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Blog Image: Sefer-Open.JPG
The Correct Bracha on Sushi (part 1)
Reprinted from The Halacha Hotline of Five Towns and Far Rockaway:

During the last decade, sushi has become quite a popular food, served at many types of venues and in people’s homes. Since sushi contains several ingredients, a question arises as to the proper b’rachah to recite when eating it. Certainly, when one eats sushi as part of a bread meal, one does not recite a b’rachah on the sushi, since the b’rachah on the bread exempts most other b’rachos (see notes).[1],[2] The question arises when one eats sushi not as part of a bread meal.

In order to resolve this question properly, we must first discuss some basic hilchos b’rachos. When one eats a food that is a composite or mixture of two distinct food items, each of which generally requires a different b’rachah, a question arises as to whether to recite one b’rachah before eating the composite food or two b’rachos – one b’rachah before eating a bit of one of the food items and a second b’rachah before eating a bit of the second food item. The proper procedure depends on several factors, some of which will be discussed here. It should be noted that these halachos are extremely complicated; in this article we will present only the main factors, and we will limit our discussion to cases in which there is no presence of one of the five grains (wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and rye) in the composite food. See The Laws of B’rachos (ArtScroll, chapter 7) for a more extensive discussion.

Often times, one of the foods in the composite food can be classified in halacha as the ikar (main [ingredient]), and the other(s) as a tafeil (subordinate [ingredient]) to the ikar. In such cases, generally a b’rachah is made on the ikar and not on the tafeil;[3] the b’rachah on the ikar effectively covers the tafeil (see note).[4] Two simple applications of this principle are: a) When one eats a bread meal, the bread is considered the ikar and (most of) the other foods eaten during the meal are considered tafeil to the bread; b) When one eats one food that has added to it a second food merely to enhance the taste of the first food (such as jelly on a rice cracker). In such a case, the first food is considered the ikar and the second food is considered the tafeil, and one recites only the b’rachah of the ikar.[5]

For example, if one wishes to eat a bowl of rice cereal – whose b’rachah is borei minei mezonos – and adds to the cereal small pieces of banana – whose b’rachah when eaten independently is borei p’ri ha’adamah, and adds milk – whose b’rachah when drunk independently is shehakol nih’yeh bidvaro, one recites only the b’rachah of borei minei mezonos since the rice cereal is considered the ikar whereas the bananas and the milk are considered tafeil (unless one added a considerable amount of banana or milk to the cereal, or the pieces of banana are large and eaten separately).[6] The reason is that the motivating factor in eating the mixture of cereal, milk, and bananas is the interest in the cereal; the milk and banana serve merely to enhance the cereal.

Sometimes, deciding which food is the ikar and which is the tafeil is not as clear-cut. For example, let us say one has a mixture of tree nuts – whose b’rachah is borei p’ri ha’eitz – and peanuts – whose b’rachah is borei p’ri ha’adamah. Are the tree nuts considered the ikar and the peanuts the tafeil, or vice versa? Halacha dictates that the food that one prefers is considered the ikar, and the other food is considered tafeil.[7] Thus, in the case at hand, if the motivating factor in one’s eating the mixture is the presence of the tree nuts, the tree nuts would be the ikar and the peanuts would be the tafeil, and the b’rachah on the mixture would be only borei p’ri ha’eitz. Conversely, if the motivating factor in one’s eating the mixture is the presence of the peanuts, the peanuts would be the ikar and the tree nuts would be the tafeil, and the proper b’rachah would be only borei p’ri ha’adamah.

If one has no preference for one over the other, and has an equal desire to eat the tree nuts and the peanuts, which should be considered the ikar? In such a case, halacha dictates that the food type that comprises the majority (that is, more than 50%) of the mixture is considered the ikar.[8] Thus, in the case at hand, if tree nuts comprise the majority, the proper b’rachah would be borei p’ri ha’eitz, whereas if the peanuts would comprise the majority, the proper b’rachah would be borei p’ri ha’adamah. This ruling holds true even if one is only the majority by a small margin.

