By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt | Series: | Level:


The proper blessing over cholent depends on the ingredients:

A cholent which contains beans, potatoes and small pieces of meat or chicken requires only borei peri ha-adamah. It is considered a “single-entity mixture” since the entire mixture is eaten together in one spoonful. Because the ha-adamah ingredients constitute the majority of the cholent mixture, they determine the blessing for the cholent[1]. Even if the cholent has a soupy consistency, no shehakol blessing is required. The berachah acharonah is borei nefashos.

When kishke is served along with cholent, the kishke requires a blessing of borei minei mezonos. Since the kishke is generally not eaten in the same spoonful as the cholent, its blessing does not exempt the rest of the cholent from the blessing of ha-adamah[2], and therefore two blessings are required.

The other type of cholent is the kind which contains barley in addition to potatoes, beans and small pieces of meat or chicken. This kind of cholent requires only a mezonos blessing. Since it is a “single-entity mixture” which contains one of the five species of grain (barley), the barley assumes the halachic status of ikar (a preeminent ingredient), even if there is less barley than beans and potatoes[3]. The mezonos said over the barley exempts all the other ingredients in the cholent. In order for the barley to be considered the ikar, however, the following two conditions must be met:

  • The barley must be added to the cholent for the purpose of enhancing its taste. If it is added to the cholent just as a binding or thickening agent[4], or to give it color or aroma[5], a mezonos is not said over the barley [or the cholent].
  • The taste of the barley must actually be noticeable in the mixture[6].

In most cases when barley is added to the cholent, the above two conditions are met. The proper blessing, then, is mezonos. No other blessing should be made over the other ingredients[7]. If, after reciting a mezonos on the barley, one recites another blessing, such as ha-adamah on the potatoes or shehakol on the meat, he may be reciting a blessing in vain[8]. If one recites ha-adamah or shehakol before the mezonos, he may be reciting an unnecessary blessing[9].

An exception to the above rules is when the cholent contains large pieces of meat and chicken which are not eaten together with the rest of the cholent[10]. In that case, a shehakol is said over the meat or chicken after the mezonos has been recited over the cholent.

The berachah acharonah on barley cholent depends on the amount of barley consumed. If one eats a k’zayis of barley in three to four minutes or less, al ha-michyah is said. No borei nefashos is required[11]. If less than that amount of barley is eaten, a borei nefashos is said over the rest of the cholent.

The preferred method when eating a barley cholent at a kiddush is to recite a mezonos over the cake at the beginning of the kiddush while having in mind the cholent as well[12]; this obviates the need for a blessing over the cholent. The al ha-michyah recited over the cake will include the cholent also, thus making it unnecessary to estimate the amount of barley eaten and the time span within which it was consumed.

Note, however, that when barley cholent is served there is no need at all to eat cake, as one may fulfill his obligation of Kiddush b’makom seudah by eating a k’zayis of barley from the cholent[13].

Beracha Acharona

Al ha-michyah is recited when a k’zayis is eaten within a time-span of no longer than 3-4 minutes[14]. The k’zayis must be composed entirely of flour; the other ingredients do not count towards the minimum[15]. Many people, however, are not accurate in ascertaining the exact amount of flour they ate and some poskim find a source to excuse their inexactitude[16] if at least the majority of the mixture is pure flour[17]. Fillings such as cream in a seven layer cake, apple filling in a pie, or cheese in a cheese cake, are certainly not counted as part of the k’zayis[18].

Note: Washing hands, reciting Al netilas yadayim, and reciting Birkas ha-Mazon are required when eating an amount of baked goods that constitutes kevius seudah, i.e., an amount of food that has the halachic status of eating a regular meal (as opposed to a snack). When one eats such a substantial amount, the baked goods are halachically treated like bread. For the many details of this halachah, see The Weekly Halachah Discussion to Parashas Eikev.

When it comes to liquids, a berachah acharonah is not recited unless at least a revi’is is consumed. For the purpose of hilchos berachos, we follow the view of the poskim that a revi’is is the amount of liquid that fills a cup which holds three fluid oz.

  • Borei nefashos [or Al ha-gefen] is recited only after drinking at least 3 oz. However, there are poskim who require a berachah acharonah after drinking as little as 1 oz. To satisfy all opinions, one should not drink an amount between 1 oz. and 3 oz. l’chatchilah[19].
  • Many poskim hold that the 3 oz. must be consumed within shiur shesias revi’is[20], which is a very short time period[21]. L’chatchilah, therefore, the amount required should be drunk in one or two sips. One who took longer to drink the 3 oz., which can happen when drinking piping hot beverages, should not recite Borei nefashos unless he left at least 3 oz. to cool off and drank it within a few seconds[22].

