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

“Derech Eretz” Precedes the Torah

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (3, 23) states: “Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya says: Without Torah there is not Derech Eretz (we shall define this term below); without Derech Eretz, there is no Torah.” The simple definition of the term “Derech Eretz” is conducting business, hence the te......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha

Lighting Candles in Honor of Yom Tov-Seudah Shelishit this Coming Shabbat

Lighting Yom Tov Candles Just as there is a Mitzvah to light candles on Erev Shabbat in honor of Shabbat, there is likewise a Mitzvah to light candles in honor of Yom Tov since the Torah refers to all holidays as “Holy Proclamations.” Indeed, the Rambam writes (Chapter 6 of Hilchot Yom ......

Read Halacha

Grating Vegetables on Yom Tov

Question: I would like to prepare potato patties made from ground potatoes on the Shavuot holiday. Is this permissible? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that all forbidden works that apply on Shabbat apply to Yom Tov as well besides for works pertaining to food preparation in hon......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Food Preparation on Yom Tov

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer a week from today, Sunday (beginning from Motza’ei Shabbat), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Monday, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss som......

Read Halacha

Without Fear, There is No Wisdom

As we have written, during this period of the counting of the Omer, it is customary to expound the teachings of Pirkei Avot in order to arouse the hearts of the public to follow the pathways of Mussar. Maran zt”l’s Behavior Regarding Study of Pirkei Avot We must point out that the im......

Read Halacha

Establish Many Students

The first Mishnah in Pirkei Avot states: “Moshe received the Torah at Sinai and transferred it to Yehoshua. Yehoshua then transferred it to the Elders and the Elders transferred it to the Prophets. The Prophets transferred it to the members of the Great Assembly. They (the members of the Great......

Read Halacha

The Laws of “Sweet Challah”-Continued

“Sweet Challah” Should not be Used for the Shabbat Meals According to the Sephardic Custom In the Halacha published several days ago, we have established that “Sweet Challot” in which sugar or honey mixed in the dough can be tasted require the “Boreh Minei Mezonot&rdqu......

Read Halacha