It should be noted that this ruling holds true even if there are several types of tree nuts in the mixture such that no one type of nut comprises more than 50% of the mixture, but the tree nuts in total comprise more than 50% of the mixture.[9] For example, let say the mixture contains 35% cashews, 30% filberts, and 30% peanuts. No single item comprises the majority of the mixture. However, since the b’rachah on both cashews and filberts is the same – borei p’ri ha’eitz, the mixture consists of a majority of food whose b’rachah is borei p’ri ha’eitz (cashews and filberts) and a minority of food whose b’rachah is borei p’ri ha’adamah (peanuts), so the proper b’rachah for the mixture is borei p’ri ha’eitz. This principle is not limited to foods of the same food group (e.g., two types of nuts); it applies just as well to foods of different food groups but have the same b’rachah. For example, if a food dish contained fish, eggs, and vegetable, and the fish and eggs (whose b’rachah when eaten independently is shehakol nih’yeh bidvaro) comprised the majority of the food dish, the b’rachah would be shehakol nih’yeh bidvaro, even though neither the fish nor the eggs alone comprise the majority and they are from different food groups.

It is important to stress that – as mentioned above –halacha dictates determining the ikar based on the majority food in the mixture only if one does not have a clear preference for one of the foods in the mixture. However, if one has a clear preference for the minority – such that one is really eating the mixture only due to the presence of the minority – the minority is considered the ikar and the majority is considered the tafeil, and one would make only the b’rachah of the minority.[10] For example, let us say one is eating a mixture of tree nuts – whose b’rachah is borei p’ri ha’eitz – and chocolate chips – whose b’rachah is shehakol nih’yeh bidvaro, and the tree nuts comprise the majority of the mixture, but one has a preference for the chocolate chips, such that one is eating the mixture primarily for the chocolate chips and not for the tree nuts. In such a case, the chocolate chips would be the ikar and the proper b’rachah would be shehakol nih’yeh bidvaro. See note for an interesting application of these points.[11]

If there is no “b’rachah type” that comprises the majority, none of the food items that comprise the mixture is considered an ikar in relation to the others. Which b’rachah or b’rachos should be said in such a case? The resolution will be discussed in a subsequent article.

In next week’s article, IY”H,[12] we will discuss how the principles presented in this article apply to sushi.
[1] Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 177:1. The reason for this halacha will be explained below in the article. It should be noted that according to many Poskim (halachic authorities) the b’rachah over bread only exempts the b’rachah over the other foods if one eats a k’zayis (olive-size piece) of bread. See Mishnah Berurah 177:3 and Aruch Hashulchan 177:2. Cf. Dirshu Mishnah Berurah n.e. 177:3 note 4.
[2] One who drinks wine (or grape juice) in middle of a bread meal must recite a b’rachah over the wine, unless one drank wine for Kiddush and expected to drink more wine during the meal. See S.A. O.C. 174:1,4. Also, a b’rachah might be required when eating fruit in middle of a bread meal and when eating dessert following a bread meal. The discussion of these scenarios is beyond the scope of this article.
[3] S.A. 212:1.
[4] Such is the understanding of the majority of the Poskim (halachic authorities). See Introduction to chapter 7 of The Laws of B’rachos, with note 3.
[5] M.B. 212:1.
[6] Igros Moshe O.C. 4:43; see also Be’er Moshe 5:53. Even if during the course of eating the cereal one ate a piece of banana from the bowl independently, one would not recite a b’rachah on the banana. Similarly, if during the course of eating the cereal one sipped a spoonful of milk from the bowl independently, one would not recite a b’rachah on the milk. See M.B. 168:46. see also note in Dirshu Mishnah Berurah for more examples.
[7] See M.B. 212:1.
[8] S.A. 208:7; M.B. 212:1.
[9] Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, cited in V’zos Hab’rachah page 94.
[10] M.B. 202:31 and 212:1; Bi’ur Halacha 212:1 s.v. Im ha’ikar me’urav.
[11] Chocolate covered peanuts: If one were to eat them primarily for the chocolate, one would recite only a shehakol nih’yeh bidvaro – the b‘rachah over the chocolate, whereas if one were to eat them primarily for the peanut, one would recite only a borei p’ri ha’adamah – the b‘rachah over the peanuts. If one eats them for both the chocolate and the peanuts, there is a dispute amongst the Poskim as to the proper b’rachah. See The Laws of B’rachos page 215 for a discussion.
[12] Im Yirtzeh Hashem (G-d Willing).


Posted 5/31/2018 11:42 PM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)

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