Wednesday, March 14, 2007

interesting safeik of r' akiva eiger

The halacha is that a person over bar-mitzvah who ate to the point of satiation (kdei seviya) is obligated min haTorah to say birchas hamazon and a katan who only has a chiyuv derabbanan cannot be motzi such a person in bentching. R’ Akiva Eiger (O.C. 186) has a fascinating safeik regarding the case of a katan who ate k’dei seviya for dinner (as my son regularly does : ) just before the night of his bar mitzvah, bentched, and then while he still had that satiated feeling it turned dark and he was bar mitzvah – does he have to repeat birchas hamazon? R’ Akiva Eiger writes that his son-in-law told him the Chochmas Adam raised the same safeik regarding an onein who ate and still felt satiated after the burial of the meis. As R’ Akiva Eiger notes, these two issues are not exactly the same. By the case of onein, the person is a bar chiyuva, but because oseik bamitzvah patur min hamitzvah, he is exempt from bentching while he has the onein status. By the case of katan, the person was not a bar chiyuva at all when he ate.

It seems from R’ Akiva Eiger that the issue here is how to define the role of seviya. Is it the act of eating which triggers the obligation of bentching, and satiation is just a condition (a tnai) in the definition of eating, or is it the state of being satiated itself which obligates bentching, provided that state occurs through an act of eating.

Another possible way to view the safeik here is whether a katan, though he has no chiyuv, can have a kiyum mitzvah. R’ Soloveitchik brought a proof to this issue from the case of a katan who becomes bar mitzvah in between Pesach rishon and Pesach sheni. The Rambam paskens (K.P 5:7) that as long as a katan was counted in a group that brought the first korban pesach, he need not bring a pesach sheni. Even though the katan had no chiyuv to participate in the first korban pesach, he still gains a kiyum mitzvah from doing do which exempts him from pesach sheni (this proof is cited by R’ Reichman in Reshimos Shiuirim, Mes. Sukkah; however, see GR’Ch al haRambam there). Perhaps by birchas hamazon as well, though the katan had no chiyuv to bentch, his birchas hamazon counts as a kiyum mitzvah min haTorah. This safeik is relevant to many other areas as well, including the famous case of a katan who becomes bar mitzvah during sefira.


  1. In addition to bentching and the famous sefira case -- as well as the Pesach Sheni case, there are nafka minahs discussed by the minchas chinuch in the context of kiddush on Friday night (during tosfos shabbos) and for the chiyuv in the korban chagiga. I know all have differnet nuances but relates to the same issue

  2. Good point. I think the kiddush issue came up before
    The Mordechai (quoted in those posts) sounds like a ra'aya against the Rav's position - only because tosefes will turn into real Shabbos are you yotzei kiddush, but b'etzem a kiyum derabbanan does not work for a d'oraysa. It is worth revisiting the Koveitz Shiurim on this one.

  3. Phil Goode1:39 PM

    R. Chaim,
    I spent a few years in yeshiva listening to shiurim and many of these shiurim sounded like your post. And I have to say that I never really understood these shiurim. But I wanted to. And I still do. So could you elaborate on the first distinction you made – between a “triggering cause” and a tnai in the definition.

    I guess I have two basic questions:
    1) if you need both cause A and cause B to bring about result C, why would you say that one cause is inferior in some way? What does that mean? And why choose A or B instead of A and B? Is that some sort of Occam’s razor approach?

    2) I think you’re well aware of question 1 and that’s what you mean by a tnai in the definition. I think what you are saying is that eating type 1 (E1) can be distinguished from eating type 2 (E2) if E1 usually brings about seviyah and E2 doesn’t. (actually, we’re not talking about different kinds of eating here – we’re talking about different amounts or different kinds of foods – is that right?). (Can E1 be qualitatively different than E2 if all it involves is just doing more of E2?) Similarly for seviyah. That is, a seviyah brought about by eating (S1) is qualitatively different than that same feeling of seviyah (S2) brought about by a different cause.
    It would seem to me than that as a consequence if one performed E1 but did not come to seviyah because of some other factor, e.g., illness, then one would still be obligated to bench – this might be true, I just don’t know.
    I think the case for seviyah brings up even greater difficulties. That is, if the feeling in S1 and S2 are identical feelings and it’s this feeling that triggers the obligation to bench, what difference does it make what the source of the feeling is? Once the feeling is there it triggers the obligation! E.g., if the feeling can be induced by a drug – then it’s there.
    I recall a similar “source” argument with regard to the miracle of the menorah on Chanukah. That is, if the miracle was that the oil burned out each night and was miraculously replenished by HKBH, how would that oil be kosher for the menorah - even if that oil was chemically equivalent to olive oil, its source would not have been olives? I think this is a similar argument – and I would have the same difficulty with it.

    Anyway, I’m sorry if this is not completely coherent, but it does seem to reflect the state of my mind. If you have the time to explain more fully I would appreciate it. And please be liberal in using examples – both halachic examples where this distinction applies and everyday examples – I think examples are crucial in providing the material that can really be discussed and suggest all sorts of implications that are not obvious when just discussing more abstract rules.


    P.S. Maybe next time we can discuss heftza and gavra?