Monday, July 13, 2020

Bracha Achrona on a Liquid

A celebrated point of dispute is whether one should recite a bracha achrona when consuming hot drinks. Normally, one recites a bracha achrona after drinking a liquid if he drank a revi’it (three ounces according to Rav Ovadia Yosef) within the normal time to drink a revi’it (see Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 612:10). However, if one slowly sipped water and completed the revi’it only within, for example, four minutes, he would not recite a bracha achrona.

A Hot Liquid Might Be Different

However, some Acharonim (such as the Minchat Chinuch 313:2) raise the possibility that the halacha is different regarding hot drinks. Since hot drinks are normally sipped slowly, then it would seem that a bracha achrona may be recited after consuming a hot drink even if it takes a few minutes to finish a revi’it of liquid.

Moreover, one may add the opinion of the Ra’avad to clinch the argument. The Ra’avad (in his dissent to Rambam’s Hilchot Terumot 10:3) rules that one has a k’dei achilat pras (the time to complete a half a loaf of bread, which is seven and a half minutes according to Yalkut Yosef) to complete the revi’it of liquid in order to qualify for a bracha achrona. The Vilna Gaon (Bi’ur HaGra at the end of Orach Chaim 612) subscribes to this view as well.

A S’fek S’feka

As such, there is a s’fek s’feka (double doubt) arguing that a bracha achrona should be recited if one slowly drinks a revi’it of hot liquid in less than seven and a half minutes. One safek is perhaps the halacha follows the Ra’avad and the Vilna Gaon that one has seven and a half minutes to complete the revi’it in order to recite a bracha achrona. The other safek is that maybe even the Rambam would agree that one recites a bracha achrona after drinking hot liquids in the normal amount of time it takes to drink a revi’it of a hot drink.

Some Ashkenazic poskim accept this line of reasoning. Lubavitchers will follow the Baal HaTanya (Seder Birkot HaNehenin 8:6), who adopts the s’fek s’feka. Teshuvot Maharam Shick (Orach Chaim 85) reports this was also the practice of the Chatam Sofer. Teshuvot Melamed LeHo’il (Orach Chaim 25) reports this was the practice of Rav Yosef Shaul Nathanson (the author of Teshuvot Sho’el UMeishiv) and Rav Yosef Babad (the author of the Minchat Chinuch). Rav Shlomo Fischer told me (in July 1993) that the minhag among Ashkenazim in Yerushalayim is to recite a bracha achrona in this circumstance.

Conclusion: The Sephardic Tradition

Rav Ovadia Yosef (Teshuvot Yechave Da’at 5:21), however, notes that the Sephardic tradition is to refrain from reciting a bracha achrona even in this circumstance. Rav Ovadia emphasizes the Sephardic tradition to avoid a question of an unnecessary bracha even if there is a s’fek s’feka. Rav Ovadia cites a long list of Sephardic “all-stars” who record this practice. These include the Chida (Birke Yosef 204:5), Rav Yehuda Ayash (Mateh Yehuda 210), Rav David Pardo (Teshuvot Michtam L’David Orach Chaim 3) and the Ben Ish Chai (Parshat Masei number nine). Interestingly, many Ashkenazic poskim (Mishna Berurah 210:1, Chaye Adam 3:15 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 51:6) agree.

Most interestingly, Yalkut Yosef (Orach Chaim 207:8) applies this ruling to ice cream! Rav Yosef regards ice cream as a liquid since it is indeed a frozen liquid. Thus, a Sephardic Jew who slowly licks his ice cream should not recite a bracha achrona.

Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.