Halacha for Monday 1 Shevat 5779 January 7 2019

The Laws of a Primary and Secondary Food Regarding Blessings

Question: If one eats a slice of bread along with fish, is it possible that one only recites a blessing on the fish and the bread will be considered secondary to the fish and exempted by it?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained the basic laws of primary and secondary foods regarding blessings, in that the blessing on a primary food exempts the secondary food. For instance, if one wishes to eat a dish of rice with some beans on top, the “Boreh Peri Ha’adama” blessing is not recited on the beans; rather, the “Boreh Minei Mezonot” blessing on the rice, which is the primary food, is sufficient for both.

Can Bread be Secondary to Other Foods?
The Mishnah (Berachot 44b) states: “If one was served something extremely salty or extremely sweet (see Tosafot ibid.) along with bread, one recites a blessing on the sweet or salty food and this exempts the bread, for the bread is secondary to it. The rule is as follows: Whenever there is a primary and secondary food, one recites a blessing on the primary food and this exempts the secondary food.”

The case in the above Mishnah refers to one who was served fruits or various kinds of jam that are very sweet and because of the extreme sweetness, one eats some bread afterwards in order to weaken the intensity of the fruit’s sweetness. Similarly, if one eats an extremely salty or spicy food and one intends only to enjoy this specific food but then wishes to eat some bread afterwards to dull some of the saltiness or spiciness, in the above instances, one would not recite a blessing on the bread, for it is completely secondary to the other foods one is eating.

The Opinion of Rabbeinu Yonah
Rabbeinu Yonah writes that this Mishnah is certainly not coming to teach us the obvious law that the blessing on a primary food exempts a secondary food, for the Mishnah on the previous page has already taught us this by stating, “If one recites a blessing on bread, he has exempted other foods eaten during the meal.” Rather, this Mishnah comes to teach us that even bread, which is the most significant of all foods, can sometimes take on a secondary status, such as, when it is eaten along with another food merely to dull the strong taste of the other food.

Indeed, the Poskim, as well as Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 212), rule as follows: “If one eats a primary food along with another less significant food, one recites a blessing on the primary food and exempts the secondary food from both before and after blessings. Not only does this apply when the primary and secondary foods are mixed together; rather, this law applies even if they are separate. Even if bread, which is the most significant food, is secondary, such as, if one is eating salty fish and eats bread along with it so that one’s throat is not harmed by the saltiness, one recites a blessing on the fish and exempts the bread since it is indeed secondary.”

Bread is Usually Considered a Primary Food
Nevertheless, it is clear that one cannot always claim that the bread is secondary to another food one is eating, such as, if one eats a slice of bread with some peanut butter or a piece of cheese and claims that the spread or cheese is more significant to him than the bread; this is certainly not the case, for in this instance, the bread is considered primary and the “Hamotzi” blessing is recited which exempts the topping as well. Only when the bread comes to remove the strong taste of the food one has eaten before it can the bread be considered secondary since one is not interested in eating it for its own sake, in which case no blessing is recited on the bread whatsoever.

Summary: If one eats something extremely sweet or salty and then wishes to eat some bread for the sole purpose of removing the strong taste of the food he has eaten right before, one does not recite a blessing on the bread, for it is completely secondary to and exempted by the blessing on the original food. However, if the bread is being eaten for taste, such as, a slice of bread with a piece of fish on it, the bread is considered primary and a blessing is recited upon it and not on the fish.

In the following Halacha, we shall, G-d-willing, discuss some related laws.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Hearing Parashat Zachor

“Remember What Amalek Has Done to You” On the Shabbat preceding Purim, which is this coming Shabbat, after the opening of the Ark immediately following Shacharit prayers, two Sifrei Torah are removed; in the first one, we read the weekly Parasha (which is Parashat Vayikra this year, 577......

Read Halacha

The Custom of the “Commemoration of the Half-Shekel”-5779

It is customary to donate money before Purim as “a commemoration of the Half-Shekel” which was donated by the entire Jewish nation when the Bet Hamikdash stood. This money is customarily collected on the eve of Purim before reading the Megillah, as our Sages tell us (Megilla 13b) that &l......

Read Halacha

Arriving Late to or Skipping Some Portions of the Megillah Reading

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

Matanot La’Evyonim

In the previous Halacha we briefly discussed the Mitzvah of “Matanot La’Evyonim” on Purim day which is the distribution of two monetary gifts, one to each pauper. What Must One Give? In order to fulfill this Mitzvah, one need not give actual gifts; rather, it is permissible to ......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Mishloach Manot

Purim this year will fall out at the end of next week. The Fast of Esther will be observed next Wednesday and Purim will be observed on Thursday in most places and on Friday in Jerusalem. The Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot The verse in the Megillat Esther (9, 22) states: “In order to mark them......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of the Purim Feast This Year (5779)

Holding the Purim Feast at Night The holiday of Purim is different than all other holidays we celebrate in that whereas regarding other holidays the Mitzvah of partaking of a joyous holiday meal applies during the day and night, regarding the holiday of Purim, there is only a Mitzvah to hold a feas......

Read Halacha

The Salvation of the Jewish Nation on Purim

The verse in Megillat Esther (Chapter 3) states: “And Haman said to King Achashverosh: There is a certain nation scattered and dispersed among the nations in all the provinces of your kingdom and their laws are diverse from those of every nation and neither do they keep the king’s laws; ......

Read Halacha

A Joint Mishloach Manot by Husband and Wife

Question: On Purim I stay home and I do not give out my own Mishloach Manot. May I fulfill my obligation by sending a joint Mishloach Manot along with my husband? Answer: First, let us discuss the obligation of women with regards to Mishloach Manot. A Woman’s Obligation in Mishloach Mano......

Read Halacha