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Thursday, 25 Adar 5773 / March 7, 2013

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Berachot - Chapter One, Berachot - Chapter Two, Berachot - Chapter Three

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Berachot - Chapter One

HILCHOT BERACHOT
THE LAWS OF BLESSINGS

It contains one positive mitzvah: To bless [God's] great and holy name after eating [a meal].
This mitzvah is explained in the following chapters.

Halacha 1

It is a positive mitzvah from the Torah to bless [God] after eating satisfying food, as [Deuteronomy 8:10] states: "When you have eaten and are satiated, you shall bless God, your Lord."

The Torah itself requires a person to recite grace only when he eats to the point of satiation, as implied by the above verse, "When you have eaten and are satiated, you shall bless...." The Sages, however, ordained that one should recite grace after eating [an amount of bread equal] to the size of an olive.

Halacha 2

Similarly, the Rabbis ordained that we recite blessings before partaking of any food. Even when one wants to eat the slightest amount of food or drink, one should recite a blessing, and then derive benefit from it.

Similarly, when smelling a pleasant fragrance, one should recite a blessing and then smell. Anyone who derives benefit [from this world] without reciting a blessing is considered as if he misappropriated a sacred article.

The Rabbis also ordained that one should recite a blessing after eating or drinking, provided one drinks a revi'it and eats a k'zayit. A person who [merely] tastes food is not required to recite a blessing before partaking of it or afterwards unless he partakes of a revi'it.

Halacha 3

Just as we recite blessings for benefit which we derive from the world, we should also recite blessings for each mitzvah before we fulfill it.

Similarly, the Sages instituted many blessings as expressions of praise and thanks to God and as a means of petition, so that we will always remember the Creator, even though we have not received any benefit or performed a mitzvah.

Halacha 4

Thus, all the blessings can be divided into three categories:
a) blessings over benefit;
b) blessings over mitzvot;
c) blessings recited as expressions of praise and thanks to God and as a means of petition, so that we will always remember the Creator and fear Him.

Halacha 5

The text of all the blessings was ordained by Ezra and his court. It is not fit to alter it, to add to it, or to detract from it. Whoever alters the text of a blessing from that ordained by the Sages is making an error.

A blessing that does not include the mention of God's name and His sovereignty [over the world] is not considered a blessing unless it is recited in proximity to a blessing [which meets these criteria].

Halacha 6

All the blessings may be recited in any language, provided one recites [a translation of] the text ordained by the Sages. [A person who] changes that text fulfills his obligation nonetheless - since he mentioned God's name, His sovereignty, and the subject of the blessing - although he did so in a ordinary language.

Halacha 7

A person should recite all the blessings loud enough for him to hear what he is saying. Nevertheless, a person who does not recite a blessing out loud fulfills his obligation, whether he verbalizes the blessing or merely recites it in his heart.

Halacha 8

Whenever one recites a blessing, one should not make an interruption between the blessing and the subject for which the blessing is recited. If one makes an interruption with other matters, one must recite the blessing again.

If, however, one makes an interruption which relates to the subject of the blessing, one does not have to repeat the blessing. What is implied? When a person recites a blessing over bread and before eating says, "Bring salt," "Bring food," "Give so-and-so to eat," "Bring food for the animal," or the like, he need not repeat the blessing.

Halacha 9

A person who is ritually impure is permitted to recite all the blessings. This applies regardless of whether the impurity is of a type from which one can purify oneself on the same day or not.

A person who is naked should not recite a blessing until he covers his genitals. To whom does this apply? To men. Women may recite blessings [while naked], provided they sit with their genitals facing the ground.

Halacha 10

[The following principle applies to] all blessings: Although a person has already recited them and fulfilled his own obligation, he may recite them again for others who have not fulfilled their obligation, so that they can fulfill their obligation.

There is, however, one exception: blessings over benefit which is not associated with a mitzvah. In this instance, one may not recite a blessing for others unless one enjoys benefit together with them. Nevertheless, one may recite blessings for benefit which is associated with a mitzvah - e.g., eating matzah on Pesach and reciting kiddush [on Sabbaths and festivals] - for others. They may then eat or drink, even though the one [who recites the blessing] does not eat or drink with them.

Halacha 11

Whenever a person listens to the entire recitation of a blessing with the intention of fulfilling his obligation, he is considered to have fulfilled his obligation although he does not answer Amen. Whoever answers Amen to a blessing recited by another person is considered as if he recited the blessing himself, provided the person who recites the blessing is obligated to recite that blessing.

If the person who recites the blessing is obligated only because of a Rabbinic ordinance, while the person responding is obligated by Torah law, the listener cannot fulfill his obligation until he repeats in response [to the one reciting the blessings] or until he hears [the blessing recited] by someone who, like him, is obligated by Torah law.

Halacha 12

When many people gather together to eat [a meal with] bread or to drink wine, and one recites the blessing while the others respond Amen, they are [all] permitted to eat and drink. If, however, they did not intend to eat together, but rather they each came on their own initiative, although they all eat from a single loaf of bread, each one should recite the blessings [before eating] by himself.

When does the above apply? With regard to bread and wine. With regard to other foods, however, which do not require [premeditated intent] to be eaten together as a group, if one person recited a blessing and everyone answered Amen, they may eat and drink although they did not intend to gather together as a group.

Halacha 13

Whenever a person hears a Jew recite a blessing, he is obligated to respond Amen, although
a) he did not hear the blessing in its entirety,
b) he was not obligated to recite that blessing himself.

One should not respond Amen if the person reciting the blessing is a gentile, an apostate, a Samaritan, a child in the midst of study, or an adult who altered the text of the blessing.

Halacha 14

Whenever responding Amen, one should not recite a rushed Amen, a cut off Amen, nor a short or a prolonged Amen, but rather an Amen of intermediate length.

One should not raise one's voice above that of the person reciting the blessing. Whoever did not hear a blessing that he is obligated to recite should not answer Amen together with the others.

Halacha 15

Whoever recites a blessing for which he is not obligated is considered as if he took God's name in vain. He is considered as one who took a false oath, and it is forbidden to answer Amen after his blessing.

We may teach children the blessings using the full text. Even though in this manner, they recite blessings in vain in the midst of their study, it is permissible. One should not recite Amen after their blessings. A person who answers Amen after their blessings does not fulfill his obligation.

Halacha 16

It is demeaning for a person to recite Amen after his own blessings. When, however, one concludes the last of a series of blessings, it is praiseworthy to answer Amen - e.g., after the blessing, Boneh Yerushalayim in grace, and after the final blessing [following] the recitation of the Shema in the evening service. Similarly, always, at the conclusion of the last of a series of blessings, one should recite Amen after one's own blessing.

Halacha 17

Why is Amen recited after the blessing Boneh Yerushalayim, although it is followed by the blessing Hatov v'hametiv? Because the latter blessing was ordained in the era of the Mishnah and is considered to be an addition. The conclusion of the essential blessings of grace is Boneh Yerushalayim.

Why is Amen not recited after the blessing Ahavat olam? Because it is the conclusion of the blessings recited before the Shema. Similarly, in other instances when [a series of] blessings are recited before a practice - e.g., the blessings recited before the reading of the Megillah or the kindling of the Chanukah lights - Amen [is not recited] lest it constitute an interruption between the blessings and [the fulfillment of] the performance over which they are being recited.

Halacha 18

Why is Amen not recited after the blessing over fruits and the like? Because it is only a single blessing, and Amen is recited only after a concluding blessing that follows another blessing or blessings - e.g., the blessings of the king or the blessings of the High Priest - to signify the conclusion of the blessings. Therefore, reciting Amen is appropriate.

Halacha 19

When a person eats a forbidden food - whether consciously or inadvertently - he should not recite a blessing beforehand or afterward.
What is implied? If one eats tevel - even food that is classified as tevel by Rabbinical decree, the first tithe from which terumah was not separated, or the second tithe or sanctified foods that were not redeemed in the proper manner, one should not recite a blessing. Needless to say, this applies if one ate meat from an animal that was not ritually slaughtered or was trefah or if one drank wine used as a libation for idol worship.

Halacha 20

If, however, a person ate d'mai, although it is fit only for the poor, the first tithe from which terumat ma'aser was separated, even though the proper amount for terumah was not separated because the tithe was taken while the grain was still in sheaves, or the second tithe or sanctified food that was redeemed, but an additional fifth was not added upon it, one should recite a blessing beforehand and afterwards. The same applies in other similar situations.

Commentary Halacha 1

It is a positive mitzvah - Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 19) and Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 430) include this as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

from the Torah - as opposed to the other blessings, which were ordained by the Rabbis.

to bless [God] after eating satisfying food - The Kiryat Sefer and others interpret "satisfying food" as referring to bread made from the five species of grain mentioned in Chapter 3, Halachah 1. Significantly, the Rishon LeTzion and the Noda BiYhudah maintain that with this expression, the Rambam is implying that the blessing al hamichyah, which is recited over other foods made from these species, also has its source in the Torah itself (See also Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 209).

as [Deuteronomy 8:10] states: "When you have eaten and are satiated, you shall bless God, your Lord."

The Torah itself requires a person to recite grace only when he eats to the point of satiation - The Rabbis do not specify a standard quantity or measure of food that a person must eat to have reached this state. Rather, they leave the matter up to the person's own feelings.

as implied by the above verse, "When you have eaten and are satiated, you shall bless...." - The proof-text clearly indicates that the obligation to "bless" applies only when one is "satiated."

The Sages, however, ordained - Berachot 20b relates:

The angels complained to the Holy One, blessed be He: "...In Your Torah, it is written [that You] 'will not show favor, nor take bribes,' and yet You show favor to the Jews...."
God replied: "Are the Jews not worthy that I show them favor? In My Torah, I have written, ‘When you have eaten and are satiated, you shall bless,’ and they have nevertheless adopted the stringency of reciting grace after eating an amount equivalent to an olive."

that one should recite grace after eating [an amount of bread equal] to the size of an olive. - a k'zayit. This is the measurement generally intended by the Torah for the mitzvot and prohibitions concerned with eating. In contemporary measure, it is equivalent to 28.8 cc according to Shiurei Torah, and 33 cc according to the Chazon Ish.

Note the commentary on Chapter 5, Halachah 16, which discusses the Ra'avad's opinion that anyone who eats a k'zayit of bread is required by the Torah to recite grace.

Commentary Halacha 2

Similarly, the Rabbis ordained - The definition of this obligation as Rabbinical in nature has aroused questions. Berachot 35a states that this concept can be derived through one of the thirteen principles of Biblical interpretation. Thus, it has all the authority of a Torah law. Though the Rambam (see the Introduction to Sefer HaMitzvot, General Principle 2) refers to laws derived in this manner as מדברי סופרים - literally, "from the words of our Sages," the same term used here - his intent is not to imply that the law did not originate in the Torah itself.

Tosafot (Berachot, loc. cit.), however, explain that the Talmud ultimately does not accept the interpretation that the obligation is derived from the Torah, and maintain that the obligation to recite blessings is Rabbinic in origin. Even according to these opinions, it appears that the Sages ordained the recitation of blessings rather early in our national history. Midrashim referring to the age of King David explicitly mention the recitation of blessings, and there are intimations of this obligation in references to earlier periods. See also the commentary on Halachah 5.

that we recite blessings before partaking of any food. -Berachot, loc. cit., states: "It is forbidden to benefit from this world without reciting a blessing." Therefore,

Even when one wants to eat the slightest amount of food or drink - i.e., less than a k'zayit or a revi'it

one should recite a blessing, and then derive benefit from it. - In this instance, however, a blessing need not be recited after eating or drinking.

Similarly, when smelling a pleasant fragrance, one should recite a blessing - See Chapter 9 with regard to the particular blessings required.

and then smell. - Berachot 43b quotes Psalms 150:6: "All souls shall praise God," and asks: "From what does a soul benefit? Fragrance."

Anyone who derives benefit [from this world] without reciting a blessing is considered as if he misappropriated a sacred article. - Berachot 35a explains that the entire world belongs to God, as Psalms 24:1 declares: "The earth and its fullness are God's." Although God allows man to benefit from this world, that license is granted only when man acknowledges God's control by reciting a blessing.

