Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The "Nicknames" of Brachot

You will eventually need to know the short-hand names for the eating-related brachot, so here is a handy list to help you out! Even better, you'll hear these phrases thrown around quickly in conversations, so now you'll understand what these people are talking about, and you can even use these phrases in your conversations! What an easy tip for "passing" better ;)

Note: This post presumes that you know what brachot are and are familiar with how they are used. The brachot are very complicated, in my opinion. At the most basic, remember that there are before-blessings (brachot rishonot) and after-blessings (berachot achronot). 

Berachas Rishona: In a beit din setting, be prepared to recite these from memory.

Netilat / Netilas Yadayim: ("YaDIEim") The blessing after ritually washing your hands, either for purity sake or before eating bread. Which washings have a bracha and which don't is beyond the scope of this post.
HaMotzi or Motzi: The blessing before eating bread. It seems that the blessing is usually called "HaMotzi," but people will "make motzi."
Hagafen: (HaGAfen or HaGEfen) The bracha before drinking wine or other grape juices.
Mezonot / Mezonos: The blessing before eating foods made of grains that didn't end up being bread.
HaEitz: The bracha rishona for fruits of trees.
Ha'Adamah: The bracha rishona for fruits and vegetables from the ground. Theoretically, it can also encompass foods that use "boray pri ha'eitz," but that is not ideal. 
Shehakol: The "catch-all" bracha rishona. Technically, but not ideally, shehakol can encompass any food.

Brachas Achronos: The beit din will generally not require any of the berachos achronos to be memorized except for boray nefashos.

Bentching or Birkat / Birkas HaMazon: The very long (group) prayer after eating bread.
Al HaMichyah: The after-blessing after eating mezonos items.
Al HaGafen: The beracha achrona after drinking wine or grape juice. 
Al HaEtz: The bracha achrona after eating one of the five fruits of the seven species of the Land of Israel: olives, dates, grapes, figs, and pomegranates.
Borei Nefashot / Nefashos: The catch-all after blessing used for everything else. Its use can be complicated, so be aware of that.

I apologize for all the random transliterations, but you never know how people will Google these things, even incorrectly.


  1. "Hagafen: (HaGAfen)" - this is a point of contention among poskim. Many people do say it as you've written, but many people argue that it doesn't make sense grammatically, and should be HaGefen.

    According to my profesor the HaGafen was created by a reformer who was a siddur printer ("the best siddur printer in his time") and made the change from HaGefen for unknown reasons, but the change was prolific among the siddurim of the time and caught on.

    1. I disagree with both you and your professor. The changing of the accented segol (in a segol,segol word) to a kamatz at a siluq or ethnachta is found in Tnach much more often than leaving the vowel a segol.