamazon unless he has eaten a meal which
7 The exact amount of time is in dispute, so l'chatchillah three
minutes should be the limit. B'dieved, however, there are many
poskim who consider four minutes the proper time-span.
8 Mishnah Berurah 184:15. It is proper, however, to wash and eat
more bread so that Birkas Hamazon can be recited--ibid.
9 Sha'ar ha-Tziyon 486:7; Chazon Ish Uktzin 3:7.
10 Mishnah Berurah 210:1, as explained by Harav S.Z. Auerbach
and Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 46,
184 and 257). See Shoneh Halachos 486:4.
11 See Shiurei Torah (Harav A.C. Na'eh) 1:1.
12 O.C. 208:9.
13 Igros Moshe O.C. 1:71 and E.H. 1:114; Divrei Yoel 1:13; Harav
S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 46). This is
also the ruling of the Brisker Rav (quoted in Teshuvos
16 Or other baked goods which have "bread-like" properties and
appearance, such as thick crackers, pretzels, Cheerios, etc.
Spaghetti, blintzes, farfel and other mezonos items which do not
resemble bread at all are not included.
17 Mishnah Berurah 168:24.
18 But one who feels satiated from this amount, may recite
Birkas ha-Mazon--Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Vesain
Berachah, vol. 2, Hebrew section, pg. 10).
19 There are many factors and many views which must be taken
into account when calculating this amount. See Vezos
ha-Berachah, pg. 28-36 and pg. 193-199 for a lengthy explanation
of this very difficult subject. See also The Laws of Berachos,
20 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Vesain Berachah, pg. 488)
rules that women and girls who eat less then men have a smaller
shiur of kevius seudah.
21 Beiur Halachah 168:6, who rules that children and elderly
people's kevius seudah varies according to their eating habits. =
22 Igros Moshe O.C. 3:32.
23 Indeed, the Chazon Ish is quoted (Archos Rabbeinu 1:80) as
ruling that only the flour itself, and not the other
ingredients, is counted towards the 8.8 oz.
26 Derech Hachayim (Mezonos 3); Mishnah Berurah 168:24 (as
explained by Harav S.Z. Auerbach, quoted in Shemiras Shabbos
K'hilchasah 54 note 132); Harav Y. Kamenetsky (quoted in Vesain
Berachah, pg. 261); Harav C.P. Scheinberg (quoted in Vezos
ha-Berachah, pg. 32).
27 Igros Moshe O.C. 3:32 and 4:41; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted
in Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 32); Mekor ha-Berachah, pg. 113.
28 O.C. 190:3 and Mishnah Berurah 9 and 14.
29 See O.C. 612:10 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyon 210:12.
30 See Aruch ha-Shulchan 202:6-8; Sha'ar ha-Tziyon 210:11.
31 Mishnah Berurah 210:1. Many poskim, however, allow reciting
Borei nefashos over hot tea or coffee, and one who follows that
custom, may continue to do so--see Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 42
and pg. 200 who quotes several contemporary authorities who
follow this custom.
32 See Rambam Ma'achalos Asuros 14:9 and Radvaz 1518 (145).
There is also widespread dispute concerning whether a raw egg is
a food or a drink, see Sdei Chemed (Yom Kippur 3) and Har Tzvi
33 See Nishmas Avrohom O.C. 612:6 who quotes Harav S.Z. Auerbach
as questioning the halachic definition of sour cream and ice
34 Harav Y.Y. Kanievsky (written responsum published in Mekor
ha-Berachah, pg. 110).
36 In practice, however, one may rely on a sfeik sfeika and
recite the blessing: Maybe the item is considered a solid, and
even if it is a liquid, maybe the halachah is like the view
quoted earlier that liquid, too, may be drunk in 3-4 minutes,
see Mishnah Berurah 210:1.