Shiur #03: Seuda Shelishit on Erev Rosh Chodesh That Falls out on Shabbat

  • Harav Yaakov Medan



            In Birkat Ha-mazon, the Grace after Meals, we include special paragraphs for holy days, such as Al Ha-nissim for Chanuka and Purim, Retzei for Shabbat and Yaaleh Ve-yavo for festivals and Rosh Chodesh, the new moon.  When Rosh Chodesh begins on Motzaei Shabbat (Saturday night), we face an intriguing conundrum concerning seuda shelishit, the third meal of Shabbat, which we customarily begin before sunset and extend well beyond nightfall: is it a Shabbat meal, a Rosh Chodesh meal or, paradoxically, both?  Our roshei yeshiva, Ha-Rav Aharon Lichtenstein and Ha-Rav Yehuda Amital, have different approaches to this question.  Rav Lichtenstein insists on reciting the Birkat Ha-mazon that follows seuda shelishit before sunset; Rav Amital, on the other hand, allows for Birkat Ha-mazon to be recited as usual, even after sunset – with Retzei but without Yaaleh Ve-yavo – though he too insists that bread must not be eaten after sunset.  In this shiur, I wish to clarify the various customs regarding this issue.


In the Gemara, we do not find a source that clearly discusses the case at hand, but two Talmudic passages must be examined in this connection.


1)       Berakhot 27b:


Rabbi Chiyya bar Avin said: "Rav used to say the Shabbat prayer on the eve of Shabbat; Rav Yoshiyya used to say the Motzaei Shabbat prayer on Shabbat."


            The Gemara explains that Rav used to say the evening (Maariv) prayer of Shabbat before sunset on Friday, after having already accepted upon himself the holiness of Shabbat.  Moreover, Rabbi Yoshiya used to say the Motzaei Shabbat prayer on Saturday afternoon!  The innovation of this latter practice is greater, because Rabbi Yoshiya would say the weekday Maariv, including the Havdala section, which talks about the separation of Shabbat from the six weekdays, even though it was still Shabbat for him (and he could not perform labor until after nightfall).


2)       Pesachim 102a-b:


Our rabbis taught: "'If a group of people were dining [Friday afternoon] when the sun set, [the host] is brought a cup of wine, and he recites Kiddush [marking the commencement of Shabbat] over it, and over a second cup he recites Birkat Ha-mazon' — these are the words of Rabbi Yehuda.  Rabbi Yosei says, "He continues to eat until it gets dark.  When he is finished [eating], over the first cup he recites Birkat Ha-mazon, and over the second cup he recites Kiddush.'"


            Rashi (ad loc.) explains that the words of the baraita, "When he is finished…" as a continuation of the position of Rabbi Yosei (as our punctuation indicates, although the Talmud itself has no punctuation).  The source is the Tosefta of Berakhot (5:3-4):


"If guests were dining with the head of the house when the sun set, and they removed themselves with the onset of darkness to the beit midrash, when they return, they pour themselves a cup [of wine], over which they recite Kiddush" — these are the words of Rabbi Yehuda.  Rabbi Yosa (alternative form of Yosei) says, "He continues to eat until it gets dark. 


"He is poured a first cup, over which he recites Birkat Ha-mazon, mentioning Shabbat in it, and over a second cup he recites Kiddush."


            This tosefta includes a novel idea that is not found in the baraita cited in our gemara: it states explicitly that in the case at hand, we recite Retzei in Birkat Ha-mazon.


The View of the Rosh


            The Rosh in Pesachim (10:7) writes as follows:


Nevertheless, even though [this ruling] was rejected, we can learn from it that if he had finished his meal before sunset, but the sun has already set by the time that he washes his hands, he first recites Birkat Ha-mazon over the first cup, and afterwards he recites Kiddush over the second cup, in accordance with Rabbi Yosei, who says: "When he is finished [eating], over the first cup he recites Birkat Ha-mazon, and over the second cup he recites Kiddush."  I am in doubt whether he must mention Shabbat in Birkat Ha-mazon.  Even though it says in the Tosefta (Berakhot 5:4) in the words of Rabbi Yosei, "He is poured a first cup, over which he recites Birkat Ha-mazon, mentioning Shabbat in it," we may still argue that there it is different because he had eaten after it got dark, and therefore it is right that he should mention Shabbat.  However, here, where he had finished his meal while it was still day, [he should] not [mention Shabbat].  Alternatively, since the sun has set, he must recite the Birkat Ha-mazon of Shabbat, just like one who neglects to say the Mincha (afternoon) prayer on Friday must say two Shabbat prayers.  This seems correct.


