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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 Acharei Mos-Kedoshim


Hilchos B'rachos part XXX

Hilchos Zimun Part II

In the previous shiur we discussed the major criteria needed to make a zimun. The issues mentioned were 1- eating together, 2- type of food, 3 eating in one place, 4 who joins the zimun.

Briefly, eating together at least three people dined together, which required them either to begin their meal together or conclude it together.

Type of food - optimally all three would have needed to consume bread, but custom is if the third person will not wash for bread, suffice if he consumed any type of food or beverage (except water).

Eating in one place They either dine at the same table, or separate tables for lack of space. Please see the previous sheet for more details, such as eating at separate tables in a Yeshiva or restaurant.

Who joins the zimun?

According to the Rama (Ashkenazim), three males above Bar Mitzvah age can form a zimun. [1]

According to the Mechaber, one child younger than Bar Mitzvah age can join two adults to form a zimun. We find various opinions to the age of this child, some say above the age of six and others say above the age of nine. [2]

Women three women are permitted to form their own zimun [3] and women may answer mens zimun, but women may not join men to form a zimun, even if they are related.

Are women who dined with men obligated to answer the zimun?

The Shulchan Aruch writes [4] that women who dined with men are obligated. Based on this, Rav Moshe Feinstein ztzl writes [5] that women who are busy tending to a households needs, do not intend dining together with other diners, are not obligated to zimun, but on Shabbos, or when they intend dining with everyone else, they are obligated to answer zimun. It is incumbent to begin zimun with all participants present.

If one of the three is in a rush, may he bentch without waiting for zimun?

Once one is obligated to zimun (by commencing eating or concluding together), one may not bentch without zimun. [6] Consequently, if one of the three would like to bentch and leave, a person may not do so without zimun. In this case, because they are the majority, the other two diners are not obligated to stop and allow the third to bentch, but it is correct for them to do so.

Where two of the three would like to bentch and the third person is still dining, the third must cease dining and answer zimun to the other two and then continue.

In other words, a single person must stop for the other two but two need not halt for the third, although it is correct to do so.

What does stop eating mean?

When two people want to bentch, the third must stop eating for the duration of the zimun. [7] This means that he answers to the zimun and listens to the mezamein until , answers amen and may continue dining. [8] According to the Mechaber, it suffices to reply to the zimun and then continue.

When dining at a wedding or other function, it is all too common that one wants to leave before everyone else bentches, but since one began eating together with everyone one is obligated to bentch with a zimun and one may not leave before that.

Is there a solution to this problem?

Rav Moshe Feinstein ruled that, when necessary, if when one recites the hamotzi on the bread ones intention is not to join everyone else, one may bentch without zimun. [9]

In this particular case it is more complicated, because when a quorum of males dine together they are obligated with Hashems name , in which case they may not break up into groups of three, because Hashems name will be omitted. [10] Twenty people may break into two groups (although according to some poskim, there is merit in this case when more people do a mitzvah together on account of the more people performing a mitzvah together, the more glorious the king). [11]

So ideally, when some people would like to leave early before the communal bentching, ten people should bentch together and recite Hashems name in zimun. However, since such a zimun would most probably reach the ears of the host and upset him, they may break up into three and bentch the regular zimun, omitting Hashems name. [12] Yet this should only be done when they have very important issues to attend to or to perform a mitzvah. [13]  If they know beforehand that they want to leave early solely for convenience, they should have it in mind that they are not joining the diners.

Rav Sternbuch shlita added that people should try bentch with a zimun of three even when one had in mind not to join.

[1] Siman 199:10.

[2] See MB 199:24 and " .

[3] Siman 199:7.

[4] Ibid.

[5] " " .

[6] Siman 193:1.

[7] Siman 200:1.

[8] Siman 200:2.

[9] " " ' ' . Apparently not everyone agrees to this ruling, see " 3.

[10] Siman 193:1.

[11] See MB 193:11.

[12] Siman 193:1,

[13] See MB siman 193:16.


Vort on the Parsha

Rav Boruch Ber Leibovitzs son in law saw his father in law in great distress. Upon being questioned, he replied that he was afraid that he caused a get (divorce document) to be possul. The reason was that he found a sefer belonging to a shul in Karmenchuk in his possession (he must have borrowed the sefer and forgot to return it when leaving the town), in which case he is a thief. When travelling through Pinsk, the Head of the Beis Din asked him to be one of the dayanim for a get. There is an opinion that a dayan has to be kosher for a get, in which case he was not, because of the thievery.

            The son in law tried to argue, but Rav Boruch Ber would not calm down. He then recalled that on his way from Karmenchuk to Minsk he was attacked by murderers and being close to being murdered he had performed a complete vidui and repented. Since now it was merely a technicality to return the sefer and he was no longer a thief, he could relax, knowing that the get was kosher.

For a printed version, click here.



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