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If you, for some reason, must eat food you despise and will gain no enjoyment from it do you still need to make a bracha?

  • I have to make 2 different brachas on oat matzah during the seder, and it's very nasty stuff. Especially this year, when there was a problem and I had to use machine-made, which is extra nasty. (And the aftertaste is somewhere between kerosene and diesel.) Bread of affliction, indeed. And don't forget: even if you get no enjoyment from is, it still provides sustenance. If the answer to your question were "no", a person might never make a bracha on food while undergoing chemotherapy. – Jeffiekins May 22 '17 at 21:22
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It may depend on what exactly is the circumstance forcing you to eat this food, and also on whether it is objectively bad-tasting (like bitter medicine) or simply that you personally don't like it.

Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 204:8 states:

"All foods and drinks that a person must eat or drink for medicinal purposes - if they taste good and the palate gets enjoyment from them, he must recite the berachah before and after them."

To which Rema adds: "If people compel someone to eat or drink, even though his palate enjoys it - he need not recite a berachah, since he was forced."

On the first case, Mishnah Berurah (:43) comments that this is true even if the person has no appetite for them, but is eating them only because he is ill. He adds that if the food is bad[-tasting] and the eater gets no enjoyment from it, then indeed he need not say a berachah. On the second one, he says (:45) that this opinion is not universally accepted - some posekim argue that he should have to recite a berachah in this case, since after all he did enjoy the taste of the food (even if it was under duress).

1

If the case neither entails healing nor coercion (like the previous answer considered), then it might depend on how much one dislikes the food.

Case 1: You don't like the food, but it isn;t repulsive to you. The first issue to consider is whether or not the requirement to recite a bracha depends on one's personal experience of enjoyment or if it is based on some more objective standard of establishing that the food being consumed is a pleasure giving food. This particular question is not thoroughly addressed in the rishonim or achronim. One can offer a number of speculations within the various rishonim in terms of how objective/subjective they think the obligation of brachos are. For example, the raavya (brachos 35b) states that if one intends to eat something, so long as it is not harmful, they must make a bracha regardless of enjoyment, and even if it is something no one enjoys. However, it seems that most do not accept this chiddush and require some enjoyment, at least by some people, to warrant a bracha. Some rishonim discuss the reverse case: when you enjoy something no one else enjoys. Both the ritva and raah say that your personal enjoyment cannot warrant a bracha (batlah daato). This view seems to be accepted lhalacha (see shulchan aruch 204:4 for an example), however, the reverse case (our case - not liking food people do like) might be different, so it is hard to infer from this (basically, it is possible that something no one eats is not even considered a food, or that eating it might not be considered eating, and your preferences cannot change that reality. This reasoning will not translate over to our case). A second issue to consider is what sort of enjoyment necessitates a bracha. Is a bracha only warranted when there is enjoyment of taste? Maybe the nourishment or energy the food provides, even without a pleasurable taste is enough to warrant a bracha. The beiur halacha 204:7 says that one will make a bracha on water (which has no taste) if it aids in digestion of food. This implies that "pleasure of the stomach" warrants a bracha even without "pleasure of the mouth," although this issue is considerably debated among the achronim.

Case 2: When one is literally repulsed by the food. This is a three part issue. 1) Like case 1, maybe your subjectivity does not play a role. 2) Like case 1, the energy one gets from the food might necessitate a bracha, even without the enjoyment of taste. 3) Maybe such an experience can no longer even be considered halachically defined as eating. The mishnah brurah (197:28) paskons that if one is so full that they would not enjoy eating any more food at all (they won't even enjoy the taste anymore), then they will not make a bracha. This is a generally recognized halachic category of achilah gassah. Our case is a bit different since you are not in any special category, but simply have a personal preference. Nonetheless, Rav Melamed in pininei halacha thinks that in this case one would not make a bracha.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Yoni! Thanks for the answer. – mevaqesh Jul 29 '16 at 2:34

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