Talk:Brachot on Food One Eats Before a Meal

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Do foods before a meal require a bracha achrona?

General Case

  • The Rashba (Brachot 41b) ponders whether any food eaten before the meal is considered disconnected from the meal and requires a bracha achrona or perhaps since they whet a person's appetite for the meal the birkat hamazon covers them. He quotes a Yerushalmi (Brachot 6:5) which seems to dispute this exact point. His conclusion is that one should make a bracha on all food before a meal since they aren't connected to the meal. This is also the opinion of the Ramban (Milchamot Pesachim 24a) and Ritva (Brachot 3:5) and cited in Bet Yosef OC 174:3.

Mein Shalosh

  • However, the Baal Hameor suggests that there is a major exception to this rule. Anything which requires a mein shalosh should be exempted with the birkat hamazon and as such does not require a bracha achrona before the meal. The Raavad, Ramban, and Ran explicitly disagree with such an idea and prove from Brachot 41b that it is indeed incorrect. As is evident from the discussion of the Baal Hameor himself the Rif disagrees with his idea as well.
  • However, the Rashba (Teshuva 1:72) agrees with the Baal Hameor but limits it to wine and dates. He writes that wine and dates are filling foods (Brachot 13a, 35b). However, for everything else that requires a mein shalosh the birkat hamazon will not cover it as the Ramban proved. Ritva (Brachot 3:5) agrees.

Boreh Nefashot

  • Interestingly, the Ritva (Brachot 3:3-5) holds that a food which only required a boreh nefashot before the meal doesn't require any bracha achrona and birkat hamazon exempts it. The Mosad Rav Kook footnotes 3:5:6 explains from the Shitat Alshevili that since boreh nefashot itself isn't such a significant bracha birkat hamazon covers it even though it wasn't connected to the meal. However, see Mishna Brurah 176:2:2 as this opinion is not accepted as the halacha.

Connection to the Meal by Exempting Other Foods

  • Tosfot (Pesachim 100b s.v. yedey) writes explicitly that wine coming to exempt other wine in the meal doesn't require a bracha achrona. The Magen Avraham 299:11, Pri Megadim E"A 299:11, and Mishna Brurah 299:27 explain this concept simply. Since the wine before the meal exempts the wine during the meal and the wine during the meal is exempted from a bracha achrona as it is covered by the birkat hamazon, the wine before the meal is also exempted by the birkat hamazon and considered one long drinking. This approach is similarly adopted by the Tosfot (Brachot 41b), Rosh (Pesachim 10:4), Tur 299:8, Baal Hameor (Pesachim 24b), and Gra 299:8 and codified by the Shulchan Aruch 299:8.
  • Dissenters: The Ramban (Pesachim 24a) holds that even if the wine before the meal was necessary to exempt the wine in the middle of the meal the birkat hamazon does not cover the wine before the meal and as such the wine before the meal would require a bracha achrona. (Additionally, while the Rosh 10:4 sounds like Tosfot, in 10:24 he seems to reject this entire concept. See Korban Netanel who therefore reexplains the Rosh 10:4 and cites the Maharshal (Pesachim 100b) who supports this understanding of the Rosh, unlike the Maharsha who was in wonderment about the Maharshal.)

Connection to the Meal by Continuing to Eat the Same Food

  • Although one could have understood the Baal Hamoer (Pesachim 24b) to mean like the Rosh, the Magen Avraham 174:14 learns from the Baal Hameor a more general rule. Anything which you are going to continue to eat is going to be covered by the birkat hamazon even though you didn't actually need the original food to exempt the food in the meal. Indeed, the Raavad (responsa 55) explicitly seems to take this approach as he says that karpas doesn't need a bracha achrona since one is going to continue to eat vegetables in the meal. It is clear that he means that even though the maror does not need to be exempted the karpas still doesn't require a bracha achrona. R’ Ovadia (Sh”t Chazon Ovadia 18) quotes this Raavad and Avudraham who take this approach.
  • However, the Nishmat Avraham argues that maybe the baal hameor only said it about wine since birkat hamazon could cover al ha’gefen but not for shehakol. The Shulchan Aruch Harav and Mishna Brurah argue on the Magen Avraham and say for drinks before the meal that you’re going to continue to have in the meal you should make a bracha achrona before the meal. The Chachmat Adam writes a safek whether we hold like the Magen Avraham. Rav Ovadia accepted this Magen Avraham at least for a safek brachot, but the Ish Matzliach on Mishna Brurah argues with Rav Ovadia since we pasken like the rosh in pesachim and so it only helps to have wine which increases your appetite but not other foods.

Connection to the Meal by Whetting one's Appetite

  • The Rosh (Pesachim 10:24) writes that the reason that there's no bracha achrona on the first two cups of wine at the seder is because they are like appetizers which whet one's appetite for the meal. This is accepted in Shulchan Aruch 174:6, Magen Avraham 174:9 and 299:11, and Mishna Brurah 174:24. However, the Rashba (Brachot 41b) explicitly disagrees with this factor and concludes that foods that whet an appetite do require a bracha achrona before the meal. Aruch Hashulchan 176:8 writes that any food which whets the appetite doesn't require a bracha achrona and tries to argue that the Rashba also agrees with this approach.