THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) HALACHAH: MAY WOMEN MAKE A "ZIMUN" TOGETHER?
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?
2) TWO PEOPLE MAKING A "ZIMUN"
(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).
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.
(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.
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.
3) ONE PERSON WALKED AWAY FROM THE "ZIMUN"
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
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
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?"
4) HALACHAH: SAYING "AMEN" AFTER "BONEH YERUSHALAYIM"
(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.
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 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
(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.)
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.