Birkat HaMazon

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Birkat HaMazon is a special prayer said after eating a meal with bread, thanking God for the food He has given us, as well as beseeching Him to keep providing for us, among other Tefillot. It contains several blessings, composed by numerous people, including Moshe Rabbeinu, Yehoshua, King David, and Rabban Gamliel. Special insertions are made for the Yamim Tovim, Shabbat, Chanukah, and Purim.

Preparations for Birkat HaMazon

  1. One must not remove the tablecloth or the bread from the table until after those who have eaten have recited Birkat HaMazon. [1]
  2. One should leave bread on the table or else he will never experience Hashem's blessing. [2]
  3. If one eats a sandwich and is not seated at a table then he should leave some bread in his lunch box for Birkat HaMazon so that it will be possible for Hashem's blessing to come to him. Nowadays, it is sufficient to leave crumbs for this purpose. [3]

Interruptions in Birkat HaMazon

  1. One shouldn’t interrupt Birkat HaMazon at all to answer or greet someone. [4]
  2. According to Ashkenazim, one should finish before the mezamen (the one who lead the Zimmun) finishes each Bracha so that one can answer Amen to his Bracha, however, the Sephardic minhag is not to answer Amen during Birkat HaMazon.[5]
  3. One shouldn't interrupt in the first three Brachot of Birkat HaMazon to answer Kaddish, Kedusha, or Barchu, however, in the middle of the fourth Bracha one may answer Kaddish or Kedusha as long as one already said Baruch Atta Hashem Elokenu Melech HaOlam and part of the middle of the Bracha. [6]
  4. It is proper not to interrupt in middle of the Harachaman section of Birkat HaMazon, however, according to the strict halacha it is permissible to interrupt at that point, yet if one is making Birkat HaMazon over wine one shouldn't interrupt.[7]
  5. It is permissible to answer Kaddish, Kedusha, or Amen to a Bracha in the Harachaman section of Birkat HaMazon.[8]

Saying it sitting

  1. One should sit during Birkat HaMazon whether one ate while seated or standing for at least the four Brachot of Birkat HaMazon. [9]
  2. If one was traveling on the road and ate while traveling he may say Birkat HaMazon also while traveling. [10]
  3. One should sit while making a Bracha Achat Mein Shalosh at least when it’s for Mezonot (Al HaMichya). [11]
  4. It’s forbidden to say Birkat HaMazon or any Bracha while doing work. [12]

If one left where one ate

  1. If one ate and left that place intentionally, one must return to the place where one ate and if one made Birkat HaMazon in the second place one has fulfilled one’s obligation after the fact. If one ate and left that place unintentionally, one should return to the place where one ate unless there’s a great need. [13]
  2. This is only the case if one doesn’t have bread with him in the second place, however, if one has bread in the second place, one may eat it there (eat a piece even if it’s less than a Kezayit) and then make Birkat HaMazon there. (This doesn’t mean that one may leave one’s place initially but only in a after the fact situation.) [14]
  3. According to Ashkenazim, Al HaMichya should be said in the place where one ate and so if one left it would have the same law as Birkat HaMazon. [15]

If one is in doubt if one said Birkat HaMazon

  1. If one ate and was full and now is unsure whether one said Birkat HaMazon, preferably one should have another Kezayit (upon which one should wash and say HaMotzei) and then say Birkat HaMazon, however, the strict law is that one should said Birkat HaMazon in cases of doubt. [16]
  2. If a person ate bread and is full but is in doubt whether he said Birkat HaMazon, one must go back and say Birkat HaMazon. According to Ashkenazim, one should say the entire Birkat HaMazon, whereas according to Sephardim, one should only say the first 3 Brachot. [17]
  3. If a person ate a Kezayit of bread but wasn’t full, and now is in doubt whether he said Birkat HaMazon he shouldn’t go back and make Birkat HaMazon, but it’s preferable to wash again, make Hamotzei, eat a Kezayit and make Birkat HaMazon. [18]
  4. If a person ate bread and is still thirsty because he didn't drink enough during the meal and now has a doubt whether he said Birkat HaMazon, some say he should repeat Birkat HaMazon and some say not to repeat it. [19]
  5. A woman who ate bread and is unsure whether she said Birkat HaMazon, she should hear it from someone else or wash again and make another HaMotzei to remove herself from doubt. However, if that's impossible, Ashkenazim hold that she may say Birkat HaMazon, but according to Sephardim she is not supposed Birkat HaMazon out of doubt. [20]

How long does one have to say Birkat HaMazon?

