Halacha Date: 8 Shevat 5779 January 14 2019
In the previous Halacha we have discussed that any grain, such as wheat, which is eaten raw requires the “Boreh Peri Ha’adama” blessing. For this reason, the blessing for puffed wheat is “Boreh Peri Ha’adama.” Only if the grains were cooked together until they stick together or if they were baked does the blessing become “Boreh Minei Mezonot.” Thus, the blessing for farina, oatmeal, cakes, and cookies is Mezonot. Nevertheless, regarding other vegetables or legumes, even if they were cooked, their blessing still remains “Boreh Peri Ha’adama.” Thus, the proper blessing for a cooked dish of chick peas, lentils, or string beans is “Boreh Peri Ha’adama.”
Based on this, it would seem that the proper blessing for rice would be “Boreh Peri Ha’adama” since rice is not a type of grain. Nevertheless, the Baraita in Masechet Berachot (37a) teaches us that rice has the same law as the five grains, i.e. if one eats it raw, one recites the “Boreh Peri Ha’adama” blessing and if it is eaten cooked, one recites the Mezonot blessing. The Rosh writes that the reason our Sages equated rice to the other grains with regards to the blessing is because rice is filling and satisfying. On the other hand, rice is different than the five grains in that when one recites the Mezonot blessing on grain items, the after-blessing will be “Al Ha’Michya”; however, the after-blessing for rice is “Boreh Nefashot Rabbot.”
The reason for this is because the five types of grain are included in the Seven Species that the Land of Israel was praised with, since the Land of Israel was praised with wheat and barley; spelt is a species of wheat and oat and rye are species of barley. Thus, all five grains are included in the Seven Species that Israel was praised with. However, rice is not one of the Seven Species; thus, its after-blessing is “Boreh Nefashot Rabbot” similar to other vegetables and legumes.
We shall now discuss the law regarding rice cakes. Since the rice in these cakes is noticeable and it is clear that it has only been puffed and not cooked, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules that the proper blessing for such rice cakes is “Boreh Peri Ha’adama,” for eating rice cakes is similar to eating uncooked rice for which the Baraita states one recites the Ha’adama blessing.
Nevertheless, regarding puffed rice cereal (“Rice Crispies”), Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l writes that since before the rice crispies are toasted and puffed they are first cooked in water at which point their blessing becomes “Boreh Minei Mezonot,” even after the rice grains are toasted and brought back to a form which looks as though they are uncooked, the blessing nevertheless does not revert back to “Boreh Peri Ha’adama.” Thus, the blessing on such rice crispies is “Boreh Minei Mezonot.” Similarly, any cakes or cookies made out of these puffed rice grains (“Rice Crispies Treats” and the like) require the Mezonot blessing like one who eats cooked rice. (It has come to our attention that there are companies that produce puffed rice cereal that is not cooked at all and the blessing on this product will then be “Boreh Peri Ha’adama”; one must therefore make the appropriate inquiries into this matter.)
Summary: The proper blessing for rice is “Boreh Minei Mezonot.” If one eats a Kezayit (twenty-seven grams) of rice, one must recite the “Boreh Nefashot” after-blessing. The same law applies to one who eats puffed rice cereal (“Rice Crispies”) since the grains of rice are cooked before they are toasted and the proper blessing is Mezonot. However, the blessing for rice cakes is “Boreh Peri Ha’adama” since the rice is uncooked, similar to the law regarding one who eats any other legumes.