Until now, we've been learning about bracha rishona – the blessing we say before consuming food or drinks. This is not where the story ends, however, because in most cases, we need to say another bracha after we finish eating. This is called bracha achrona – literally, the final blessing, or colloquially called the "after-bracha."1

Before eating, when you're hungry it's easy to say, "Thank God – let's eat!" The blessings we say before the meal are an expression of that gratitude. But after the meal, when you're stuffed and have no desire to see food ever again (wishing that your pants had an elastic waistband), that's when you specifically need to be reminded express gratitude to God and deepen that connection.2 This is one explanation of the verse, "Yeshurun [the Jewish people] grew fat and kicked" (Deut. 32:15); after being satiated, there is a natural tendency to feel a bit of an independent rebellious streak.3

In this class, we'll learn that there are different types of bracha achrona, depending on what type of food you've eaten. (The prescribed bracha achrona is required even if, for some reason, you ate without saying a bracha rishona.)4 And we'll need to take into account how much and how quickly you ate that food, to determine whether or not you should be saying a bracha achrona at all.

How much did you consume, and how quickly?

We learned earlier that a bracha rishona is recited before eating even a tiny amount. However, when it comes to a bracha achrona, you'll need to have done a halachic "act of eating." This is conditional on:

  1. consuming at least a minimum quantity (shiur)
    and
  2. doing so within in a certain amount of time5

Furthermore, the rules will be different for solids and for liquids, as we'll now see.

Solid Foods

(a) QUANTITY: To say a bracha achrona, you have to consume at least a kezayit of food (literally: the size of an olive).6 In today's terms, this is estimated as slightly less than one fluid ounce, or 30 cc.7

Since different foods vary in density, and are not always rectangular in dimension, it is not always easy to precisely estimate the volume of a kezayit. As a reference point, here are some common examples:8

  • one-third cup of boiled rice
  • 4 medium French fries
  • 1 large strawberry9
  • 1 small pickle
  • 12 regular size Pringles

In the examples mentioned above, the foods are pretty solid and dense. But it's not always so simple determining the size of a kezayit.

To determine how much food is needed to say a bracha achrona, let's examine some cases:

  1. You have a small piece of dough, which when baked into a brownie, is exactly one kezayit. This qualifies for a bracha achrona, because we measure based on how the item stands at the moment, despite that we know it rose from baking.
     
  2. You ate a piece of cake that is exactly one kezayit. Unlike a brownie whose consistency is dense, cake is generally a bit puffy, so in fact part of the kezayit consists of air holes. So is that piece of cake considered a kezayit to warrant a bracha achrona? The answer is: it depends.

If the air holes are small enough to be "intangible" (i.e. not obviously noticeable), then that piece of cake is regarded as a kezayit – the small air holes contribute toward the calculated volume.

However, a piece of "sponge cake" is so puffed up that in measuring the kezayit we do not count the air holes, but would need to take extra to compensate for the loss.10

One more case: You have a piece of cake that is a kezayit, but then you compress it to less than a kezayit. Even though it still represents the same quantity of food, since this cake is now "smaller than a kezayit," you do not say a bracha achrona.11

(b) TIME: In order to be called an "act of eating" that requires a bracha achrona, the kezayit of food must minimally be consumed in kiday achilat pras (literally, "the time it takes to eat a portion"). Practically speaking:

  • 3 minutes is the standard time period of kiday achilat pras.
  • 4 minutes – At a stretch, if you consumed a kezayit within 4 minutes, you should still say a bracha achrona.
  • More than 4 minutes – If it took more than 4 minutes to consume the kezayit, then you should not say a bracha achrona.12

Now let's take a practical case. You eat a piece of quiche and want to know if you ate a kezayit within kiday achilat pras. First, you need to know how big that piece of quiche was in terms of a kezayit. An easy way is to measure the item in centimeters, and multiply {length X width X height}. For example, a piece of quiche might measure 8 cm long, 5 cm wide and 3 cm high. Multiplying these measurements together equals 120. That means a piece of quiche has 120 cc, and since one kezayit is 30 cc, that means there are approximately 4 kezayit-measures in that piece of quiche. So if you at the quiche within 12-16 minutes, you can be sure that at some point you ate a kezayit within kiday achilat pras; hence you are obligated to say a bracha achrona.13

