Facts and Formulae For the Forgetful
Here we are, post Pesach, and an interesting issue of repetition has come up again (no pun intended). Over the course of the last Yom Tov filled month, and right up to, and including this Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Iyar, a simple question might elicit a very different rabbinic response. The subject? What does one do if the halachically mandated ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ in Birkas Hamazon was forgotten? Does Bentching need to be repeated or not? And why would there be different answers to a seemingly straightforward sheilah?
This quite common clique of queries is not new; it is actually addressed several hundred years ago in the very first printed halachic responsum of the renowned Rav Akiva Eiger zt”l. Someone wrote to Rav Eiger explaining that some members of his household forgot to say ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ in Bentching, and his local Rabbi told them to repeat Birkas Hamazon. Yet, the questioner seemed to recall a different time when faced with the same dilemma his rabbi ruled not to repeat Bentching. So, this perplexed person, as opposed to doing what most would do in his situation – request an explanation and halachic rationale from said rabbi, instead decided to write to the Gadol Hador seeking an elucidation.
Rav Eiger responded that Birkas Hamazon must be repeated when someone forgets ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ on Yom Tov. However, if it was forgotten on Rosh Chodesh then one does not repeat Bentching. The distinction is fascinating! It lies in the different halachic requirements for a festive bread meal (‘Seudah’). Yom Tov, just like Shabbos, has an actual requirement of ‘Seudah,’ therefore if one does not mention the Yom Tov day in Birkas Hamazon as part of ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo,’ or likewise, Retzei on Shabbos, he must repeat the whole Bentching.
On the other hand, Rosh Chodesh is different. Although there is a Mitzvah to have a ‘Seudah’ on it, it is not actually halachically required, and therefore Bentching is not repeated if ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ was forgotten.  Accordingly, on this (or any) Shabbos Rosh Chodesh, if one would forget ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ in Bentching, he would not repeat his Bentching; whereas if it was Retzei that was forgotten, he would.
Yet, Rav Akiva Eiger added a caveat. He states that if the letter writer was referring to a woman forgetting ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo,’ then even on Yom Tov she should not repeat Birkas Hamazon. He explains that a women’s requirement to have a bread ‘Seudah’ on Yom Tov is due to the Mitzvah of Oneg / Simchas Yom Tov and falls under the category of a ‘Mitzvas Asei Shehazman Gerama,’ a time-bound positive commandment, from which women are technically generally exempt. Therefore, he rules, if a woman forgot ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo,’ she should not repeat Bentching, as she was not halachically mandated to have bread at the ‘Seudah.’
The sole exceptions to this rule are on Shabbos, due to the joint obligations of positive and negative commandments (Zachor V’Shamor) that men and women are equally obligated in following, and on the first night of Pesach regarding eating Matzah, which likewise has a joint obligation of positive and negative commandments (not eating chometz and eating Matzah). Exclusively on these specific times, Rav Eiger maintains, would a women indeed need to repeat Bentching.
However, opposition to Rav Akiva Eiger’s novel ruling regarding women was not long in coming, most notably by Rav Shlomo Cohen zt”l, eminent Dayan in Vilna and author of several authoritative sefarim, including the Cheshek Shlomo, and Shu”t Binyan Shlomo.
These decisors noted that the Shulchan Aruch, when he codified this halacha, did not seem to make any distinction between which Yom Tov it was, nor between men’s and women’s obligations, when he ruled that one must repeat Bentching if ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ was mistakenly forgotten. Additionally, according to the understanding of many great authorities, including the Pri Megadim, Sha’agas Aryeh, Shoel’ U’Meishiv, and Shulchan Aruch Harav, women are obligated in the same level of Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov that men are, including the Mitzvah to have a bread ‘Seudah.’ According to this understanding, women would also need to repeat Bentching for forgetting ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo,’ on any Yom Tov.
The Defense Rests (and Does Not Repeat)
However, Rav Eiger did not take this lying down. In the hashmatos (appendix) to his original teshuva, Rav Akiva Eiger later defended his ruling, addressing these valid points raised. He maintained that although women obviously are included in the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov, he makes a distinction that their requirement is referring to wearing new clothing and celebrating Yom Tov with Bassar V’Yayin (meat and wine); yet, without an actual obligation to partake in a bread ‘Seudah.’
