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Thought for the Day: Halacha as Communication

I asked my 3.573... year old granddaughter if she would like to have a grilled cheese sandwich.  She replied enthusiastically, "Yes!  Can I help?"  (She is always enthusiastic, which is very fun when she is in a good mood.  Truth is, as a grandparent, it's pretty fun when she is in a bad mood also, but for a different reason.) I smiled and told her, of course.  I was a little suprised when she said, "Ok.  I'll get the sugar."  And more surpised when she said, "And you'll have a boy cheese; right, Zeidy?"  I told that I was still planning on getting having a grilled cheese and went to get the mustard.  Now we were both surprised, but we had a nice brunch.  What we have here is a failure to communicate... or do we?

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 299) discusses the topic of eating a meal on Saturday afternoon that extends into evening (a weekly occurance for those who eat shalosh s'udos at shul).  As we all know, the halacha comes out that one may continue the meal as long as desired, then bentch -- after which one is no longer to eat or drink anything (except water), then daven ma'ariv, then make havdala.  Straightforward.

What if, however, one really, really wants to make havdala during the meal; and oh yeah, you've been drinking wine during the meal.  Do you need to make a borei pri ha'gafen on the havdala wine.  Siman 3 addresses precisely that question and paskens unequivocally that you do not need to make a new bracha on the wine, and some say that you do.  The issue is whether the wine of havdala is just kavod for the ceremony (and therefore a continuation of the drinking during the meal), or a completely unrelated to the meal at all.

A (surprisingly, to me) long Bi'ur Halahch (dh v'yeish omrim sh'tzarich) concludes that you don't need to (and are therefore forbidden) to make a new bracha.  But he's not finished.  "It is simple and clear (pashut and barur) that one does not need to make a [new] bracha on the wine.  Still... since [the p'sak to say a bracha] came out of the mouth of the Magen Avraham, it's better not to make havdala during a meal."  The Mishna Brura cannot figure out where the Magen Avraham is coming from, nor can he find a single source to support or help explain the position of the Magen Avraham.  Still, we don't want to go against his p'sak.  When someone has demonstrated that he is trustworthy and reliable, you hate to discount his opinion just because you don't understand it.  Especially here, where the whole goal is to do what is right in HaShem's eyes and you know that ultimately all you can do is try your best.

You may think that I stretched the connection a bit just to include a cute story about my granddaughter.  I will answer: First of all, it drives home the point that even though we may not understand our Sages -- even recent ones -- we have to remember that we are further away in depth of understanding of the topic than a 3 year old is from her 56 year old zeidy.  Secondly, of course... so?

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