The “Al Hamichya” Inconsistency

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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

After one drinks wine, eats “mezonot” products, or eats any of the “fancy fruits” (fruits which the Torah associates with the Land of Israel), one is required to recite the “me’in shalosh” blessing, better known as “al hamichya“. The conclusion of the al hamichya blessing after drinking wine is “…al ha’aretz v’al pri hagafen“, after eating mezonos it is “…al ha’aretz v’al hamichya“, and after eating fancy fruits it is “…al ha’aretz v’al hapeirot“.

However, if the wine or fruit that one has eaten originated in the Land of Israel then the concluding blessing is changed slightly in order to reflect this and thereby praise the Land of Israel. In such a situation, the blessing after drinking wine is changed to “…al ha’aretz v’al pri gafna” and after the fancy fruits it is “…al ha’aretz v’al peroteiha“.  

However, there is an inconsistency here. Why is it that only when drinking wine that originated in the Land of Israel or eating fruits that originated in the Land of Israel is the conclusion of the blessing modified? Why is it not also modified when eating mezonot products that originate from the Land of Israel? Perhaps we should conclude with the words “…al ha’aretz v’al michyata“? 

The answer is because only the fruits and the wine of the Land of Israel are superior in quality and taste to those of chutz la’aretz. The wheat, flour, and other similar produce of the Land of Israel, however, do not have any distinction or superiority over their counterparts in chutz la’aretz. The taste of bread, cakes, and cookies made from flour produced in the Land of Israel tastes the same as when made with flour from other countries. As such, no change is made in the conclusions of the al hamichya after eating mezonot products that originated in Israel.[1] 

Another reason might be because it is only in Israel that all seven of the “fancy fruits” are indigenous.  Although one can find one or more of these seven fruits growing in other countries, they are only native as a unit in the Land of Israel. Therefore, it is only for these specific items that we change the conclusion of the “al hamichya” in order to reflect this unique feature.[2]

It is also noted that “mezonot” foods can not be eaten raw in their natural state. In order to enjoy a baked product much time and effort must be invested. The fruits of the land of Israel, however, are able to be enjoyed in their natural state and require no further processing in order to enjoy them. Therefore, these fruits merit having their concluding blessing modified when they originate in the Land of Israel.[3] Closely related to this is the explanation of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach who explains that the difference between mezonot foods and fruits is that the former are completely unrecognizable from their original state when they are eaten, whereas fruits, of course, are clearly identifiable.


[1] Netziv, Meromei Hasadeh, Berachot Chap. 6. Cited in Devar Chevron 2:192.

[2] Shu”t Haleket 2:55.

[3] Otzar Hayediot Chapter 138.

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot. www.rabbienkin.com

22 comments

  1. Mordechai Tzion

    Shalom!
    It should be noted that this issue is a major machloket and many poskim indeed rule that one should say “Al Mechiyata” on grains from Eretz Yisrael. These include Rishonim: Tosafot Ri Chasid (Berachot 44a) as well as many Acharonim: Peat Ha-Shulchan (Hilchot Eretz Yisrael 2:14), Birkei Yosef (208:10), Kaf Ha-Chaim (ibid.), Rav Tukchinsky (Sefer Eretz Yisrael 3:1), Shut Be’er Moshe (vol. 7 p, 218), Shut Mishneh Halachot (6:41) and Shut Yabia Omer (vol. 7 Orach Chaim siman 30).

  2. R’ Mordechai-

    Wow! Thanks for that!

    ……back to the drawing board.

    Ari Enkin

  3. I have heard, as Mordechai wrote, that in principle we should say “al mechiyata”. The reason we don’t, IIRC, is that today almost none of the grain we use today is grown in Israel.

  4. 1. They’re better objectively? How can anything be better objectively, and how would you measure such a thing?

    2. Two of the seven are grains, which ruins this proof. Furthermore, it all depends on how you define “indigenous.” We know that at least some of them aren’t.

    3. Wine isn’t recognizable either. Nor is olive oil or date or fig honey. It seems from Tanach that of the seven, perhaps only pomegranates were eaten in their natural state, and figs somewhat.

  5. Re:“Al Mechiyata” in ShuT Yabi’a Omer( of R. Ovadia Yosef), there is:
    על הארץ ועל פירותיה on the “Halacha Yomit” web-site,
    and
    Se’if Yud-Tet in דין ברכה מעין שלש in Yalqut Yosef.

  6. Nachum-

    Good points!

    Re: 1

    You’re right. This may or may not be true. I’m just relating the Netziv’s approach. Youll have to ask him.

    Re: 2

    Very good observation.

    Re: 3

    a) I disagree. The taste is recognizable. I think it is clear from taste that the kiddush grape juice comes from grapes. b)Althoguh not mentioned in the post, wine frequently takes an ‘executive’ status in such matters anyway.

    Ari Enkin

  7. I asked this question of R’ Nachman Levovitz of the Mir many years ago. He told me that “Michiya” is not related to the Land as “Peiros” are. Fruit is from the Land. “Michiya” is a far more generic term, roughly translated perhaps as “sustenance”.

    Yes, in E”Y we are thanking God for the sustenance that E”Y provides. But the word “sustenance” does not relate directly to the land in question. Perhaps this is because the sustenance the mezonos provides is a product of more than just the grains themselves. (This might be related to R’ Shlomo Zalman’s answer.)

