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'Al HaMihyah exempts 'Al Ha'Gefen, at least if it was said after eating grain products and grape juice/wine. Is this unique to this case, or is there a broader principle?

Can a less specific Berachah exempt a food that is more "important", because it is broad, or is it not "powerful" enough for that "higher" food? On the flip side, can a more specific Berachah exempt a "lower" food, because it is more "powerful", or is it too specific and not applicable to other foods?

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Can you source that Al HaMihyah exempts Al Ha'Etz? Is that for all 5 fruits? (Also, call me pessimistic, but I'm not expecting a really good general rule to apply here.) –  Double AA Oct 24 '12 at 4:46
    
I was told that once upon a time when I was in Safek. Don't know about all 5. I would think so. –  Seth J Oct 24 '12 at 4:48
    
I ask because the ShA rules (OC 208:17) that the full bentching would post facto exempt only wine or dates, so I find the psak you were told surprising. –  Double AA Oct 24 '12 at 5:20
    
(Remembering) You're right, @double aa, I had asked what to do since I realized I had said only 'Al HaMihyah and forgotten to include Ve'Al HaGefen (not Ha'Eitz). –  Seth J Oct 24 '12 at 22:26
    
That makes more sense. See also this article rabbikaganoff.com/archives/386 –  Double AA Oct 24 '12 at 23:36
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2 Answers 2

From what I understand, a bracha rishona is valid bedieved (i.e. you shouldn't make that blessing... but if you did, you don't have to make another blessing before continuing to eat) if it is an appropriate description of the food. For example, haadamah is valid for fruit or bread, because the tree or wheat stalk grows out of the ground. Haetz is valid for grape juice, because the grape vine is a variety of wood/tree. Shehakol is valid for everything, since everything was made by God. Mezonot is valid for most foods (don't remember exactly which) since "mazon" is a generic word for food.

The opposite is not true - haetz on a vegetable is simply invalid, since it is a false description, and you must make a new blessing.

If you want to eat a fruit and a vegetable together, and you said "haadamah" - my recollection is that it only applies to the vegetable, and you must make a separate blessing on the fruit, because we presume that the blessing only applies to the things it is supposed to apply to. Whether you can overcome this presumption (i.e. by saying out loud what you intend) may be a debate in the sources.

Everything I said applies to the blessing before food. As for the blessing after food, I don't know, but I would suspect similar rules apply.

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I don't have sources for this, but I learned that Shehkol covers everything - even bread, and Ha'adama covers all plants that grow in the ground (i.e. not mushrooms, but yes apples and the like).

An interesting question is if Ha'adama covers cookies. After all flour does grow from the ground. And I believe the answer is yes, it does cover it (but I'm not certain of this). Does Ha'adama cover grape juice? Presumably also yes.

I have a vague memory of learning that Me'zonot covers bread.

Now remember: All of this is after the fact! And especially because safek bracha lekula (i.e. you don't say a bracha if not sure).

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