Shiur #48: Berakha Acharona: Kedei Akhilat Peras – Foods and Liquids

  • Rav David Brofsky



In the previous shiurim, we discussed the laws of the berakha acharona. We learned that one only says a berakha acharona (Al Ha-Michya, Borei Nefashot) after eating a ke-zayit of food. We dedicated the previous two shiurim to the study of the size and measurement of a ke-zayit.


In addition to the food’s volume, the Posekim assume that one must eat the food within a certain time-frame, a shi’ur. This week, we will discuss the time in which one must eat a ke-zayit of food in order to become obligated to say a berakha acharona. In addition, we will discuss whether there are any differences between food and drink with regard to these questions.


Food: Kedei Akhilat Peras


The Talmud teaches in numerous contexts that in order to violate certain prohibitions or in order to fulfill certain mitzvot that require “akhila” (eating), one must eat a specific amount (shi’ur), most often a ke-zayit (the size of an olive), in a certain amount of time. This amount of time is generally referred to “kedei akhilat peras,” the amount of time it takes to eat half a loaf of bread. This amount of time is relevant in the context of eating prohibited foods (see Keritut 12b), as well as when fulfilling mitzvot, such as matza (Berakhot 37b) and marror (Pesachim 114b). This amount of time is also relevant in the context of eating of Yom Kippur as well (see Tosefta, Yoma 4:3), although the shi’ur of eating on Yom Kippur is a ka-kotevet (the size of a date).


Interestingly, the Acharonim (see, for example, Magen Avraham 210:1, Panim Me’irot 2:27) question whether this shi’ur should apply to Birkat Ha-Mazon. Some suggest that since Birkat Ha-Mazon is dependent upon “satisfaction” (sevi’a), as the verse states, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you” (Devarim 8:10), and not “eating,” even one who eats the minimum amount over a longer period than kedei akhilat peras should be required to say Birkat Ha-Mazon. This is not the accepted view.


The Acharonim (Magen Avraham, ibid.) assume that in order to be obligated to say a berakha acharona, one must eat a ke-zayit of food within kedei akhilat peras. How much time is “the time it takes to eat a half a loaf of bread”?


The Rishonim, based upon a different opinions among the Tanna’im (see Eiruvin 82b), debate the size of a peras. In various contexts, the Rambam (Hilkhot Eiruvin 1:9; Shevitat He-Asor 2:4; Ma’akhalot Asurot 14:8, etc.) rules that a loaf is the size of six eggs; thus, half a loaf, a peras, is the size of 3 eggs (3 ke-beitzim). One must therefore eat a ke-zayit in the time period it takes to eat 3 ke-beitzim. Rashi (Pesachim 44a) disagrees and rules that a loaf is the equivalent of 8 eggs, and a peras is therefore the size of 4 eggs (4 ke-beitzim). Accordingly, one has somewhat longer to eat the ke-zayit – the time it takes to eat 4 ke-beitzim.


The Shulchan Arukh (OC 378:3, 612:4) cites both views. Some (Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav 612:4, cited by Mishna Berura 412:8) suggest adopting the more stringent approach regarding laws of Biblical origin. Similarly, due to the principle of safek berakhot le-hakel, one should adopt the shorter measurement regarding berakha acharona and only recite the blessing if he completed the ke-zayit in the shorter amount of time.


The Acharonim offer different estimates for the time it takes to consume a peras. The Chatam Sofer (6:16), for example, suggests that this may be as long as nine minutes. The Sedei Chemed (Asifat Dinim, Akhila 3) cites opinions that maintain that kedei akhilat peras is eight minutes. The Bikurei Ya’akov (639:13) writes that kedei akhilat peras is an eighth of an hour, or 7 ½ minutes. Arukh Ha-Shulchan (202:8) estimates this time to be between three to four minutes. The Kaf Ha-Chaim (210:8) rules that kedei akhilat peras is 4 minutes. (Interestingly, the Minchat Chinukh [313:5] objects to determining set measurements of time, as each food must be estimated separately.)


Regarding eating matza,R. Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Da’at) rules that one should preferably follow the view of four minutes. R. Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, OC 4:41) accepts the views of the Marcheshet (1:14:8), who estimates kedei akhilat peras to be about three minutes.


Given that most Posekim accept a smaller measurement of a ke-zayit, ranging from 3-4 cc – 17 cc, it is generally not difficult to consume a ke-zayit of food within a few minutes, and to thus become obligated in a berakha acharona.


Of course, while reliance on the longer measure is a leniency regarding berakha acharona, regarding eating on Yom Kippur, it is relied on as a stringency. A choleh (sick person) is often instructed to eat or drink small amounts, known as “shi’urim,” in the course of a kedei akhilat peras. Many will insist that a choleh should wait up to nine minutes between shi’urim, in accordance with the Chatam Sofer cited above. Others adopt more lenient opinions, and one who must eat should thus consult with a halakhic authority before Yom Kippur.


The Time Measurement for Drinking


As we mentioned in a previous shi’ur, one must say a berakha acharona, Borei Nefashot, after drinking a significant amount of liquid. After drinking a shi’ur of wine, one says Al Ha-Gefen.


The Rishonim debate whether the shi’ur for liquids is the same as the shi’ur for food, i.e. a ke-zayit. Tosafot (Berakhot 39a and Yoma 79a) suggest that the shi’ur may be the same as for food, a ke-zayit. The Rambam (Hilkhot Berakhot 1:2) rules that one only says a Borei Nefashot after drinking a revi’it, which is the amount of liquid displaced by one and a half eggs. The Rosh (Berakhot 6:24), and subsequently the Shulchan Arukh (210:1), cites both views, and rules that one should preferably drink less than a ke-zayit or more than a revi’it in order to avoid a situation of doubt. It is customary to say a berakha acharona only after drinking a revi’it of liquid.