            The Rosh is in doubt whether one must mention Shabbat in Birkat Ha-mazon only if he has eaten after sunset, or perhaps he must say Retzei because of the simple fact that he is reciting Birkat Ha-mazon on Shabbat, just like someone who offers a tashlumin (make-up) prayer on Shabbat.  The Rosh does not clearly decide the issue, but he does write: "This seems correct." His position is stated more explicitly in his Responsa (22:6):


You asked: "If someone started to eat on Shabbat close to nightfall, and night fell before he had finished his meal, should he mention Shabbat in Birkat Ha-mazon, inasmuch as the main part of the meal was [eaten] on Shabbat?"  Know, that one must never mention Shabbat on a weekday, just like Mincha of Shabbat, about which we say that if he neglected to say it, he must say two weekday prayers on Motzaei Shabbat.  For Shabbat must not be mentioned on a weekday, even though he became obligated to recite this prayer on Shabbat.  Similarly ,people who were dining together when the sun set, about which Rabbi Yosei said: "When he is finished [eating], over the first cup he recites Birkat Ha-mazon, and over the second cup he recites Kiddush."  In Tosefta Berakhot, it says in the words of Rabbi Yosei, "he recites Birkat Ha-mazon, mentioning Shabbat in it;" even though it was a weekday meal, since he recites Birkat Ha-mazon on Shabbat, he must mention Shabbat.  Here too [then], even though it was a Shabbat meal, since he recites Birkat Ha-mazon on a weekday, he must not mention Shabbat.  [Asher ben Rav Yechiel, zt"l.]


            The question underlying the Rosh's discussion is what obligates the recitation of Retzei and the like in Birkat Ha-mazon: is it the meal that obligates the Birkat Ha-mazon, or is it the time that the Birkat Ha-mazon is actually recited?  The Rosh decides in favor of the second possibility, and therefore, one who eats on Shabbat but only recites Birkat Ha-mazon on Motzaei Shabbat does not recite Retzei.  The Rosh in his responsum does not relate to the question of whether the person continued to eat after nightfall, but according to him it does not make any difference: even if he did not eat anything after nightfall, we go after the time that he recites Birkat Ha-mazon.  Since it is no longer Shabbat, Retzei is omitted from Birkat Ha-mazon.


            The Rosh adduces proof from a tashlumin prayer.  It would seem, however, that there is room to distinguish between the two realms, because Birkat Ha-mazon stems directly from eating on Shabbat, whereas the tashlumin prayer is not the earlier prayer transported from its proper place, but rather a doubling of the present prayer based on the principle that one can always use more "mercy."


The View of the Maharam


            The Maharam of Rothenburg disagrees with the Rosh, as cited in Hagahot Maimoniyyot (Hilkhot Megilla 2:14):


However, if he drags out his [Purim] meal until the night, the Maharam says that he must recite Al Ha-nissim, as we find that Rav said the Shabbat prayer on the eve of Shabbat.


            The Maharam adduces proof from the passage in Berakhot that the mention of the occasion may be moved from its proper time (from Shabbat to the eve of Shabbat), and therefore Al Ha-nissim should be recited even on the night following Purim.  Here too, however, there is room to distinguish, for when a person mentions Shabbat, he relates to Shabbat in general terms ("Ata kidashta…," "You sanctified…"), whereas when he recites Al Ha-nissim, he relates explicitly to "those days" and "this time."  This distinction, however, is not compelling, and the proof in itself is clear.


            The Maharil (No. 56) discusses our issue at length, and cites a disagreement among the Rishonim on the matter.  He decides in accordance with the Maharam that one must recite Al Ha-nissim or Retzei, as the case may be, even if the meal continues into the night, when it is no longer Purim or Shabbat.


The Rulings of the Shulchan Arukh


            The Bach writes at the end of Tur OC 188:


The Shulchan Arukh writes here as follows: "If a person was eating when Shabbat ended, he must mention Shabbat in Birkat Ha-mazon, for we follow the beginning of the meal.  The same applies to Rosh Chodesh, Purim and Chanuka" — thus far, his words.  This is in accordance with the ruling in Hagahot Maimoniyot.  So too it appears from a responsum of the Maharil… against the Rosh in his responsum.


This is astonishing in light of OC 271:6, where the Shulchan Arukh rules explicitly in accordance with the Rosh's responsum, the opposite of what he writes here!  In 695:3 he records both positions, first that of the Maharam and then that of the Rosh, without deciding between them (although the Rema endorses the former).  The matter requires further study.


