Halacha for Wednesday 17 Shevat 5782 January 19 2022

Arranging Dishes During Birkat Hamazon

Question: May I arrange the dishes remaining on the table after a meal while reciting Birkat Hamazon?

Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 16a) states that workers constantly involved with their labor may not recite Birkat Hamazon while performing their labor. Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (end of Chapter 191) derives from this Gemara that one may not perform any work while reciting Birkat Hamazon. (The Talmud Yerushalmi writes this explicitly in Masechet Berachot, Chapter 5, Halacha 2.)

Several Rishonim as well as some Geonim in their responsa (see Toratan Shel Rishonim, Volume 1, page 56) write likewise that one may not be involved with any form of work while reciting Birkat Hamazon.

Indeed, the Turei Zahav writes, as follows: “Certainly, this applies to all other Mitzvot as well in that one should not be involved with discussing other matters (or doing other things) and they only mentioned this law regarding Birkat Hamazon for a different reason (mentioned in the Turei Zahav). However, one should not perform any Mitzvah while involved with one’s personal matters, for such behavior shows that the Mitzvah is being performed without concentration and intent and is being performed in a superficial manner which would be included in what the Torah writes, ‘And if you walk contrary unto me and will not wish to listen to me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.’ This means that even if you will walk ‘with Hashem’, i.e. by performing His Mitzvot, nevertheless, if you perform them in a superficial and flippant manner, this is included in the above Torah prohibition.”

For this reason, the Poskim write that one may not even be involved in a light matter or action while reciting Birkat Hamazon. Thus, one may not dry one’s hands, put on one’s coat, or clear or arrange dishes during Birkat Hamazon (see Halacha Berura ibid).

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat Which Coincides with Tisha Be’av and the Laws of an Ill Individual Who Must Eat on Tisha Be’av

On years during which Tisha Be’av falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, such as this year, 5782, there are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding how Havdala should be recited on a cup of wine on Motza’ei Shabbat. The first opinion is that of the Geonim who write that one should r......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Taking Haircuts During the “Three Weeks"- The Year 5782

The Customary Prohibition of Haircuts As a result of the mourning observed during the “Three Weeks,” the Ashkenazi custom is to abstain from shaving and taking haircuts beginning from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the Tenth of Av. Nevertheless, the Sephardic custom is not as string......

Read Halacha


Those Who are Obligated and Exempt from the Fast of Tisha Be’av and their Status When Tisha Be’av Falls Out on Motza’ei Shabbat

Someone Ill with a Non-Life-Threatening Illness, An Elderly Person, and a Woman who has Recently Given Birth One who is ill (meaning when one is actually bedridden and the like, even if the illness is not life-threatening) is exempt from fasting on Tisha Be’av. When in doubt about one’s......

Read Halacha

Frying Fish in a Meat Pot, Baking Fish and Meat in the Same Oven, and Maran zt”l’s Custom

There is a well-known prohibition of eating fish and meat together, as discussed by the Gemara and Poskim. Cooking Fish in a Meat Pot Although it is prohibited to cook a dairy dish in a meat pot as we have discussed in a previous Halacha, nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writ......

Read Halacha

When Av Begins, We Diminish Our Joy

This coming Friday will mark Rosh Chodesh Av. Next Shabbat will mark Tisha Be’av, however, since fast days are prohibited on Shabbat (besides for Yom Kippur), Tisha Be’av will be observed next Motza’ei Shabbat and Sunday. May Hashem soon switch this month to one of joy and celebrat......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Last Meal Before the Fast of Tisha Be’av on Shabbat

On Erev Tisha Be’av, our Sages prohibited eating meat and drinking wine during the last meal before the onset of the fast of Tisha Be’av held after halachic midday. They likewise forbade eating two cooked foods during this meal.  Nevertheless, this year, 5782, since the fast of T......

Read Halacha