PSA – Do thorough research before making public halachic statements

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  • #619103

    A family member, noticing a notice on a package of wheat cakes

    that their brachah is ho’adomoh, asked me why, if this is so, rice cakes are mezonos? I checked and found that they were not.

    I don’t know if this is a common misconception.

    Note that b’dieved, you were yotzei with a brachah

    of mezonos on rice cakes (and most other things).

    #1215713

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    I might be wrong, but I thought that there might be a machlokes on rice cakes.

    #1215714

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    I am not sure who you asked but the “Laws of Brochos” by Rabbi Binyamin Forst (ArtScroll) pages has both of these items as mezonos. However, the wheat cakes brocha achrona is al hamichya and the rice cakes borei nefoshos. Pages 378 and 384.

    #1215715

    theprof1
    Participant

    RICE CAKES ARE PROCESSED IN A WAY THAT RETAINS THE PHYSICAL STATUS OF RICE, WHICH IS MEZONOS. THE AFTER BROCHO IS BOREI NEFOSHOS, NOT AL HAMICHYA. WHEAT CAKES ARE PROCESSED AND BECOME HO’ADAMA. ITS LIKE EATING WHEAT KERNELS.

    #1215716

    white eagle
    Participant

    there is a mahlokes if we might said mezonos or cheakol on rice i’ve never herad about hoadomo and because we can’t see clearly rice in rice cake we have to say sheakol

    #1215718

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    In 2011, the Star-K printed that it is a machlokes between R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach TZATZAL and R’ Elyashiv TZATZAL with R’ Sholomo Zalman stating the brocha is Ha’adamah and R’ Eliyasiv stating the brocha is mezonos. R’ Heinemann holds that the correct brocha is mezonos.

    #1215719

    Meno
    Participant

    The machlokes is based on the fact that the rice in rice cakes isn’t cooked, it’s just “puffed” (whatever that means). If I remember correctly, the only reason they might be mezonos is because they are pressed into a cake. I believe everyone would agree that puffed rice (not pressed into a cake) has the status of raw rice, which is ha’adoma.

    #1215720

    Thinking out loud
    Participant

    I called a company that makes wheat thins, and asked them how they are made. Instead of answering me, they jumped in and told me their conclusion vis a vis the beracha. I explained that I wasn’t asking their opinion. I intended to ask my Rav. I totally trust their hashgacha for kashrus purposes, but regarding berachos, I ask a different authority.

    (many packages of bread say “birchaso: mezonons”. No Rav that I EVER asked paskened that a loaf of bread is mezonos, no matter how much apple juice is in it. I am aware that there are Rabbanim who are meikel in this area – but that’s a different topic).

    Finally, I reached a person at the company, who told me that the wheat kernels are steamed until they “pop” (like popcorn), and then pressed into forms to create the cracker-like shape. No baking or cooking takes place. I make ho-adoma on them.

    Regarding rice, as mentioned above there are disagreements about its beracha, from the outset, regardless of the finished product. Opinions on the beracha on rice vary from mezonos to ho’adoma to shehakol. This chilukei dei’os apparently affects the proper beracha on rice cakes as well.

    The current popular Seforim that deal with Berachos are written by experts on Hilchos Berachos. I would assume that one could choose which Rav he is going to follow in this area of halacha, and then follow his p’sak. The two that I am familiar with in English are written by Rav Pinchas Bodner of Lakewood, and Rav Binyomin Forst of Far Rockaway.

    Incidentally there is a halacha hotline based in the 5 towns that is under the auspices of Rav Forst. There are regular hours, as well as an emergency option for situations that can not wait, due to the nature of the sh’eila.

    516-239-2500

    718-337-8370

    #1215721

    My source was Rav Bodner’s sefer. I didn’t notice the little note

    that pointed to another page, where he brings down the machlokes

    Iacisrmma mentioned. Perhaps the thread’s title should actually be “PSA – Do thorough research before making public halachic statements.”

    #1215722

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    Randomex, well it was still nice of you to try to inform the public of the halacha. As long as you quote your source and don’t make it sound like there can’t possibly be another opinion, it’s not a problem to quote a particular opinion.

    btw, how did the title get changed? Did the mods decide to that?

