Shiur #08: Tzurat Peri: The Significance of a Fruit's Form With Regard to Berakhot

  • Rav Yair Kahn

Translated by David Silverberg

 

"What does one recite over fruits?  Over fruits of the tree one recites borei peri ha-etz… and over fruits of the ground one recites borei peri ha-adama… And over vegetables one recites borei peri ha-adama."  (Mishna, Berakhot 6:1)

 

     This Mishna deals with the berakha recited over fruits eaten in their natural form; it does not discuss the issue concerning the berakha one recites over a fruit that has undergone a process of change.  The Amora'im addressed this question in several places, both in the Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi, and considered several different types of changes:

 

A.   A change in form caused by crushing or grinding: flour (36a), terima (a drink prepared by crushing various ingredients – 39a), mashed fruits (Yerushalmi, 6:1).

B.   Transformation from a solid to a liquid: honey produced from dates (38a), mei shelakot (the juice produced from boiling fruits or vegetables – 39a).

C.   A change from raw to cooked: boiled fruits and vegetables (Bavli, 38a; Yerushalmi, 6:1).

 

1.   Losing "Fruit" Status

 

"The Mishna mentions vegetables in similar fashion to bread: just as bread is transformed through fire, the vegetables [addressed by the Mishna] also were transformed through fire.  Ravnai said in the name of Abayei: This shows that over boiled vegetables one recites the berakha of borei peri ha-adama… Rav Nachman taught: I claim that this is subject to a dispute, for a berayta states: One fulfills his obligation [of eating matza on Pesach] with a soaked rakik [thin, wafer-like bread] and a boiled one that was not dissolved [as a result of boiling] – this is the view of Rabbi Meir; Rabbi Yossi says, one fulfills his obligation

with a soaked rakik but not with a boiled one, even if it was not dissolved." (38b)

 

According to Rav Nachman, just as cooked matza does not have the status of matza, so does a cooked fruit lose its status as a fruit, and thus one recites over it she-ha-kol.  Rav Nachman's equation between the status of fruits with respect to berakhot and matza clearly indicates that we do not deal here with an issue unique to berakhot.  Rather, the act of cooking changes the entire, general character of the item.  In its conclusion, the Gemara rejects this view, and in truth, cooking does not transform an item's identity.  Nevertheless, we may infer from this sugya that when a food item indeed undergoes a process of transformation, its berakha changes accordingly.

 

     We are left, therefore, with a concept that could explain any instance of a change in berakha resulting from a change of a fruit's form – the concept of hafka'at shem peri, the fruit's loss of its status as a halakhically defined "peri" (fruit).  Once a fruit loses this status as a result of a fundamental change in form, its berakha is she-ha-kol, rather than borei peri ha-etz/ha-adama.

 

2.   When Eaten in an Abnormal Manner

 

     Amidst the Gemara's discussion of boiled fruits and vegetables (38b), it cites the following ruling of Rav Chisda: "Anything which initially warrants she-ha-kol niheya bi-dvaro – if it is boiled, [it warrants] borei peri ha-adama."  According to Rav Chisda, there are some fruits that in their natural state warrant the berakha of she-ha-kol, and only after they are boiled do they now require the recitation of borei peri ha-adama.  Now it is very difficult to imagine that these fruits or vegetables earn the formal status of a "fruit" only after being boiled.  Thus, we have here a second principle: upon anything eaten in an abnormal manner, one recites she-ha-kol.  Accordingly, one would recite she-ha-kol over any fruit which has undergone a process of change by which it is no longer eaten in its normal manner of consumption.

 

3.   A Detrimental Change

 

"Turnip heads that were sliced: large slices – borei peri ha-adama; small slices – she-ha-kol.  And when we came to the academy of Rav Yehuda, he said to us: Both [require] borei peri ha-adama; the reason why he sliced them to such an extent is to sweeten their taste."    (39a)

 

If we claim that slicing the turnip into small pieces divests it of its status as peri, then it should warrant she-ha-kol under such circumstances even if it was sliced this way for sweetening purposes.  On the other hand, it seems difficult to explain that the rabbis had to learn from Rav Yehuda that turnips are eaten even in small slices.  Surely they were aware of this before they came to Rav Yehuda's academy; they could have simply observed how people normally eat turnips!  It is far more likely that this sugya introduces yet a third principle governing changes in berakha as a result of changes in form: a process that lowers the fruit's quality changes the berakha into a less "important" berakha.  Rav Yehuda establishes that even though slicing the turnip into small pieces adversely affects its quality, nevertheless, since it also yields an enhancing effect – sweetening its taste – even small pieces require borei peri ha-adama.

