Halacha for Tuesday 24 Sivan 5780 June 16 2020

“Harachaman”

It is customary that after concluding the “Hatov Ve’Hametiv” blessing of Birkat Hamazon (which ends off with the words “Ve’Revach Ve’Hatzalah Ve’Chol Tuv”), we recite a series of requests all beginning with the word “Harachaman” (“May the Merciful One etc.”). There are several different versions among different communities with regards to the “Harachaman” texts, for this section was not drafted by the members of the Great Assembly (end of the period of the prophets during the Second Temple era); rather, this was a customary text adopted by the Jewish nation later and therefore, there are several variances.

One may, in fact, add one’s own personal requests into the “Harachaman” section that do not appear there already. For instance, within the context of the “Guest’s Blessing” where one recites “May the Merciful One bless the owner of this house etc.” one may add as many blessings to the head of the household as one wishes as long as one knows how to articulate this in a proper manner.

When guests were seated at his table, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l would customarily add his own blessing to them, as follows: “May the Merciful One bless all of those seated at this table with longevity, wealth, honor, excellent health, and abundant Parnassah.”

The custom of reciting the “Harachaman” texts is already quoted by the Rishonim, as the Tur (Chapter 189) states: “It is customary that after the ‘Hatov Ve’Hametiv’ blessing, one recites a series of various requests in the form of ‘Harachaman.’” Indeed, the Ohr Zarua (Chapter 199) states that the “Harachaman” texts are recited on Shabbat as they are on weekdays. He proceeds to quote several “Harachaman” texts that were customary at that time, such as, “May the Merciful One save us from poverty” and “May the Merciful One avenge the blood of His servants.” Similarly, the Meiri writes in his Sefer Magen Avot (Chapter 24) that it is customary for every individual to add to this series with personal requests as one wishes.

Let us now discuss whether or not it is permissible to speak in the middle of the series of “Harachaman” texts, for since reciting these texts are merely based on a custom, it would seem that one may speak between each of these requests for whatever reason.

Rabbeinu Yosef Haim writes in his Sefer Ben Ish Hai (Parashat Chukat), “Although there is no prohibition to interrupt between the various requests of the ‘Harachaman’ section, it is nevertheless prohibited to interrupt with idle chat.” Clearly, the Ben Ish Hai does not mean that there is an actual prohibition to speak idle chat between the various passages, for as we have explained, the basis of this section is merely a custom. Nevertheless, it is certainly improper to interrupt with idle chat while fulfilling a long-standing custom and requesting various things from Hashem and this borders on a prohibition. This is why the Ben Ish Hai uses the word “prohibited” in this context although this is not an actual prohibition.

Similarly, Maran zt”l writes in his Halichot Olam (Volume 2, page 74) that it is preferable and worthy not to interrupt in the middle of the “Harachaman” texts unnecessarily. (Nevertheless, if there is a necessity for one to interrupt in the middle, such as to calm a crying baby and the like, one may speak somewhat between the various “Harachaman” texts.) Certainly, one may interrupt between the various “Harachaman” passages to answer “Amen” or “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh” and the like.

Maran zt”l adds that when necessary, one may stand up in the middle of reciting the “Harachaman” passages and finish reciting them somewhere else, even while standing, for this section need not be said while seated like the rest of Birkat Hamazon.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Glassware and Pyrex Regarding the Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures-Continued

In the previous Halacha we have written that according to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, glassware does not absorb any flavor from foods placed in it and thus, there is no prohibition to use a glass vessel for meat and then after it is washed well, to use it for dairy (although the Rama does rule st......

Read Halacha

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils?

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils? Answer: We have already established in the previous Halacha that one is obligated to designate two separate sets of dishes and flatware for dairy and meat, for dishes used with either......

Read Halacha

The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on a New Garment

Question: When is the appropriate time to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new garment, at the time of purchase or the first time one wears it? Similarly, must one recite this blessing for every new piece of clothing one purchases? Answer: The Mishnah (Berachot 54a) teaches us ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Milk and Meat Dishes and the Laws of Giving Putrid Taste

When one cooks meat in a pot, the walls of the pot absorb some of the food cooked in it and is therefore considered “meat”. If dairy is later cooked in the same pot, the pot will release some of the meat flavor contained in its walls into the dairy food and will therefore prohibit the en......

Read Halacha


Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Similar Types of Fruit

In the previous Halacha, we have established that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges, which are not so readily available throughout the year. When one merits eating from these fruits the first time during the year and the fruits......

Read Halacha

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Grafted Fruits

Question: May one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing the first time during the year one eats citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges? Answer: We must first preface this discussion with the law that when one eats a new fruit that one has not yet partaken of that year, after recit......

Read Halacha

The Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures

The Torah states three separate times (Shemot 23 and 34; Devarim 14): “You shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.” Our Sages (Chullin 114a) expounded that each of the times this prohibition is mentioned comes to teach us another law: The first time it is mentioned teaches us ab......

Read Halacha

The “Three Weeks”

The three-week period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av is dubbed by our Sages “Between the Straits,” based on the verse (Eicha 1, 3), “All of her enemies overtook her between the straits.” Our Sages tell us that these three weeks between the Seventeenth o......

Read Halacha