Sequence in Brachas, by Rabbi Ariel Gorenstein
This coming Shabbos is the 15th of Shevat. In honor of this special day and the widespread custom to eat a plethora of fruits in its celebration, I wanted to share some halachas pertaining to the proper order in which the blessings (brachas) on food should be recited.
I. In General
A. Whenever one is presented with multiple foods that all require the same bracha, all the foods are exempted with one bracha. [For example: if one is about to eat an apple, an orange and a pear – all of which require a bracha of בורא פרי העץ (Blessed is the Creator of the fruits of the tree) – the bracha is recited on one of the fruits and the others are “covered” by that bracha.]
B. The bracha of בורא מיני מזונות (Blessed is the Creator of foods that sustain [life]) precedes all other brachas.
C. The bracha of בורא פרי הגפן (Blessed is the Creator of the fruit of the vine) precedes all other brachas other than בורא מיני מזונות.
D. The brachas of בורא פרי העץ and בורא פרי האדמה (Blessed is the Creator of the fruits of the ground) precede the bracha of שהכל נהיה בדברו (Blessed is the One who through His word all things came into being).
E. There are five special fruits for which the Land of Israel is praised. They are olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates, and each of them requires the bracha of בורא פרי העץ.
II. The Proper Sequence
The following are some scenarios in which there are a number of different food items on the table from which one would like to eat…
Scenario #1: One has an assortment of the five special fruits before him:
1. If he does not have any particular preference amongst the fruits, the bracha is made on the most important fruit. The order of importance is as follows:
[For example, if one had all of the above fruits before him, he would recite the bracha of בורא פרי העץ on an olive and it would “cover” the other fruits. If one had a date and a grape in front of him, he would say the bracha on the date, etc…]
2. If he prefers one fruit over the others, he may make the bracha on the fruit he prefers.
Scenario #2: All the fruits on the table require the same bracha (for example, they are all fruits of the tree which require a bracha of בורא פרי העץ), and none of them are from the five special fruits listed above:
1. If all of the fruits are cut (i.e. not whole), it is preferable to make the bracha on whichever fruit one likes the most.
2. If one of the fruits is whole, then it is preferable to make the bracha on the whole fruit, even though he may like one of the cut fruits more.
Scenario #3: There is an assortment of fruits (and other foods) which require different brachas, and none of the fruits are from the five special fruits listed above:
1. If there is a food item which requires a שהכל נהיה בדברו, even if one likes this item more than the fruits that are before him, he must first make the bracha on the fruit.
2. If there are some fruits that require בורא פרי העץ and some fruits (or other foods) that require בורא פרי האדמה, one must first recite the bracha on the fruit (or food) that he likes the most.
3. If there is no food that one likes the most, it is preferable to make the bracha first on the fruit requiring בורא פרי העץ.
Scenario #4: All the fruits require the same bracha, and amongst the fruits there are some of the five special fruits listed above:
1. If one does not have a preference for one fruit over the others, the bracha is to be recited on the fruit for which the Land is praised (see above regarding upon which of these five fruits one is to make the bracha).
2. If one likes one of the fruits more than the others, he may recite the bracha upon it even though it is not one of the fruits for which the Land is praised,.
Scenario #5: Some of the fruits before him are of the five species listed above (which all require בורא פרי העץ), and some food that requires a בורא פרי האדמה:
1. If one likes the food that requires בורא פרי האדמה more than the fruit for which the Land is praised, he must first recite the bracha on the one that he likes more.
2. If there is not a fruit that he likes more than the others, it is preferable to make the bracha בורא פרי העץ first.
The above is only an abbreviated summary of the topic on sequence in brachas. If you have any questions regarding the above, or any other halachic questions, feel free to email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brain teaser: One is faced with the following foods on the table in front of him: a piece of an apple, a whole grape, an olive, a cut cucumber, a whole (cherry) tomato, a glass of wine, a chocolate chip cookie (made from wheat) and some cheese. He really wants the cheese more than anything else, and the cucumber is his usual favorite among the mix. In what order is he supposed to make the brachas? Have a happy 15th of Shevat!
This entire article assumes that one is not presently eating bread.
If one has an olive (whose bracha is בורא פרי העץ) and some “mezonos” food made from barley, oat or rye, the bracha on the olive precedes the “mezonos.”
See Seder Birchas Hanehenen (Ch.3 halachos 14 & 15) for certain instances when a שהכל may actually precede other brachas.
Throughout the article, the fruit the one: “likes the most,” “prefers,” “or “has a preference for,” refers to either the fruit that he usually prefers (i.e. his favorite) or the one that he currently desires the most. If there is both his favorite fruit and a different fruit that he currently desires the most on the table before him, he may say the bracha on whichever one he chooses (see Seder Birchas HaNehenen Ch. 10 halacha 15).
The order of importance amongst these special fruits is derived from the verse: “A land of wheat and barley, vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil producing olives and
[date] honey,” (Devorim 8, 8).