Dear B’nai Shalom members, friends, and families:
We may all be somewhat familiar with the bracha (blessing) “line-up” for the various foods we eat, having varied levels of familiarity with the priority listing of which bracha is said prior to which food item to be eaten. However we may less knowledge of which blessings are said AFTER we have consumed and enjoyed the various food items we have eaten.
The one, best-known halacha (Jewish law) in this regard, no doubt, has to do with eating a meal that included bread. It is well known that prior to eating an actual morsel of bread (as opposed to items that may resemble bread or contain many of the same ingredients as bread), a Jew is commanded to ritually wash our hands with the tradition of “Netilat Yadayim” and then not speak until the bracha: “Hamotzi” is then recited.
After having had a meal that included bread, we are then obligated to recite the full Birkat HaMazon, the full Grace After Meals.
If we have consumed wine or grape juice, or eaten foods that come from the following grains: wheat, oats, barley, spelt, or rye (other than actual bread), or eaten fruits which have been designated as having specifically come from the Land of Israel, we are then obligated to recite the bracha acharona (the blessing after food) of Me-Eiyn Shalosh. (The casual, “nick name” for this bracha specifically for foods eaten from the aforementioned five grains is “Al HaMichya.”
Typically, if we have recited the required bracha of “Borei Minei Mezonot” for the above-mentioned five grains, we would be obligated for the bracha acharona of Me-Eiyn Shalosh, the bracha: “Al HaMichya.”
When we eat foods that require the bracha rishona (the blessing PRIOR to eating the food) of “Borei Pir HaAdamah,” typically said on vegetables or fruits that grow from the ground (as opposed to growing from a real tree), we would then only be obligated to recite the after-food blessing of “Boray Nefashot,” the shortest blessing of all of the obligatory blessings we recite AFTER eating a food item.
When we drink any liquids, with the exception of wine or grape juice (which require the after blessing that has its own specific category within the blessing of Me-Eiyn Shalosh), we are then obligated to recite the after-food/drink blessing of “Boray Nefashot.”
In fact, any food item that requires the bracha rishona (the blessing PRIOR to eating the food) of “Shehakol Nihyeh Bidvaro,” would then require the bracha acharona of Boray Nefashot.
Interestingly, when we eat rice or rice-based items, (as an exception to all of the above), we recite the bracha rishona of Borei Minei Mezonot (as if rice is then included in the five grains listed above) BUT we are only obligated for the bracha acharona of Boray Nefashot.
Certainly most of the category-choosing and decisions guiding the correct bracha acharona can be solved by eating a meal which includes bread because we are then obligated for the full Birkat HaMazon, the Grace After Meals. This helps eliminate any confusion or potential doubts concerning the appropriate bracha acharona.
I am hopeful that these few, simple guidelines will add clarity and better understanding to the manner in which we conclude our meals and pay homage and tribute to HaKadosh Baruch Hu (the Almighty) with our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for the food He provides.
With Torah blessings always,
Rabbi Dr. Yaacov Dvorin