ARCHIVES: HILCHOS SEUDA / OCHLIN/ BIRCHAS HAMAZON
(Halachos pertaining to eating meals and food)
BELOW ARE THE HALACHOS FROM THE DAILY EMAILS THAT WERE SENT OUT TO THE “HALACHA FOR TODAY” DAILY EMAIL LIST
Halachos for Wednesday, August 6, 2014
1) One who owns animals or birds may not begin his/her own meal before feeding them (Making sure that they already were fed, or having someone else go and feed them, is also acceptable)
However, it is permitted to drink before giving the animals to eat or drink. (See Mishna Berura Siman 167:40. See Shu"t Har Tzvi Siman 90 for the reasoning behind this.)
According to some opinions, this is a biblical requirement. (See Biur Halacha 167:6 Dibur HaMaschil Umikal Makom in the name of the Mogen Avraham.)
This directive includes feeding fish in a fish tank that you own. (Shu"t Sh'eilas Ya'avetz Vol. 1 Siman 17, Shu"t Mishneh Halachos Vol. 6 Siman 216)
This only applies to animals that one owns, and not to any other animals that may be in his/her home or property. (See MaHaril Diskin Parshas Noach)
2) If one has small children that cannot feed themselves, they take precedence over the animals and he/she must feed them first. (See Sefer Peleh Yoetz: Ba'al Chai and Shu"t Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 2 end of Siman 52)
If one has guests, feeding the guests takes precedence over feeding the animals, as the Mitzvah of Hachnosas Orchim is such a great and important Mitzvah that Avraham Avinu gave it precedence to greeting the Shechina! (Sefer Pardes Yosef Parshas Chayei Sara 24:19)
Halachos for Thursday, August 7, 2014
1) When eating "fruits of the ground (i.e. vegetables)" the Bracha recited is "Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam Borei Pri HaAdama- Blessed are You Hashem, Master of the world, Creator of the fruits of the ground"
However, when eating bread (which should really suffice with the Bracha of Ha'Adama,as it, too, comes from the ground) a special Bracha of "Baruch Ata Hashem...Hamotzi Lechem Min HaAretz- Blessed are You Hashem...who brings forth bread from the ground" is recited.
This is due to the importance of wheat/bread as the Posuk (Tehillim 104:15) states that bread is unique in that it satiates mankind more than any other food. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 167:1)
2) When reciting the Bracha of "Hamotzi" care should be taken to pause slightly between the word "Lechem" and the word "Min", otherwise the 2 "Mem" sounds will be swallowed into each other and it will sound like "LecheMin" (Mishna Berura 167:21. Besides for the Halachic reasons for this,which apply to any two such words in Tefilah/Brachos,there are kabalistic reasons as well to be careful with this particularly in the Bracha of Hamotzi. The Chida writes that one who is scrupulous in this will be protected from harm befalling him/her during that meal. See Elya Rabba 167:4)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, August 8, 2014
Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1)When reciting the Bracha of "Hamotzi", the bread should be held with both hands, and when Hashem's name is uttered, the bread should be lifted up.
If the Bracha was recited while the bread was on the table, and not being held at all, B'dieved it is OK. (Mishna Berura 167:22)
2) It is proper to hold the bread with all 10 fingers touching the bread.
The reason for this is that there are 10 Mitzvos that are associated with the process of making bread (During the plowing of the field: 1) an ox and a donkey may not be used together, during the planting phase: 2) one may not plant 2 different species together, During the reaping phase: 3) Leket, 4) Shikcha and 5) Peah, 6) the ox that is used may not be muzzled while working, After the baking phase:7) Teruma to the Kohen, Ma'aser Rishon to the Levi, 9) Ma'aser Sheini and 10) Challah to the Kohen)
It is for this reason that there are 10 words in the Bracha of Hamotzi and 10 words in each of the Pesukim that refer to the bread of mankind (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 167:4 and Mishna Berura 167:23 ad 24. The verses are: 1) V'Yiten lecha H'Elokim... (Bereishis 27:28) 2) Eretz Chita U'Seora... (Devarim 8:8) 3) Matzmiach chatzir L'Behaima... (Tehillim 104) 4) Einei Kol Ailecha Yesabeiru...(Tehillim 145, better known as the psalm of Ashrei)
Some people have a Minhag on Shabbos not to place their fingers directly on the Chalos, rather to place their hands on the Challah cover. However, the prevalent minhag according to most Poskim is to place all 10 fingers on the Chalos, even on Shabbos. (See Mishna Berura 271:41, Shu"t Be'er Moshe Vol. 6 Siman 134 and Sefer Minhag Yisroel Torah Siman 271).
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1)Before reciting the Bracha of Hamotzi on bread it is proper to make a small tear in the bread (small enough that when you lift the torn piece, the rest of the piece will still be lifted along with it) so that it will be easier to rip off the piece immediately after the Bracha, and thus prevent any extra pausing between reciting the Bracha and eating the bread.
However, the piece should not be entirely broken off before the Bracha, as it is proper to make a Bracha on a complete piece of bread.
2) Even if the bread being eaten is not a "complete" loaf (e.g. a slice of bread) the above still applies, as it is proper to recite the Bracha on as large a piece of bread as possible. (Mishna Berura 167:5 and Shulchan Aruch HaRav 167:3)
Halachos for Sunday, August 10, 2014
1) On Shabbos and Yom Tov, when we are required to recite the Bracha on two complete loaves, the Halacha of tearing a piece of the bread before the Bracha does not apply.
However, a small cut should be etched into the Challah, as an indicator where to start cutting upon the completion of the Bracha.
