Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Birkat haMazon/Grace After Meals, round 2

Remember this one?

Well, fast-forward a few months, and the rabbi's decreeing that we shouldn't be doing a communal Birkat haMazon/Grace After Meals at all.

A) It's a halachic requirement to use Mayim Acharonim/Last Water (which, as you can see, I'm not even sure how to spell, much less how to translate, and even less how to do), and our congregation doesn't do that.

Okay, here's the "money" quote from Rabbi Solomon Ganzfried's (translator Hyman E. Goldin) edition of the Code of Jewish Law (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch): "1. Many people are lenient regarding the washing of hands after meals, but the God-fearing should be careful to observe it scrupulously." Hmm, sure sounds like a chumra (extra stringency not absolutely required by Jewish law) to me.

Will someone please explain this Mayim Acharonim to me? How does one do this? What kind of vessel is required? Etc., etc. Please respond.

B) We're coercing people into saying Birkat haMazon even when they haven't eaten bread.

Who's coercing?

C) We're rushing people into saying Birkat haMazon before they're finished eating.

Okay, true. Once I'd calmed down from giving the rabbi my not-so-humble opinion that he was interfering with a long-standing Conservative minhag (custom), I had to admit that he had a point, there.

For lack of an alternative, we'll probably have to make a big announcement before Birkat haMazon in the future that those not finished eating or those who haven't eaten bread should not participate in the chanting of Birkat haMazon. Let's hope that that suffices to appease the rabbi.



Blogger Maya Resnikoff said...

All I've got for you is that if you have 2 people who've eaten bread and one who ate mezonot, they cna be the third person for a zimun still- but they don't say Birkat HaMazon, just Al-hamichiya.

And one can bentsh if you've finished eating bread, but not finished eating. You just make a new bracha for your dessert or whatever afterwards. If you want to. Some people I think even find it somewhat preferable in certain circumstances (I'm just not sure which circumstances).

Fri Apr 21, 01:08:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I didn't know that someone who'd eaten mezonot but not bread could be included for a zimun. Thanks for the info.

Unfortunately, I could probably count on one hand the number of members of our congregation who would say another bracha after Birkat haMazon.

Sun Apr 23, 01:00:00 AM 2006  

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