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Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

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Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita



Questions for the Week of Parshas Vayeitzei


Rav Sternbuch shlita was not able to review this sheet.

Hilchos B'rachos part XVII

Uncertainties and Errors with Brachos

When in doubt, recite shehakol, is that true?

The Shulchan Aruch writes, [1] when in doubt, i.e. one does not know what the item is, one recites shehakol, and this is reiterated by the Rama. [2]

It thus seems pretty straightforward that one may recite shehakol when in doubt, without having to bother and learn hilchos brachos. However, the Magen Avraham writes [3] that when possible, one should eat the item as part of a meal, thereby avoiding  the need to recite a bracha inaccurately. This proves that it is not glatt to recite shehakol at whim.

Furthermore, the Rambam writes [4] that if one recited shehakol on all items - , which means that ones bracha is valid, but it does not mean that one may lchatchila recite shehakol.

So when does this rule apply?

The gemora Brachos 35a writes one may not benefit from this world without first reciting a bracha." Rashi explains that because the entire world belongs to Hashem, one who benefits from this world without a bracha , is similar to stealing from the Beis HaMikdash. The gemora concludes that the solution is to go to a learned man and learn hilchos brachos so as not to come to .

Rabeinu Yona [5] explains that shehakol is always a valid bracha and one will not be stealing from Hashem. Nevertheless one must learn hilchos brachos in order to be able to recite the correct bracha.

The Magen Avraham [6] points out that when the Shulchan Aruch wrote that when in doubt one may recite shehakol, it means that after one has learned hilchos brachos and doubt exists as to a specific food, one may recite shehakol, but prior to learning, one may not eat until one has learned hilchos brachos from a learned man.

This psak is cited by the Shulchan Aruch HaRav [7] and the Mishna Berura. [8]

This means that one must first learn hilchos brachos and if subsequent to learning one does not know which bracha to recite over a certain item, one may recite shehakol.

I dont recall whether I recited a bracha or not, may I eat or continue eating?

The Shulchan Aruch writes [9] that one who does not recall whether he recited hamotzi or not, does not repeat the bracha.

The poskim write [10] that one may continue eating, and although one is entitled to be stringent and not continue eating, [11] one may not be stringent and recite a bracha, because on the contrary, it is pronouncing Hashems name in vain.

On what grounds may one continue eating?

The requirement to recite a bracha prior to eating is of Rabbinic origin, and when in doubt, one is not required to recite one. [12]

Is it perfectly in order to continue eating or are there methods to create a new bracha?

The Mishna Berura writes [13] that one may continue eating. However, if someone happens to be there and is about to recite hamotzi (or any relevant bracha), it is correct to have the person moitzi the person in doubt.

We therefore see that if possible, it is correct to find a method not to eat without a bracha.

What other methods are valid?

        One can recite a bracha on a different item, with a similar bracha, that one did not have in mind to eat.

        Another possibility would be to create a hefsek. For example, if one is eating an apple inside an enclosed area, such as an apartment, and doubt arises as to whether one recited a bracha, one should exit the apartment and go into the street and return, thus enforcing a new bracha.

But are you not creating a new bracha for no reason?

The Shaarei Tshuvah writes [14] that it is preferable to create a rather than eating with the possibility of benefitting from this world without a bracha.

        Another solution is to recite the bracha in ones mind, being that several Rishonim hold that [15] with regards to brachos, and nevertheless it is not called saying Hashems name in vain.

[1] Siman 204:13.

[2] End of siman 202:18.

[3] Siman 204:26.

[4] Hilchos Brachos 8:10.

[5] Brachos 35a " .

[6] Siman 202:36.

[7] Siman 202:24.

[8] Siman 202:84.

[9] Siman 167:9.

[10] See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 167:12 and MB 127:49.

[11] See Shulchan Aruch HaRav ibid and Shaar Hatsiun 48.

[12] MB ibid.

[13] Siman 167:49.

[14] Siman 8:12. Although the " is referring to a bracha recited over a mitzvah, it should apply here. See also '.

[15] Thinking the bracha is equal to reciting it.


Vort on the Parsha

Yaakov Avinus face is depicted on the kisei hakavod, so the malochim descended to get a glimpse of this holy man. Yaakov awoke from his dream and asked them to explain the commotion, upon which the answer was that they had come to see what he looked like in real life.

To that Yaakov replied, ' where " is the acronym of , , the three other forms on the kisei hakavod, but , that I, Yaakov, the yud of () is also depicted on kisei hakavod, is a chidush. Of that I was unaware.

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