What Blessing Do We Say Over Hamantaschen? Originally Published February 26-27, 2021.

If our hamantaschen has fruit in it, what blessing do we say?  Do we gravitate only to the poppy seed pastries to avoid conflict?

There are several rules which govern food blessings - or maybe a dozen or so - and there are six possible berakhot for various foodstuffs.  (Many of these guidelines are outlined in the Talmud, Tractate Berakhot.) 

If one is eating a meal, and one has bread which is made from one or more of the Five Important Grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt), then one blesses the bread with haMotzi and is done, unless one also has wine which must be blessed separately with “… borei peri hagafen” (Who creates the fruit of the vine).

If one is eating baked goods made of any of those five grains, one says “… borei minei mezonot” (Who creates various foods).  This blessing may also include pasta.

Before eating fruits from trees, even if they have been dried, one says “… borei peri ha’etz” (Who creates the fruit of the tree).  Now, some rabbis feel that one also uses this berakha for grapes, raisins, and nuts (but not legumes such as peanuts).  Others feel that peri hagafen serves also for grapes and raisins, and that nuts are separate.

Before eating vegetables, one says “… borei peri ha’adamah” (Who creates the fruit of the earth).  Most feel that this blessing also covers cantaloupe, strawberries, other berries, and other such fruits that grow near the ground.  Legumes, too, are included here.  Many say that bananas and pineapples are also included here, the idea being that a palm tree is not a “permanent tree,” which seems to be delineated in various ways.

Before eating or drinking everything else, including such things as candy, dairy foods, meats, fish, mushrooms, eggs, pastries or pastas made of anything other than the Five Important Grains, etc., one says “… shehakol nihyeh bidevaro” (that all things come to exist by His word).

Now, if one is eating a bunch of foods in the same category, with no bread, one need only bless one (and it should be one’s favorite among them).   If the foods are of different categories, one blesses one food from each category, in the order they are usually presented in a siddur:  mezonot, hagafen, ha’etz, ha’adamah, shehakol

On Shabbat and holidays, though, we bless the wine first and the bread next.

If the foodstuff is a mishmash, for instance tuna salad, one blesses the tuna rather than the celery bits.  (This also serves to prevent triggering the age-old discussion of whether it is really tuna salad without celery in it.) 

If there is any part of the food containing the five grains and it is not bread, whether or not the majority is made of the grain, one says mezonot.   Ta-da!  Here are our hamantaschen!  Please save me a mun!

If, however, the food contains flour only used as a thickener, such as in gravy, one does bless the other ingredients rather than the flour.

There are of course some finer points upon which many have opined.  If the applesauce contains pieces of apple, one may say peri ha’etz, but if it is totally mushed smooth, one says shehakol.  In other words, if a food is processed beyond recognition, as in juice or vodka, one says shehakol.

Your correspondent clearly remembers being quizzed in Hebrew School class as to which berakhot to say over various foods.  Pizza still remains elusive.

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