Shabbat Parashat Emor| 5767
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Question: If I start a meal in one place and want to leave in the middle or continue eating elsewhere, what do I do about Birkat Hamazone?
Answer: You have made the question easier to respond to by asking about a meal. The answer depends on what one is eating. Even so, we will not be able to address all of the many details.
The gemara (Pesachim 101b) posits that when one moves from the place where he was eating, he requires a new beracha before resuming eating. However, Rav Chisda rules that a new beracha is needed only if the food(s) he was eating is the type whose beracha acharona need not be recited in the place he ate. However, if he is in the midst of a meal, for which Birkat Hamazone must be recited where he ate, we say that even after leaving, he is drawn back to the place he ate and does not require a new beracha when he returns. (All agree that one needs to recite Birkat Hamazone in the place he ate and that one can make the beracha acharona on foods that require Borei Nefashot elsewhere. There is a not fully resolved machloket regarding grain products other than bread and regarding fruit from the “seven species.” We leave that issue out of this response and relate to a meal that includes bread.)Rav Sheshet rejects this distinction and says that a beracha is necessary even upon leaving a meal unless one was part of a group eating together of which at least one person stayed behind to be rejoined later.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 178: 1-2) rules like Rav Sheshet. We would discuss the ramifications of his opinion for the benefit of Sephardim, who generally follow the Shulchan Aruch. However, Rav Ovadya Yosef and other Sephardic poskim (see Yalkut Yosef 178:(1)) do not accept his position in this matter (in order to avoid questionable berachot), so we will concentrate on the Rama’s opinion. The Rama (OC 178:2) limits the need for extra berachot after leaving the place of eating in a couple of ways. First, he understands that leaving the place is the equivalent of hesech hada’at (taking one’s mind off eating) and thus when one returns, he requires at most a new beracha rishona,not a beracha acharona. Secondly, whether one leaves a friend behind (see Mishna Berura ad loc.: 18) or whether one was eating a meal, he does not require any beracha upon resuming eating at the original place.
We must address two remaining topics. The Rama writes that although one does not require a beracha before resuming his meal, he should normally not leave with the plan to return without first bentching. The reason is the concern he might forget to return (ibid.) or might return too late for Birkat Hamazone to relate to his original eating (see Beit Yosef). However, if one plans to leave for a short time, this is not a problem (Mishna Berura, ibid.:34). The Biur Halacha points out that while one may be stringent and not leave in the middle, it is problematic to recite a potentially superfluous Birkat Hamazone before leaving if he plans to resume the meal and recite it again soon thereafter. One may rush out to minyan or another passing mitzva if necessary (Rama, ibid.).
Another question is whether one can continue the meal elsewhere and not return for Birkat Hamazone. The original beracha of Hamotzi enables further eating without a beracha even in a new place (Rama, ibid.). The Birkat Hamazone that he recites in the new place also covers the eating in the first location provided he eats some bread there as well (Shulchan Aruch, OC 184:2; see Mishna Berura ad loc.:9). Otherwise he would have to return to bentch in the original place of eating. Either way, it is preferable not to leave without bentching unless when he started his meal, he intended to continue it elsewhere (Mishna Berura 178:40). If he were eating Borei Nefashot food in a defined place, he would need a new beracha upon moving to a new place but would not require a beracha acharona, which he could recite whenever he finishes eating wherever he is (Rama 178:2).
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