The Rabbis also ordained that one should recite a blessing after eating or drinking, provided one drinks a revi'it - The word revi'it means "a fourth." It is one fourth of a larger measure, known as a log. In contemporary measure, a revi'it is equivalent to 86.6 cc according to Shiurei Torah, and 150 cc according to the Chazon Ish.

and eats a k'zayit. - Anything less is not considered significant enough to require a blessing afterwards. A blessing beforehand must nevertheless be recited, because "it is forbidden to benefit from this world without a blessing."

There is, however, a law which appears to be an exception to this principle:

A person who [merely] tastes food is not required to recite a blessing before partaking of it or afterwards unless he partakes of a revi'it. - Rav David Arameah explains that this law applies only when one spits out the food one tastes. If one swallows it, a blessing is required. The Kessef Mishneh differs, and maintains that even when a person swallows the food, since his intent is not to benefit from it - but merely to taste it - and he partakes of only a very small amount, a blessing is not required.

Commentary Halacha 3

Just as we recite blessings for benefit which we derive from the world - as explained above,

we should also recite blessings for each mitzvah before we fulfill it. - The laws governing the blessings recited over the performance of mitzvot are discussed in Chapter 11.

Similarly, the Sages instituted many blessings as expressions of praise and thanks to God and as a means of petition - See Chapter 10.

so that we will always remember the Creator, even though we have not received any benefit or performed a mitzvah. - By reciting blessings over the special events which occur to us, we become conscious of God's control of all aspects of our daily existence. We learn to appreciate Him, not only as the Creator who brought the world into being, but as the One who directs the functioning of our lives and the world around us.

Commentary Halacha 5

The text of all the blessings was ordained by Ezra and his court. - Berachot 33a explains that when the Men of the Great Assembly established the text of the prayer service (see Hilchot Tefillah 1:4), they also established the text for the various blessings and for kiddush and havdalah.

This, however, does not mean that the blessings were not recited beforehand. Rather, just as explained with regard to prayer, before Ezra's time each person would recite the blessings according to his own inspiration and ability to express himself. In Ezra's time, many people had difficulty expressing themselves eloquently and, therefore, Ezra and his court established a standard text.

It is not fit to alter it - to substitute different words

to add to it, or to detract from it. Whoever alters the text of a blessing from that ordained by the Sages is making an error. - The Radbaz (Vol. 5, Responsum 1424) states that as long as the person mentions God's name, His sovereignty over the world, and the subject of the blessing, he fulfills his obligation even if he does not use the text ordained by the Sages. (This interpretation is borne out by the next halachah.)

The Kessef Mishneh explains that the Rambam's phraseology alludes to two types of changes:
a) Changes which do not substantially alter the blessing from the text ordained by the Sages. With regard to such changes, the Rambam uses the expression "it is not fit," which implies that although the person's deed is not desirable, he fulfills his obligation.
b) A change of an innovative nature which alters the text of the blessing entirely. These changes the Rambam considers as "errors" which prevent a person from fulfilling his obligation. See also Halachah 13, Berachot 40b, and Hilchot Kri'at Shema 1:7.

A blessing that does not include the mention of God's name - i.e., the phrase י-ה-ו-ה א-להנו (God, our Lord),

and His sovereignty [over the world]- i.e., the phrase מלך העולם (King of the universe),

is not considered a blessing - and the person reciting it does not fulfill his obligation. See Berachot 40b.

unless it is recited in proximity to a blessing [which meets these criteria]. - For example, the second and third blessings in grace, which do not mention God's sovereignty because they follow directly after the first blessing, which does. Since the blessings are recited in one continuum, one's original statement is applied to the subsequent blessings as well.

Commentary Halacha 6

All the blessings may be recited in any language - Although the text ordained by Ezra and his court was in Hebrew, there is no absolute requirement to use that language

provided one recites [a translation of] the text ordained by the Sages. - Note Shulchan Aruch HaRav 185:1-2, which quotes an opinion that maintains that a person who recites a blessing does not fulfill his obligation unless he understands what he is saying, even when he recites the blessing in Hebrew. Although there are other opinions that maintain that as long as the blessing is recited in Hebrew, one fulfills his obligation, Shulchan Aruch HaRav concludes that it is preferable for a person who does not understand Hebrew to recite the blessings - in particular, the grace - in a language he understands.

[A person who] changes that text - reciting a different blessing from that ordained by the Sages

fulfills his obligation nonetheless - since he mentioned God's name, His sovereignty, and the subject of the blessing - although he did so in a ordinary language. –I.e., a language other than “the Holy Tongue,” Hebrew. See Berachot 40b, which states that a person who recites the phrase "Blessed be God, Master of this bread" in Aramaic fulfills his obligation for the first blessing of grace. Note the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 167:10) which requires that God's sovereignty over the world also be mentioned.

Commentary Halacha 7

A person should recite all the blessings loud enough for him to hear what he is saying. Nevertheless, a person who does not recite a blessing out loud fulfills his obligation, whether he verbalizes the blessing - pronouncing the words with his lips

or merely recites it in his heart. - The Rambam's statements are based on Berachot 15a-b, which states:

A person who reads the Shema in a tone too low to hear fulfills his obligation. Rabbi Yosse states: "He does not fulfill his obligation."...
The difference of opinion applies with regard to the recitation of the Shema because it states, "Hear, Israel." With regard to other mitzvot (blessings, Rashi), everyone agrees that one fulfills one's obligation.

The Rambam's decision that, after the fact, one fulfills his obligation by reciting grace or other blessings in thought alone is not accepted by other authorities. Rashi, Rabbenu Asher, the Tur, and the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 185:2 maintain that though one need not recite the blessings out loud, it is necessary to subvocalize them, pronouncing them with one's lips.

Commentary Halacha 8

Whenever one recites a blessing, one should not make an interruption between the blessing and the subject for which the blessing is recited. - This applies with regard to both blessings recited before food and blessings recited before performing a mitzvah.

If one makes an interruption with other matters, one must recite the blessing again. - This is a literal translation of the Rambam's words. Note Shulchan Aruch HaRav 206:3 which states that even remaining silent for the time it takes to say, Shalom alecha, Rebbe constitutes an interruption.

If, however, one makes an interruption which relates to the subject of the blessing, one does not have to repeat the blessing. - The Rambam's phraseology appears to indicate that, at the outset, one should not make any interruption. If, however, the situation demands that an interruption be made or if one inadvertently does so, the blessing need not be repeated when it is of the following nature.

What is implied? When a person recites a blessing over bread and before eating says, "Bring salt," "Bring food," "Give --- to eat," "Bring food for the animal," or the like - See Berachot 40a and commentaries, which explain why each of these statements is connected with the meal.

he need not repeat the blessing.

Commentary Halacha 9

A person who is ritually impure is permitted to recite all the blessings. - In Hilchot Kri'at Shema 4:8, the Rambam states:

The words of Torah never contract impurity. Rather, they remain pure forever, as [Jeremiah 23:29] states: "Are not My words as fire...." Just as fire can never contract impurity, the words of Torah never contract impurity.

In Hilchot Tefillah 4:4, the Rambam applies these same principles to the words of prayer.

This applies regardless of whether the impurity is of a type from which one can purify oneself on the same day - e.g., the impurity which comes as a result of contact with the carcass of an animal. In this case, to regain ritual purity, one must immerse oneself in a mikveh and wait until nightfall.

or not. - There are some impurities - e.g., the impurity of a זב or the impurity resulting from contact with a human corpse - which require an extended period of time and other rituals besides immersion to regain ritual purity. (See also Berachot 3:4-6 and the Rambam's commentary on those Mishnayot.)

A person who is naked should not recite a blessing until he covers his genitals. - As explained in Hilchot Kri'at Shema 3:16-17, a person is not allowed to recite the Shema in a place where he can see naked people or when he, himself, is naked. The same principles apply with regard to the recitation of blessings.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 206:3) adds that a person may not recite any blessings unless there is a separation between his heart and his genitals and his head is covered.

To whom does this apply? To men - whose genitals protrude. In contrast,

Women may recite blessings [while naked], provided they sit with their genitals facing the ground. - Note the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Challah 2:3, and the Magen Avraham's interpretation of his words (206:5).

Commentary Halacha 10

[The following principle applies to] all blessings: Although a person has already recited them and fulfilled his own obligation - In one of his responsa, the Rambam explains that the same principle applies when the person reciting the blessing has not fulfilled his obligation, but does not desire to do so at the present time.

he may recite them again for others who have not fulfilled their obligation - Rashi, Rosh HaShanah 29a, explains this principle on the basis of the concept of ערבות (mutual responsibility) that exists among the Jewish people. Each Jew shares a responsibility for his colleague's observance. Therefore, although he personally has already recited the blessing, he has not discharged his obligation entirely until each of his fellow Jews fulfills the requirements incumbent upon him.

so that they can fulfill their obligation. - The Rambam describes the manner in which the listener fulfills his obligation in the next halachah.

For the above principle to apply, however, the listener must be obligated to fulfill the mitzvah. When the listener is not obligated - e.g., a woman for shofar blowing - a person should not recite a blessing unless he is obligated himself (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 589:6).

There is, however, one exception: blessings over benefit which is not associated with a mitzvah - e.g., the blessings recited over food in an ordinary meal.

In this instance, one may not recite a blessing for others unless one enjoys benefit together with them. - In this instance, there is no obligation for a person to partake of this food. Hence, the principle of ערבות does not apply (Rashi, loc. cit.) unless the person reciting the blessing also desires to partake of the food. Should he desire to do so, the blessing he recites may include others as well. (Note an alternate explanation in the commentary on Chapter 5, Halachah 16.)

Nevertheless, one may recite blessings for benefit which is associated with a mitzvah - e.g., eating matzah on Pesach and reciting kiddush [on Sabbaths and festivals] - i.e., not only the blessing al achilat matzah, which mentions the mitzvah of eating matzah, but also the blessing hamotzi, which is recited for eating bread; not only the blessing of kiddush, but also the blessing borey pri hagafen, on the wine.

for others - since, in this instance, the only way the mitzvah can be fulfilled is by eating the food.

Note the Tur, Orach Chayim 273, which states that, at the outset, a person who has already recited kiddush should not recite kiddush for others, unless they are incapable of doing so themselves.

They may then eat or drink, even though the one [who recites the blessing] does not eat or drink with them. - Note Sefer HaKovetz, which states that a person is not allowed to recitehamotzi to enable a colleague to partake of the Sabbath meal when he does not join them. There is reason to assume that, since partaking of such a meal is a mitzvah, one would be allowed to recite a blessing, and thus enable a colleague to do so. Nevertheless, following the reasoning mentioned in Sefer HaKovetz, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 167:20) and commentaries mention only the examples cited by the Rambam.

Commentary Halacha 11

Whenever a person listens to the entire recitation of a blessing with the intention of fulfilling his obligation - The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 213:3) rules that the person reciting the blessing also must intend that the listener fulfill his obligation by hearing the blessing.

The Beit Yosef and the Bayit Chadash 213 explain that this ruling points to a question of a larger scope: Do mitzvot of the Rabbis require intention, or is it possible to fulfill one's obligation by performing the required act without any intent.

According to the latter view, although the person reciting the blessing does not have the intention of fulfilling the obligation of the listener, since "one who listens is considered as though he responded," the listener is considered to have recited the blessing, and thus to have fulfilled his obligation.

In contrast, the former view requires that one have a conscious desire to fulfill one's obligation when fulfilling a Rabbinic obligation. Since the person reciting the blessing did not have such an intention on behalf of the listener, the listener cannot fulfill his obligation.

he is considered to have fulfilled his obligation although he does not answer Amen. - According to the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 167:13, 213:1), this applies to all blessings. The Ramah (Orach Chayim 213:1) differs, however, and explains that with regard to blessings for mitzvot, the principle stated by the Rambam is acceptable. With regard to blessings for deriving benefit, however, different rules apply, and a person can fulfill his obligation to recite a blessing by listening to someone else's blessing only when they intentionally sit down to break bread or drink wine together. See the commentary on the following halachah.

