A Mistake in the Beracha Acharona on Wine

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by R. Daniel Mann

Question: After Havdala, I recited quietly the beracha acharona on grape juice by heart, and finished it aloud for my family to answer Amen. I was caught off guard when my wife alerted me to the fact that I mistakenly finished off “… al ha’aretz v’al peiroteha” (instead of “al ha’aretz v’al pri gafnah”). I do not know if my mistake was only on the last line (I knew the beracha was for grape juice, and I am usually proficient at berachot.) Should I have redone the beracha

Answer: (The order of presentation is pedagogically rather than logically chosen). Starting to fix the mistake within toch k’dei dibbur (1-2 seconds) of finishing the beracha (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 209:2) would have solved your problem, but it sounds like your realization came later. 

Can you assume you did the rest of the beracha correctly? On the one hand, you regularly make this beracha correctly right after Havdala. On the other hand, since you finished off incorrectly, there is a good chance that the mistake started earlier. We, thus, must treat the matter as a safek whether you were accurate in one or both of the other mentions the specific food-category. When one has a safek whether he recited a beracha on food (or, equivalently, whether he did so validly), he does not recite/repeat the beracha (ibid. 3).

However, it would not help if you said the other part(s) of the beracha correctly. A beracha’s concluding part is crucial, and while there is a machloket whether getting the end right suffices, if it is wrong, the beracha is invalid (ibid. 59:2; Be’ur Halacha ad loc.). 

However, you did not have to repeat the beracha acharona because the text you recited was not so wrong. There is a rule (with exceptions) that a beracha that is not slated for a certain food counts b’di’eved when its content is also true, even when a more specific beracha was prescribed. The most famous application is that Shehakol N’hiya Bidvaro is a valid beracha rishona after the fact for any food. The rule also validates b’di’eved one who recited Borei Pri Ha’adama instead of Borei Pri Haetz (Shulchan Aruch, OC 206:1) because fruit of a tree in effect grow from the ground, because the tree itself grows there (Mishna Berura ad loc. 1). 

Grapes and wine come from an etz (a grapevine, halachically, is a tree) and, specifically, from a gefen (a grapevine). Therefore, logic seems to dictate that if one recites Borei Pri Haetz on wine, he should be yotzei because the beracha is true – the wine came from a tree. (R. Akiva Eiger (to Magen Avraham 208:22) and Nishmat Adam (I:50:1) are among those who concur.) If so, the same is true of the beracha acharona (our case) – although he should have recited Al Hagefen, he should be yotzei with Al Hapeirot (see Be’ur Halacha to OC 208:18). However, there is actually a machloket – the Magen Avraham (208:22), Yad Ephrayim (ad loc.), and Aruch Hashulchan (OC 208:28) say that Borei Pri Haetz does not work b’di’eved for wine. The Yad Ephrayim explains that since wine (and bread) received a special beracha beyond those of their category of food, Chazal did not allow the beracha to be fulfilled with a lesser, albeit accurate, beracha. The Mishna Berura (208:70) cites both positions and identifies Rishonim corroborating each (Sha’ar Hatziyun ad loc. 67). In conclusion, he treats the situation as a safek, and therefore based on safek berachot l’hakel, recommends not reciting Borei Pri Hagefen afterward.

Based on the comparison between beracha rishona and beracha acharona, safek obviates the practical need for another beracha in your case. In your case, there is an additional reason to refrain from another beracha. According to a serious position among Rishonim, the beracha acharona on wine is supposed to conclude with “… al ha’aretz v’al hapeirot” (mentioning land and fruit, whereas the “fruit of the grapevine” is mentioned only earlier), and the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 11) rules that either is fine. Therefore, you, conceivably, said the beracha perfectly, and even if not, it was close enough to preclude another recitation. 

לעילוי נשמת יואל אפרים בן אברהם עוזיאל זלצמן ז”ל

About Daniel Mann

This column is produced on behalf of Eretz Hemdah by Rabbi Daniel Mann. Rabbi Mann is a Dayan for Eretz Hemdah and a staff member of Yeshiva University's Gruss Kollel in Israel. He is a senior member of the Eretz Hemdah responder staff, editor of Hemdat Yamim and the author of Living the Halachic Process, volumes 1 and 2 and A Glimpse of Greatness.

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