QUESTION: What is the proper berachah rishonah over avocado?
DISCUSSION: A plant whose trunk survives the winter months and
fruit annually is classified as a tree in regard to hilchos berachos.(1)
The avocado is such a tree and its berachah rishonah, therefore, is Borei
When avocado is eaten as part of a vegetable salad, and the
majority of the salad consists of vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes or
cucumber, then a Borei peri ha-adamah is recited over the entire salad and
no specific blessing is recited on the avocado.(2) Even if, mistakenly,
one made a Borei peri ha-aeitz over the avocado, he would be required to
recite a Borei peri ha-adamah over the rest of the salad.(3)
QUESTION: If avocado is eaten as a spread on crackers, does it
own berachah rishonah?
DISCUSSION: It depends if one is eating avocado spread on crackers
crackers with avocado. In other words, if the main intent is to eat
crackers and the avocado is merely being used to enhance the flavor of the
crackers, then only a Borei minei mezonos [and Al ha-michyah afterwards]
is recited over the crackers. If, however, the main - or equal - intent is
to partake of the avocado, and the crackers are merely being used as
a "base" for the avocado spread, then two berachos are required - first a
Borei minei mezonos on the crackers and then a Borei peri ha-aeitz over
the avocado.(4) [Afterwards, Borei nefashos must be recited as well, but
only if at least 1 oz. of avocado was consumed.]
The same halachah applies to other foods which are not cooked
together but are still eaten together, like tuna fish salad eaten along
with vegetables. If the core of the meal is the tuna, and the vegetables
are merely enhancers for the tuna, like diced celery or pickles that are
are added to perk up the flavor of the the tuna, then only a Shehakol is
recited. If, however, an entire salad is served with the tuna and the
intent is to serve both tuna and vegetables as equally important parts of
the meal, then two separate berachos are required.
QUESTION: How can one make guacamole (a semi-liquid dip made from
avocado, lemon juice, dressing or mayonnaise) on Shabbos?
DISCUSSION: Making an avocado dip might entail a violation of the
forbidden Shabbos Labor of Tochen, Grinding. In order to avoid Tochen
according to all opinions, one should mash the avocado with the handle of
a fork, spoon or knife immediately before the avocado dip is to be eaten.
(5) To better understand why this is recommended, we must first list three
points of dispute among the authorities:
* There is a dispute among the poskim as to whether or not mashing is
* There is a dispute among the poskim whether or not grinding food
immediately before it will be eaten is permitted.(7)
* There is a dispute among the poskim whether or not it is permitted to
grind in an abnormal manner, i.e., using the handle of a knife, fork or
Therefore, in order to satisfy all of the views, it is advisable
to mash an avocado in an abnormal manner and to do so right before the
meal. But clearly, one may rely on the authorities who allow even normal
grinding right before a meal or abnormal grinding even not immediately
prior to a meal.(9)
The lemon juice, dressing or mayonnaise may be poured onto the
mashed avocado and mixed with it. There is no question of transgressing
Lishah, Kneading, since kneading is only prohibited when liquid is used to
create a single mass from loose particles, which is not the case here.
The lemon juice may also be squeezed from a fresh lemon, since
there is no question of Sechitah, Squeezing, when the juice of a fruit is
squeezed directly into a solid food(10) - as long as most of the juice is
absorbed by the food.(11) It is forbidden, however, to squeeze juice out
of a lemon into an empty dish and then add the avocado to it.
QUESTION: What are the halachos in regard to the mitzvah min ha-
rising for an older person - mipnei seivah takum?
DISCUSSION: The Torah commands that one give honor to any frum Jew -
or woman(12) - over the age of seventy(13) by rising to one's full height
when the older person comes within four amos (approx. 6-8 feet),(14) until
the older person leaves the area of his four amos.(15) Although the older
person is not necessarily a learned or distinguished person, we still
recognize and pay tribute to him "because in his great number of years he
has seen and recognized a bit of the workings of Hashem and his wonders,
and he is thus worthy of honor."(16)
Although the halachah clearly obligates one to rise to his full
height when honoring an older person, it is true that many people are not
careful to fulfill this mitzvah properly and rise only slightly when an
older person approaches. While some poskim attempt to justify this custom
on halachic grounds,(17) it does not change the basic halachah that
obligates one to stand fully in order to perform this mitzvah properly.