If one did in fact tear a small piece on Shabbos or Yom Tov, as is done in the weekdays, B'dieved it is still considered complete "Lechem Mishna" (see Mishna Berura 167:10 and 11 and 274:5)
2) The Halacha of cutting a small piece of the bread only applies to bread, Challah, bagels, rolls etc., and not to Matza or thin bread (pita) which takes no time after the Bracha to break/cut off a piece. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav ibid.,Biur Halacha 167:1 Dibur HaMaschil V'Tzarich. The Kaf HaChaim 167:18 goes so far as to suggest that it is better to take a Matza or thin bread that doesn't require this cutting, as then you will have a real complete bread (Shalem). However, the Chayei Moshe quotes the Toras Chaim to Sanhedrin 102a who maintains that even thin bread requires a "cut", and this cut is more important than having a real Shalem.)
Halachos for Monday, August 11, 2014
1) On Shabbos (or anytime) when giving out the Challah to those seated around the table, the bread should not be placed into their hands, rather it should be placed in front of them, as placing it directly in their hands is a "Siman Ra- bad omen" of mourning. One should be careful with this even when giving bread to his/her small children.(Mishna Berura 167:90, Ben Ish Chai Parshas Emor Siman 18)
When giving bread to a mourner, it is indeed placed into his/her hands. However, on Shabbos it should be placed in front of him/her , as public signs of mourning are not displayed on Shabbos in front of other people. (Mishna Berura 167:89)
2) Bread should never be thrown across the table in a disrespectful way, especially the Challah at the Shabbos Seudah with which a Mitzvah was performed. (Mishna Berura 167:88. However, some people actually have the minhag to "throw" the Challah to each person at the table. This was the Minhag of the Chasam Sofer and the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. See Shu"t Hisorerus Teshuva Vol. 1 Siman 178. Even those whose custom it is to throw it, should do so in a respectful manner)
Halachos for Tuesday, August 12, 2014
1) When breaking/cutting the piece of bread on which Hamotzi was recited, it is best not to cut a piece that is smaller than a Kzayis, as doing so seems like a "Tzar Ayin- a less than generous person".
It is also best not to cut a piece that is bigger than a usual piece, as doing so seems like a "Ra'avson- a gluttonous person" (See Mishna Berura 167:8 and 9. See also Shu"t Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 5 Siman 16 for a more in depth discussion about this)
However, if the big piece that is cut will not be eaten from, rather smaller pieces will be broken off from it throughout the meal, it is permitted. (Mishna Berura 167:9)
2) On Shabbos it is a Mitzvah to cut a large enough piece that will last for the entire meal, as doing so shows our love for the Mitzvah of Seudas Shabbos, and we don't say that it looks gluttonous. (Mishna Berura 167:12)
Some Poskim maintain that the above is true by any Seudas Mitzvah, not just Shabbos. (See Ketzos HaShulchan Siman 37:13)
Halachos for Wednesday, August 13, 2014
1)It is a Mitzvah for there to be salt on the table before beginning to eat.
The reason for this is that the table is likened to the Mizbeach (altar) in the Bais HaMikdash, and the food we eat is likened to the Korbanos (ritual sacrifices) that were offered on the Mizbeach. All Korbanos required salt, hence the table requires salt. Having salt on the table also protects from misfortune. (Ram"a 167:5 and see Mishna Berura)
Furthermore, it's a Mitzvah to dip the bread of Hamotzi into salt before eating. (Not as some people mistakenly do and "Sprinkle" the salt on the read). Some have the custom to dip it three times. (Mishna Berura 167:33)
2) If no salt is available, according to some Poskim, it should be dipped into sugar.(As the Korbanos were allowed to be salted with sugar. See Shu"t Halachos Ketanos Siman 218, Shu"t Divrei Chaim Yoreh Deah Siman 25. The Chasam Sofer also had this custom when no salt was available. However, the Kaf HaChaim 167:37 maintains that sugar is not an acceptable substitute)
If sugar is also unavailable, it is best to dip the bread into a salty food item (fish, spread or dip) that is on the table, as to give the bread the taste of the salt. (See Shu"t Teshuvos V'Hanhagos Vol. 4 Siman 50. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav 167:8)
Halachos for Thursday, August 14, 2014
1)When one person is making the Hamotzi for others (as is common in many households on Shabbos and Yom Tov) it is best for the one that makes the Bracha to eat a piece of the Challah/bread before distributing pieces to the rest of the people at the table, as to avoid an interruption between his Bracha and his eating.(Psak of the Mishna Berura 167:79, although the Rama and others Pasken like Tosefos and the Mordechai that he may slice all the pieces, give them out and then eat, as they hold doing so is not a Hefsek)
However, there is no need for him to swallow his piece before distributing the rest, as he may L'Chatchilah give out the Challah while still chewing. (See Sefer Toras Shabbos Siman 274:4)
2) When distributing the Challah, a man should give his wife first and then the rest of the participants according to chashivus (importance, e.g. Talmid Chacham, Kohen etc.), or age. (As heard from a recognized, prominent Posek)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, August 15, 2014
Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1)It is a Mitzvah to say words of Torah during every meal, as a meal that lacks Torah is considered as if it was a meal (sacrifice) offered to Avoda Zarah (idol worship).
Even people who cannot have lengthy Torah discussions at their meals, should at least say a short Halacha or even a Mizmor of Tehillim (Preferably, psalm 23) to satisfy this obligation, and avoid the punishments detailed in the Seforim for partaking of a meal that is totally lacking of any Torah. See Mishna Berura 170:1. See also Aruch HaShulchan 170:1)
Birchas HaMazon does not suffice to satisfy the requirement for Torah.(ibid.)
