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Thought for the Day: Zimun Topics (And How to Read the Mishna Brura)

Here's a game I like to play.  I learn up a sugya in Mishna Brura and get a really good understanding, then I call R' Fuerst and he corrects me.  It never fails.  I am amazed by his patience.  I think he is probably amazed by my tenacity.

First question was on zimum when 10 men have eaten together.  To make a zimun for three, you need at least two who have eaten bread, then you can combine another person who has eaten pretty much anything except water and salt (I believe soda, coffee, and tea also don't work).  At 10, though, you get to add "elokeinu".  The Shulchan Aruch, OC 197:2 says you need a "recognizable majority", ie seven (not just six), to add sheim haShem.  The wording, though, is interesting: "one who ate bread should be the leader, and even seven who ate grain and three ate vegetables can combine".  Interesting!  The m'chaber uses both the words "pas" (bread) and "dagan" (grain product) in one sentence.  It sure sounds like you could have two who ate bread, five who had cookies, and three who had radishes.  I called R' Fuerst and he asked me to stay on the line while he looked it up.  "Next to dagan it says in parentheses: 'heinu pas' (that is, bread)."  I looked again at my Mishna Brura and then a light bulb went on (dim, but perceptible).  I asked, "That is to say, the rav has that hand written in his sefer?"  So he quoted to me his source from the Shulchan Aruch haRav and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.  I am pretty sure he was smiling.

Next topic (I called during the day and got lucky) was about a group of women only making a zimun.  The Shulchan Aruch, OC 199:7 says that it is optional.  The Biur Halacha brings that the Gr"a holds it is an obligation for women eating together to make a zimun.  I was surprised, since I've not seen that.  When I asked a friend about that, he asked me, "And when was the last time you ate with a group of only women?"  Ok; good point.  Anyway, I also thought it was a bit funny to have a short Biur Halacha that says the G"ra holds that women are obligated, even though the world doesn't conduct itself that way.  Why not just put that sentence in the Mishna Brura?  The answer to that is that the Mishna Brura is not bringing that G"ra l'halacha.  Rather, he is relegating it to the Biur Halacha to say, "I know the G'ra holds that it is an obligation, but the world does conduct itself that way [and that's the halacha]".

As I have heard many, many times from R' Fuerst (usually right after I express how I had thought differently), "Live and learn."


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