    #1215723

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    Belated post:

    Wheat is one of the five grains. Rice is not.

    There are diff traditions on what to say for rice cakes.

    Rice us also a ceremonial food in some nations. Also offered in avodah zara.


    Does that have anything to do with rice blessings not being mezonos? Maybe not to confuse it with being one of the five grains?

    #1215724

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    Maybe a Mod changed it for Randomex

    #1215725

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    LB – the discussion here is about rice cakes, not rice. Rice is mezonos and borei nefashos, at least according to mainstream Ashkenazi non-Chassidish psak.

    I don’t know if Sephardim or Chabad hold differently. I have never heard that there anyone holds differently l’maaseh, but I can’t say so for sure.

    #1215726

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    There is an in-depth article about Rice from Rabbi Tzvi Rosen on the Star-K website (from 2008).

    the article is titled “rice-natures-answer-to-hashems-blessings”.

    #1215727

    twisted
    Participant

    For those who “haven’t heard or have a narrow view of the halachashpere, there is a longstanding practice of adomo.bore nefoshos on rice itself and that only if not overprocessed into shehakol. And yes even among non chassidic ashkenaz.

    #1215730

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    Thanks for the info, twisted. I should have phrased that more carefully. I was trying to qualify the statement in case there were other opinions, but I guess I didn’t qualify it enough.

    #1215731

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    twisted: I have not heard of “longstanding practice” of a “ha-adama” on rice. It is a longstanding machlokes. The Shulchan Aruch / Ramah pasken that cooked rice is a Mezonos (208:7). The Mishna Berurah in S”K Chaf Hay quotes the G”RA that OREZ is rice and the brocha is Mezonos.

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=49624&st=&pgnum=230

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=49624&st=&pgnum=231

    #1215732

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    What is a machlokes, please?

    #1215733

    Avi K
    Participant

    “V’zot haBeracha” (p. 108) brings three opinions regarding rice cakes:

    1. Adama – Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rav Scheinberg, Rav Sternbuch, Rav Mordechai Eliahu

    2. Mezonot – “one of the gedolei hador”

    3. Shehakol – Rav Fisher (because its formed changed).

    It would seem that someone who wants to be yotzi all of the above should first eat foods that are definitely mezonot, adama and shehakol.

    #1215734

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    Depending on its context machlokes can have different meanings.

    Machlokes in the context of halachic debate means disagreement or opposing views. In other contexts it can mean argument or strife.

    In this context there are opposing views whether the Brocha is mezonos or ha-adama.

    #1215735

    takahmamash
    Participant

    In this context there are opposing views whether the Brocha is mezonos or ha-adama.

    And there is solid halachic backing to hold either way. Bickering back and forth will not change this fact. With that said, we can close this thread.

    #1215736

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    Takahmamash: Does machlokes also mean that “there is solid halachic backing to hold either way” (takahmamash)?

    If something is a machlokes, it is a debated argument with opposing sides; do each sides always have a solid argument that one can follow?

    Or do some machlokes come to a consensus that we do it __this__ way?

    For example, the whole debate about a mezuzah going up vertically vs horizontally. Eventually it was decided that we affix mezuzot diagonally.

    —-Was and/or is that a “machlokes”?

    #1215737

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    Avi K: The Star-K states that R’ Eliyashiv held that one makes a Mezonos on cooked rice and rice cakes. To my knowledge no one is machmir as you state in your last sentence.

    LB: When it comes to questions about brochos you should ask your LOR and follow his opinion. This way you have no doubt. As for your example about the mezuzah, yes the Ashkenazim, based on the decision of the TUR, comprmise between Rashi who holds that it should be “vertical” and Rabbeinu Tam who says it should be “horizontal”, compromise and place it slanted.

    #1215738

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    LB – the term could probably be used either way. It would depend on the context of the statement/discusion.

    However, it usually means that both (or all) opinions are legitimate, especially if it’s a halachic issue. If someone asks, “what is the halacha regarding…”, and the response is that it’s a machlokes, that would generally mean that both (or all) opinions are legitimate.

    An exception might be if the person says that it’s a machlokes if it’s a or b but it was decided that the halacha is b.

