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A Mistake in the Bracha Acharona on Wine

לעילוי נשמת

יואל אפרים בן אברהם עוזיאל זלצמן ז”ל

Question: After Havdala, I recited quietly the bracha acharona (blessing after eating) on grape juice by heart, and finished it aloud for my family to answer amen. I was caught off guard when my wife alerted me to the fact that I mistakenly finished off “… al ha’aretz v’al peiroteha, on the land and its fruit” (instead of “al ha’aretz v’al pri gafnah, on the land and its grapes”). I do not know if my mistake was only on the last line (I knew the bracha was for grape juice, and I am usually proficient at brachot.) Should I have repeated the bracha?

Answer: (The order of presentation is pedagogically rather than logically chosen). Starting to fix the mistake within toch k’dei dibbur (1-2 seconds) of finishing the bracha (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 209:2) would have solved your problem, but it sounds like your realization came later.

Can you assume you did the rest of the bracha correctly? On the one hand, you regularly make this bracha correctly right after Havdala. On the other hand, since you finished off incorrectly, there is a good chance that the mistake started earlier. We, thus, must treat the matter as a safek (in doubt) whether you were accurate in one or both of the other mentioned specific food-categories. When one has a safek whether he recited a bracha on food (or, equivalently, whether he did so validly), he does not recite/repeat the bracha (ibid. 3).

However, it would not help if you said the other part(s) of the bracha correctly. A bracha’s concluding part is crucial, and while there is a machloket (argument) whether getting the end right suffices, if it is wrong, the bracha is invalid (ibid. 59:2; Be’ur Halacha ad loc.).

However, you did not have to repeat the bracha acharona because the text you recited was not so wrong. There is a rule (with exceptions) that a bracha that is not slated for a certain food counts b’di’eved (after the fact) when its content is also true, even when a more specific bracha was prescribed. The most famous application is that shehakol n’hiya bidvaro is a valid bracha rishona (blessing before eating) after the fact for any food. The rule also validates b’di’eved one who recited borei pri ha’adama instead of borei pri haetz (Shulchan Aruch, OC 206:1) because fruit of a tree in effect grow from the ground, because the tree itself grows there (Mishna Berura ad loc. 1).

Grapes and wine come from an etz (a grapevine, halachically, is a tree) and, specifically, from a gefen (a grapevine). Therefore, logic seems to dictate that if one recites borei pri haetz on wine, he should be yotzei because the bracha is true—the wine came from a tree. (R. Akiva Eiger (to Magen Avraham 208:22) and Nishmat Adam (I:50:1) are among those who concur.) If so, the same is true of the bracha acharona (our case) – although he should have recited al hagefen, he should be yotzei with al hapeirot (see Be’ur Halacha to OC 208:18). However, there is actually a machloket—the Magen Avraham (208:22), Yad Ephrayim (ad loc.), and Aruch Hashulchan (OC 208:28) say that borei pri haetz does not work b’di’eved for wine. The Yad Ephrayim explains that since wine (and bread) received a special bracha beyond those of their category of food, Chazal did not allow the bracha to be fulfilled with a lesser, albeit accurate, bracha. The Mishna Berura (208:70) cites both positions and identifies Rishonim corroborating each (Sha’ar Hatziyun ad loc. 67). In conclusion, he treats the situation as a safek, and therefore based on safek brachot l’hakel (we are lenient when in doubt about a bracha), recommends not reciting borei pri hagefen afterward.

Based on the comparison between bracha rishona and bracha acharona, safek obviates the practical need for another bracha in your case. In your case, there is an additional reason to refrain from another bracha. According to a serious position among Rishonim, the bracha acharona on wine is supposed to conclude with “… al ha’aretz v’al hapeirot” (mentioning land and fruit, whereas the “fruit of the grapevine” is mentioned only earlier), and the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 11) rules that either is fine. Therefore, you, conceivably, said the bracha perfectly, and even if not, it was close enough to preclude another recitation.


Rabbi Mann is a dayan for Eretz Hemdah and a staff member of Yeshiva University’s Gruss Kollel in Israel. He is a senior member of the Eretz Hemdah responder staff, editor of Hemdat Yamim and the author of “Living the Halachic Process Volumes 1 and 2” and “A Glimpse of Greatness.”

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