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Basic Blessings on Food Guide

Basic Blessings on Food Guide

The Brachot

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1. Why a Blessing?

The Sages ordained that "one should not derive benefit from this world without first reciting a blessing." Making a blessing before eating is tantamount to "asking permission" from G-d, acknowledging that "the world, and everything in it, is G-d's" (Psalms 24:1) and G-d is the true source of all the gifts of life. It imbues the mundane act of eating with a spiritual awareness--awareness of the true Source of our sustenance, and of the purpose of eating.

We make different blessings for different food types before eating, and after-blessings when the repast is complete. See more blessing guidelines here.

2. Bread

Bread made from the five species of grains identified by our sages (wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oat) require the blessing "Hamotzi". In order to be considered bread, the liquid ingredient has to be primarily water and it has to be baked. Dough that uses more oil or fruit juice than water (like pastries), or dough that is fried or cooked (like pasta) is not regarded as "bread."

In addition to the blessing made on food, bread has the special requirement that we ritually wash our hands before partaking of it. Fill a large cup with water and pour it three times over your right hand, then three times over the left. Lift your hands and rub them together, and as you do so recite the following blessing:

Listen to this blessing


Baruch atah A-donay, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al netilat yadayim.
Blessed are You L-rd our G-d King of the universe Who has sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us on the washing of the hands.

Then dry your hands thoroughly.

The blessing on bread:

Listen to this blessing


Baruch atah A-donay, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam Hamotzi lechem min haaretz.
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.

3. Foods Eaten with Bread

When eating a meal that includes bread, begin your meal by washing, making the "Hamotzi" blessing, and eating a piece of bread. The Hamotzi blessing will "cover" everything you eat as part of the meal (except for dessert and wine). "Grace After Meals," recited after the meal, will cover everything you've eaten.

When eating foods outside of a meal with bread, individual food types get their own blessing before and after eating, as specified below.

4. "Mezonot"

Food that is made from grain but is not bread gets the blessing mezonot. This includes cakes and pastries, most crackers and cereals, pasta and other cooked grain products like farfel and couscous.

The blessing:

Baruch atah A-donay, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam borei minei mezonot.

Blessed are you L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who creates various kinds of sustenance.

Listen to this blessing

5. Wine

Wine has special significance and uses in Jewish law, so it gets its own blessing. Make this blessing when drinking wine or grape juice:

Baruch atah A-donay, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam borei pri hagafen.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.

Listen to this blessing

6. Fruits

Fruits get the "Ha-aitz" blessing. In Jewish law, a fruit is defined as something growing from a perennial tree that does not renew its stem and does not grow too close to the ground. Thus, apples, grapes, nuts (except peanuts) and figs are fruit, but strawberries, watermelon and bananas are not.

Here's the blessing:

Baruch atah A-donay, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam borei pri ha-aitz.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

Listen to this blessing

7. Vegetables

"Fruits of the ground" include vegetables, legumes, peanuts, and the "fruit" excluded from the ha-aitz blessing above: melons, bananas, pineapples, some berries.

On all these, make the "ha-adamah" blessing:


Baruch atah A-donay, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam borei pri ha-adamah.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe who creates the fruit of the earth.

Listen to this blessing

8. "Shehakol"

All foods that do not fall into the preceding specific groups get the blessing "shehakol." This includes animal products: meat, chicken, fish, and eggs; water and all other drinks (except for wine) and soups; and miscellaneous foods like mushrooms, candy, etc.

The Blessing:


Baruch atah A-donay, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam shehakol nihiyah bed'varo.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, by Whose word all things came to be.

Listen to this blessing

9. Grace After Meals

"And you shall eat, and be sated, and bless the L-rd your G-d" (Deuteronomy 8:10). In addition to the before-eating blessings instituted by the sages, we have a biblically-mandated obligation to thank and bless G-d after eating, expressing our gratitude to the One who "nourishes the entire world with His goodness, with grace, with benevolence and with compassion" (from "Grace After Meals").

Grace After Meals consists of four primary blessings -- the first composed by Moses when the manna came down from heaven in the desert, the second by Joshua when the Children of Israel ate from the first harvest after entering the Holy Land, the third by Kings David and Solomon, and the fourth by the Sages in mishnaic times.

The full "Grace" is recited only after partaking of a meal that includes bread, and covers everything eaten during the meal.

See the translitterated version here.