    I believe that the mezuza issue that you quoted falls in this last category. It was a machlokes, but a decision was made, and according to halacha, we now have to follow that decision (at least I think so – I don’t know enough about the halachos of Mezuza to say for sure.)

    If you are talking about a machlokes Rishonim, you would have to find out what the Achronim and contemporary Poskim say. You can’t just decide to follow a particular Rishon. The same goes with a machlokes Tanaim or Amoraim.

    If the machlokes is amongst contemporary Poskim, there is some room to say that you might be okay whoever you follow, but it is not so simple.

    First, you have to verify that the Poskim you are talking about are all accepted legitimate Poskim. Then, if you are Ashkenazi, you have to make sure that they are Ashkenazi and if you are Sephardi, you have to make sure that they are Sephardi.

    Aside from that, it can be problematic to go by one Posek for one thing and another Posek for another thing. For one thing, there may be an inherent contradiction between the two psaks, and that is something that you wouldn’t even necessarily know. However, it is less likely for this to happen if the two psakim are in different areas of halacha (for example, one has to do with hilchos brachos and one has to do with hilchos Shabbos).

    The other problem is that you’re not supposed to always be looking for the easiest opinion to follow, and to each time choose which opinion to follow based on the fact that it’s easiest. It’s not a particularly intellectually honest or Yarei Shamayimdik approach as a general rule.

    On the other hand, as someone who is in the process of becoming Frum, there could be much more room to say that it is okay to do something as long as there is some legitimate opinion. Especially in an area that is difficult for you. You certainly should not be looking to make things harder for yourself than necessary.

    As a general rule, the best thing to do is to have one Rav and always go by him. But that is not realistic for everyone (especially for women) and I’m not sure that you are even in a position at this point to be able to figure out who you should be choosing as a Rav. And the danger exists that you may choose someone whom you shouldn’t be choosing.

    So, probably what you should do when it comes to basic halacha is to read through the mainstream english books that have been written on specific topics. You should probably choose one book for each topic. Try to make sure it’s a mainstream sefer (neither too left-wing nor too right-wing) and that it is well researched and well written.

    For Hilchos Brachos, I would recommend Rabbi Bodner’s sefer. For Hilchos Shabbos, I would recommend either Shmiras Shabbos k’hilchasa, Rabbi Ribiat’s sefer or Rav Eider’s sefer.

    Rav Eider’s sefer is very well-written, but the downside is that I don’t think he ever wrote/published all of the melachos. Also, he presents a wide range of opinions which may confuse you. I never read Rabbi Ribiat’s sefer but it looks very thorough. It might be too thorough for you though – it is a lot of volumes and it would take a long time to go through it.

    So Shemiras Shabbos k’hilchasa might be the best option for you. It will give you the basic practical halachos according to a mainstream poseik.

    There also may be online or telephone shiurim you can listen to, but I’m not sure what’s out there. And of course, there may be shiurim in your neighborhood, which it sounds like is something you do a lot of.

    #1215739

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    LU: Well said. I have learned through Rabbi Ribiat’s sefer and I personally find it easier to understand than the english Shemiras Shabbos k’hilchasa. It is not as voluminous as you think since half of each of the 4 volumes are footnotes written in Ivrit where he brings the sources (and sometimes lengthy questions and answers) for what he wrote in english.

    Another option is Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen’s seforim (The Shabbos Home, The Shabbos Kitchen etc). Both Rabbi Cohen and Rabbi Ribiat give practical applications to what they are discussing.

    #1215740

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    Iacisrmma – thank you for mentioning Rav Cohen’s sefer. I thought of that after I posted. That could also be a good place for LB to start. I haven’t really read his sefarim so much, but they seem to be short, to the point, and practical. I have the impression they go less in depth and bring less opinions than the other sefarim, but that might actually be what LB needs right now.

    For the laws of cooking on Shabbos, there is a small illustrated booklet with pictures which makes the halachos easy to read and understand.

    #1215741

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    btw,Iacisrmma, I am impressed that you read through Rav Ribiat’s sefer. That is something that I have been wanting to do for many years but never got around to it.

    Aside from the fact that the size of the sefer makes it intimidating, by the time it came out, I was already used to Rav Eider and Shmiras Shabbos k’hilchasa, so it was psychologically hard for me to get into something else.

