(M) Laws of Customs During The Meal: Siman 169-180

              Siman 169 Seifim 3

1. Any food that is brought before people that has a smell and that people desire must be given to the waiter immediately. It is pious to give the waiter some of every food right away but he should not be given food if the cup is in his hand or in the hand of the ba’al habayis. (This restriction is limited to a waiter but someone else at the meal may be given food in this circumstance.) It is prohibited to give him a piece of bread unless one knows that he washed.

2. One may not give food to someone unless he will recite a beracha. Some authorities are lenient if the food is given to a poor person as tzedaka.

3. The waiter recites Borei Peri Hagefen for each cup of wine that he is given since it is as if he changed his mind after each cup but he does not recite a beracha acharona until he is finished drinking. He is not required to recite a beracha on each piece of bread if there is an important person present since he knows that he will be given what he needs. If there aren’t any important people at the meal he must recite a beracha before each piece that he is given similar to wine. If two people were eating together the waiter may eat with them without obtaining permission so that he could be part of the zimun. See below siman 170 seif 21.

          Siman 170 Seifim 22

1. One may not talk during a meal out of concern that the windpipe will precede the esophagus. Even if someone sneezes during the meal one may not say to him “Bless you”. If many people were eating together and one of them walked out to relieve himself he should wash the hand he used to wipe the droplets and he should wash in front of them so that they should not suspect that he did not wash. If he did not get droplets on his hand there is no need to wash unless he touched a “dirty” part of the body. If he relieved his bowels he must wash his hands. This applies if he is only going to drink but if he is going to eat he may even wash his hands outside since it is known that people are delicate and would not eat without washing. If one spoke with a friend and left the room he must wash both hands since he became distracted. The requirement to wash before drinking applies in the midst of the meal out of concern that he may eat food but outside of the context of a meal one is not required to wash for drinking.

2. Two people should wait for one another when taking from the plate, meaning when one pulls his hands away from the plate in order to take a drink his friend must stop eating until the first person finishes drinking. If there are three people, two do not have to wait for the third person.

3. Each one of the people eating should leave some food on the corner of the plate which is for the waiter but when the waiter is pouring food from the pot into the plates he does not leave anything in the pot for himself.

4. One should not gaze at someone who is eating or at his food to avoid embarrassing him.

5. One who enters a house must do whatever the ba’al habayis says.

6. A person should not be strict (meaning angry or bad-tempered) during the meal.

7. A person should not eat a piece the size of an egg and if he did he is gluttonous.

8. One should not drink his entire cup at once and if he did he was gluttonous. If he drinks it in two sips he is following standards of etiquette and if he drinks it in three sips he is haughty. If one drinks from a small cup he may drink it all at once. Similarly, if one drinks from a large cup he may drink the contents in three or four sips.

9. One should not eat garlic or onion from the top, it should be eaten from the leaves and one who eats from the top appears ravenous. One should not eat in a ravenous manner nor should he hold the food in his hands and tear from it with his second hand.

10. One should not bite off a piece of food and place it on the table.

11. One should not drink two cups at the same time during the meal and recite birkas hamazon since it appears glutonous.

12. If two people are sitting at a table the more important of the two should take food first. One who takes food ahead of one who is greater than he appears gluttonous.

13. One who enters a house should not say, “Give me food to eat,” until the host offers it. One should not say to his friend, “Come and eat with me as payment for what you gave me to eat,” since it would seem as though one is paying back his debt as if his friend had lent him that food and if he provides him with more food there would be an issue of ribbis. It is permitted to say, “Come and eat with me and I will eat with you another time,” and it would be permitted to eat with him even if that meal is larger.

14. A person should not break off a piece over his plate but one may wipe food off his plate with a piece.

15. One should not gather crumbs and place them on the table since this will bother his friend. One should not bite a piece and place it in front of one’s friend or onto one’s plate since not everyone will tolerate it the same.

16. One should not drink a cup and then give it to his friend since it is potentially dangerous.

17. One should not drink a cup and place it on the table; rather he should hold it in his hand until the waiter comes and then hand it to him.

18. When someone participates in a meal he should not take his portion and give it to the waiter out of concern that something will happen during the meal; rather he should take it and place it aside and then give it to him.

