Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Should everyone recite Birkath Hammazon?

In the story that spills over from the bottom of yesterday’s daf, 42b, onto today’s daf, 43a, we find that when Rav’s students were returning from the burial of their master (לא עלינו), they did not know whether the invitation to eat bread, ניזיל וניכול לחמא בדוכתא פלניתא, without reclining, counted as קביעת סעודה. As I read the story (and I may be over-reading), they were unwilling to bentsh until they could find out whether one person should bentsh for all of them, or each man (sorry, but I’m pretty sure that they were all men) should bentsh for himself. Rav Adda bar Ahava tore his garment, already rent because of the death of Rav, as a sign of mourning for the forgetting of הלכה. Finally, an old man told them that ניזיל וניכול לחמא בדוך פלן does count as קביעת סעודה.

Clearly, this issue was of great importance to the students of Rav, which is what leads me to think that they were unwilling to bentsh until resolving this issue. This suggests that it is not merely an option for one person to bentsh out loud and all the other guests to listen and respond אָמֵן; it may very well be a חיוב גמור. Thus, the way we Ashenazzi Manhattanites bentsh may be opposed to הלכה. (I recognize that there may be people on this list who do not live in Manhattan, but what do they know? As to non-Ashkenazzim, I would be happy for them to report how they perform the ritual of ברכת המזון in the presence of company. Are there any non-Ashkenazzim out there on Reclaiming the Daf?)

I should see what גאונים and ראשונים say about this topic. Perhaps significantly, תוספות, who point out that “we” (in 12th-13th century Tzorefas) do not have הסבה, do not saying anything implying that “we” do not sit quietly and listen to one person bentsh.

Have a happy 3rd of Nisan. The tribal chieftain who offered his קרבן today was אליאב בן חילן, and I think that the first פרה אֲדֻמָּה was prepared today. (It might have been yesterday.) Of course, I do not believe in these dates as having any kind of historical reality, but they are true-- truer than true-- in the beautiful rabbinic system that we call Yiddishkeit.

8 Comments:

At Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

The practice of having everyone in company bentsh to his or herself seems to have arisen in late Rishonic Italo-Ashkenaz.

The ב"ח writes (אורח חיים קפג:ז):
וכן כתב בית יוסף על שם מהר"ם דלא היה מברך בלחש אבל ה"ר פרץ כתב שיש לכל אחד לברך ברכת המזון אף כשיזמנו לפי שאין יכולים לכוין כל תיבה ותיבה מפי המברך וכו' וכתב בשלחן ערוך ס"ז שכן נכון הדבר אבל לפי עניות דעתי נראה עיקר דצריך כל אחד ליזהר ולשמוע ולהבין ולא יברך בלחש ודלא כמו שפסק בשלחן ערוך אלא כמו שעשה מהר"ם

I see Rabbenu Peretz's סְבָרָא, but I'm not sure that I agree. I could respond: אלא מעתה, should we insist that everyone bring a kosher megilla to shul, and read quietly along with the reader? And in any event, is there really any obligation for every individual to hear and pay attention to every single word of ברכת המזון?

Let's look at the סעיף in שלחן ערוך to which the ב"ח is referring:
שולחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן קפג סעיף ז

נכון הדבר שכל אחד מהמסובין יאמר בלחש עם המברך כל ברכה וברכה, ואפילו החתימות. הגה: ויקדים לסיים קצת קודם המברך, כדי שיענה אמן, כדלעיל סי' נ"ט.

The מגן אברהם, on the words בלחש עם המברך, approvingly quotes the תשב"ץ, who makes a compromise: one must sit (quietly?) and listen to the first blessing of ברכת המזון, because it is ברכת הזימון (the blessing of זימון), but may recite the rest to one's self.

