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FRUMToronto Articles Parsha Pearls

Devrei Torah relating to the weekly Parsha.

Blog Image: Hakhel.jpg
Eighteen Points About Birkas HaMazon
As this week’s Parsha contains the Mitzvas Aseh of Birkas Hamazon, we provide below several important points relating to the Mitzvah, much of which has been culled from the Sefer VeZos HaBracha by HaRav Alexander Mandelbaum, Shlita:

1.  The Pasuk which sets forth the Mitzvah is actually recited in the second bracha of Birkas HaMazon: “VeAchalta VeSavata U’Vairachta...”  We note that, just as in Kriyas Shema where the emphasis on the word “VeAhavta” is on the last syllable--the “ta,” and not on the middle syllable of “hav” (which incorrect pronunciation would change the meaning of the word to past tense), so, too, the emphasis on the word “VeAchalta” is placed on the “ta” and not on the “achal” (which mispronunciation would likewise alter the meaning of the word is to the past tense).

2.  Before commencing Birkas Hamazon, one should have in mind or recite that he is about to fulfill the Mitzvas Aseh of Birkas HaMazon--with awe and love.

3.  One should Bentsch with “Simcha Yeseira”--an extra measure of joy, as one would feel after having received a beautiful gift from another.

4.  LeChatchila, in the first instance, one should Bentsch from a Siddur or Bentscher, and bentch out loud, or at least loud enough to hear the words you are saying.
5.  One should be sure to be respectably dressed.

6.  One should bentsch while sitting, to increase Kavanna.

7.  One should leave some bread on the table for bentsching, and if none was left, one should bring bread from somewhere else (but not a whole loaf).  This demonstrates our awareness of Hashem’s beneficence in giving us more than we need, and provides something for bracha to be “chal” on going forward.

8.  On weekdays, any knives left on the table should be removed or covered, for our Shulchan is like the Mizbeach, which brings kapara and extends a person’s life (as opposed to a knife, which can be used as a weapon, R’L).  According to the Kaf HaChaim in the name of the Arizal, knives should be removed on Shabbos and Yom Tov, as well, and this may be the Minhag in some Sefardi families.

9.  If one is thirsty, he should be sure to drink before Birkas HaMazon, for some opinions require drinking if thirsty in order to fulfill the Mitzvas Aseh D’Oraysa to Bentsch.

10.  One should eat a kezayis of bread within a three (3) minute span at some point during the course of the meal, so that he will have eaten the minimum shiur required for Birkas HaMazon “bichdei achilas peras.”  If one does not do so, than according to HaRav Moshe Feinstein, Z’tl, he should not bentsch.  It is for this reason that many are careful to eat a kezayis of bread bichdei achilas peras (once again, three minutes according to HaRav Feinstein) at the beginning of the meal, rather than nibbling on bread or challah in between courses of a meal.

11.  One must bentsch in the place that he ate.  If one left that place, and it is possible to return within 72 minutes after his meal was completed, he should return, unless there is real reason that he cannot return, in which event, a sheas hadechak or bedieved, he is Yotzeh bentsching elsewhere.

12.  Each guest should bless his host with the Birchas HaOreyach.  If the siddur or bentscher given to him does not have it, he should ask his host for a siddur that does have it.  It should be recited immediately after the conclusion of the fourth bracha (“Leola al yechaserainu”), and before all of the other HaRachamans, as its nusach is found in the Gemara itself (Brachos 46A).  (Sefardim may recite it before “Magdil Yeshuos”).

13.  One should avoid motioning or signalling with his eyes, hands, and the like while bentsching, unless it is to stop something that is disturbing Kavanna.  Similarly, one should avoid moving crumbs, adjusting his clothing, or conducting any other activity while bentsching.

14.  The Pele Yoetz writes that, according to Kabbala, the four Brachos of bentsching correspond to the four letters of Hashem’s ineffable name.  We should especially try to have Kavanna in the words--and most certainly when reciting the opening and closing words of the bracha.

15.  The Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvoda writes in his will to his children that he would daven prior to bentsching that he not be disturbed by a knock at the door or other annoyance, so as not to disturb his Kavanna while bentching.

16.  There is a well-known story that HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach, Z’tl, once repeated the paragraph of “Nodeh Lecha” (We thank You, Hashem), in which we list many important things that we thank Hashem for.  When he was asked why he repeated it, he responded that he experienced a momentary lapse of Kavanna, and that saying “Thank you” without meaning it is not true thanks.  In a related way, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Shlita, teaches in the name of HaRav Pam, Z’tl, that one may put out a finger and count each one of the things that you are thanking Hashem for every time you recite “Nodeh Lecha”.  Example: “Al Yisrael Amecha--one, V’Al Yerushalayim Irecha--two etc.”  If you try this, you will see that it is a great method of focusing your appreciation, and rejoicing in what Hashem has given you.

17.   If we would simply focus on the powerful words of bentching, and would take the extra minute or two necessary to recite bentching in the manner described above, we would gain a greater appreciation of its hallowed words.  For instance, just look at the paragraph of “Bamorom Yilamdu Aleyhem V’Oleinu Zechus--in Heaven may a merit be pleaded for them and for us for a safeguard of peace...”  If one properly appreciates it, one will not try to “avoid bentching” like little children do, but rather value it for the great Mitzvah D’Oraysa--the incredible privilege and opportunity--that it truly is!

18.  Finally, the extreme importance of Birkas HaMazon is demonstrated by the great emphasis that is placed upon it in the Chinuch of children.  It is one of the first subjects taught to children--and in a joyful and singing manner.  We asked HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Shlita, whether it would be better for a newcomer to Torah Judaism to recite the bentching in English or to listen word-for-word to the bentching of another in Hebrew.  He responded that the newcomer should recite the bentching in English.  While a major reason for this may be the difficulty encountered by a newcomer in following the entire Birkas HaMazon in Hebrew, an ancillary reason for this P’sak may be so that the person who has just eaten can truly appreciate the nature and beauty of Birkas Hamazon.

May our recitation of Birkas HaMazon be a time that we anticipate--to express our appreciation with joy--and fulfill a Mitzvas Aseh D’Oraysa on top of it!

Hakhel MIS

Posted 8/7/2009 12:00 AM | Tell a Friend | Parsha Pearls | Comments (0)

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