  1. If one ate bread and is full, preferably one should make Birkat Hamazon within 72 minutes and after the fact, one may make it as long as one is full from what one ate. However, after 72 minutes, if one is a little hungry, one can no longer make the Birkat Hamazon. [21]
  2. If it’s past 72 minutes and one is in doubt whether one is still full one can make Birkat Hamazon, yet, it’s preferable to eat another Kezayit before making Birkat Hamazon. [22]
  3. However, if one just had a Kezayit and was not full, one should try to make the Birkat Hamazon right away and if one didn't one may only make Birkat Hamazon up to 72 minutes after one ate. [23] Some add that if one waited more than a half hour it's preferable to have another Kezayit of bread before making Birkat Hamazon. [24]
  4. If one has a very long meal and continues to have appetizers or drinks, one may make the Birkat Hamazon as long as the meal continues even 4 or 5 hours. [25] One should have something to eat or drink every 72 minutes, however, if one didn't then one may still say Birkat Hamazon. [26]
    1. If someone was at a wedding and ate the main course and danced for a while the time lapse before it is too late to say birkat hamazon can be extended by eating or drinking something. [27]

Minimum amount of bread

  1. One is not obligated to recite Birkat HaMazon unless one eat a minimum of a Kezayit of bread. [28] The amount of bread necessary in order to make HaMotzei and Netilat Yadayim are discussed in the articles specific to those topics.
  2. How large is a kzayit of bread? According to Ashkenazim the Kezayit is slightly less than one ounze of volume. A good approximation is half the center piece of a 1 lb rye bread. [29] According to Sephardim the Kezayit is 27 grams in weight. [30] For more specific halachot about Kezayit, see the Halachot of Kezayit.

In any language

  1. It’s preferable to say Birkat HaMazon in Hebrew, but strictly speaking it is permissible to say it in any language one understands. [31]

Saying it aloud

  1. One should say Birkat HaMazon loud enough that one can hear oneself say the words, however if one said it quietly one fulfills one’s obligation as long as one enunciated the words with one’s lips and didn’t just read or think it. [32]
  2. It’s better to say Birkat HaMazon out loud in order to inspire having proper intent and also on Shabbat and Yom Tov it’ll help make sure one doesn’t forget adding the appropriate paragraphs. [33]

Reciting Birkat Hamazon in the Presence of Feces or Urine

  1. It’s forbidden to say any Bracha or Torah within 4 amot of feces. However, after the fact, if one said Birkat HaMazon one should say Birkat HaMazon again, but if one said Birkat Mazon within 4 amot of urine one doesn’t go back to make Birkat Hamazon. [34]

Who's obligated to say Birkat HaMazon

  1. There is a dispute whether women are obligated in Birkat HaMazon on Torah level or only Rabbinically. Therefore, if a woman ate bread and is full and is now unsure whether she said Birkat HaMazon, there’s is a dispute whether she should say it to be sure and there’s what to rely on to make it to be sure. Additionally, a woman can fulfill the obligation of a man if he listens to her Birkat HaMazon, however, she shouldn’t fulfill his obligation if the man ate to satisfaction but rather one if he ate a Kezayit and not to satisfaction. [35]
  2. A child, who isn't yet Bar Mitzvah'ed, is obligated to say Birkat HaMazon on a derabbanan level because of Chinuch. [36]Therefore, a child can't fulfill the obligation of an adult who doesn't know how to say Birkat HaMazon unless the adult didn't eat until he was satisfied, otherwise the adult is obligated on a deoritta level to say Birkat HaMazon and can't fulfill his obligation with that of a child.[37]
  3. Some say that children from the age of 6 should say Birkat Hamazon. [38]

