Shulchan Aruch Chapter 183:


How the מבורך Should Prepare the Cup for Benching: (12 Paragraphs)


                                               Note: Rama is in brackets [ ]


1.  The cup one is Benching[1] over (כוס שׁל ברכה) needs to be rinsed within and without with water[2].  If the cup is clean and one does not have other cups, it is not necessary[3]. 


2.  One should pour wine into the cup strait[4] until he reaches the blessing on the land[5] then he should mix it in order to testify about the praise of the earth[6].  [And there are those who say that if the wine is not strong, one does not need to dilute it.  This is our custom in our provinces.  Concerning taking wine out of a barrel reserved only לשׁם ברכה[7] it appears unnecessary by us, where we don’t have a lot of wine.  Rather, when one pours out the wine from the bottle, the wine should be watched לשׁם ברכה.  It is not necessary to reserve the barrel for this purpose.  And so is our custom in our countries.  The כוס שׁל ברכה should be filled until it is completely full up to the brim.] 


3.  It is necessary to us a complete (unbroken) cup[8].


4.  One should accept the cup with his two hands.  When he begins the blessing, he should transfer it to his right hand without the left hand offering any support.  [That is only so that the left hand should not grasp the cup.  But if one places his left hand under his right hand to support it is מותר (OK)[9].]  If one is sitting on the ground, he should lift up the cup a Tefach (3-4 inches).  If one is sitting on a table, one should raise it one Tefach above the table.  One should take care to not disrupt his concentration (from the blessings).  [For the same reason, one should not take a narrow mouthed cup which is called גלוק גלא ״ז for the כוס שׁל ברכה.]  One should hand the cup over to his wife to drink from it[10].  


5.  There are those who say that if the one who makes the blessing is left handed, he should take hold of the cup with his left hand.  


6.  From the moment one is handed the כוס שׁל ברכה, the מבורך (lead blesser) should not talk and the diners shouldn’t speak from the time the מבורך begins the blessing of Birchas Hamazone and surely when he his saying the blessing, since they need to hear and understand what he is saying[11].  Even at intervals between blessings, they can’t talk. And if one disregarded this advice and talked between blessings when the blesser was a little quiet, he is יוצאי(covered by the blesser)[12] [This is even where the מבורך himself talks.]  However, if they talked at the time he was saying the blessings, they are not יוצאי. 


7.  It is proper for each and every diner to say Birchas Hamazone quietly along with the מבורך. They should say every blessing and even the endings.  [They should precede the מבורך at the endings of the blessings in order so that they will have a chance to answer Amen.  One should only give the כוס שׁל ברכה over to one who has a good eye.[13]] 


8.  In regard to “borrowing”[14] Birchas Hamazone because of fear or because of honor, there are those who say that this follows the same law as prayer (תפילה).[15]


9.  It is nessessary to sit at the time one is Benching, wheather he was walking in his house while he ate or standing, or leaning.  When he reaches the blessings, he must sit in order that he should have better concentration.  Similarly, one should be leaning since it shows hautiness.  Rather, when saying the blessings one should sit in awe.  [It appears to me that not only the מבורך (should do these things) but the same applies to all the diners; that they should not sit in the way of levity, but with fear.  However, if one did not do these things, you are יוצא בדיעבד (by the letter of the law covered) even if you made the blessings while walking.


10.  There are those who say that one is similarly required to say the מעין שׁלשׁ  [16]ברכתsitting. 


11.  If one was traveling on the road and he ate (a meal of bread), he is not required to sit and Bench since it never entered into his mind to do this[17].  


12.  It is forbidden to say (M.B: any part of) Birchas Hamazone while one is engaged in his work.[18]




Translated by Jay Dinovitser B.A. Biochemistry 7/2005


Although I have an extensive Yeshiva background, I am not a Rabbi nor am I the son of a Rabbi.  Ask your local Halachic authority for any major halachic questions.  If you see a mistake in my translation, please let me know.  My email address is on my home page. 


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[1] For those unlearned individuals, Benching refers to saying Birchas Hamazone or the blessings recited after eating bread.

[2] Mishna Brura says the same applies if one rubbed it with a tablecloth until it was clean.

[3] Probably if you had other cups available, you should have poured the wine into these other cups and rinse the original cup with water.  Then you should have poured the wine back.

[4] Lit. “raw” Mishna Brura explains this means without diluting the wine. 

[5] I think this refers to the blessing at the end of the third paragraph in Benching.

[6] M.B.: In the author’s time, the wine was very strong and had to be diluted with water to make it edible.  One waits till this blessing to dilute it in order to thank G-d for making the land so fertile.  The wine being so strong that it must be watered down testifies to the land’s fertility.   

[7] Meaning only used for the blessing over the wine by Birchas Hamazone.

[8] M.B.:  This is only preferred ( לכתחילה) and not by the letter of the law.

[9] Bear in mind that when the author writes מותר in this paragraph, he does not mean that you are going to hell if you support the cup with your left hand. He is referring to the proper manner of respect the pious should show toward G-d by holding the כוס שׁל ברכה properly.  One must be careful exactly what level “permitted” and “forbidden” refer to in the Shulchan Aruch.  Sometimes they are biblically mandated.  Other times they are rabbinically mandated.  Sometimes they are based on customs.  At other times they are neither of the above, but just good advice for those who cling to G-d and wish to serve him properly.  See my intro. to the Shulchan Arach.  This is an area where many err.  (Remember, כוס שׁל ברכה is at most a custom and some hold is not needed at all for Benching.  Furthermore, the manner of holding the cup is only an aspect of this topic)

[10] M.B.:  In order to bless her through drinking from the כוס שׁל ברכה . The same thing applies if one has guests.  He should let the guests drink from the כוס שׁל ברכה.

[11] The  Shulchan Aruch is only talking about a case where the diners are not themselves reciting the   ברכת המזו׀ (grace after meals) but are instead being   יוצאי (covered) by someone else.

[12] M.B. has a long discussion on this topic.  In summary, by the letter of the law the listeners can still beיוצאי if they talk.  But some say this only refers to involuntary talking.  Purposefull talking does invalidate and one would have to say the blessings himself.  He writes that one should be extra careful in this area.  However, when one accidentally talks in between blessings because of an אונס , there is no problem laccording to the Shulchan Aruch.

[13] M.B. One who hates greed and does much kindness with his money.

[14] One who eats his meal in one place and wishes to say Birchas Hamazone somewhere else.

[15] M.B. Just like by prayer one must pray in one place (acc. to the Rabbis with the exception of the She’ma) so too by Birchas Hamazone, one must say the blessings in the same place one ate. 

[16] M.B. These refer to the blessing על המחיה  said after eating the five types of grains not made into bread.

[17] M.B. claims that this only applies if one ate while walking.  If one ate sitting, he must say Birchas Hamazone sitting. 

[18] באר היטב writes “even minor work”.