 

     Let us now elucidate these three basic principles.  The loss of the formal status of "fruit" removes the given item from ha-etz/ha-adama category entirely.  Just as one obviously cannot recite borei peri ha-adama over meat, so can this berakha not be recited over a fruit that has lost its formal status as such.  If the relevant factor is that one eats the fruit in an abnormal manner, then the item itself retains its status as a fruit, and thus still belongs in the category of fruit berakhot (ha-etz/ha-adama).  The deficiency involves not the item's identity, but rather the way in which the individual relates to the item.  In such a case, the person does not treat it as a "fruit," for he does not eat it in the typical manner of eating fruits.  He must therefore recite the generic berakha of she-ha-kol, rather than the berakha for fruit.

 

     The concept of shinuy le-gri'uta – a transformation that adversely affects quality – is based upon the premise that there exists a hierarchy of berakhot.  The more specific a berakha, the greater its intrinsic "importance."  (Thus, for example, the berakha of borei peri ha-gefen would be of greater importance than borei peri ha-etz.)  Therefore, if a fruit has undergone a change that detrimentally affects its quality, its berakha should likewise decrease in importance.  An example of this concept emerges from the Gemara's discussion concerning wine: "Why is wine different [in that it earned a particular, prominent berakha]?  If you say that since it has undergone an enhancing transformation, it is changed also with respect to its berakha… " (35a).  Thus, corresponding to the notion of a transformation yielding adverse effects, there is also the notion of an enhancing transformation that raises an item to a higher level on the berakhot scale.

 

     These three governing principles form the basis of the Rishonim's treatment of the various sugyot we have mentioned.  We will present here three approaches taken by the Rishonim in understanding these sugyot.  Each approach is built upon one of the principles of which we have spoken.  At times we will encounter a combination of sorts between two or three principles, but our objective here is to present each approach in its "pure" form.

 

A.   Rashi and the Ra'a

 

According to Rav Nachman (36a), one recites she-ha-kol over flour produced from wheat, and borei peri ha-etz over olive oil, even though both have been transformed from their natural form.  Rashi explains the difference as follows:

 

"In this case [of flour], it has a higher stage [that it could reach – being baked as bread].  Therefore, it has left the category of 'fruit,'but has not entered the standard mode of consumption.  But oil immediately arrives through its transformation into the standard mode of consumption, and the fruit was planted primarily for this purpose.  Therefore, it is a fruit."

 

According to Rashi, wheat leaves the category of "fruit" through the process of grinding, and thus warrants the berakha of she-ha-kol.  But even after the loss of the "fruit" status, an item can earn this status anew by reaching its standard mode of consumption, because "the fruit was planted primarily for this purpose."  On the basis of this principle, the Ra'a explains the dispute between Rav Nachman and Rav Yehuda as to whether one recites borei peri ha-adama or she-ha-kol over flour produced from wheat.  The Ra'a writes, "Since it was transformed in accordance with its use, does it qualify to be a fruit or not?"

 

     As recorded earlier, Rav Chisda (38b) maintains that "anything which initially warrants she-ha-kol niheya bi-dvaro – if it is boiled, [it warrants] borei peri ha-adama."  Rashi, consistent with his comments to 36a, explains that as a result of the boiling process, "one brings it to its standard mode of consumption – it is the primary fruit, and one recites the berakha of borei peri ha-adama." 

 

     Rav Chisda issued another ruling, as well (ibid.): "Anything which initially warrants borei peri ha-adama – if it is boiled, [it warrants] she-ha-kol niheya bi-dvaro."  The Rashba cites the Ra'avad's position "that according to Rav Chisda, [this applies] even if [boiling] does not adversely affect them – since it is transformed from the fruits of the ground, one recites over it the berakha of she-ha-kol."  Apparently, he held that the transformation brought about by the boiling process divests the fruit of its status as a peri, and it therefore warrants the recitation of she-ha-kol.

