Parsha Encounters



Parshas Lech Licha:
The Harmony of Conflicting Emotions
Rabbi Shimon Zehnwirth


"Go out from your country, from your birthplace and from your father's house..." (Bereishis 12:1)

Hashem's command to Avraham contains a lengthy description of Ur Kasdim, Avraham's homeland. Rashi, as explained by the Mizrachi (ibid.), tells us that Hashem wanted to underscore for Avraham exactly what he was leaving behind. The objective: to make it more difficult for Avraham to depart, thereby increasing his reward when he would ultimately pass the test. Similarly, Rashi continues, Hashem told Avraham to sacrifice, "Your son, your only son, whom you love ­Yitzchok" (Bereishis 22:2). Hashem highlighted the tremendous loss Avraham would suffer by sacrificing Yitzchok. Avraham's reward was greater because his love for his only son was heightened by Hashem's elaborate portrayal of Yitzchok.

It is obvious that Avraham loved his son dearly. But did he love Ur Kasdim? True, it was his hometown, but it was a vile city filled with idolatry and immorality. A saintly individual such as Avraham would surely be repulsed by such a place! Furthermore, Ur Kasdim's idol-worshiping inhabitants stood idly by, and perhaps even cheered, as Avraham was thrown into Nimrod's fiery furnace. What affection would Avraham have for this city of sin?

A righteous person--a tzadik--is a thinking and feeling human being, with natural human emotions. He is not an automaton. He has not purged his natural feelings and reprogrammed himself to care only for Torah and mitzvos. On the contrary, he is just like rest of us, except that he has learned to control his instincts and to channel them in positive directions. Avraham still had that innate love for his country and his birthplace. He did not eradicate those feelings, and even as he left to Canaan, the love for his homeland coexisted in his heart with an even greater love for fulfilling Hashem's command.

Similarly, the Yalkut Shimoni (Bereishis 101) tells us that tears were flowing down Avraham's face as he prepared to slaughter his son. Avraham did not pretend that it wasn't his son's neck under his sharp blade. He did not dehumanize himself, even temporarily, by suppressing his love for Yitzchok. Rather, he let his tears flow freely, even as his hands acted with complete willingness to fulfill the will of Hashem.

Hashem endowed man's heart with a brilliant spectrum of emotions. Love for one's children, parents and family, love for one's homeland and other natural affections are all precious gifts that define us as warm, sensitive human beings. These feelings should be nurtured, watered and cultivated, because they are the springboard that enables us to reach even a greater love - love of Hashem and His Torah. If we uproot these feelings and desensitize ourselves to natural emotions, we smother the sparks of warmth within us and risk the danger of dehumanizing ourselves of all emotion. By maintaining a tender, loving heart and allowing ourselves to feel our natural emotions, we can truly fulfill the statement of our sages, "Hashem desires a sincere heart" (Sanhedrin 106b).

Rabbi Zehnwirth is the principal of the Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov High School and learns daily with the Kollel Boker.

Halacha Encounters

Brochos in a Bread Meal

Rabbi Moshe Rosenstein

On Shabbos, there is a mitzvah to have bread at the three Shabbos meals.1  Many of us are accustomed to sitting down after washing netillas yadayim, making a brocho of Hamotzi on the challah and then eating the entire the meal without making any more brochos over the foods we eat.  We know from our childhood that during a "bread meal," we need not make brochos on the other foods.  In this week's Halacha Encounters, we will examine some of the halachos of brochos in a meal where bread is being eaten.

It is true that generally speaking, once making a Hamotzi and eating bread, one need not make brochos on most other foods in a meal.2  There are, however, several qualifications for this rule which require some discussion.

The Purpose of Eating the Bread

The consensus amongst the poskim is that the only time that the brocho of Hamotzi will work to "cover" all other foods eaten in a meal is if the bread is being eaten as the mainstay of the meal.  Even if the majority of the meal is not the bread or foods associated with it (as opposed to a sandwich), as long as the meal is eaten "over bread," the bread is seen to be the ikar, central component, of the meal and the other foods are tafeil, secondary to it.  If, however, a person is really not interested in eating the bread but rather wants to eat it simply to not make other brochos (or has doubts about what the appropriate brochos are on the other foods), then it is questionable if the bread indeed covers the other foods.3  In this case it is preferable for him not to eat the bread at all and to make the appropriate brochos on the other foods.4  There is, however, an exception to this rule.  At the Shabbos or Yom Tov meals, since there is a mitzvah to eat bread, that itself establishes the bread as the mainstay of the meal.  Even if one does not want to eat the challah and is only doing so to fulfill the mitzvah, the other foods are covered.

