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: