Halacha Date: 19 Tevet 5782 December 23 2021
In the previous Halacha we have discussed the general rule of “When in doubt regarding a blessing, do not bless.” Since there is a prohibition to recite a blessing in vain (and moreover, this is a Torah prohibition), if one is unsure whether or not one has recited a blessing on the food one is eating, one may not repeat the blessing and one may continue eating the food that is before him since the prohibition to eat without reciting a blessing is only rabbinic and with regards to a rabbinic law, the rule is, “When in doubt regarding a rabbinic law, one acts leniently.”
On the other hand, we have also explained that if one is unsure whether or not he has recited Birkat Hamazon and one has eaten and is satiated from the food one has eaten, one must repeat Birkat Hamazon, since Birkat Hamazon is a Torah obligation. Only with regards to blessings which are rabbinic in nature do we rule that one should act leniently when one is uncertain whether one has recited them or not; however, with regards to a blessing which is obligatory by Torah law, one must act stringently (and repeat it) as is the law regarding all other Torah obligations.
The Me’en Shalosh Blessing
The Rishonim disagree regarding the Me’en Shalosh blessing recited after eating fruits belonging to the Seven Species, such as grapes and the like (which we have discusses several days ago), if the obligation to recite it is based on Torah law or merely a rabbinic enactment. There is a very clear halachic implication as a result of this disagreement: If the obligation to recite the Me’en Shalosh blessing is from the Torah, if one is unsure whether or not one has recited it, one will be obligated to recite it again, similar to the law regarding Birkat Hamazon, for “When in doubt regarding a Torah law, one must act stringently.” However, if the obligation to recite the Me’en Shalosh blessing is only rabbinic in nature, the law regarding Me’en Shalosh will be equal to that of all other blessings which are only a rabbinic enactment. Thus, if one is unsure whether or not he has recited the Me’en Shalosh blessing, one would not repeat it.
The Opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch
Halachically speaking, the opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch is that the obligation to recite the Me’en Shalosh blessing is only rabbinic; thus, if one is uncertain whether or not one has recited this blessing, one would not recite it over again.
The Bottom Line
Nevertheless, since this matter is subject to a disagreement among the Poskim and there are those that maintain that the obligation to recite the Me’en Shalosh blessing is based on Torah law, thus, if one is unsure whether or not he has recited the Me’en Shalosh blessing, it is preferable that one eat more of the food one has already eaten so that one will become obligated to recite the Me’en Shalosh blessing once again; in this way, one will be able to recite the blessing in addition to exempting one’s original obligation to recite the blessing.
One Must Eat and be Satiated
Clearly, the disagreement among the Poskim whether the obligation to recite the Me’en Shalosh blessing is based on Torah law or a rabbinic enactment applies only when one ate and is satiated as a result of the food one has eaten, for only in this case is there room to say that one has become obligated to recite this blessing by Torah law, as the verse states, “And you shall eat and you shall be satisfied and you shall bless.” However, if one is not satisfied from the food one ate, there is no room to say that this blessing is a Torah obligation, just as one who has eaten actual bread and is not satiated from it retains an obligation to recite Birkat Hamazon only on a rabbinic level.