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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Mishpatim

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.


He will bless your bread and your water (23:25)

Do not read: 'He will bless'; read: 'You will bless.' From here we derive that a blessing is required before eating... (Berachos 48b)

BLESSINGS OVER BREAKFAST CEREALS

Before listing some of the popular breakfast cereals and their correct blessings, we must first make an attempt to learn the basic principles governing blessings over cereals. Obviously, it is next to impossible to list all of the cereals on the market today, nor is it possible to predict what combinations cereal makers will come up with in the future. Upon mastering the basic rules, however, the educated reader can present his findings to a rav for a final decision.

BASIC RULES

Rule 1: Cereals whose basic ingredients include one or more of the five species of grain - wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats - require the mezonos blessing. If, however, only the bran (outer shell) of the grain is used, the blessing is shehakol(1).

Rule 2: Cereals whose basic ingredient is flour made out of corn, also known as cornmeal, are shehakol(2).

Rule 3: Cereals which are made out of pieces of whole corn are ha-adamah(3). This form of corn is called "milled corn" by the cereal companies.

Rule 4: Cereals whose basic ingredient is rice [which was either baked or cooked] are mezonos(4).

Rule 5: When the basic ingredient of a cereal is cornmeal, but a small amount of oat or wheat flour [or both] is added to it, the blessing depends upon the purpose for which the oat or wheat flour is added. If it was added in order to enhance the taste of the corn, then the entire mixture turns into a mezonos, even though the oat or wheat flour is the minority ingredient. If, however, the main purpose of the oat or wheat flour is to add texture and/or to "bind" the mixture, as is frequently the case when wheat starch is added, then the blessing remains shehakol(5).

Rule 6: Milk mixed with cereal does not require its own shehakol, since most people add milk to their cereal to make it more palatable and easier to eat(6). [The small amount of milk that may remain in the bowl after the cereal has been eaten does not require a shehakol(7).] In the atypical case where the milk is not secondary to the cereal but is consumed for its own value, it would require a shehakol(8).

Rule 7: Raisins or bananas added to cereal do not require their own blessing since they are secondary to the cereal(9). When the main intent, however, is for the fruit, a separate blessing should be made over them(10).

Rule 8: When various cereals are eaten together in one bowl and one of the cereals requires a mezonos, then mezonos is said over the entire mixture. No further blessings are required(11). The exception to this rule is when mezonos is made over rice(12). In that case, since the mezonos is not made over one of the five species of grain, everything else in the bowl does not automatically become secondary to it. Unless rice is the majority ingredient, a blessing needs to be made over each item. [For this reason, mezonos made on Crispix will not cover the corn part of that cereal.]

PARTIAL LISTING

NOTE: Cereal manufacturers may - and, according to experts, often do - change ingredients and/or manufacturing processes of their products. One should be aware of the possibility of changes that may affect the kashrus of or blessing made over any product listed below. Several of the cereals listed below may be dairy and not chalav Yisrael.

MEZONOS:

Apple Jacks - made from corn, wheat and oat flour.

Alpha Bits - made from a combination of whole-grain oat flour and cornmeal.

Cheerios - made from oat flour(13). Includes all varieties.

Cocoa Pebbles - made from rice by a process called oven-puffing.

Fruit Loops - made from corn, wheat and oat flour.

Fruity Pebbles - made from rice by a process called oven-puffing(14).

Grape Nuts - baked as heavy, dense barley bread which is pulverized into cereal(15).

Farina - cooked wheat.

Honey Combs - made from a combination of corn and whole-grain oat flour(16).

Life - made from whole-oat, whole-wheat, corn and rice flour.

Oatmeal - cooked oats.

Oatmeal Crisp - made of oats and wheat.

Raisin Bran - produced from wheat bran plus other parts of the wheat kernel(17). See Rule 7.

Raisin Clusters - made from bran and other parts of the wheat kernel. See Rule 7.

Raisin Nut Bran - wheat bran with other parts of the wheat kernel. See Rule 7.

Rice Chex - made from rice by a process called oven-puffing.

Rice Krispies - made from rice by a process called oven-puffing.

Wheat Chex - wheat-based cereal.

Wheaties - wheat-based cereal.

SHEHAKOL:

All Bran - made from the outer shell of the grain (wheat bran) which is not considered to be part of the grain(18). May also contain some cornmeal. There is, however, a product called All Bran Extra Fiber. This product is made from wheat bran and wheat flour. Its blessing is mezonos.

Captain Crunch - made mainly from cornmeal with a small amount of oat flour for consistency(19).

Cocoa Puffs - made from cornmeal. Some companies(20) add no wheat starch at all, while others(21) add a small amount(22).

Fiber One - made from the outer shell of the grain (wheat bran) which is not considered to be part of the grain(23). May also contain some cornmeal.

French Toast Crunch - a cornmeal cereal.

Kix (all varieties) - made from cornmeal with a small amount of oat flour added for consistency(24).

Resse's Puffs - made from cornmeal. A small amount of wheat starch is added as a binder.