 

     Earlier, we mentioned the Gemara's distinction between large and small slices of turnips, relegating small slices to the berakha of she-ha-kol (39a).  The Ra'a explains, "Small slices [warrant] she-ha-kol, because they have become similar to crumbs, and because its form is lost, and anything whose basic essence is lost because its form was lost – its status does not apply to it."  According to this explanation, however, it is difficult to understand Rav Yehuda's conclusion that even small slices of turnips warrant the berakha of borei peri ha-adama, since the slicing serves to sweeten the taste.  If the turnip loses its formal status as a peri by being sliced in this manner, why should the motive behind the slicing be of any consequence?  Since it can no longer be considered a peri, one cannot recite over it the berakha of fruit.  For this reason, the Ra'a was compelled to explain that small slices are not considered to have lost their basic form "because this is the manner of perfecting the cooking process and preparing it [for consumption]."

 

     The Gemara (38a) establishes that one recites borei peri ha-etz over a terima drink produced from dates, because "they remain in their original state."  Rashi explains that the term "terima" denotes "anything crushed just a bit, but not mashed entirely."  This implies, of course, that fruit that are entirely mashed are no longer said to "remain in their original state," and would therefore warrant the berakha of she-ha-kol.  The Ra'a writes this explicitly: "We may infer from here that this applies only because it remains in its original state; but if they were completely mashed to the point where their form is lost, it does not apply, and one recites over them only the berakha of she-ha-kol."  Consistent with their comments discussed earlier, Rashi and the Ra'a believe that there is a concept of tzurat peri, the basic form of a fruit, and a fruit that loses this form loses as well the status of a peri.

 

     The Gemara rules on 39a that the liquid produced by boiling fruits or vegetables warrants the same berakha as the boiled item.  According to Rashi and the Ra'a, however, this ruling seems untenable.  This liquid clearly lacks the basic form of fruit, and thus most certainly does not have the formal status of a peri!  Rashi appears to have been aware of this problem, and therefore interpreted the Gemara differently, explaining that it refers to a dish containing vegetables, rather than the liquid produced through the process of boiling (see Rashi s.v. maya de-silka).  Likewise, the Ra'a, addressing this problem, suggested a different reading of the sugya:

 

"The explanation that it refers to liquid, indicating that one recites borei peri ha-adama over the liquid, as the simple reading suggests, is incorrect, for how is it possible… Rather, Rav Papa's statement undoubtedly was said to exempt them from their berakha, that if one recites the berakha… over the other boiled vegetables, whose berakha is borei peri ha-adama, their liquid is exempt [from the obligation of a berakha]."

 

     As we have seen, both Rashi and the Ra'a lower the berakha from ha-etz or ha-adama to she-ha-kol on the basis of the "fruit status" principle.  However, their definitions of this concept, of the formal status of peri, differ.  According to the Ra'a, this status stems from the fruit's shape and form.  The moment it loses its form, it no longer has the peri status.  According to Rashi, by contrast, this status applies in two situations: in the fruit's natural state, and in its intended final state.  In a fruit's natural state, its peri status indeed results from its shape and form, as the Ra'a held.  However, the status earned in the state of its final destination evolves not from the fruit's form, but rather from the fact that it has reached its "standard mode of consumption, and the fruit was planted primarily for this purpose.  Therefore, it is a fruit" (Rashi's comments to 36a, s.v. hakha).

 

B.   The Rif and Rambam

 

Neither the Rif nor the Rambam speak of a case involving the loss of the formal status as a peri.  In their approach, the concept determining when a ha-etz/ha-adama is warranted is the notion of derekh akhilato – the individual's treatment of the fruit as a "fruit."  The lowering of an item's status with respect to berakhot is based upon its consumption in a manner different from its standard mode of consumption.  In the sugya dealing with the berakha over flour produced from wheat (36a), the Rif accepts Rav Nachman's position, that one recites she-ha-kol, "because people do not customarily eat flour."