2) One should not talk while eating, even a simple "Gezuntheit" to a sneeze or even words of Torah, as it is a choking hazard to talk while eating.
Obviously, this is only while chewing, and doesn't apply between bites. (Mishna Berura ibid. See also Aruch HaShulchan 170:2 who has a more lenient approach, as does the Ben Ish Chai Parshas Behar Siman 5. However most contemporary Poskim are stringent with this Halacha, and it is indeed advisable to be cautious and not talk with food in the mouth.)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1)When sitting around the table at a meal, it is prohibited to begin eating before the head of the household or an important person (i.e. Talmid Chacham, Osek B'Tzorchei Tzibbur etc.) at the table eats first.
This applies even if all the people around the table have their own plates of food, still they should not begin eating before the important person. (Mishna Berura 170:28)
This applies only to the main dishes, and not to salads and drinks, though waiting for these items as well, is considered an act of Derech Eretz.
2) One who does not wait, and eats first, is considered a "Gargaran" (Shulchan Aruch Siman 170:12 based on the Mishna in Maseches Derech Eretz Rabbah Perek 7:1. I am not sure of the exact literal translation of this word, but it from the commentaries on the Mishna it seems to mean something to the effect of a disrespectful, immodest, haughty person; definitely not something to want to be.)
Halachos for Sunday, August 17, 2014
1) It is imperative to eat with Derech Eretz, in a dignified way.
According to the Rambam (Sefer HaMitzvos, Lo Ta'aseh 195) and other Poskim, eating in a non dignified manner may be a transgression of one or more biblical transgressions. (See Aruch HaShulchan Siman 157:1 and Elya Rabbah Siman 170:23 what he quotes from the Shl"a)
2) One should not eat while standing. (Rambam Hilchos Dayos 4:3. See also Ben Ish Chai Parshas B'Har Siman 11)
L'Chatchila, it is also best not to drink while standing. Though many people are not stringent with this, and they do have on whom to rely, the AriZal was very careful with this. (Mishna Berura Siman 296:6. See also Shu"t Rav P'Alim Vol. 2 Siman 45)
Some Poskim maintain that only Talmidei Chachamim (Torah scholars) need to be stringent not to drink while standing, but other people need not be stringent with this. (See Shulchan Aruch Harav Siman 296:15. Though, from his language it seems that even non Talmidei Chachamim should try and emulate the Talmidei Chachamim in this matter when possible)
Halachos for Monday, August 18, 2014
1) One should not eat in the street, in public, as doing so is an indication that one has no shame, and can even lead to being disqualified as a witness in a Jewish court of law. (See Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat Siman 34:18, based on the Gemara (Kiddushin 40b) that says that one who eats in public is likened to a dog. SeeQ&A #161 for more on this topic)
2) One should not drink an entire [normal sized] cup of wine in one gulp, as doing so seems like a gluttonous way to drink (Gargaran).
Nor should it be drunk in too many sips, as that seems haughty, rather the proper way to drink it is in two gulps.
If the cup is very small (less than a Revi'is), then it may be finished in one gulp. If the cup is larger than normal, it may be finished in more than two gulps. (Shulchan Aruch and Ram"a Siman 170:8. See Mishna Berura S"K 20-22 for some other exclusions)
Some Poskim maintain that by Kiddush and Havdalah the above doesn't apply, and the entire Becher of wine may be drunk in one gulp. (See Shu"t Mishne Halachos Vol. 8 Siman 33)
Soft drinks, juices, water or other drinks are not subject to the above Halacha, as it only pertains to wine.
Halachos for Tuesday, August 19, 2014
1) It is proper to leave over a little bit of what was in your plate, and not totally finish everything down to the last crumb. (See Ben Ish Chai Parshas B'Har Siman 14 and Sefer Eitz Hasadeh Chapter 19:13 quoting Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita that it is good to be stringent with this.)
One who took a bite out of a piece of bread[or other food items], should not put it back in middle of the table, as it is unappetizing to other people and they will not eat from it after it was bitten from. Rather he/she should make sure to finish the entire piece. (Mishna Berura 170:36)
2) During the meal, it is important to refrain from doing things that may disgust others at the table, such as killing a fly on the table. (Sha'ar HaTzion 167:26)
One should not spit, burp, blow their nose ludly, or similar things, in front of another person at the table. (See Aruch HaShulchan Siman 170:12 that these things should not be done in front of others anytime, even not during a meal, based on the Talmud Chagiga 5a and Eiruvin 99a)
One whose hands are unclean should not eat at a table with others. (Kaf HaChaim 163:14)
It is important to ensure that children do not touch the food in the serving plates on the table directly with their hands, as they are usually unclean, and as such will disgust the adults at the table. (Sefer Chasidim Siman 829)
Many people refrain from allowing small children to sit and/or stand on a table.(Based on an incident brought in the Sefer Chasidim Siman 920, for reasons of Sakana, danger)
Halachos for Wednesday, August 20, 2014
1) After eating fish, before eating meat or chicken (and vice versa), many people are stringent to wash their hands, as not doing so may lead to danger (and we are more stringent with danger than with Halachic prohibitions; See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Siman 116)
However, nowadays many Poskim are lenient with the above as they maintain that certain circumstances changed from the times of the Talmud, and it is no longer a Sakana, danger (Mogen Avraham, quoted in Mishna Berura 173:3. See also Shu"t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 6 Siman 111. The Kaf HaChaim 173:4 and others argue with the Mogen Avraham and maintain that it is still in force today, and pasken that it is still required)
2) Even those who are lenient with washing the hands, should eat or drink something to separate between the fish and the meat.
