In the previous six classes, we've learned all the guidelines pertaining to bracha achrona. Now let's consider one final issue:

Sometimes, either due to lack of knowledge or lack of concentration, a person says the wrong bracha achron. Is this considered a bracha levatala – a bracha said in vain, whose purpose is not fulfilled – in which case you will now have to say the correct bracha achrona? Or perhaps, post facto, this "incorrect" bracha achrona is effective.

As usual, the answer is: It depends. The rules are actually complex, and there is no easily discernible pattern. But to get started, let's go through a few cases:

  • You ate a few carrots, and then for a bracha achrona said Al Ha'gefen. Obviously, this does not work, since carrots are in no way related to wine.

  • You ate an apple, and for a bracha achrona said Al Ha'aitz. Post facto, this works, since apples are certainly fruits, albeit not one of the five special fruits.1

  • You ate a bowl of rice, and for a bracha achrona said Al Ha'michya. Post facto, this works, since rice is indeed related to mezonot foods in that the bracha rishona for rice is Mezonot.2

  • You ate pretzels, and for your bracha achrona mistakenly said Birkat Hamazon. Post facto, this works, because pretzels are Pat Haba B'Kisnin – a satiating mezonot food that would actually require Birkat Hamazon if you ate a large enough quantity (shiur keviyat seudah), as we learned in class #11.3

  • You ate a large meal of fish, potatoes, salad, and ice cream for dessert. You are so stuffed to the gills that instead of a simple Borei Nefashot, you mistakenly said the entire Birkat Hamazon. In this case, this is no good and you will still have to say Borei Nefashot.4

  • You ate a yummy sandwich and then said Al Ha'michya. Post facto, this works, as we learned (in class #32) that the Three-Faceted Blessing is thematically related to Birkat Hamazon.5

Here's a chart outlining which mistaken brachot are effective "after the fact":

MISTAKENLY
SAID

SUPPOSED
TO SAY

Birkat Hamazon

Al Ha'michya

Al
Ha'gefen

Al
Ha'aitz

Borei
Nefashot

Birkat Hamazon

N/A

Effective6

Ineffective

Ineffective

Questionable7

Al Ha'michya

Effective8

N/A

Ineffective

Ineffective

Questionable9

Al Ha'gefen

Effective10

Effective

N/A

Effective

Questionable

Al Ha'aitz

Ineffective11

Ineffective12

Ineffective13

N/A

Questionable

Borei Nefashot

Ineffective

Ineffective14

Ineffective

Ineffective15

N/A

In cases where the bracha achrona was ineffective, you will now have to say the correct bracha achrona. It is proper to show remorse for having said the original bracha achrona in vain (bracha levatala).

When faced with one of the "questionable" rulings that are marked here in green, the best advice is to:

  • Have someone else who is obligated in the same bracha achrona to have in mind to be motzi you.
  • Eat more food that requires a different bracha rishona, but the same bracha achrona. When you say the bracha achrona, have in mind to "cover" the original food as well.

For Review

(1) There are three main types of bracha achrona:

BLESSING:

SAID AFTER:

Grace After Meals
(Birkat Hamazon)

a meal containing bread, or shiur keviat seuda of Pat Haba B'Kisnin

Three-Faceted Blessing

Al Ha'michya...................

Al Ha'gefen......................

Al Ha'aitz..........................


mezonot foods

wine or grape juice

the "five fruits"

Borei Nefashot

all other foods

(2) How much food – to be obligated in a bracha achrona, you need to have consumed at least a kezayit of food, or a revi'it of drink.

(3) How quickly – to be obligated in a bracha achron, the kezayit of food needs to be eaten within 3-4 minutes (kiday achilat pras). For drinks, the revi'it should be consumed in two gulps (about 30 seconds).

(4) Covers other foods – In an ikar v'tafel situation, the bracha achrona on the ikar obviates the need to say a bracha achrona on the tafel. Also:

  • Birkat Hamazon covers all other foods eaten in conjunction with a bread meal.
  • There are various rules whether Birkat Hamazon also covers food eaten just prior to a bread meal.
  • Al Ha'aitz covers all other fruits.
  • Al Ha'gefen covers all other drinks, as well as grapes.

(5) Alternative bread types – a large quantity (shiur keviat seuda) of Pat Haba B'Kisnin (baked mezonot, e.g. cake) requires you to say Hamotzee and Birkat Hamazon.

(6) When in doubt, have someone else who is obligated in the same bracha achrona to have in mind to be motzi you. Or, eat more food that requires the same bracha achrona, and have in mind to cover the original food as well.

(7) Food combinations – If you ate a half-kezayit of mezonot and a half-kezayit of a she'hakol food, the bracha achrona is Borei Nefashot. When eating cake that contains other ingredients, it is best to eat enough cake that contains a full kezayit of flour.

(8) Order of blessings – The Three-Faceted Blessing is said before Borei Nefashot on foods that do not grow from the ground. On foods that grow from the ground (e.g. fruits and vegetables), Borei Nefasho is said before the Three-Faceted Blessing.

(9) Birkat Hamazon and the Three-Faceted Blessing have specific additions for festive days.

(10) Birkat Hamazon requires a zimmun if three men have eaten together. Prior to bentching, we wash Mayim Achronim. Also, there is a greater emphasis on dignity when bentching.

(11) Original location – You need to bentch and say the Three-Faceted Blessing in the same location where you ate. Borei Nefashot need not be said in the original location, though it is best to do so, to avoid forgetting.

(12) Time limit – It is best to say the bracha achrona immediately after finishing to eat. With a small snack, the time limit is 72 minutes. With a full meal, the time limit is until you no longer feel the effect of the food.

(13) There are complex rules to know whether a mistaken bracha achrona is effective "after the fact."


  1. Kaf HaChaim (OC 207:1)
  2. Mishnah Berurah 102:42, 55; Kaf HaChaim (OC 208:41)
  3. Mishnah Berurah 208:75; Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 1:75)
  4. Taz (OC 197:2)
  5. Yabia Omer 2:12
  6. Yabia Omer 2:12
  7. Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 1:74)
  8. Mishnah Berurah 208:75
  9. Mishnah Berurah 202:42, 55 and 208:62 rules that it is ineffective. However Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 1:74) rules that it is effective. Our middle ground follows the view of Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, Halachos of Brochos, pg. 386.
  10. Orach Chaim 208:17; Kaf HaChaim (OC 208:89)
  11. Mishnah Berurah 208:77. An exception is that for dates, Birkat Hamazon is effective ‘after the fact’ (Orach Chaim 208:17; Eliyahu Raba 208:26).
  12. An exception: An exception is that for dates, Al Ha’michya is effective ‘after the fact’ (Orach Chaim 208:17; Eliyahu Raba 208:26).
  13. except for grapes, where Al Ha’gefen is effective post facto (OC 208:15)
  14. As discussed above, an exception is that post facto, Al Ha’michya is effective for rice. Even Birkat Hamazon is possibly effective for rice (Yabia Omer 7:35:2).
  15. As discussed above, an exception is that post facto, Al Ha’aitz is effective for any fruit.