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On grains, wine and fruits we say a short paragraph, Al Hamichya.

On Shechakol we say Borey Nefashot.

But for bread we say a whole prayer, 5 minutes worth--even though meals lacking bread can be equally satisfying.

Why is the beracha acharona for bread the longest?

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It's because prayers were added to Birkat Hamazon through the years while the others no prayers were added. –  Hacham Gabriel Aug 5 '13 at 16:56
    
@HachamGabriel, but that is just a rephrasing of the facts laid out in the question; why is that the case? –  Seth J Aug 5 '13 at 17:26
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Another note: Birkat hamazon is a biblical requirement, while the other brachot (AFAIK) are rabbinic. Don't know how or whether that affects the length, but it is a distinction between them. –  Daniel Aug 5 '13 at 17:49
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2 Answers

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If one eats enough bread to be satisfied, the chiyuv of ברכת המזון ("the beracha acharona for bread") is d'oraysa. According to many opinions, this is not the case for other berachos. Some may dispute this for "ברכה אחת מעין שלוש" ("al hamichya"), but anyways eating that much mezonos (if its פת הבא בכיסנין ) will normally require a full ברכת המזון .

The Torah states:

וְאָכַלְתָּ וְשָׂבָעְתָּ וּבֵרַכְתָּ אֶת ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ עַל הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּבָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָךְ

Part of the Chiyuv of Birkas haMazon is to thank God for the food, the land and to thank/pray for Jerusalem. While one could perhaps fulfill the d'oraysa with "ברכה אחת מעין שלוש", full berachos were created for each part due to its higher-level obligation.

In short, since its a d'oraysa, there's a longer blessing.

(Not sure how to answer for those who hold "ברכה אחת מעין שלוש" is also d'oraysa.)

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I can think of rabbinic blessings which are longer. Who said level of obligation should affect length? –  Double AA Aug 5 '13 at 23:01
    
@DoubleAA, since md'oraysa you need to mention 3 ideas, they made a beracha for each one. this is to give each idea its own importance (a little bit like not making mitzvos chavilos). –  Ariel K Aug 5 '13 at 23:49
    
Was that supposed to be addressed to me? I don't see how it deals with my question. –  Double AA Aug 6 '13 at 4:44
    
@DoubleAA, each part gets own beracha = longer overall than "מעין שלוש" version. –  Ariel K Aug 6 '13 at 14:16
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Its a combination of two prayers. The first was to thank Hashem for the Manna and was composed by Moshe Rabeinu, the second half was composed by Joshua for the bread as the manna had stopped and did not satiate like bread does.

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Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Yukel, and thanks for your answer, which would be more satisfying if you would include a source for the claim that Moshe and Y'hoshua, between them, composed all of birkas hamazon. I hope you stick around end enjoy the site, including its 58 other birkas-hamazon questions. Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. –  msh210 Aug 5 '13 at 23:19
    
I thought that only parts of Grace after Meals were composed by Moshe and Joshua, and that the rest was composed by other great men. –  unforgettableid Aug 6 '13 at 0:50
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