Halacha for Thursday 18 Cheshvan 5781 November 5 2020

The Laws of Mentioning “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” in Birkat Hamazon on Shabbat

When reciting Birkat Hamazon on Shabbat, before the “Boneh Yerushalayim” blessing, the paragraph of “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” is inserted after which one continues with “Vetivneh Yerushalim Ir Hakodesh” etc. “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” is inserted in Birkat Hamazon of all Shabbat meals, just as “Ya’aleh Ve’Yavo” is inserted during Birkat Hamazon on holidays and Rosh Chodesh.

The insertion of “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” in Birkat Hamazon is an obligation enacted by our Sages based on the Gemara (Berachot 48b; see also Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 6, Section 28).

We shall now discuss a situation where one forgets to insert “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” in Birkat Hamazon. If one becomes aware that he has forgotten to add “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” in the middle of the “Boneh Yerushalayim” blessing, if one remembers this after reciting the words “Baruch Ata Hashem” but has not yet recited the words “Boneh Yerushalayim,” one should conclude the verse by saying “Lamedeni Chukecha” (for by doing so, one will have recited a verse from Tehillim and his mentioning of Hashem’s name will not have been in vain). One should then recite “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” and then continue to recite the “Boneh Yerushalayim” blessing as usual. If one remembers only after saying the words “Boneh Yerushalayim” though, he must recite the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Shenatan Shabbatot Limnucha Le’Amo Yisrael Be’Ahava Le’Ot Ve’Livrit Baruch Ata Hashem Mekadesh Ha’Shabbat.” (This blessing is printed in all Siddurim.) Afterwards, one continues as usual with the recitation of the “Hatov Ve’Hametiv” blessing.

Nevertheless, if one becomes aware of one’s mistake only after beginning the “Hatov Ve’Hametiv” blessing, if this is the Birkat Hamazon following the Shabbat night or Shabbat day meal, one must begin Birkat Hamazon anew. The reason for this is because either with regards to “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” on Shabbat or with regards to “Ya’aleh Ve’Yavo” on holidays when one’s current meal is obligatory, such as the meal on the first night (and second night outside of Israel) of Pesach when one is obligated to eat Matzah, the Halacha follows that if one forgets to mention “Ya’aleh Ve’Yavo” in Birkat Hamazon, one must repeat Birkat Hamazon, for mentioning “Ya’aleh Ve’Yavo” which is a “synopsis of the event” during an obligatory meal is compulsory and if one has not done so, one must recite Birkat Hamazon over again.

Thus, on Rosh Chodesh when there is no obligation to eat bread, if one has forgotten to insert “Ya’aleh Ve’Yavo” into Birkat Hamazon, one need not repeat Birkat Hamazon, for mentioning a “synopsis of the event” at a meal which is not obligatory is not cause for repeating Birkat Hamazon.

The same applies to inserting “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” on Shabbat in that just as when it is obligatory to eat bread during the meal and one forgets to mention “Ya’aleh Ve’Yavo” in Birkat Hamazon of that meal and remembers only after beginning “La’ad Ha’el Avinu etc.”, one must repeat Birkat Hamazon, so too, during the first two meals of Shabbat when it is obligatory to eat bread, if one forgets to insert “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu,” one must repeat Birkat Hamazon. However, regarding the third Shabbat meal, although Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch rules (in Chapter 291) that it should be made with bread, nevertheless, since there are Poskim who are of the opinion that there is no obligation to eat bread during the third Shabbat meal, if one forgets to insert “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” into the Birkat Hamazon of that meal, one need not repeat Birkat Hamazon as Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 188, Section 8) rules himself.

Summary: If one forgets to insert “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” and remembers only after saying the words “Baruch Ata Hashem” but did not yet proceed to recite the words “Boneh Yerushalayim,” one should conclude by saying “Lamedeni Chukecha” and then recite “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” and proceed as usual. If one becomes aware of one’s mistake after reciting “Boneh Yerushalayim,” one should recite, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Shenatan Shabbatot etc.” If one remembers only after beginning the blessing of “La’ad Ha’el Avinu Malkeinu,” if one is presently after having eaten the first or second Shabbat meals, one must return to the beginning of Birkat Hamazon and repeat it. If he has presently eaten the third Shabbat meal, one need not repeat Birkat Hamazon.

In following Halachot, we shall discuss a scenario where one concludes reciting Birkat Hamazon and is then unsure whether or not he has inserted “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu.”

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