Brachot on Food One Eats Before a Meal
If one eats before a meal in a number of cases one is exempt from making a Bracha Achrona because it is exempted by the Birkat HaMazon after the meal. In other cases, though, the foods are not exempted and require a Bracha Achrona as usual. Lastly, in the cases where there is a dispute as regards to the halacha, one should be strict to avoid that situation. See further for details.
Long Before the Meal
- If one eat a snack long before the meal and without intention about the meal, then he should recite a bracha achrona when finishing the snack (even if it is wine or pat haba bkisnin). However, if you knew that you were going to have a meal even if it wasn't for another 15 or 30 minutes still you should not a bracha achrona (depending on the rules below) when finishing the snack since you knew that you were going to have the meal.
- If you didn't think that you were going to have a meal soon and then changed your mind and are going to have a meal you should still recite a bracha achrona since you didn't think that you were going to have a meal.
Exempting Other Foods
- If someone is eating foods before a meal and the same food in the meal he should have in mind that the food before the meal is going to exempt the food during the meal. Consequently, the food before the meal is connected to the meal and birkat hamazon will cover it, therefore it doesn't need a bracha achrona.
Whetting Your Appetite
- If someone is eating food before a meal to whet his appetite many poskim hold that the birkat hamazon covers those foods even prior to the meal and as such one should not recite a bracha achrona. However, since this is a dispute one should avoid eating more than a kezayit before the meal. Examples of this include wine, liquor, or salty foods before a meal.
- This exemption only works if one eats these foods immediately before the meal, such as within fifteen minutes.
- If one drinks a drink before a meal one should not make a bracha achrona if one is going to drink during the meal. If one is not going to drink during the meal one should recite a bracha achrona. In the event that one forgot to recite boreh nefashot on the drinks before the meal he should still recite the boreh nefashot in the meal and even after birkat hamazon if he didn't remember until then. Sephardim hold that after Birkat Hamazon certainly one can't recite boreh nefashot since Birkat Hamazon after the fact covers the boreh nefashot.
- However, wine and other liquors whet a person's appetite and don't require a bracha achrona before the meal.
- According to Ashkenazim, if a person ate Pat Haba Bekisnin such as cake before the meal since birkat hamazon might cover the Pat Haba Bekisnin no bracha achrona is recited on the cake before the meal. Some Ashkenazim argue to make a bracha. According to some Sephardim, a bracha achrona is made on Pat Haba Bekisnin before a meal. If one forgot until after hamotzei he shouldn't recite it anymore.
- On non-Pat Haba Bekisnin mezonot such as cooked mezonot one should recite a bracha achrona on that food before the meal unless one is going to eat that same food in the meal.
- If someone makes kiddush it certainly does not require a bracha achrona as it is exempted by the Birkat Hamazon either because of it is halachically linked to the meal or because it whets one's appetite.
- If someone makes havdalah over wine before melava malka and is going to drink more wine during the meal he doesn't need to make a bracha achrona. If someone isn't going to drink more wine during the meal he should recite a bracha achrona.
- If a person drinks wine before a meal one should not make an Al Hagefen afterwards because Birkat Hamazon might exempt it. Since it is a dispute it is proper to avoid this situation by either by drinking a melo lugmav (cheekful) and not a reviyit, having intent when saying Birkat HaMazon that it should cover the wine, or have intent that one's Hagefen upon the wine before the meal should exempt the wine that one drinks in the middle of the middle as long as one does have wine in middle of the meal.
- Regarding Kiddush, according to Ashkenazim it's preferable to drink a Melo Lugmav and not a Reviyit. According to Sephardim, it's preferable to drink a Reviyit and have intent that the Birkat HaMazon should exempt the wine.
- Sephardim hold that one should avoid having a kezayit of a snack before a meal. After the fact, one should not recite a bracha achrona for any food as long as one intended on having the meal soon.
- Yalkut Yosef 177:11 writes that if it is more than 30 minutes before the meal and it isn't in one's mind or the meal will be in another place one should recite a bracha achrona. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Teshuvot at the end of Veten Bracha to Siman 176) agreed that if it is another 15-30 minutes to the meal and one has it in mind one should not recite a bracha achrona on the snack before the meal.
- Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Teshuvot at the end of Veten Bracha to Siman 176) explains that since one didn't think that one was having a meal soon one should recite a bracha achrona even if one ends up having a meal very soon. His example is that a person who went to a reception for a Bar Mitzvah and had a snack without intending on staying for the meal. He should recite a bracha achrona even if he changed his mind to stay for the meal.
- Mishna Brurah 176:2:1, Vezot Habracha (p. 80). Igrot Moshe 3:33 elaborates that the food before the meal exempts the food in the meal even though one actually intended to eat that food and enjoy it as long as one also had intent to exempt the food in the meal since it is then connected to the meal. See Talk page that in fact this ruling of the Mishna Brurah follows the Tosfot, Rosh, Baal Hameor, Shulchan Aruch, and Magen Avraham, but the Ramban holds that a bracha achrona should be made even if the food would have exempted foods in the meal.