19. Guests who are sitting with their host and not permitted to take the food in front of them and give it to the host’s child or slave unless he first secures permission to do so.

20. The pure-minded people of Yerushalayim would not recline at a meal unless they knew who was reclining with them since it humiliating for a Torah scholar to sit with an am ha’aretz at a meal.

21. A waiter who was attending for two people may eat with them even though they did not authorize him to do so. If he was attending three people he may not eat with them unless they give him permission.

22. If one drank and some wine remains in the cup for a friend one should wipe the place his mouth touched the cup because it is unpleasant rather than spill some out which would involve a waste of wine. After drinking water one may pour out some water over that spot. After eating, one should have salt and after drinking, one should drink water as will be explained in siman 179. It appears to me that this applies if the bread or one of the other foods does not contain salt. Similarly drinking water is necessary if one did not drink something that contained water but otherwise there is no concern. The custom is not to be particular to eat salt or drink water after a meal for the reasons explained.

           Siman 171 Seifim 5

1. A person may do what he needs to with bread. This is limited to where the bread will not become repulsive but if it will become repulsive it is prohibited. For this reason one may not place raw meat on it, pass a full cup over it or use it to support a dish that is filled with food so that if the food spills on the bread it will become repulsive. One may not wash his hands with wine whether natural or diluted even if the washing is not for a meal. It is prohibited to throw bread since this is degrading to the food. Just as one may not throw bread, so too, one may not throw other foods that will become repulsive as a result but if the food will not become repulsive, e.g. nuts, pomegranates and quinces, it is permitted.

2. One may not sit on a box filled with figs or dried figs but one may sit on pressed figs or a box filled with beans.

3. It is permitted to eat Daisa (peeled cooked wheat) with bread instead of a spoon as long as one eats the bread afterwards. Those who are meticulous eat a little bit of bread with each bite of  Daisa. The remaining bread should be eaten.

4. It is permitted to pour wine through tubes in front of a chosson and kallah as long as it is collected in a vessel when it pours out of the tube. It is permitted to throw parched grain and nuts in front of them during the summer when the food will not become ruined but not during the winter when it will become repulsive. Cakes may never be thrown.

5. Those who throw wheat kernels in front of a chosson must be careful to throw them in a clean place and they should also clean them up so they do not get trampled.

          Siman 172 Seifim 2

1. If someone forgot and began drinking without reciting a beracha he should swallow it without reciting the beracha before drinking. Some maintain that he should recite the beracha and this opinion appears correct.

2. If one put food in his mouth without reciting a beracha and it would not be repulsive to remove it he should spit it out and recite the beracha. If it would be repulsive he should move it to the side of his mouth and recite the beracha with the food in his mouth.

          Siman 173 Seifim 3

1. “Middle waters” are optional. This is true between courses but between cooked meat and cheese it is obligatory (See Yoreh Deah 89).

2. Between meat and fish it is obligatory to wash since it can lead to “other things” and danger is treated more stringently than prohibitions (See Yoreh Deah 116).

3. Everything that applies to “last waters” applies to “middle waters” as far as the leniencies and stringencies except for distractions which invalidate “middle waters” since one intends to continue to eat and one must watch his hands. Another exception is that “middle waters” require one to dry his hands similar to “first waters.” Some assert that “middle waters” require specifically water as opposed to “last waters” as will be recorded below in siman 181.

          Siman 174 Seifim 8

1. One must recite the beracha on wine during the meal since the beracha on bread does not exempt one from that beracha.

2. The beracha on wine exempts all different beverages even the beracha rishonah.

3. If one has only one cup of wine he should hold onto it until after the meal and then recite the beracha.

4. If one sat to drink wine before the meal he is not required to recite a beracha on wine during the meal since the wine before the meal exempts it. Similarly, wine of kiddush exempts one from reciting a beracha on wine during the meal and the beracha on havdalah also exempts one from reciting a beracha on wine during the meal. According to some the beracha on wine in havdalah does not exempt the wine one drinks during the meal unless he washed his hands before havdalah; therefore, one who recites havdalah before washing should have in mind not to exempt the wine (See below siman 299:7) during the meal. B’dieved if one did not have this in mind he is exempt from reciting the beracha on the wine during the meal since when there is a matter of doubt regarding berachos we adopt a lenient position.