 

     The Rambam codifies the Gemara's discussion of cooked fruits or vegetables (38b) as follows:

 

"Fruits or vegetables that are customarily eaten raw – if one cooked them or boiled them, he recites over them first [before eating] she-ha-kol … And vegetables which are customarily eaten boiled… if one eats them raw, he recites over them first she-ha-kol… Items which are customarily eaten both raw and cooked – if one ate them either raw or cooked, he recites over them first their appropriate berakha."  (Hilkhot Berakhot 8:3)

 

(The Rif similarly rules, "'Anything which initially warrants she-ha-kol' – because people do not customarily eat them in their raw state.")

 

     The Rambam understands the sugya concerning the liquid produced by boiling vegetables (39a) as based on this same principle.  He writes (Hilkhot Berakhot 8:4):

 

"Vegetables that are normally boiled – if one boiled them, he recites over the liquid produced by boiling the berakha of borei peri ha-adama, provided that he boiled them with the intent of drinking their liquid, because liquid produced by boiling is like the boiled vegetables, in a situation where it is normally drunk."

 

The Rambam thus disagrees with Rashi and the Ra'a and rules in accordance with the straightforward reading of the Gemara.  With regard to terima, too, the Rambam argues with Rashi and the Ra'a, and requires the berakha of borei peri ha-etz even if the fruit was completely mashed: "Dates that one mashed, removed it seeds, and made it like a paste – he recites over it borei peri ha-etz first, and berakha achat me'ein shalosh at the end" (ibid.).

 

C.   Talmidei Rabbenu Yona

 

The Rosh (6:15) presents his ruling concerning the sugya of boiled fruits and vegetables:

 

"Therefore, all vegetables, fruits and types of legumes that are tasty both raw and cooked – one recites over them after they are cooked the berakha appropriate for them before cooking… If they are better cooked than raw, then when they are raw one recites she-ha-kol niheya bi-dvaro, and when they are cooked, in which case they have been changed beneficially, borei peri ha-adama.  Garlic, leeks and the like – when they are raw [one recites] borei peri ha-adama, and when they are cooked, she-ha-kol, for they have been changed detrimentally."

 

This also appears to be the position taken by Talmidei Rabbenu Yona (27a in the Rif): "Meaning, that initially, when they are raw, they are not eaten, and by cooking it is eaten, and it turns out that they have been changed beneficially.  One therefore recites over them borei peri ha-adama."

 

     On the basis of this principle, Talmidei Rabbenu Yona explain the Rif's position (25a in the Rif) regarding the berakha on flour:

 

"In this case, it has yet another stage of improvement, by [being made into] bread, and it thus has left the initial status, which warrants a more important berakha.  But nevertheless, so long as it has not reached that stage of improvement, since it has now been worsened through this change, as it is not suitable for consumption, one recites over it she-ha-kol." 

 

(See also Behag, Warsaw edition, on the sugya of the berakha for flour.)

 

     We have thus encountered three approaches to this sugya, each of which builds upon one of the principles we presented at the outset of our discussion:

 

A.   Rashi and the Ra'a – the loss of the formal status as a peri;

B.   The Rif and Rambam – partaking of the item in an abnormal manner;

C.   Talmidei Rabbenu Yona – that the change yielded a detrimental effect on the item.

 

According to Rashi and the Ra'a, the concept of tzurat ha-pri – the form and appearance of the fruit – applies to both fruits that grow from trees and vegetables that grow from the ground.  However, I heard from my esteemed mentor Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik a possible basis for distinguishing between the two categories in this regard.  One recites borei peri ha-adama not only on fruits that grow from the ground, but also on lettuce which is leaves or roots such as carrots.  Thus, this berakha is not confined specifically to "fruits" in the botanical sense of the term.  The term peri ha-adama includes anything that grows from the ground, and it would therefore stand to reason that it should not be restricted to items with the form of a fruit.  Borei peri ha-etz, by contrast, is recited only over items defined as "fruits" in the botanical sense, and thus understandably the concept of the fruit's form and shape plays an important role.

 

     On the basis of this argument, the Rav zt"l ruled that fruits that grow from the ground and have been completely mashed – such as mashed potatoes – are to be considered in their original state of being, and thus warrant the recitation of borei peri ha-adama.  Crushed tree fruits, by contrast, such as applesauce, do not deserve the berakha of borei peri ha-etz, and one recites instead borei peri ha-adama.

