Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Chukas
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.
For final rulings, consult your Rav.
A fig, or grape, or a pomegranate (19:5)
THE PROPER BLESSING OVER FRUIT DURING A MEAL
While the laws governing the blessings over fruit are complex, they become
even more so when fruits are eaten right before a meal, or during a meal as
an appetizer or a dessert. There are many details and different views to
consider on the subject, but we will attempt to review these halachos in as
concise and organized a manner as possible.
There is one basic rule to bear in mind: The blessing of ha-Motzi, recited
over bread at the beginning of the meal, includes anything in the meal which
is normally eaten with bread - even though it is not actually being eaten
with bread at this particular moment. Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, cheese,
and other foods eaten to satisfy one's hunger are all foods normally eaten
with bread, and are therefore included in the ha-Motzi blessing. Fruit, on
the other hand, is not normally eaten with bread. It is eaten as a separate
food within the meal and therefore requires its own blessing. This basic
principle is agreed upon by practically all the early authorities and is
recorded in the Shulchan Aruch.
What remains unclear and in dispute is the exact classification of certain
fruits - cooked or raw - which are eaten either as an appetizer or as a
dessert. These can be classified either as aiding in the digestion of the
meal, which would exempt them from a blessing, or as an independent part of
the meal, which would require that a blessing be recited over them. In many
cases the poskim differ and no clear consensus emerges. We must, however,
establish some basic guidelines:
Note: Although the ha-Motzi exempts all other foods which are normally eaten
with bread, this holds true only if at least a k'zayis of bread
(approximately 1 fl. oz.) is eaten within 3-4 minutes at one point during
the meal. If a k'zayis is not eaten within that time span, each food eaten
during the meal requires its own blessing. One must, therefore, decide at
the beginning of the meal if he is going to eat a k'zayis of bread or
FRUIT EATEN BEFORE THE MEAL:
One who eats fruit before a meal and plans to eat fruit during the meal as
well [a common occurrence on Rosh Hashanah night], should recite the proper
blessing over the fruit before the meal begins, while intending to exempt
the fruits which will be eaten later. No berachah acharonah is made over the
fruits eaten before starting the meal - the Birkas ha-Mazon recited at the
end of the meal includes them.
If, however, one has no intention of eating fruit during the meal, then a
berachah acharonah must be recited over the fruit eaten before the meal
began. The Birkas ha-Mazon after the meal does not include that fruit(2),
and a berachah acharonah will have to be recited over them even after Birkas
ha-Mazon was said.
FRUITS EATEN DURING THE MEAL BUT BEFORE THE MAIN COURSE IS SERVED:
Grapefruit - usually eaten to whet the appetite(3). The Rishonim differ as
to whether or not such an appetizer is an intrinsic part of the meal, since
it is served as an "introduction" to the meal. The commonly accepted
practice is not to recite a blessing over fruits served as appetizers(4).
The same applies to olives and pickles served before the actual meal.
Cantaloupe - and other such fruits, e.g., fruit salad, honeydew.
Contemporary poskim debate the halachah concerning these fruits. Some
consider them appetizers just like grapefruit, which - according to our
custom - exempts them from a blessing(5). Other poskim, however, consider
these fruits as a first course of a meal. In their opinion, these fruits do
not merely whet the appetite; they are full-fledged first courses. Since, as
explained, fruits are not normally eaten with bread, the ha-Motzi blessing
does not exempt them and a separate blessing is required(6). Thus the proper
blessing remains questionable and problematic. It is recommended that one
follow either of the following two methods: 1) Before washing, recite the
proper blessing over a small piece [less than a k'zayis(7)] of fruit, then
wash for the bread, and continue eating the fruit(8); 2) Eat the fruit while
eating bread along with each bite of fruit(9).
DURING THE MEAL:
Fruit soup - no blessing is recited(10).
Cooked fruits as a side dish - no blessing is recited(11).
Applesauce with a latke - no blessing is recited(12).
Fruit eaten as the main course of the meal - most poskim hold that no
blessing is required. Since there is a minority opinion that requires a
blessing, it is best to eat a sizable amount of bread with the fruit before
partaking of the fruit alone(13).
Fruit-filled blintzes, etc.- no blessing is recited(14).
Fruit eaten as a snack between courses - requires a blessing.
Raw fruit (apples, grapes, etc.) - the correct blessing is recited(15).
Cooked fruit - there are conflicting views. Most poskim hold that a blessing
should be recited(16), while a minority opinion holds that no blessing is
recited(17). One who wants to avoid a questionable situation should eat
cooked fruit only with bread(18) or recite a blessing over a raw fruit
before eating the cooked fruit(19).
Popcorn - the correct blessing (ha-adamah) is recited.
Peanuts - the correct blessing (ha-adamah) is recited.
Chocolate - the correct blessing (shehakol) is recited.
GENERAL RULE: No fruits eaten during a meal, whether a blessing was recited
over them or not, require a berachah acharonah. The Birkas ha-Mazon will
exempt them all(20).
1. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:41.
2. With the exception of dates, which are covered by the Birkas ha-Mazon.
3. When the grapefruit is eaten for the sake of the grapefruit itself and is
considered one of the courses at the meal (e.g., when a grapefruit is eaten
on a diet), the blessing should be recited.
4. Mishnah Berurah 174:39; Aruch ha-Shulchan 174:12. One who would like to
satisfy the other view should recite the blessing and eat part of the
grapefruit before washing his hands.
5. Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Vesain Berachah, pg. 93).
6. Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Vesain Berachah, pg. 93); Ohr l'Tziyon
7. Mishnah Berurah 174:37. See also 473:53.
8. Based on Mishnah Berurah 174:39 and 176:2 (Alef).
9. Based on Mishnah Berurah 177:8 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 13.
10. Beiur Halachah 177:1; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Vezos ha-Berachah,
11.Beiur Halachah 177:1; Aruch ha-Shulchan 177:10. There is a minority view
which requires a blessing, so it is better to eat the cooked fruit with
bread or recite a blessing on raw fruit.
13. O.C. 177:3 and Beiur Halachah.
14. Mishnah Berurah 177:10.
15. O.C. 177:1.
16. Mishnah Berurah 177:4; Chazon Ish (Dinim v'Hanhagos 6:7); Orchos Rabbeinu
66; Yalkut Yosef, pg. 196; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Vezos ha-Berachah,
pg. 78 and Vesain Berachah, pg. 87).
17. Several sources report that the Chafetz Chayim eventually changed his
ruling and exempted cooked fruits served for dessert from a blessing; see
Orchos Rabbeinu 66 and Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 78. Others dispute that the
Chafetz Chayim changed his ruling.
18. Custom of the Brisker Rav (quoted in Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 1:177).
19. Harav A. Kotler (reported by several disciples); Harav S.Y. Elyashiv
(quoted in Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 78).
20. Mishnah Berurah 177:7.
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1999 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
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Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne
Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily
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