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Berachos 47

The Gemara says that those who are sitting at a meal may not eat before the person who recites "ha'Motzi." There are two opinions what this means.

(a) TOSFOS (DH Ein ha'Mesubin) explains that those seated are not allowed to eat first when they are listening to the leader's blessing and are going to be eating from the bread that is *before the leader*. If those seated have in front of them their own loaves from which they will eat when the leader recites the blessing for them, they may eat before he eats.

The logic for this ruling is as follows. One must recite a blessing over a piece of bread which is *before him*. If those who listened were to take a piece of the leader's loaf before he did, they would be Yotzei saying a Berachah, but they would not be considered saying a Berachah on a loaf that was *before them* -- since it was before the leader at the time of the Berachah. If the leader first eats, then the others are Yotzei not only making a Berachah, but making a Berachah on a loaf that is before them (since the leader did).

(b) Tosfos cites the SAR M'KUTZI who gives a different explanation. When the person reciting "ha'Motzi" *distributes* pieces of bread from his loaf to everyone at the meal, they may eat before he eats. Our Gemara means that before the leader has distributed the bread to them, they may not reach for the bread in front of the leader and *take a piece* before he takes for himself.

According to the Sar m'Kutzi, it would appear that this Halachah is not part of the laws of blessings. Rather it is part of the laws of respectful manners (Derech Eretz).

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 167:15) cites the first explanation of Tosfos (a), that people should not eat before the one who says the blessing, unless they have their own breads in front of them. The MISHNAH BERURAH (167:83) points out that Shabbos is an exception. Even if they all have their own single loaf of bread before them, they may not eat before the leader, because they are required to eat from his Lechem Mishnah (his double portion of bread). If each person has his own Lechem Mishnah, then they do not have to wait for the leader to eat.

Another exception is if the leader makes a blessing on a complete loaf of bread, and they have in front of them only slices of bread. Those listenting must wait to eat until after the leader has eaten, because the blessing is preferred to be made on a full loaf rather than on slices.


Although the Gemara states that an Am ha'Aretz may not be part of a Zimun, TOSFOS (DH Amar Rav Huna) says that nowadays we invite them to join. Today the ignorant people are not able to accept being inferior to Talmidei Chachamim, and they would completely separate from themselves the community if we do not involve them in our religious affairs.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 199:3) rules like Tosfos. The MISHNAH BERURAH (199:2) adds that a Jew who has gone so far away from the Torah that he purposely and maliciously transgresses the Mitzvos in public may not be included in a Zimun.

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