Sukkah 38b states:

What is the source which teaches that a person who listens is considered as if he responded?
[II Kings 22:16] mentions: "all the words of the scroll read by the king." Did Josaiah [the king] read them? Shafan read them.... Thus, this teaches that a person who listens is considered as if he responded.

Whoever answers Amen to a blessing recited by another person is considered as if he recited the blessing himself - Berachot 53b mentions two opinions, one which equates the person answeringAmen with the person actually reciting the blessing (the opinion cited by the Rambam), and one which considers the person answering to be on an even higher level.

Thus, with this statement, the Rambam is explaining that, although a person can fulfill his obligation by listening without answering Amen, when he answers he is considered as if he actually recited the blessing himself (Kessef Mishneh).

provided the person who recites the blessing is obligated to recite that blessing. - This excludes a blessing recited by a mentally incapable individual, a deaf-mute, or a child, who are not obligated to fulfill mitzvot (Berachot 20a, Rosh HaShanah 29a).

In Chapter 5, Halachot 15-16, the Rambam mentions that an adult who did not eat a full meal and is obligated to recite grace only by Rabbinic decree can fulfill his obligation by listening to the blessings recited by a child. This, however, is a unique instance and does not apply to blessings recited in the prayer service or over the fulfillment of other mitzvot. With regard to grace, the child's recitation of the blessings comes as a result of a single Rabbinic obligation. Hence, he can fulfill the mitzvah on behalf of an individual whose obligation is also Rabbinic in origin.

In contrast, with regard to other blessings, the blessings themselves are Rabbinic in origin, and the child's obligation to recite them constitutes a second Rabbinic obligation. Accordingly, he cannot fulfill the mitzvah for someone whose obligation stems from a single Rabbinic decree (Tosafot, Megillah 19b).

If the person who recites the blessing is obligated only because of a Rabbinic ordinance - e.g., an adult male who has not eaten to the point of satiation

while the person responding is obligated by Torah law - an adult who ate to the point of satiation

the listener cannot fulfill his obligation until he repeats - word for word

in response [to the one reciting the blessings] - Our translation (based on Sefer HaKovetz and the Bnei Binyamin) does conform to Biblical and Mishnaic interpretations of the word יענה. It does, however, appear slightly forced. Nevertheless, it is the most appropriate way to interpret the Rambam's words according to the halachah which states that, only with regard to grace, may an adult fulfill his obligation to recite a blessing by answering Amen to a child's blessing.

Rav Kapach presents a unique thesis, maintaining that in this halachah the Rambam is teaching us that an adult can fulfill his obligation to recite any blessing by responding Amen to a blessing recited by a child. His interpretation, though contrary to the accepted halachah, allows for a more direct translation of the Rambam's words.

or until he hears [the blessing recited] by someone who, like him, is obligated by Torah law. - In the latter case, the listener is not obligated to recite Amen.

Commentary Halacha 12

When many people gather together to eat [a meal with] bread or to drink wine, and one recites the blessing - Our translation follows the standard text of the Mishneh Torah. According to the source for this law, Berachot 6:6, and the manner it is quoted in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 167:11), it should read, "one person should recite the blessing." This is the preferred manner for the group to bless their food, because "within the multitude of people is the glory of the king" (Proverbs 14:28).

Shulchan Aruch HaRav 167:18 relates that today, even when eating a meal as a group, it is customary for each person to recite the blessing over bread himself, so that an interruption is not made between the recitation of the blessing and partaking of the food.

while the others respond Amen, they are [all] permitted to eat and drink - without reciting blessings themselves. They fulfill their obligation by listening to the blessing recited previously.

If, however, they did not intend to eat together, but rather they each came on their own initiative, although they all eat from a single loaf of bread, each one should recite the blessings [before eating] by himself. - Although this is the desired practice, if one answers Amen to another person's blessing, he fulfills his obligation, as stated in the previous halachah.

This reflects the position of the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 167:13). The Magen Avraham, however, differs, and maintains that one cannot fulfill his obligation to recite blessings that involve benefit unless one had the intention of eating together with the other person and responding to his blessings. This view takes a more lenient position regarding blessings over mitzvot, which we are obligated to fulfill, than regarding the blessings over food, which we are not obligated to eat.

When does the above apply? With regard to bread and wine. With regard to other foods, however, which do not require [premeditated intent] to be eaten together as a group - Our interpretation of הסבה is based on the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Berachot 6:6.

if one person recited a blessing and everyone answered Amen, they may eat and drink although they did not intend to gather together as a group. - The Ra'avad differs and maintains that when eating foods other than bread or wine, each person should recite the blessings for himself. (Significantly, on this issue there is a responsum which is attributed to the Rambam. However, it has raised difficulties among the commentaries and its authenticity has been challenged.)

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 213:1) accepts the Rambam's opinion, but states that this applies only when people sit around a single table as a group. Eating in a single room is not sufficient. The Ramah, however, quotes the Ra'avad's view.

Commentary Halacha 13

Until now, the Rambam has dealt with the recitation of Amen within the context of fulfilling one's own obligation by responding to another person's blessing. In this and the following halachot, the Rambam deals with the recitation of Amen as an obligation in its own right.

Whenever a person hears a Jew recite a blessing, he is obligated - This represents a difference of opinion between the Rambam and the Tur (Orach Chayim 215), who considers respondingAmen a matter left to our own volition. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 215:2) quotes the Rambam's opinion. Furthermore, the Magen Avrahamh 6:9 mentions an obligation to reciteAmen ninety times each day.

to respond Amen - Shabbat 119b states that Amen is an acronym for the words, א-ל מלך נאמן (God, faithful King). In that passage, our Sages declare that, "the Gates of Gan Eden will be opened for a person who answers Amen with all his strength."

The Tur (Orach Chayim 124) explains that Amen implies an acknowledgement of the truth of a statement. The Magen Avraham 124:9 adds that when answered in response to a request, it also has the implication that one prays that the request be fulfilled speedily.

although a) he did not hear the blessing in its entirety - but merely its conclusion. See also the commentary on the last clause of the following halachah.

b) he was not obligated to recite that blessing himself. One should not respond Amen if the person reciting the blessing is a gentile - Although the latter word is surrounded by parentheses in the standard published text of the Mishneh Torah (indicating a question with regard to its inclusion), it is found in all the authoritative manuscripts and reflects the Rambam's statements in his Commentary on the Mishnah (Berachot 8:8, the source for this law).

The reason we do not respond to a gentile's blessing is that we assume that although he mentions God's name, his blessing is directed toward the alien deity in which he believes.

Rabbenu Asher maintains that a person should respond Amen to a gentile's blessing when he hear the blessing recited in its entirety and he supports his statements with a quote from the Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 8:8. The Ramah (Orach Chayim 215:2) quotes this opinion. There is not necessarily a contradiction between the latter ruling and the Rambam's. The Rambam's statements can be interpreted as applying to gentiles in general, while those of the Jerusalem Talmud, as applying to those gentiles - e.g., Moslems - who are known not to worship any idols or alien gods.

an apostate - Since, "It can be assumed that an apostate has false gods in mind (Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 2:5)," we are forbidden to respond to his blessings.

a Samaritan - In his Commentary on the Mishnah (loc. cit.), the Rambam elaborates in the description of the Samaritans. He explains that after Sancheriv exiled the ten tribes, he settled several gentile tribes in their land. These tribes adopted certain aspects of Jewish practice. Hence, with regard to certain laws, the Sages considered them as converts. Afterward, however, the Sages discovered that they were idolaters. From that time onward, they were considered as other gentiles.

a child in the midst of study - and recites blessings for practice. When a child recites a blessing with the intent of fulfilling his obligation, however, it is appropriate to respond Amen (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 215:3).

or an adult who altered the text of the blessing - Since (as stated in the commentary on Halachah 5) a person who alters the text of the blessing does not fulfill his obligation, Amen should not be recited. [This applies only when the change in the text of the blessings is significant enough to prevent one from fulfilling his obligation with such a blessing (Mishnah Berurah 215:11).]

Commentary Halacha 14

Whenever responding Amen, one should not recite a rushed Amen - Our translation is based on the interpretation of the Aruch, which explains that this means that a person should not answer Amen before the one reciting the blessing has concluded its recitation.

Rashi (Berachot 47a) interprets this to mean that one substitutes a chataf patach (:-) for a kamatz in the vocalization of the Alef. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 124:8) accepts both interpretations as halachah.

a cut off Amen - The Aruch explains that this refers to pronouncing Amen as if the word were cut in two. Rashi (loc. cit.) explains that this refers to swallowing the pronunciation ("cutting off") of the final nun. Again, the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.) and the Ramah quote both interpretations as halachah.

nor a short or a prolonged Amen - Berachot (loc. cit.) states, "Whoever prolongs the recitation of Amen errs," since by doing so one distorts the pronunciation of the word (Tosafot).

but rather an Amen of intermediate length.

One should not raise one's voice above that of the person reciting the blessing. - Berachot 45a states that this law is derived from Psalms 34:4: "Exalt God with me and let us extol His name together."

Whoever did not hear a blessing that he is obligated to recite should not answer Amen together with the others. - Berachot 47a describes this as "an orphaned Amen" - i.e., an Amen that is separated from the blessing that gave rise to it.

The Rambam specifies that this applies only regarding "a blessing that he is required to recite," because of a passage from Sukkah 51b. There, the Talmud relates that the synagogue in Alexandria was so large that flags would be waved as a signal that the chazan had finished a blessing, and then everyone would recite Amen, even though they had not heard the blessing themselves.

[Rashi (loc. cit.) interprets "an orphaned Amen" as reciting Amen although one does not know which blessing was recited. Shulchan Aruch HaRav (loc. cit.) accepts the stringencies that result from both opinions.

Commentary Halacha 15

Whoever recites a blessing for which he is not obligated is considered as if he took God's name in vain. - See Hilchot Sh'vuot 12:9-10, where the Rambam states that a person who intentionally recites a blessing in vain should be placed under a ban of ostracism.

Note Chapter 4, Halachah 10, which states that after reciting an unnecessary blessing, one should praise God, saying, "Blessed be the Name of Him whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever" so that his mention of God's name will not be in vain.

He is considered as one who took a false oath - The Minchat Chinuch (Mitzvah 30) states that, with this statement, the Rambam intended to imply that the person should be lashed in punishment. Other Rabbis rule less severely, stating that although this punishment is not administered, the person is considered to have violated the commandment, "Do not take God's name in vain." Shulchan Aruch HaRav 215:3, however, maintains that since he intended to recite a blessing, his mention of God's name is not entirely frivolous, and he is hence considered to have violated a Rabbinic prohibition and not the commandment of the Torah itself.

and it is forbidden to answer Amen after his blessing. - For this reason, it is forbidden to recite a blessing unnecessarily - e.g., to recite two blessings when a single blessing is sufficient. Similarly, for this reason, a person who is unsure of whether or not he is obligated to recite a blessing should not recite it, lest he recite a blessing in vain.

Despite the severity of the prohibition against taking God's name in vain

We may teach children the blessings using the full text. Even though in this manner, they recite blessings in vain in the midst of their study, it is permissible - so that the child will learn how to recite blessings properly.

One should not recite Amen after their blessings. - The source of this halachah, Berachot 53b, indicates that this law applies only when the children are reciting the blessings for practice. When they are reciting the blessings to fulfill their obligation, we should respond Amen.

A person who answers Amen after their blessings does not fulfill his obligation. - Note our commentary on Halachah 11, which explains that only with regard to grace (see Chapter 3, Halachot 15- 16) may an adult fulfill his obligation by reciting Amen to a blessing recited by a child.

Commentary Halacha 16

It is demeaning for a person to recite Amen after his own blessings. - This does not refer to the recitation of a single blessing (which is discussed in Halachah 18), but the recitation ofAmen after each blessing recited in a series of blessings. Reciting Amen is considered demeaning because it implies a conclusion of one's prayers. It is not proper to conclude and begin, conclude and begin, several times in one series (Kessef Mishneh).