Rav Eiger cites proof to this assessment, that we find regarding the halacha of repeating Bentching, the Shulchan Aruch rules that Chol Hamoed has similar status to Rosh Chodesh, and one does not repeat Birkas Hamazon if he forgot ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo.’ Yet, Chol HaMoed being part and parcel of Yom Tov, still retains the obligation for Simchas Yom Tov. Therefore, concludes Rav Eiger, it stands to reason that the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov alone does not sufficiently mandate an actual bread ‘Seudah.’
So, how do contemporary authorities rule, having to choose a path between such luminaries of generations past? While several poskim rule stringently that a woman should repeat Birkas Hamazon if she forgot ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ on Yom Tov, reportedly including Rav Moshe Feinsteinzt”l, and others seem undecided; it seems that most contemporary authorities, including the Sdei Chemed, and the Maharsham, and more recently, the Debreciner Rav and the Shevet Halevi, rule that a woman should not repeat Bentching for forgetting ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ on Yom Tov, except on the first night of Pesach. This is also the conclusion of several contemporary sefarim that exclusively deal with halachos pertaining to women.
As an aside, these authorities add that this psak surely holds true and repetition unnecessary in the eventuality of a case where she is merely uncertain if she said ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ (and even on the first night of Pesach). They assert that aside from following Rav Akiva Eiger’s trailblazing ruling, there is additional justification to allow leniency for women regarding repetition of Bentching due to lapse of ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo,’ based on several minority opinions. Indeed, mv”r Rav Yaakov Blau zt”l (Chaver Badatz Eida Chareidis in Yerushalayim and author of Pischei Choshen et al.), shortly before he was niftar, as well as Rav Asher Weiss, the renowned Minchas Asher, recently told this author that the ikar l’halacha follows Rav Akiva Eiger, and women should not repeat Bentching on Yom Tov for forgetting ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo,’ aside from the first night of Pesach (and of course, on Shabbos if she forgot ‘Retzei’).
In conclusion, if you just finished Bentching and realized (too late) that ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ was not recited, before panicking, just remember the sine qua non: Were you truly obligated to eat the ‘Seudah’ that you just finished? If so, then your Bentching was incomplete, and needs repetition. If not, repetition is not required as you already were yotzei ‘V’achalta v’savata u’vayrachta,’ and are now worthy of receiving Hashem’s personal favor! B’tayavon!
Postscript: Sefardic Supplement
It is important to note that most of this article follows the Ashkenazic rule. For Sefardim the psak may actually be somewhat different. The Kaf Hachaim, based on Tosafos’ shittah that one is obligated to have bread exclusively on the first night of Sukkos and Pesach, rules that these are the only times that even a man must repeat Bentching on Yom Tov; otherwise, the well known rule of ‘safek brachos lehakel’ is followed. Actually, and even though the Shulchan Aruch does not rule this way, many contemporary Sefardic Poskim, including the Ben Ish Chai, maintain a similar position to the Kaf Hachaim, that exclusively on the first nights of Pesach and Sukkos would a man have to repeat Bentching for forgetting ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo.’Otherwise, even on Yom Tov, he would not repeat Birkas Hamazon.
The Kaf Hachaim continues that if a man has to repeat Bentching only on these two exclusive times, then certainly, a woman, whose chiyuv to Bentch in the first place is maximum a safek Mitzvah Deoraysa or Derabbanan should not have to repeat Bentching for missing ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ at any time. Following this would mean that a woman should never have to repeat Bentching for forgetting‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo.’Rav Ezriel Hildescheimer zt”l, famed founder and Rosh Yeshiva of the Rabbinical Seminary of Berlin, ruled similarly to the Kaf Hachaim, that women never need to repeat Bentching for forgetting ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo.’
Although many dispute the Kaf Hachaim’s reasoning regarding women, including Rav Ovadiah Yosef zt”l, Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul zt”l,Rav Yaakov Hillel, and the Birur Halacha,and in the words of Rav Ovadiah, “ain b’sfaiko shel Rebbi Ezriel l’dchos haVaday shel HaGaon R’ Akiva Eiger,” meaning that they follow Rav Akiva Eiger’s ruling of mandated repeating for forgetting ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ at least regarding Shabbos and the first night of Pesach, nevertheless, several authorities do indeed use the Kaf Hachaim’s rationales as snifei lehakel for the rest of the Yomim Tovim, allowing women not to repeat Bentching for forgetting ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo.’As with any case in halacha, if this happens, one should ascertain a proper ruling for themselves from their own competent halachic authority.
The author wishes to thank mv”r Rav Yosef Yitzchak Lerner, as much of this article is based on his excellent comprehensive sefer Shgiyos Mi Yavin (vol. 1, Ch. 25).
