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Chapter 39: 1-3
The Laws of Eating before a Meal

1. There is a difference of opinion among the Rabbis concerning the law regarding a person who desires, before washing his hands for a meal, to eat foods that he will also eat during the meal. This applies both to fruits which require the recitation of a special blessing within the meal and to other foods which do not require a blessing should they be eaten within the meal - e.g., vegetables, legumes, or potatoes. A similar difference of opinion applies regarding beverages (with the exception of wine).

The Rabbis differ on whether the foods or beverages of which one partakes before the meal are covered by the grace after meals, as are the other foods which on eats during the meal, or perhaps they are not covered by the grace after meals and require a berochoh acharonoh (the blessing recited after partaking of foods) of their own.

Accordingly, one should avoid the issue and eat or drink them only before the meal, recite a berochoh acharonoh, and not partake of them again within the meal. * If one did not recite a berochoh acharonoh for them before the meal, one can recite it during the meal or even after the grace after meals.**

* {For other reasons, the Mishnoh B'rurah (176:02) mentions that unless one eats these foods with the intent of arousing one's appetite it is preferable to refrain from eating them immediately before a meal.}

** {Folowing the advice given by the Kitzur Shulchon Oruch avoids all problems. Nevertheless, there is somewhat of a consensus among the later halachic authorities concerning this matter. With regard to foods which require a blessing before eating them within the meal, should one partake of them before the meal and have in mind to partake of them during the meal as well, it is not necessary to recite a berochoh acharonoh for them. However, should one desire before the meal to partake of foods which do not require a blessing when eaten within the meal, a separate Berochoh acharonoh is required (Chayei Odom, the Poskim of Rav Schneur Zalman of Liadi in his Siddur, and the Mishnoh B'rurah 176:2).}

If one [did not recite a berochoh acharonoh before the meal and] also partook of these foods within the meal, [one should not recite a berochoh acharonoh after the grace after meals, in deference to the opinion which maintains that such a blessing is unnecessary]. However, one should follow the stringency of eating or drinking a food that requires the same berochoh acharonoh after the conclusion of the grace after meals. When one recite the berochoh acharonoh after the conclusion of the grace after meals. When one recite the berochoh acharonoh for that food, one should have in mind that it covers whatever was eaten or drunk before the meal.

2. There are authorities who maintain that a person who desires to drink wine before washing his hands for a meal need not recite a berochoh acharonoh for the wine, even if he will not drink any other wine during the meal. They explain that the wine is considered part of the meal and, hence, covered by the grace after meals, since it stimulates one's taste buds and aroused one's appetite for food.

However, other authorities disagree, and maintain that even if one intends to drink wine during the meal, the wine drunk before the meal is not covered by the grace after meals. Hence, one should avoid drinking wine before a meal unless one also intends to drink at least a revi'is (the smallest amount of wine which requires a berochoh acharonoh) after the grace after meals. In the latter instance, one should recite the berochoh acharonoh (al hagefen), and have in mind to cover also the wine which was drunk before the meal.*

* {A person who did not follow this advice and drank wine before the meal need not recite a berochoh acharonoh. He should have the intention that the grace after meals covers the wine he drank before the meal (Shulchon Oruch HoRav 174:6, Mishnoh B'rurah 174:6).It must be noted that the above discussion does not apply to the wine drunk for kiddish on the Sabbath and festivals. In that instance, the wine is obviously coming in connection with the meal, and hence is covered by the grace after meals (Shulchon Oruch HoRav 174:8).}

If one desires to drink other alcoholic beverages before a meal, regardless of whether one intends to partake of them within the meal or not, one should take care to drink less than an olive measure (k'zayis*). If one eats or drinks more than a k'zayis, there is a question whether a berochoh acharonoh should be recited.**

* {Accoring to Shiurei Torah, a k'zayis is approximately 26 grams in modern measure. Rav Moshe Feinstein fixes the figure at approximately 31 grams, and the Chazon Ish at approximately 36 grams.}

** {The Shulchon Oruch HoRav 174:3 and the Mishnoh B'rurah 174:6 explain that alcoholic beverages also stimulate the appetite, and hence are considered to be part of the meal and are covered by the grace after meals.}

3. With regard to pastries - e.g., honey cake, egg kichel, and the like - which require the berochoh acharonoh of al hamichyoh: Should a person desire to partake of them before washing for a meal, regardless of whether or not he will also partake of them in the meal, they are covered by the grace after meals (for the grace after meals covers all foods that require the blessing al hamichyou).*

* {In hi sPesokim to the Siddur, Rav Schneur Zalman of Liadi maintains that it is advisable to recite al hamichyoh on pastry unless one eats it to stimulate his appetite.}

The above applies provided one does not make a prolonged interruption between eating the pastry and washing before the meal. However, if one makes a prolonged interruption, it is necessary to recite al hamichyoh on the pastry one ate, even if one intends to eat this pastry within the meal as well.

   
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