(Mishna Berura 173:4)
Those who are stringent and wash, do not need to wash with all the requirements of Netilas Yadayim (utensil, Chatzitza etc.), they simply need to "rinse off" the hands, and dry them (as it is repulsive to eat with wet hands) before resuming to eat. (Mishna Berura 173:6)
Halachos for Thursday, August 21, 2014
1) Food (raw or cooked) or drink that were stored under a bed that someone slept on , even if they were covered, should not be eaten, as a Ruach Ra, impure spirit, rests on this food/drink. (Aruch HaShulchan Siman 165:4 based on the Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Siman 116:5. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav Hilchos Shmiras HaGuf V'Hanefesh Siman 67, Chachmas Adam Siman 68:3. The Gaon of Vilna was also extremely stringent with this.)
Even if the food was in a utensil, and that utensil was covered by another utensil, it still gets the Ruach Ra and should not be eaten even B'Dieved. (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal in Halichos Shlomo Perek 13:17)
The prohibition applies to vitamins as well as food, but does not apply to medicines. (ibid. footnote 27)
Therefore, it is important to not store food there, and thus necessitate discarding them and transgressing the sin of Bal Tashchis, wasting food.
2) Some Poskim are lenient in cases of great monetary loss and allow the food to be eaten, B'Dieved. (Based on Psak of the Shvus Yaakov quoted in the Pirush of Rav Akiva Eiger, Pischei Teshuva and Yad Efraim to Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 116:4 and 5.)
As always, for Halacha L'Ma'aseh a Rav should be consulted.
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, August 22, 2014
Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) Some people do not eat food or drink that was in a bathroom. (See Likutei MaHarich Seder Hanhogas HaSeuda Dibur Hamaschil H'Ochel Pas in the name of MaHarsh of Belz)
However, according to most Poskim there is no Halachic problem with eating food that was in a bathroom.
Still, it is best not to bring food/drink into a bathroom as doing so is a Bizayon, an act of disrespect. (See Mogen Avraham Siman 166:3, Shu"t Tzitz Eliezer Vol.14 Siman 2, Shu"t Be'er Moshe Vol. 5 Siman 1 and Shu"t Har Tzvi Vol. 1 Siman 50. See also Shu"t Yabia Omer Vol. 3 Siman 1 and Vol. 4 Siman5)
2) The above is only for the room that has the toilet, and does not apply to a room that has in it a only a bath/shower with no toilet, as in such a room it is permitted to store food. (See Shu"t Teshuvos V'Hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 11 and Sefer Ishei Yisrael Perek 53 footnote 82 where he quotes Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita saying that the Chazon Ish Zatzal stored food in a bathtub that was in a room without a toilet)
Storing medicines in a medicine cabinet in a bathroom is permitted (Shu"t Teshuvos V'Hanhagos ibid.)
However, actually eating or drinking in a bathroom is prohibited according to everyone. (Be'er Heitev Siman 3:2)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) One who causes food or drink to become ruined transgresses two sins:
a) Bal Tashchis, the prohibition against destroying any useful item [in a destructive manner] (See Rambam Hilchos Brochos Perek 7:9 and Hilchos Melochim Perek 6:8.)
b) Bizui Ochlin, a separate prohibition against destroying food/drink, or treating them disrespectfully.
The reason behind this prohibition is that doing so is being ungrateful to Hashem Who has bestowed so much good into this world. (See Rashi to Taanis 20b Dibur HaMaschil Ain Ma'achilin Oso L'Behaima. See also Rabbeinu Yona in Sha'arei Teshuva Sha'ar 3 Os 230 regarding the severity of destroying, or even talking bad about, Hashem's food)
2) It is especially important not to discard or ruin bread, if it is a piece larger than a Kzayis. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 180:3)
If the bread is no longer edible, it may be discarded, though according to many Poskim it may be best to feed to the birds instead of discarding it.(See Chayei Adam Klal 45:5 who quotes a Zohar that is stringent even with crumbs, not to discard them)
If bread [or other food] must be thrown out, it should be wrapped respectfully (e.g. in a bag or piece of paper) and then discarded. (See Sefer V'Zos Habracha end of Chapter 2)
Crumbs [that collectively are less than a Kzayis] may be discarded, but should not be stepped on or otherwise treated disrespectfully, as doing so may lead to becoming poor. (Mishna Berura Siman 180:10)
Halachos for Sunday, August 24, 2014
1) It is important to treat all food respectfully. Thus if one sees food on the floor or in another state of disrespect he/she should pick it up or otherwise place it in a respectful place. (See Shu"t Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah Vol. 2 Siman 174:3 and Shu"t Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 3 Siman 45)
All the prohibitions that we discussed , and will discuss in the future, regarding ruining food are only if done so intentionally with your hands.
However, it is permissible to refrain from eating food even if by doing so you will cause the food to rot/spoil. Similarly, as we mentioned a few days ago, it is derech Eretz to leave over a little bit in your plate after eating, and doing so is not a problem of Bal Tashchis.
Therefore, if one starts eating an apple, for example, and doesn't feel like finishing it, there is no problem of Bal Tashchis if the remainder is discarded. (Also, Bal Tashchis of the body is more important than Bal Tashchis of food, thus eating for the sake of finishing the food, when you really aren't hungry may be a transgression of Bal Tashchis D'Guf, doing something harmful to your body (See Talmud Shabbos 140b)
2) It is permissible to "use" food for purposes of curing a sickness, even if the food will get ruined in the process. (Mishna Berura Siman 171:4)
The above is even for aches and pains, and not strictly for sicknesses that may jeopardize the person's health.