5. It is sufficient to recite one beracha for all the beverages one will drink unless when he recited the beracha his intent was to drink one cup and then he decided to drink some more. If someone arrives at a meal and is given many cups to drink he must recite a beracha on each one of those cups since it is similar to one who decides to drink more. See below siman 179. Similarly, when one recites a beracha on wine for birkas nissuin and it is not known how many people will be able to drink, each person must recite a beracha since it is similar to one who decides to drink more.

6. One does not recite the beracha after drinking wine during the meal since birkas hamazon exempts it. It also exempts one from reciting the beracha on wine before the meal even if one did not drink wine during the meal (See below at the end of siman 272). Regarding the wine of havdalah before a meal (see below siman 299:8).

7. If one does not have wine and is drinking water or another beverage he should not recite a beracha on them since they are part of the meal being that it is uncommon for one to eat without drinking. Even wine would not require a beracha except that it is important and has its own beracha but water and other beverages that are not important do not require a beracha. Even if one was thirsty before the meal since one did not want to drink then so that the water would not be damaging it turns out that he is drinking the water because of the bread and the bread exempts it from a beracha. Some maintain that one should recite a beracha on water during the meal. Some are more stringent and recite a beracha each time one drinks since it is assumed that each time he decided to drink another cup. One who wants to avoid doubt should sit in the place of the meal and should recite a beracha with the intent that it should cover what he will drink during the meal. The custom follows the first opinion.

8. During the meal each person should recite Borei Pri Hagefen for himself, even if they all reclined together since they cannot answer Amen out of concern that the windpipe will precede the esophagus. According to some if one declares Savri Rabotai and the others will listen, concentrate on the beracha, refrain from eating and will answer Amen one person can recite the beracha on behalf of others and this is the custom. He should say Savri Rabotai to call to their attention that they will be discharged with his beracha and he should not say Birshut Rabotai Similarly, anytime one will recite the beracha on wine during the meal one does not say Birshut rather he says Savri as explained.

          Siman 175 Seifim 6

1. If another wine is brought out it is unnecessary to recite another Hagefen but one does recite Hatov VeHameitiv even if the first wine is no longer present. This is not only true when a new wine is brought out but even if one already had the second wine one recites on the second wine Hatov VeHameitiv. This is true only when the second wine was not present when one recited Hagefen but if both wines were present it is only necessary to recite one Hagefen as will be explained in seif 3.

2. One recites Hatov VeHameitiv when he changes wines even if he is not certain that the second wine is superior to the first wine as long as does not know that the second wine is inferior. It makes no difference whether both wines are new or one is new and the other is old, even if one has drunk this wine within the last thirty days. Some maintain that if one first drank red wine and then was presented with white wine he should recite Hatov VeHameitiv even though it is inferior since it is healthier than red wine.

3. If bad wine and good wine are brought out at the same time he should recite Hagefen on the good wine which exempts the bad wine and he should not recite Hagefen on the bad wine so that he could recite Hatov VeHameitiv on the good wine since one should always recite the beracha on what is primary and most dear.

4. One does not recite Hatov VeHameitiv unless someone else is present since the implication is that Hashem is good for him and good for his friend. The same is true if one’s wife or children are with him but not when he is alone.

5. If many people are eating together each one should recite Hatov VeHameitiv for himself rather than have one person recite the beracha on behalf of others out of concern that the windpipe will precede the esophagus when they answer Amen. If they were just drinking without eating one may recite the beracha for others.

6. The halacha of wine that is in two barrels but is a single variety depends on the following. If the wine was separated into two barrels within forty days of the harvest they are considered different varieties of wine and one would recite Hatov VeHameitiv. If the wine was divided after forty days one does not recite Hatov VeHameitiv since it is one variety of wine.

          Siman 176 Seif 1

1. If one recited the beracha on bread he is exempt from reciting a beracha on the peripheral dish which is bread crumbs that are attached with soup or honey. If one recited the beracha on the peripheral dish one is not exempt from reciting the beracha on bread. If one recited the beracha on the peripheral dish he is exempt from reciting the beracha on cooked grain which is Daisa and other similar foods. Similarly, if one recited the beracha on cooked grains he is exempt from reciting the beracha on the peripheral dish.

