Ikar and Tafel

Berachot (6:7) | Yisrael Bankier | 10 days ago

The sixth perek of Berachot discusses the berachot made on food. The Mishnah (6:7) teaches that if one is going to eat two foods, they make one beracha on the main food (ikar) while the secondary food (tafel) does not require a beracha. The case brought in the Mishnah is where one is eating very salty food and follows it with bread to calm their palate. The Mishnah teaches that one only needs to make a beracha on the salty food. We shall try to understand this law.

There are two ways to understand why the tafel does not require a beracha. One is that that which is secondary simply does not require a beracha. Since it is not the focus, the requirement of the beracha was removed. Alternatively, the tafel does still require a beracha. It is simply that now the beracha for the tafel is the beracha of the ikar. It is now considered like two foods that have the same beracaha.

The Chazon Ish (27:9) cites the Tosfot to resolve this question. The Tosfot (Berchot 44a, s.v. BeOchlei) understand that if the tafel was not present at the time one ate the ikar, then one would need to make a beracha on the tafel. For example, if one ate the salty food and only after wanted to eat bread to remove the fiery taste from their mouth, they would then need to make a beracha. The Chazon Ish reasons that this sounds like the second understanding of ikar and tafel. The reason why ordinarily the tafel does not need a beracha is because it is covered by the beracha on the ikar. If however it was not present at the time one consumed the ikar then one can understand why a beracha is required. According to the first understanding however, that the tafel is exempt for a beracha entirely, it is not clear why if the tafel came after it would require a beracha.

The Chiddushei R' Aryeh Leib (1:1) agrees with Chazon Ish's conclusion but brings a different proof. He cites the Terumat HaDeshen that rules that if one ate the tafel prior to the ikar, the tafel would require a beracha. We find therefore that the tafel is not completely exempted from the beracha -- it still requires one. This ruling would seem to follow the second understanding, that the beracha on the tafel is not required since its beracha becomes the beracha recited on the ikar. If however the tafel was consumed first, since no beracha has been recited to exempt it, a beracha is required.

The Chiddushei R' Aryeh Leib continues that the proof is not solid. One could say that according to the understanding that the tafel does not require a beracha at all, that is only after the beracha on the ikar is recited. The reason why the tafel requires a beracha if consumed first, is that that exemption has not yet been activated.

There may be another reason why the second proof is not sufficient. In that case where the tafel preceded the ikar, there is a debate regarding the beracha that should be recited. According to the Beit Yosef (OC 212) the beracha should be the appropriate beracha that would be recited if that food was eaten on its own (see Tur 210 in the name of the Rosh).

The Darkei Moshe however agrees with the position of the Ohr Zaruah that the beracha would be she'hakol. He explains that the obligation in this context to make a refined beracha on the tafel is not required, because that is not where he is deriving his prime enjoyment from. Instead a beracha is needed because one is not allowed to derive benefit from this world without a beracha, consequently the beracha of shehakol is sufficient.

Perhaps according to the Darkei Moshe, one could still understand that in the context of ikar and tafel, the beracha is only required on the ikar and not on the tafel since that is the prime source of enjoyment. Once the beracha is made then both foods can be consumed. If however the tafel preceded the ikar, one has a different problem. One is not allowed to derive benefit without the recitation of a (basic) beracha, consequently a shehakol is required.1


1 Note that while this explanation might be able to be used to reject the proof brought by the Chiddushei R' Aryeh Leib, the proof of the Chazon Ish still stands. In other words, it does not explain why a beracha is required on the tafel if it is brought after the ikar is consumed.

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