כדי שיברכו יחדיו ולא יאמר כל אחד בפני עצמו רק בסיום הברכה והב"ח כתב דטוב יותר לשמוע ועיין מה שכת' סימן קצ"ג סוף סעיף א ובתשב"ץ (קטן ש"ו בהגהה) כתוב דצריכים לשמוע עד הזן את הכל שהוא ברכת הזימון ועיין סימן ר' וכן נראה עיקר

The ט"ז, on the other hand, cries out:

ושערורייה זו מצוייה בעונותינו הרבים בינינו שבאותו פעם שהמברך בשימון מברך אין שומעין לו ומדברים דברים אחרים ועוברים על עשה דאורייתא וברכת את ה' אלהיך בשאט נפש ובפרט בסעודות גדולות וטוב מאד היה הדבר שלא לברך בשימון כלל דאז היה כל אחד מברך בפני עצמו מה שאין כן עכשיו שטועים לומר שהם יוצאים בברכת המברך ואינו שומע מהו אומר, על כן בודאי חיוב על כל אדם לדבר הברכות בלחש עם המברך ולא יבא לידי מכשול דאורייתא דאף על דב דבדורות הראשונים היו שותקים ומכוונים לברך מכל מקום בשביל חסרון כוונה יש לנהוג כן.

 
At Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, Blogger DKP said...

I'll look it up again, but I'm pretty sure the sugya (sugye for Mar Gavriel) was just talking about berakhah rishonah.

 
At Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, Blogger DKP said...

I'll look it up again, but I'm pretty sure the sugya (sugye for Mar Gavriel) was just talking about berakhah rishonah.

 
At Tuesday, 12 April, 2005, Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

I don't have my lawcodes with me (טור or שלחן ערוך) but as far as I remember, they make absolutely no חִלּוּק with regard to this issue between the blessings before and after the meal.

In terms of הלכה למעשה, I wish to present the following suggestion. (Remember: I am NOT a פוסק. This פסק is NOT binding on any of you, unless you happen to agree with me.) I certainly feel that the position of the ט"ז is too extreme, because it goes against the explicit דינא דגמרא (even the דינא דמתניתין!) On the other hand, the ב"ח does not seem to worry about the real fact that many people do not pay attention to the מְבָרֵךְ / מְזַמֵּן, and may even talk during that person's recitation of ברכת המזון. I wish to present an intermediate position, but one of a different kind from that of the מגן אברהם:

When the company consists entirely of people who are knowledgeable and/or respectful of הלכה, and who will be sure to pay attention to the blessings of the מְבָרִךְ, I would certainly say that we should follow the דינא דגמרא, such that only the מְבָרִךְ recites the blessings. In a situation where people are less respectful or knowledgable, and there is concern that some or all of the company might not be יוצא, I would say that we should follow רבינו פרץ (whoever he was) and the שלחן ערוך, such that each person recites the blessings to his/herself.

 
At Wednesday, 13 April, 2005, Blogger DJR said...

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At Wednesday, 13 April, 2005, Blogger DJR said...

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At Wednesday, 13 April, 2005, Blogger DJR said...

"Friends, before we say ברכת המזון, I'd like to confirm that each of you considers yourself knowledgeable and/or respectful of הלכה?"

A bit more long-winded than: רַבּוֹתַי מִיר וֶועלְן בֶּענְטְשְׁן

I leave the composition of the full נוֹסַח to Mar Gavriel.

On a related note, I know a certain תלמיד חכם who specifically does not say say the ברכות out loud when he is מזמן. It's part of his approach to allowing mixed זימון.

-David

 
At Wednesday, 13 April, 2005, Blogger D.C. said...

I agree with Mar Gavriel that the pesak of the Shulchan Arukh is a prudent "public policy," but that if circumstances permit, we should properly practice "echad mevarekh le-kulam."

My approach is that I can trust myself to listen properly, but I don't always know if the mevarekh will pronounce all of the words loudly and clearly. There are just a handful of people, with whom I have discussed this, whom I will trust to be motzi me in birkat ha-mazon.

Incidentally, most of the talmidim of R' Yisroel Chait whom I have met practice this properly.

Whenever I am the mezamen, I always say all 4 berakhot out loud. Even if people are going to be bentsching themselves, and justifiably so, it still seems that I should fulfill my role properly. The shat"z has to say every word of chazarat ha-shat"z out loud, even though there's a 99% chance that nobody's being yotzei with him.

 

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