- Mishna Brurah 176:2:3
- Shaar Hatziyun 176:9
- Rosh (Pesachim 10:24), Mishna Brurah 176:2:3, Vezot Habracha (p. 81). (As a fun fact, the scientific research corresponds with the halacha about what makes your hungrier. See this Huffingtonpost.com article or Health.com article).
- Mishna Brurah 174:24
- Vezot Habracha (p. 81)
- Mishna Brurah 174:25, Biur Halacha 174:6 s.v. vafilu, Kaf Hachaim on Orach Chaim 174:35:1, Vezot Habracha (p. 82).
- The Magen Avraham 174:14 writes that according to the Machzor Vitri who requires a bracha rishona on drinks in a meal the drink before the meal is effectively coming to exempt the bracha of the drinks in the meal and as such doesn't require a bracha achrona. Additionally, according to the Baal Hameor for any drink that one continues to drink in the meal it would not require a bracha achrona since it is considered like one long drinking. Vezot Habracha proves from the Shaar Hatziyun 174:38 that the main reason to accept the Magen Avraham is the first reason and not the second one.
- Biur Halacha 174:6 clarifies that although the Taz, Olot Tamid, and Eliya Rabba posit that drinks before a meal are exempt in a bracha achrona since they whet one's appetite and are similar to wine, we don't follow their opinion. Since the Magen Avraham, Chida, Graz, Chayei Adam, and Magen Giborim all hold that regular drinks do not whet a person's appetite and require a bracha achrona before a meal we follow their opinion. Furthermore, the entire concept that food before a meal that whets one's appetite is exempt is based on the Rosh. Even though Shulchan Aruch O.C. 174:6 codified the opinion of the Rosh, in truth it is in disagreement with the Ramban, Ran, and Tosfot Pesachim 100b s.v. yadei as well as Grach Sanser rejects Shulchan Aruch and Rosh in favor of the these majority of rishonim.
- Biur Halacha 174:6 s.v. vafilu. See Dirshu who cites Tehilah Ldovid who asks how one could be sure that the shiur ikul didn't elapse.
- Kaf Hachaim on Orach Chaim 174:34:1
- Mishna Brurah 174:25, Biur Halacha 174:6 s.v. v'afilu. See Kaf Hachaim on Orach Chaim 174:48:1 who writes that if in a certain place it is customary to always have liquor before and during the meal, then it is considered like wine and its bracha achrona is exempted with birkat hamazon. In fact he cites the Arizal that this would be permitted even initially before the meal.
- Mishna Brurah 176:2. Biur Halacha s.v. berach explains that since every definition of Pat Haba Bekisnin is questionable whether it is bread and if it is bread then certainly birkat hamazon covers it, one should not recite a bracha achrona on it before the meal. Furthermore, Rabbi Akiva Eiger on OC 208:17 holds that birkat hamazon exempts pat haba bkisnin.
- Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igrot Moshe OC 3:33 writes that cakes nowadays are so filled with a majority of sugar, oil, and sweeteners in comparison to the flour that they are certainly Pat Haba Bekisnin. If so, there is no question that they aren't bread and birkat hamazon doesn't exempt them. Therefore, they deserve their own bracha before the meal.
- Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 174:35:1, Vezot Habracha (p. 83) quoting Rav Mordechai Eliyahu
- Mishna Brurah 176:2 citing the Graz explains that the mezonot before a meal needs a bracha achrona since it isn't connected to the meal. In the Shaar Hatziyun he explains further that even though the achronim (Pri Chadash, Gra, and Even Haozer on 208:17) hold that birkat hamazon exempts mezonot, that is only after the fact. Therefore, it is better to recite the bracha achrona on the mezonot before the meal.
- Mishna Brurah 176:2 as we find in Shulchan Aruch O.C. 176:1 and 174:6 that having a food exempt foods in the meal exempts it from a bracha achrona before the meal. This is evident in Mishna Brachot 42a.
- Rosh Pesachim 10:24, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 174:6, Mishna Brurah 272:35. See also Tosfot Pesachim 103 s.v. ana.
- Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 174:4
- Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 299:8
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 174:6 based on Tosfot and Rosh rules that wine before a meal is exempt from a bracha achrona. Vezot HaBracha (chap 9, p. 84) writes that because drinking wine before a meal involves a dispute one shouldn't make a bracha achrona. However, he quotes three pieces of advise from the poskim to avoid this situation. The first is to drink less than a reviyit in order not to become obligated in a bracha achrona. The next is to have in mind when making the Birkat HaMazon that it should exempt the wine one drank before the meal. Lastly, he advises that if one will drink wine in the middle of the meal that one has intent that the hagefen before the meal will exempt the wine in the meal.
- Beiur Halacha 174:6 s.v. Vechen, Vezot HaBracha (chap 8, p 84)
- Or Letzion (vol 2, 20:22)
- Yalkut Yosef 177:11, Halacha Brurah 176:1, Halichot Olam (Naso v. 2 pp. 27-9)