When, however, one concludes the last of a series of blessings, it is praiseworthy to answer Amen - This serves as a statement that one has concluded one's prayers with praise of God.

e.g., after the blessing Boneh Yerushalayim in grace - The third blessing in grace. Note also the following halachah. This example is explicitly mentioned by Berachot 45b, the source for this halachah.

and after the final blessing [following] the recitation of the Shema in the evening service. - This example was chosen by the Rambam himself. The Rambam specifies the evening service because he considers the recitation of Amen at this point in the morning service as an interruption between the blessing גאל ישראל and the beginning of Shemoneh Esreh.

Similarly, always, at the conclusion of the last of a series of blessings, one should recite Amen after one's own blessing. -Tosafot, Berachot, loc. cit., and the Ramah (Orach Chayim 215:1) state that Amen is recited only after Boneh Yerushalayim and not after other series of blessings. Shulchan Aruch HaRav 54:1 explains this ruling, stating that there is another advantage to reciting Amen after Boneh Yerushalayim: It differentiates between blessings required by the Torah and those ordained by Rabbinic decree.

Commentary Halacha 17

Why is Amen recited after the blessing Boneh Yerushalayim although it is followed by the blessing Hatov v'hametiv? - On the surface, the latter blessing, and not the blessing Boneh Yerushalayim, marks the conclusion of the blessings of grace.

Because the latter blessing was ordained in the era of the Mishnah - See Chapter 2, Halachah 1, and commentary.

and is considered to be an addition. The conclusion of the essential blessings of grace is Boneh Yerushalayim. - Hence Amen is recited at this point. As mentioned in the commentary on the previous halachah, its recitation differentiates between the blessings required by the Torah and those instituted by the Rabbis.

Why is Amen not recited after the blessing Ahavat olam? - Its recitation would be appropriate because Ahavat olam concludes the two blessings recited before the Shema.

Because it is the conclusion of the blessings recited before the Shema - and an interruption should not be made between these blessings and the recitation of the Shema.

Similarly, in other instances when [a series of] blessings are recited before a practice - e.g., the blessings recited before the reading of the Megillah or the kindling of the Chanukah lights - when two or three blessings are recited in succession,

Amen [is not recited] lest it constitute an interruption between the blessings and [the fulfillment of] the performance over which they are being recited. - See Halachah 8.

Commentary Halacha 18

Why is Amen not recited after the blessing over fruits and the like? - The Ra'avad and the Kessef Mishneh explain that the Rambam is not referring to the blessing recited before partaking of fruit. All agree that one should not recite Amen after such a blessing, because Amen would constitute an interruption between the blessing and partaking of the fruit. Rather, the Rambam is speaking about the blessing al hapairot or other similar blessings.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam on this matter and suggests that a person should recite Amen after concluding any of these blessings. The later authorities, however, accept the Rambam's decision.

Because it is only a single blessing, and Amen is recited only after a concluding blessing that follows another blessing or blessings - e.g., the blessings of the king - The series of seven blessings recited by the king after reading from the Torah at the Hakhel gathering held in the Temple once every seven years (Hilchot Chaggigah 3:4)

or the blessings of the High Priest - The series of eight blessings recited by the High Priest after reading from the Torah during the Temple service on Yom Kippur (Hilchot Avodat Yom HaKippurim 3:11).

to signify the conclusion of the blessings. Therefore, reciting Amen is appropriate. - The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 5:4) also cites the blessings recited after the haftarah as an example of a sequence at whose conclusion it is appropriate to recite Amen.

Commentary Halacha 19

When a person eats a forbidden food - whether consciously or inadvertently - he should not recite a blessing beforehand or afterward. - It is improper to bless God after transgressing His commandments. On the contrary, concerning a similar incident, the Jerusalem Talmud (Challah 1:5) cites Psalms 10:3, "A thief who recites a blessing disgusts God." Even an inadvertent violation of the law is an act against His will for which it is not appropriate to bless Him.

The Ra'avad and Rabbenu Asher differ with the Rambam's decision and maintain that the fact that a person violates a commandment against eating forbidden food should not cause him to violate another commandment and benefit from the world without praising God. TheTurei Zahav 196:1 attempts to resolve the two views and offers a compromise: A person who intentionally violates a prohibition should not recite a blessing. If, however, a person eats a forbidden food inadvertently, he should recite a blessing afterwards.

Significantly, the Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 196) explains that even the Rambam would agree that a sick person who is required to eat a forbidden food for medicinal purposes should recite a blessing. There are, however, authorities who differ with this ruling as well.

What is implied? If one eats tevel - grain, oil, or wine from which terumah was not separated

even food that is classified as tevel by Rabbinical decree - e.g., produce that grows in containers. According to Torah law, the agricultural gifts are required to be given only from produce that grows in the earth itself (Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Berachot 7:1).

the first tithe from which terumah was not separated - Even when the first tithe was separated before terumah, terumah should be separated from the tithe as well (loc. cit.).

or the second tithe - which must be eaten in Jerusalem. If this is not possible, the food can be redeemed and the money brought to Jerusalem to purchase food there. It is forbidden to eat this food outside Jerusalem until it is redeemed (Deuteronomy 14:22-27). In this instance, we are speaking about a situation where the redemption was improperly performed - e.g., one used uncoined metal (the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Berachot 7:1).

or sanctified foods - foods consecrated to the Temple

that were not redeemed in the proper manner,- They were redeemed using landed property, which is unacceptable (loc. cit.).

one should not recite a blessing. Needless to say, this applies if one ate meat from an animal that was not ritually slaughtered - but rather, died naturally or was slaughtered without using the proper procedure

or was trefah - An animal attacked by a wild beast or diseased and therefore suffering from an affliction that will cause it to die within twelve months (Hilchot Shechitah, Chapter 5).

or if one drank wine used as a libation for idol worship. - It is forbidden to drink such wine. See Hilchot Ma'achalot Asurot, Chapter 11.

Berachot - Chapter Two

Halacha 1

This is the order of the blessings of the grace after meals:
The first blessing [thanks God for providing our] sustenance;
The second blessing [thanks God for granting us] Eretz [Yisrael];
The third blessing [praises God as] "the builder of Jerusalem"; and
The fourth blessing [praises God as] "He who is good and does good."

The first blessing was instituted by Moses, our teacher; the second blessing by Joshua; the third by King David and his son, Solomon; and the fourth by the Sages of the Megillah.

Halacha 2

When workers are employed by an employer and eat a meal of bread, they should not recite a blessing before eating. Similarly, they should recite only two blessings after eating so that they do not neglect their employer's work.

[In such an instance,] the complete text of the first blessing should be recited. In the second blessing, they should begin with the text of the blessing for Eretz Yisrael, include aspects of the blessing for the building of Jerusalem, and conclude using the standard conclusion of the second blessing.

If they do not receive a wage, but only meals in return for their services or if they eat together with their employer, they should recite the full text of the four blessings as others do.

Halacha 3

The blessing for Eretz Yisrael should include an acknowledgement of thanks [to God] at its beginning and at its conclusion. It should conclude: "[Blessed are You, God,] for the land and for the sustenance." Whoever does not include the phrase "a precious, good, and spacious land" in the blessing for Eretz Yisrael does not fulfill his obligation.

A person must mention the covenant [of circumcision] and the Torah [in this blessing], mentioning the covenant before the Torah. [The reason for this order is] that the covenant mentioned in the blessing for Eretz Yisrael refers to the covenant of circumcision, concerning which thirteen covenants [are mentioned in the Torah]. In contrast, [the Torah mentions only] three covenants with regard to the Torah, as [Deuteronomy 28:69] states: "These are the words of the covenant... in addition to the covenant He established with you at Chorev," and [Deuteronomy 29:9-11] states: "You are standing... to establish a covenant."

Halacha 4

The third blessing begins as follows: "Have mercy on us, God, our Lord, and on Israel, Your people, on Jerusalem, Your city, and on Zion, the abode of Your glory..." Alternatively, it begins: "Comfort us, God, our Lord, with Jerusalem, Your city...."

One should conclude: "[Blessed are You, God,] who will build Jerusalem," or "...who will comfort His people Israel with the building of Jerusalem." For this reason, this blessing is referred to as "the blessing of comfort."

Whoever does not mention the kingdom of the House of David in this blessing does not fulfill his obligation, because it is an essential element of the blessing. There will be no complete comfort until the return of the sovereignty to the House of David.

Halacha 5

On Sabbaths and on the festivals, one should begin with the concept of comfort and conclude with the concept of comfort and, in the midst of the blessing, mention the sacred quality of the day.

How should one begin? Either with, "Comfort us, God, our Lord, with Zion, Your city..." or "Have mercy on us, God, our Lord, and on Israel, Your people, on Jerusalem, Your city...." One should conclude with: "[Blessed are You, God,] who will comfort His people Israel with the building of Jerusalem" or "... who will build Jerusalem."

On the Sabbath, in the midst [of the blessing], one should say:

Our God, and God of our fathers, may it please You, God, our Lord, to strengthen us through Your mitzvot and through the mitzvah of this great and holy seventh day. For this day is great and holy before You for us to refrain from work and rest on it with love in accordance with the commandment of Your will. In Your good will, God, our Lord, grant us tranquility and prevent distress, evil, and sorrow on the day of our rest.

On the festivals, one should include the prayer Ya'aleh v'yavo in this blessing. Similarly, on Rosh Chodesh and on Chol HaMo’ed, one should include the prayer Ya'aleh v'yavo in the third blessing.

Halacha 6

On Chanukah and Purim, one should add the prayer Al hanisim in the blessing for Eretz Yisrael, as one adds in the Shemoneh Esreh.

When a festival or Rosh Chodesh falls on the Sabbath, one recites R'tzey vahachalitzenu first, and then Ya'aleh v'yavo. Similarly, when Rosh Chodesh Tevet falls on the Sabbath, one recites Al hanisim in the blessing for Eretz Yisrael, and R'tzey vahachalitzenu and Ya'aleh v'yavo in the blessing of comfort.

Halacha 7

In the fourth blessing, one must mention God's sovereignty three times.

When a guest recites grace in the home of his host, he should add a blessing for his host in this blessing. What should he say? "May it be Your will that [my] host not be disgraced in this world or shamed in the world to come." He may add to the blessing for [his] host and extend it [as he desires].

Halacha 8

When grace is being recited in the house of a mourner, the following addition should be made in the fourth blessing:

The Living King who is good and does good, the true God, the true Judge who judges justly, the absolute ruler of His world who may do as He chooses. We are His people and His servants and we are obligated to thank Him and bless Him for everything.

He should request mercy for the mourner to comfort him in the matters that he desires. [Afterwards,] he concludes, Harachaman....

Halacha 9

The blessing for the bridegroom is recited after these four blessings at each meal eaten in the place of the wedding celebration. This blessing should not be recited by servants or by minors.

Until when is the blessing recited? When a widower marries a widow, it is recited only on the first day. When a groom who has never married before marries a widow or when a bride who has never married before marries a widower, it is recited during all the seven days of the marriage celebrations.

Halacha 10

The blessing that is added at the place of the wedding celebration is the final blessing of the seven blessings recited at the wedding.

When does the above apply? When [all] the people who eat there were present [at the wedding] and heard the wedding blessings being recited. If, however, other people were present who had not heard the wedding blessings at the wedding, the seven wedding blessings are recited for them after grace, just as they are recited at the wedding itself.

The above applies when [a quorum of] ten are present. The groom can be counted as part of this quorum.

Halacha 11

These are the seven blessings:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, Creator of man.
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who created all things for His glory.
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who created man in His image, in an image reflecting His likeness, [He brought forth] his form and prepared for him from his own self a structure that will last for all time. Blessed are You, God, Creator of man.
May the barren one rejoice and exult as her children are gathered to her with joy. Blessed are You, God, who makes Zion rejoice in her children.
Grant joy to these loving companions as You granted joy to Your creation in the Garden of Eden long ago. Blessed are You, God, who grants joy to the groom and the bride.
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who created joy and happiness, bride and groom, gladness, song, cheer, and delight, love and harmony, peace and friendship. Soon, God, our Lord, may there be heard in the cities of Judah and the outskirts of Jerusalem, a voice of joy and a voice of happiness, a voice of a groom and a voice of a bride, a voice of grooms rejoicing from their wedding canopies and youths from their songfests. Blessed are You, God, who grants joy to the groom together with the bride.

