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Special Additions to the Birkat HaMazon

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Aug 22, 2006
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On Shabbat, Yom Tov and Rosh Chodesh, there are paragraphs added to the Birkat HaMazon (and to the Amidah). In this article we will discuss the nature of these additions and what a person should do if he accidentally omits them.

The Nature of the Obligation
The Gemara, Berachot 49b, states that if one omits R'tzei or Ya'aleh V'Yavo from the Birkat HaMazon of Shabbat or Yom Tov, respectively, he must repeat Birkat HaMazon. If one omits Ya'aleh V'Yavo from the Birkat HaMazon of Rosh Chodesh however, he is not required to repeat Birkat HaMazon. The Gemara explains that because one is obligated to eat bread meals on Shabbat and Yom Tov, the Birkat HaMazon on these days is also obligatory. On Rosh Chodesh there is no obligation to eat bread and therefore, the Birkat HaMazon is not obligatory, and one does not need to repeat Birkat HaMazon if Ya’aleh V’Yavo was accidentally omitted.

There are two ways to understand why one would be required to repeat Birkat HaMazon if one omits R'tzei or Ya'aleh V'Yavo from the Birkat HaMazon of Shabbat or Yom Tov. One can understand that on Shabbat and Yom Tov, these additions become part and parcel of the Birkat HaMazon and omitting these additions is tantamount to omitting an entire paragraph of Birkat HaMazon. Alternatively, one can understand that the obligation to mention Shabbat and Yom Tov is a function of the meal and not of the Birkat HaMazon. In order to properly fulfill the obligation of the Shabbat or Yom Tov meal, one must mention Shabbat or Yom Tov in the context of Birkat HaMazon. If one omits R'tzei or Ya'aleh V'Yavo from the Birkat HaMazon of Shabbat or Yom Tov, he has fulfilled the obligation of Birkat HaMazon, but he has not fulfilled the mitzvah of eating a seudah on Shabbat or Yom Tov in its entirety. He can now rectify this problem by either eating another meal or by repeating Birkat HaMazon. R. Hershel Schachter, Eretz HaTzvi, no. 5, presents both possibilities and notes that while Mishna Berurah 108:34, seems to side with the former approach, R. Yosef D. Soloveitchik assumed the latter approach.

There may be a practical difference between these two approaches regarding one who omits R'tzei or Ya'aleh V'Yavo from the Birkat HaMazon of Shabbat and Yom Tov and does not realize that he has done so until he is another location. Rambam, Hilchot Berachot 4:1, rules that if one forgets to recite Birkat HaMazon entirely and changes locations, he may recite Birkat HaMazon in the new location. Rabbeinu Asher, Berachot 8:5, rules that one must return to his original location in order to recite Birkat HaMazon. Mishna Berurah 184:7, rules that one should return to his original location unless it is extremely difficult for him to do so. Should the same apply to someone who recited Birkat HaMazon but omitted the necessary additions? According to the first approach, if one omits these additions it is as if he never recited Birkat HaMazon and he would be required to return to the original location. According to the second approach, if one recites Birkat HaMazon without these additions he has fulfilled the requirement for Birkat HaMazon and it is arguable that he is not required to return to the original location in order to properly fulfill the mitzvah eating the seudah on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Omission of R'tzei at Seudah Shlishit
Seudah Shlishit is obligatory and as such, if one omits R'tzei from Birkat HaMazon at Seudah Shlishit, he should ostensibly be required to repeat Birkat HaMazon. Nevertheless, Tosafot, Berachot 49b, s.v. Ee Ba'I, suggest that there is room for leniency based on the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam who maintains that one is not required to eat bread for Seudah Shlishit (See "Eating Shalosh Seudot on Shabbat Erev Pesach Part I").

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 188:8, rules in accordance with the opinion of Tosafot. This ruling comes despite the fact that Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 291:5, rejects the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam and rules that one must eat bread in order to fulfill the mitzvah of Seudah Shlishit. Magen Avraham 188:16, explains that although the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam is not considered normative, his opinion is not totally rejected, and if one were to repeat Birkat HaMazon after omitting R'tzei at Seudah Shlishit, the berachot would be considered l'vatalah according to Rabbeinu Tam. Since Rabbeinu Tam's opinion is not totally rejected, it is preferable to show deference to his opinion and refrain from repeating Birkat HaMazon.

The Compensatory Beracha
The Gemara, Berachot 49a-b, provides a solution for one who omits R'tzei or Ya'aleh V'Yavo from the Birkat HaMazon of Shabbat and Yom Tov. If one realizes the mistake after completing the beracha of Uv'nei Yerushalyim but prior to reciting HaTov V'HaMeitiv, one can recite a compensatory beracha at that point and there is no need to return to the beginning of Birkat HaMazon. [The text of the beracha can be found in most siddurim. Unfortunately, it does not appear in many of the "bentchers."]

The text of the beracha for Shabbat and Yom Tov contains an opening beracha and a closing beracha. The Gemara has a discussion as to whether the beracha for one who omits Ya'aleh V'Yavo on Rosh Chodesh should have a closing beracha. The Gemara provides no definitive conclusion to this question. Rif, Berachot 36b, rules that there is no closing beracha. Rabbeinu Asher, Berachot 7:23, cites Rabbeinu Yitzchak who rules that there is a closing beracha. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 188:7 codifies the opinion of Rif that there is no closing beracha. There is a dispute between Magen Avraham 188:7, and R. Shabtai Ventura, Nahar Shalom 188:4, regarding the reason why there is no closing beracha on the compensatory beracha of Rosh Chodesh. According to Magen Avraham, the lack of a closing beracha in the compensatory beracha of Rosh Chodesh is a direct function of the lack of obligation to eat a bread meal on Rosh Chodesh. According to Nahar Shalom, the reason why there is no closing beracha is because Rosh Chodesh is not as significant of a day as Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Mishna Berurah, Biur Halacha 188:8, s.v. B'Shabbat, notes an important practical difference between Magen Avraham and Nahar Shalom regarding the compensatory beracha for someone who omits R'tzei at Seudah Shlishit. According to Magen Avraham, the closing beracha is a function of the obligation to eat a bread meal. As such, one who recites the compensatory beracha at Seudah Shlishit would not recite the closing beracha, in deference to Rabbeinu Tam's opinion. According to Nahar Shalom, the omission of the closing beracha is a function of the significance of the day and one who recites the compensatory beracha at Seudah Shlishit would certainly include the closing beracha. Mishna Berurah concludes that one should insert the closing beracha, especially since Rabbeinu Tam's opinion is not considered the normative opinion.

When Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh Coincide
Suppose Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh coincide and one omits Ya'aleh V'Yavo from one of the first two meals. One can argue that since there is an obligation to eat a bread meal on that particular Rosh Chodesh, one would be required to repeat Birkat HaMazon. Alternatively, one can argue that the requirement to eat a bread meal is not a function of Rosh Chodesh but rather of Shabbat and therefore, there should be no obligation to repeat Birkat HaMazon. Mordechai, Berachot no. 176, cites Rabbeinu Yosef who is of the opinion that one is not required to repeat Birkat HaMazon. Rashba, Berachot 49b, s.v. Shabatot, is of the opinion that one should repeat Birkat HaMazon. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 188:7, rules that one should not repeat Birkat HaMazon (based on the principle of safek berachot l'hakel, see Beit Yosef, Bedek HaBayit, ad loc.).

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