Many Poskim allow using cosmetics that contain food, as long as they are used in the normal manner in which they are used by most people.
Similarly, if a food item (such as lemon juice, vinegar etc.) is needed to clean clothing, remove stains or similar uses that are normal practice amongst society, it is permitted. (See Shu"t Avnei Yashfey Vol. 1 Siman 34)
Halachos for Monday, August 25, 2014
1) Food should not be thrown, if by doing so it may be ruined and become too disgusting to eat.
Therefore, soft foods should never be thrown, and even hard foods should not be thrown into a disgusting place.
However, hard foods may be thrown into a clean place, if the food will be picked up afterwards. (Mishna Berura Siman 171:10 and 11)
It is for this reason that it is permissible to throw nuts [in their shells], wrapped candy and similar items at a Chasan and Kallah (bride and groom). Raisins and other soft items may not be thrown at them. (Mishna Berura Siman 171:21)
2) However, bread should never be thrown under any circumstances. (which is why when giving out the Challah for Hamotzi, care should be taken not to throw the Challah across the table, rather to place in front of each person at the table, unless following the minhag of the Chasam Sofer and Rav Chaim of Sanz who allowed throwing in this situation, as we discussed a few days ago)(Mishna Berura Siman 171:9.)
Wheat may be thrown. (See Sha'ar Hatzion 171:20)
Halachos for Tuesday, August 26, 2014
1) One should not sit on a box/container that contains food, if by doing so there is a chance that the food inside will get ruined.
However, if the box is sturdy or if there is otherwise no chance at all that your sitting on it will affect the food, it is permissible. (Mishna Berura Siman 171:12-14)
2) Food that is intended for humans should not be given to animals or birds to eat.
However, if no other food is available to feed them, it is permissible to give them human food. (Mishna Berura 171:11 based on Rashi to Ta'anis 20b.Other Poskim are more lenient with this and maintain that it is permissible to feed regular food to animals in many situations. For more on this topic See Shu"t Shoel U'Meishiv, MaHadura Tinyana Vol. 2 Siman 72, Shu"t Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 3 Siman 45, Chayei Adam Klal 45:5. The Me'iri to Ta'anis 20b learns that only human food that was prepared for human consumption is part of this prohibition, but food that is edible to humans, but wasn't yet prepared for consumption, is not a problem to give to animals)
Halachos for Wednesday, August 27, 2014
1)It is obligatory to wash the hands after eating, before reciting Birchas HaMazon, even if the hands are clean. This washing is known as "Mayim Achronim"(Shulchan Aruch Siman 181:1. See Mishna Berura ibid. S"K 1 regarding where Chazal derived this Halacha and some of its reasons)
Although the Shulchan Aruch quotes a more lenient opinion about this (in Siman 181:10) , the Poskim are extremely stringent with this and dismiss the leniencies even nowadays, based on many deep kabalistic reasons, and implore everyone to be careful in the observance of Mayim Achronim (See Mishna Berura 181:21, Shl"a Sha'ar HaOsiyos, Kuf, Aruch HaShulchan 181:3 and 4, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 44:1. The Kaf HaChaim 181:27 writes that one that is lenient with Mayim Achronim, risks having his life shortened.)
2) Even those that are not careful with Mayim Achronim when eating with others, should be extra careful when eating alone, as the impure spirits can cause much more harm when one eats alone. (Kaf HaChaim 181:1. See also the piercing words of the Pele Yoetz in "Netilas Yadayim")
Even those who are not so careful with Mayim Achronim during the weekdays, should be extra stringent with this on Shabbos and Yom Tov. (Leket Yosher in Hilchos Seudah, quoting the Terumas HaDeshen. See also Mateh Efraim Siman 583:4 and Siman 619:1 and in the Elef L'mateh ibid.)
Even though one of the reasons given for Mayim Achronim is to prevent blindness that may arise from touching the eyes with hands that touched certain salts, it is still incumbent upon a blind person to wash Mayim Achronim, as there are many other reasons for this washing. (Psak of Rav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita)
Halachos for Thursday, August 28, 2014
1) It is a good practice to train children in the washing of Mayim Achronim (Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, quoted in Sefer Otzar Hamayim Chapter 4)
In certain communities it is customary for women to also wash Mayim Achronim , while in other communities it is less prevalent for women to do so. Both Minhagim are acceptable. (See Aruch HaShulchan 181:5, Shu"t Teshuvos V'hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 174, Shu"t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 4Siman 23 and Shu"t V'Yevarech Dovid Siman 30)
If one did not wash Mayim Achronim and recited Birchas HaMazon, he should wash after completing Birchas HaMazon, or even in the middle of Birchas Hamazon if he remembers, as it's not a Hefsek as it is necessary for the Bracha.(Mishna Berura 181:2, Sefer Otzar haMayim Chapter 4:52 quoting Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita)
2) Ideally, Mayim Achronim should be washed with water.
The water used, should be cold. If hot water was used the obligation for Mayim Achronim has not been satisfied. warm water is acceptable B'Dieved. (Mishna Berura 181:7 and 8. See also Yalkut Yosef 181:10)
If no water is available, and it would be difficult to attain water, Mayim Achronim may be washed with other beverages, besides for wine, due to its importance. (Mishna Berura 181:21)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, August 29, 2014
Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1) Mayim Achronim does not require a utensil, nor does it require "Koach Gavra, force of a human" like the washing of Netilas Yadayim.
