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.
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
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
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.]
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.
Apple Jacks - made from corn, wheat and oat flour.
Alpha Bits - made from a combination of whole-grain oat flour
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
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
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.
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.
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
Wheat Germ - the "embryo" of the kernel. Usually it is only
steamed momentarily; it is not cooked(32).
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.
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
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.
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),
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.
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
27. Kellogg's and Post currently use this process. According to
experts in the field, this could change at any time and without
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.
39. Preferably, steamed grain should be eaten only during a meal
to avoid making a questionable berachah
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
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).
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