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Insights from the Institute
Shailos from the Institute of Halacha
Rabbi Mordechai Frankel, Director of the Institute of Halacha

Q:        Which brocha should be recited when eating the following foods?  (i) Hearts of palm; (ii) Cranberries; (iii) Sushi; (iv) Ezekiel bread; and (v) Rice cakes.

A:        (i) Hearts of palm:  In order to clarify the correct brocha for hearts of palm, it is instructive to first consider the guidelines that Chazal gave regarding the brocha on the products of the caper bush.  The Talmud cites a discussion concerning the correct brocha to recite prior to consuming the berries, shoots and edible leaves of the caper bush.1  The halacha follows the opinion that one should recite Ha’eitz on the berries and Ha’adama on the shoots and leaves.2  This is because caper bushes are primarily planted for the berries, whereas the production of shoots and leaves are a secondary consideration.3  At first glance, it would appear to follow that the brocha on hearts of palm would be Ha’adama, as palm trees are primarily planted for the dates, with the hearts being a secondary consideration.4  Some Poskim do, in fact, conclude that the brocha on hearts of palm is Ha’adama.5  However, the truth is that date palm trees are generally not used in commercial production of hearts of palm. The variety of palm tree which is most widely used for canning hearts of palm is the peach palm.6 Although the peach palm does produce an edible fruit, the peach palms which are used in commercial heart of palm production are specifically planted for the hearts and not for the fruit.  For this reason, Rabbi Heinemann, shlit”a, paskens that the hearts should be considered the primary fruit of the peach palm, and the brocha on hearts of palm is Ha’eitz.7

(ii) Cranberries:  Generally, the correct brocha for fruit which grows on a bush is Ha’eitz.8  Some are of the opinion that this is true even for a low hanging bush, where the fruit grows less than three tefachim above the ground.9  However, the custom is not to recite Ha’eitz on such fruit.  Rather, it is customary to recite Ha’adama on fruit which generally grows within three tefachim of the ground.10 Three tefachim is approximately 9½ inches according to Rav Chaim Noeh, and 11½ inches according to the Chazon IshRav Moshe Feinstein states that if there is uncertainty as to the typical height of a certain type of bush, and a person does not know whether it grows higher or lower than three tefachim, one should recite Ha’eitz.11  One contemporary Posek writes that cranberry plants may reach a height of twelve inches when fully grown and, therefore, require the brocha of Ha’eitz.12  Others dispute this and state that cranberries typically grow within nine inches of the ground, such that the correct brocha is Ha’adama.13  It seems that this is generally true.  The Cranberry Institute (yes, there is such a thing) describes cranberry growth as follows: “The plant produces stolons (horizontal stems) up to 6 feet (2 m) long. Short vertical branches, or uprights, 2 to 8 inches (5 to 20 cm) in height, grow from buds on the stolons”.14 As the cranberries grow within 9 inches of the ground, the brocha on cranberries is Ha’adama.

(iii)  Sushi:  Sushi is a Japanese delicacy which has become popular worldwide, consisting of cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients.  Maki is a type of sushi in which the rice is formed into a cylindrical roll and wrapped in nori, an edible seaweed; the other ingredients are used as a filling.  Popular fillings include raw fish, such as salmon or tuna.  The increasing popularity of maki sushi has resulted in varieties of fillings found primarily in America and Europe, but rarely in Japan.  Depending upon the filling, the roll will have a specific name by which it is commonly referred.  Some examples are Tekka roll – tuna filling; Tekkyu roll – tuna and sliced cucumber; Kappa roll – cucumber; Avocado roll – avocado; Alaska roll – salmon, avocado and cucumber filling.15 Regarding the appropriate brocha, the general rule for a dish with numerous ingredients is to make a brocha on the primary ingredient (the ikkar), and not to make a brocha on the secondary ingredients (the taffel).16  The varieties of maki have different names depending upon the filling, which is generally not considered by the consumer to be secondary to the rice.  Irrespective of the filling, the food is known as sushi due to the rice; it appears that the rice is not secondary to the filling either.  Furthermore, the filling and the rice are not cooked together, and remain distinct.  Therefore, both the filling and rice are primary ingredients, and both necessitate a brocha.17  For this reason, Rav Heinemann paskens that one should recite Mezonos on the rice, as well as the appropriate brocha on the filling.  The nori is secondary to the rice and other ingredients, and does not require a brocha.18