For any questions, comments or for the full Mareh Mekomos / sources, please email the author: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabbi Yehuda Spitz serves as the Shoel U’Meishiv and Rosh Chabura of the Ohr Lagolah Halacha Kollel at Yeshivas Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim.
His recent English halacha sefer, “Insights Into Halacha - Food: A Halachic Analysis,” (Mosaica/Feldheim) contains more than 500 pages and features over 30 comprehensive chapters, discussing a myriad of halachic issues relating to food. It is now back in stock online and in bookstores everywhere.
See Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 188: 5).
Shu”t Rabbi Akiva Eiger (vol. 1: 1); also cited b’kitzur in his glosses to Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 188: 6).
This entire discussion is referring to when one forgot to say ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ at all during Bentching. If one remembered during the actual Birkas Hamazon, depending at which point he remembered, there is a specific bracha to say (dependant on the holiday) and may not need to repeat his Bentching. See Shulchan Aruch and main commentaries (Orach Chaim 188: 5 – 7).
See Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 419), Pri Chodosh (ad loc. 1), Pri Megadim (Mishbetzos Zahav ad loc. 1) and Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 2). The Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 2) concludes that a ‘Yarei Shamayim’ would make sure to wash and have a ‘Seudah’ on Rosh Chodesh in order to honor the day properly, as one who honors the Mitzvos is rewarded many times over.
Gemara Brachos (49a-b), Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 188: 6 -7), Shulchan Aruch HaRav (ad loc. 10), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (44: 12 - 14), Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 188: 15), Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 26; Biur Halacha s.v. l’rosh).
This rule of not repeating Bentching includes Chol Hamoed as well (Shulchan Aruch ad loc.). However, regarding Rosh Hashana, it is not so simple. Several poskim maintain that there is no actual obligation to eat davka bread on Rosh Hashana [and although not the normative halacha, there are shittos in the Gaonim that one may actually fast on Rosh Hashana - see Mordechai (Rosh Hashana Ch. 1: 708 at length, and Yoma Ch.1: 723), Rosh (at the very end of Maseches Rosh Hashana), Terumas HaDeshen (Shu”t 278), and Beis Yosef (Orach Chaim 597) and Mishnah Berurah ad loc. 1)], and therefore rule that if one forgot ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ on Rosh Hashana, Bentching is not repeated. These include the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 188: 7), Pri Megadim (ad loc. Eishel Avraham 7), Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chaim 188: 10), Derech Hachaim (Hilchos Birkas Hamazon 7), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (44: end 14), Kaf Hachaim (Orach Chaim 188: 25), Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin zt”l (Shu”t Gevuros Eliyahu, vol. 1 – Orach Chaim 155: end 9), the Ba’er Moshe (Shu”t vol. 3: 38, 13; however he does admit that this ruling is not so clear, therefore it is preferable to ask someone else to be motzi him m’safek), and Rav Moshe Sternbuch (Moadim U’Zmanim vol. 1: 4 haghah and vol. 8, Lekutei Ha’aros on vol. 1: 4; Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos vol. 2: 269). However, others, including the Elyah Rabba (Orach Chaim 188: 8), Matteh Efraim (583: 4), Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 21; who maintains that this the pashut pshat in the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch), Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Halichos Shlomo, Moadim vol. 1, Rosh Hashana Ch. 1, footnote 87) and the Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa (vol. 2, Ch. 57: 7 and footnote 23) rule that one must indeed repeat Bentching. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Siddur, Piskei Birkas Hamazon) maintains that at the Seudah on Leil Rosh Hashana, Bentching is repeated for forgetting ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo,’ but not at the daytime Seudah. See also Yeshuos Yaakov (Orach Chaim 188: 3) and Elef Hamagen on the Matteh Efraim (ibid. 29). Interestingly, the Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 19) brings down both sides of this machlokes but does not rule conclusively. See also Shgiyos Mi Yavin (vol. 1, Ch. 25: 21 - pg. 343).
See Beis Yosef and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 188:7), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (44:15), Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 18), and Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 28). See also Shu”t Yad Dodi (vol. 1, Hilchos Birkas Hamazon 21).
See, for example, Gemara Brachos (20b).
