Contact Us

Shulchan Aruch: Chapter 186 - Whether Women and Minors are Obligated [to Recite] Grace after Meals

Shulchan Aruch: Chapter 186 - Whether Women and Minors are Obligated [to Recite] Grace after Meals

Show content in:

SECTION 186 Whether Women and Minors are Obligated [to Recite] the Grace after Meals. (1–4)

קפו אִם נָשִׁים וּקְטַנִּים חַיָּבִים בְּבִרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן, וּבוֹ ד' סְעִיפִים:

1 Women are obligated in the recitation of Grace.1 It is uncertain whether they are obligated according to Scriptural Law,1 since [Grace] is a positive commandment [whose observance] is not dependent on a specific time,2 or they are obligated only according to Rabbinic Law, since the verse [which obligates the recitation of Grace mentions blessing G‑d for] “the good land that He gave you,”3 and the land was not apportioned among women, only among men.4 [True,] the daughters of Tzelafchad received [a portion in the land. They, however, did not receive their own portion, but rather] the portion of their father who was one of those who departed from Egypt.5 [There is no question, however, regarding the obligation of] kohanim and Levites, because they were granted cities [together with their] surrounding areas [as an inheritance].6

Also, [this obligation extends to] a convert7 who enters the Jewish faith and [thereby] becomes associated with [the Jewish people] and is an adjunct to them, to the extent that he is considered as one of them with regard to all the mitzvos in which they are obligated. [Hence, since] the land was given to [the Jews] as an ancestral heritage, the convert is also obligated [in the recitation of Grace], because it is as if [the land] was given to him, because he and they are one nation with regard to all matters.8

This is not true with regard to women; they are a nation unto themselves.9 Similarly, kohanim and Levites are considered as an independent tribe. They are not [considered] as an ancillary part of the Jewish people, [as reflected in their] distinction in many mitzvos.10 Thus, had they not [been granted] cities [together with their] surrounding areas, they would not be obligated in the mitzvah [of Grace]because the land was given to the Jewish people [as a whole].

Bondmen that have yet to be freed, even males, are not considered as comparable to converts, but rather to women. [The basis for this ruling]: since the term לה is used both with regard to women11 and bondmen,12 our Sages13 derived a general principle,14 [equating bondmen to women]. Thus, [even male] bondmen are exempt from all the mitzvos from which women are exempt, as stated in sec. 46[:4].

א נָשִׁים חַיָּבוֹת בְּבִרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן,א,1 וְסָפֵק הוּא אִם חַיָּבוֹת מִן הַתּוֹרָהב,1 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁאֵין הַזְּמַן גְּרָמָא,2 אוֹ אֵינָן חַיָּבוֹת אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַרג,3 "עַל הָאָרֶץ הַטּוֹבָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָךְ", וְהָאָרֶץ לֹא נִתְּנָה לִנְקֵבוֹת לְהִתְחַלֵּק אֶלָּא לִזְכָרִים,4 וּבְנוֹת צְלָפְחָד חֵלֶק אֲבִיהֶם נָטְלוּ שֶׁהָיָה מִיּוֹצְאֵי מִצְרַיִם.ד,5

אֲבָל כֹּהֲנִים וּלְוִיִּם הָיוּ לָהֶם עָרֵי מִגְרָשׁ.ה,6

וְכֵן גֵּר7 שֶׁנִּכְנַס לְדַת יִשְׂרָאֵלו וְנִלְוָה עֲלֵיהֶם וְנִטְפַּל אֲלֵיהֶם וְנֶחְשַׁב כְּאֶחָד מֵהֶם לְכָל הַמִּצְוֹת הַנּוֹהֲגוֹת בָּהֶם וְלָהֶם נִתְּנָה הָאָרֶץ לְמוֹרָשָׁה – נִתְחַיֵּב גַּם הוּא כְּאִלּוּ נִתְּנָה גַּם לוֹ, שֶׁהוּא וְהֵם עַם אֶחָד הוּא לְכָל דָּבָר,ז,8 מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּנָשִׁים שֶׁהֵם עַם בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ.ח,9

וְכֵן כֹּהֲנִים וּלְוִיִּם, אִם לֹא הָיָה לָהֶם עָרֵי מִגְרָשׁ – לֹא הָיוּ מִתְחַיְּבִים בְּמִצְוָה זוֹ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּתְּנָה הָאָרֶץ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, לְפִי שֶׁהֵם שֵׁבֶט בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָןט וְאֵינָם טְפֵלִים לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, וְגַם הֵם חֲלוּקִים מֵהֶם בְּמִצְוֹת הַרְבֵּה.י,10

