Shabbat Parashat Va'eira 5764
Ask the Rabbi
Question: When and why are we not to talk in between netilat yadayim and making “hamotzi”?
Answer: There are three different stages to deal with in this context. People are not always aware of the different levels of severity of hefsek between these stages.
The beracha connected to a mitzva usually precedes it. By netilat yadayim, we make the beracha after the action, because sometimes one cannot make the beracha beforehand due to dirty hands (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 158:11). In order not to make a break between the main part of the mitzva and the following beracha, one should not talk once he starts washing.
The second stage, in between the beracha of netilat yadayim and “hamotzi” is actually the most lenient. We are quiet and try to minimize the break between the two because of the gemara’s (Berachot 42a) statement that right after washing comes the beracha. However, there are different opinions about which washing the gemara is referring to (see Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 166). In any case, if one did speak, no berachot were severed from their mitzva,and there is no need to repeat anything (Mishna Berura 66:6). Only if one got so involved in other things that he forgot about keeping his hands clean, does he need to repeat netilat yadayim.
The final stage is the most stringent. The bracha of “hamotzi” must directly precede the eating. Therefore, one should not stop, and certainly not speak, between the beracha and what the beracha refers to, i.e. the eating. If one talks about anything other than needs related to the food, he must repeat the beracha (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 167:6). Since the beracha is related to the main part of the eating process, i.e. swallowing, one should not talk until that point (Mishna Berura 167:34). However, since chewing is the beginning of the eating process and it is usually accompanied by swallowing some of the food’s flavor, one does not repeat the beracha if he spoke after beginning to chew (Biur Halacha, ad loc.).
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