32. Which Bracha Achrona to Say
Guidelines for the Three-Faceted Blessing, and the "miscellaneous" after-bracha.
In the last class, we began learning the rules of bracha achrona, the blessing said after consuming various foods and drinks. We established that to be obligated in a bracha achrona, you need to have consumed enough volume within a proper period of time. Let's do a quick review:
|How much quantity:||In how much time:|
one fluid ounce / 30 cc
|kiday achilat pras –
within 3-4 minutes
kiday shetiyat revi'it –
Once it's clear that you have satisfied this requirement, you now need to work out which particular bracha achrona to say.
There are three possibilities:
- Grace After Meals (Birkat Hamazon) – said after eating a meal that included bread, or a meal-sized portion of other grain foods.1 This will be the topic of class #34.
- The Three-Faceted Blessing - said after eating mezonot foods, wine, and certain fruits. Discussed immediately below.
- Borei Nefashot – the "miscellaneous" after-bracha that covers drinks, vegetables, meat, and more. Discussed in the second half of this class.
The Three-Faceted Blessing
The Three-Faceted Blessing (Bracha Mai'ain Shalosh) – so called because it resembles the first three blessings of Birkat Hamazon – is said if you ate a minimum quantity of either:
- mezonot foods – e.g. one of the five grains (wheat, barley, spelt, oats, rye – but not rice), whether baked, fried or cooked (but not whole roasted kernels)2
- wine or grape juice3
- the "five fruits"4 – olives, dates, grapes, figs or pomegranate (fresh or dry)5
However, the text of the bracha varies slightly depending on which of these food types you have consumed. Colloquially, the bracha achrona for each type is referred to by how the text starts:
|FOOD TYPE||NAME OF BRACHA|
|mezonot foods||Al Ha'michya|
|wine or grape juice||Al Ha'gefen|
|the "five fruits"||Al Ha'aitz|
For wine and fruits, the closing words of the Three-Faceted Blessing differ depending on whether the produce grew in Israel or in the Diaspora,6 due to the extra holiness of the Land of Israel which affects even the produce.7
The Three-Faceted Blessing has an extra phrase inserted for Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and holidays. If you forgot to add this line, post facto the bracha is still valid.8
Let's say you've consumed a sufficient quantity of more than one of these products. For example, you had a large plate of pasta with some tasty white wine (within the required time frame).9 Rather than making two separate after-brachot, you should say one Three-Faceted Blessing, combining the opening and concluding texts of both Al Ha'michya and Al Ha'gefen.10
In this example, the beginning of your bracha achrona would sound like this:
Baruch Ata Adonoy, Eloheinu Melech ha'olam, al ha'michya v'al ha'kal'kala, v'al hagefen v'al pri hagafen...
And the end of your bracha achrona will sound like this:
...v'nodeh l'cha al ha'aretz v'al hamichya, v'al pri hagafen. Baruch Ata Adonoy, al ha'aretz v'al hamichya, v'al pri hagafen.
When combining these into one blessing, the various phrases are said in this order of priority:
- Al Ha'michya
- Al Ha'gefen
- Al Ha'aitz11
What about where you needed to say more than one part – e.g. you ate pasta and drank wine – but in saying the bracha achrona you mistakenly said only the words for Al Ha'michya. In such a case, you need to say another full bracha of Al Ha'gefen. However, if you realized your mistake in the middle of the first bracha (before reaching the "Baruch Ata Ado-noy" at the end), you should go back to the words Al Ha'michya and correct your mistake.12
What if you in a situation of doubt – i.e. whether you ate a kezayit, or ate within 3-4 minutes, or are unsure whether you already said the Three-Faceted Blessing? In such a case, you do not say the Three-Faceted Blessing.13 However, it is best to get out of the doubtful situation by using one of the methods described in class #31:
- eat more food to become obligated in a bracha achrona, or
- have someone else say the bracha achrona while having you in mind
The after-bracha for all other foods is Borei Nefashot. This covers, for example:
- vegetables, meat, fish, dairy products
- fruits (other than olives, dates, etc. which are of the seven species and require the Three-Faceted Blessing)14