          Siman 177 Seifim 5

1. Foods that are served in a meal, if they are part of the meal, meaning they are foods that people base their meal on and are eaten together with bread, e.g. meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, cheese, cooked grain or salty foods, even if one does not eat them with bread, a beracha beforehand is not required since hamotzi exempts them, nor a beracha afterwards since birkas hamazon exempts them. If they are foods that are not part of the meal, meaning it is uncommon for people to base their meal on them and eat them with bread, e.g. figs, grapes and other varieties of fruit (See above siman 168:8), if they are eaten without bread a beracha beforehand is required since hamotzi does not cover them being that they are not part of the meal but they do not require a beracha afterwards since they were served as part of the meal and birkas hamazon includes them. If as one began to eat he ate the fruit (with bread) and at the end he ate it with bread, even if in between he ate the fruit without bread a beracha beforehand would not be required.

2. Foods that are served after the meal but before birkas hamazon which was the custom in the time of the Gemara that at the end of the meal they would stop eating bread and remove it from the table altogether and then settle to eat fruit and drink whatever was presented to them, whether items that come as part of a meal or whether items that do not come as part of the meal, they require a beracha before and after since hamotzi and birkas hamazon only exempt that which is part of the primary meal. These halachos are not relevant nowadays that we are not accustomed to stop eating bread until birkas hamazon.

3. If one decides to eat fruit as the accompaniment to bread the fruit becomes a food that is part of the meal and even if one begin to eat the fruit without bread he does not recite the beracha before or afterwards but some disagree about this point. Therefore, it is best to eat the fruit with bread and then even if one eats the fruit without bread a beracha would not be required even though one did not finish eating the fruit with bread since the meal was established on the fruit.

4.Even though the fruit was not in front of him when he recited the beracha on the bread since they are intended to be eaten with bread they do not require a beracha altogether.

5. If after one recited the beracha on bread one received a food gift from a friend’s house that does not support him and he did not expect that gift, even if the foods are ones that are normally eaten with bread it is necessary to recite a beracha on them since it is similar to one who changes his mind. (I have not seen people careful with this halacha and it is possible that the reason is that regular people have in mind whatever will be served during the meal. See below siman 206.)

          Siman 178 Seifim 9

1. If one was eating in a house and he interrupted his meal and went to another house or if he was eating and a friend called to speak with him outside and he exited the house and returned, since he changed his place he must recite a beracha acharona on what he ate already and recite hamotzi before he finishes eating. If he spoke with his friend in the house even though he moved from one corner to another corner he is not required to recite another beracha. (See below siman 273. If one’s intent was to eat in another location it is not considered a change of location as long as both places are within the same house. See below siman 184.)

2. If friends were sitting and eating and they left to greet a chosson and kallah, if they left some people behind they may return and finish the meal without reciting a new beracha. If they did not leave anyone behind when they leave they must recite a beracha and when they return they must recite a new beracha rishona. The same halacha applies if they were gathered to drink or eat fruit since any time one changes his place his eating session has ended and he is required to recite a beracha acharona for what he ate and a new beracha rishona for what he will eat. One who moves from one corner to another corner in the same house is not required to recite a new beracha. If one moves from the east side of a fig tree to the west side of a fig tree he is required to recite a new beracha. Some authorities disagree with what was written in this siman and contend that changing one’s place is nothing more than losing one’s concentration, therefore, if one moved from one location to another he is not required to recite any more than a beracha before eating and he is not required to recite a beracha on that which he already ate. This is true if he did not leave some friends at the meal and he ate foods that do not require the beracha acharona to be recited in the place where one ate but if one left behind some friends or even if he did not leave behind some friends but ate foods that require the beracha acharona to be recited in the place where one ate, he is not required to even recite a beracha on what he will eat. Accordingly, someone who interrupted his meal and went to another house or was eating and was called out to speak to a friend outside of the entrance or to another place when he returns he is not required to repeat the beracha rishona since bread requires one to recite the beracha where he ate. However, if he lost his concentration when he returns he is certainly required to recite a beracha on what he will later eat and there is no difference whether he returns to the place where he ate or whether he finishes his meal elsewhere and this is the custom in these countries. Nevertheless, l’chatchila one should not move from the place where he was eating without reciting a beracha out of concern that he may forget to return and eat. If there is a mitzvah opportunity that is passing it is permitted to leave. See siman 184.