Halacha 12

[The following rules apply when a person who is reciting grace] on a Sabbath or a festival [concludes the third blessing and] forgets to mention the aspect of holiness connected with the day: If he remembers before he begins the fourth blessing, he should recite the following:
On the Sabbath: Blessed [are You, God...] who has granted rest to His people Israel as a sign and a holy covenant. Blessed are You, God, who sanctifies the Sabbath.
On the festivals: Blessed [are You, God...] who has granted festivals to His people Israel for rejoicing and for happiness. Blessed are You, God, who sanctifies Israel and the seasons.

Afterwards, one should begin the fourth blessing and conclude grace. If he [does not] remember [the omission of the special passages until after] he begins the fourth blessing, he should cease [his prayers] and return to the beginning [of grace], the blessing for sustenance.

Halacha 13

[The following rules apply when a person who is reciting grace] on Rosh Chodesh [concludes the third blessing and] forgets to recite Ya'aleh v'yavo:

If he remembers before he begins the fourth blessing, he should recite the following: "Blessed [are You, God...] who granted Rashei Chadashim to His people Israel as a remembrance." The blessing does not include a chatimah. Afterwards, he should begin the fourth blessing and conclude grace. If he remembers after beginning the fourth blessing, he should complete it [without making any additions]. He need not repeat [the entire grace]. The same rules apply on Chol HaMo’ed.

[When a person reciting grace] on Chanukah or on Purim forgets to mention the uniqueness of the day in grace, he need not repeat [the grace].

Halacha 14

[The following rules apply to] a person who ate and forgot to recite grace: If he remembers before his food becomes digested, he should return and recite grace. If he remembers after his food becomes digested, he should not return and recite grace.

If a person forgets and is unsure whether he recited grace or not, he must return and recite grace, provided his food has not become digested.

Commentary Halacha 1

This is the order of the blessings of the grace after meals: The first blessing [thanks God for providing our] sustenance; - Deuteronomy 8:10 states: "When you have eaten and are satiated, you shall bless God, your Lord...." Berachot 48b states that this command obligates us to recite the blessing thanking God for our sustenance.

The second blessing [thanks God for granting us] Eretz [Yisrael]; - The above verse continues, "for the good land which He has granted you." Berachot (loc. cit.) interprets this as an obligation to add a special blessing thanking God for Eretz Yisrael.

The third blessing [praises God as] "the builder of Jerusalem"; - Berachot (loc. cit.) interprets the modifier "good" in the above verse as a reference to Jerusalem and the Temple. This allusion implies an obligation to add a blessing thanking God for these gifts.

and The fourth blessing [praises God as] "He who is good and does good." - As the Rambam explains, this blessing was a later addition. The Rambam includes the full text for these blessings in "The Order of Prayers for the Entire Year," which is found at the end of this text.

The first blessing was instituted by Moses, our teacher -Berachot (loc. cit.) explains that Moses instituted this blessing when the manna descended. The manna serves as a clear sign of God's beneficence in granting sustenance to His creations.

the second blessing by Joshua - Berachot (loc. cit.) continues, relating that when the Jews entered Eretz Yisrael and began to benefit from its produce, Joshua instituted the second blessing of grace.

the third by King David - who solidified the kingdom of Israel and conquered Jerusalem. He instituted the blessing thanking God, "for Israel, Your people, and Jerusalem, Your city" (Berachot, loc. cit.).

and his son, Solomon - who built the Temple and added to the blessing instituted by his father, acknowledgement of "the great and holy house on which Your name is called" (Berachot, loc. cit.).

There is a slight difficulty with these statements. The first three blessings are considered to have been instituted by the Torah. If so, how can the authorship of the latter two of them be attributed to Joshua, David, and Solomon, who lived in later generations?

The Ramban in his Hasagot explains that, although the fundamental obligation to recite these blessings originates in the Torah, the basic form of the text of these blessings was ordained by each of these prophets in his time. Beforehand, each person would recite the grace in his own words. (See also the commentary on the following halachah.)

The Ramban also explains that, after the destruction of the Temple, a prayer that it be rebuilt was included in the third blessing. In this context, it is also worthy to question whether Ezra and the Men of the Great Assembly also made any changes in the grace when they arranged all the prayers and blessings, as mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 5 and commentary. (See Kochba d'Shavit.)

and the fourth by the Sages of the Megillah. - Berachot (loc. cit.) relates that the Sages instituted this blessing on the day the Romans granted permission for the dead of Beitar to be buried. This city had served as the capital of Bar Kochba's revolt against Rome and had exacted a heavy toll of legionnaires while making a valiant defense. When the city finally fell, the Romans slew hundreds of thousands mercilessly, the extent of the carnage staggering all chroniclers. As a further measure of punishment to its inhabitants, they refused to allow them to be buried.

Years passed before such permission was granted. When the Romans finally granted the Sages permission to bury these people, they were amazed at the wondrous miracle their eyes beheld. The corpses had remained whole. They had neither rotted, nor been eaten by predators. In appreciation of this Divine kindness, the Sages instituted this blessing, praising God for being "good" (for preventing them from rotting) and "doing good" (for allowing the corpses to be buried).

Commentary Halacha 2

When workers are employed by an employer and eat a meal of bread, they should not recite a blessing before eating. - The obligation to recite the blessing before eating is Rabbinic in origin. In certain situations, the Sages did not institute such a requirement.

Similarly, they should recite only two blessings after eating - combining the second and third blessings and omitting the fourth.

Tosafot, Berachot 16a, states that although the third blessing is required by the Torah, it is not recited because the Sages have the power to withhold the fulfillment of a Torah precept. The Kessef Mishneh offers a different rationale, explaining that the Rambam did not state that the Torah requires that a specific number of blessings be recited for grace.

The Rishon LeTzion clarifies the matter further, explaining that the Rambam maintains that the Torah requires us to mention three concepts in grace: appreciation for the sustenance God grants us, appreciation for Eretz Yisrael, and appreciation for Jerusalem. According to the Torah, it does not matter how these three concepts are mentioned, whether in one blessing (as in al hamichyah), two blessings (as in this law), or three blessings (as is the usual case).

so that they do not neglect their employer's work. - From this we learn two concepts:
a) that it is forbidden to work while reciting grace (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 2:5; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 183:12);
b) how important it is for a worker to devote himself faithfully to his work. See the conclusion of Hilchot Sechirut.

[In such an instance,] the complete text of the first blessing should be recited. - Rashi, Berachot (loc. cit.), explains that this distinction is made because the latter two blessings resemble each other, and hence can be combined with little difficulty. In contrast, the first blessing focuses on a different theme.

In the second blessing, they should begin with the text of the blessing for Eretz Yisrael, include aspects of the blessing for the building of Jerusalem - One should recite:

We offer thanks to You, God, our Lord, for having granted our ancestors a precious, good, and spacious land, and Jerusalem, Your city. May You rebuild it speedily in our days (Rabbenu Manoach).

It may be presumed that one should also include the aspects of the second and third blessings that Halachot 3 and 4 consider as absolute requirements (Kinat Eliyahu).

and conclude using the standard conclusion of the second blessing.

If they do not receive a wage, but only meals in return for their services - their responsibility to their employer is less, and they are required to recite all the blessings.

or if they eat together with their employer, they should recite the full text of the four blessings as others do. - The fact that their employer joins them can be interpreted as license to take the leisure of reciting the full text of grace.

At present, it is assumed that employers allow their workers greater leniency and, in all instances, workers are required to recite the entire grace (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 191:2).

Commentary Halacha 3

The blessing for Eretz Yisrael should include an acknowledgement of thanks [to God] at its beginning and at its conclusion. - In "The Order of Prayers for the Entire Year," the Rambam relates that this blessing begins, "We offer thanks to You, God, our Lord..." and states, shortly before its conclusion, "For all these, God, our Lord, we give thanks to You." An omission of the second mention of thanks, however, does not require the repetition of grace (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 187:4).

It should conclude: "[Blessed are You, God,] for the land and for the sustenance." - This is a single expression of thanks, acknowledging God's gift of "a land which produces sustenance" (Berachot 49a).

Whoever does not include the phrase "a precious, good, and spacious land" - This expression is a combination of the praises of Eretz Yisrael mentioned in Jeremiah 3:19 and Exodus 3:8.

in the blessing for Eretz Yisrael does not fulfill his obligation. - Unless one mentions these qualities, one has not adequately expressed one's appreciation for Eretz Yisrael. The omission of this phrase requires the repetition of the grace. See Halachah 12.

A person must mention the covenant [of circumcision] - Rashi (Berachot 48b) explains that the mitzvah of circumcision is connected with God's promise of Eretz Yisrael to Abraham, as Genesis 17:8-10 states: "I will give you and your descendants... the entire land of Canaan.... You shall keep My covenant.... Circumcise every male."

and the Torah [in this blessing] - Rashi (loc. cit.) notes that a similar connection applies with regard to the Torah, as Deuteronomy 8:1 states: "Observe all the mitzvot which I am commanding you... so that you will... inherit the land that God promised to your ancestors."

The phraseology used by the Rambam indicates that he does not require the repetition of the grace if either of these points is omitted. Other authorities (including the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 187:3) differ and require the repetition of grace in such an instance.

mentioning the covenant before the Torah. [The reason for this order - which gives priority to the covenant

is] that the covenant mentioned in the blessing for Eretz Yisrael refers to the covenant of circumcision, concerning which thirteen covenants [are mentioned in the Torah]. - Note the conclusion of Hilchot Milah, where the Rambam enumerates these thirteen expressions.

In contrast, [the Torah mentions only] three covenants with regard to the Torah, as [Deuteronomy 28:69] states: "These are the words of the covenant... in addition to the covenant He established with you at Chorev," and [Deuteronomy 29:9-11] states: "You are standing... to establish a covenant." - The Lechem Mishneh notes that there are several other verses that refer to a covenant with regard to the Torah. These three, however, are unique in that they refer to the establishment of a covenant regarding the bond between the Jews and the Torah.
1. Berachot 49a mentions both these possibilities. In "The Order of Prayers for the Entire Year," the Rambam quotes the former expression.
2. The beginning of a blessing must share the same theme as its conclusion. Nevertheless, the rebuilding of Jerusalem shares a connection with God's showing mercy to the people of Israel, since the rebuilding of Jerusalem is an expression of God's mercy to the Jewish people (Berachot, loc. cit.).
3. Although Berachot (loc. cit.) mentions that two different concepts should not be mentioned in the conclusion of a blessing, this version of the blessing does not contradict that rule. The intent is a single request that Israel be granted the ultimate comfort, the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
4. Rashi, Berachot 48b, mentions another reason for the mention of the House of David. It was David who conquered Jerusalem and established the holiness of the city.
5. Since an integral element of our celebration of the Sabbath and festivals is eating festive meals, the sacred element of the day should be mentioned in the grace recited after partaking of those meals. Nevertheless, the uniqueness of the day does not require a blessing in its own right, nor is it made the essential element of the third blessing. Therefore, one begins and concludes that blessing in the same manner as is done during the week (Rashi, Tosafot, Berachot 48b).
6. The order in which these alternatives are mentioned in this halachah is the reverse of that mentioned in the previous halachah. It can be explained that in the previous halachah, the Rambam mentioned the text he considered most appropriate first. The order he mentions in this halachah, however, is closer to the expression used by our Sages in Berachot (loc. cit.), the source for this halachah.
7. Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. With regard to Rosh HaShanah, see the commentary on Halachah 13.
8. Shabbat 24a explains that since an additional sacrifice (korban musaf) is offered on these days, they possess an element of sanctity that is worthy of mention. As obvious from the contrast of Halachah 12 to Halachah 13, however, there is a difference between the obligation to mention these days and the obligation to mention Sabbaths and festivals.
9. Since Chanukah and Purim are Rabbinic holidays which are not associated with an additional sacrificial offering, they are not mentioned in the third blessing. The second blessing is more appropriate for the mention of the miracles of these holidays, since it is an expression of thanks to God (Shabbat 24a).