The Quantity of Bread

Another consequence of the necessity for the bread to be the mainstay of the meal is that a proper quantity of bread must be eaten on order for the other foods to be exempt.  Therefore, one should be sure to eat a kazayis of bread5 in a k'dei achilas pras.

Foods Not Exempted by the Hamotzi

Only those foods seen as being "secondary" to the bread are exempted by the Hamotzi made at the beginning of a meal.  This includes all the foods that are considered to be main parts of the meal (e.g. appetizers, salads, main and side dishes).  There are certain foods, however, that although appear frequently at our meals, are not necessarily exempted by the Hamotzi and which may therefore require a separate brocho before eating.  We will examine these now:

·  Drinks - With the exception of certain alcoholic beverages, drinks are covered by the Hamotzi and do not require a brocho during a meal.6  Wine and grape juice are not covered and therefore if they are drunk during a bread meal, a Borei Pri Hagofen must be said.7  Schnapps and whisky are somewhat more questionable.8  It is therefore preferable to make a Shehakol on another food that would certainly require a brocho during the meal (see below) or to make a brocho and drink a little before washing and have that brocho exempt the whisky as well.

·  Fruit - Generally speaking, fruit is not covered by the Hamotzi.9  Therefore if one eats fruit at the end of a meal for dessert, a Borei Pri Haeitz or Ha'adamah should be said.10  There are some exceptions to this rule.

If the fruit is being eaten as the meal.  If one eats just bread and fruit for his meal (a bagel and grapefruit, for example), one does not recite a brocho on the fruit.11

If the fruit is being served as an appetizer to whet one's appetite for the meal.  In this case, it is questionable as to whether or not the Hamotzi covers the fruit.12  It is therefore preferable for on to either make a brocho on a fruit prior to washing and making Hamotzi, or to eat the fruit together with bread.13

·  Candy and sweets - Candies or chocolate served during a meal or for desert require a Shehakol.  Ice cream is questionable because it may simply be viewed as a form of a "drink" which is normally covered by the Hamotzi.  It is therefore preferable for one to exempt the ice cream by making a Shehakol on something else that certainly would require a brocho during the meal.

·  Cakes and Cookies - Mezonos products only require a brocho if one is full from his meal.14  So long as one is still even a little bit hungry, he should not recite a Mezonos during the meal.  Even if one is full, however, there are many opinions regarding which Mezonos foods require a brocho during the meal.15  Due to the complexities involved, it is suggested that one consult their Rav for guidelines regarding when to make a Mezonos during a meal.


1 Orach Chaim 274:4

2 O.C. 177:1  There is a discussion in the poskim as to whether it is the actual brocho of Hamotzi that works on the other foods or if it is the fact that the other foods are seen to be secondary to the bread, much like a chocolate chip is to a cookie.

3 This is the opinion of the Magen Avraham and other Acharonim.  The Aruch Hashulchan 177:2, however, disagrees and rules that it is not the function of the bread that exempts the other foods from their brochos, but rather the brocho of Hamotzi itself actually works on the other foods (see note 2).  Therefore as long as the person made the Hamotzi and has even one bight of bread, the other foods are covered no matter why he is eating thebread or how much of it he has.

4 Mishna Berurah 177:3

5 ibid.  The Aruch Hashulchan, based on his reasoning mentioned in note 3, disagrees with this ruling as well.  The only necessity to eat the proper shiur of bread, he maintains, is in order to be able to bentch and have that brocho acharonah cover the other foods.  Otherwise, one could conceivably make one Hamotzi, eat a bite of bread and the rest of his meal, and then make the appropriate brocho acharonah on all the foods but the bread.

6 174:7

7 174:1.  If a Borei Pri Hagofen was recited on wine prior to beginning the meal, then that brocho will cover wine during the meal.  So of course if Kiddush was recited before a meal on Shabbos or Yom Tov and one drinks more wine during the meal, he need not make another Hagofen.

8 See M.B. 174:39

9 177:1

10 See Sha'ar Hatziyun 177:7.  Although there is some discussion as to whether or not the Chofetz Chaim himself retracted this ruling (see Sefer Beis Baruch on the Chayei Adam 43:15), it would seen that in our times, compote or fruit is not any longer an absolute staple found at every meal.

11 177:3 and M.B. 10

12 M.B. 174:39

13 See 177:3

14 M.B. 168:41

15 See Beur Halacha  168:8 s.v. T'unim

Rabbi Rosenstein learns full time in the Kollel and is a frequent contributor to Halacha Encounters.

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