- drinks15 (other than wine and grape juice which require the Three-Faceted Blessing)
- rice which is an exception: although its bracha rishona is Mezonot, its bracha achrona is Borei Nefashot16
The meaning of the blessing Borei Nefashot is that God gives life to all creatures, and fulfills our basic nourishment needs like bread and water.17 Beyond this, we thank God for giving us the "luxury package":18 To supply the body's need for nourishment, God could have created tasteless vitamin pills, or have put all the vitamins into something bland like oatmeal. Instead, with great kindness, God created oranges and bananas so that we get our vitamin C and potassium in the most pleasurable form possible.19
Food with Different After-Brachot
Oftentimes, the bracha achrona on one food will obviate the need to say a bracha achrona on other foods. Here are some general guidelines:
• Recall that we learned in class #8 that saying Borei Pri Ha'gafen on wine will generally cover other drinks whose bracha is normally Shehakol. Similarly, if you drank enough wine to obligate the saying of Al Ha'gefen, then you do not say a bracha achrona on any other drink (e.g. lemonade) that would normally warrant its own Borei Nefashot.20
• The bracha of Al Ha'gefen also covers any grapes that you ate, post-facto.21
• Similarly, if you ate enough of the "five fruits" to obligate the saying of Al Ha'aitz, then you do not say a bracha achrona on any other fruit that would normally warrant its own Borei Nefashot.22
Jody attended a lecture where they set out a tray of fruit – dates and orange slices. Jody ate wholesomely. For a bracha achrona, she said Al Ha'aitz on the dates, which also covered the orange slices.
This assumes that Jody ate a kezayit of dates independently. If not, and the kezayit is only reached with the help of the orange slices, then she should say only Borei Nefashot (and not Al Ha'aitz).23
It is important to note that Al Ha'aitz only covers other fruits (i.e. whose bracha rishona is Ha'aitz), but not foods whose bracha rishona is Ha'adama. 24
At the next lecture in the series, Jody was happy to see that the fruit trays – in addition to the dates and orange slices – also included pineapple chunks. Jody ate lots of everything. For a bracha achrona, she said Al Ha'aitz on the dates, which also covered the orange slices. She also said Borei Nefashot – because the pineapple, whose bracha rishona is Ha'adama, is not covered by the bracha achrona on the dates.
This concludes class #32. In our next class, we'll learn what bracha achrona to say when you are eating a variety of foods mixed together.
Note that the case of the video below assumes that the fruit salad did not contain a kezayit of dates independently. If it did, then the bracha achrona would be Al Ha’aitz on the dates, and Borei Nefashot would be required to cover the banana (if indeed the fruit salad contained a kezayit of bananas independently).
- Orach Chaim 168:8; 208:9
- Orach Chaim 208:2, 4
- Orach Chaim 208:11
- that are used to praise the Land of Israel (Deut. 8:8)
- Orach Chaim 208:1
- Orach Chaim 208:10, with Mishnah Berurah 52; Shu"t Igros Moshe (YD 3:129:4)
- Bach (OC 208 – s.v. V’yaish omrim v’nochal)
- Orach Chaim 208:12, with Mishnah Berurah 58. This is unlike Birkat Hamazon, where forgetting the special seasonal insertion can often invalidate the bracha even post facto; see class #34 for details.
- Taz (OC 208:19); Chayei Adam 50:20; Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 2:109); HaLeket 2:55; Yabia Omer 7:30
- Orach Chaim 208:12
- Orach Chaim 208:12
- Pischei Teshuvah O.C. 208:1-2 based on Mishnah Berurah 59:2
- Orach Chaim 209:3
- Orach Chaim 207:1
- Borei Nefashot is required only when water is drunk to quench one’s thirst, but not, for example, solely to wash down medicine (Orach Chaim 204:7, with Bi’ur Halacha – s.v ha’shoteh).
- Orach Chaim 208:7
- Tur and Beit Yosef (OC 207); Mishnah Berurah 207:5
- Tosfot – Brachot 37a, s.v. boreh
- Aruch HaShulchan 207:4
- Orach Chaim 174:2, 208:16, with Mishnah Berurah 73
- Orach Chaim 208:15. There is a dispute if Al Ha'michya covers wine and dates post facto. If done, one should try to either eat more of the same food or have someone else who is obligated say the bracha for him. See Taz O.C. 208:16 with Mishbetzot Zahav.
- Orach Chaim 208:13
- Mishnah Berurah 210:1
- Orach Chaim 208:12; Aruch HaShulchan (OC 208:27)