The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.
For final rulings, consult your Rav.
Houses filled with every good thing... orchards and olive trees...and you shall eat and be satisfied (6:11)
BERACHAH RISHONAH: PROBLEMATIC FOODS
Many unique halachos pertain specifically to Tishah b'Av that
falls on Shabbos, in which case the fast is postponed until
The berachah rishonah for many of the foods listed below is
problematic, so we have attempted to present a clear decision
for each one based on the views of the majority of the
contemporary poskim. Most of the decisions follow the rulings of
the venerable halachic authority, Harav S.Z. Auerbach Zt"l.
Many facts must be ascertained before determining the correct
berachah rishonah for a given food: What is the nature of the
plant or tree from which it is derived? What is the exact
make-up of each of its components? What manufacturing processes
were used? etc. etc. Based on all of the data available, the
poskim have rendered the following decisions(1):
Apple kugel: mezonos. [If the flour is added just to "bind" the
apple mixture but not to enhance its taste, ha-eitz is recited.]
Apple sauce: Commercially produced apple sauce in which the
apples are reduced to a nearly liquid state - shehakol. Home
made applesauce which is usually lumpy and contains small pieces
of the apple - ha-eitz(2).
Barley soup: mezonos(3).
Blackberry: ha-eitz It grows on a tree which stays alive
throughout the winter months and reaches a height of over 10
Blueberry: ha-eitz. See Blackberry.
Bread sticks: mezonos - when eaten as a snack(5). When many
breadsticks are eaten at one sitting, or when eaten as part of a
meal, netilas yadayim and ha-motzi may be required(6).
Chalah kugel: mezonos(7). If the individual pieces of challah
are bigger than a k'zayis (approx. 1 ounce), netilas yadayim and
ha-motzi are required.
Cheese cake: Mezonos. If the dough is meant to merely hold the
cheese filling together, only a shehakol is recited.
Chocolate covered nut or raisin: This is a "combination food,"
generally eaten because the two items complement each other's
taste. According to some poskim, both a shehakol and ha-eitz(8)
are recited(9). [Individuals who regard either the chocolate or
the raisin as merely an "enhancer" to the "main" food, should
recite the blessing on the main food.] Other poskim maintain
that only a shehakol is recited(10).
Chocolate covered orange peels: shehakol(11).
Chicken soup with noodles or croutons: A shehakol is recited
over the soup(12) and a mezonos over the noodles, etc.(13) [Even
though they merely enhance the soup, a mezonos is still
required]. When the noodles or croutons are a majority
ingredient [or a very important minority ingredient, i.e. they
are the main reason that the soup is being drunk], no shehakol
is recited over the soup [unless the soup is drunk
Chicken soup with matzah ball or kreplach: The proper method is
to eat some soup together with some matzah ball and recite only
mezonos(15). Even if a bit of soup is left over, no shehakol is
recited(16). [One who chooses, however, to drink the soup
separately, must recite shehakol.]
Corn chips: shehakol. Corn chips are produced from corn meal.
Cranberry - ha-adamah(17). Cranberries grow on a bush which does
not reach a height of 10 inches.
Falafel balls: Mezonos - since generally they are made from a
mixture of flour and chumus. The flour is added for taste(18).
Fruit cocktail(19): Recite the blessing over the fruit which
constitutes the majority of the mixture(20).
Fruit salad (large chunks of fruit): Separate blessings of
ha-eitz and ha-adamah are required.
Ice cream cone: If the cone serves as a cup to hold the ice
cream, only a shehakol over the ice cream is required. If the
cone is eaten for its own taste (e.g., a sugar cone), a separate
mezonos is required(22).
Licorice: shehakol. The flour in licorice serves as a binder and
does not require a mezonos(23).
Mashed potatoes: ha-adamah. Instant mashed potatoes are also
Meatballs (small) and spaghetti: mezonos - when eaten together
in one spoonful.
Onion rings: mezonos. Generally fried in batter made from grain
Onion soup (made from saut_ed onions): ha-adamah(26). If it is
made from a dehydrated soup mix - shehakol.
Peanut butter (crunchy or plain): shehakol(28) - when eaten
alone. When spread on bread or a cracker, no blessing is recited
over the peanut butter.
Potato chips: ha-adamah
Potato kugel or latke: ha-adamah. If the potatoes are blended
into a liquid state and are no longer recognizable as potatoes,
several poskim maintain that a shehakol is recited(29).
Raspberry: The poskim debate whether its blessing is ha-eitz(31)
or ha-adamah(32). Because of the doubt, ha-adamah is
Rice cakes: The majority of contemporary poskim agree that the
correct blessing is ha-adamah(34), while a minority tends to
rule that the correct blessing is mezonos(35).
Stuffed cabbage: The cabbage, meat and rice are usually eaten
together in one spoonful. Only one blessing is recited - over
the majority ingredient(36).
Vegetable salad with croutons: mezonos and ha-adamah are
required, even though the croutons are merely "enhancers" for
Vegetable soup: ha-adamah. No shehakol is required on the liquid
part of the soup(38).
1. Previous columns have dealt with the proper berachos for
breakfast cereals - see The Weekly Halachah Discussion, pg.
159-169, and cholent, ibid. pg. 140-142.
2. Based on Mishnah Berurah 202:40 and 42. One who recites
ha-eitz on all kinds of applesauce, has valid sources upon which
to rely - see Pischei Halachah, pg. 136.
3. Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Vesein Berachah, pg. 436).
4. Igros Moshe O.C. 1:85. Wild blackberries or blueberries, which
grow on bushes that do not reach a height of 10 inches, require
an ha-adamah. But often, these berries are infested with worms
and require a careful inspection. Commercially available berries
are grown on trees, not on low bushes.
5. Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Vesain Berachah, pg. 468 and Vezos
ha-Berachah, pg. 21). Same rule applies to Melba Toast, bagel
and pita chips - ibid.
6. See details in The Weekly Halachah Discussion, page 479-481.
12. Or on another shehakol item, while intending to exempt the
soup - Chayei Adam quoted in Mishnah Berurah 208:23.
13. Although normally mezonos is recited before shehakol, in this
case the order is reversed; Mishnah Berurah 208:23. Igros Moshe
O.C. 1:68, however, maintains that even in this case the mezonos
is recited before the shehakol.
19. Or a fruit salad in which the fruit is cut up into small
pieces and eaten together in one spoonful.
20. Mishnah Berurah 212:1. Different kinds of ha-eitz fruits
(e.g., apples and oranges) combine to form a majority of
ha-eitz, and vice versa (Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 94, quoting
Harav S.Z. Auerbach and Harav S.Y. Elyashiv).
21. Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Vesain Berachah, pg. 415).