וַעֲבָדִים שֶׁאֵינָם מְשֻׁחְרָרִים, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן זְכָרִים – אֵינָם כְּגֵרִים, אֶלָּא כְּנָשִׁים,יא כְּמוֹ שֶׁלָּמְדוּ חֲכָמִים13 עַל עֲבָדִים בִּגְזֵרָה שָׁוָה14 "לָהּ"11 "לָהּ"12 מֵאִשָּׁה,יב שֶׁכָּל מִצְוָה שֶׁהָאִשָּׁה פְּטוּרָה גַּם הָעֶבֶד פָּטוּר, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן מ"ו: יג

2 Whenever there is uncertainty with regard to Scriptural Law, we rule stringently. Thus, [a woman] may not fulfill the obligation of Grace for a man, for he is [definitely] obligated [in this recitation] according to Scriptural Law,15 for perhaps [women] are exempt according to Scriptural Law. Whenever a person is not obligated in a practice, he or she cannot fulfill the obligation of one who is so obligated.16

When, however, a man is not obligated [in the recitation of Grace] according to Scriptural Law, e.g., he did not eat to the point of satiation,17 he may fulfill the obligation of women who ate to the point of satiation,18 just as he may fulfill the obligation of men who ate to the point of satiation, for the reason to be explained in sec. 197[:6].19

ב וְסָפֵק שֶׁל תּוֹרָה לְהַחְמִיר, לְעִנְיַן שֶׁהֵן אֵינָן מוֹצִיאוֹת יְדֵי חוֹבָה אֶת הָאֲנָשִׁים הַחַיָּבִים מִן הַתּוֹרָה,15 כִּי שֶׁמָּא הֵן פְּטוּרוֹת מִן הַתּוֹרָה,יד וְכָל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְחֻיָּב בַּדָּבָר אֵינוֹ מוֹצִיא אֲחֵרִים יְדֵי חוֹבָתָן.טו,16

אֲבָל אִישׁ שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְחֻיָּב בַּדָּבָר מִן הַתּוֹרָה, כְּגוֹן שֶׁלֹּא אָכַל כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָהטז,17 – יָכוֹל לְהוֹצִיא הַנָּשִׁים שֶׁאָכְלוּ כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָה,18 כְּמוֹ שֶׁיָּכוֹל לְהוֹצִיא אֶת הָאֲנָשִׁים שֶׁאָכְלוּ כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָה, מִטַּעַם שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קצ"ז: יז,19

3 Similarly, a woman may fulfill the obligation [of reciting Grace] for a man who did not eat to the point of satiation, even if she also did not eat to the point of satiation, for she, like he, is obligated [in the recitation of Grace] according to Rabbinic Law. She may also fulfill the obligation for a minor who is obligated according to Rabbinic Law, so that he be trained in [the observance of] mitzvos.

A minor may not, however, fulfill the obligation [of reciting Grace] for a woman who ate to the point of satiation, for perhaps she is obligated according to Scriptural Law. [A minor] may, however, fulfill the obligation [of reciting Grace] for someone — even a man — who did not eat to the point of satiation, since that person [— like the minor —] is not obligated according to Scriptural Law, only according to Rabbinic decree. [This ruling applies] even if the minor also did not eat to the point of satiation, for he is obligated according to Rabbinic Law20 as the adult is.

[The rationale:] The Grace after Meals is not comparable to [the reading of the] Megillah,21 Hallel,22the blessings of the Shema, and other mitzvos that are fundamentally Rabbinic institutions. [In such instances,] a minor who has reached the age when he is being educated [in the observance of mitzvos] cannot fulfill an obligation on behalf of an adult, because he, individually, is entirely exempt [from this mitzvah until he reaches the age of majority]. He is being trained23 so that he will be accustomed to [the observance of] this mitzvah and habituated to its practice when he reaches maturity, [i.e., the age of Bar-Mitzvah]. Therefore, he does not have the power to fulfill the obligation of one who has already attained maturity, even though that person’s obligation is only Rabbinic in origin. [The rationale: In these mitzvos,] the minor is obligated only so that he will be trained for the time when he will reach maturity, at which time, he will become obligated in this Rabbinic requirement.24 With regard to Grace, by contrast, the minor is being trained so that when he attains maturity, he will recite Grace after eating to the point of satiation, [thereby fulfilling] a Scriptural obligation.25 Therefore, just as a minor who ate to the point of satiation may fulfill the obligation of an adult who did not eat to the point of satiation, so too, [even] if the minor did not eat to the point of satiation, he may fulfill the obligation of [such an adult]. For the training process he undergoes when he did not eat to the point of satiation is equally effective in habituating him [to recite Grace] as it would be, had he eaten more.

