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My understanding is that after making a bracha, one should eat the food without a "hefsek" (interruption). Is there a minimum amount of food that one is required to eat after the bracha and before doing anything else? For example, if I say the bracha "boreh pri ha'etz" then eat one molecule of apple, can I speak for a minute, then resume eating the apple?

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    I recall the Mishnah Berurah ruling that ideally a person should eat a kezayis of bread before speaking, but ex-post-facto it's fine. Although I think that's just to ensure a person eats enough to bench, instead of accidentally forgetting or eating too slowly. – robev Aug 1 at 23:39
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The commentaries to Shulchan Aruch Orach Hayim 167:6 discuss your question. In the words of the halachafortoday site (under July 24, 2009), one needs to swallow a bit

After a Bracha is recited it is best not to speak while chewing the first bite, until after a bit was swallowed. There is no need for a Kzayis to be swallowed before talking. [...]

If one spoke before any of the food was swallowed, B’dieved it is acceptable as long as a little of the taste of the food was enjoyed, and there is no need to repeat the Bracha. (Mishna Berura Siman 167:35 quoting the Chayei Adam)

Regarding bread, the Mishna Brura writes (end of 167:35) that it is good to swallow a kazayit before talking if not in a pressing situation to speak.

Note that these halachot are very relevant on Shabbat evening when many tend to speak soon after taking the first bite (e.g., regarding distributing the challa).

For more, see also here under "Interruptions Before Eating"

  • "bread, where there is indeed a Halacha to swallow a Kzayis before talking" - I don't see that in the source cited; he says to have a kezayit but where does he say not to interrupt until finishing it? – b a Aug 7 at 0:30
  • @ba I brought the source as is but edited this part out, because it might actually not be correct. Since your comment, I checked with the talmid chacham from whom I learned this and he confirmed one needs to swallow the first bite, but it doesn't have to be a kazayit (although this might be a chumra) – mbloch Aug 11 at 18:25
  • It is important to note that one makes a bracha rishona prior to eating any amount of food, while makes a bracha acharona only after eating a kizayis. The reason for the distinction is that the prior bracha is for the benefit one gets from the taste, which one could have even on a slight morsel, while the after bracha is for the benefit of the sustenance, which one does not get on less than a kizayis. Thus it stands to reason that so long as one has swallowed the slightest amount and benefited from the taste, he already did enough to warrant the prior bracha and could then talk. – ASL Aug 12 at 14:52
  • @ASL this is a very nice explanation, thanks! – mbloch Aug 12 at 15:01
  • The Mishna Berura your source is quoting ends off with this statement about bread: ושלא במקום הדחק טוב שיאכל מתחלה שיעור כזית. You may want to add this to the answer. (It applies to bread specifically) – Jay Aug 19 at 0:39

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