The Kessef Mishneh and the Lechem Mishneh note that from Shabbat (loc. cit.), it would appear that while permission is granted to mention Chanukah and Purim in the second blessing, it is not an obligation to do so. In contrast, the Rambam requires that they be mentioned. They explain that since the Sages of the Talmud were wont to mention these holidays in grace, and the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 7:6) considers their mention a binding obligation, the Rambam established their mention as a requirement. See also Halachah 13 and commentary.
10. Precedence is given to the Sabbath because it occurs more frequently than the festivals and is on a higher spiritual level (Kessef Mishneh).
11. "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, 16King13 of the Universe, the God, who is our Father and our 16King13... the 16King13 who is good." The reason for this stress on God's sovereignty in this blessing is that the blessing recited previously mentions the sovereignty of the House of David, and the Sages wanted to emphasize how all earthly kings are subordinate to a higher authority (Berachot 49a).
12. The blessing mentioned is quoted from Berachot 46a. That source also contains additions to the blessing that Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi would recite.
13. The Rambam's words are quoted from Berachot 46b, which relates that Mar Zutra recited this blessing.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 379:14) relates that this blessing should be recited throughout the seven days of mourning by the mourners and by all who recite grace together with him when there is a zimun. Other opinions (based on Ketubot 8a) state that this blessing should be recited only when ten people recite grace together. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 207:7 writes that it is Ashkenazic custom to rely on this opinion, and hence, this blessing is generally not recited.
14. Berachot (loc. cit.) relates several additions Mar Zutra made on the above occasion.
15. In "The Order of Prayers for the Entire Year," the Rambam includes several requests beginning with the word Harachaman (May the Merciful One...) in his text of grace. These requests were additions to the grace made by the Geonim, who lived in the era subsequent to the Talmud.
16. This refers to the final blessing quoted in Halachah 11.
17. Nisu'in (marriage) is marked by the entry of a bride and groom into a private chamber together. This ceremony is referred to as chuppah and is accompanied by a celebration. See Hilchot Ishut, Chapter 10, and commentaries.

As mentioned at the conclusion of the following halachah, according to the Rambam this blessing is recited only when ten adult males are present. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 62:4) differs and maintains that it should be recited even when fewer than ten people are present. Note the Ramah (Even HaEzer 62:7) who states that today this blessing is never recited alone. If "new faces" - people who had not attended the wedding celebrations previously - are present, all seven blessings are recited. If no "new faces" are present (although ten males are), the meal is considered like a meal eaten by the bridegroom alone, and the blessing is not recited.
18. The same laws applying to a widow or widower apply to a person who has been divorced. Significantly, in Hilchot Ishut 10:12, the Rambam states that even if a woman has been married before, her husband should celebrate with her for three days.
19. Surely, this also applies when neither the bride nor groom have been married before. Hilchot Ishut (loc. cit.) states: "The Sages ordained that everyone who marries a maiden should celebrate with her for seven days."

The differences between the time limits mentioned in this halachah and those mentioned in Chapter 5, Halachah 5, are worthy of comparison. See the commentary on that halachah.
20. Ketubot 8a states that after the first day of the wedding celebrations, Rav Ashi would recite the wedding blessings only when "new faces" were present. In his responsa, the Rambam's son states that his father required only two "new faces." Note the Beit Shmuel 64:7 who requires only one "new face." The Hagahot Maimoniot write that on the Sabbath the presence of new guests is not necessary, since the Sabbath itself is considered as "guests."
21. Ketubot 7b derives this rule from the account of the wedding between Ruth and Boaz. Ruth 4:2 relates that Boaz invited ten men to witness the marriage.

22. Only six blessings are mentioned below; the seventh blessing is the blessing over the wine. (See Hilchot Ishut 10:4.)
23. Rashi (Ketubot 7b) explains that this blessing is in praise of the creation of Adam, the first man.

In Hilchot Ishut, where the text of the wedding blessings is repeated, this blessing follows the blessing "who has created all things for His glory." This order is the sequence in which these blessings are recited today. It appears more appropriate, particularly according to Rashi's commentary (loc. cit.), which explains that the blessing "who has created all things..." is not directly connected to the wedding itself, but rather is recited in appreciation of the guests who have come to celebrate together with the new couple.

[The repetition of the text of the blessings in two separate halachot, something very out of character for the Rambam in the Mishneh Torah, has aroused the attention of the commentaries. Some have gone so far as to suggest that the text of the blessings here was added by the printers, and not by the Rambam himself.]
24. Despite the fact that this blessing follows two (or three) blessings which begin with "Blessed...," it also begins with "Blessed...." Among the explanations offered is that the first blessings are short, and if the line "Blessed..." were not mentioned, they would appear as a single blessing (Tosafot, Ketubot, loc. cit.).
25. Rashi (loc. cit.) interprets this as a reference to the creation of woman, who was created from man ("his own self"), and gives him the potential for reproduction ("a structure that will last for all time").
26. "The barren one" refers to Jerusalem. Psalms 137:6 states: "Let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not place Jerusalem above my highest joy." Thus, at the height of the wedding celebration, we recall the holy city and pray that it be rebuilt.
27. This is a prayer that the bride and groom enjoy the happiness experienced by Adam in Eve before the first sin.

Several manuscripts and early printings of the Mishneh Torah mention a different conclusion for this blessing, "Blessed are You, God, who brings joy to His people, Israel, and rebuilds Jerusalem." (In this context, note the commentary of the Lechem Mishneh.)
28. The blessing joins our wishes for the happiness of the particular couple with our hope for the Messianic redemption and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The ultimate marriage relationship is the bond between God and the Jewish people, which will be realized in the Messianic age. Thus, the two themes, marriage and redemption, share an intrinsic link.
29. Rashi, Ketubot 8a, explains the difference between the last two blessings. The fifth of the blessings concludes with a request that the bride and groom enjoy a lifetime of happiness and success together. The sixth and final blessing concludes with a request that they find happiness in each other, that their wedding joy be extended throughout their lives. Alternatively, the final blessing is a blessing for the Jewish people as a whole who find fulfillment in married life.

Commentary Halacha 12

Having mentioned the additions to grace connected with special occasions, the Rambam returns to the subject of grace on Sabbath and festivals.

[The following rules apply when a person who is reciting grace] on a Sabbath or a festival [concludes the third blessing - More precisely, mentions God's name in the conclusion of the third blessing. If he remembers his omission before he mentions God's name, he should add the special passage, and then repeat Uvneh Yerushalayim. Once he mentions God's name, however, he should complete the blessing, "boneh Yerushalayim. Amen," and then add the blessing mentioned below.

and] forgets to mention the aspect of holiness connected with the day: - See Halachah 5.

If he remembers before he begins the fourth blessing - Shulchan Aruch HaRav 188:9 interprets this to mean: before he mentions even a single word of the blessing. The Mishnah Berurah 188:23, however, differs and maintains that even after mentioning God's name, one may still continue, "who has granted rest...."

he should recite the following: On the Sabbath: - Significantly, throughout this halachah, the Rambam does not differentiate between the first two meals of the Sabbaths and festivals and any subsequent ones. As will be explained, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 188:8) does make such a distinction with regard to the repetition of grace. Nevertheless, if a person remembers his omission in time to add the special blessing, even the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.:7) requires it to be recited after any and all meals on Sabbaths and festivals.

Blessed [are You, God...] - Our text follows the position of the Lechem Mishneh, who emphasizes that this blessing contains God's name and the phrase "King of the universe," as do other blessings. This view is not shared by the Rishon LeTzion and several other commentaries, who point to the fact that neither Berachot 49a nor the Rambam explicitly mentions God's sovereignty. Nevertheless, the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.:6) shares the Lechem Mishneh's position.

who has granted rest to His people Israel as a sign and a holy covenant. Blessed are You, God, who sanctifies the Sabbath. - The Sabbath was sanctified by God on the seventh day of creation.

On the festivals: Blessed [are You, God...] who has granted festivals to His people Israel for rejoicing and for happinesss. Blessed are You, God, who sanctifies Israel and the seasons. - The sanctification of the festivals is dependent on the Jews, who fix the monthly calendar. (See Beitzah 17a.)

Afterwards, one should begin the fourth blessing and conclude grace - without any further changes.

If he [does not] remember [the omission of the special passages until after] he begins the fourth blessing, - i.e., even if he merely mentions the first word, Baruch, as explained above

he should cease [his prayers] - Based on Berachot 49b, the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.:8) mentions a difference between the first two meals on the Sabbath and festivals and any subsequent ones. We are obligated to eat only two meals that require grace on these holy days. One may fulfill his obligation for the third meal with other foods, without eating bread on the Sabbath, whereas on festivals one is not obligated to eat a third meal at all.

Accordingly, although there is a dimension of holiness connected with all the Sabbath and festival meals, the need to mention this dimension in grace is considered significant enough to require repetition of all the blessings only when an omission is made in the first two meals of the day.

It must be noted that neither the Rambam nor Berachot (loc. cit.) make such a differentiation explicitly. This has led the Rishon LeTzion and others to postulate that the Rambam maintains that an omission of the Sabbath or festivals in grace is sufficient to require repetition of the blessings in any meal eaten on these holy days.

and return to the beginning [of grace], the blessing for sustenance. - If three people ate together and made the same omission, however, they do not repeat the zimmun (Shulchan Aruch, loc. cit.:9).

The Ra'avad challenges the Rambam's decision, calling attention to a law quoted by the Rambam in Hilchot Tefillah 10:10. When a person omits Ya'aleh v'yavo in the Shemoneh Esreh, he is required to repeat the entire Shemoneh Esreh. Nevertheless, if he is accustomed to recite prayers of supplication after Shemoneh Esreh before withdrawing from his place of prayer, and remembers while in the midst of those supplications, he is not required to repeat Shemoneh Esreh. All that is necessary is to return to the blessing R'tzey.

Similarly, the Ra'avad argues, the blessing Hatov v'hametiv resembles the supplicatory prayers recited after Shemoneh Esreh. Accordingly, one should return to the third blessing of grace and not recite the other two.

This opinion, although respected for its sound reasoning, is not accepted by most authorities. The Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.:6) and others quote the Rambam's view.

Commentary Halacha 13

[The following rules apply when a person who is reciting grace] on Rosh Chodesh [concludes the third blessing and] forgets to recite Ya'aleh v'yavo - as required in Halachah 5:

If he remembers before he begins the fourth blessing - as mentioned in the commentary on the previous halachah, this means after one has recited even a single word of the blessing.

he should recite the following: "Blessed [are You, God...] who granted Rashei Chadashim to His people Israel as a remembrance."

The blessing does not include a chatimah. - Many blessings begin: "Blessed are You, God, King of the universe...," and conclude, "Blessed are You, God...." The latter concluding phrase is referred to as a chatimah. (See Hilchot Kri'at Shema 1:7.)

Berachot 49a mentions that the Sages were unsure of whether this blessing should include a chatimah or not. Therefore, to avoid the possibility of mentioning God's name in vain, the chatimah is omitted.

Afterwards, he should begin the fourth blessing and conclude grace - without any further changes.

If he remembers - the omission

after beginning the fourth blessing, he should complete it - the fourth blessing

[without making any additions]. He need not repeat [the entire grace]. - Berachot 49b explains that although in prayer (see Hilchot Tefillah 10:10), the omission of Ya'aleh v'yavo warrants a repetition of the Shemoneh Esreh, on Rosh Chodesh its omission does not warrant a repetition of grace. The difference between the two is that prayer is an obligation, while eating a meal of bread is not. Since there is no obligation to recite grace on Rosh Chodesh, failing to mention it in grace is not sufficient cause to warrant its repetition.

The same rules apply on Chol HaMo’ed - since we are not obligated to eat a meal of bread on these days.

Within this context, it is worthy to mention the laws regarding the recitation of Ya'aleh v'yavo on Rosh HaShanah. Neither the Rambam nor the Talmudic sources which deal with this subject (Berachot 49a-b and Shabbat 24a) mention adding Ya'aleh v'yavo to grace on Rosh HaShanah. Nevertheless, the Magen Avraham (188:7) takes it for granted that such an addition should be made.