One Who Does Not Know Birkat HaMazon In Its Entirety

  1. If one only knows the first three Brachot of Birkat HaMazon one should say those Brachot, however, if one only knows some of the first three Brachot but not all of them, according to Sephardim, he shouldn’t say Birkat HaMazon at all, but according to Ashkenazim, if he was full then he should say the Brachot he knows. [39]

Making Birkat HaMazon Over Wine

  1. It’s preferable to make a Birkat HaMazon over a cup of wine when making a Zimmun of three. [40]
  2. When reciting Birkat Hamazon over a cup of wine, one should raise up the cup of wine a Tefach.[41]
  3. However, if one doesn’t have wine in the house one may use Chamer Medina (a drink which is drunk in the country but isn’t water). [42]
  4. If one drank from the cup of wine the cup is considered tainted and unfit for making on it Birkat HaMazon until one fixes it by filling it up with wine or water. [43]
  5. The cup used in making Birkat HaMazon over wine should be washed out in the inside and outside before it is used, however, if it is already clean it doesn't need to be cleaned.[44]
  6. The cup of wine should be filled up completely. [45]
  7. The cup of wine must have a Reviyit as a minimum, but it is preferable to have it filled up completely. Some have the practice to fill it up so that it spills over the sides and some don't fill it up so much that it spills over. [46]

Regarding Reciting Birkat Hamazon While Drunk

  1. Avoiding Davening After Drinking Intoxicating Beverages

Clearing the Table

  1. One should leave some bread on the table why he says birkat hamazon. [47] If no bread remains one should place some other bread on the table. [48]
  2. Some have the practice of removing the knife before birkat hamazon. [49] This applies on Shabbat and weekdays, and with plastic or metal knives. [50] This is not necessary for al hamichya of boreh nefashot after a snack [51]

Text

Magdil/Migdol

  1. The practice is that on days Musaf is not recited in davening, the pasuk recited at the end of Birkat Hamazon is recited as magdil (מגדיל) yeshuot malko, while on days that Musaf is recited, it is changed to Migdol (מגדול) yeshuot malko. [52]
  2. At the end of Birkat HaMazon for Melava Malka, some authorities hold that one should say say "migdol yishuot malko" like on shabbat itself, instead of "magdil yishuot"[53], while others say that one should say the regular "magdil yishuot" on Melava Malka just like during the week. [54]