            Thus, in terms of Shabbat, the Bach notes that the Shulchan Arukh issues different rulings in different places within Orach Chayyim: on the one hand, in 188:10, he decides in accordance with the Maharam, that we follow the beginning of the meal; in 271:6, on the other hand, regarding a meal eaten on Friday and finished before Shabbat, he rules that when Birkat Ha-mazon is recited on Shabbat, Retzei must be included, in accordance with the Rosh's view.  The contradictory rulings of the Shulchan Arukh allow for two resolutions:


(1) The Shulchan Arukh rules that one must always mention Shabbat, whether the meal was eaten before Shabbat and Birkat Ha-mazon is recited on Shabbat, or the meal was eaten on Shabbat and Birkat Ha-mazon is recited after Shabbat.  The Magen Avraham (271:14) explains that because of the uncertainty, Shabbat is mentioned in both cases:


"And he must mention Shabbat"even though he rules at the end of Chapter 188 that we follow the beginning of the meal, we may suggest that he is in doubt about the matter; owing to the doubt, one must always mention [Shabbat], for there is no concern about mentioning [Shabbat] unnecessarily.


            This could be formulated differently.  We might argue that thanks to the concept of tosefet (adding on to) Shabbat, we may always mention Shabbat, whether before or after it.  Indeed, the Magen Avraham in Chapter 188, No. 18, cites the Shela:


The same applies to Rosh Chodesh, Chanuka and Purim: the Shela rules that on these days, since there is no mitzva to add to them, he should not mention [these days].


(2) We may argue that there are two different factors that obligate one to mention the day in Birkat Ha-mazon: the time that Birkat Ha-mazon is recited and the time that the meal is eaten.  Therefore, whether a person eats on Shabbat or he recites Birkat Ha-mazon on Shabbat, he must include Retzei.[1]


            As for the normative law, the Shulchan Arukh seems to rule in accordance with the Maharam, both with respect to Shabbat and with respect to Rosh Chodesh and Purim; this is also the conclusion of the Magen Avraham in Chapter 188.  We have seen above, however, that the Shela distinguishes between Shabbat, which is governed by the law of tosefet, and Rosh Chodesh and Purim, which do not have a law of tosefet; thus, there is no room to mention the day if it is already over.


Internal Contradiction


            In the continuation of the Magen Avraham's discussion in Chapter 188, he mentions another factor:


Therefore, if Rosh Chodesh falls out on Motzaei Shabbat, one mentions Shabbat and not Rosh Chodesh, for we follow the beginning of the meal, as it is stated in 271:6 in the words of the Rema; see what we wrote there.  This is not like the [reasoning of the] Olat Tamid, who attributes it to tosefet Shabbat; that is not correct, for he rules that way even with respect to Rosh Chodesh…


See Chapter 271, where the Rosh and the Tosefta say that if a person ate bread at night as well, he must mention Rosh Chodesh.  In any case, this requires further study, for if he mentions both of them [Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh], it looks like a contradiction…  If so, which of them should be pushed off?  You must say that he should mention Rosh Chodesh and not Shabbat, for several great authorities maintain that one should never mention Shabbat [after nightfall on Saturday] because we follow [whatever it is] now.  If he ate at night, everyone agrees that he mentions [the day it is] now, as is stated explicitly in the Tosefta.  Therefore, he must mention Rosh Chodesh.


            The Magen Avraham argues that mentioning two different days in the same Birkat Ha-mazon creates an internal contradiction.  We, therefore, distinguish as follows: if a person has not eaten anything after sunset, he should say Retzei only; if he has eaten, he should say Yaaleh Ve-yavo only, in accordance with the simple understanding of the Tosefta.  The Magen Avraham rejects the Olat Tamid, and he argues that tosefet Shabbat is irrelevant to our discussion.  There are two ways to deal with the problem of the internal contradiction:


(1)               As one has not explicitly stated that Shabbat has ended, one should recite Retzei, having in mind that Shabbat has ended, and then say Yaaleh Ve-yavo for Rosh Chodesh.


(2)               The Eshel Avraham explains that the law of tosefet Shabbat makes it possible to regard this time as Shabbat, even though it is already Rosh Chodesh technically.  It is, therefore, possible to recite both Retzei and Yaaleh Ve-yavo, without creating an internal contradiction.  (The Taz also proposes such a possibility; see there.)


It would appear from the Magen Avraham's words that the most efficient solution is for one to continue eating after sunset and thus become obligated to mention Rosh Chodesh.  The Arukh Ha-shulchan, however, disagrees.  According to him, even if a person eats after sunset, he should include Retzei only and not Yaaleh Ve-yavo.  Rav Kook writes in his Siddur Olat Re'iya that a person should eat bread after sunset and then mention both Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh, as the Peri Megadim argues.


