Halacha for Thursday 18 Shevat 5782 January 20 2022

Explanation of the “Boreh Nefashot” Blessing

There are certain foods and drinks which require recitation of the Boreh Nefashot after-blessing after eating or drinking them.

For instance, if one eats more than an olive’s volume (approximately twenty-seven grams) of vegetables, one must recite the “Boreh Nefashot” after-blessing after eating.

Clearly, if one ate vegetables within a bread meal, one would not recite any blessing on the vegetables, neither before eating nor after eating. The above applies only when the vegetables were eaten outside of a bread meal.

Similarly, if one eats fruits that are not one of the Seven Species the Land of Israel was praised with, such as an apple or peach, one must recite the “Boreh Nefashot” after-blessing when one is finished eating.

The following is the text of the “Boreh Nefashot” blessing:

Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Boreh Nefashot Rabbot Ve’Chesronan Al Kol Mah She’Barata Le’Hachayot Bahem Nefesh Kol Chai, Baruch Chai Ha’Olamim.”

Hagaon Rabbeinu Yosef Haim explains the meaning of this blessing according to the Kabbalah in his Sefer Ben Ish Hai. According to the Mekubalim, souls are sometimes reincarnated (a deep topic which we do not fully comprehend) in vegetation or wildlife. When one recites a blessing on any given food, one repairs and uplifts the souls reincarnated in it. This is what is meant by the first part of the blessing “Boreh Nefashot Rabbot Ve’Chesronan Al Kol Mah She’Barata,” meaning that as a shortcoming of the souls, they are later reincarnated into other objects which You created and thus, through this blessing, “Le’Hachayot Bahem Nefesh Kol Chai,” we must rectify any living soul reincarnated into the food. Therefore, “Baruch Chai Ha’Olamim,” meaning that we are praising Hashem for this truly wonderous occurrence being executed through us.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l explains the meaning of this blessing according to its simple approach based on the words of the Tosafot (Berachot 37b):

Boreh Nefashot Rabbot Ve’Chesronan”- Hashem creates souls and what they are lacking, i.e. bread and water which are life’s basic necessities without which one cannot survive.

Besides for these things, Hashem has also created “Al Kol Mah She’Barata Le’Hachayot Bahem Nefesh Kol Chai,” meaning things which the world could continue to exist without even if Hashem would not have created them and thus, Hashem only created them for our pleasure, such as all types of fruits and the like. (See Ben Ish Hai and Halichot Olam, Parashat Matot)

Fortunate is one who pays attention to these concepts while reciting these blessings and in this way, one’s entire life takes a more spiritual turn for the better. 

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