ג וְכֵן אִשָּׁה מוֹצִיאָה אֶת הָאִישׁ שֶׁלֹּא אָכַל כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָה,יח,16 וַאֲפִלּוּ הִיא גַּם כֵּן לֹא אָכְלָה כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָה,יט שֶׁמִּכָּל מָקוֹם הִיא מְחֻיֶּבֶת מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים כְּמוֹתוֹ, וְכֵן מוֹצִיאָה אֶת הַקָּטָן שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים כְּדֵי לְחַנְּכוֹ בְּמִצְוֹת.כ

אֲבָל הַקָּטָן אֵינוֹ מוֹצִיא אֶת הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁאָכְלָה כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָה, שֶׁמָּא הִיא מְחֻיֶּבֶת מִן הַתּוֹרָה,כא אֲבָל מוֹצִיא הוּא אֶת מִי שֶׁלֹּא אָכַל כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָהכב אֲפִלּוּ הוּא אִ[ישׁ] ,כג כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ חַיָּב מִן הַתּוֹרָה אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים, וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם הַקָּטָן גַּם כֵּן לֹא אָכַל כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָה,כד שֶׁמִּכָּל מָקוֹם הוּא חַיָּב מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים20 כְּמוֹתוֹ, שֶׁבִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן אֵינָהּ דּוֹמָה לִמְגִלָּהכה,21 וְהַלֵּלכו,22 וּבִרְכוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַעכז וּשְׁאָר מִצְוֹת שֶׁעִקָּרָן מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים,כח שֶׁאֵין הַקָּטָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לְחִנּוּךְ מוֹצִיא אֶת הַגָּדוֹל, לְפִי שֶׁהַקָּטָן מִצַּד עַצְמוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא עַתָּה פָּטוּר לְגַמְרֵיכט אֶלָּא שֶׁמְּחַנְּכִין אוֹתוֹל,23 כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּהֵא רָגִיל בְּמִצְוָה זוֹ וְיִהְיֶה סָרִיךְ כְּמִנְהָגוֹ כְּשֶׁיִּגְדַּל, לְפִיכָךְ אֵינוֹ בְּדִין שֶׁיּוֹצִיא אֶת מִי שֶׁהוּא גָּדוֹל כְּבָר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחִיּוּבוֹ אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהַקָּטָן גַּם חִיּוּב זֶה אֵינוֹ חַיָּב אֶלָּא מִשּׁוּם לְהַרְגִּילוֹ לִכְשֶׁיִּגְדַּל, שֶׁאָז יִתְחַיֵּב חִיּוּב זֶה שֶׁל דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים,24 אֲבָל בְּבִרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן מַה שֶּׁמְּחַנְּכִין אֶת הַקָּטָן לְבָרֵךְ אַחַר אֲכִילָתוֹ לָשֹׂבַע כְּשֶׁיִּגְדַּל שֶׁהוּא חִיּוּב מִן הַתּוֹרָה,25 לְפִיכָךְ, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהוּא מוֹצִיא אֶת הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁלֹּא אָכַל כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָה אִם הוּא אָכַל כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָה – כָּךְ מוֹצִיאוֹ אִם לֹא אָכַל כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁחִנּוּכוֹ כְּשֶׁלֹּא אָכַל כְּדֵי שְׂבִיעָה מוֹעִיל לוֹ לְהַרְגִּילוֹ כְּמוֹ כְּשֶׁאָכַל (ו)יוֹתֵר: לא

4 The above statements — that women and minors can fulfill the obligation of others — apply when that other person does not know how to recite Grace by himself. If, however, a person knows how to recite Grace by himself,26 he does not have license to fulfill his obligation by listening, even [to the recitation of Grace] by a person who is as obligated as he is.27 [The only exception is] through listening to a zimun comprising at least three men.28 Women and minors are not included in a zimun; as stated in sec. 193,29 they do not recite Grace with a zimun.

