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Berachos 45


The Gemara teaches that women may make a Zimun when they eat and recite Birkas ha'Mazon together. What is the Halachic ruling in this matter? Is it obligatory for women to do so?
(a) TOSFOS (DH Sha'ani Hasam) rules that it is not obligatory for women to make a Zimun; rather, it is optional. This explains why most women today are not careful to make a Zimun. This, too, appears to be the opinion of Rashi (DH d'Ika Dei'os). The S'MAG adds that if a woman eats together with a group of men then she becomes obligated to join the Zimun even according to Tosfos. It will be optional only when three (or more) women ate together (without a Zimun of men).

(b) The ROSH (7:4) disagrees on several accounts. (1) The Gemara in Erchin (3a) learns that women make a Zimun from a Beraisa which states "ha'Kol *Chayavim* b'Zimun," which implies that it is obligatory. (2) Since a woman is obligated to recite Birkas ha'Mazon (either mid'Oraisa or mid'Rabanan) why should she not be obligated in Zimun? (3) Since the Gemara concludes that women are "separate minds," that is, each is considered to be like one man, it is implicit that three women have the same obligation of Zimun as three men. Tosfos (ibid.) indeed records that one of the Rishonim asked his daughters to make sure to recite Birkas ha'Mazon with a Zimun, if they ate together without men.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 199:7) rules like Tosfos, that if women ate by themselves, making a Zimun is optional. If they ate together with a group of men, they are obligated to join the Zimun.

The BI'UR HALACHAH (DH Nashim) quotes the VILNA GA'ON who rules in accordance with the Rosh, that women are obligated to make a Zimun even if they ate only with other women. However, he concludes that the custom is for women not to make a Zimun by themselves at all, like Tosfos.

QUESTION: The Gemara attempts to prove that it was Rebbi Yochanan who held that two people may not make a Zimun, by quoting another statement of Rebbi Yochanan. Rebbi Yochanan said that two people who ate together, one of them recites Birkas ha'Mazon for both. Rebbi Zeira explained that this means that they may not make a Zimun together.

RASHI (DH v'Amar Rebbi Zeira) explains that Rebbi Yochanan was teaching that two people *are not obligated* to make a Zimun (which implies that a Zimun is optional). Why does Rashi say that they are not obligated, when the Gemara was trying to prove that not only are they not obligated, but they are not even *permitted* to make a Zimun?

ANSWER: The TZELACH answers that Rashi was bothered by the following quesstion. How did Rebbi Zeira see in Rebbi Yochanan's statement that two people who eat together may not make a Zimun? All Rebbi Yochanan said was that one person fulfills his obligation to say Birkas ha'Mazon by listening to the other say it. How does this imply that two people may not make a Zimun?

Rashi therefore accepted two basic premises: (1) He understood that when Rebbi Yochanan said one person recites Birkas ha'Mazon for both of them, he was referring to a case where a Talmid Chacham and an Am ha'Aretz ate together. Rashi learned this from the Gemara later on this Daf that says that when two people eat together, they should each recite Birkas ha'Mazon separately, unless one of them is an Am ha'Aretz, in which case the other one should recite Birkas ha'Mazon for both of them. (2) Making a Zimun together is considered as if each person says Birkas ha'Mazon *on his own* (because all participants recite some part of it, even though they do not recite the entire Birkas ha'Mazon).

We may therefore conclude that if it is *permitted* for two people who are both Talmidei Chachamim to make a Zimun, then it should be *obligatory* for two people, one of whom is an Am ha'Aretz, to make a Zimun -- so that the Am ha'Aretz should be saying Birkas ha'Mazon "by himself." From the fact that Rebbi Yochanan said that the Talmid Chacham recites the blessing for the Am ha'Aretz, it is clear that it is not even permitted for them to make a Zimun. If it had been permitted to do so when two Talmidei Chachamim eat together, then in the case of the Am ha'Aretz it would have become obligatory.

