During the days preceding Tu Bishvat, we have discussed some laws of blessings. We shall now discuss the law that the food must be in front of the individual before reciting a blessing, for this is the first law in reference to the laws of blessings.
Waiting Until the Food is Brought Before the Individual
One may not recite a blessing on a food or drink until it has been brought before him, meaning that the food or drink must be placed before the individual at the time of the blessing. The Talmud Yerushalmi explains that if one recited a blessing at a time when the food was not in front of him and only after reciting the blessing was the food brought before him, he must repeat the blessing a second time before partaking of that food.
It turns out that if one recites a blessing on a food before it was placed in front of him, he has recited a blessing in vain and must recite the blessing again. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch and the rest of the Poskim rule in accordance with this Yerushalmi, for if the food was not in front of the individual at the time he blessed, the blessing had “nothing to take effect on,” and one must thus recite the blessing again. Even if at the time one recited the blessing one had specific intention about the food that would be brought before him, one will still be obligated to recite the blessing over.
Nevertheless, if the food was in front of the individual when he recited the blessing but was in a box or wrapped with paper and the like, one would not recite the blessing over again since it was indeed in front of him and he has the ability to take it and eat from it. It is nonetheless preferable to conduct oneself as we have already discussed, in that there is a Mitzvah to hold the food one is reciting a blessing on in one’s right hand and one should not suffice with the food merely being placed before him, even if it is not wrapped.
One Standing Next to a Stream or a Running Faucet
One who is standing next to a running stream or river and would like to recite a blessing on the water may indeed recite the blessing and drink although the water that one drinks is not the actual water that was in front of him when he recited the blessing. The reason for this is because regarding a stream, the water will certainly come in front of him since the nature of a stream is that it flows constantly; this is not comparable to a case when one recites a blessing on fruits and the like which are only are placed before him afterwards, for in that case, it is not as certain that the fruits will be brought before him. The same applies regarding drinking water from a faucet or fountain in that one may recite the blessing and drink the water that emerges afterwards.
When the Food Will Certainly be Brought Before the Individual
Nevertheless, the Peri Megadim writes that even with regards to fruits and the like, if they will certainly be brought before him, for instance, if they are in the adjacent room and the like, one should not recite the blessing again when they are placed in front of him, for there is room to say that they share the same law of the aforementioned stream or fountain. Therefore, because of the doubt involved, one should not recite the blessing again. This only applies if one already finds himself in this situation; preferably, however, one should take care that the food is actually in front of him before he begins to recite the blessing, as we have explained.
Summary: One should only recite a blessing on food when the food has already been placed in front him. If the food was not in front of him at the time one recited the blessing, one must recite the blessing over again when the food is brought before him. However, if it were clear that the food would certainly be brought before him, for instance, if the food were in the adjacent room and the like, one should not recite the blessing over again before partaking of the food.
If one is standing next to a flowing stream or a running faucet or fountain, one may recite a blessing on the water that will soon come before him and then begin to drink.