From Making a bracha on food which is normally assur, but allowed due to pikuach nefesh, if you eat normally forbidden foods because of pikuach nefesh, you make a bracha on them.

Does the same apply to a birkas hamitzvah? For instance, if you're starving on Pesach night and have nothing to eat except forbidden matzah*, can you say על אכילת מצה? And if you get normal matzah later that night, are you still required to eat it?

* For the specific example, chadash or terumah (temei'ah for a kohen, tehorah for a zar) works.

Many of the normal prohibitions that you think of for these questions don't apply here. Chametz is out of the question because it's not matzah. If you put in treif meat, same thing because it's matzah ashira. For tevel you can just take maasros on Yom Tov which is a lesser prohibition, and then you can definitely say the bracha (though I suppose it would work if you're at gunpoint instead of starving). Kilei hakerem gets into כיתותי מכתת issues that I don't want to address here but might make an interesting follow up.

  • 1
    If you Yotze - of course, but if you not yotze (like Esrog Gazul) - that's not a Mitzvah and you don't.
    – Al Berko
    Jan 24, 2019 at 21:22
  • Besides Matza, what other Mitzvos do we have with food?
    – Al Berko
    Jan 24, 2019 at 21:25
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    @AlBerko Sukkah. Kodshim. Terumah for Kohanim. Maaser Sheni in Yerushalayim.
    – Heshy
    Jan 24, 2019 at 21:31
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    @AlBerko yes, although on second thought that's a bad example because you can make the bracha by just being there, even if the minhag is to only make it on food
    – Heshy
    Jan 24, 2019 at 22:43
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    In the discussion of saying Kiddush on Yom Kippur I don't think this concern comes up. It's more about if Kiddush for Yom Kippur was ever enacted.
    – Double AA
    Jan 26, 2019 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


A simple reasoning.

The pikuach nefesh is to eat, not to make the mitsva. So, eating need a bracha because it overrides the isur (by the way, see SA oc 204, in nos'e keilm, some poskim said that if he feels bad because of the fact that he eats prohibited food, there is no really hanaa and he cannot bless), the mitsva however, per se, cannot override the isur, because to lose a mitsva is not physically lethal. So, without the nutritional need, he will not make it (in the case of achilat matsa), so he is patur and cannot bless for the mitsva.

By the way, it's stated that one doesn't fulfill the mitsva eating tevel

Psachim 2.5

אבל לא בטבל, ולא במעשר ראשון שלא ניטלה תרומתו, ולא במעשר שני והקדש שלא נפדו.  חלות תודה ורקיקי נזיר--עשאן לעצמו, אין יוצא בהן

So we have an answer from svara, the cause of the infraction is the need to eat, not the need to fulfill the mitsva, so the mitsva is not a duty, and the beracha is on the Tsivui, and this is demonstrated, in several mishnayot regarding birkat hamazon, eruvin, matsa and Maror, one of the cases is quoted as example.

In poskim.Rambam is one of the Rishonim who exempt from blessing on a prohibited food anyway.

Regarding the birkot hanehenin for prohibited foods in a situation that allows their consuming (Bet Yosef OC 196, 204),, there are several opinions in rishonim, Rambam, Raavad, Rosh, Rabenu Yerucham, Rashba, Rosh. The discussion addresses bracha rishona an acharona, (bhm and motsi). The reason of the opinions that one does bless is the hanaa. Regarding birkat hamitsva, despite that the mitsva is to be nehene (to eat), the hanaa is not the cause of the mitsva, but one the conditions, so no one of our poskim addressed a chyuv to bless bircat Hamitsvot. We need to check our assumption in BY OC 196, here is a quote around a passage of Yerushalmi.

גרסינן בירושלמי פ"ק דמסכת חלה תני מצה גזולה אסור לברך עליה א"ר אושעיא על שם ובוצע ברך נאץ ה' הדא דאמרה בתחלה אבל בסוף דמים הוא חייב לו רבי יוסי אומר אין עבירה מצוה א"ר אילא אלה המצות אם עשיתן כמצותן הרי הן מצות ואם לאו אינם מצות. ומשמע דלרבי יוסי ורבי אילא בסוף נמי אינו מברך על מצה גזולה. ואין לדחות ולומר דאדרבה משם ראיה דטעמא דמצת מצוה היא הא לאו הכי שפיר מברך עליה דהא איכא למימר דבה"מ נמי מצוה היא דכתיב ואכלת ושבעת וברכת והא דנקט מצה להודיעך כחו דר' אושעיא דאע"ג דאיכא נמי מצות מצה מברך בסוף. וההיא דהרי שגזל חטים וכו' נמי כדברי הרמב"ם דייקא לפום נוסחי דידן שכתוב בהם כיצד מברך אין זה מברך אלא מנאץ דמשמע דמתמה כיצד אפשר שיברך והלא אם היה מברך אינו אלא מנאץ הלכך לא יברך...

You can follow a reasoning regarding mitsvot - hanaa comparison, our topic. One of the sides argued that there is no proof from Yerushalmi that one cannot bless on prohibited food. Because the Yerushalmi, is discussing birkat "al achilat matsa". Birkot hanehenin are different and are related to hanaa. (This is our svara above!). The second size, that stands up for Rambam, and says that the Yerushalmi is a proof that one cannot bless on a piece of isur. In a first time, BY says that can interprete that the pshat of the first svara, is: One needs to bless regarding birkat hamazon but not birkat "Al achilat matsa". He refutes this svara, because BHM is a mitsva as well. So one cannot bless neither birkat al achilat matsa nor birkat hamazon. Just to be clear, assuming that one need to bless birkat hamazon, this doesn't imply that one need to bless birkat Al achilat matsa. Birkat hamazon is different from "Al achilat matsa", BHM is a mitsva about satiety state, but not an independent duty, note that it's nusach doesn't contain "asher kiddeshanu...". It's a "result" of eating, a mitsva to thank for satiety. Anyway, the Yerushalmi unanimously taught that there is never bracha for achilat matsa, and even if there is bracha on food.

Maybe that I missed details, if something is wrong, I will be thank if someone reports an error.

  • I don't see how it follows necessarily that just because the mitzvah alone in insufficient to override the isur, it is therefore inappropriate to make a bracha on it when you are eating it because the isur was overridden by a different consideration.
    – Daniel
    Jan 25, 2019 at 0:26
  • If the mitsva isn't sufficient to override the isur, so there is no mitsva. E.g. אבל לא בטבל, ולא במעשר ראשון שלא ניטלה תרומתו, ולא במעשר שני והקדש שלא נפדו
    – kouty
    Jan 25, 2019 at 0:31
  • so you've shown that in this particular case the mitzvah isn't fulfilled. But that doesn't really answer the question in general. You said "If the mitsva isn't sufficient to override the isur, so there is no mitsva," but you've provided no proof of that (and really, that's kind of a big part of the question in the first place).
    – Daniel
    Jan 25, 2019 at 2:19
  • Yes I provided a proof
    – kouty
    Jan 25, 2019 at 9:16
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    @kouty 1: Ruvein is obligated to eat Matzah. 2: Ruvein is literally starving. 3: The only food around is matzah which is chadash 4: Ruvein must eat the matzah because he is starving. That's the scenario provided in the question, which asks whether a birkas hamitzvah should be said. Your answer said that the mitzvah alone would not override the isur, which is true. But you then go on to assert that therefore, no birkas hamitzvah should be recited because without the nutritional need, Ruvein could not eat the matzah. But that's exactly what the question is asking! You state an answer ("no")
    – Daniel
    Jan 25, 2019 at 14:40

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