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Ikar v'tafel (Hebrew: עיקר וטפל, "primary and secondary") is a principle in Jewish law that governs the proper blessing that is assigned to any particular food prior to consumption (B.Berachot 44a).
Prior to consuming any food or beverage, a Jew must recite a blessing to express his or her gratitude to God for providing sustenance; additionally, because the entire world is believed to be in the possession of the Almighty, specific praise must be offered to God prior to deriving benefit (B.Berachot 35a).
There are different blessings for each of the different halachic food groups:
- other grain products
- wine and grape juice
- fruit and nuts
- all other foods and drinks
When an individual eats two foods together, one of which is primary and the other of which is subsidiary to it, only one blessing is recited, as stated in B.Mishna Berachot 6:7:
"כל שהוא עיקר ועמו טפלה מברך על העיקר ופוטר את הטפלה"
- "Whenever a primary food (ikar) is accompanied by a subsidiary food (tafel), the blessing is recited on the primary food, exempting the subsidiary food."
While the laws governing this principle are complex, some of its basic rules are straightforward. It pertains only to foods eaten in a combined form. One who has a cookie and tea must make two blessings, one on each of the items. It is when one is eating something akin to apple pie, beef stew or stuffed cabbage, which are foods consisting of multiple parts (crust and pie, beef and potatoes or meat and cabbage, respectively) that the principle of ikar v'tafel is applied (Aruch Hashulchan 212:1, 2).
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