In the last class, we discussed which food to say the bracha on, in a case where two foods require the same bracha. In this class, we'll discuss cases where two foods get different brachot: Which bracha should you say first?

First, let's quickly review the principles we learned in the last class:

Two Foods Requiring Different Brachot

Although all brachot express gratitude for God's benevolence, certain brachot also express specific Divine providence. For example, while Shehakol is an all-encompassing bracha that could be effective for any food, Ha'aitz is a more specific bracha, in that it is exclusive to fruits. The more specific a bracha is, the more it declares God's involvement in our world. Therefore, when eating two foods that require different brachot, the more specific bracha is recited first.

The order of precedence for brachot is:1

1. Hamotzee
2. Mezonot2
3. Ha'gafen
4-5. Ha'aitz and Ha'adama
6. Shehakol3

This is what we'll refer to as List #3. To memorize them, it is helpful to group them in three sections as follows:

Hamotzee-Mezonot-Ha'gafen / Ha'aitz-Ha'adama / Shehakol

So let's say that you sit down to a snack of potato chips, pretzels, and chocolate bon-bons. You should first say a bracha on the pretzels (Mezonot) and eat a piece, then a bracha on the potato chips (Ha'adama) and eat a piece, and finally a bracha on the bon-bons (Shehakol) and eat a piece. From there, continue munching in whatever order you wish!4

Ha'aitz and Ha'adama

We learned that when eating two foods that require different brachot, the more specific bracha is recited first. However, the brachot Ha'aitz and Ha'adama are considered to be equally specific. Therefore, when you have two foods – Ha'aitz and Ha'adama – a different set of criteria is used to determine which bracha to say first.

In order of priority, here is List #4:5

  1. Shalem – The bracha is first said on the food that is whole.6
  2. Chaviv – If neither is whole, then the bracha is recited on the food that you generally prefer.7
  3. Seven Species – If you have no preference, then the first bracha is said on one of the seven species. Ha'adama on roasted oats, for example, would precede Ha'aitz on an apple.8
  4. Ha'aitz – All else being equal, Ha'aitz is said before Ha'adama.9

[If it helps you to see a bit of pattern in these halachot, recall in our last class (List #2 – when two foods require the same bracha) that shalem also came out ahead of chaviv.

Again, to put this information into practice, it is helpful to memorize this following short phrase:

whole-favorite-seven-fruit

This phrase reminds me that if two foods have the brachot Ha'aitz and Ha'adama, the order of priority is 1) shalem, 2) chaviv, 3) seven species, 4) Ha'aitz.

Sarah liked bananas more than grapes, so she said Ha'adama first and took a bite of a banana. Michelle didn't prefer one over the other, however, so she said Ha'aitz on the grapes first, since they are of the seven species.

To Summarize

At this point, we're going to review the material learned over the last two classes. We'll refer to our famous "four lists," because the only way to really learn this material is to memorize these four lists.

 

#1 – Within the seven species

#2 – Two foods with same bracha

#3 – Foods with a different bracha

#4 – Within Ha'aitz
and Ha'adama

ORDER

1) wheat

1) seven species*

1) Hamotzee

1) shalem

2) barley

2) shalem

2) Mezonot

2) chaviv

3) olives

3) chaviv

3) Ha'gafen

3) seven species

4) dates

4) larger

4-5) Ha'aitz & Ha'adama

4) Ha'aitz

5) grapes

 

6) Shehakol

 

6) figs

 

 

 

7) pome-
granates

 

 

 

MNEU-
MONIC

wheat-
barley

olives-
dates-
grapes

figs-
pomegra-
nates

seven-
whole

favorite-
size

Hamotzee-
Mezonot –
Ha'gafen

Ha'aitz-
Ha'adama

Shehakol

whole-
favorite

seven-
fruit

* If you have two "mezonot" foods – one a Pat Haba B'Kisnin (e.g. crackers) and the other a Ma'aseh Kedeira (e.g. pasta), the Pat Haba B'Kisnin will "leapfrog" into the #2 spot in the priority order, ahead of factors like shalem, chaviv, and larger.

Putting it into Practice

Here's a tool that may be very helpful: We are now going to go through the logical steps, of how you go about asking the right questions to determine which order to say your brachot. We're going to set this up in outline format:

Whenever you are faced with a variety of foods, the first question you want to ask is:

Do these foods have the same bracha, or different brachot?

