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15. Drinks During a Meal

September 17, 2015 | by Rabbi Shraga Simmons and Rabbi Yair Spolter

When you drink during a bread meal, when is a bracha required and when is it not?

In the last two classes, we've been discussing what foods are covered by the bracha Hamotzee said at the beginning of a meal. The basic rule is that foods eaten for sustenance are covered by Hamotzee, and foods eaten for other purposes are not covered. How does this rule apply to drinks? When you take a drink during a bread meal, when is a bracha required and when is it not?

There are three possible reasons why you'd drink during a meal:

  1. to quench your thirst
  2. to whet your appetite
  3. to aid the digestion process

Quenching Thirst: Since a meal generally consists of eating and drinking, beverages served during a meal to quench your thirst are covered by the Hamotzee on the bread.1 The majority of drinks during a meal fall into this category.

Whetting the Appetite: Similarly, when you take a drink in order to stimulate your appetite, the drink is considered part of the meal and is therefore covered by Hamotzee.2

"In Russia we always started out the meal with a shot of whiskey,"3 Mindy's grandfather told her. "It gave us a hearty appetite. We would say Hamotzee on a piece of bread and then 'bottoms up!'"

Aiding Digestion: Drinking a beverage solely in order to aid digestion is not regarded as eating for satiation. Therefore, such a beverage is considered unrelated to the meal, and a bracha is required.4

Mike ate so much at the holiday dinner that he felt like a stuffed turkey. He asked for a cup of hot tea to help digest the meal, and said Shehakol.

Frequently, however, beverages for "digestion" are also being consumed as a regular drink. In such a case, or in a case where you cannot determine exactly why you are drinking, a bracha is not said on the drink.5 Preferably, you should say Shehakol on something else (e.g. a candy or piece of chocolate), having in mind the drink as well.6

Exception: Wine

We learned in class #8 that wine (and grape juice) was prescribed its own bracha because it is considered more important than other beverages. Another consequence of wine's elevated status is that it requires a bracha when consumed during a bread meal.7 Even though it is part of the meal, wine is not covered by Hamotzee said on the bread.

Now here's a point to consider: If you say Ha'gafen on a glass of wine before the meal begins (i.e. before saying Hamotzee), any wine you drink during the meal is also covered by that initial bracha. This is only true, however, if at the time when you said Ha'gafen you intended to drink wine during the meal. If not, then a new Ha'gafen is required on wine during the meal.8

We also learned that the bracha on wine covers other beverages that you plan on drinking. This being the case, if you are drinking wine during or before a bread meal, then Shehakol is not required on any subsequent drinks during the meal – even if the drink would have required a bracha – since they were covered by the bracha Ha'gafen.9

Of course, for the wine to "cover" other drinks during the meal, it needs to conform to the standards we mentioned in class #8:

The minimum amount is a Talmudic measurement called melo lugmav (lit: "a cheekful"). Although opinions vary, the consensus is that 2 fluid ounces (approx. 60 cc) is sufficient.10

Now let's consider the following common example: Following synagogue services on Shabbat morning, the rabbi said Kiddush on wine, and everyone said Mezonot and ate some cake and kugel. Now you want to drink some soda. Does it require a Shehakol or not? That depends:

  • If you drank 2 ounces of the Kiddush wine, then the soda is exempt.
  • If you drank less than 2 ounces, even a single sip, this is a case of doubt. Therefore you should find another "shehakol" food and say a bracha on that, having in mind to exempt the drink as well.11
  • If you merely heard Kiddush (i.e. did not drink any wine), the other drinks are definitely not covered, and you would need to say a bracha.12

Wrap-Up and Review

At this point in this course we have completed the rules of what kinds of food and drink require a bracha during a bread meal. Before continuing, let's quickly review the principles learned in the last three classes.

Class #13: Food Eaten at a Bread Meal

  • Generally speaking, Hamotzee on bread covers all other foods in the meal.

  • Fruit snacks and fruit desserts are not covered by Hamotzee on the bread.

  • Pastries that fulfill all three criteria of Pat Haba'ah B'Kisnin (sweet, filled, crispy) require a Mezonot if eaten as "dessert."13

  • Pastries that contain one or two of the criteria are doubtful whether they require bracha. It is advisable to have them in mind when saying Hamotzee at the beginning of the meal.

  • If the cake is being eaten to fill you up, a bracha is never required.

Class #14: Fruit during a Bread Meal

  • Fruits are covered by Hamotzee if they are either:
    1. the main course
    2. prepared as a dish
    3. eaten to induce appetite (In this case, it is preferable to find a way to say a bracha.)
    4. the entire fruit dessert is eaten together with bread14
  • Fruits eaten before the meal can cover all fruits eaten during the meal, if you have in mind to cover them when saying the bracha Ha'aitz.

Class #15: Drinks during a Bread Meal

  • Drinks are covered by Hamotzee on the bread, unless they are being consumed solely for the purpose of aiding digestion.

  • Wine requires a bracha even during a bread meal. The bracha on wine (during or before a meal) covers any beverages drunk within the meal.

This concludes class #15 on Hilchot Brachot. In the next lesson, we'll discuss the important topic of the proper sequence of brachot.

  1. Orach Chaim 174:7
  2. The same is true of fruit eaten to stimulate one's appetite, as we learned in class #14 (Mishnah Berurah 174:39).
  3. Whether whiskey drunk during the course of a bread meal requires a bracha or not is a matter of dispute. The accepted practice is not to say a bracha. One who wants to be careful, however, should say Shehakol on a candy or the like. (Mishnah Berurah 174:39)
  4. Mishnah Berurah 174:39
  5. Due to the general principle of Safek Bracha L’hakel – literally, when in doubt regarding a bracha, the rule is to be lenient (and not say an additional bracha).
  6. Mishnah Berurah 174:39
  7. Orach Chaim 174:1, with Mishnah Berurah 1 and Sha’ar Hatziyun 3
  8. Mishnah Berurah 174:8. Another issue is when you have already drunk wine during a meal, and now bring out a new bottle of “better wine.” In some cases, you will need to say a different bracha of praise on the better wine. This issue is complex; for details refer to Orach Chaim 175.
  9. Indeed, the authorities suggest always drinking wine to cover drinks in a bread meal (Biur Halacha 174:7 – s.v. "v’haminhag")
  10. Other rabbis maintain that any amount of wine is sufficient (Biur Halacha 174:1)
  11. Mishnah Berurah 174:3
  12. see Biur Halacha 174:2
  13. see Magen Avraham 168:22
  14. Sha’ar Hatziyun 177:13
Laws of Blessings
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