 

     We explained the Rambam's position on the basis of the factor of derekh akhilato – the given item's standard manner of consumption.  However, a more precise reading of his comments reveal yet another principle latent in his formulation:

 

 

1)   'Peirot' or 'yerikot' that are customarily eaten raw – if one cooked them or boiled them, he recites over them first [before eating] she-ha-kol, and at the end [after eating], borei nefashot.

2)   And 'yerakot' which are customarily eaten boiled… if one eats them raw, he recites over them first she-ha-kol…

3)   Items which are customarily eaten both raw and cooked – if one ate them either raw or cooked, he recites over them first their appropriate berakha.  If they were 'peirot,' of a tree, one recites the berakha of borei peri ha-etz, and if they were 'peirot' of the ground or 'yerakot,' one recites the berakha of borei peri ha-adama.

4)   'Yerakot' that are normally boiled – if one boiled them, he recites over the liquid produced by boiling the berakha of borei peri ha-adama, provided that he boiled them with the intent of drinking their liquid, because liquid produced by boiling is like the boiled vegetables, in a situation where it is normally drunk." (Hilkhot Berakhot 8:3-4)

 

The Rambam here presents four halakhot, two of which speak explicitly of 'peirot' (including both fruits that grow on trees and fruits that grow directly from the ground) and 'yerakot,' (literally, greens such as lettuce and cabbage) whereas in the other two he mentions only 'yerakot,' omitting any reference to fruit.  This distinction requires an explanation.  We might explain that the Rambam recognized two types of fruit: an objective, natural fruit, and a fruit defined as such by virtue of how it is treated by the individual.  In this sense, fruit – from both trees and the ground – differ from 'yerakot.'  A fruit earns the status of peri by its very definition, by its nature.  A 'yerek,' by contrast, is not an objective peri, and its classification as such is based purely on its treatment as a peri.  And this treatment occurs only when the 'yerek' is eaten as a peri, in its standard manner of consumption.

 

     According to this assumption, the Rambam's formulation becomes perfectly clear.

 

     In the second halakha cited above, the Rambam writes, "And 'yerakot' which are customarily eaten boiled… if one eats them raw, he recites over them first she-ha-kol."  In light of our assumption, this ruling applies only to a yerek, whose status as a peri is based on its manner of consumption.  Hence, if one eats it raw, he recites she-ha-kol.  By contrast, an item considered a "fruit" by virtue of its natural condition, irrespective of its manner of consumption, would require ha-etz or ha-adama even when it is eaten in an abnormal manner.

 

     In the fourth halakha, this distinction applies in the converse.  When dealing with an objectively defined "fruit," whose definition as such stems from its natural properties, the liquid it produces can certainly not acquire this status.  When, however, we deal with yerakot, whose classification as a peri is built upon their manner of consumption, the liquid they produce during the boiling process, which is customarily produced for drinking, would likewise assume the status as peri.  Naturally, then, only the liquid produced by yerakot would warrant the berakha of borei peri ha-adama.  (See Rabbi Akiva Eiger's notes to the Taz, O.C. 202:9.)

 

 

Sources and questions for shiur 09: The Law of Birya (Creature)

Sources:

 

1)    Berakhot 38b: "Amar lei Rabbi Yirmiya… agur betokho"; Tosafot, s.v. batzar; Yerushalmi, Berakhot 6:1: "Rabbi Yochanan nasav zeita… lefaneha u-le-achareha."

 

2)    Makkot 13a: "Kama yokhal… kibriyata; idem, 17a: "Kama… korban."

 

3)    Chulin 102b: "Akhal tzippor… be-khol shehu"; Rashi, s.v. temei'a; Tosafot, Chulin 96a, s.v. mai ta'ama [until "nami mashma nevela"].

 

4)    She'eilot u-Teshuvot Chavot Ya'ir, no. 160; She'eilot u-Teshuvot Mishkenot Ya'akov, Orach Chayyim, no. 98.

 

Questions:

 

1)   In what context does the Babylonian Talmud discuss the law of birya?

 

2)   Why does the law of birya not apply to the nevela (carcass) of a kosher bird, according to Rashi? According to Tosafot?

 

3)   What is the disagreement between the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds regarding the law of birya with respect to blessings recited before eating foods?

 

4)   If a person eats an entire fish that is less than the volume of an olive, is he obligated to recite a blessing after he finishes eating?