I know the basic rules for the blessings on food, but I’m often stumped when dealing with mixtures. One of my kids wanted to know the blessing (bracha) on an ice cream cone. Does one make a blessing on the ice cream (she’hakol nihiyeh bi’dvaro), the cone (borei minei mezonot), or on both? It’s too late for this time – the cone is long gone – but for the future, please tell me how I should respond.
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
The laws of mixtures of food can get quite complex. In any given situation, there are two issues to consider: (a) Do we look at all the ingredients as a single food or unit – requiring only a single blessing? (b) If the foods are a unit, which is the primary ingredient? As we’ll see, both issues are relevant to an ice cream cone.
Looking at the second issue first, when we have a mixture, we generally make the blessing on the main ingredient. “Main” sometimes means the most important ingredient of the mixture – such as the cracker over the jam or the salad over the dressing. Sometimes, however, we look at percentages and recite the blessing on the majority ingredient – such as the melon in a fruit cup containing 70% melon and 30% apples.
Grain products are an exception to this because of the centrality of grain to a typical meal. (Jewish law recognizes five such grains – wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt.) Grain products are almost always considered primary – unless they are clearly serving in a subservient manner – such as a thickening agent to hold together a cooked dish or as a thin coating on cutlets (Shulchan Aruch 208:2, Mishnah Berurah 8).
Regarding the first issue – when are two items considered mixed, there are two ways in which items combine: (a) by being physically mixed together in small pieces (so that you will get some of the main ingredient in most bites) (Aruch HaShulchan 212:2), or (b) by being cooked together, such as an apple pie (Shulchan Aruch 208:2).
Putting all of the above together, since the ice cream and the cone are not cooked together and you will typically eat a lot of the ice cream before you get to the cone, two blessings are recited on it – shehakol on the ice cream and mezonot when you get to the cone.
One exception would be a tasteless cone whose only function is to make it possible to hold the ice cream. On that you would make no blessing at all since it is clearly secondary to the ice cream. When I was growing up, we were always told to order a “sugar cone” with our ice cream. I never asked why because it tasted better anyway, but I assume it was to avoid this situation.
My fiance and I both enjoy rollerblading. I am curious to know if it is okay for us to rollerblade in a park on Saturdays if our intentions are to have fun rather than get in shape. Thank you very much.
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
It's funny you should mention this. I recently had to visit someone in the hospital on Shabbat afternoon, and walked 16 miles in the process. As I was walking, I saw some kids rollerblading, and thought to myself, "What a great idea. This could have really cut down my travel time!" It was too late to do anything about it, but I registered the idea for the future.
In answer to your question, it is permitted to use rollerblades on Shabbat, provided one does not carry them (i.e. when not wearing them) in a public domain. However, if rollerblades are customarily not used on Shabbat by observant Jews in your community, then you should also not use them. An exception could be made in case of pressing need, for example my hospital visit.
When God spoke about kosher animals in the Torah, why does it only list the animals known to the people at that time? It never mentions any animals in Africa like the hippo or giraffe.
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
What makes an animal kosher? The Torah says (Leviticus 11:2, 3, 7):
"Speak to the children of Israel saying: Of all the animals in the world, these are the ones you may eat. Among mammals, you may eat (any one) that has true hoofs that are cloven, and that chews its cud... The pig shall be unclean to you although it has a cloven hoof, since it does not chew its cud."
There must two signs: Every animal must have fully split hooves and it has to be cud-chewing. Is a horse kosher? No, because it doesn't have split hooves or chew its cud. What about a lion? It also lacks these signs. What about a cow? Yes, because it has both signs.
The practical law is explained by Maimonides (Laws of Forbidden Foods 1:2-3):
"The identifying signs of clean animals are specified in the Torah as two: the true cloven hoof and the chewing of the cud (rumination). Both must be present… Consequently, if a person finds an animal in the wilderness… whose muzzle has been mutilated, he should examine the hoofs. If they are cloven, the animal is clean – provided he can ascertain it is not a pig."
This is amazing! Even though the Torah already gave us the two signs that make an animal kosher, it decides to add some extra information. The Torah lists only one animal – the pig – that has the kosher sign of split hooves, but not the other sign of chewing cud.
Why does the Torah stick its neck on the line to tell us there is only one animal that has the kosher sign of split hooves, but not the other sign of chewing cud? All we have to do is find a second animal with that one kosher sign and we know the Torah is wrong! All we need is one more species, at any time in existence, that does not chew its cud yet has split hooves and we know the whole Torah is a farce. You can close up the religion. There goes Judaism. It's been a nice few thousand years. Why risk the whole religion and expose it to fraud, for no gain?
Certainly, in Moses’ time the Jews were not able to identify every existing mammal in the world. Was Moses a hunter or a safari expert that he knew this information?! Obviously not. And yet, the Bible put very specific information in there without fear of being proven wrong.
Zoologists today have identified over 5,000 different species of mammals. And still there is only one – the pig – that has the kosher sign of split hooves, but not the other sign of chewing cud.
Why would the Torah write this, and more incredibly, how could it have gotten it right?
The Talmud (Chulin 60b) concludes: This refutes those who question whether the Torah was given by God.