The primary laws of changing one’s location during a meal are that if leaves one’s house during a meal and goes to his friend’s house in the adjoining building, if one wishes to continue eating there, one must recite another blessing. We have discussed many details regarding this law. We have explained that this only applies when one eats foods that do not require one to return to the place they were eaten to recite the after-blessing, such as fruits and vegetables which do not require the “Boreh Nefashot” after-blessing to be recited in the place they were eaten; rather, one may recite it wherever one pleases. Thus, once one leaves the original place where one has eaten these foods, one’s meal has immediately concluded and one must recite another blessing before continuing to eat. However, if one eats a food for which one must return to the place where one has eaten in order to recite its after-blessing, such as bread with regards to Birkat Hamazon, since one is obligated to return to one’s original place in order to recite Birkat Hamazon, leaving this place does not constitute a conclusion of the meal and the meal is considered continuous wherever one goes and thus, one would not recite another blessing.
One Who is Forced to Leave One’s House as a Result of a Siren
A question was posed by a resident of the southern part of Israel who sat down to eat a bread meal with his family when, all of a sudden, a siren (usually signaling an oncoming rocket attack) sounded, at which point he and his family left the house and went down to the shelter in an adjacent building. Several minutes later when all was clear, the family went back up to their apartment and wished to continue eating. Must they recite another blessing before continuing to eat?
It seems that one is obligated to recite another blessing, for when we said that one need not recite another blessing when eating bread, this only applies when one is required to return to the place where he ate the bread originally in order to recite Birkat Hamazon and because of this, leaving this place is not considered a conclusion of the meal. However, this that one is obligated to return to the original place of eating in order to bless only applies if one left the original place intentionally; nevertheless, if one is forced to leave the place where one has eaten, such as in our scenario, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 184) rules that one need not return to the original place where one has eaten in order to recite Birkat Hamazon. Based on this, it would seem that although one has eaten bread, as long as one is forced to leave the place where one has eaten, one must recite another blessing before continuing to eat, for one is not obligated to return to one’s original place and one’s law will be equal to one who has eaten fruit and left the place where one has eaten in which case one is required to recite another blessing before one continues eating.
Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l’s Response Regarding this Matter
Since this matter unfortunately applies to many, we posed this question to Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l and he ruled that halachically speaking, when one returns to one’s original place, one need not recite another blessing. His reasoning is because this is similar to the words of the Ritba in his commentary on Masechet Sukkah (45b) where he writes as follows: “Similarly, regarding blessings of enjoyment, if one left the meal with the intention of returning immediately, one does not require another blessing (or an after-blessing for what one has already eaten) since he has returned to his established meal.” We see from the words of the Ritba that although we usually say that any leaving from the location of the meal constitutes a conclusion of the meal, this only applies if one leaves without the intention of returning to the place where one has eaten. However, if one leaves for a short period of time and intends to return to one’s meal, one’s leaving does not constitute a conclusion of the meal and the original blessing which one has recited at the beginning of the meal still exempts one from reciting the blessing again.
We can infer from here regarding our case that if one is forced to leave the place where one is eating in order to seek shelter from the incoming rockets, since one intends to return immediately and continue one’s meal and especially since one is not leaving willingly, one need not recite another blessing upon one’s return home when continuing one’s meal.
This is a great opportunity to point out that in spite of Maran zt”l’s greatness and holiness, he would lower himself to the rest of the nation and would constantly inquire about the status and accomplishments of “Halacha Yomit” on the internet. He would guide us and request that we address many pertinent issues through the “Halacha Yomit” forum. Although these technological advancements were completely foreign to Maran zt”l, he would nevertheless encourage us to disseminate Torah in this matter so as to utilize this tool to spread the word of Hashem and to bring merit to the public.