10. Al Hamichyah

An "abridged" version of Grace After Meals that incorporates elements from its first three blessings is said after eating certain foods. There are three versions of this abridged after blessing:

  1. "Al Hamichyah" is said after eating foods (not bread) prepared from the five grains. Anything that gets the fore-blessing "Mezonot" gets the after-blessing "Al Hamichyah."

  2. "Al Hagefen" is recited after drinking wine or grape juice.

  3. "Al Haaretz v'al Hapeirot" for the special fruits with which the Land of Israel was blessed: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

11. After Other Food

We make the after-blessing "Borei Nifashot" on all food not included in the above categories. This includes anything upon which we make the fore-blessings "Ha-adamah" or "Shehakol" (fish, meat, eggs, drinks-except wine, candy) plus all fruits not included in the special fruits of the Land of Israel.

When finished your repast over the above foods, recite the blessing:

Baruch atah ado-nai elo-hai-nu melech haolam borei nefashot rabot v’chesronan al kol ma she’barata l’hachayot bahem nefesh kol chai baruch chei ha’olamim.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, Creator of numerous living beings and their needs, for all the things You have created with which to sustain the soul of every living being. Blessed is He who is the Life of the worlds.

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Discussion (15)
May 11, 2014
Re:
There is no actual obligation to make these blessings. It is only if someone wishes to eat from these foods, then the Rabbis gave guidelines as to which blessing to make. So if someone never eats vegetables, for example, and therefore never make a Ha'adama blessing, he is not missing out on anything.
Shaul Wolf
May 8, 2014
I'm unable to eat anything made of any of the five grains. I will have an anaphylactic reaction. How, then, do I keep this mitzvah?
Anonymous
February 1, 2014
washing of the hands.
Where in the Torah , Elohim commanded us, " the washing of the hands?"
Anonymous
Weyers Cave,VA
November 12, 2013
Re: Gluten intolerant
The only "breads" that one makes the blessing of Hamotzi on are breads made out of the following five grains: wheat, barley, spelt, rye or oats.

Depending on how serious the intolerance is, I would either suggest making hamotzi and eating a minimal amount of bread that was made out of these five grains, and then for the rest of the meal you can eat whichever 'bread' you want. alternatively, I know that some with intolerance are able to have spelt which is a lot less complex .

If spelt is not an option, I would suggest making bread from oats. Oats are one of the five grains mentioned, and besides for this that there are varieties of oats that have no gluten whatsoever, most people with gluten intolerance have no problem eating bread made from oats.
Yehuda Shurpin for Chabad.org
November 12, 2013
Gluten intolerant!
I'm gluten intolerant (Celiac disease) and any "bread" that I eat is made from rice flour, potato flour, corn, tapioca, or some substance other than wheat (and other grains with gluten - barley, rye).

Which blessing should I say over "bread" that is made from rice or some other grain?

Can I say "motzi" along with other people who are eating bread?

Thanks!
Brent Smith
KY
January 9, 2013
Re Pita
Yes, pita bread is considered bread and Birkat Hamazon, the full Grace after Meals should be said.
Chabad.org Staff
mychabad.org
January 9, 2013
is benching required for pita
is pita "bread" for benching
Bart
January 9, 2013
Thank you!
Finally I've received my prayer book two days ago (I'm a convert) and I'm the happiest person on earth because I can now actually DO something and get "in touch" with G-d. I cried for half an hour out of happiness after having read the first (translated) lines. Now I'm learning to say the blessings and prayers in Hebrew, and oh boy did I pronounce them wrongly. What would I do without this site? I don't know, but I don't even want to think about it.
I'm grateful to you for putting so much time, care, and effort into educating us. You're such a blessing it's beyond words!
Katrin P.
Germany
November 26, 2012
allergies
I am really grain allergic, not just gluten intolerant but rip roaring grain allergic, so my question is, can I use almond flour and then add like 5 buckwheat grains, buckwheat is not a true grain. Or can I just make a bread out of buckwheat and maybe add 5 little grains of oats, and add fruits to it, like some raisins and nuts, or apricots to celebrate shabbat. I can try to braid it in the same shape as challah. And if I can make the buckwheat bread, do I have to eat the oat grain? Or is it okay as long as it's in it, it's okay.
Doriel
November 25, 2012
Blessings when eating a meal
If your meal contains bread, the Hamotzi blessing is recited and "covers" the entire meal, besides for dessert and wine. Otherwise, a blessing is recited for each category of food that is eaten during the meal.
Rochel Chein for chabad.org
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