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The Status of Date Honey, Beer and Whiskey With Regard to the Sequence of Berachot

When a person is eating two fruits, and one of which is among the special fruits of Eretz Yisrael (grapes, figs, pomegranates and dates), he should recite the Beracha over that fruit, because of its unique status. However, the Hafetz Haim (Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan of Radin, 1839-1933), in Sha’ar Ha’siyun (211:9), cites the Peri Megadim (Rav Yosef Teomim, 1727-1792) as ruling that this applies only to the actual fruits from the special species, and not to their liquid. Therefore, if one eats date honey – which requires the Beracha of "She’ha’kol" – with a fruit, one first recites the Beracha over the fruit, following the general rule that foods requiring "She’ha’kol" are to be eaten after foods requiring other, more specific, Berachot. Even though date honey is produced from dates, which is one of the special species – and even though the Torah actually refers to dates in the verse (Devarim 8:8) with the word "Debash" ("honey") – nevertheless, date honey does not have the same special status as the actual fruit. Therefore, with respect to the laws of precedence in Berachot, date honey is treated like an ordinary "She’ha’kol" food, which is partaken of after foods requiring more specific Berachot.

This applies as well to beer and whiskey, which are also made from the special species of Eretz Yisrael. Beer is produced from barley, and whiskey is produced from wheat – and wheat and barley are the first two of the seven special species of Eretz Yisrael. Nevertheless, since beer and whiskey are not actually barley and wheat, they are treated as ordinary beverages, and therefore one who partakes of one of these beverages along with a food requiring a more specific Beracha first partakes of the food.

Although the Bayit Hadash (Rav Yoel Sirkis, 1561-1640) ruled otherwise, and maintained that beverages produced from the special species indeed are given precedence over other foods, already the Magen Abraham (Rav Abraham Gombiner, d. 1682) disputed this position, and his view is accepted as the Halacha.

However, Hacham David Yosef (contemporary), in his Halacha Berura (cited in the English edition of Yalkut Yosef, p. 263; listen to audio recording for precise citation), ruled that these beverages are to be given precedence over other beverages. Meaning, if a person partakes of a beverage produced from the special species, as well as a different beverage (other than wine produced from grapes), he should preferably recite the Beracha of "She’ha’kol" on the beverage made from the special species, and not on the other beverage. Thus, for example, if a person is drinking beer or whiskey together with water, he should recite "She’ha’kol" over the beer or whiskey and then partake of it first, before drinking the water, since beer and whiskey have the distinction of being made from products that are among the special species of Eretz Yisrael.

Summary: Beer, whiskey and date honey are all made from products that are among the seven special species of Eretz Yisrael, and therefore, if one plans on drinking one of these beverages along with a different beverage (other than wine), he should recite "She’ha’kol" over the beer, whiskey or date honey, because of their unique status. However, if one plans on drinking one of these beverages and also eating a food requiring a Beracha other than "She’ha’kol," he first recites the Beracha over the other food and partakes of it, before reciting "She’ha’kol" over the beverage. This is consistent with the general rule giving precedence to foods requiring specific Berachot over foods requiring the generic Beracha of "She’ha’kol."

 


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