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Berachos 48


According to the conclusion of our Gemara, may a child (a boy under the age of thirteen) be included to make a Zimun? There are several opinions among the Rishonim.
(a) The RAMBAM and RIF rule like the simple understanding of the Gemara and conclude that a child may join to make a Zimun as long as he knows to Whom the blessings are directed. Such a child may even be the third of a Zimun of three (and certainly the tenth of ten).

(b) The TUR (OC 199) cites RAV HAI GA'ON and RABEINU PERETZ who say that a child who knows to Whom the blessings are directed may be included to make a Zimun of *ten* but may not make a Zimun of *three*. (See also end of Tosfos DH v'Les.)

(c) RABEINU TAM rules like the Rambam and Rif, that a child may join to make a Zimun (of *three* according to the Rosh's understanding of Rabeinu Tam, but only *of ten* according to Tosfos' understanding of Rabeinu Tam), as long as he *either* knows to Whom he is blessing, or he is "Porei'ach" (see Background). Furthermore, Rabeinu Tam adds that even if he does not know to Whom he is blessing nor is he "Porei'ach," he may be included to make ten ("Snif la'Asarah").

(d) TOSFOS (DH v'Leis) explains that in order to include a child, he must have both qualities -- "Porei'ach" *and* know to Whom he is blessing. (Tosfos interprets "Porei'ach" to mean that he has short pubic hair and has not passed the age of thirteen.)

(e) The ROSH cites a Talmud Yerushalmi that says that a child must have two hairs in order to be included in a Zimun. Therefore, the Rosh disregards the conclusion of our Gemara and concludes that a child may *never* be included to make a Zimun.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 199:10) rules like the Rambam (a). The Acharonim point out that only one child may be included to make a Zimun, and not more.

The REMA rules like the Rosh, that we do not include minors to make a Zimun. The only time that we are lenient is when the child is thirteen years old yet we do not know for a fact that he has developed signs of maturity (at least two full pubic hairs). In such a case we may rely on the Chazakah that he has developed signs of maturity and include him to make a Zimun (because a Zimun is d'Rabanan).


QUESTION: Rashi DH Ad she'Yochal explains that the Rabbanan did not place the obligation of Chinuch in Mitzvos upon a minor, but upon his father. Rashi's statement is logically very sound, since the minor is not obligated to accept upon himself the Rabanan's Gezeiros any more than he is obligated in any other Mitzvos of the Torah. Rashi in Nidah 46b DH Isura makes a similar statement, emphasizing that is impossible for the Rabanan to obligate a minor in any of their enactments.

Why, then, does RASHI himself (in Berachos 20b DH Shiura) rule that a minor *may* recite Birkas ha'Mazon for a person over the age of Bar Mitzvah if that person ate less than a k'Zayis of bread! This is the opinion of Tosfos (Berachos 15a DH v'Rebbi Yehudah; 48a DH Ad) and the Halachic ruling (Orach Chayim 186:2) as well.

ANSWER: Rashi and Tosfos understood that although a minor is not obligated *at all* in Birkas ha'Mazon in his own right, nevertheless, the Rabanan who originally decreed that a person who ate less than a k'Zayis must recite Birkas ha'Mazon, enacted in their decree that if a minor recites Birkas ha'Mazon for one who ate less than a k'Zayis, it will suffice. The reason they enacted their decree in such a manner was in order to further the cause of Chinuch, by making it *look* to the minor as though he is indeed obligated in Mitzvos in his own right, so that he should regard his obligation in Mitzvos with austerity. However, the minor himself is indeed exempt from all Mitzvos, even from the Mitzvah of Chinuch. (M. Kornfeld)


OPINIONS: The Gemara says that on Shabbos, the third blessing of Birkas ha'Mazon begins and ends with "Nechamah" ("comfort"). What exactly does this mean? There are three opinions among the Rishonim:
(a) RASHI explains that one starts with either the word "Rachem" ("have mercy") or "Nachem" ("bring comfort") -- both texts express the concept of Nechamah. One ends with the blessing of "Boneh Yerushalayim," which is an expressing of Nechamah. The Gemara does not mean that Birkas ha'Mazon on Shabbos has a different text than on the weekdays. Rather, it means that no change is made in the normal text because of Shabbos.

(b) The RAMBAM also rules that on Shabbos the blessing is the same as it is during the week. However according to him, at both times one has the choice how to start ("Rachem" or "Nachem") *and how to finish* ("Boneh Yerushalayim" or "Menachem Yisrael") the blessing. This opinion differs from Rashi's opinion because Rashi says that although one may start either way, one must end the bessing with "Boneh Yerushalayim."

(c) The RIF says that on Shabbos, one starts the blessing differently than on the weekday. On Shabbos, one says "Nachmeinu" at the beginning of the blessing and "Menachem Amo Yisrael b'Vinyan Yerushalayim" at the end.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 188:4) cites the opinion of the Rambam, while the REMA cites Rashi's opinion. The VILNA GA'ON rules in accordance with the opinion of the Rif. We follow the Rema's view and conclude the blessing "Boneh Yerushalayim."
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