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Shabbat Parashat Devarim| 5764

Ask the Rabbi

Question: What is the proper beracha on chocolate –covered raisins?
Answer: Unfortunately, there is no consensus on the beracha for chocolate-covered raisins. But fortunately, there are a few legitimate options, and one can cover his bases well.
 When one eats a food that is made up of distinct parts that are combined together, he makes the beracha of that which is the ikar (primary food) and not on the tafel (secondary food) (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 212). The problem is that at times there is no clear ikar and tafel. So, for example, when one eats fruit salad (which contains some fruit whose beracha is ha’adama), he determines the beracha byusingthat which applies to the majority of the fruit in terms of volume (Mishna Berura 212:1). This is because when it is difficult to say that one fruit is more important than another, the majority prevails. However, by chocolate-covered raisins, where the function of the chocolate and the raisin are different, it is possible that one is really ikar and the other tafel. If one had a clear feeling on the matter, that would determine his status (Laws of Berachos (Forst) pg. 215), but most people are somewhat ambivalent on the matter.
 Let us mention a couple of precedents. The Shulchan Aruch (212:2) says that those who place a liquid-based confection on top of thin crackers make a beracha only on the confection. However, the Magen Avraham (ad loc.) says that that is only when the cracker does not have its own good taste, but the way it was done in his days, one makes a beracha on the tasty cracker. The Machatzit Hashekel (ad loc.) adds that one should make two berachot on the two separate parts of the food. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe OC III, 31) feels that our situation is similar and that one makes two berachot, shehakol followed by ha’etz. On the other hand, the Mishna Berura paskens that on nuts coated in sugar, even if the sugar is the majority, one makes ha’etz. Butchocolateis a more significant, independent food than sugar, and, therefore, there are those who say that one makes only a shehakol on the chocolate coating (see V’zot Haberacha, pg. 96).
 However, there seems to be more logic to make ha’etz, and this is for a combination of reasons. First of all, as we are dealing with a whole (albeit, small) fruit which is coated, it seems that the fruit is more important (see Tur, Orach Chayim 204 and Mishna Berura 204:51). Even if one never eats raisins without the chocolate, it does not mean that the raisins are not the ikar, like bread is the ikar even for one who never eats it without peanut butter and jelly. Secondly, many are of the opinion that the beracha on chocolate itself is ha’etz, asit is the normal use of the chocolate bean, which grows on a tree (see Minchat Shlomo 91.2). A major part of the reason that we normally make shehakol on chocolate is that it is a safer beracha. After all, shehakol works even for that which should get ha’etz, but not vice versa. In our case, an assumption that chocolate gets ha’etz eliminates a beracha, whereas saying shehakol makes one go out on a limb and make a second, possibly unnecessary beracha.
 This combination of factors leads some to say that we should recite only ha’etz (see Laws of Berachot, ibid.). Another factor is that, in most cases, the raisin is greater in volume than the chocolate (see V’zot Haberacha, pg. 97). On the other hand, reciting just shehakol has its own advantage, as b’dieved it fulfills the obligation of beracha on all foods.
 In summary, we recommend saying only ha’etz on chocolate-coated raisins, especially if the raisin is the majority. Shehakol is also a safe alternative, especially if the chocolate is the majority or if one thinks that the chocolate is his ikar. Only those who follow Rav Moshe regularly should make two berachot (and refer to his cited teshuva as to how to carry this out). Making berachot first on other foods of the same beracha(ot) removes some doubts but can also raise other ones.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
 R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.

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