(A) If the foods have the same bracha, then the question is:

  1. Is one of them from the seven species?
    • If yes, then which one appears closer to the word "land" in the verse? (see List #1)
    • If the issue of seven species is not a factor – either because none of the foods are of the seven species, or they are of the same of the seven species, then the next question is:
    • Are they both Mezonot, and is one a Pat Haba B'Kisnin and the other a Ma'aseh Kedeira? If this is not applicable, then the next question is:
  2. Is one of them shalem (whole)?
    • If that is not a factor (either because both are whole, or neither are whole), then the question is:
  3. Is one of them chaviv (preferred)?
    • If that is not a factor (because both are the exact same food), then the question is:
  4. Is one of them larger in size?

(B) If the foods have different brachot, then the question is:

  • 1) Which one appears higher in this list of priority:

    Hamotzee-Mezonot-Ha'gafen / Ha'aitz-Ha'adama / Shehakol

  • 2) If the two foods in question are Ha'aitz and Ha'adama, then the determining factor is, in order of priority:

    shalem / chaviv / seven species / Ha'aitz

All of this logic should be clear, based on the material we've learned. If it's not, review the last two classes again, until it becomes second-nature. This is very important because, typically, you will need to apply these principles numerous times each day.

Real-Life Scenario

Now let's put these pieces together in some practical cases, incorporating everything we've learned about the sequence of brachot.

  • You have half a large challah and a small bagel which you just bought in the store. In which order do you say the brachot?

The challah and bagel both have the same bracha, Hamotzee. So the first factor to consider is the seven species. They are both made from wheat, so the next factor is shalem.

Even though the challah is larger, since the bagel is "whole," the bracha of Hamotzee is made on the bagel. (The hole in the bagel doesn't change the status of it being "whole," because it was baked that way.)

  • You plan to eat a light meal consisting of coffee and croissant, and then a baked apple for dessert. In which order do you say the brachot?

These foods have different brachot, and as we saw in the priority list (#3), the bracha Mezonot comes before both Ha'aitz and Shehakol. So in this case, you would first say a bracha on the croissant.

What's next? Although Ha'aitz comes before Shehakol in the priority list, since you don't want to eat the apple right now, you are "allowed" to say the Shehakol first. So the correct order is Mezonot, Shehakol and afterwards when you want to eat the baked apple, Ha'aitz.

  • You have a fruit salad containing cut-up pieces of apples, oranges, grapes, and – your favorite – bananas. In which order do you say the brachot, and on which foods?

This fruit salad has both brachot – Ha'aitz and Ha'adama – which follows the rules of List #4. The first factor on that list is shalem. But since these fruits are all cut up, that factor does not apply here.

The next factor on the list is chaviv. Therefore, the first bracha you should say is Ha'adama on the banana.

The next factor on the list is seven species, which means you should then say Ha'aitz on the grapes.

This concludes class #17 on Hilchot Brachot. In the next lesson, we'll learn the principles of including other foods in a bracha.


  1. Magen Avraham 22; Pri Megadim – Mishbetzot Zahav 211:6
  2. Although Ha’gafen is more specific than Mezonot, Mezonot comes first because grains, which are used to make bread, are more important than wine.
  3. Some authorities add that a solid food takes precedence over a liquid (Aruch HaShulchan 211:17).
  4. Mishnah Berurah 211:10
  5. This is the order presented by Rabbi Binyomin Forst in The Laws of Brachos, and also in The Principles of Hilchos Brachos, by Rabbi Daniel Schloss in the name of Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits. However, Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, in Halachos of Brochos, presents the order of priority differently: chaviv, seven species, shalem, and Ha’aitz.
  6. Mishnah Berurah 211:18; see discussion in Sha’ar Hatziyun 211:5
  7. Orach Chaim 211:1, with Mishnah Berurah 9, 17, 18
  8. Mishnah Berurah 211:9, 18, 27
  9. Mishnah Berurah 211:18. However, Kaf HaChaim (OC 211:6, 7, 14, 28) notes that many have the custom to always give precedence to Ha’aitz before Ha'adama, irrespective of shalem, chaviv or seven species considerations.