Halacha Date: 8 Shevat 5780 February 3 2020
Question: How should one who put food in one’s mouth without reciting a blessing proceed?
Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (35a) states: “Our Sages taught: One may not benefit from this world without first reciting a blessing. One who benefits from this world without first reciting a blessing is considered to have benefitted mundanely from consecrated items (for the entire creation belongs to Hashem, as the verse states, ‘To Hashem [belongs] the land and all its contents’).” The Gemara (ibid.) asks that whereas one verse states, “To Hashem [belongs] the land and all its contents,” another verse states, “And He has given the land to human beings.” These verses seemingly contradict one another, for if the land belongs to Hashem, it cannot belong to human beings and if Hashem has given it to human beings, it is not Hashem’s! The Gemara answers that one verse refers to before one recites a blessing and the other refers to after one recites a blessing, meaning that the verse, “To Hashem [belongs] the land and all its contents” refers to when a person has not yet recited a blessing; however, once one has blessed, he is immediately permitted to eat, hence the verse, “And He has given the land to human beings.”
It is thus imperative that one learn the laws of blessings well so that one does not, G-d-forbid, benefit from consecrated items by not reciting a blessing where one is actually required to or by reciting an incorrect blessing. This can also cause one transgress the prohibition of uttering Hashem’s name in vain, which is a terrible sin. On the other hand, if one recites the proper blessing and with proper intention and concentration, he merits great reward. It is also well-known that the Mekubalim write that by reciting a proper blessing, one merits repairing many things; praiseworthy is this individual and his share in the World to Come.
Maran zt”l’s Meticulousness Regarding Blessings
Once, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l was given his Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin instead of his Rashi Tefillin and he proceeded to mistakenly recite a blessing on them. When he realized what had occurred, Maran was upset all day long that he had recited a blessing when he was not supposed to. It is unbelievable how careful Maran was to recite blessings slowly and with concentration unlike some who recite blessings flippantly without any concentration. He would likewise take care and remind others to recite the name of Hashem within the blessing correctly and with the proper punctuation unlike some who customarily recite “Baruch Atadonai” as one word as opposed to two. Maran would also point out that one should not say “Adnai” which results from one reciting the words too quickly.
If One Mistakenly Puts Food in One’s Mouth Without Reciting a Blessing
What should one do if he has mistakenly put food in one’s mouth without first reciting a blessing?
We should first point out that one should preferably not recite a blessing when one already has food in his mouth, for the verse states, “May my mouth be filled with your praises.” Thus, if one has already put food into his mouth without a blessing, the law is as follows:
If the food is not the type that will become repulsive if one spits it out, such as a candy, Halacha dictates that one must spit it out and recite the appropriate blessing over it since one should not recite a blessing when his mouth is filled with food. However, if one is unable to spit out the food because doing so would make the food repulsive, one should move the food to the side of one’s mouth and proceed to recite the blessing.
If one mistakenly begins drinking a beverage without first reciting a blessing (in which case one cannot recite the blessing with the beverage still in his mouth and one cannot spit it out either, for doing so would certainly cause it to become repulsive), one should think the words of the blessing in his mind and then proceed to swallow the beverage. If one would like to continue drinking, one should recite, “Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto Le’Olam Va’ed” and then verbally recite the blessing for what one would like to continue drinking (one should not rely on the fact that he has already thought the words of the blessing in his mind). See Berachot 50b and Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 172.