Related Pages

Sources

  1. Yalkut Yosef, Berachot II, 180:1
  2. Yalkut Yosef, Berachot II, 180:2
  3. Yalkut Yosef, Berachot II, 180:3
  4. S”A 183:8 writes that some say that in regards to greeting or answering someone Birkat HaMazon is judged like Shemona Esreh when one doesn't interrupt to answer anyone. Halacha Brurah 183:28 writes that this opinion quoted in Shulchan Aruch is accepted as Halacha. The Mishna Brurahh 183:1 explains that Birkat HaMazon is similar to Shemona Esreh in that it may only be said in one place and not while one is moving.
  5. Halacha Brurah 183:27
  6. Yabia Omer 1:11, Yalkut Yosef 183:5
  7. Yalkut Yosef (vol 3, p 265)
  8. Yalkut Yosef (vol 3, p 265)
  9. S”A 183:9, Mishna Brurah 183:31, Tosafot Berachot 51b, Chazon Ovadia Berachot page 84 , Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:6
  10. S”A 183:11, Mishna Brurah 183:36
  11. S”A 183:10, Mishna Brurah 183:35 quoting the Gra
  12. S”A 183:12, Mishna Brurah 183:37
  13. S”A 184:1, Mishna Brurah 184:5, 184:7
  14. S”A 184:2
  15. Mishna Brurah 184:12 quoting the Gra
  16. S”A 184:4, Mishna Brurah 184:15, Kaf HaChaim 184:15
  17. S”A 184:4 rules that if a person is in doubt whether he said Birkat HaMazon he has to go back and say it since Birkat HaMazon is deoraitta we don’t apply the general rule of Safek Brachot Lehakel. Mishna Brurah 184:13 based on Magen Avraham 184:7 comments that when one repeats the benching one must say all four Brachot even though the fourth one is only derabbanan so that people don’t disregard its importance. see also Pri Chadash 209 who brings a different reason that you should recite even the 4th beracha. However, the Sephardic acharonim including the Kaf HaChaim (184:15), Sh"t Ohr Letzion 2:13:4, and Yalkut Yosef (Brachot pg 282) argue that since the fourth Bracha is derabbanan we apply the rule of Safek Brachot without concern for a remote possibility of those who will degrade the fourth Bracha.
  18. Shulchan Aruch 184:4. Mishna Brurah 184:15 writes that according to many Rishonim only if one ate and is full is one Biblically obligated, therefore if one only had a Kezayit and is in doubt whether he said Birkat HaMazon one shouldn’t go back and say it out of doubt, rather it’s preferable to wash again, make hamotzei, eat a Kezayit and make Birkat HaMazon. This is also the opinion of Yalkut Yosef (Brachot 286).
  19. yalkut Yosef (Brachot pg 289) writes that since the opinion of Shulchan Aruch is that even if one is still thirsty the obligation of Birkat HaMazon is Deoritta, in cases of doubt one should go back and say Birkat HaMazon. However, Kaf HaChaim 184:26, Ben Ish Chai. and Or Letzion 13:6 hold that since there's an opinion that Birkat HaMazon is only Derabbanan if one is still thirsty one shouldn't go back and say Birkat HaMazon.
  20. Ben Ish Chai Chukat 9, Kaf HaChaim 184:25, Sh"t Ohr Letzion 2:13:4, Rabbi Ovadyah Yosef in Sh"t Yacheve Daat 6:10, and Halacha Brurah 184:10 (explained in Sh"t Otzerot Yosef 7:7) hold that a woman is possibly obligated Deoritta and so in a case of doubt we revert to the rule of Safek Brachot and so a woman wouldn't return and make the bracha. However, the Mishna Brurah 186:3 holds that there's enough to rely on for a woman to go back and make Birkat HaMazon if she wants. This is also the opinion of Rabbi Binyamin Zilber quoted in VeZot HaBracha (pg 351).
  21. Shulchan Aruch OC 184:5 writes that one may Birkat Hamazon until one is hungry again. Vezot HaBracha (pg 49, chapter 5) and Yalkut Yosef (Brachot pg 300) rule that if one didn’t make Birkat Hamazon until after 72 minutes, one may surely recite Birkat Hamazon as long as one is still full and one isn't hungry. Vezot HaBracha quotes Rav Elyashiv who says that it’s preferable to eat a little more before making Birkat Hamazon. Aruch HaShulchan 184:7 and 8 writes that since we don't know the precise determination of when we're still full must make Birkat Hamazon within 72 minutes and if one didn't then one should eat another Kezayit and then say Birkat Hamazon. Kaf HaChaim 184:28 writes that in order to fulfill all opinions if it has been 72 minutes one should eat another Kezayit and if one doesn't have bread one may make Birkat Hamazon as long as one is full.
