Time Limit for Making an After Bracha, by Rabbi Ariel Gorenstein

Before and after one eats, he is required to recite a bracha[1].

 The requirement to recite an after bracha can expire, at which time it becomes prohibited to recite the bracha. The Mishna sites that the time allotment to say an after bracha is until the food that was eaten has become digested[2], and the Talmud clarifies that this refers to the time when the food begins to digest. Being that it is quite difficult to discern exactly when one’s food begins to digest, the Code of Jewish Law offers practical advice, stating that “as long as one is not yet hungry or thirsty, nor desires to eat the food that he has eaten[3], he still recites the after bracha[4].”  

The later authorities point out that the above advice applies only when one has eaten to the point of satiation. However, when eating smaller amounts, one’s feeling of hunger, thirst or desire may not be indicative of digestion at all. Further, even when one was satiated by what he ate, not all foods satisfy in the same way.

The following is practical guide to the time limit for an after bracha.

Eating to Satiation

Regarding foods that ordinarily sustain a person’s feeling of satiation for an extended time, such as bread, grains, meat, etc., the halacha is as follows[5]:

  • From the time one has finished eating and for the following 72 minutes[6], he may certainly recite an after bracha[7].
  • Between 72 minutes and up to six hours:
  • If one is certain that he is not yet hungry he may still recite the after bracha.
  • If he is uncertain as to whether or not he is hungry again, if he was in the middle of a bread meal:
  • he should eat some more food without reciting a new before bracha[8] [9].
  • If he doesn’t have any more food available, he should recite the after bracha anyway[10].
  • If he is uncertain as to whether or not he is hungry again, and he was not in the middle of a bread meal:
  • he should preferably find something that was not originally included in his before bracha, but has the same after bracha as whatever he already ate. He should make the bracha before and after eating a kizayit of this food.
  • If he doesn’t have anything new to eat, he should continue eating whatever he was previously eating without reciting a new before bracha[11] [12]. After eating an additional kizayit[13], he should recite the after bracha.
  • If he doesn’t have anything at all to eat, he should not say the after bracha.
  • After six hours, one may no longer recite the after bracha (and would be obligated to make a new bracha before eating anything).

Regarding foods that do not generally sustain for an extended time such as fruits and vegetables, etc…, or if one drank until the point of quenching his thirst, the halacha is as follows[14]:

  • From the time he has finished eating or drinking and for the following 72 minutes[15], one can certainly recite an after bracha[16].
  • After 72 minutes,
  • if he still feels satiated or has a doubt,
  • he should preferably find something that was not originally included in his before bracha, but has the same after bracha as whatever he already ate. He should make the bracha before and after eating a kizayit of this food.
  • If he doesn’t have anything new to eat, he should continue eating whatever he was previously eating without reciting a new before bracha[17] [18]. After eating an additional kizayit, he should recite the after bracha.
  • If he doesn’t have anything at all to eat, he should not say the after bracha.
  • If he no longer feels satiated, he may no longer recite the after bracha (and would be obligated to make a new bracha before eating anything).

Snacking, etc…

After consuming a small amount, one’s hunger or desire to eat is not a proper indicator that his food has begun digesting. A light snack can arouse a newfound, stronger desire to continue eating​ beyond what one was originally intending.  Sometimes that desire continues to grow, while sometimes it subsides shortly after being aroused. In such circumstances, it is clear that the feeling of hunger or desire is not indicative of digestion.  

The practical advice in the above situation is as follows:

  • Within 11 minutes of eating a small snack, one may say the after bracha in any event[19].
  • Between 11 minutes and 72 minutes, one may not say an after bracha since there is a doubt as to whether or not he is still required[20]. However, he may continue to eat what he was originally eating without making a new “before bracha.[21] ” One should eat a kizayit[22]  more of what he was eating before, or a kizayit of another food with the same after bracha, in order to be able to say the after bracha.  
  • After 72 minutes, one is required to recite a new “before bracha,” and need not bring himself into an a clear obligation to make an “after bracha.”

The above is only an abbreviated summary of the topic. If you have any questions regarding the above, or any other halachic questions, feel free to email them to me at rg@thewayinside.org


[1] A bracha is required before eating even the smallest amount, and after eating a כזית בכדי אכילת פרס – roughly 25.6cm³ over the course of nine minutes (see A.R.S.A. O.C. 168, 7. See fn. 13 below.)  

[2] Brochot 51b

[3] See Mishna Brurah (M.B.) Orach Chaim (O.C.) 184, 19, where it states that the Shluchan Aruch (S.A.) does not necessarily mean that one has to be hungry for the same foods as he ate earlier. Rather, as long as he has a new appetite to eat anything else, he has lost the opportunity to recite the after bracha. See, however, the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch (A.R.S.A.) ibid, 3, where he quotes the S.A. verbatim. וצ”ע.

[4] S.A. O.C. 184, 5

[5] See Piskei Teshuvos 184, 9

[6]  The amount of time that it takes to walk four ‘mil.’ Although there are many opinions regarding exactly how long it takes to walk a ‘mil,’ there seems to be a consensus regarding our discussion to rely on the opinion that a ‘mil’ is 18 minutes.

[7] See A.R.S.A. ibid, and Biur Birchos HaNehenin P. 162 fn. 3

[8] As long as it’s the same food and there was no hesech hadaas (see Seder Birchas Hanehenen Ch. 5 & 9).

[9] See A.R.S.A. O.C. 167, 12

[10] The after bracha for a satiating  bread meal is a Torah obligation and ספק דאורייתא להחמיר (see A.R.S.A. O.C. 184, 2). See Seder Birchas Hanehenen Ch. 2 on how to determine how much bread constitutes a Torah obligation.

[11] See fn 8

[12] See A.R.S.A. O.C. 167, 12

[13]  A Kizayit is a volume measurement which translates into 25.6cm³ (see A.R.S.A. O.C. 486. And the sefer Shiurei HaTorah by HaRav Avrohom Chaim Noeh).

[14]  See Piskei Teshuvos 184, 10

[15]  See fn 6

[16] See A.R.S.A. ibid, and Biur Birchos HaNehenin P. 162 fn. 3

[17] See fn 8

[18] See A.R.S.A. O.C. 167, 12

[19] A.R.S.A. O.C. 184, 3, states that when eating a small amount, one should make the after bracha “immediately” when finished eating. See Kitzos HaShulchan Ch. 60 (in Badei HaShulchan 20), who explains this to mean as stated in the body of the article.

[20] See A.R.S.A. ibid.

[21] A.R.S.A. ibid.

[22] See fn. 13

By | 2017-05-30T14:41:03+00:00 May 30th, 2017|Brachas|0 Comments

About the Author:

Leave A Comment