Question: One man combines with nine other men for a zimun, but the one man will continue eating alone afterwards. Does he have to remain silent (and not eat) while the zimun leader is reciting the first brachah of bentching, or may he continue eating immediately after the zimun is finished?
Short Answer: The poskim disagree, but the conventional p’sak is to remain silent until the zimun leader completes the first brachah of bentching.
I. Waiting for the Leader
The Gemara in B’rachos (46a) brings the case where one man is answering to a zimun of two other men, but will then continue eating. Rav Nachman holds that the man should remain silent until the end of the zimun, while Rav Sheishes holds that he must remain silent until the leader finishes the first brachah of bentching.
The Rambam and Rif, as well as the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 200:2), follow the opinion of Rav Nachman. However, the Rosh and Tosafos, as well as the Rama (ibid.) follow the opinion of R’ Sheishes.
II. Case of Ten
The Magen Avraham notes that everyone agrees that where three (or four) men combine with seven (or six) other men, but the three will continue their meal afterwards, that they merely need to be silent (and wait to continue their meal) until the end of the zimun. The three should make their own zimun when they are finished eating. Indeed, these three men can even combine with a new group of seven men for another zimun.
Yet, what is the reason why three merely need to be silent (and wait to continue their meal) until the end of the zimun?
The Mishnah B’rurah (9) explains that because these three men are simply combining with the seven in order to say Hashem’s name in the zimun, but they are not actually performing the zimun themselves. Thus, they do not need to wait until the leader finishes the first brachah of bentching.
The Chazon Ish (Orach Chayim 31:2), however, explains that when ten people have a zimun and say Hashem’s name, the zimun is independent from the bentching, and thus there is no need for the three to wait until the leader finishes the first b’rachah of bentching.
The upshot of this machlokes between the Mishnah B’rurah and the Chazon Ish is our case – where only one man plans on continuing eating afterwards.
According to the Mishnah B’rurah, since the one man cannot, and will not, make his own zimun afterwards, he must wait until the leader finishes the first brachah of bentching in order to continue eating, as this zimun counts as his zimun, as well. The Elyah Rabbah states this ruling explicitly.
However, according to the Chazon Ish, since a zimun of ten was made, and Hashem’s name was recited, the one man can continue eating immediately after the zimun is finished, as the zimun is independent from the bentching.
V. More Eating for the Three
Another ramification (see sefer Keitzad M’zamnin) between the Mishnah B’rurah and the Chazon Ish is (in the case where three men want to continue eating after combining for a zimun of ten) whether the three need to eat additional food in order to make their own zimun.
According to the Mishnah B’rurah, they should not have to eat anything more, as they have so far only “answered” to someone else’s zimun (i.e., the other seven men’s zimun). However, the Chazon Ish would hold that they must eat additional bread in order to make a zimun, as they have already made a zimun for their previously-eaten food.
Next week’s topic: You are hosting two men for Shabbos lunch, both of whom are talmidei chachamim. Do you have to ask the man who is also a kohen to lead the zimun?
Rabbi Ephraim Glatt, Esq. is Assistant to the Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and a practicing litigation attorney. Questions? Comments? Email EphraimGlatt@gmail.com.