  22. Mishna Brurah 184:15, Vezot HaBracha (pg 49, chapter 5)
  23. Yalkut Yosef (Brachot pg 300), Mishna Brurah 184:20
  24. Vezot HaBracha (chap 5, pg 50)
  25. Mishna Brurah 184:18, Vezot HaBracha (chap 5, pg 50), Yalkut Yosef (Brachot pg 301)
  26. Vezot HaBracha (chap 5, pg 51) quoting the Magen Avraham 184:9
  27. Vezot Habracha p. 249 quotes Teshuvot Vehanhagot 1:175 as saying that flavored water can extend this time period. See Har Tzvi 96 and Shevet Halevi 6:27.
  28. S”A 168:9, 184:6, and 210:1
  29. Halachos of Brachos Addendum 1, pg 246
  30. Yalkut Yosef 158:4
  31. S”A 185:1, Mishna Brurah 185:1
  32. S”A 185:2, Mishna Brurah 185:2, Chazon Ovadia Berachot page 94, Mikor Chaim 101:2. Birkei Yosef 185:2 as well as the Shaare Teshuva 185:1 say in the name of the Sefer Charedim that if you cannot hear yourself most poskim hold that you didn't fulfill your obligation and based on that the Chesed La'alafim 185:1 and Ben Ish Chai Chukat 7 says that you should eat more bread and say birkat hamazon. However, Chacham Ovadia Yosef in Chazon Ovadia Berachot page 94-95 says this is based on a mistaken understanding of the sefer charedim and most poskim including rif, rambam, rosh, behag, sheiltot, eshkol, Smag, Raah, Meir, Ra'avyah, Or Zarua, Rabbeinu Yerucham, Orchot Chayim, Riaz, Tur and Shulchan Aruch all hold that you have fulfilled your obligation as long as you enunciated the words with your lips and therefore you wouldn't need to go back to eat more bread.
  33. Mishna Brurah 185:3
  34. S”A 185:4, Mishna Brurah 185:7-8
  35. Shulchan Aruch 186:1, Mishna Brurah 186:3. See Shitat HaKadmonim (last page of bava kama) referenced on the Mitzvot_Aseh_SheHazman_Grama page regarding the obligation of women in Birkat HaMazon.
  36. Shulchan Aruch 186:2. Rav Moshe HaLevi (Birkat Hashem v. 2, p. 317) writes that after the fact a child who said the Birkat HaMazon in order to fulfill the obligation of an adult has fulfilled his obligation. Rabbi Mansour on dailyhalacha.com quotes this as halacha.
  37. Shulchan Aruch 186:2. Mishna Brurah 186:6 writes that a child shouldn't fulfill the obligation of a woman because perhaps the woman's obligation is deoritta whereas the child's is only derabbanan. Mishna Brurah 186:7 adds that there is a dispute whether a child who didn't eat to satisfaction can fulfill the obligation of an adult considering that the child is only obligation by force of two derabbanan factors. He concludes that one should be stringent.
  38. Rabbi Mansour on dailyhalacha.com writes that parents should ensure that children from the age of 6 say Birkat HaMazon.
  39. S”A 194:3, Mishna Brurah 194:13
  40. S”A 182:1, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 45:1, Mishna Brurah 182:4
  41. S”A 183:4 states that when making Birkat Hamazon over a cup of wine one should raise it up a Tefach.
  42. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 45:1, Mishna Brurah 182:14
  43. S”S 182:3 and 182:6
  44. Shulchan Aruch 183:1
  45. Rama 183:2
  46. Rama 183:2, Mishna Brurah 183:9
  47. Contemporary Questions in Halacha and Hashkafa pg. 90, Shulchan Aruch 180:2 based on the Gemara in Sanhedrin 92a which says that if you don't leave bread on the table you will not see a sign of blessing. Mishna Brurah 180:2 writes that this is so we can have bread ready in case poor people come in hungry.
  48. Rabbi Eli Mansour
  49. Shulchan Aruch 180:5, see [http://www.dailyhalacha.com/Display.asp?ClipDate=5/20/2009 for several different explanations of this custom
  50. Rabbi Eli Mansour
  51. Sh"t Rivivot Ephraim 1:136:2
  52. Ben Ish Chai Year 1, Parashat Chukat: Halacha 19 writes that this is based on mystical reasons
  53. Kaf Hachaim 189:11
  54. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 300:4)