Liquids

As mentioned earlier, liquids have their own set of rules, since the act of drinking is conceptually different than the act of eating. So when consuming liquids:

(a) QUANTITY: The minimum measurement to qualify for a bracha achrona is one revi'it (lit: "quarter of a loge," a Talmudic measurement).14 In modern terms, a revi'it is measured as 4.5 fluid ounces, or 133 cc.15

Other opinions say that drinking as little as one fluid ounce (30 cc) – i.e. the same kezayit measure that we use for solids also qualifies for saying a bracha achrona.16 Therefore, to avoid getting into a situation of doubt, it is best to drink either less than 1 oz, or more than 4.5 oz.17

(b) TIME: In order to be called an "act of drinking" that requires a bracha achrona, the revi'it must be consumed kiday shetiyat revi'it (literally, the time it takes to drink a revi'it). To avoid any halachic doubt, you should drink the 4.5 ounces in two gulps, with only a short pause in between, or at least continuous sipping within 30 seconds.18 If you did not drink that quickly, you would not say a bracha achrona on the drink.19

A common application of this halacha is when drinking hot coffee or tea. These are usually drunk in small sips, and as such a revi'it is not consumed kiday shetiyat revi'it.20 Therefore, according to the prevailing opinion, a bracha achrona is not said. In such a case, however, there are two suggested options:

  • Once the drink has cooled down, try to drink a revi'it in two gulps, and then say a bracha achrona.21

  • Eat or drink a different food requiring the same bracha achrona, which will then "cover" the hot drink as well.22

Other Foods

What are the rules for a food that is thicker than a regular liquid, for example yogurt or ice cream? Is it regarded as a solid (that requires a kezayit consumed in 3-4 minutes), or is it a liquid that requires a revi'it in two gulps? The answer is: It is considered a solid.23

Now what about a clear broth soup? Even though it is eaten with a spoon, it follows the rules of a liquid.

When in Doubt

We just learned that if you consume between 1 and 4.5 ounces of a drink, it is not clear whether or not you need to say a bracha achrona. Here are some other cases where your obligation is uncertain:

  • Doubt in amount: You ate some food, but can't recall if it was enough to be a kezayit.
  • Doubt in time: You lost track of time and don't know if you ate a kezayit within 3-4 minutes (kiday achilat pras).

How should we approach these situations?

The simple answer is that in case of doubt, you cannot say a bracha achrona.24 This is based on the principle of safek brachot l'hakel – in cases of doubtful blessings, don't say the blessing.25

Of course, it's best to avoid getting into these situations in the first place. So try to eat and drink a measurement (shiur) which clearly obligates a bracha achrona, and be aware of how much time it takes to consume!

Mike just ate a cookie, but isn't sure if it was the size of a kezayit. In order to resolve the doubt, Mike should consume more cookies (or another mezonot food which requires the same bracha achrona), making sure it is clearly a kezayit in volume, and do so within the proper time of 4 minutes or less (kiday achilat pras).26

What if there are no more cookies (or no other mezonot foods) available? Don't worry, there is still a good option available: Get someone else who is obligated in this particular bracha achrona to say the bracha, while having in mind to cover you as well. We will learn about this extensively in class #38.

Sometimes, you may find yourself in doubt as to whether or not you said a bracha achrona – life is busy and it's easy to forget! Again, the best solutions are to have someone else exempt you, or to eat a new food requiring a different bracha rishona but the same bracha achrona. Failing this, don't say the bracha achrona if you are in doubt.27

Okay, this is enough material to digest for one class (pardon the pun). In our next class, we'll learn how to determine which bracha achrona to say, particularly when you've eaten a variety of foods.