Trix - made from cornmeal with no oat flour added. A small amount of wheat starch is added as a binder.

HA-ADAMAH:

Corn Chex - Recent research(25) indicates that it is made of whole pieces (milled corn). If so, its blessing is ha-adamah(26).

Corn Flakes - when processed by pressing pieces of cooked corn kernels into flakes, its blessing is ha-adamah(27). When produced from cornmeal, its blessing is shehakol(28).

Frosted Flakes - See Corn Flakes.

Corn Pops - present research(29) indicates that it is made while the corn kernel is still intact - it is merely formed into a new shape. If so, its blessing is ha-adamah(30).

Kashi - puffed wheat which remains whole throughout the puffing process(31).

Wheat Germ - the "embryo" of the kernel. Usually it is only steamed momentarily; it is not cooked(32).

BERACHAH ACHARONAH:

All cereals listed in the ha-adamah and shehakol sections require Borei nefashos afterwards.

All cereals listed in the mezonos section which are made out of rice require Borei nefashos afterwards.

All cereals listed in the mezonos section which are made mostly from the five species of grain require an Al ha-michyah afterwards. These include: Cheerios, Grape Nuts, Farina, Life, Oatmeal, Oatmeal Crisp, Raisin Bran, Wheat Chex and Wheaties.

All cereals listed in the mezonos section which are made from a combination of corn and oats, require Borei nefashos afterwards. This is because Al ha-michyah is said only if one eats at least a k'zayis (1.1 fl. oz.) of grain within a time span of 3-4 minutes. Many cereals listed in that section contain only a small amount of oat flour, which makes it unlikely that a k'zayis of grain will be consumed in that brief period of time. Al ha-michyah should not be said over those cereals, since the other ingredients (sugar, cocoa, etc.) are not included as part of the required k'zayis of grain(33). When a k'zayis of cereal which does not contain a k'zayis of grain is eaten, a Borei nefashos is said(34). Such cereals include: Alpha Bits, Fruit Loops, Honey Combs.

QUESTIONABLE CEREALS:

BERACHAH RISHONAH and/or BERACHAH ACHARONAH:

The following list contains cereals whose blessings remain in doubt. Different opinions among the poskim, and incomplete, inaccurate or constantly changing information all contribute to uncertainty in determining the correct blessing. [It is recommended that the cereals listed below be eaten only during a meal, or with other mezonos cereals (of the five species of grain)(35) whose blessing is not subject to debate; see rule 8 above.]

Corn Bran - contains mostly corn and corn bran flour with a small amount of oat flour. It is difficult to assess the exact amount and purpose of the oat flour and therefore it is recommended to eat it with other cereals only. If not possible, shehakol should be said.

Crispix - made from equal amounts of rice and milled corn. The correct berachah is problematic since neither ingredient is the majority of one of the five species of grain(36). Some poskim rule that both mezonos (on the darker side) and ha-adamah (on the lighter side) should be recited(37).

Granola - made from rolled oats. Some companies(38) just steam the oats briefly. The blessing on such granola is ha-adamah / Borei nefashos(39). Other companies(40) cut and bake the oats, and the granola flakes adhere one to another; such granola is mezonos / Al ha-michyah(41).

Sugar Crisp (Golden Crisp, Sugar Smacks) - made from puffed wheat(42). Many poskim(43) rule that ha-adamah is said, while others44 maintain that the proper blessing is mezonos. Harav M. Feinstein rules that either blessing may be said(45).

The berachah acharonah is Borei nefashos(46), although preferably(47) it should be eaten only during a meal to avoid making a blessing which does not satisfy all opinions.

FOOTNOTES

1. Igros Moshe E.H. 1:114; Taharas Mayim, pg. 330.

2. Rama O.C. 208:8.

3. Mishnah Berurah 208:37.

4. O.C. 208:7 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyon 31. We must note, however, that other poskim (Shulchan Aruch Harav, pg. 319; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 52:17) maintain that the proper blessing over rice is questionable and that rice should be eaten only during a meal. When a meal is not available, a shehakol is said. There are communities today which follow that ruling.

5. Mishnah Berurah 208:49 and Biur Halachah; Mishnah Berurah 212:1. See Hebrew Notes, pg. 260, for an elaboration.

6. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:43.

7. Mishnah Berurah 168:46.

8. Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:43. If the cereal serves as an inducement to get a child to drink milk, then the milk requires its own blessing (oral ruling by Harav M. Feinstein quoted in Berachos Study Guide, pg. 43).

9. Eishel Avraham 208:2; Biur Halachah 212:1; Mekor ha-Berachah, pg. 65; Vezos ha-Berachah, 4th edition, pg. 92; Kashruth Kurrents (Star K) Winter, 1997.

10. See Igros Moshe O.C. 4:43 (concerning bananas which are found in cereal) and explanation offered by Pischei Halachah, pg. 96. (See also Guide to Practical Halachah, vol. 2, pg. 210, oral ruling from Debreciner Rov). See Hebrew Notes, pg. 265, for clarification of this issue.

