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Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

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Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita



Questions for the Week of Vayakhel-Pekudei


Hilchos B'rachos part XXVII

            Birkas Hamazon

Before we delve into the complex issues of bentching, we will begin with some general rules and ideas. [1]

Kavana            Prior to bentching, one should have the kavana (intention) to fulfill the biblical mitzvah of Birkas Hamazon. One should realize that one is about to thank Hashem for all one has, all belongings, chessed, food, clothes, health, and bentching is time to appreciate and thank Hashem for it all.

Simcha R Chaim Vital in Shaarei Kedusha [2] writes that one should recite Birkas Hamazon with the simcha associated when one receives a gift. A gift is out of the ordinary. It is exciting and welcoming to receive a gift. The simcha one feels when receiving a gift should be transmitted to Hashem through bentching.

It might help to remember that appreciating ones source of sustenance is a superb way to ask Hashem to continue His benevolence, and the more simcha and meaning invested in that request, the more probability of it being accepted.

Siddur              It is correct to bentch from a siddur and not by heart. [3]

Dress               One should dress for the occasion. The poskim mention the merits of wearing a hat and even a jacket for bentching, because it enhances concentration and fear of heaven.

Sitting              One should sit during Birkas Hamazon so as to have more concentration. [4] Leaning against a wall etc. will not solve the problem, because it is not that one should not walk around, it is a matter of being able to sit with (serenity) and concentrate on bentching.

            What does (satiate) mean in the possuk of ?

            There are those that explain to mean drink, i.e. one ate and drank. According to this opinion, one who ate to ones fill but did not drink (when thirsty [5]) is not satiated and the obligation to bentch is only rabbinical.

Other opinions explain as it says, i.e. one ate to ones fill. Consequently, it is correct to drink before Birkas Hamazon so as to be obligated to bentch midoraisso.

The Rama says [6] that if some diners are satiated and others not and one person will be bentching for everyone else, a person that drank should bentch for the others, because the one obligated to bentch midoraisso should be moitzie those that are only rabbinically obligated.

If one ate without drinking (and was thirsty) and bentched, and subsequently drank a cup of tea, must one bentch again?

The premise of this question is that if one is only obligated to bentch midoraisso after drinking, and one bentched before drinking, in which case it would seem that his obligation is only rabbinical, if one drank after bentching he is now considered satiated and is obligated to bentch midoraisso, in which case his previous bentching does not count.

The Sfas Emes [7] was asked a similar question: one ate a kzayis of bread, and was not satiated, and after bentching he ate vegetables till he was satisfied, must he bentch again.

The Sfas Emes replied that he need not, because if one bentches when not satisfied, one is indeed fulfilling a mitzvah midoraisso to bentch albeit not being obligated to do so. So although if subsequent to eating the vegetables one is satisfied, ones initial bentching is of biblical quality.

However, Hagaon HaRav Sternbuch shlita points out that the Biur Halacha does not seem to agree with the Sfas Emes and that one who bentches before being satiated is not fulfilling a biblical mitzvah.

Consequently, if one feels a need to drink before bentching, one should do so.

But what if one drank after bentching, according to the Biur Halacha, is one obligated to bentch again?

Since not all poskim say that satiation means eating and drinking, one will not be required to bentch again after drinking. [8]

If one cannot recall if one bentched, must one bentch again?

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztzl once commented on an interesting halacha. The halacha is that if one read Shema and when, for example, he said , and he did not know if he was at the first or the second, he must say again, because it is possible he was at the first.

Rav Shlomo Zalman commented that it is possible for one to recite Shema and to be totally oblivious of where he is or what has been said.

The same comment can be applied in this case. It is sad to think that one can recite the entire Birkas Hamazon and not be sure whether he recited it or not.

But to the point if one ate to his full, his obligation to bentch is biblical and when in doubt one must recite Birkas Hamazon. [9] If one is not satiated, one will not have to recite Birkas Hamazon.

[1] Most are adapted from ".

[2] 1:6.

[3] Siman 185:1.

[4] Siman 183:9 & 11.

[5] Rama siman 197:4 and MB 26.

[6] Ibid.

[7] " ' .

[8] ibid.

[9] Siman 184:4.


Vort on the Parsha

The Adanim, the Mishkans shoes were omitted from Moshe Rabeinus count, and until he included them the books did not add up. The Adanim were not of equal importance to the other contributions, which included gold and silver as the adanim were from the the half shekalim, so one might think that it is not important to mention them. The torah tells us that every effort in the direction of ruchnius counts and is reckoned.

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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.