Furthermore, if one becomes conscious of the omission of that addition before beginning the fourth blessing, one should add a special blessing to mention Rosh HaShanah. If, however, one has already begun the fourth blessing, one should continue grace without mentioning Rosh HaShanah, since there is no obligation to eat festive meals on that day. On the contrary, fasting is allowed.

[When a person reciting grace] on Chanukah or on Purim forgets to mention the uniqueness of the day in grace - Al hanisim, as mentioned in Halachah 6.

he need not repeat [the grace]. - The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 7:6) requires grace to be repeated for such an omission. Nevertheless, since there is no indication in the Babylonian Talmud of such an obligation (indeed, Shabbat 24a does not require even the recitation of Al hanisim), the Rambam does not accept that ruling.

It has, however, become customary to add Al hanisim among the paragraphs beginning Harachaman at the conclusion of grace if one forgets to recite it in its proper place (Ramah, Orach Chayim 187:4).

Berachot - Chapter Three

Halacha 1

There are five species [of grain]: wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt. Rye is a sub-species of wheat, and oats and spelt are sub-species of barley.

When these five species are in their stalks, they are referred to as tevuah. After they have been threshed and winnowed, they are referred to as grain. When they have been milled and their flour kneaded and baked, they are referred to as bread. Bread made from these species is referred to as bread without any additional modifier.

Halacha 2

Before eating bread, a person should recite the blessing, "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth." Afterwards, he should recite the four blessings [of grace].

Before eating kernels of grain that have been cooked without being processed, a person should recite the blessing borey pri ha'adamah. Afterwards, he should recite the blessing borey nefashot rabbot. Before eating flour, a person should recite the blessing shehakol. Afterwards, he should recite the blessing borey nefashot rabbot.

Halacha 3

[The following rules apply] when a person cooks flour from one of the five species of grain, which has been mixed with water or other liquids: If the mixture is thick, so that it is fit to be eaten and chewed, one should recite the blessing borey minei mezonot beforehand and the blessing al hamichyah v'al hakalkalah afterward. If the mixture is thin, so that it is fit to be drunk, one should recite the blessing shehakol beforehand and the blessing borey nefashot rabbot afterward.

Halacha 4

The blessing borey minei mezonot is recited before [partaking of any of the following foods]:
flour from one of the five species of grain that was cooked in a pot - whether alone or whether it was mixed together with other ingredients - e.g., dumplings or the like;
grain that was divided or crushed and cooked in a pot - e.g., groats or grits. These [two categories] are referred to as cooked dishes.

The same laws also apply to any dish in which flour or bread from the five species of grain was mixed.

Halacha 5

When does the above apply? When the person considers the [flour or bread] from the five species of grain as the primary element [of the mixture] and not as a secondary element. If, however, the [flour or bread] from the five species of grain is a secondary element of a mixture, the person should recite the [appropriate] blessing over the primary food, and thus fulfill his obligation regarding the secondary food.

This is a major principle with regard to blessings: Whenever a food contains primary and secondary elements, a person should recite a blessing over the primary element, and thus fulfill his obligation regarding the secondary element. [This principle applies] regardless of whether the secondary element is mixed together with the primary element or not.

Halacha 6

What is an example of a secondary food mixed together [with a primary food]? Cooked turnips or cabbage to which flour from one of the five species was added so that it would hold together. The blessing borey minei mezonot is not recited, because the turnips are of primary importance and the flour is secondary.

Similarly, whenever a substance is added to hold food together, to add fragrance, or to color a dish, it is considered secondary. If, however, it was added in order to add flavor to the food, it is considered of primary importance.

Accordingly, when sweets are made by cooking honey and mixing it with starch so that it will stick together, the blessing borey minei mezonot is not recited, because the honey is of primary importance.

Halacha 7

What is an example of a secondary food which is not mixed together? A person who wants to eat salted fish and eats bread with it so that the heavy brine will not harm his throat or tongue. [In this instance,] he should recite a blessing on the salted fish, and by doing so fulfill his obligation regarding the bread, because the bread is secondary. The same principle applies in other similar situations.

Halacha 8

[The following rules apply when] bread was broken into pieces and cooked in a pot or mixed into soup: If the pieces are the size of an olive or they can be recognized as bread and their appearance has not changed, the blessing hamotzi should be recited before partaking of them. If, however, they are not the size of an olive or they no longer resemble bread because of the cooking process, the blessing borey minei mezonot should be recited before partaking of them.

Halacha 9

Before partaking of dough baked over the ground as is baked by the Arabs living in the desert, one should recite the blessing borey minei mezonot, because it does not have the appearance of bread. If, however, one uses it as the basis of a meal, one should recite the blessing hamotzi.

Similar [laws apply to] dough that was kneaded with honey, oil, or milk, or mixed together with different condiments and baked. It is referred to as pat haba'ah b'kisnin. Although it [resembles] bread, the blessing borey minei mezonot is recited over it. If, however, one uses it as the basis of a meal, one should recite the blessing hamotzi.

Halacha 10

Before eating rice that has been cooked or bread made from rice, one should recite the blessing borey minei mezonot. Afterwards, the blessing borey nefashot should be recited. This applies only when no other ingredients are combined together with the rice.

In contrast, before eating bread made from millet or other species of kitniyot, one should recite the blessing shehakol. Afterwards, the blessing borey nefashot should be recited.

Halacha 11

Whenever the blessing hamotzi is recited before [partaking of a food], the four blessings of grace are recited afterwards in their proper order. Whenever the blessing borey minei mezonot is recited before [partaking of a food], a single blessing, which includes the three [blessings of grace], is recited afterward, except when one eats rice.

Halacha 12

When does the above apply? When a person ate more than the size of an olive [from these foods]. If, however, he ate less than the size of an olive, whether from bread or from other food, or drank less than a revi'it, whether from wine or from other beverages, he should recite the appropriate blessing before partaking of the food or drink, but should not recite any blessing at all afterward.

Halacha 13

This is [the text of] the single blessing that includes the three blessings of grace:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, for the life- giving and the sustaining [food], for the precious, good, and spacious land which You have graciously given as a heritage to our ancestors. Have mercy, God, our Lord, on us, and on all Israel, Your people, and on Jerusalem, Your city, and on Zion, the abode of Your glory. And may You cause us to ascend to it and let us rejoice in its rebuilding and we will bless You in holiness and in purity. Blessed are You, God, for the land and for the sustenance.

On Sabbaths and festivals, one should include in this blessing a condensed reference to the sanctity of the day as one does in grace.

Commentary Halacha 1

There are five species [of grain] - As will be explained, there are special laws regarding the blessings recited before and after food made from these species of grain. These five species are also mentioned in Hilchot Chametz UMatzah 5:1.

wheat, barley - These grains, fundamental to day to day life in Western society, are among the seven species for which Deuteronomy 8:8 praises Eretz Yisrael for producing.

rye - This is the accepted translation. There is some difficulty, however, in accepting it, since rye was not commonly grown in the Mediterranean region. In his Commentary on the Mishnah, Kilayim 1:1, the Rambam defines כוסמין as "wild wheat."

oats - In his Commentary on the Mishnah (loc. cit.), the Rambam describes oats as "wild barley."

The term שבולת שועל, which literally means "the kernels of the fox," is used because, unlike wheat and barley, oat kernels grow separate from the stalk of the grain, like a fox tail, which has hairs that stand out rather than lie flat.

and spelt. - In his Commentary on the Mishnah (loc. cit.), the Rambam mentions that this grain resembles כוסמין. [For this reason, there are commentaries which interchange the translations of כוסמין and שיפון.]

Rye is a sub-species of wheat, and oats and spelt are sub- species of barley. - Although this statement has other implications (see Rashi, Pesachim 35a), the Rambam mentions it here to teach us that although Deuteronomy (loc. cit.) mentions only wheat and barley, since these other three grains are sub-species of them, they are governed by the same laws.

When these five species are in their stalks, they are referred to as tevuah. After they have been threshed and winnowed, they are referred to as grain. - Here, also, although these statements have other halachic implications (e.g., Challah 1:2 mentions these points within the context of vows: if a person vows not to benefit from tevuah or grain, he is forbidden to benefit from these species), the Rambam is defining these terms here because he will refer to them throughout this chapter.

When they have been milled and their flour kneaded and baked, they are referred to as bread - and require the ritual washing of hands and the blessing hamotzi beforehand and grace afterwards.

Bread made from these species is referred to as bread without any additional modifier. - If, however, bread is made from other grains - e.g., rice or corn - it is referred to as ricebread or cornbread.

Commentary Halacha 2

Before eating bread - made from the five species of grain mentioned in the previous halachah

a person should recite the blessing, "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth." - Tosafot, Berachot 38b, notes that the conclusion of the blessing is taken from Psalms 104:14. Because of its importance as "the staff of life," the Sages established a special blessing for bread in place of the blessing borey pri ha'adamah.

Afterwards, he should recite the four blessings [of grace] - discussed in the previous chapter.

Before eating kernels of grain that have been cooked without being processed, - i.e., without removing the kernel's shell or crushing it. See Halachah 4.

Literally, the Rambam's words mean "grain cooked as it is." The Kessef Mishneh interprets this to mean "as it comes from the silo."

a person should recite the blessing borey pri ha'adamah - the blessing recited for eating vegetables and other products of the earth (Chapter 8, Halachah 1).

Berachot 37a states, "A person who chews [kernels of] wheat should recite the blessing borey pri ha'adamah." Even though the grain has been cooked, since the kernels were not processed at all, it does not warrant a blessing of greater importance (Kessef Mishnah).

The Mishnah Berurah 208:3-6 discusses the question of grains that are cooked whole, but are cooked for a long period until their shell dissolves. There are authorities who recommend that unless the kernels have been cooked to the extent that they stick together as a single mass, whole grains should be eaten only in the midst of a meal containing bread. See also Halachah 4.

Afterwards, he should recite the blessing borey nefashot rabbot. - The blessing usually recited after partaking of foods other than those from the seven species for which Eretz Yisrael was praised. The same rationale mentioned above applies. Since the kernels were served without being processed, they do not warrant a blessing of greater importance.

Before eating flour - which has not been cooked

a person should recite the blessing shehakol. Afterwards, he should recite the blessing borey nefashot rabbot. - In this instance as well, the special blessings for grain products are not recited because the food was not prepared in the usual fashion. Furthermore, even the blessing borey pri ha'adamah is not recited, because generally people do not eat flour (Rabbenu Yitzchak Alfasi, See also Berachot 36a).
1. I.e., it resembles a porridge.
2. Because of the importance of the five species of grain, the Sages ordained the recitation of a special blessing before and after partaking of them. Since this mixture is considered a food and not a beverage, it warrants the recitation of these blessings.
3. Since this mixture is considered a beverage and not a food, it does not warrant the recitation of these blessings.
4. Berachot 37b relates that any food that is made from the five species of grain but is not considered bread requires the blessing al hamichyah. Since these foods are cooked in a pot, they are not considered bread. See also note 6.
5. Since the grain kernels have been processed slightly, they are considered worthy of the special blessings ordained for foods from the five species. As mentioned in the commentary on Halachah 2, the later authorities suggest that the grains be cooked to the point that they stick together as a single mass before these blessings should be recited. If, however, both the shell of the kernel has been removed and they have been crushed, the blessing al hamichyah may be recited even when the kernels do not stick together (Mishnah Berurah 208:15).
6. As mentioned in Halachah 6, as long as the grain is included to add flavor, it is considered the primary element in the mixture, and the blessing al hamichyah should be recited, even though quantitatively, the dish contains a majority of other substances. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 208:2.)
7. The definition of foods as primary and secondary depends on the person's intention and not the quantity of the foods included in the mixture.
8. This principle is quoted from the Mishnah, Berachot 6:7.
9. Thus producing a single food, as exemplified in Halachah 6.
10. In this instance, the two foods remain separate, yet the secondary food is included in the blessing recited over the primary one, as exemplified in Halachah 7.
11. The Rambam is quoting Berachot 39a, which states that this law applies even to turnips that require a large amount of flour.
12. Beitzah 38a states, "Anything added for flavor is never considered negligible."