There are no problems of Chatzitza for Mayim Achronim, and the water only needs to pour over the hands one time. (Mishna Berura 181:21)
2) There is no minimum amount of water necessary for Mayim Achronim, rather as small an amount as is necessary to clean the hands is sufficient. (we will elaborate on this in the near future iy"H)
The Gaon of Vilna was scrupulous with Mayim Achronim and required a Revi'is to be used (Mishna Berura 181:19)
Though drying the hands after Mayim Achronim is not mandatory, it is best to be stringent and dry the hands to fulfill the opinion of the Rambam who requires drying the hands (ibid.)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) When washing Mayim Achronim, the fingers must be washed at least until the second knuckle [and the first knuckle for the thumb], as generally the hands do not get dirtied past there from eating.
However, if one's hands indeed did get dirty higher than the second knuckle, the dirtied areas must be washed before being allowed to recite Birchas HaMazon. (See Mishna Berura 181:10, where he writes that he unfortunately sees people who simply dab a little water on their fingertips and by doing so they do not satisfy the obligation of Mayim Achronim, and it is a bad practice to do this.)
Some opinions require washing until the joints of the fingers. L'Chatchilah, if water is available it is best to do this. (Biur Halacha 181:4)
2) The Gaon of Vilna required washing the entire hand. (See Shu"t Teshuvos V'Hanhagos Vol. 1 Siman 174).
However, some Poskim maintain that for kabalistic reasons it is best not to wash for Mayim Achronim with more water than necessary (unlike Netilas Yadayim where it is a Mitzvah to wash with an abundance of water) (See Ben Ish Chai Parshas Sh'lach Siman 8 , 9 and 12 and Kaf HaChaim 181:6)
Halachos for Sunday, August 31, 2014
1) Mayim Achronim should not be washed onto the floor, as the Ruach Ra (impure spirit) that is in the water will then remain on the floor, and may pose a danger to anyone who steps on the water.
Rather, the water should be washed into a utensil that is designated as a receptacle for the water, which should then be disposed of. (See Biur Halacha Siman 181:2)
However, if the water is being washed onto the floor that is under the table, where nobody will walk, it is permitted to do so. Still, if a utensil is available in which to wash, that is better than doing on the floor under the table (Mishna Berura Siman 181:4-6. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 180:4)
2) Mayim Achronim may be washed directly into the sink, as people who are stringent to use a Revi'is as the Gaon of Vilna held, do in any case. Some maintain that the water must be washed into a utensil, and not in the sink, however the prevalent minhag is not to require this. (See Shu"t Yabia Omer Vol. 5 Siman 2 and Likutei MaHarich end of HanHogas Seudah quoting the Shl"a HaKadosh.)
Care should be taken while washing Mayim Achronim that the water doesn't splash onto the table, especially onto the food, as this may make the food unfit for consumption according to many Poskim. (Mishna Berura Siman 180:7. See also Kaf HaChaim Siman 180:10)
Halachos for Monday, September 1, 2014
1) When Birchas HaMazon will be recited on a Kos (cup) of wine, it is proper to fill up the cup before washing Mayim Achronim. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 181:6, Kaf HaChaim 181:3)
2) The one who will be leading the Benching or the most respected member at the table should wash Mayim Achronim first before the rest of the people at the table.(Although the Mishna Berura 181:12, paskens like the Shulchan Aruch that this is only the case when there is up to 5 people present, the accepted custom is that the leader always washes first, no matter how many people are present. See Rambam Hilchos Brachos Perek 7:12 and Kesef Mishna on the Rambam. See also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:1 and Likutei MaHarich end of Hilchos Hanhogas HaSeudah who quotes many Rishonim that hold this way.)
The rest of the people at the table should wash in order that they are sitting, and not according to age or wisdom. (Mishna Berura 181:14)
The one leading the Birchas HaMazon should wait for everyone at the table to finish washing Mayim Achronim before starting the Zimun. (See Ketzos HaShulcahn Siman 43:5)
Halachos for Tuesday, September 2, 2014
1) Mayim Achronim needs to be washed immediately before Birchas HaMazon, and no unnecessary interruptions, talking or even quietly waiting should take place between the washing and the start of Birchas HaMazon. (See Mishna Berura Siman 179:1 and 2. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman Siman 181:6 is less stringent and even allows 2 or 3 words to be spoken.)
In the event that many people are eating together, it is best to prepare a few cups of water from which to wash, as to minimize the long wait that having only one cup for everyone would cause. (See Biur Halacha Siman 181 Dibur Hamaschil Min Hakatan)
Even speaking words of Torah or singing Zemiros are prohibited between the washing of Mayim Achronim and the beginning of Birchas HaMazon. (Mishna Berura Siman 181:24)
Therefore, the recital of Shir Hamalos (on Shabbos) or Al Naharos Bavel (in the weekdays) which is customary to say before benching should be said before washing Mayim Achronim. (See Aruch HaShulchan 181:9 and K'tzos HaShulchan Siman 43:1 where he says that if it was inadvertently said after Mayim Achronim, the hands should be rewashed. See also Mishna Berura 179:1 where he says that if any interruptions were made, L'Chatchilah the hands should be rewashed. See Sha'ar Hatziyun 179:9. See also Shu"t Az Nidberu Vol. 13 Siman 30:4 regarding if Asher Yatzar is a Hefsek for Mayim Achronim)
Talking between Mayim Achronim and Benching can be a Sakana (danger) besides for the Halachic Hefsek detailed above. (Based on the Arizal, quoted in the Pri Megadim, Aishel Avraham 181:10)
2) Many have the custom, immediately after Mayim Achronim, to rub their wet hands over their lips to wash away any food particles that may be there.