Let us examine the ruling of the Mishna Berura in Chapter 188.  In No. 32 he writes:


The Acharonim write that if a person said the Maariv service before Birkat Ha-mazon, he must not mention Shabbat in Birkat Ha-mazon, for it appears to be contradictory.


            Then, in No. 33, he writes:


Therefore, even if Rosh Chodesh falls out on Motzaei Shabbat, he should mention in Birkat Ha-mazon only Shabbat and not Rosh Chodesh; this only applies if he finished his meal while it was still daytime.  However, if he ate bread after nightfall also, so that he is obligated to mention Rosh Chodesh as well, he cannot mention both of them because it is contradictory: how can he say "on this day of Shabbat," and afterwards say "on this day of Rosh Chodesh," for Rosh Chodesh is the next day!  It is better, therefore, to mention Rosh Chodesh, for that is obligatory according to everybody, which is not the case with respect to Shabbat, about which there is a disagreement among the Rishonim whether a person is obligated to mention it at all when he recites Birkat Ha-mazon on Motzaei Shabbat.  (Even though the Shulchan Arukh rules here that we follow the beginning and that one is obligated to mention Shabbat on Motzaei Shabbat, in this case there is a pressing need, so it is better to push off the mentioning of Shabbat because of the mentioning of Rosh Chodesh, which is obligatory according to everybody.) However, on Motzaei Shabbat which is Chanuka or Purim, even if he finishes his meal at night, he does not mention Chanuka or Purim, but only Shabbat, since in any case mentioning the occasion of Chanuka and Purim is only optional, as stated above in 187:4.  Thus write the Magen Avraham and many other Acharonim.  Some authorities say that if a festival or Rosh Chodesh falls out on Motzaei Shabbat, he should mention Retzei and also Yaaleh Ve-yavo, for we go after the beginning of the meal, and also after the time that he recites Birkat Ha-mazon, and we are not concerned about the paradox.  For he becomes obligated to recite Retzei when he begins the meal during the day; afterwards, when the meal drags on without his reciting Birkat Ha-mazon, and the night of the festival or Rosh Chodesh commences, another obligation is added to mention the occasion of the time that he recites Birkat Ha-mazon.


            The Mishna Berura is the master of doubts, trying to fulfill the obligations according to all opinions.  Nevertheless, nowhere in this lengthy ruling does he require a person to stop eating before sunset.  Of course, even if we wish to be stringent, it is only bread that we must stop eating.




            It should be added that Rav Lichtenstein's stringency to recite Birkat Ha-mazon before Shabbat ends seems to be based on the position of the Rosh, that if we recite Birkat Ha-mazon after Shabbat has ended, we are obligated to mention Yaaleh Ve-yavo.  However, if we truly accept the stringency of the Rosh, we should do so every Shabbat — but this is unheard of!  It is imperative to know which uncertainties we take into consideration and which we discount.[2]  Many people are lenient about important questions regarding matters of Torah law, but on this matter they are stringent and eat seuda shelishit as if it were seuda ha-mafseket, the final meal before a full-day fast.  This appears to be unnecessary.


            The only authority who talks about stopping to eat before the end of Shabbat is the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh, but if we have reached the point that we worry about his stringencies, what have we come to!


When all is said and done, the final ruling is as follows: when eating seuda shelishit on Erev Rosh Chodesh that falls out on Shabbat, one may continue eating even after sunset.  In such a case, Birkat Ha-mazon should include both Retzei and Yaaleh Ve-yavo.


(Translated by David Strauss)


*       The shiur was summarized by Avihud Schwartz.  It has not been reviewed by Rav Medan. 

[1]       According to this explanation, it in not clear why in Chapter 695, regarding the Purim meal which continues into the night, the Shulchan Arukh does not decide the matter, because there too it is the time of eating which imposes the obligation.  Perhaps a distinction may be made between Al Ha-nissim and Retzei, but this requires clarification.  According to the previous resolution, which explains the rulings of the Shulchan Arukh based on the law of tosefet Shabbat, the distinction between Shabbat and Purim is clear.

[2]       Another example is the opinion of Rav Mordekhai Breuer, zt"l, that for the mitzva of reading Parashat Zakhor (Devarim 25:17-19), one should not read both "zeikher" and "zekher" in the final verse.  After all, should one wish to be stringent, it would be better to have two Torah scrolls for the two different traditions concerning the correct way to write the first word of Bereishit 9:29 ("Va-yhi" versus "Va-yihyu").  Rav Breuer argues that the custom of reading "zeikher" and "zekher" has created the disgraceful situation that the passage is read over and over again according to all the various rites, turning the whole matter into a farce.