Shabbat Parashat Bereshit | 5765
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Question: I will be hiking for several hours and plan to drink throughout. Should I make one beracha rishona (=ber ri) in the beginning and one beracha acharona (=ber ach) at the end or should I make a ber ri and a ber ach each time at the place I drink?
Answer: We will first determine whether the first beracha covers that which one drinks at a different time and place and then we will see what option(s) is advisable.
Moving from house to house is a factor that can force the need for a new beracha (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 178:2). However, the problem is less acute when one starts eating outside with the intention to continue eating as he goes. Then his change of location is not a change in mindset, and the original beracha covers even food that one eats in a place that is not visible from the site of the beracha (Mishna Berura 178:42). (See Igrot Moshe, OC II 57 regarding one who starts eating in the house with the intention to leave immediately.)
So in this case, it is possible to make a single beracha that will last throughout the hike, and this is indeed preferable for one who takes sips frequently and consistently. (Regarding the ber ach, realize that, in general, only if one drinks a revi’it (approximately 90 ml. or 3 fl. oz.) at one time should he make a ber ach. If one sips, it is best to, at some point, drink a revi’it so that he can make the ber ach- Mishna Berura 210:1.) If one takes significant breaks during the drinking, the question is two-fold. 1) Can a single ber ri “survive” all the breaks? 2) Can a ber ach at the end relate to that which was drunk long before? We will start with the second question.
After partaking in a full meal, one can make Birkat Hamazone until the last food eaten has reached such a point of digestion that he begins to become hungry again. This takes a minimum of 72 minutes (Shulchan Aruch 184:5; see Mishna Berura 184:18). However, when one eats lightly or drinks, we need to consider the possibility that the food’s filling effect begins to wear off more quickly. Although there is no consensus of poskim as to how long one has to make the appropriate ber ach, a reasonable middle-of-the-road opinion is approximately a half hour (Kaf Hachayim 184:29; see V’zot Haberacha pg.52). Therefore, if there are likely to be breaks of over half an hour then one should certainly make a ber ach before losing the opportunity to do so (based on Minchat Yitzchak V, 102). If one plans to make a ber ach after each drinking, it is good to have in mind, when making the ber ri,that it applies only to what he will drink immediately (V’zot Haberacha ibid, footnote 6). This is in deference to the opinion that if one eats or drinks with the intention to continue, then the original ber ri covers all the food, even if he made a ber ach in between.
So, if one expects to take a sip every few minutes, he should make one ber ri in the beginning and one ber ach at the end. If he plans to take long breaks, he should make a set of berachot each time. The better question is if one plans to drink every several minutes, but it is possible that a significant amount of time may pass. The Minchat Yitzchak’s (ibid) approach is that it is better not to rely on the prospect that he will remember to drink within the requisite time (the Mishna Berura 190:8 seems to agree; see Biur Halacha ad loc.). He spoke about those who sit and learn over periodical cups of coffee. This is all the more true on a hike, where one could get preoccupied or become thirsty very quickly, after which it is too late to make the ber ach.
If one took the approach to make only one set of berachot and it happens that he waited too long to make the ber ach, there is a major machloket what to do. The Magen Avraham (184:9) says that the old eating is over, and there is now a need for a new ber ri. The Even Ha’ozer (ad loc.) says that as long as one has in mind to continue eating or drinking, the ber ri is not lost. It is not clear how to rule (see Yechave Da’at VI, 11) which is one more reason to avoid the situation. There are a few ideas to extricate oneself from doubt in such a case, but they are beyond our present scope.
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