Selected Halachos Relating 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 not(1).
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
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
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
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
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
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
7. Mishnah Berurah 174:37. See also 473:53.
8. Based on Mishnah Berurah 174:39 and 176:2 (Alef).
9. Mishnah Berurah 177:8 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 13.
10. Beiur Halachah 177:1; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Vezos
ha-Berachah, pg. 76).
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.
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 Chofetz Chayim changed his
18. Custom of the Brisker Rav (quoted in Teshuvos v'Hanhagos
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 © 1997 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
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Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily
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