ד וְכָל זֶה שֶׁנָּשִׁים וּקְטַנִּים מוֹצִיאִים אֲחֵרִים יְדֵי חוֹבָתָן הוּא, כְּשֶׁאַחֵר אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לְבָרֵךְ בְּעַצְמוֹ,לב,26 אֲבָל הַיּוֹדֵעַ לְבָרֵךְ בְּעַצְמוֹ – אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לָצֵאת בִּשְׁמִיעָה אֲפִלּוּ מֵהַמְחֻיָּב כְּמוֹתוֹ,לג,27 אֶלָּא עַל יְדֵי זִמּוּןלד בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה,28 וְנָשִׁים וּקְטַנִּים אֵין מְזַמְּנִין עֲלֵיהֶם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קצ"ג,לה,29 שֶׁהֵם אֵין מְבָרְכִין בְּזִמּוּן:

Berachos 20b.
Which women are obligated to observe, as stated in Kiddushin 29a.
Devarim 8:10.
I.e., a portion of Eretz Yisrael was assigned to all the males who left Egypt and divided among their male heirs. See Bava Basra 117a.
See Bamidbar 27:1–11. Tzelafchad was one of those who left Egypt. He died without any male heirs. Therefore the portion of land that was destined for him was given to his daughters. The granting of the land to them was, however, an exception, because of the special circumstances involved. It did not contradict the general principle that women were not given a portion in Eretz Yisrael. As the Alter Rebbe emphasizes: These women were not given a portion in the land; they inherited their father’s portion.
See Bamidbar, ch. 35.
The question of a convert arises because Eretz Yisrael was given as an ancestral heritage only to Jews by birth.
See also sec. 199:4; sec. 53:22.
Shabbos 62a. I.e., women are considered to be in a separate halachic category than men.
See Kiddushin 21b, which states that a comparison cannot necessarily be drawn from an Israelite to a kohen, because the kohanim are obligated in many mitzvos in which Israelites are not. This indicates that the mitzvos in which the kohanim are obligated put them in a separate category. By extension, the same could be said about Levites. Kin’at Eliyahu notes that in the censuses of the Jewish people taken in the desert, the kohanim and the Levites were not counted together with the Jewish people as a whole.
Devarim 24:1.
Vayikra 19:20.
Chagigah 4a, et al.
In Talmudicterminology, a gezeirah shavah, the second of the thirteen principles of Biblical exegesis. When the same word is used in different passages, a parallel is drawn, linking two otherwise disparate situations. It must be emphasized that when our Sages speak of a gezeirah shavah, they are speaking of an interrelationship between concepts passed down through a tradition dating back to the times of Moshe. On his own, a person cannot simply compare two like words and infer that similar laws apply to both subjects. See Pesachim 66a; Encyclopedia Talmudis (Heb.), Vol. 5, p. 549.
I.e., a man who is obligated by Scriptural Law may not fulfill his obligation to recite Grace by listening to its recitation by a woman.
Berachos 20b.
See sec. 184:2.
I.e., one might say that since there is a possibility that the woman is obligated according to Scriptural Law — i.e., according to the first opinion above — a man who is not obligated according to Scriptural Law could not fulfill the obligation for Grace on her behalf. This supposition is rejected, for the reason the Alter Rebbe proceeds to state.
There, the Alter Rebbe explains that this is possible because of the principle of ערבות, “mutual responsibility.” To explain: As stated in sec. 167:23, it is possible to fulfill one’s obligation by hearing a blessing recited by a fellow Jew, with one exception: blessings that praise G‑d for the benefit that one enjoys. It is improper for someone who himself does not experience that benefit to utter such praise for another. The latter point, however, is a Rabbinic ruling and is waived in the instance under discussion, when the person reciting Grace has, in fact, partaken of food and is obligated to recite Grace according to Rabbinic decree.