We know that ‘Shamor V’Zachor B’Dibbur Echad’, as mentioned in Rav Shlomo Alkabetz’s timeless ‘Lecha Dodi’, and hence, it is precisely this nuance that teaches us the joint obligations of positive and negative commandments (Zachor V’Shamor) on Shabbos, which obligates women the same as men. Rav Eiger explains that as making Kiddush is for ‘Zachor,’ and the halacha is that Kiddush needs to be ‘b’makon seudah’ (Pesachim 101a; and duly codified by the Rif (Pesachim 20a), Rosh (ad loc. Ch. 10: 5), Tosafos (ad loc. 100b s.v. yedei Kiddush), Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos, Ch. 29: 8 and 10), and Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 273: 1). [This obligation was discussed at length in a previous article titled ‘More Common Kiddush Questions: Kiddush B’Makom Seudah.’] Therefore, he concludes, a woman is required to have a bread ‘Seudah’ on Shabbos.
Gemara Pesachim (43b). See Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chaim 472: 25).
Shu”t Binyan Shlomo (vol. 2, Orach Chaim 47); also cited in the Sdei Chemed (vol. 9, Asifas Dinim, Ma’areches Yom Tov, 2: 6). He asserts that even according to Rav Akiva Eiger, on Shavuos (d’ba’inan nami lachem - see Gemara Pesachim 68b) women should repeat Bentching if ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ wasn’t said.
Pri Megadim (Orach Chaim 328, Eishel Avraham 10; regarding women’s obligation to have a bread ‘Seudah’), Shu”t Sha’agas Aryeh (66, regarding women’s obligations for Simchas Yom Tov), Shu”t Shoel U’Meishiv (Tinyana vol. 2: 55; regarding women’s obligations for Kiddush and Seudah on Yom Tov), and Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chaim 271: 5, regarding women’s obligations for Kiddush on Yom Tov). The Maharsham (Shu”t vol. 3: 226) and Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shu”t Igros Moshe Orach Chaim vol. 4: 100) also wrote responsae explaining that women are obligated in Kiddush on Yom Tov as well. [However, although the Sefer Hachinuch (end Mitzva 31) rules explicitly this way relating to Women’s obligation of Kiddush on Shabbos, the Minchas Chinuch (ad loc. 18) is mesupak with this regarding Yom Tov, as the Sefer Hachinuch does not mention it.] The Rambam (Hilchos Avoda Zara Ch. 12: 3) also seemingly rules this way, calling Simchas Yom Tov a ‘Mitzvas Asei Shehazman Gerama’ that women are obligated in. The Beis Hillel (Yoreh Deah 273) implies this way as well, opining that women even have a chiyuv to be metaher themselves for Yom Tov as men do. The Mishnah Berurah (Biur Halacha 188, s.v. seudah) also cites that there is no Simchas Yom Tov without bread. Many of these shittos are based on the Tosafos HaRosh (Brachos 49b s.v. Shabasos u’Yamim Tovim) who concludes that “l’olam” there is a chiyuv to eat lechem due to Simchas Yom Tov. [Interestingly, Tosafos (ad loc. s.v. eey baui) asks the same question but concludes differently.]See also Sdei Chemed (ibid.) at length.
Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 188:7).
Including the Pischei Teshuva of the Mahari”a M’Vilna (Orach Chaim 188: 6 and 529: 2), Shu”t Sheilas Shmuel (11), Orchos Chaim (188: 3 and 529: 7), Shu”t Yad Eliyahu (17: 2), Shu”t Sheilas Yaakov (97 and 125), Shu”t Mishkan Betzalel (vol. 1: 137), Shu”t Even Yaakov (30), and Shu”t Lechem She’arim (9), all cited in Shgiyos Mi Yavin (vol. 1, Ch. 2,5 footnote 92). This author has been informed b’sheim Rav Chaim Ganzweig, mashgiach at Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim (MTJ) that Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, as well as his son Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l, both ruled that since today women have accepted the Mitzva of Simchas Yom Tov as an absolute obligation, they therefore have to repeat Birkas Hamazon for forgetting ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ on Yom Tov. See Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Frankel’s Shu”t Yad Dodi (vol. 1, Hilchos Birkas Hamazon 20, and footnote 18; pg. 69).
Many sefarim cite both sides of the debate with no clear-cut ruling, including the Sha’arim Metzuyanim B’Halacha (44: 6), Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa (vol. 2: Ch. 57, footnote 18), and Shgiyos Mi Yavin (vol. 1, Ch. 25: 34).