  8. > I think it is clear from taste that the kiddush grape juice comes from grapes.

    Kiddush grape juice is newfangled. 100 years ago people didn’t really drink grape juice much, and if they did, they made a shehakol on it.

  9. While olives can theoretically be eaten raw they are terrible. They must first be pickled in order to be eaten.

  10. MiMedinat HaYam

    but baked goods from israel are ten times better than any in america. should have a preferential bracha on this basis alone.

    (but israeli grape juice is a completely different animal than american grape juice. wine, of course is always different. except that lousy “sacramental wine” still made in both coutries.)

  11. I think yehupitz brings what’s probably the best reason: “Michya” does not come from the land, linguistically speaking, the same way that “Gefen” and “Perot” do.

    “a) I disagree. The taste is recognizable. I think it is clear from taste that the kiddush grape juice comes from grapes.”

    Ah, you meant taste: I thought you meant appearance. Even so, to echo Fred: Can you really tell that, say, sparkling wine comes from grapes?

    Zevabe: And unless you were raised eating them, even pickled olives are too much for some people. I know I can’t eat olives, but love olive oil.

    MeMedinat: I agree re: Israeli baked goods, but that’s possibly the bakeries and variety (and dairy baked goods!) here.

  12. Agreed with Nachum, viz, none of the answers cited by R’ Ari are convincing, and the answer brought by Yehupitz is the best of a bad lot. However, it stil sounds more of a “teretz” than a fact, and this is proven by the wealth of meforshim who say that we should, in fact, say “al michyasa”.

    The presumption underlying this post, of course, is that all halachos are logical and mutually consistent. We have been taught to think this way, ever since the Ballei Tosfos camr around and began reconciling conflicting Gemaros and contradictory passages. In a more truthful world, I would simply say that halacha is the product of thousands of people over hundreds of years. Sometimes they overlap, sometimes they contradict. It is the nature of a developing legal system.

  13. Perhaps grains are generally eaten for sustenance, and fruits and wine are generally consumed for pleasure.

    This could explain the linguistic distinction made by yehupitz in the name of R’ Nachman Levovitz.

  14. MiMedinat HaYam

    grape juice and sparkling wines ( = champagne grown in the champagne region of france is the only sparkling wine allowed to be called champagne) are two different things. none of which should really be called (quality) wines.

    neverthleless, unless the grape juice is made from concentrate, everyone agrees to make a “hagafen”. and “al hagafen”. (o-u policy is “hagafen” on concentrate grape juice. no justification for it. then again, their policy is also kosher for kiddush. ditto, no justification unless none other found. but not to put so on the label.)

    even after pickling olives, many prefer not to eat them. but olive oil (mei perot) is ok. thus pimientos and other masking flavors.

    and the israeli bakeries are better (liked nachum says) because israelis are not hung up on commercial packaged goods like americans are.

    4. is it “hagafen” or “hagefen”? i’ll use rabbi dr mitchell orlian’s method — sof pasuk — komatz. mid pasuk — segol /(cholam)

  15. Has anyone considered that if we change to “michyatah” we should also change in birkat hamazon to “al ha’aretz v’al mezonoteha”?
    All these brachot end in “al ha’aretz v’al (the thing you are saying the bracha about)”! Why should the second bracha of birkat hamazon be any different?

  16. Adam,
    Interestingly enough, there is an opinion in the yerushalmi (Berachot 5:1) that the ending to the after-bracha for the rest of food (what we call “borei nefashot”) is “al ha’aretz v’al me’adaneha” (that’s mem ayin dalet nun yud hey). So it seems like your general pattern holds there too. Also note that it is a yerushalmi and the ending became posesive! Perhaps that tanna would say “v’al hame’adanim” had he lived in bavel. This could be a good proof for extending the idea of possessives to other brachot.

    One more makor! Rav Moshe Feinstein discusses this issue in Igrot Moshe YD 3:129:3 where he rules against changing the nussach.

  17. Who is the Shu’t Haleket?

  18. Anon-

    Also known as “Halachot Ketanot”

    Ari Enkin

  19. Adam-

    In the Yabia Omer source provided by Rav Mordechai Tzion (above), Rav Ovadia says that Birkat Hamazon is never changed (even though he holds you do change to al michyata). See also that Igrot Moshe source cited by Ariel.

    Ari Enkin

    Ari Enkin

  20. al hamichyah is a truncated birchas hamazon, while al hagefen is a brachah by itself

  21. R. Ari – I just found A fascinating source which sheds light on the practise of eating mezonos bread as part of a meal on an aeroplane. The following is from a post on mail-jewish by R. Peretz Mett on Dayan Padwa (who was the Rav of London’s Charedi community):
    “Amongst his halachic rulings he paskened that eating a meal on an
    aeroplane did not constitute a kviuth seudo, so that a mezonos roll eaten with such a meal did not require n’tilas yodayim and hamoitsi.
    (If one eats a mezonos roll or sandwich as part of a meal, n’tilas
    yodayim and hamoitsi would apply.) In consequence of this ruling, the kosher airline meals – available on most flights out of London – supervised by the kashrus organization of UOHC (known by its brand name Kedassia) contain a mezonos roll.”

  22. Thanks for that!!
    A

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