Dafina: What Blessing?

It is customary among Moroccan Jews to eat a dish known as Dafina for Shabbat lunch. It is alternatively known as Hamin or Skhena and is very similar to Cholent. Unlike Cholent, however, Dafina is made of different ingredients which are cooked and served separately. One component consists of cooked wheat kernels (le blé in French, Hita in Hebrew). When eaten as part of the Shabbat meal, there is no concern over reciting a blessing over the wheat as it is exempted by the blessing of “HaMotzi“. In some situations, such as at a Kiddush at synagogue, for example, the it is plausible that the wheat kernels are eaten on their own, necessitating a blessing.

​The Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 208:4)  rules that when grain is eaten raw, roasted or cooked whole, the appropriate blessing and after-blessing are “HaAdama” and “Bore Nefashot”, respectively. Rabbi Yosef Karo (Kesef Mishne, Hilchot Berachot 3:2) writes that this only refers to a situation in which the kernels still had their chaff; if the chaff was removed and the grains are cooked, he posits that the blessing would be “Mezonot”. The Mishna Berura (O.H. 208:15) quotes the students of Rabbenu Yona, who were of the opinion that even if the chaff is removed, the blessing for the wheat kernels would still be “HaAdama”. Even though there is a disagreement in the matter, one can rely on the opinion of Maran (ie. Rabbi Yosef Karo), especially in light of the opinion of Rabbi Avraham Danzig (Haye Adam) who says that “Mezonot” is a generic blessing which exempts even non-grain foods. If one wishes to be strict, one can recite “Mezonot” on cake or the like, and “HaAdama” on a vegetable, and then eat the  wheat kernels from the Dafina without concern.

Furthermore, regarding the after-blessing over the wheat kernels in Dafina, the Shulhan Aruch (ibid.) writes that it should be “Bore Nefashot”, but that there is doubt in the matter. Therefore ideally, Dafina wheat should be eaten with other foods which can exempt it of its initial and after-blessings.

The above discussion applies to grains that are cooked, but if the grains are heat-puffed, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or LeZion, vol. 2, 14:12) says that the blessing would be “HaAdama”. Regarding granola, there is disagreement as to the proper blessing since the grains are heat-baked, which may or may not be Halachically akin to cooking.  Practically speaking, granola that is cooked in hot water has the blessing of “Mezonot”. Actual granola bars are “HaAdama”.

Summary:   There is a Halachic basis upon which to rely to recite “Mezonot” over the wheat kernels in Dafina, when eaten outside of a meal.


      beracha on dafina