Including the Sdei Chemed (vol. 5, Ma’areches Brachos 4, 2), Maharsham (Daas Torah, Orach Chaim vol. 2: 188, 6), Shu”t Ba’er Moshe (vol. 3: 38, 9), Shu”t Shevet HaLevi (vol. 4: 18, 1 and vol. 6: 61), Birur Halacha (Orach Chaim vol. 2: 188; pg. 135 - 136), Shu”t Zeicher Simcha (27; who maintains that since there is no clear-cut ruling, ‘shev v’al ta’aseh adif’ and she should not repeat Bentching) and Yalkut Yosef (vol. 3, Brachos pg. 355). See also Shu”t Yabea Omer (vol. 6, Orach Chaim 28: 4 and 5) and Shu”t Ohr L’Tzion (vol. 2: 46, 27) who rule like Rav Akiva Eiger, that on Shabbos and first night of Pesach she must repeat Bentching if she forgot ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo,’ implying that on other Yomim Tovim she should not.
Halichos Baysah (Ch. 12: 13 and footnote 26 at length), Koh Somar L’Bais Yaakov (pg. 81; footnotes 33 and 34), Halichos Bas Yisrael (Ch. 3: 13 and footnote 32; Ch. 17, 14), Yalkut Yosef (Otzar Dinim L’Isha U’l’Vas Ch. 11: 16), and the ArtScroll Ohel Leah Women’s Siddur (pg. 163).
Shu”t Ba’er Moshe (vol. 3: 38, 13 s.v. nashim), Shu”t Yigal Yaakov (Orach Chaim 22), and Halichos Baysah (Ch. 12: 14), not like the Yad Yitzchak (Shu”t vol. 2: 54) who opines that she should repeat Bentching even if she is unsure if she said ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo.’ Shgiyos Mi Yavin (vol. 1: Ch. 25 footnote 94) adds an additional compelling reason why she should not repeat Bentching if she is merely uncertain if she recited ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’: The Mishnah Berurah (186: 3 and Biur Halacha s.v. ella) cites a machlokes haposkim regarding a women who is mesupak if she Bentched at all, whether she needs to repeat Bentching; therefore, it stands to reason that if she is certain that she Bentched and is merely unsure if she recited ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo,’ that it can’t be any more obligating.
Including the fact that the Gemara (Brachos 20b) does not rule if Birkas Hamazon for women is a chiyuv Deoraysa or Derabbanan [and this safek is codified in halacha - see Rambam (Hilchos Brachos Ch. 5: 1), Rosh (Brachos Ch. 3: 13), and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 186: 1)]; that is why a women should not be motzi a man in his Bentching obligation).
See Yated Ne’eman(21 Shevat 5773 | February 1, 2013 pg. 68).
See also the recent Minchas Asher on Zemiros L’Shabbos (Seudos Shabbos 5, pg. 168 - 169), that although there are many questions on his shittah, nevertheless, the ikar halacha still follows Rav Akiva Eiger on this.
Devarim, Parshas Eikev (Ch. 8: verse 10).
See Gemara Brachos (20b) and Midrash Rabbah Bamidbar (Parashas Nasso 11: 7).
Kaf Hachaim (Orach Chaim 188: 24) based on Tosafos’ shittah (Sukka 27b s.v. ee baui achil; see also Tosafos on Brachos 49b s.v. ee baui).
See, for example, Ben Ish Chai (Year 1, Parshas Chukas 21), Shu”t Yechaveh Daas (vol. 5: 36), Rav Mordechai Eliyahu’s Darchei Halacha glosses to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (44: 17), Yalkut Yosef (Brachos pg. 349) and Rav Yaakov Hillel’s Luach Ahavat Shalom (5778; Nissan, First Day of Pesach, Seudah, note 743). On the other hand, Rav Shalom Messas (Mashash) zt”l (Shu”t Shemesh U’Magein vol. 1: 13) argues that Sefardim must follow the psak of the Shulchan Aruch and men must repeat Bentching for forgetting ‘Ya’aleh V’Yavo’ on any Yom Tov.
Shu”t Rebbi Ezriel (Orach Chaim 185: 6).
See Shu”t Yabea Omer (vol. 6, Orach Chaim 28: 4 and 5), Shu”t Ohr L’Tzion (vol. 2: 46, 27), Luach Ahavat Shalom (5778; Nissan, First Day of Pesach, Seudah, note 744), and Birur Halacha (Orach Chaim vol. 2: 188, pg. 135 – 136),
See Shgiyos Mi Yavin (vol. 1, Ch. 25 footnotes 44 and 91), Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa (ibid.), Shu”t Ba’er Moshe (ibid.), Halichos Baysah (ibid.), Koh Somar L’Bais Yaakov (ibid. footnote 34), Shu”t Rivevos Efraim (vol. 8, 78), and Halichos Bas Yisrael (ibid.).