3. There is an opinion that maintains that if one was in a garden and wants to eat from different trees, once he recites the beracha on the fruit of one tree he is not obligated to recite a beracha on the fruit of other trees as long as he had in mind to eat from the other trees when he recited the beracha. If he goes from one garden to another he must recite another beracha even if they are close to one another and even if he had in mind to eat fruit from both gardens.

4. If one ate bread in one location and then ate bread in a second location he recites birkas hamazon in the second location. This is the custom of travelers who eat while they travel and then sit and recite birkas hamazon in the place that they finish eating.

5. Some say that the seven species require their beracha acharona to be recited in the place they were eaten. Others limit this halacha to grains. According to others this only applies to bread.

6. If one recalls in the middle of a meal that he has not yet davened and he gets up to daven, even if there is not sufficient time to finish the meal and then recite birkas hamazon he is obligated to interrupt the meal and may not eat until he davens but it still does not constitute an interruption.

7. Napping during the meal is not an interruption. The same halacha is true if one interrupted for other voluntary activities, e.g. to relieve himself.

          Siman 179 Seifim 6

1. After finishing the meal and washing mayim acharonim one may no longer eat or drink before reciting birkas hamazon. If one said Hav Lan Venavrich he has interrupted his intent and it is prohibited to drink without first reciting a beracha rishona. According to Rosh eating is comparable to drinking but according to Rabbeinu Yonah and Ran eating is different and even after one decided not to eat any more, and the table was removed if one wants to resume eating he is not required to recite another beracha for as long as one did not wash his hands he has not withdrawn from eating.

2. One who is eating by others has not interrupted the meal when he declares Hav Lan Venavrich unless the ba’al habayis makes that declaration.

3. Even if one did not declare Hav Lan Venavrich and did not wash his hands he has interrupted the meal once he lifts the cup of wine.

4. When a person enters his friend’s house and there are different groups that are there who are eating and each group hands him a cup of wine there is an opinion that maintains that he must recite a beracha on each cup of wine since after each cup he figures this is the last cup.

5. One who is invited to the house of a ba’al habayis to eat fruit and fruit is brought out at different times he need not recite any more than one beracha.

6. If one ate a food but did not eat salt or if one drank a beverage and did not drink water – during the day he should be concerned for bad breath and at night he should be concerned for bad breath and askara (an illness that causes one to choke). One who eats salt after the meal should not use his godel (the godel is that fat finger, etzba is next to the fat finger, amah is the long finger, kemitzah is next to the small finger and zeres is the small finger) since that could cause one to bury his children, the zeres since that could cause poverty or the etzba since that causes painful boils; rather he should use the amah or kemitza (See above siman 170 for an explanation why we do not eat salt or drink water).

          Siman 180 Seifim 5

1. One should not remove the tablecloth or the bread until after birkas hamazon.

2. Anyone who does not leave bread on the table will not see a siman beracha ever. One should not bring a whole loaf and place it on the table and doing so looks as though he did so for the sake of idolatry as the pasuk states העורכים לגד שלחן.

3. Before washing one’s hands one should clean the house so that crumbs do not remain and become soiled by the water used for washing. Even though it is permitted to destroy crumbs that are smaller than an olive’s volume, perhaps the attendant will be an am ha’aretz – since it is permitted to have an attendant who is an am ha’aretz – and he will leave behind pieces that contain the volume of an olive that may not be destroyed; therefore, the house should be cleaned first. Nowadays, we do not have this custom since we do not remove the table and we wash our hands away from the table where there are no crumbs and thus no concern.

4. Although it is permitted to destroy crumbs that contain less than the volume of an olive it is harmful to do so since it leads to poverty.

5. The custom is to cover the knife during birkas hamazon but on Shabbos and Yom Tov the custom is not to cover the knife.


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