11. O.C. 212:1, Mishnah Berurah and Biur Halachah.

12. Mishnah Berurah 207:30.

13. Kevius seudah over Cheerios would require ha-motzi and Birkas ha-Mazon - Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Vesain Berachah, pg. 527).

14. It was reported to me that the main ingredient in Canadian Fruity Pebbles is wheat, not rice.

15. Research and ruling of The Laws of Berachos, pg. 386.

16. The Laws of Berachos, pg. 371; Kashruth Kurrents (Star K), Winter, 1997.

17. According to research done by the Star K, even companies (like Kellogg's) who list only "wheat bran" in the ingredient list, include endosperm in this cereal. Unlike All Bran, the blessing for Raisin Bran is definetly mezonos.

18. Vesain Berachah, pg. 531.

19. Research done by Star K. Although this cereal is marketed as a corn and oat cereal, it is only a marketing ploy to downplay the amount of sugar which is in the cereal.

20. Quaker.

21. General Mills.

22. The Laws of Berachos, pg. 364; Vesain Berachah, pg. 528.

23. The Laws of Berachos, pg. 359; 367.

24. Based on research done by the Orthodox Union and Star K, who have determined that the oat flour serves only as a binder. In the past, some had ruled that the proper blessing was mezonos - see The Laws of Berachos, pg. 371, and Harav Forst's responsum in the Hebrew Notes, pg. 260-263, but it now seems that their ruling was based on erroneous information.

25. By Kashruth Kurrents (Star K), Winter 1997 (Ralston).

26. Previously, it has been reported that this cereal is made of cornmeal.

27. Kellogg's and Post currently use this process. According to experts in the field, this could change at any time and without warning.

28. General Mills (Country, Total) and Kemach currently use this process. If accurate information is not available, ha-adamah should be said (Harav S.Y. Elyashiv quoted in Vezos ha-Berachah, 4th edition, pg. 287).

29. Of Kellogg's (U.S.A.) by Kashruth Kurrents (Star K), Winter 1997. It is certainly possible, however, that other companies produce this kind of cereal from a batter of cornmeal.

30. L'Torah v'Hora'ah (vol. 2) quotes Harav M. Feinstein as ruling that this type of cereal is like popcorn and the proper blessing is ha-adamah. See also The Laws of Berachos, pg. 365.

31. Kashruth Kurrents (Star K), Winter 1997.

32. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:46. Research done by Vezos ha-Berachah, 4th edition, pg. 282 #50; Kashrus Kurrents (Star K), Winter 1997.

33. Harav Y.Z. Soloveitchik (quoted in Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 132); Igros Moshe O.C. 1:71; E.H. 1:114; Divrei Yoel 13; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Vesain Berachah, pg. 230); Harav S.Y. Elyashiv and Harav C.P. Scheinberg (quoted in Vezos ha-Berachah, 4th edition, pg. 46); Yalkut Yosef 3:491. See Hebrew Notes, pg. 263, for an explanation as to why the custom (quoted in Mishnah Berurah 208:48 concerning cakes) does not apply here.

34. O.C. 208:9.

35. A mezonos blessing said over rice cereal, however, will not exempt the questionable cereals [see rule 8], unless the rice cereal is the majority cereal.

36. See Rule 8 above. See also the The Laws of Berachos, pg. 386.

37. Kashruth Kurrents (Star K), Winter, 1997.

38. Kellogg's.

39. Preferably, steamed grain should be eaten only during a meal to avoid making a questionable berachah

40. Quaker.

41. Vezos ha-Berachah (4th edition, pg. 103) quoting Harav S.Z. Auerbach and Harav S.Y. Elyashiv. See also Vesain Berachah, pg. 505-506 and The Laws of Berachos pg. 369. In reality, there are many ways to produce granola and each company does it differently. Methods are constantly changing.

42. Recent research shows that the bran and part of the endosperm is removed during the puffing process. Based on Mishnah Berurah 208:15 which says that cooked pearled wheat is mezonos, the proper blessing should be mezonos. Nevertheless, many poskim rule that ha-adamah is said for the following reasons: 1. Puffing is not cooking, since no water is used. 2. Some Rishonim hold that mezonos can be recited only if the kernels adhere to one another. See The Laws of Berachos, pg. 272.

43. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:44; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Vesain Berachah, pg. 527), Harav S. Y. Elyashiv and Harav C.P. Scheinberg (Vezos ha-Berachah, 4th edition, pg. 101); Ohr l'Tziyon 14:21.

44. Mekor ha-Berachah 54. See, however, Kol ha-Torah, vol. 42, pg. 230, where the author of the Mekor ha-Berachah hesitates about his own ruling; Kashruth Kurrents (Star K), Winter 1997.

45. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:45.

46. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:45 - even if mezonos was said as the berachah rishonah.

47. Mishnah Berurah 208:18 - according to the interpretation of Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Birkas ha-Nehenin, pg. 147 and Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 101).


Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 5759 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc.

Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross jgross@torah.org.

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra


 






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