(iv) Ezekiel bread:  In Yechezkel, Perek 4 Possuk 9, the navi is instructed to make bread from wheat, barley, spelt, millet, lentils and beans.  Due to its alleged health benefits, bread made from these ingredients has recently become popular.  As the bread contains some of the five types of grain, the brocha for this bread is Hamotzi.  There is also a company called “Food For Life” which has trademarked the term “Ezekiel 4:9” bread.19  This bread contains the above ingredients, has a reliable hechsher, and is made from sprouted grain.  This is just one of a number of varieties of sprouted grain breads available. These breads are produced by taking whole wheat berries and soaking them in water until they sprout and begin to grow.  The sprouts are then ground into dough.20   Some have suggested that as the kernel starts to decompose in the sprouting process, it loses its status of wheat; therefore, bread made from the resulting dough is not Hamotzi.21   Others dispute this and maintain that the brocha remains Hamotzi.22  Rav Heinemann feels that a portion of the regular wheat kernel typically remains in sprouted wheat, and sprouted wheat does not lose the status of wheat.  Therefore, the brocha on sprouted grain bread is Hamotzi.23 
 
(v)  Rice cakes:  The correct brocha recited when eating whole rice grains, which are not stuck together, is Ha’adama.24   However, if the rice has been cooked so that it sticks together, one would recite ‘Borei Minei Mezonos’.25   Even if the rice does not stick together, the custom is to recite ‘Borei Minei Mezonos’ if the outer layer of the rice grains was removed before cooking.26   This is generally the case with rice that is sold in stores.  There are various methods of manufacturing rice cakes.  They can be made from rice flour, ground rice, or whole grains of rice compressed together or combined with some other binding substance.27   Some Poskim suggest that rice cakes made from whole grains of rice should be considered equivalent to raw rice grains, and the correct brocha, therefore, would be Ha’adama.28   Others feel that, as the rice grains are compressed together so that they stick, the correct brocha would be ‘Borei Minei Mezonos’.29  Rav Heinemann, shlit”a, concurs that as the rice sticks together, rice cakes are halachically equivalent to cooked rice.  Therefore, the correct brocha on rice cakes is ‘Borei Minei Mezonos’.30 


1.ברכות דף לו ע"א 

2.שו"ע או"ח סי' רב סעי' ו ורמ"א שם סעי' יח 

3.מ"ב שם ס"ק לט 

4.אף שהשו"ע ורמ"א בסי' רד סעי' א פסקו שעל הקורא שהוא שהרך של דקל מברכים שהכל, זהו משום שלא נטעו אינשי אדעתא דהכי כדאיתא בברכות דף לו ע"א, משא"כ בימינו שודאי נוטעים אדעתא דהכי 

5.ספר וזאת הברכה בירור הלכה סי' לו ע"פ דברי המ"ב סי' רב ס"ק לח ושעה"צ שם ס"ק מב, ויש להוסיף שבמס' ערלה פ"א משנה ז וברע"ב שם מבואר שלולבים פטורים מערלה דלאו פרי נינהו ובגמ' ברכות דף לו ע"א משמע שכל שפטור מערלה אין ברכתו העץ 

6.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_palm  

7.שמעתי ממו"ר ר' היינעמאן שליט"א 

8.רמ"א סי' רג סעי' א 

9. מג"א שם ס"ק א 

10.מ"ב שם ס"ק ג 

11.שו"ת אגרות משה או"ח ח"א סי' פה 

12.פתחי הלכה על הל' ברכות לר' בנימין פארסט עמ' 283 

13.ספר ותן ברכה לר' פנחס באדנער עמ' 394 

14.http://www.cranberryinstitute.org/about_cranberry.htm  

15. http://www.sushimonsters.com/tutorials-start-types-maki.php  

16.שו"ע או"ח סי' ריב סעי' א 

17.כעין מש"כ בשו"ת אגרות משה או"ח ח"ד סי' מג לגבי כריכים דקים של גלידה 

18.שמעתי ממו"ר ר' היינעמאן שליט"א 

19. http://foodforlife.com/our-products/sprouted-grain/ezekiel-49  

20.http://www.alvaradostreetbakery.com/faq_asb.html#1

21.http://www.ou.org/torah/tt/5766/vayigash66/print.htm  

22. http://www.kof-k.org/Facts.php  

23.שמעתי ממו"ר ר' היינעמאן שליט"א 

24.שו"ע סי' רח סעי' ז ומ"ב שם ס"ק כו, ובשו"ע שם כתב שאורז חי ברכתו בורא פרי האדמה אמנם בזמנינו שאין הדרך לאכול אורז חי נראה שברכתו שהכל כמש"כ בברכת הבית שער יא סעי' ו 

25.שו"ע ומ"ב שם  26.מ"ב שם וביה"ל שם ד"ה עד שנתמעך 

27. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_cake  

28.הגרש"ז אויערבאך זצ"ל הובא בספר וזאת הברכה עמ' 108 ובספר ותן ברכה עמ' 520 

29.הגרי"ש אלישיב שליט"א הובא בספר וזאת הברכה שם ובספר ותן ברכה שם, וכן פסק בספר פתחי הלכה על הל' ברכות עמ' 275 ע"פ שו"ת באר משה ח"ה סי' נד 

30.שמעתי ממו"ר ר' היינעמאן שליט"א

 


 



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