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Q&A from the Bais HaVaad Halacha Hotline

Joint Bentcher

February 2, 2023

Q Do I participate in a zimun if I only drank?

A A group of three recites zimun before birkas hamazon when they partake in a meal of bread. The Rishonim debate whether all three must have eaten bread, or just two. The halacha follows the latter view (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 197:3). A third man may join the group even by just drinking a substantial drink (like wine or fruit juice, not water or seltzer; O.C. ibid. and Aruch Hashulchan 197:5). Contemporary poskim debate the status of coffee and tea (Piskei Teshuvos ibid. 2). The zimun should be led by someone who ate bread (O.C. 197:3 and M.B.).

Likewise, people who drank are counted among the ten to say zimun with sheim Hashem, provided that at least seven ate bread (O.C. 197:2).

The members of a zimun may not recite birkas hamazon individually (O.C. 193:1). Even one who only drank must preserve the zimun and not recite borei nefashos early. If three (or ten, as applicable) members remain without him, he may leave early (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 197:4). However, one who ate bread may not leave early, even if this wouldn’t affect the group, as he must bentch with the zimun.

When diners recite zimun, a bystander may join in even if he only drank water (Aruch Hashulchan 198:2). The Pri Megadim (cited in M.B. 198:1) is unsure whether he may answer the zimun with sheim Hashem, but many poskim allow this (Aruch Hashulchan ibid. and others.).

A drinker may only join the zimun if he drank enough to say a bracha acharonah (a revi’is). If he didn’t, he participates by responding as a non-eater does: “Baruch umevorach Shmo tamid le’olam va’ed.

If one ate or drank but already made a bracha acharonah, he responds as a non-eater.

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