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Bracha on hydroponic vegetables


Rabbi David Sperling

Cheshvan 2, 5780
On hydroponically grown vegetables what Bracha is made?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. There is much discussion about the correct bracha over vegetables grown in water rather than soil. Let me quote to you from the O-U website : “Vegetables grown through hydroponics present a very interesting question about their bracha rishonah. On one hand, vegetables typically fall into a category of something that is grown in the ground. By definition it seems that the proper beracha of any vegetable should be borei pri ha’adamah. On the other hand, these vegetables are not grown in the ground, but rather in water, and perhaps the proper beracha should be shehakol. This question has been discussed by contemporary poskim, who have taken different positions on the issue. Rav Shmuel Wosner shlita (see Shut Shevet HaLevi 1:205) and Rav Moshe Shternbuch shlita (see Teshuvos VeHanhagos 2:149) have ruled that the proper bracha rishonah should be borei pri ha’adamah. The rationale of both poskim is that as a category all vegetables specifically require this beracha. The notion of taking two broccoli florets, one grown in the ground and the other in water, and requiring two different berachos is not tenable. Therefore, all vegetables, regardless as to where they were grown require the same beracha, which is ha’adamah. Rav Ovadia Yosef shlita wrote a teshuva about this question as well (see Yechaveh Da’as 6:12). In his responsa, Rav Ovadia cites many sources that the proper beracha rishonah for vegetables grown in water should be shehakol, including prominent ashkenazic poskim. Firstly, the Chayei Adom (51:17) writes that the proper beracha rishonah to recite on bread processed from grains grown in a flour pot is shehakol, not hamotzi Although the Rashash in his commentary on Pesachim (36b) disagrees, based on the Chayei Adom it seems that hydroponic vegetables would be shehakol. Secondly, poskim including the Chazon Ish zt’l and Rav Yechiel Michel Tuchachinsky zt’l ruled that it is permitted to grow produce in water during the Shemittah year. It would therefore appear that these types of vegetables should not be considered as growing from the ground, and borei pri ha’adamah would be a misnomer. It would seem more appropriate to compare hydroponic vegetables to mushrooms. Mushrooms are not grown from the ground and the proper beracha is shehakol (see Berachos 40b). Thirdly, there is a halachik discussion about what beracha rishonah was recited by Bnei Yisroel on mun in the midbar. Many authorities were of the position that hamotzi was not recited on mun since it fell from the sky, even though it was a form of bread. According to this opinion it would seem that vegetables that are not grown in soil should not require ha’adamah. Rav Ovadia concludes that the proper beracha should be shehakol, although ha’adamah is also acceptable bedieved.” Let me add that if one is in doubt as to whether their particular tomato was grown in soil or water, out of doubt all opinions would agree that one should say the blessing of “ha'adamah”. Also, one needs to ascertain in each case if it was totally grown in water or not. Bug free lettuce in Israel, for example, is in fact grown in soil, not water. Many blessings.
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