Siman 178 Interruptions in a Meal

  • Rav Asher Meir
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion

SHIUR #111: Siman 178


By Rabbi Asher Meir





The gemara in "Arvei Pesachim" (the tenth chapter of Pesachim) tentatively concludes that "a change of place requires a [new] berakha," after refuting the opinion of Rebbe Yehonatan, who asserted that no berakha is required.  The gemara then goes on to discuss the details of this conclusion in the following passage on Pesachim 101b:


Rav Idi bar Avin sat before Rav Chisda, and Rav Chisda sat and said in the name of Rav Huna: When you say that a change of place necessitates a new blessing - that is taught only from house to house, but not from place to place [within a house].


And Rav Chisda further said in his own name: When you say that a change of place necessitates a new blessing - that is said only regarding things that don't require a final blessing in their location [of eating].  But [on] things that need a final blessing in their location, there is no need to bless.  Why is this? Because he returns to his previous fixation (kiv'a kama).


But Rav Sheshet said, in either case he must make a blessing.


The gemara then raises an objection to Rav Chisda's view from the following beraita:


The benei chavura (members of a group) who were sitting and drinking, and uprooted themselves to greet a bride or groom: when they leave they don't need to make a final blessing on what they already ate, and when they return they don't need to make a beginning blessing [on the continuation of the meal].  But this is only if they left [one member of the group such as] an old or sick person behind.


The term "uprooting" suggests that the food was one which created fixity, one which required a blessing in the place of eating, and even so were it not for the comrade left behind everyone would require a new blessing.


The gemara then deflects this objection by suggesting that it is according to the minority opinion of Rebbe Yehuda.  A parallel beraita supports this interpretation.  It says that when the benei chavura get up in the middle of dining to go to the beit knesset or beit midrash they don't need to make new blessings, and it is only Rebbe Yehuda who adds the qualification that this is true only if they leave behind a comrade.




It seems clear from the give-and-take above that Rav Chisda carries the day.  Not only is the objection from the first beraita deflected, but the second beraita actually supports him since the anonymous opinion clearly understands that even if there is no one left behind, no new berakhot are needed - BECAUSE they are "uprooting," that is, leaving a fixed meal.  This is indeed the ruling of the Rosh.


The Rif, seemingly inexplicably, rules like Rav Sheshet, and this is also the opinion of the Rambam (Berakhot 4:4).  The Kesef Mishna (written by Rav Yosef Karo, the author of the Beit Yosef and the Shulchan Arukh) explains the Rif's ruling as follows: It is often true that when a tanna comes and says that the tanna kamma refers only to a specific case, he is coming to disagree with the first opinion and qualify it.  But Rebbe Yehuda (in the second beraita) is different - when he says "bameh devarim amurim," he is explaining the previous opinion, not disagreeing with it.


The Kesef Mishna further points out that while the gemara does accept that the beraita deflects the objection to Rav Chisda, it does NOT then turn around and use the beraita to refute Rav Sheshet.


The Beit Yosef adopts the policy of ruling according to the majority of the Rif, Rambam and Rosh.  Since the Rif and Rambam rule like Rav Sheshet and the Beit Yosef is able to justify their ruling as he does in the Kesef Mishna, the Beit Yosef and Shulchan Arukh rule like Rav Sheshet that a new berakha is always required.  The Rema, however, rules like the Rosh.




What does Rav Chisda mean when he says that in a fixed meal the diner "returns to his previous fixation?"


RASHI writes:

"Things that don't require a blessing afterwards in their [same] place": Since he stood and went somewhere else, getting up is the conclusion of his meal and this is now a different meal, and he must bless beforehand.  "But things which require a blessing afterwards in their [same] place": Since he did NOT bless afterwards and he got up to go somewhere else to eat, he went on the basis of the original fixation, to make a single [final] blessing on both.  And beforehand there is also no need for a blessing.


It seems that Rashi's basic assumption is that a person who gets up from the table has finished his meal.  A person who eats vegetables in place A and gets up to go to place B has evidently finished eating.  But we may ask, if he has finished eating why didn't he bench (bless afterwards)?  Answer - because there is no need to bench in the same place when eating vegetables.


However, a person who is eating mezonot must make the final blessing in the same place.  Even though the basic assumption is that food eaten in a new place is a new meal, this assumption is belied by the fact that no final blessing was made in the original place.  It must be that the one eating views this as a continuation of the original meal; therefore, he doesn't mind benching in place B since this too is the place of his meal. 


The ROSH writes:

Since if he had not eaten here [in the second place] he would have been obligated to return to his [original] place and make a [final] blessing, it is as if he is still in his [original] place.  And he finishes his meal here and here he blesses birkhat ha-mazon.