    #1215742

    huju
    Participant

    To the opening poster: Do careful research before using an abbreviation. PSA means, among other things (and especially to people my age), prostate-specific antigen, and any reference to PSA having to do with halachah is confusing.

    #1215743

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    !!!

    #1215744

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    I thought PSA was cemented up there with PTA, HOA, and USA.

    Thanks for letting us know that PSA may trigger thoughts of other connotations.

    Very interesting.

    #1215745

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    I think I learned what PSA meant from the CR. Never heard of the other meaning until now.

    What’s HOA?

    #1215746

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    Homeowners Association (HOA)

    #1215747

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    Growing up, sometimes in between tv shows and commercials, a message would come on with some type of lesson as a “Public Service Announcement”

    #1215748

    Avi K
    Participant

    Lilmod, who says that an Ashkenazi may not rely on a Sephardi posek and vice-versa if the question does not involve a machloket between the Rema and the Mechaber? Who is a legitimate posek? As for leniences, to paraphrase Rabbi Shay Schechter in the name of his father, if you can find one in a popular halacha book grab it and run. They tend to be as machmir as possible to avoid being attacked. Not to mention the fact that avereichim tend to be machmir anyway. I heard that one avereich asked Rav Eliashiv a question for his book. When Rav Eliashiv was lenient the avereich argued with him so RE told him “If you want to be machmir don’t do it”. The avereich wrote that RE said that it is worthy to be machmir.Oe should also check the footnotes and look up the sources. For example, after the first edition of Shemirat Shabbat K.Hilchata was attacked Rav Neuwirth put out a new edition with the chumrot in the main part and the kulot in the footnotes.

    In the case of a machloket where there is more or less an equal number on each side, if you cannot clarify it with your rav there is a simple principle. If it is a Torah mitzva be stringent, if it is a rabbinic mitzva you can be lenient. However, sometimes one can rely on a leniency regarding a Torah mitzva in special circumstances (great loss or need, b’diavad, etc.) There are no crutches. You have to learn thoroughly just to be able to get out of the level of the son who did not know how to ask a question.

    #1215749

    Thinking out loud
    Participant

    Just a note about Rabbi Dovid Ribiat’s sefer on hilchos Shabbos.

    Although it may look intimidating, as it is a set of 4 volumes, I would highly recommend it. It is very well written and highly organized, with a very detailed index. In addition, as mentioned above, each volume is really one half of its size for the average reader. That is because one half of each volume is actually an exposition on hundreds of footnotes, written in Hebrew, for the more advanced scholar. He calls those entire sections “Migdal Dovid”.

    I never “went through it” from beginning to end, but I use it for reference all the time. It is very clear on most topics, with a methodical approach to the halachic process on any area of the laws of Shabbos. Rabbi Ribiat gives many, many, contemporary examples, with the added bonus of explanatory illustrations where something may be confusing. He also adds a wealth of interesting information, useful to most readers, in connection to pertinent topics. (His sefer was the first place I saw mention of “scale insects” that look like innocent small bumps on the outside of oranges, attached to the peel)

    Incidentally, Rabbi Ribiat’s full name is actually David Shmuel, and almost all of those detailed illustrations are his own.

    #1215750

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    TOL – thanks for the info. Good to know. One of the problems with the size is that it’s probably expensive, and I don’t know if I can afford it right now. And if I borrow it from a friend, I would have to read the whole thing at once.

    But it is good to keep in mind. Maybe I will find the money for it one of these days – it certainly is something worth spending money on – knowing hilchos Shabbos is pretty important.

    Thank you!

    #1215751

    Neville ChaimBerlin
    Participant

    I know you can take something that’s Adamah and process it to the point where it’s unrecognizable and therefore Shehakol, but is it really possible to process something that’s mezonos and have it become adamah? That doesn’t make intuitive since to me. Good thing I never eat rice cakes.

    #1215752

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    TOL – I have to thank you for being mezakeh me last Shabbos. I noticed that the person whose house I was at had R’ Ribiat’s sefer, and I was inspired by your post to pick it up and start going through it.

    I doubt I would have done so otherwise.

    Thank you!

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