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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 Tzav


Hilchos B'rachos part XXIX

Hilchos Zimun

Three people who have dined together are obligated to bentch with zimun. This obligation is biblically sourced in the possuk ' , speak of Hashems greatness with me, which implicates that one person is talking to at least two people, and together we will appreciate His names greatness.

Indeed several poskim learn that the chiyuv is biblical, while others learn that it is a rabbinical obligation, relying on a possuk for a source. Regardless, it is an important mitzvah and the Shulchan Aruch [1] does not mince words stating that one is chayav to do zimun.

What comprises zimun? 

The essence of zimun is to say , let us bentch to the One who we ate from and the others respond , boruch is the One who we ate from and we live because of His goodness. [2]

So why do we say ?

The Magan Avraham cites the Zohar saying that one should verbally summon holy actions to embed them with kedusha. [3] Consequently we say, gentlemen, let us give praise. After preparing and inviting others to zimun we say , which is the actual zimun.

What are the prerequisites for zimun?

Several factors must exist to necessitate zimun, 1- eating together, 2- type of food, 3 eating in one place, 4 place of eating, 5 who joins the zimun.

Eating together

Three people who dined together must do zimun. Dining together is defined either by beginning to eat together or ending together. [4]

If two people dined together and a third joined later: if the two finished eating and the third is still busy eating, they need not wait for the third to complete, they can bentch without zimun. If however they concluded their meal and have not as yet bentched and are at a point where, if offered more food to eat they would eat it, it is not considered as if they have concluded their meal, but rather as if all concluded simultaneously and are obligated to bentch. [5]

Type of food

Three people who consumed bread are obligated to zimun.

What should the third person eat to complete zimun?

The Shulchan Aruch [6] cites various opinions. The first opinion he should consume a kzayis of bread. [7] Second opinion a kzayis of mezonos, something for which one recites . [8] Third opinion a kzayis of any vegetable or food item. [9]

The Shulchan Aruch consequently rules that if the third person will not eat bread, it is preferable not to offer him a beverage or any food so as to avoid the machlokes. However, the Mishna Berura rules [10] that if he does not wish to wash for bread, custom is to offer a drink or any food item. [11]

Eating in one place

A prerequisite is that all three people dine in one place as a a get together. The poskim define this as eating at the same table or on the same tablecloth (picnic?). The Vilna Gaon holds that members of the same family are called a even when dining on separate tables. Milling around is not a .

People who would like to eat together, but for lack of place are eating on separate tables, are called a and may do zimun. Consequently, diners at a wedding even though they are sitting at separate tables are called a , because in essence they share the same simcha and are eating together.

A yeshiva dining hall is the same. Nobody would object to placing all the tables together and eating at one long table, because it is for sake of keeping order etc. that tables are separate. If however, each shiur wants to specifically sit separately from another shiur, they are not obligated to zimun.

On the other hand, diners in a café, restaurant or hotel who are sitting at separate tables prefer to dine alone and not sit with other people, and as such they are not obligated to zimun. [12] If the same waiter serves several tables, the diners at those tables are considered eating together.

Are people dining in a car or bus considered a ?

The Magen Avraham has his doubts, [13] because halachically travelers are likened to people walking ( ) and perhaps they are not called a . When in doubt, the poskim say one may perform zimun, but in presence of ten people, since Hashems name is mentioned, one may not utter Hashems name.

[1] Siman 192:1.

[2] Ibid.

[3] See MB 192:2.

[4] Siman 193:2.

[5] See MB 193:19.

[6] 197:3.

[7] Rambam chap. 5 Hilchos Brachos.

[8] Rif and Rashba.

[9] Tosefos, Rosh and R Yonah.

[10] MB siman 197:22.

[11] As for Sephardic custom, see page 130.

[12] See page 133.

[13] See MB 167:62.


Vort for Pesach

The possuk says I carried you on eagle wings. Rashi explains that the eagle only fears mans arrows, so he places his fledglings on his back. Hashems cloud absorbed the Egyptians arrows and boulders at the Red sea, similar to the eagle.

When Bnei Yisroel were in the sea, the cry in Heaven was that both the Egyptians and Bnei Yisroel worshipped idols so why is Hashem saving them and not the Egyptians. Hashem however invoked ahava and mercy to save His children, so in essence He absorbed the arrows of Midas Hadin to protect His children.

For a printed version, click here.



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