The Gemara says that if one out of three people leave the table and walk away, the remaining two may still make a Zimun as long as the one who left is close enough that they call him and he answers. If he left a group of ten, though, they may not make a Zimun until he actually returns to them. What does it mean that "they call him and he answers?"
(a) RASHI (DH v'Hu d'Kari Lei v'Ani) explains that it means that the third person who walked away does not have to return to join the Zimun. He may stay where he is, listening to the Zimun, and respond "Baruch she'Achalnu...." When he was part of a group of ten people, though, he must come back to his place and participate.

The ME'IRI adds that in such a case the one who left the group may fulfill his obligation to recite Birkas ha'Mazon in the place in which he is standing even though, normally, l'Chatchilah one must recite Birkas ha'Mazon in the place where he ate. Since he is part of the Zimun, he is considered to be "drawn" to the place of the person who is leading the Zimun (and thus it is considered as if he is reciting Birkas ha'Mazon in the place that he ate).

(b) RABEINU CHANANEL explains that the people who remained at the meal call him and inform him that they are ready to be Mezamen, and he responds to them that he is coming back (Rabeinu Chananel) or that he is paying attention to their Zimun (RITVA, and the RA'AVAD as quoted by the Me'iri), even though he does *not actually respond* to the Zimun. Since the third person's verbal response to the Zimun is not absolutely necessary for the Zimun to be valid, here it is acceptable even l'Chatchilah for him not to actually respond.

(c) The RE'AH has an entirely different approach. He explains that the person must *come back to the table* before the group is Mezamen. If he did not walk so far, he may still join the Zimun when he returns. However, if he walked so far that he was no longer able to hear those who remained at the meal, then he may not join the Zimun when he returns. (This is only if he left without intending to return. If he left with the intention to return, he may certainly join the Zimun when he returns.)

In a group of ten people, those ten may make a Zimun only if no one left at all. [The Re'ah had the words "Ad *d'Iysa*" ("until they remain there") in place of "Ad *d'Aysi*" ("until he comes back").]
The Gemara relates that Abaye would say "Amen" loudly after his own blessing of "Boneh Yerushalayim" in Birkas ha'Mazon, in order to indicate to the workers that they should return to their work (and not recite the fourth blessing, "Ha'Tov v'ha'Meitiv," of Birkas ha'Mazon, since the fourth blessing is d'Rabanan). Rav Ashi used to say "Amen" quietly, so that people would not belittle the blessing of "Ha'Tov v'ha'Meitiv," saying that it was not d'Oraisa. What is our practice?
(a) The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 188:2) rules like the Rambam that "Amen" after "Boneh Yerushalayim" should be recited quietly. Since nowadays we do not have workers who skip the last blessing, we should not say it loudly lest people belittle the last blessing.

(b) However, this is not the common practice today. The common practice is not to be careful to say this "Amen" quietly. The REMA (OC 188:2) explains that the reason is because when a group of people recite Birkas ha'Mazon together, and the group responds "Amen" after each blessing that the leader concludes, it is not evident that the leader himself is also responding "Amen" to the blessing. Hence, when saying Birkas ha'Mazon with a group of people, one may say "Amen" out loud. When one says Birkas ha'Mazon by himself, then one should say "Amen" quietly according to the Rema, since that is the only blessing that he is saying "Amen" to, it is evident it indicates that "Ha'Tov v'ha'Meitiv" is d'Rabanan.

(c) The MISHNAH BERURAH (188:2) explains that we may say Amen out loud even when reciting Birkas ha'Mazon in private. When there used to be workers who left out "Ha'Tov v'ha'Meitiv" and went back to work, we were concerned that they would get used to not saying "Ha'Tov v'ha'Meitiv" and leave it out even when they did not have to get back to work. Therefore, "Amen" had to be said quietly so that they would not think that the rest of Birkas ha'Mazon was unimportant. Nowadays, however, we do not have workers who leave to work right after "Boneh Yerushalayim" (as the Shulchan Aruch writes in OC 191:2), we do not have to worry about anyone belittling the fourth blessing, and, therefore, we may say "Amen" out loud.

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