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Intermediate Talmud: Tractate Berachot, Chapter 7

Zimun: "Three Who Eat Together"

Learn how to study Talmud line-by-line and word-by-word. In this intermediate level class you will learn to understand the unique give-and-take style of Talmudic argument. Text for this class is Chapter Seven of Tractate Brachot (folio 45a).

Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 1
"Three Who Eat Together"
The opening class of this course introduces the first Mishnah of ch. 7 of tractate Berachot which describes the procedure for reciting Grace After Meals by a group of three men who have eaten together. We are introduced to some of the agricultural tithes that must be taken from food before it is permitted to be eaten (Brachot 45a).
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 2
How Many Make a Quorum?
A quorum for prayer (a minyan) is ten. What is the source for the idea that the group recitation of Grace After Meals requires only three people? The Talmud examines the Scriptural verse (Psalms 34:4) which says: Declare the greatness of the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together."
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 3
Can Two People Make a Zimun?
Is having three people a prerequisite for a “zimun” (invitation to recite Grace), or is it merely ideal? Can two people who have eaten together opt to make a zimun if they wish?
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 4
Women and Zimun
We continue to search for an answer to the question: "Can two men make a zimun if they wish?" Various proofs are offered including the fact that a group of women may opt to invite each other to recite the grace after meals.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 5
When One Leaves the Meal Early
What do we do if the third person in a group of three left before zimun was recited? What about the tenth person in a group of ten? What if the person has not yet left but wishes to do so? Does the rest of the group recite zimun early because of him?
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 6
Saying 'Amen' to Your Own Blessing
We begin with a story about a group of sages in which nobody felt worthy to lead the zimun. Next, we discuss the protocol for an individual who arrives late to a zimun. Finally, we learn about a specific situation in which one responds 'Amen' to his own blessing.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 7
The Role of the Host at the Meal
Rav Zeira fell ill and Rav Abbahu pledged to make a feast in honor of his recovery. Various issues came up at the meal. Should the host be the one to break bread at the beginning of the meal? Should he be the one to lead the Grace at the end? Or perhaps a guest should lead these blessings so that he can recite a blessing upon the host.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 8
A Biblical or Rabbinic Blessing
The fourth and final blessing in the Grace After Meals is known as "HaTov V'HaMeitiv" (He who is good and does good.) Is this blessing of Biblical or rabbinic origins?
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 9
Table Manners
An interesting conversation between two of the sages reveals key principles in establishing proper etiquette at the meal.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 10
Washing Before and After a Meal
In a continuation of the discussion of table manners from last class, we learn about the proper procedure for washing before and after a meal.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 11
More Table Manners
How do we show honor at the meal? Who gets priority and when? The sages continue their discussion about the proper mealtime protocol.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 12
How to Answer 'Amen'
The Talmud turns its discussion to the proper way to recite 'amen.' What are the common ways in which the 'amen' response is rendered incorrectly?
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 13
A Blessing on Non-Kosher Food?
The Talmud discusses a scenario in which one participant in a meal has partaken from "demai" (produce that may not have been tithed.) Although it is forbidden to eat such food, may the person who eat from it still be included in a group recitation of Grace After Meals?
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 14
Who Can Be Counted?
Can the waiter who served the food join the group recitation of Grace After Meals? What about a Cuthean or an ignoramus?
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 15
Who is an Am Ha'Aretz?
The sages of the Talmud used the term am ha'aretz (lit. people of the land) to refer to those who were willfully ignorant of Jewish law. What is the exact definition of am ha'aretz? We also discuss other people who cannot join a group recitation of Grace After Meals.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 16
An Unconventional Minyan
Can the Ark be counted as the tenth member of a quorum? Can the day of Shabbos be counted as the tenth member of a quorum? The Talmud asks about unconventional ways of reaching the number of people required for public prayer.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 17
Counting a Child
May a child be counted for the group recitation of Grace After Meals? When does one reach the age of majority in Jewish tradition?
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 18
The Scholar and the King
Can a person who ate foods other than bread count toward the quorum needed for the group recitation of Grace After Meals. If yes, can such a person even lead the group? The Talmud answers these questions by way of a fascinating story about the sage, Shimon ben Shetach, and his brother-in-law. the wicked King Yanai.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 19
Who Composed the Grace After Meals?
The Talmud chronicles the evolving text of the Grace After Meals, beginning with Moses who composed the first paragraph and continuing through the generations as different Jewish leaders and sages instituted additional paragraphs.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 20
Structure of the Grace After Meals
What is the order in which the paragraphs of the Grace After Meals must be recited? The Talmud discusses the structure of this lengthy blessing and also asks, parenthetically, how we know that we are also required to make blessings before eating as well.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 21
The Text of Grace After Meals
The wording of the Grace After Meals was carefully composes to mention certain things for which we must give G-d thanks. What happens if one deviates from this formula? What ideas must always be mentioned and with what wording?
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 22
Necessary Additions to the Grace After Meals
There are certain concepts for which one must give thanks in the Grace After Meals such as the Land of Israel, the covenant of circumcision, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 23
Double Blessings
The Talmud now discusses if a single blessing may mention multiple concepts or is it proper that each concept should have its own blessing.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 24
Additions to the Grace After Meals
The Talmud discusses additions made to the Grace After Meals including extra paragraphs to be recited on Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 25
How Much Must One Eat?
How much bread must one eat in order to be included in a group recitation of the Grace After Meals? Is there a particular amount? Must one eat until satiation? Divergent opinions are analyzed. (This class completes the discussion of the first Mishnah in this chapter.)
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 26
10,000 Who Eat Together
In this class, we begin a new Mishnah, the discussion of which centers around the differences in the group recitation of Grace After Meals depending on whether 3, 10, 100, 1000, or 10,000 people have partaken of the meal.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 27
Text of the Zimun
What wording should be used when inviting others to join the group recitation of the Grace After Meals?
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 28
Don't Split Up the Group
In this class, we begin a new Mishnah, the discussion of which centers around the idea that when individuals convene for a meal, they may not go their own ways without joining for the group recitation of the Grace After Meals.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 29
Separate Meals, One Zimun
What happens if three different people who ate alone in three different rooms want to later come together to make one group recitation of the Grace After Meals?
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 30
Don't Play With Your Food
The Talmud now discusses a side point: the respect due to food items. What is considered respectful and disrespectful treatment of food?
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 31
The "Isparagus" Remedy
Among other topics discussed now by the Talmud, the sages debate about the proper use of a natural elixir known as "Isparagus" -- a wine-based drink with medicinal properties.
Intermediate Talmud: Lesson 32
The Cup of Blessing
We conclude this chapter of Talmud with a discussion of the requirements for the "kos shel brachah" (lit. "cup of blessing") over which the Grace After Meals is recited.
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