In the article “One-Day Pass to Candyland” (March 8, Features, page 22), the author presents a halachah, without noting that everyone should consult with their Rav, that the brachah on licorice is Mezonos. In fact, the more accepted view is that one should recite Shehakol.
Rav Binyomin Forst, in his sefer Pischei Halachah, has a teshuvah in which he writes that the brachah is Shehakol. The ArtScroll book by Rav Forst, The Laws of Berachos, based on the aforementioned sefer, also lists the brachah as Shehakol.
Rav Alexander Mandelbaum gives it a more comprehensive treatment in his sefer V’zos Habrachah. He mentions that it would appear that there are some Rishonim who would hold that its brachah is Mezonos, but that that’s a minority view.
Both of these Rabbanim explain the rationale behind their conclusion in the same way: The purpose of the flour is ledabek, and the halachah is clear that ledabek does not warrant a Mezonos. Therefore, every person should, indeed, check with their own Rav.
Doniel Binyomin Lewenstein, Yerushalayim
Gerald Jakubovics responds:
Thanks for taking the time to comment on my article about the kosher candy industry.
I would like to point out that the reference in the article about making a Mezonos on licorice was not presented as halachah. Rather, it was simply a direct quote made by someone sharing memories of how mishloach manos were distributed during her childhood.
Determining the correct brachah on certain food items was not the only problem years ago. In some circles, individuals would study the ingredients on a product and decide on their own whether it was kosher. As a Rav I quoted in the article said, “B”H, we’ve come a long way.”
The subject of brachos has always been complicated but these days has become even more challenging due to trends in the food industry. I agree completely about the importance of consulting with a Rav regarding brachos (and all other issues). Thanks for citing Rabbi Forst’s ruling that the correct brachah on licorice is Shehakol.