Some Poskim, however, maintain thatthis should not be done. (See Shu"t Hisorerus Teshuva Siman 83 and Kaf HaChaim 181:21. See also Elya Rabbah 181:2 and Ben Ish Chai Parshas Sh'lach Siman 68)
Many people have the custom to cover the Mayim Achronim water, or even to remove it entirely from the table before beginning to recite Birchas HaMazon (See Kaf HaChaim 181:8 and Ohr L'Tzion Vol. 2 Siman81:6. See also Shu"t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 8 Siman 168 and Orchos Rabbeinu page 83 where he writes that the Steipler Zatzal would cover the Mayim Achronim with a paper napkin.)
Halachos for Wednesday, September 3, 2014
1) One who eats bread, and it satisfies their hunger, is biblically obligated to recite Birchas HaMazon (Benching), as the Posuk Says(Devarim 8:10) "V'Achalta, V'Savata, U'Verachta- You shall eat, You shall be satiated, and you shall bless [and thank Hashem]" (See Talmud Brachos 48b)
The sages required reciting Birchas HaMazon after eating a Kzayis of bread (approximately 1.1 fl. oz.) within a certain time frame known as Kdei Achilas Pras (around 3-4 minutes), even if it hasn't satiated you.
If less than a Kzayis of bread was eaten, no Benching (or any Bracha Achrona) is required. (Unlike the Bracha of Hamotzi, where even on a small bite, the Bracha is required.) (Mishna Berura Siman 184: 21 and 22)
Women are obligated in Birchas HaMazon. (Though there is a debate amongst the Poskim if their obligation is biblical or rabbinical. See Mishna Berura Siman 186:1 and 2. See also Shu"t Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim Siman 48, Aruch HaShulchan 184:3 and Shulchan Aruch HaRav 184:1)
2) Geirim, converts to Judaism, are biblically obligated in Birchas HaMazon. They may also say the second blessing which includes the words "Al SheHinchalta L'Avoseinu Eretz Chemda... [Thank you Hashem for] giving to our forefathers the land [of Eretz Yisroel]...", as the land was given to Avraham Avinu who is referred to as "Father of all Nations", and thus Geirim are also descendants of Avraham Avinu. (See Mishna Berura Siman 199:7)
Minors (boys under 13 and girls under 12, provided they reached the age of Chinuch) are obligated in Birchas HaMazon M'Drabanan, even if they ate only a Kzayis in more time than Kdei Achilas Pras (3-4 minutes), in order to be Mechanech (train) them in Mitzvah observance. (Mishna Berura Siman 186:4. See Kobetz MiBeis Leivi Vol. 5 page 93, what is quoted from Rav Shmuel Wosner Shlita. See also Aruch HaShulchan 186:4 who maintains that minor girls are not obligated in Birchas HaMazon, however, most contemporary Poskim do not follow this opinion and require the Chinuch of minors equally for boys and girls)
Halachos for Thursday, September 4, 2014
1) Small children who do not yet know the entire text of Birchas HaMazon, may be trained to say a small part of each Bracha until they eventually learn how to recite the entire text. (Mishna Berura Siman 187:4 and Shulchan Aruch HaRav 187:4)
According to some Poskim, children who do not yet know the entire text of Birchas HaMazon should say the following abridged version:"Brich Rachmana Elakana Malka D'Alma Marei D'Hai Pita. Brich Rachmana D'Zan Kulah- Blessed is Hashem our G-d, master of the world, creator of this bread, blessed is Hashem who sustains the entire world" (Brought in the Siddur Ya'avetz who says that B'dieved, adults can satisfy their obligation with this Nusach as well, if necessary. See Mishna Berura ibid. and Sharei Tziyun 187:6 that this suffices for children until the age of
However, many contemporary Poskim maintain that it is best not to train children in the abridged version, rather let them slowly get used to the regular version, lest they never learn how to bentch properly. (Psak of Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach in Halichos Shlomo Chapter 1:8, as well as other Poskim)
2) While reciting Birchas HaMazon, it's halachically considered as if you are davening Shemona Esrei, and thus it is prohibited to talk or make any interruptions.
Even simply stopping in middle of, or between any of the Brachos should be avoided.
According to many Poskim it is even prohibited to answer D'varim SheBikedusha (Kadish, Yehei Shmei Rabbah, Barchu etc.) while bentching, even between the Brachos. (See Kaf HaChaim 183:45, Ben Ish Chai Parshas Chukas Siman 63 and Shu"t Yabia Omer Vol. 1 Siman 11)
However, other Poskim allow answering D'varim SheBikedusha between the Brachos, and some Poskim allow even in middle of the Bracha. (See Chazon Ish Orach Chaim Siman 28:3, Aruch HaShulchan 183:8 and Ta'amei HaMinhagim page 86)
If one did make an interruption or even talked between the Brachos, B'dieved he/she is Yotzei and there is no need to repeat the Bracha.
However, if the interruption was because he/she was prohibited from continuing to bentch (e.g. needed the restroom, or the place where they were bentching became Halachically unclean) that Bracha must indeed be repeated according to many Poskim. (See Mishna Berura Siman 183:25 and Biur Halacha Dibur Hamaschil Afilu Im Sach)
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, September 5, 2014
Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh
Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh
1)Birchas HaMazon should be recited with Kavanah, concentration, and all the words should be enunciated slowly and properly, and their meaning understood.(See Mishna Berura Siman 64:10 that biblical Mitzvos, such as Bentching, require Kavanah according to all opinions).
