Brachot 38 – Which blessing on a twix?

Learning today’s daf with my chavruta* we were challenged by another series of questions relating to obscure food types and names of foods we had never heard of. In one place one of the Rabbis even says that he doesnt know what one of the words is!

For much of daf 37 and some of daf 38 we discuss the situation of when a food contains grain products. Some opinions tell us that the presence of grains means that the blessing before the food is always “בורא מיני מזונות”  “who creates the various kinds of nourishment” whilst others differ and state that it depends on whether or not the grain is the ikar or the tofel (defined below). This concept is dealt with later on in Brachot in the mishna on daf 44a:

זה הכלל: כל שהוא עיקר ועמו טפלה – מברך על העיקר ופוטר את הטפלה

The rule is: Whenever there is an ikar (primary food) and with it a tofel (subordinate food), make the blessing on the ikar and exempt the tofel.

And so my chavruta and I shared the same concern over what blessing we should make over a chocolate bar with a biscuit in the middle (in this case a twix!). We both agreed that for us the chocolate is the ikar and therefore the correct blessing is “שהכל נהיה בדברו “By whose words all things came to be“. However, we both feared that the presence of the biscuit may mean that the ikar should always be the biscuit and the blessing should be “בורא מיני מזונות” “who creates the various kinds of nourishment”? Clearly one key question is how to decide what the ikar food is. Is it a subjective decision, or sometimes does the presence of a particular food stuff create a reality of which food is the ikar and which is the tofel?

According to

If you eat a candy bar containing fruit, nuts, wafers, or other fillings because you specifically want to eat the filling, you should say only the appropriate brachah for the filling. If, however, the chocolate itself is just as important to you, first say Shehakol for the chocolate (bearing in mind that you do not intend to include the filling in this brachah), and then the appropriate brachah for the filling (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 3:31).  This does not apply in the case of wafers, since the chocolate is always considered a subordinate ingredient in a candy bar with wafers, and therefore, only Mezonot need be said (Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chaim 168:27).

Finally the Beit El yeshiva website deals with the question of whether one part of the food stuff is in the majority:

If a chocolate seems to consist mainly of wafer (eg kif-kef or Kit-Kat) should one say “Mezonot?” I assume that if there is doubt concerning whether there is more chocolate or wafer one should say “Shehakol”?

Though there is not universal agreement on this point, it seems the most common positions that if the majority is chocolate, it is “Shehakol” and if the majority is wafer it is “Mezonot”. Some hold that since we eat the wafer for the chocolate and the wafer is just to hold it together, it is always “Shehakol” while others argue that the wafer also tastes good (sometimes) and therefore the rule that “Mezonot” is dominant even when it is not the majority should apply.

As far as I can tell – there is no consensus. You could take the easy route and not eat such chocolate bars/cakes ever again chas veshalom or weigh up the above positions and decide for yourself. Maybe even ask your Rabbi what he does!

* Chavruta, also spelled chavrusa or havruta (Hebrew: חַבְרוּתָא‎, Arabic: حَوَارِيُّ‎, from the Aramaic for “friendship” or “companionship”), is a traditionalRabbinic approach to Talmudic study in which a pair of students independently learn, discuss, and debate a shared text. It is a primary learning method inyeshivas and kollels, where students often engage regular study partners of similar knowledge and ability. The traditional phrase is to learn b’chavruta (Hebrew: בְחַבְרוּתָא‎, “in chavruta”; i.e., in partnership); the word has come by metonymy to refer to the study partner as an individual, though it would more logically describe the pair. In Orthodox parlance, a chavruta always refers to two students, but Reform Judaism has expanded the idea of chavruta to include study groups of up to five individuals.


About bookabazza

I am an Osteopath and University Lecturer who is trying to keep up with the 7 year daf yomi cycle. I thought I would try and share a few small thought on the daf each week.
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