Ask the Rov: What bracha do I make on watermelon or pumpkin seeds?
By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah
The bracha on vegetables and produce grown from the earth is borei pri ha’adama. Fruit of the tree has added importance, so Chazal removed it from the general category of earth-grown produce and established for it the specific bracha of borei pri ha’etz.1
Edible fruit shells and peels — e.g., orange peels — also deserve the special bracha of ha’etz, according to some opinions.2 Others argue that since they are secondary to the actual fruit and not special, their bracha is ha’adama, like other earth-grown produce. In practice, we recite ha’adama since that is the general bracha that certainly covers them. If one has already said ha’etz, he should not recite another bracha of ha’adama.3
Fruit seeds that are sweet and commonly eaten share the status of fruit (ha’etz). If they are bitter and unfit for eating, they don’t deserve any bracha. If they are sweetened externally, their bracha would be shehakol.4
When it comes to edible vegetable seeds — e.g., pumpkin seeds — the question arises whether the vegetable was planted with the primary intention also for its seeds, in which case the bracha is ha’adama like the vegetable, or are the seeds a mere byproduct, in which case its bracha is shehakol.
Some acharonim follow the majority of that species of fruit or vegetable, which is typically not for the seeds, and the bracha would be shehakol.5 However, some contemporary poskim note that commercially marketed watermelon and pumpkin seeds are produced from watermelons and pumpkins planted for this specific purpose, and their bracha should therefore be ha’adama. Still, homemade seeds, or seeds not grown for this purpose, would remain shehakol.6
Sunflower seeds are ha’adama. Even though they are often planted for their oil, this is only the case with a specific variety. Besides, the oil is considered secondary to the seeds and not the primary focus.7
The bracha acharona on these seeds is always borei nefashos. Yet, it is only said after eating a kezayis within the timeframe of kdei achilas pras (see issue 303), which is often not the case when snacking on these seeds.8
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From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash
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