It is proper to recite Birchas HaMazon from a Siddur (or Bentcher) as doing so induces Kavanah. (See Mishna Berura Siman 185:1 what he brings from the Sefer Chasidim about not using a Siddur)
2) If Birchas HaMazon was recited without Kavanah at all, it doesn't suffice even B'dieved according to some Poskim. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav Siman 185:1 and 2 who is stringent, and the Aruch HaShulchan 185:7 is more lenient)
One who is scrupulous in the recital of Birchas HaMazon will merit having Parnassah B'kavod his/her entire life. (See Bach towards the end of Siman 185 quoting the Sefer HaChinuch Mitzvah 430)
Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh
1) It is proper to recite Birchas HaMazon out loud, as doing so will bring to better Kavanah, and also prevent skipping any added parts, such as Retzei on Shabbos and Ya'aleh V'Yavo on Yom Tov and Rosh Chodesh. (Mishna Berura 185:3)
2) Birchas HaMazon should be recited sitting down, even if the eating was done while standing or walking around, as bentching while standing or walking cannot be done with proper Kavanah.
Even those listening to the bentching from another person and being Yotzei with their bentching must be sitting. (Mishna Berura 183:33)
However, if it was recited while standing or walking around [within the room where he/she ate] , B'dieved he/she has satisfied their obligation.
Moreover, if one is walking to a destination and stopping to bentch will cause him/her to arrive late, the Bentching may L'Chatchila be said while walking, provided that the eating was also done while walking.
If one ate in a car, bus or train, he/she must sit and bentch in his/her seat. (Mishna Berura 183:36 and Siman63:10)
Halachos for Sunday, September 7, 2014
1) The first 3 Brachos of Birchas HaMazon are biblical obligations, and were originally able to be recited in any Nusach (text) that each individual saw fit, as long as the following ideas were mentioned: Thanking Hashem for sustenance, the land of Israel, the covenant between Hashem and Klal Yisroel, the Torah and the kingdom of the house of Dovid (Talmud Brachos 49a)
2) However, in later years, Moshe Rabbeinu (HaZan), Yehoshua Bin Nun (Nodeh Lecha), Dovid HaMelech and Shlomo HaMelech (Bonei Yerushalayim), respectively, instituted the text that needed to be recited for the first 3 Brachos.
After the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, Ezra HaSofer instituted the text of the fourth Bracha (HaTov V'HaMeitiv), and this text is what needs to be recited until the Bais HaMikdash is rebuilt (very soon iy"H). (See Tashbatz Vol. 2 Siman 161. See also Rambam Hilchos Brachos Perek1:5 and Perek 2:2, Sefer HaChinuch Mitzvah 430, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 187:1-3 and Aruch HaShulchan 187:1)
Halachos for Monday, September 8, 2014
1) After finishing the third Bracha of Birchas HaMazon (...Bonei [B'Rachamav] Yerushalayim), Amen is recited.
Although usually we do not answer Amen to our own Blessings, it is done here to show that this point is the end of the biblical blessings, and from here and on begins the rabbinical blessings.
2) The aforementioned Amen should not be said in one breath with the Bracha, rather after the word Yerushalayim there should be a short pause, and then "Amen" said.
It is proper to answer this Amen quietly, though the custom of most people is to in fact say it out loud. (Mishna Berura 188:2. See also Aruch HaShulchan 188:3 that even if not said quietly, it still should not be said very loudly.)
Halachos for Tuesday, September 9, 2014
1) After the first 4 Brachos of Birchas HaMazon are recited, the "HaRachaman" requests are recited.
These HaRachamans are said even on Shabbos. Even though we usually do not ask Bakashos, requests, on Shabbos, the HaRachamans have become part of the text of the Birchas HaMazon and are thus allowed. (Mishna Berura Siman 188:9. The Gaon of Vilna, however, was of the opinion that the HaRachamans should not be recited on Shabbos, as he held it was still considered Bakashos)
2) It is for this reason that the HaRachamans are not considered a Hefsek between the Birchas HaMazon and the drinking of the cup of wine on which Birchas HaMazon was recited, as it has become a part of the Birchas HaMazon. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 189:7)
After each HaRachaman that you hear someone recite, Amen should be answered (Mishna Berura Siman 189:5)
Halachos for Wednesday, September 10, 2014
1) It is very important to leave the tablecloth on the table, and not totally clear off the table, before Bentching. The reason for this is because this way it will be evident that you are reciting Birchas HaMazon on the bread that Hashem has given you.
Another reason for this is that blessings do not rest upon "empty" things. For this reason, many people are scrupulous to not leave any empty utensils (e.g. empty soda bottle, empty serving bowl) on the table at the time of Birchas HaMazon. (See Mishna Berura Siman 180:1.The Zohar Hakadosh was extremely insistent on this.See Kaf HaChaim 180:4)
2) One who does not leave over bread on the table will never see blessing in his/her lifetime. (Language of the Shulchan Aruch Siman 180:2)
If no bread was left over besides some crumbs, a new loaf of bread should not be brought out, as doing so looks like an offering to Avoda Zara
However, if even no crumbs were left over, it is permissible [and according to the Zohar, commendable] to bring out a new loaf. (Mishna Berura 180:4)
Halachos for Thursday, September 11, 2014
1) If there is a knife on the table, it is proper to cover it while Birchas HaMazon is being recited.
Some have the custom to remove the knife entirely from the table. (See Mishna Berura 180:11 for 2 reasons for this Halacha)
The above is only during the week, as on Shabbos the custom is to allow the knife to remain uncovered on the table. (See Be'er Heitev 180:4 for an explanation)
2) Some have the custom to cover the bread that's on the table during Bentching [when reciting Birchas HaMazon on a cup of wine], however, the prevalent Minhag is not to cover the bread. (See Mogen Avraham 180:4 and Kaf HaChaim 180:16. See also Kaf HaChaim 180:3 regarding not removing other items from the table before Bentching, Al Pi Kabala)