The Rosh does NOT write that getting up implies a new meal.  He relates only to the question of whether there was a disruption.  Normally a change of place is a disruption, but if it were a disruption, the diner would certainly return to his original place.  Since he did not do so, he evidently doesn't view the change of place as a disruption, and no new blessing is required.





"Change of place requires a berakha."  What berakha?


Rashi writes that changing place with vegetables and the like is tantamount to finishing the meal.  One who finishes a meal needs to say a final berakha, so it seems that Rashi agrees that one who changes place with these "light" foods needs to say a final berakha on his past eating and then a first berakha on his new eating.  This is certainly the ruling of the Rif and the Rambam.


The Rosh understands that changing one's place is like changing one's mind.  Someone who sat down thinking he would drink only one cup of wine and then changed his mind and decided to drink another must make a new "borei pri ha-gefen," as we learned in 174:5.  But no final blessing is necessary!  The problem is not that a new meal is begun, but rather that there was no intention for the original berakha rishona (first blessing) to apply to additional cups.  This is solved by making a new berakha rishona.


This accords with our explanation of the Rosh above.  The Rosh does not say that change of place is like starting a new meal, he implies only that it is a disruption.


However, there is a problem for the Rosh.  The beraita that discusses an interruption (getting up to see the bride or groom) explicitly says that the group should make even a final blessing.  The Rosh explains that the beraita is only giving advice (etza).  Since they may very well be distracted from their meal entirely, it is a good idea to make a final blessing.  But if they do indeed return promptly to their meal, a new FIRST blessing is required, if the meal was not on mezonot and the like.  But no FINAL blessing is required on what was already eaten until the entire meal is over.


(The Drisha understands that the Rif also recommends, but does not require, a final blessing.  But most understand that according to the Rif, Rambam and SA, a final berakha is required with a change of place.)




The Rif and Rambam rule like Rav Sheshet and simultaneously hold that even a berakha acharona (final blessing) is needed.  The Rosh rules like Rav Chisda and simultaneously holds that only a first berakha is needed.  It is instructive to look for a connection between WHEN a berakha is required and WHAT berakha is required.


In particular, we could say that the dispute between Rav Chisda and Rav Sheshet centers on why change of place necessitates a berakha.  Rav Chisda thinks it is a change of mind, and Rav Sheshet thinks it is a change of meal. 


A change of mind is subjective: usually a person doesn't intend his first berakha to cover food eaten in several places, but he could.  Indeed, by omitting a final berakha when moving from house to house, the diner is clearly demonstrating that he DOES consider the two stations part of a single meal.  In this case no new berakha is required.  However, there is no such demonstration if the meal was only on vegetables.  Perhaps the berakha is only being omitted because the person intends to say it a little later, which is acceptable for vegetables.


A change of meal, on the other hand, is more objective.  Rav Sheshet may well assert that food eaten in two different places is BY DEFINITION two separate meals - irrespective of the intention of the diner.  At the very least he may require an explicit declaration to allow a two-station meal.  Therefore, there is no room to distinguish between mezonot and vegetables.


Rashi evidently does not agree with this explanation.  As we already pointed out, his commentary implies that even Rav Chisda agrees that vegetables eaten in two places constitute two separate meals.




We saw above that Rav Chisda began his lesson by citing Rav Huna that a change of place is only "from house to house," but not "from place to place."


Rashi writes that "from place to place" means "from the house to the attic," that is, separate rooms within a house.  In this case the word "house" means the entire dwelling.


Most Rishonim, including the Rambam and the Rosh, understand "from place to place" to mean from one part of a room to another - but not between rooms.  In this case the word "house" means "room," as it commonly does in halakha.


The SA seems to hedge on this issue; he writes that a berakha is required on moving from house to house, but not on moving from corner to corner, and omits the ruling for moving from room to room in a house.  The MB understands that the SA DOES takes sides (see s.k. 22), and in the Beur Halakha he dilates greatly on this subject.




As we learn in se'if 5, there are three opinions about what kinds of food require a blessing in the place of eating:


1.  Rashbam and the Rambam rule that this includes bread, mezonot, and fruit whose berakha is "me'ein shalosh" - that is, anything whose final blessing is either birkhat ha-mazon or me'ein shalosh.


2.  The Rif and the Tosafist Rabbeinu Yitzchak include only bread and mezonot.


3.  The Rashba rules that only bread requires a final berakha in the place of eating.


Since the first beraita cited in the gemara to resolve the issue of change of place refers to "members of a group who were sitting and DRINKING," it seems there is a powerful proof for the first opinion.  Indeed, the Tosafot do exclude wine from the category of "keviut," but explain that in order to uphold this understanding we must change the wording of this beraita.