See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 17, p. 234ff., which explains that because of his parents’ obligation to educate him in the observance of mitzvos, a certain dimension of the obligation devolves upon the minor himself.
Megillah 19b.
Sukkah 38a.
And the mitzvah to train him in this observance is incumbent on his parents and not on him (sec. 39:1 and sec. 343:2).
To use the logic of Tosafos (Megillah 19b): these other mitzvos themselves are Rabbinic in origin, and the child’s obligation to recite them constitutes a second Rabbinic obligation for children are obligation in observance only by virtue of Rabbinic decree. Accordingly, he may not fulfill the mitzvah for someone whose obligation stems from a single Rabbinic degree.
Thus, to use the conceptual framework of the previous note, the minor’s obligation to recite Grace is a single Rabbinic obligation. This remains true even when he did not eat to the point of satiation, for — as the Alter Rebbe proceeds to explain — he is being trained for the Scriptural mitzvah to recite Grace even when he recites Grace after eating less than to the point of satiation.
This also includes knowing how to read it from a siddur.
See sec. 185:4 above; see also sec. 193:1, sec. 197:6, and sec. 213:2.
See sec. 192:1.
It appears that a printing error crept into the text and the intent is sec. 199:6–9. As stated there, they should, however, respond to the blessings recited by the leader of the zimun.
משנה ברכות כ, ב.
גמרא שם. רמב"ם הל' ברכות פ"ה ה"א. רא"ש ברכות פ"ג סי"ג (שהיא בעיא דלא איפשטא). טור ושו"ע ס"א. ולענין שאר מצות עי' לעיל סי' ע ס"א וש"נ.
דברים ח, י.
רש"י שם ד"ה או דרבנן. ועי' לקמן סי' קפז ס"ז.
רמב"ן ב"ב פא, א ד"ה והכתיב. מרדכי ברכות פ"ג רמז סב. מעדני יום טוב ברכות שם אות ק. כנסת הגדולה הגב"י. עולת תמיד ס"ק א. מ"א ס"ק א. והיינו כרבי יוסי במעשר שני פ"ה משנה יד, דכוותיה פסק הרמב"ם הל' מעשר שני פי"א הי"ז. הל' בכורים פ"ד ה"ג.
עי' מרדכי פ"ג שם. כנסת הגדולה שם. וראה לקמן סי' קצט ס"ד, וכאן מיירי באמירת על הארץ הטובה אשר נתן לך. וראה תוס' רבנו יהודה שם ד"ה נשים בברכת המזון.
רשב"א שם ד"ה בעא מיניה. תשב"ץ ח"א סי' קסט.
שבת סב, א.
ראה רש"י דברים לג, ג ד"ה אף, שכל שבט נקרא עם.
קידושין כא, ב.
תשב"ץ שם. וראה גם רמב"ם הל' ברכות פ"ה ה"א. מאמר מרדכי ס"ק ב.
חגיגה ד, א.
סעיף ד.
הרב רבינו יונה שם ד"ה תפלה (שאינה מוציאה לאיש כיון שחיובה מדרבנן). והרא"ש סי"ג. רמב"ם הל' ברכות פ"ה ה"א. טור ולבוש ס"א.
ברכות כ, ב.
כדלעיל סי' קפד ס"ב וש"נ.
סעיף ו. וראה מ"מ וציונים.
ברכות כ, ב. טור ושו"ע שם.
משמעות תוס' מגילה כד, א סוף ד"ה מי. חדושי הרשב"א מגילה יט, ב ד"ה ר' יהודה מכשיר. וראה מ"מ וציונים.
טור ושו"ע ס"ב. וכדלקמן סי' שמג ס"ב-ג וש"נ.
מ"א ס"ק ג, וכמו שאינו מוציא את האיש שאכל כדי שביעה.
גמרא שם כ, ב. טור ושו"ע ס"ב.
בדפו"ר: אנוס. בלוח התיקון שם תוקן: אונן. ובתהל"ד ס"ק ב תמה ע"ז. ובקונטרס השלחן ובהתמים ע' 204 הגיהו: איש. וראה מ"מ וציונים.
מ"א ממשמעות (התוס') [האגודה] ברכות פ"ז סי' קעו. חדושי הרשב"א שם. וראה אג"ק ח"ח ע' צב וע' צד. לקו"ש חי"ז ע' 234. חקרי הלכות ח"ח כ, א. יגדיל תורה (נ. י. ) ח"ח ע' יז. חט"ז ע' רט. חכ"ב ע' תריג-ט. העו"ב תתח ע' 45.
משנה מגילה יט, ב כת"ק. טור ושו"ע סי' תרפט ס"ב.
משנה סוכה לח, א. רמב"ם הל' חנוכה הי"ד. אגודה סוטה סי' כא. לקמן סי' תעט סוף ס"ו.
כדלעיל סי' סט ס"ב וש"נ.
ראה לעיל סי' נג סי"ג לענין תפלה וברכו. לקמן סי' רפב ס"ה לענין קריאת התורה.
ראה גם לעיל סי' לט ס"א וש"נ.
כדלקמן סי' קפז ס"ד.
רשב"א שם. וראה לקו"ש שם. יגדיל תורה והעו"ב שם.
רש"י ברכות שם ד"ה מברך.
עי' סי' קצג ס"א. סי' קצז ס"ו. סי' ריג ס"ב. וראה גם לעיל סי' קפה ס"ד.
כדלקמן רס"י קצב.
אוצ"ל קצט, סעיפים ו-ט. וראה גם לעיל סי' קפה ס"ד.
Translated by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger and Sholom B Wineberg.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Start a Discussion
1000 characters remaining