Halacha for Sunday 21 Cheshvan 5781 November 8 2020

If One is Unsure Whether or Not One Has Inserted “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” into Birkat Hamazon

The Halacha is clear that since Birkat Hamazon is a Torah obligation, as the verse states, “And you shall eat and you shall be satisfied and you shall bless Hashem, your G-d,” if one is unsure whether or not one has recited Birkat Hamazon, one must recite Birkat Hamazon over again based on the rule, “When in doubt regarding a Torah law, one must act stringently.” It seems that the same should apply to one who is unsure whether or not he has recited “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” on Shabbat, for since we know that if one forgets to insert “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” one must repeat Birkat Hamazon, the same should apply that even when one is unsure, one must likewise repeat Birkat Hamazon.

Nevertheless, the truth of the matter is that although reciting Birkat Hamazon is a Torah obligation, inserting “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” is not. Many Rishonim write likewise including the Tashbetz, in his work on Masechet Berachot (49a), and others. Based on this, it would seem that when one is unsure if he has recited “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” or not, one need not repeat Birkat Hamazon based on the rule, “When in doubt regarding a rabbinic law, one acts leniently,” for according to Torah law, one has fulfilled his obligation of reciting Birkat Hamazon even without inserting “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu.”

Nevertheless, the Responsa Besamim Rosh, Chapter 287 (which is attributed mostly to Rabbeinu Asher, the Rosh) states that since the assumption is that one has recited Birkat Hamazon the way one usually would during the rest of the week, we must therefore assume that one has omitted “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” and one must therefore repeat Birkat Hamazon similar to the law of one who is certain that he has not inserted “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” into Birkat Hamazon.

After dealing with this matter lengthily in his Responsa Yabia Omer (Volume 7, page 68), Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that although we usually follow the assumption that one follows one’s routine with regards to prayer and the like, nevertheless, regarding Birkat Hamazon on Shabbat there is an argument which counteracts this assumption which is that since the fear of Shabbat rests on an individual on Shabbat, for on Shabbat there is indeed a unique aura and one is therefore careful not to transgress the prohibitions of Shabbat at all times, there is thus room to assume that, on the contrary, one did not forget to insert “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu.” Although this is still an uncertainty, since we have already explained that inserting “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” is only a rabbinic law, we must therefore follow the rule of “When in doubt regarding a rabbinic law, one acts leniently.” Thus, halachically speaking, in our scenario one would not repeat Birkat Hamazon.

Summary: If one concludes Birkat Hamazon (after the first and second Shabbat meals) and becomes unsure whether or not he has inserted “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” into Birkat Hamazon, one will not repeat Birkat Hamazon since the essence of reciting “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” is only based on a rabbinic law. One need not be concerned that one has followed his regular weekday routine of reciting Birkat Hamazon without inserting “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” since one is surrounded by the aura of Shabbat and one may therefore assume that one did remember to insert “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu.”

If after reciting “Boneh Yerushalayim” one becomes unsure whether or not one has recited “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” and one did not yet begin the blessing of “La’ad Ha’el Avinu,” one may correct this by inserting the blessing of “Baruch Ata Hashem etc. Shenatan Shabbatot etc.” as we have discussed in the previous Halacha.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Washing One’s Hands with Water from the Mediterranean Sea and Water Which has been Desalinated

Question: If one is at the beach and wishes to eat bread but has no water to wash one’s hands with, may one wash one’s hands using the water of the sea or ocean? Salty Water Answer: Regarding the laws of washing one’s hands for a bread meal, the Mishnah and Gemara teach us that......

Read Halacha

Immersing One’s Hands in Sea Water

We have explained in the previous Halacha that if one is on the beach and wishes to eat bread, one may not gather some sea water in a vessel and wash one’s hands, for sea water is salty and thus invalid for Netilat Yadayim. Immersing One’s Hands in a Spring, the Sea, or a Mikveh Howe......

Read Halacha

Washing One’s Hands in the Restroom

Question: Is it permissible to wash one’s hands (Netilat Yadayim) in the restroom or shower room? Answer: Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 4) rules that one who exits the restroom requires Netilat Yadayim. Maran Ha’Chida writes that this is because of the evil spirit which rests......

Read Halacha

Listening to Music or Words of Torah in a Room Which Has a Bathtub or Shower in it

Question: May one recite holy words (words of Torah, prayer, or blessings) in a room with a bathtub or shower in it? Similarly, may one listen to holy songs or Torah lectures in such a room? Answer: There are two primary points which must be addressed: Firstly, whether or not one who is bathing a......

Read Halacha


The Eight Levels of Tzedakah

The Rambam (Chapter 10 of Hilchot Matenot Aniyim) writes that there are eight levels included in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah with each one being greater than the other. The highest level of Tzedakah is by helping to support a Jew who lacks his basic needs by providing him with money by means of a gif......

Read Halacha

Food Items Touched by One Who Did Not Wash One’s Hands in the Morning

In the past, we have explained the obligation for one to wash one’s hands from a vessel every morning upon awakening from his sleep. We have also explained that when one awakens from one’s sleep in the morning, an evil spirit rests on one’s hands, for sleep is considered one-six......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah and Donating a Tenth of One’s Earnings

By popular demand, we shall now discuss the topics of Tzedakah and donating a tenth of one’s earnings more broadly based on the words of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch and the Poskim and based on what is written in the works of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l on this topic. Question: ......

Read Halacha

Question: Are those who customarily donate a tenth of their monthly income to Tzedakah permitted to deduct the cost of providing for their children still living at home from the sum of this ten percent?

Answer: We have previously discussed that one must donate a certain amount of Tzedakah annually. It is a “middle” level for one to give a tenth of one’s monthly profits every month. Now let us deal with our question regarding those who donate a tenth of their monthly profits to Tze......

Read Halacha