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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Some Erev Shabbes Customs

Posted by rabbiart on December 7, 2009

Our friends Chester, Miriam, Isaiah and Zoe have a wonderful “make more brachahs” custom that we’ve seen the last two times we were at their house for Erev Shabbes dinner.  They fill a plate with different fruits and nuts and pass it around the table.  Each time the plate comes around, you take a food that requires a different brachah, say the brachah and eat the food (of course!).  This helps get to the recommended 100 brachot a day, which is harder to reach on Shabbat because the number of brachot in the Amidah has dropped from 19 to 7.

When there are different foods – with different brachahs – there are at least two theories on the order of eating/blessing the foods.  Surprised? Of course not. In general, the order of precedence relies heavily on the verse that names the seven species of the land of Israel. When eating two or more of these items, you give precedence to the one that comes earlier in the verse, which in order, lists wheat, barley, vines, figs, pomegranates, olives and honey.

The deeper we delve into this, the more complex it becomes, and the greater the opportunity to sit around and wrestle with the question; what does it mean.  The specific orders presented next are taken from a wonderful article at http://www.ou.org/publications/brachot/intro.htm.  Feel free to read the whole article (what? I could stop you somehow) and learn even more. Of course, we are the people of differing opinions, so let’s start with this little snippet from Talmud Brachot 40b, which reads

If there were many different foods before a person: Rabbi Yehuda says that if one of the foods is from the seven species the bracha should be said on that. The Sages say make the bracha on which ever one you want.

According to the gemara, the case in point is where there are different foods all requiring the same blessing.  So R. Yehudah’s opinion is reflected in the list below. The sages would simply instruct us to say the brachah (and eat) the food we want to eat now, regardless of whether it is from the seven species.

IF you have several fruits/vegetables which require the same brachah (either ha-etz or ha-adamah), you eat them in this order.

  1. any of the seven species get preference over something not of the seven species, so for example, a date is eaten before an apple.
  2. whole fruits over fruits that are broken up, so for example an whole apple over a slice of orange
  3. the fruit you usually prefer to eat (given a choice), but if no preference
  4. the fruit you want to eat now.

IF you have several fruits/vegetables some of which require ha-etz and some require ha-adamah, you eat them in this order

  1. the one you would usually prefer, regardless of the brachah required, but if you don’t have a preference, then
  2. the one you want to eat now
  3. any of the seven species
  4. any of the fruits/vegetables that are whole
  5. if none of the above rules apply, any of the fruits/vegetables that require ha-etz takes precedence over fruits requiring ha-adamah.

Depending on your background and orientation, you might be reacting with “who cares” or “this is really cool.”  Personally, I’m in the “this is really cool” camp for a couple of reasons.  One is the concept of hidur mitzvah or taking special care in the performance of a mitzvah.  The second is an observation that we heard yesterday in mussar class; that outward orderliness helps create an inward orderliness.  Yes, it is just “good for us” to be meticulous in observing mitzvot and saying brachot.  Why wouldn’t it be?

Kol Tuv

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