Monday, August 02, 2010

achila or sevi'ah: why do we have to bentch?

There has been much ink spilled over a question raised by R’ Akiva Eiger regarding bentching. What is the din if a minor ate a meal before nightfall, bentched, but is still in a state of seviah, satiation, after dark when he turned bar mitzvah? Does he need to repeat bentching now that he is halachically an adult?

The question may hinge on what creates the obligation of birchas hamazon which we learn from the pasuk of “V’achalta v’savata u’beirachta…”:
1) Is it the act of eating, achila, which obligates one to bentch, and “v’savata” is just a description of the amount that needs to be consumed?
2) Is it “v’savata,” becoming satiated, which obligates one to bentch, provided that satiation comes from eating?
3) Is it a combination of both eating and feeling satiated?

If an act of eating is required to create an obligation to bentch, then one could argue that a halachic adult who has not eaten has no obligation to bentch. However, if satiation, “v’savata,” creates the obligation to bentch, then if that adult is satiated from having eaten, even if the act of eating took place when he was a minor, perhaps he must bentch.

The Magen Avraham similarly discusses a case where someone ate little bits at a time, which halachically does not constitute eating, but after doing this for awhile the person felt satiated – does he have an obligation to bentch? The question seems to hinge on the same issue of whether bentching depends on satiation alone or requires an act of eating.

One could argue that R’ Akiva Eiger’s case is a little different. An act of eating was done, albeit by a minor. Perhaps one could argue that the actions of a minor should not be dismissed as halachically insignifcant; even if there was no d'oraysa obligation on the minor to bentch, his act of eating may trigger such an obligation once he becomes bar mitzvah.


  1. It has always been my understanding that the mitzvah of bentching is d'oraiysa once one has reached a state of satiation but we bench d'rabanan on smaller amounts even before we reach that state.
    In addition, the wording of verse the obligation is derived from would imply a connection between the two. You eat, then you get satiated from the eating, then you betnch because of the satiation. The newly minted adult cannot claim all three elements - eating, satiating, bentching - during his adult stage, only the 2nd and 3rd. Perhaps without the first it no longer counts.

  2. Yes, you don't need sevi'ah to be chayav (m'derabbanan). R' Akiva Eiger (and the MG"A)'s question really is whether sevi'ah alone is enough.

    >>>Perhaps without the first it no longer counts.

    That's exactly the safeik.

  3. I should forward my bar mitzva drasha to you, including the Chazon Ish that discusses this at great length vis a vis bentching within an hour.

    Reb Meir Simcha says that the hava amina of the gemara is that it's a birchas hashevah for being savei'a, so there's a kal vachomer to bracha rishona. The maskana of the Gemara is that there's no kv, because the idea of the bracha is to prevent the ga'ava that comes with satiation, the ram levavcha veshachachta.

  4. Anonymous2:37 PM

    isnt there a pri migadim that someone who is saveah on pachos mkzayis is chayav min hatorah to bentch?

  5. You must have been a precocious bar mitzvah boy.

    There is supposedly a PM"G that raises the same type of safeik, but I didn't look it up. And just to add to the mareh mekomos, there is an Akikei Yam, II:1 that I did take a peek at.

  6. Anonymous6:34 PM

    And if you would like like to see all these thing discussed see the Shlal Rav on this weeks Parsha who goes through all of it