Halacha Date: 16 Shevat 5778 February 1 2018
Question: If one is eating while walking outdoors, may one recite Birkat Hamazon while continuing to walk?
Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed that our Sages have enacted that one must recite Birkat Hamazon while sitting in order for the individual to have maximum concentration.
If One is Eating While Walking Around One’s House
The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (51b) states that, halachically speaking, even if one has eaten while walking around one’s house or if one has eaten standing up, one must still recite Birkat Hamazon while seated in order to be able to have full concentration. The Poskim and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 183) rule likewise.
If One Eats While Walking Around Outdoors
Regarding one who eats while walking along the way outdoors, the Rishonim disagree regarding the law of such an individual: The Rosh writes that the reason for the enactment to sit during Birkat Hamazon is in order for one to have maximum concentration while blessing; thus, one who is eating while walking on one’s way will certainly prefer to recite Birkat Hamazon while continuing to walk on his way to his destination and if we require him to be seated, this will actually defeat the purpose, for this will cause him to be delayed, disrupt his concentration, and cause the individual to recite the blessing hastily and without any concentration. Thus, one who has eaten while walking on his way need not be seated in order to recite Birkat Hamazon and he may recite it while continuing to walk.
Although there are those who disagree with the opinion of the Rosh (Kol Bo, Chapter 25, quoting the Geonim), nevertheless, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 183, Section 11) rules in accordance with the opinion of the Rosh that one who eats while walking on his way may indeed recite Birkat Hamazon while continuing to walk. However, if one has eaten while seated, even if one is in the middle of one’s journey, one may not recite Birkat Hamazon while walking; rather, one must recite Birkat Hamazon with concentration while seated and one may then continue on one’s way.
Summary: If one has eaten while walking around one’s house, one must nonetheless be seated for Birkat Hamazon. If one has eaten while walking on one’s way outdoors, one may recite Birkat Hamazon while continuing to walk on one’s way.
In the next Halacha we shall discuss the law regarding one who travels by car.