Halacha for Wednesday 15 Shevat 5778 January 31 2018

Reciting Birkat Hamazon While Seated

Question: Is one obligated to sit while reciting Birkat Hamazon or is it permissible to recite it while walking as well?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (51b) states that one must recite Birkat Hamazon while seated. The Poskim as well as Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 183) rule likewise: “One must sit while reciting Birkat Hamazon in order to engender maximum concentration.”

The Reason One Must Recite this Blessing Specifically while Seated
It seems that the reason one must sit while reciting Birkat Hamazon is in order for the individual to have optimum concentration while blessing. The reason why our Sages were more stringent regarding this blessing as opposed to other blessings (such as the “Shehakol Nihya Bidvaro” blessing which need not be recited while seated) is because reciting Birkat Hamazon is a Torah obligation, as we have discussed in a different Halacha.

The Difference Between Keri’at Shema and Birkat Hamazon
Based on the above, a question arises: Keri’at Shema is likewise a Torah obligation and even so, Shema may be recited while walking or standing. If so, why did our Sages rule stringently and require one to recite Birkat Hamazon specifically while seated?

The Tosafot and other Rishonim explain that the reason why our Sages treated Birkat Hamazon more stringently than Keri’at Shema is because the Torah obligation of reciting Shema applies only to the first verse (or the first chapter according to some opinions); indeed, this verse should not be recited while walking. However, the Sages did not rule so stringently to obligate one to recite the rest of Keri’at Shema while sitting, for it is not a Torah obligation.

Summary: Birkat Hamazon should not be recited while one is walking or standing; one must specifically be seated, for our Sages instituted that one sit in order for one to have maximum concentration while blessing.

We shall broaden this topic in the next Halacha.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of the Holiday of Sukkot

As per the request of many of our members and as a public service, we shall now list a synopsis of some laws which are essential for the upcoming Sukkot holiday: The Sukkah must be made of three walls and Sechach (the roof). The walls may be made of any material which can withstand a normal wi......

Read Halacha

If One is Uncertain Whether or Not One Has Requested Rain in One’s Prayer

In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the basic Halachot of requesting dew and rain in the “Blessing of the Years.” We have likewise mentioned that if one has completed the Amida prayer and remembers that he has not requested rain, one must repeat the entire Amida prayer, for one i......

Read Halacha

The Laws of One Who Forgets to Mention “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” in the “Blessing of the Years”

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed in a general manner that our Sages enacted that beginning from the Seventh of Marcheshvan (outside of Israel from the Fourth or Fifth of December), one begins reciting “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” (a request for dew and rain) in the “B......

Read Halacha

“The Blessing of the Years”

Beginning from last night, the Seventh of Marcheshvan, we have begun to request rain in the Amida prayer (only in the Land of Israel; the law for those outside of Israel will be discussed further). Let us therefore review some of these pertinent laws. The Enactment of the Sages to Request Rain O......

Read Halacha


Calling One’s Friend an Offensive Nickname

In the previous Halachot we have explained some general laws of the prohibition of verbal oppression or verbally hurting another. The Gemara (Baba Metzia 58b) states: “Rabbi Chanina said: All who descend to Gehinnom ascend from there (all wicked individuals who are sentenced to Gehinnom wil......

Read Halacha

Summary of the Laws of Verbal Oppression

In the previous Halachot we have discussed the primary laws of verbal oppression or hurting someone with words. We must now explain an important rule regarding these laws. The laws of verbal oppression are divided into two categories: The first is verbally misleading another (a form of trickery),......

Read Halacha

Verbal Oppression

The Mishnah in Masechet Baba Metzia (58b) teaches, “Just as there is a prohibition to cheat in business, there is likewise a prohibition to verbally hurt someone else, as the verse states (Vayikra 25), ‘And one shall not oppress his fellow and you shall fear your G-d.’” Hurti......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Verbal Oppression

In the previous Halacha, we have begun discussing the prohibition of verbal oppression between man and his fellow and between husband and wife. We shall now discuss some of the laws of verbal oppression based on the rulings of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 228). “V......

Read Halacha