The Magen Avraham 204:25 and the Chacham Tzvi (Responsum 129) explain that the Rambam's (and the Talmud's) statements apply only to products from the five species of grain. Whenever they are added to flavor foods, they are considered of primary importance even when, quantitatively, they are less than the other ingredients of a particular dish. In contrast, when two or more types of foods other than grain products are mixed together in a single dish and both are intended to add flavor and/or satiate the person eating, the food which is greater in quantity is considered as the primary ingredient.

The Kessef Mishneh adds that if the starch was added for flavor, the mixture would require the blessing borey minei mezonot. He continues, explaining that when other foods - e.g., fruits which are not usually eaten raw, are cooked in sugar to produce jam, the fruits are considered of primary importance. Hence, the blessing borey pri ha'etz should be recited. See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 204:11.
14. By adding the clause, "so that the heavy brine...," the Rambam explains the source for this ruling, Berachot 6:7, and clarifies a problem posed by the commentaries.

Although the Mishnah mentions the example of bread serving as a secondary food when it accompanies salted foods, the Talmud (Berachot 44a) protests, and explains that in almost all situations bread would be considered the primary food. The Mishnah is describing a specific instance: people who eat fruit that originates in the area around Lake Kineret.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam explains that this refers to people who work as watchmen in orchards. They eat large quantities of fruit. Hence, in order to help their digestion, they also must partake of brine. Since the brine itself could be harmful, they eat bread with it.

Here, also, the Rambam is referring to a case where the person has no desire to eat bread and does so only to protect his throat. If, however, a person wanted to eat salted fish on bread and desired both the bread and the fish, he must recite the blessing hamotzi and recite grace. (See Turei Zahav 212:1-2.)

Shulchan Aruch HaRav 212:2 gives another example: A person who eats bread to weaken the taste of an alcoholic beverage.

16. A k'zayit. In contemporary measure, it is equivalent to 28.8 cc according to Shiurei Torah and 33 cc according to the Chazon Ish.
17. Out of faithfulness to the Rambam's text, we have translated his words literally, although they have caused the commentaries great difficulty. On the surface, there is an open contradiction between the first clause and the second clause. From the first clause, it appears that a piece of bread less than the size of an olive which resembles bread warrants the blessing hamotzi. In contrast, the latter clause appears to indicate that the bread must both be the size of an olive and have the appearance of bread to warrant the blessing hamotzi.

Because of this difficulty, the Radbaz (Vol. V, Responsum 1393) and Sefer HaBatim have suggested amending the text and rendering the latter clause, "If they are not the size of an olive and no longer resemble bread because of the cooking process." Furthermore, even without amending the text, this interpretation can be accepted, since, as the Rambam's own descendant, Rabbi Yehoshua, explains, there are times when the Hebrew או can be rendered as "if." Thus, the passage would read, "If they are not the size of an olive, if...."

Rav Yosef Karo was aware of the text's difficulty and the suggestions to amend it. Nevertheless, both in his Kessef Mishneh and his Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 168:10), he seeks to justify the Rambam's choice of phraseology, explaining his statements as follows:

When one cooked pieces of bread or mixed them into soup, if they are the size of an olive, one should recite the blessing hamotzi although they no longer resemble bread. If they are less than the size of an olive but resemble bread, one should recite this blessing when they have been mixed into soup. If, however, they have been cooked, and although it is obvious that these pieces came from a loaf of bread, they no longer have the appearance of bread, only the blessing borey minei mezonot should be recited.

To summarize: when one breaks bread into pieces and puts them into soup, since the pieces still resemble bread they may not be eaten unless one recites the blessing hamotzi. If the pieces of bread were cooked completely to prepare a different food and less than a k'zayit remains whole, the blessing borey minei mezonot should be recited. According to most authorities, if one cooks with bread crumbs or matzah meal, the blessing borey minei mezonot, should be recited on the foods produced.

Commentary Halacha 9

Before partaking of dough baked over the ground - Significantly, the Rambam's definition of the term כובא דארעא, discussed by our Sages, Berachot 38a, differs from that of Rashi, whose interpretation is quoted in the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 168:15).

as is baked by the Arabs living in the desert - Rav Kapach explains that the Arabs would dig a hole in the ground, fill it with wood, and start a fire. When the wood had burned until all that remained was glowing coals, they would remove them and fill the hole with dough. Afterwards, the coals would be placed above the dough and allowed to remain there until the dough was baked. (See also Hilchot Chametz UMatzah 6:6.)

one should recite the blessing borey minei mezonot - and not hamotzi

because it does not have the appearance of bread. - The fact that it does not look like bread - although its manner of preparation, taste, and texture are similar - is significant enough to prevent it from receiving the blessing hamotzi.

[The Rambam's conception is significant since other halachic authorities - e.g., the Magen Avraham 168:40 - maintain thathamotzi should not be recited because this dough is soft, like pancakes.]

If, however, one uses it as the basis of a meal, - Based on Berachot 42a, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 168:6) interprets this to mean "a measure that others would usually use as the basis for a meal even though, personally, one is not satisfied from it."

Quantitatively, Shulchan Aruch HaRav 168:8 states that the intention is a full meal, an isaron. [He arrives at this calculation as follows: In the desert, the Jews received an omer of manna for two meals each day. An omer is twice the quantity of an isaron.] This is approximately 22 k'beitzot, or 1266 cc according to Shiurei Torah, and 1452 cc according to the Chazon Ish. This figure includes not only the grain product, but also other foods - e.g., meat, fish, or vegetables - that are eaten together with it.

Nevertheless, there are more stringent opinions, and accordingly, Shulchan Aruch HaRav (loc. cit.) and the Mishnah Berurah 168:24 suggest not eating a meal consisting of more than four k'beitzot of food with such "bread" as its base.

one should recite the blessing hamotzi. - Shulchan Aruch HaRav 168:8 states that the blessing hamotzi was designated for bread to indicate its importance as a satisfying food and the foundation of our diet. Hence, it was instituted only for breads that are usually served for such a purpose. If, however, a person decided to serve another food made from flour and resembling bread with a similar intent, it is also appropriate that he recite hamotzi.

Similar [laws apply to] dough that was kneaded with honey, oil, or milk - The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 168:7) states that all that is necessary is to mix enough of these ingredients into the dough so that their taste is felt. The Ramah and the Magen Avraham 168:16 differ and maintain that the amount of these ingredients must exceed the quantity of water used. Support for their ruling can be drawn from the Rambam's statements in Hilchot Chametz UMatzah 5:20.

The above is significant with regard to what is popularly called today mezonot bread, which is produced by using apple juice instead of (or together with) water. According to the Ramah, the blessing borey minei mezonot should not be recited:
a) if the dough is made with more water than juice,
b) if one uses this bread as the basis for a large meal.

or mixed together with different condiments - sugar, honey, nuts, fruits, or spices

and baked - producing a product which, like cake, is generally eaten for pleasure and not as the basis of a meal.

It is referred to as pat haba'ah b'kisnin. - Note theShulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 168:7), which offers two other interpretations of the term, pat haba'ah b'kisnin:
a) Rabbenu Chananel's interpretation - dough filled with other sweet substances - e.g., pies that are served for dessert, like apple pie;
b) Rav Hai Gaon's interpretation - crackers.

Although it [resembles] bread, the blessing borey minei mezonot is recited over it - because it is not food which, like bread, is the foundation of our diets.

If, however, one uses it as the basis of a meal - eating the quantity mentioned above of this grain product either alone or together with other foods (Magen Avraham 168:13)

one should recite the blessing hamotzi. - The Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.) states that all three opinions may be accepted as halachah, and none of these three types of foods requires the blessing hamotzi or grace, unless it is eaten as the basis of a meal.

There are, however, several difficulties with the application of this decision in contemporary situations, particularly with regard to "mezonot bread." Surely, when one eats a complete meal, serving such bread does not free one of the obligation of washing and reciting grace. Furthermore, there are difficulties even when one eats only a snack with such bread. First, some authorities - e.g., Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi in his Piskei Siddur - state that a meticulous person should not each such bread without having recited hamotzi on other bread first.

Second, when one eats sandwiches using such bread or eats it with other foods, one may easily eat more than four k'beitzot of food, and that, as explained above, is problematic according to certain authorities.

Commentary Halacha 10

Before eating rice - In this halachah, we have translated אורז as "rice" and דוחן as "millet," based on the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Shvi'it 2:7. There is, however, debate concerning this manner among the halachic authorities. Rashi (Berachot 37a) and the Maharil interpret אורז as "millet." With respect to these opinions, the Magen Avraham 208:9 and the Turei Zahav 208:11 suggest partaking of rice or millet only in the midst of a meal including bread. If either are eaten separately, the blessing shehakol should be recited beforehand because of the doubt involved.

In contrast, the Sha'ar Tziyun 208:31 rules that the blessing borey minei mezonot should be recited before partaking of rice. He explains that there are opinions that the blessing borey minei mezonot should be recited on all satisfying food. Since rice serves this purpose, it can be given this blessing.

that has been cooked - after its shell has been removed and it has been crushed

or bread made from rice - In contrast, before eating kernels of rice, one should recite the blessing borey pri ha'adamah as is done before partaking of kernels of grain. (See Halachah 2 and Berachot 37a.)

one should recite the blessing borey minei mezonot. - The latter phrase praises God as "the Creator of satisfying food." Since rice falls into this category, Berachot, loc. cit., decided that it should be given this blessing.

Afterwards, the blessing borey nefashot should be recited. - Although rice is a satisfying food, it is not one of the five species of grain. Hence, neither grace nor al hamichyah is recited after partaking of it. See also the following halachah.

This applies only when no other ingredients are combined together with the rice. - Thus, the law regarding rice differs from that regarding cooked foods made from the five grains. As explained in Halachot 4-6, although quantitatively a food may contain a mixture of other ingredients, as long as the grain was intended to add flavor to the food, it is considered the primary ingredient. In contrast, the blessing borey minei mezonot is recited on a mixture of rice and other foods only when rice is quantitatively the primary element of the mixture. See Shulchan Aruch (14Orach Chayim13 208:7).

The Turei Zahav 208:9, however, maintains that the Rambam's words should be interpreted literally. Thus, the blessing borey minei mezonot should be recited only when rice is prepared by itself and not when eaten in combination with even a minority of other foods.

In contrast, before eating bread made from millet - Rabbenu Asher and many other Ashkenazic authorities differ with the Rambam and maintain that since millet, like rice, is a sustaining food, it warrants the blessing borey minei mezonot. Nevertheless, theShulchan Aruch (loc. cit.:8) and the later authorities follow the Rambam's opinion. Note, however, the difference of opinion on the definition of the terms אורז and דוחן mentioned above.

or other species of kitniyot - Kitniyot is generally translated as "legumes." In halachic literature, however, it is used to refer to a far wider scope of agricultural products, particularly with regard to the laws of Pesach. (See Hilchot Chametz UMatzah 5:1.) For example, corn is referred to as kitniyot.

one should recite the blessing shehakol. - Although allkitniyot grow from the ground, the blessing borey pri ha'adamah is recited only when one eats them cooked as vegetables, and not when they have been ground into flour and baked into other foods, since this is not the normal manner in which they are eaten (Magen Avraham 208:12).

Afterwards, the blessing borey nefashot should be recited - as is proper after partaking of all foods of this type.

Commentary Halacha 11

Whenever the blessing hamotzi is recited before [partaking of a food] - i.e., when one eats bread or enough of other grain substances to warrant the recitation of hamotzi, as mentioned in Halachah 9.

the four blessings of grace are recited afterwards in their proper order.

Whenever the blessing borey minei mezonot is recited before [partaking of a food] - i.e, the foods made from the five species of grain that are mentioned in Halachot 3, 4, 8, and 9.

a single blessing, which includes the three [blessings of grace], is recited afterward - This blessing contains the three primary elements of the first three blessings of grace, an expression of thanks to God for granting us sustenance, for granting us Eretz Yisrael, and for granting us Jerusalem. The full text of this blessing is quoted in Halachah 13.

except when one eats rice. - as explained in the previous halachah.

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