  1. The bracha achrona is considered even more important than the bracha rishona (Tosfot – Brachot 35a, s.v lefanav) with Maharsha; see also Derech Hashem 4:9:2.
  2. Meshech Chochmah (Deut. 8:10)
  3. Talmud – Brachot 32a, with Maharsha; Sforno and Aznayim L'Torah (Deut. 32:15); Mishmeret Shimshon by Rabbi Shimshon Pinkus, pg. 262
  4. Tosfot – Brachot 35a, s.v. lefanav; Orach Chaim 172:1, with Mishnah Berurah 5
  5. Orach Chaim 210:1, with MIshnah Berurah 1
  6. In the times of the Talmud, olives were apparently bigger than they are today; a kezyait is a volume equivalent to approximately half a large egg including the shell (Orach Chaim 486:1, with Mishnah Berurah 1).
  7. Rabbi Y.S. Eliyashiv, cited in Halachos of Brochos (p. 247, note 7.1), based on Rabbi Chaim Na’eh. However, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein rules that one should avoid eating a volume between 0.5 and 1.5 ounces of food, as it is not clear whether this range is considered a kezayit.
  8. Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner in Halachos of K’Zayis
  9. There is a possible exception to this rule: Some authorities maintain that if you eat a whole unit of food (like a grape or a strawberry), then even if it less than a kezayit in volume you are still obliged to say a bracha achrona. Since others disagree, it is best to avoid this dispute by either eating more than a kezayit of such foods, or by cutting up the item before eating it. (Orach Chaim 210:1, with Mishnah Berurah 6 and Sha’ar Hatziyun 21)
  10. Mishnah Berurah 210:1, 487:3
  11. Mishnah Berurah 210:1. If that piece of cake would “puff back up” to the size of a kezayit, then you would say a bracha achrona.
  12. Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 4:41), quoting Marcheshet 14. However, Shiurei Torah (3:15) rules that as long as the kezayit was consumed within 6 minutes, you should still say a bracha achrona. Other opinions consider up till 9 minutes a situation of doubt (Likutei Chatam Sofer 6:16).
  13. It is estimated that the average person will eat 6 kezayit-measures in about 3 minutes. (Halachos of Brochos, pg. 255)
  14. Orach Chaim 190:3, 210:1
  15. This is the measurement given by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. Other opinions place the amount of a revi’it as 86 cc (Rabbi Chaim Na’eh) and at 150 cc (Chazon Ish).
  16. Orach Chaim 190:3
  17. Orach Chaim 210:1, with Mishnah Berurah 12; Mishnah Berurah 271:68
  18. Sha’ar Hatziyun 210:11; Aruch HaShulchan (OC 202:8)
  19. Orach Chaim 612:10, with Mishnah Berurah 31; Mishnah Berurah 210:1; Sha’ar Hatziyun 210:11. Other opinions regard the time to drink a revi’it as 3-4 minutes – the same measure that we use for solids (Orach Chaim 190:3); this is not the common custom.
  20. Mishnah Berurah 210:1. If an individual has the unique ability to drink very hot tea quickly, without any damage to his throat or esophagus, then this is considered beyond the norm, and a bracha would still not be said (Sha'arey Teshuva – OC 204:12).
  21. Mishnah Berurah 210:1
  22. Sha’arey Teshuva (OC 204:3)
  23. V’Zot HaBracha, pg. 381, citing Rabbi S.Z. Auerbach
  24. Orach Chaim 184:4, with Mishnah Berurah 15
  25. Food blessings are a rabbinic enactment, and thus subject to the general rule of Safek D’Rabbanan L’kula – we are lenient with regard to rabbinic-level mitzvot. Grace After Meals is an exception, in that it is sometimes a Torah-level obligation; see class #35 for a discussion of how to proceed in a doubtful situation of Grace After Meals.
  26. Sha’arey Teshuva (OC 204:12); Mishnah Berurah 184:15
  27. Orach Chaim 209:3; Mishnah Berurah 174:39, 184:15, 20, 207:4, 213:5; Kaf HaChaim (OC 213:8)