QUESTION: Under which circumstances is one exempt from fulfilling
mitzvah of mipnei seivah takum?
DISCUSSION: In the following cases the mitzvah of mipnei seiva
which requires one to rise to his full height, does not apply. Instead,
the mitzvah is merely to show some measure of respect, such as rising
slightly from one's seat:
* When the "younger" person is also over seventy.(18)
* When the younger person is a greater talmid chacham than the older
* When the younger person is an employee and standing up will require
wasting his employer's time.(20)
* When the older person specifically forgoes the honor that is due to him.
* When the younger person is in the middle of davening and standing will
disturb his kavanah.(22)
* When the younger person is ill, or a mourner during shivah.(23)
1 Rama O.C. 203:2.
2 Mishnah Berurah 212:1.
3 O.C. 206:1.
4 Based on Mishnah Berurah 168:44, 212:6 and Igros Moshe O.C. 4:43.
5 For a halachic definition of what "immediately" means, see The Monthly
Halachah Discussion, pgs. 262-263.
6 Igros Moshe (O.C. 4:74, Tochen 2) and Yechaveh Da'as 5:27 rule that
mashing is not synonymous with grinding; grinding is only when an item is
ground into tiny particles, like flour, not when it is mashed into one [or
several] large - albeit very soft - piece. Chazon Ish (O.C. 57) strongly
disagrees and maintains that mashing is a more serious transgression than
7 Mishnah Berurah 321:45 quotes both views and does not object to those
who follow the lenient opinion. Many other poskim also rule leniently (see
Pri Megadim, Shulchan Aruch Harav, Aruch ha-Shulchan and Igros Moshe
ibid.), while Chazon Ish (O.C. 57) disagrees and prohibits grinding and
mashing even when done immediately before the meal. See also Kitzur
Shulchan Aruch 80:21 who rules stringently.
8 Many poskim, including Mishnah Berurah (321:25), Chazon Ish (O.C. 57)
and Igros Moshe (O.C. 4:74, Tochen 2), rule leniently on this issue. But
several others maintain that grinding abnormally is only permitted when
done immediately prior to the meal; (Kaf ha-Chayim 321:37, quoting Olas
Shabbos; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:20; Aruch ha-Shulchan 321:12; Eglei Tal,
Tochen 30, 5).
9 It is difficult, however, to rely on the argument that mashing is not
grinding, since Igros Moshe himself seems to rely on this argument only
when the mashing is done right before the meal. See also Shevet ha-Levi
7:92 who disproves Igros Moshe's ruling from Rabbeinu Chananel.
10 O.C. 320:4.
11Mishnah Berurah 505:5.
12 Sefer Chasidim 578, quoted by Beis Yehudah, vol. 1, Y.D. 28; Chida
(Bris Olam on Sefer Chisidim); Minchas Chinuch 257:3. Yechaveh Da'as 3:72.
See, however, Ben Ish Chai, Ki Seitzei 16, who quotes the Arizal who seems
to hold that one need not rise for an older woman.
13 According to Kabbalah, the mitzvah begins at age 60, and several poskim
rule that one should follow this opinion; see Shoel U'meishiv 3, 1-110,
Minchas Chinuch 257:9 and Ben Ish Chai, Ki-Szeitzei, 12.
14 Y.D. 255:1 and Aruch ha-Shulchan 2, 4. When in doubt whether or not the
individual is seventy, one should be stringent and rise; Tosfos Chayim on
Chayei Adam 69:2; Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (Mevakshei Torah, vol. 4, pg. 249).
17 See Meiri, Kidushin 32b s.v. zaken, who writes that the mitzvah of
mipnei seivah takum [unlike standing up for a talmid chacham] does not
require one to rise to his full height. See also Teshuvos Kenesses
Yechezkel 7 and Aruch ha-Shulchan 244:10-12 who attempt to justify the
18 Y.D. 244:8.
19 Y.D. 244:7.
20 Y.D. 244:5.
21 See Teshuvos Radvaz 8-167 who rules that even when the older person
forgoes his honor, one should still respect him by rising slightly. Harav
Y.S Elyashiv, however, rules that this is unnecessary. (Mevakshei Torah,
vol. 4, pg. 249).