Question: Should one who drank a revi’is of wine or grape juice, but mistakenly said Al ha-michyah v’al ha-kalkalah instead of Al ha-gefen v’al peri ha-gefen, repeat the blessing of Al ha-gefen?

Discussion: No, he should not, since b’diavad Al ha-michyah covers wine too[23].

But the halachah is not as clear in a case when one not only drank wine but also ate a k’zayis of cake and then said Al ha-michyah but forgot to mention Al ha-gefen v’al peri ha-gefen. Some poskim hold that in this case, too, Al ha-gefen need not be repeated, since b’diavad the blessing of Al ha-michyah covers wine as well[24]. But other poskim maintain that Al ha-michyah only covers wine when inadvertently one said Al ha-michyah instead of Al ha-gefen. In this case, however, the person apparently forgot about the wine altogether and intended to make a berachah acharonah over the cake only. Thus, no berachah acharonah was said over the wine and Al ha-gefen must be repeated[25].

Since a dispute remains as to whether or not one is required to repeat Al ha-gefen in the latter case, we must follow the principle of safek berachos l’hakel; Al ha-gefen, therefore, is not repeated[26].

1. O.C. 208:7. Mishnah Berurah 204:57; 207:7; 212:1.

2. Aruch ha-Shulchan 212:2.

3. Mishnah Berurah and Aruch ha-Shulchan 212:1. This is true even if the taste of the barley is not the preferred one.

4. O.C. 208:2.

5. O.C. 204:12.

6. Mishnah Berurah 208:49; Beiur Halachah 208:9, s.v. mevarech; Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 212:6; oral ruling from Rav M. Feinstein (quoted in Guide to Practical Halachah, vol. 2, pg. 204).

7. Note that a dissenting opinion (Chayei Adam 51:13; 54:9; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 54:5; Shevet ha-Levi 7:27) maintains that when each item is recognizable, a separate berachah is made over each. Mishnah Berurah and Aruch ha-Shulchan, however, do not agree, and Rav S.Z. Auerbach (Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 94) and Rav Y.S. Elyashiv (Vesein Berachah, pg. 63) rule that one need not concern himself with the dissenting opinion.

8. Mishnah Berurah 168:43.

9. This is based on a disagreement among the poskim; see Sha’arei Teshuvah 212:1; Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav 249:4; Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 212:15.

10. Aruch ha-Shulchan 212:2; Rav Y.S. Elyashiv (quoted in Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 109).

11. O.C. 212:1; Mishnah Berurah 208:48; Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:68.

12. The blessing is valid even though the cholent has not yet been served.

13. See O.C. 639:2, Mishnah Berurah 15 and Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 35.

14. O.C. 208:9.

15. See Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:71; E.H. 1:114; Divrei Yoel 1:13; Rav Y.S. Elyashiv (quoted in Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 46). This is also the ruling of the Brisker Rav (quoted in Teshuvos v’Hanhagos 1:132).

16. Mishnah Berurah 208:48; Chazon Ish, O.C. 26:8.

17. Rav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Vesein Berachah, pg. 530).

18. Minchas Shlomo 1:91-4. See also Halachos of K’zayis, pg. 134 and Yalkut Yosef 3:491.

19. O.C. 190:3 and Mishnah Berurah 9 and 14.

20. See O.C. 612:10 and Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 210:12.

21. See Aruch ha-Shulchan 202:6-8; Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 210:11.

22. Mishnah Berurah 210:1. Many poskim, however, allow reciting Borei nefashos over hot tea or coffee, and one who follows that custom, may continue to do so; see Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 42 and pg. 200, who quotes several contemporary authorities who follow this custom.

23. Be’er Heitev, O.C. 208:23; Kaf ha-Chayim 108:89, quoting many poskim.

24. Peri Megadim (Pesichah to Hilchos Berachos 10, s.v. merish); Kaf ha-Chayim 108:76.

25. Har Tzvi 1:105; Minchas Shlomo 1:91-6; Cheishev ha-Eifod 3:43.

26. Rav C. Kanievksy (She’elas Rav, pg. 289); Rivevos Efrayim 8:72.

Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2011 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and

Rabbi Neustadt is the Yoshev Rosh of the Vaad Harabbonim of Detroit and the Av Beis Din of the Beis Din Tzedek of Detroit. He could be reached at [email protected]