As we discussed previously, the Acharonim discuss the size of an egg, and accordingly, the volume of a revi’it (1.5 eggs). R. Chaim Naeh ruled that a revi’it is 86 cc (“kos” in gematria). Although the Noda Be-Yehuda, and subsequently the Chazon Ish, maintain that our eggs are smaller than the eggs of the ancient world, and a revi’it therefore should be measured as 150 cc (“kos hagun” in gematria), the accepted practice is in accordance with R. Chaim Naeh. Some suggest, based upon recent discoveries, that the size of a revi’it is actually 75 cc.


The Rambam writes concerning prohibited foods (Hilkhot Shevitat He-Asor 2:4; Hilkhot Ma’akhalot Asurot 14:9; Hilkhot Terumot 10:3) that regarding liquids, the shi’ur for being considered an act of drinking is “kedei sheti’at revi’it,” the amount it time in which one ordinarily drinks a revi’it of liquid. The Ra’avad (Hilkhot Terumot, ibid.) disagrees and rules that the shi’ur of kedei achilat peras applies to liquids as well. The Shulchan Arukh (212:10) rules in accordance with the Rambam. The Vilna Gaon rules in accordance with the Ra’avad.


The Magen Avraham (210:1) assumes that this debate applies to a berakha acharona as well. The Sha’ar Ha-Tziyun (210:11) explains that “kedei sheti’at revi’it” refers to “the manner in which people drink … in two sips.” R. Moshe Feinstein (Hagadat Kol Dodi, 3) adds that even one who drinks a revi’it in many sips, as long as he does not interrupt. Therefore, some Posekim note that one generally should not say a blessing after eating a bowl of soup, as a revi’it is not consumed within a few sips. Interestingly, other Acharonim suggest that even the Rambam would adopt the longer shi’ur regarding a berakha acharona, as the berakha acharona relates not just to the act of eating, but the hana’ah (benefit) as well.


Some Acharonin (see Taz 210:1 and 190:1) suggest that after drinking even a small amount of alcohol (scotch, vodka, etc.), one should say a berakha acharona. They explain that the shi’ur of revi’it should not apply to drinks that one ordinarily drinks in small amounts. Similarly, some Acharonim (see Maharsham 1:175) permit one to say the daytime Kiddush on less than a revi’it of liquor for this reason. The Acharonim (see, for example, Magen Avraham 194:4, Mishna Berura 190:14) reject this rationale and insist that one only says a berakha acharona after drinking a revi’it, regardless of the type of liquid.


Similarly, some suggest that the rules regarding hot beverages, such as tea and coffee, should be different. Some (see, for example, Ginat Veradim, OC 1:17) maintain that since it is customary to drink them slower, and this is the “derekh hana’ato”, even one who drank a revi’it of tea in more than kedei sheti’at revi’it should say the berakha acharona. Others suggest the opposite – liquids that one generally drinks slowly are completely exempt from a berakha acharona (see Sha’arei Teshuva 204:12; see also Birkei Yosef 204:6 and Yabi’a Omer 5:18:5), as this is not the normal manner of drinking.


R. Ovadia Yosef (Yabi’a Omer, OC 5:18) analyzes this issue in great depth and concludes that the custom if Sephardim is not to say a berakha acharona after drinking hot beverages unless one drinks a revi’it after it has cooled off (see below). On the other hand, R. Dovid Z. Hoffman, in his Melamed Le-Ho’il (OC 1:25), relates that his custom, as well as the custom of the Sho’el U-Meshiv and the Minchat Chinukh, was to say a blessing after drinking hot beverages. Similarly, the Maharam Shik (OC 85) records that this is his custom as well. The Shemirat Shabbat Ke-Hilkhata (vol. 2, ch. 44, n. 96) relates that this was also the practice of many great rabbis, including R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.


Interestingly, R. Yedael Meltzer (Sefer Etz Ha-Chaim pg. 399, cited by R. Efraim Greenblatt in his Rivevot Efraim OC 5:166) relates that his grandfather,  R. Isser Zalman Meltzer (1870 – 1953), the author of the Even Ha-Ezel, was accustomed not to say a berakha acharona after drinking coffee, in accordance with the ruling of the Mishna Berura (see below). However, once R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach visited R. Meltzer, and noticed that he said the berakha acharona after drinking coffee. R. Auerbach, who was familiar with R. Meltzer’s practice, questioned the change in his custom. R. Meltzer responded that a few days earlier, R. Yitzchak Ze’ev Soloveitchik (1886 - 1959) had visited, and he noticed that he said a berakha acharona after drinking coffee, and explained that this was in accordance with the practice of his father, R. Chaim Soloveitchik. R. Meltzer, himself a student of R. Soloveitchik in the Volozhin yeshiva, decided to change his practice. In turn, R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, impressed that R. Meltzer, even in his later years, would change his practice, also changed his custom, and began to say a beracha acharona after drinking coffee. R. Moshe Shternbuch (b. 1926), in his Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot (2:135) also records that his teacher, R. Yitzchak Ze’ev Soloveitchik, would say a berakha acharona after drinking tea within the time of kedei akhilat peras.


The Mishna Berura (210:1) suggests that one should leave a revi’it of coffee or tea until it cools off and then drink a revi’it, in order to become obligated in the berakaha acharona according to (almost) all opinions.


Next week, we will finish our discussion of berakaha acharona.