Klein’s Ice Cream and the Bracha Acharonah

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By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

Every one loves Klein’s Ice Cream.  It is fresh, tasty, and only uses milk that is both Cholov Yisroel and free of any concern that the milk may come from cows that have had a surgical procedure that corrects for Displaced Abomasum.  Aside from weight gain, it is worry-free ice cream.

Most people are unaware of two pieces of information.

  • The first piece of information is that Rabbi Efraim Klein a”h was a holocaust survivor who had lost his whole family in the holocaust.  In 1955, Rabbi Efraim Klein, launched America’s first Cholov Yisroel ice cream in the humble accommodations of his small home.  He launched the business with a single truck that barely ran.
  • The second piece of information is that there exists a huge debate in halacha as to whether ice cream is to be considered a solid or a liquid, and this debate has halachic repercussions.

WHAT IS ICE CREAM?

Before we get to the halachic repercussions let’s first explore what ice cream is exactly.  Ice cream is defined scientifically as a colloidal emulsion made with water, ice, milk fat, milk protein, sugar and air.

A colloid is defined as a homogeneous non-crystalline substance consisting of large molecules or ultramicroscopic particles of one substance dispersed through a second substance. An emulsion is defined as a fine dispersion of minute droplets of one liquid in another liquid in which it is not soluble or miscible.

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The emulsion of ice cream, however, is turned into foam by incorporating air cells which are frozen to form dispersed ice cells. Milk proteins such as casein and whey protein that are present in ice cream are amphiphilic, which means that it can absorb water and form micelles which will contribute to its special and unique consistency. The proteins contribute to the emulsification, aeration, and the texture. Sucrose which is disaccharide is usually used as a sweetening agent. Lactose which is sugar present in milk will cause freezing point depression. Thus, on freezing some water will remain unfrozen and will not give a hard texture.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

For a food, an after bracha is required when one consumes a k’zayis within an allotted time (the time it takes to consume a kezayis).

Regarding a liquid, there is two-way debate as to how much one must consume in order to recite an after-bracha.  Is it considered like a k’zayis or a revi’is?

Since it is a debate, Poskim urge drinkers of liquid never to drink in between a k’zayis and a revi’is unless you have a designated bracha-acharona maker (see Shaar hatziyun 210:27).

HOW MUCH IS A REVI’IS?

We will present the opinions in terms of an 8 fluid ounce cup.

  • The Chazon Ish holds that in order to be required in an after bracha one must consume .634 of a cup.
  • Rav Chaim No’eh holds that in order to be required in an after bracha one must consume .364 of a cup.
  • Rav Moshe Feinstein holds that in order to be required in an after bracha one must consume .413 of a cup.

HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO DRINK THE REVI’IS?

The Shulchan Aruch holds that it is the normal time to drink.  If 8 ounces are consumed in in 40 seconds (as was recently conducted in an experiment) it would take about 20 seconds

The Mishna Brurah rules that it is the custom to drink in two gulps.  So we are assuming that adds another 5 seconds. This would ratch it up to about 25 seconds.

The Vilna Gaon’s opinion is that in order to recite a bracha achronal it should be consumed within the same amount of time that one consumes a k’zayis.  This would bring it to two minutes.

HOW MUCH IS A KEZAYIS?

  • The Chazon Ish holds a k’zayis is 33 CC 1.12 Fluid Ounces
  • Rav Chaim Noeh holds it is 27 cc = .913
  • Rav Moshe Feinstein 31.2 = 1.055 fluid ounces

HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO EAT THE KEZAYIS?

The Poskim have said that the normal time frame to consume a kesayis is two minutes, or perhaps up to four minutes.

THE STORY WITH ICE CREAM

There is a halacha that one must wash one’s hands for any food that is dipped into one of the seven liquids.  Butter if melted, is considered as one of the seven liquids.  However, one does not have to wash for something dipped into solid butter, since it is considered a food and not a liquid (See Shaar HaTziyun 158:16)

The origin of the issue is a debate among the Rishonim who explain the first Mishna in the third chapter of Taharos.

The Mishna states as follows:  Sauce, bean-mash and milk, when in a condition of fluidity, are unclean in the first degree. If they turned solid they become unclean in the second degree. If they again melted: If their bulk was exactly that of an egg, they are clean. But if it was more than the bulk of an egg they remain unclean, for as soon as the first drop issued forth it became unclean by contact with an egg’s bulk.

There is a debate as to why in the first part of the Mishna it becomes impure again.  Rav Shimshon of Sens holds that it becomes impure because it turned into a liquid.  Others hold that it is a different reason.  The Mishna Brurah holds in accordance with the Rabbi Shimshon of Sens and thus holds that a liquid which becomes frozen is to be considered like a solid.

It seems to this author that the majority of seforim that deal with ice cream understand it as a solid and not a liquid.  However, there are other opinions that do carry significant halachic weight.

THE OPINIONS THAT HOLD ICE CREAM IS A LIQUID

Rav Elyashiv zt”l in his haaros on tractate Brachos page 453 rules that ice cream would be considered a solid and not a liquid.  He qualifies this opinion as applying only when one bites into the ices or the ice cream.  However, if one sucks on it, then it would be considered a liquid.

Similarly, Dayan Weiss in his Minchas Yitzchok volume II #110 differentiates between eating and drinking in that eating requires chewing, but if one does not chew it, then it is deemed to be a liquid.

The Kaf HaChaim Siman 202:63 understands the matter in the same way, citing a Ben Ish Chai in parshas Massai.  The main point is that only if it involves actual chewing is it to be defined as eating and not drinking.

So it boils down to the question of how does one eat ice cream?  Is it bitten off or is a spoonful taken out and then the underlying liquid is kind of sucked out?

CONCLUSION

If it is sucked out, then it would seem that the amount eaten is not quick enough for the time allowance discussed to warrant a bracha achrona.  This author would recommend eating a true solid in order to necessitate an actual bracha in order to avoid a safaik bracha situation.  Of course, as in all matters of practical halacha, one should always consult his or her own Rav or Posaik.

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The author can be reached at [email protected]


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