From the Rav’s Desk: When to eat dessert-before or after Bentching?

  1. Question: [Tuesday, 24th Teves 5782]

I was at someone Shabbos table and they were very particular to only bring the dessert to the table after everybody Bentched. I asked them about it and they said that that’s the tradition that they follow and that’s what they saw their parents do. Is there any source behind this custom and what in truth is one to follow?



Indeed, according to the ruling of Admur, as well as other Poskim, it is proper to only eat dessert after one has finished Bentching. This applies whether the dessert is fruits or cake. This especially applies on Shabbos in order to increase in blessings and reach 100 blessings, although applies even during the week. However, from the letter of the law, it is permitted from one to eat it before Bentching, if one wishes, whether on Shabbos or during the week, and so is indeed the ruling of other Poskim, that it is forbidden for one to push it off till after dessert. Practically, those who follow the rulings of Admur, are to push of dessert until after Bentching even during the weekday and especially on Shabbos.

Explanation: The rule is that whenever one eats a dessert food during a meal that he must say before blessing prior to eating it, although he does not recite an after blessing after eating it, as its after blessing is included in Birchas Hamazon. Accordingly, the question is raised regarding what is better to be done: Is it better for one to not increase in after blessings, and specifically eat the dessert food prior to Bentching, in order so he can include its after blessing in the Bentching, and hence save an extra after blessing from needing to be said. Or do we say on the contrary, that it is better that one push it off dessert until after Bentching in order so one can say the proper after blessing after the food and not have it included in Bentching, which is not the specified after blessing over the dessert food. Practically, this matter is under debate amongst the Poskim with some holding that it is forbidden to delay eating dessert until after Bentching being that it is forbidden to increase in blessings, and with other Poskim ruling that one is specifically to delay eating dessert until after Bentching being that it is proper to say the proper after blessing for food and in such a case we don’t apply the prohibition against increasing in blessings. Others hold that even according to the premises that the delaying of dessert does transgress increasing in blessings, Shabbos is an exception being that one needs to increase in blessings for the sake of reaching 100 blessing. Practically, while most opinions conclude like the first opinion above that even on Shabbos one is not to delay dessert until later, Admur concludes like the second opinion which states that it should be delayed until after Bentching, and writes that especially on Shabbos one is to follow this opinion in order to gain the 100 blessings. Now, while some individuals learn that Admur’s opinion in this matter is not conclusive as he contradicts himself elsewhere, in my opinion, after a careful analysis in all the areas where Admur discusses this matter there is no contradiction at all and on the contrary the rulings complement each other, and hence the clear conclusion of Admur remains without any contradiction from any other area that dessert is to be delayed until after Bentching.

Sources: See Admur 215:5; Opinion of Admur and other Poskim who rule that one should specifically delay dessert in order to say the proper after blessing: 1st and Stam opinion in Admur 215:5 and so concludes Admur to be stringent like this opinion especially on Shabbos and Yom Tov; Even Heozer 212; Kuntrus Achron 249:4 regarding preceding to eat foods before the meal on Shabbos “One who relies on all these opinions against the M”A “Ein Mazchichin Oso”; See Admur 213:6; See regarding a similar ruling that one should precede the Tafel to the Ikkur in order to say the proper before blessing: Admur 212:8–9; 215:4; Seder 3:14-15; Luach 4:13; Taz 212:3; Even Haozer ibid; Ketzos Hashulchan 58:11; See regarding preceding to eat foods before the meal on Shabbos: Admur 249:11 and Kuntrus Achron there 4; Regarding the possible contradictions between Admur in 212:8-9 and 215:4-5 versus Admur 249:11 and Kuntrus Achron there and 473:17-18: See Piskeiy Teshuvos 215 footnote 91 in parentehses [Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol on his answer]; Seder Birchas Hanhenin Alyashvili footnote 84; Or Yisrael Monsey 69 p. 377;Pischeiy Halacha 1 footnote 26; Hearos Ubiurim 722 p. 57; 723 p. 63, 725 p. 40; My answer to these seeming contradictions is as follows: Although Admur rules [212/8-9] that whenever a Tafel is more beloved then an Ikkur one is to specifically precede the Tafel to the Ikkur, perhaps the reason why here in 249:11 Admur rules plainly that the bread must precede whatever food he desires to eat prior to the meal is because bread is always considered more beloved than any other food, and thus according to all [even Taz and Admur in 212] must receive precedence, and if one does not do so he is making an unnecessary blessing. Now although it may happen that one in truth does generally desire a certain food more than he does bread, [as writes M”A 212/3] nevertheless one can say that since in the laws of precedence, bread always receives precedence over any other food, including foods of which are more beloved, therefore here too it receives precedence even though one will exempt the later foods blessing all together by preceding the blessing of the bread. This is similar to the logic used by Admur in 212/9 that the reason a more beloved Ikkur must precede is because its main dignity lies in its ability to exempt other foods. Likewise, here by bread one can say its main dignity lies in that one specifically exempts other foods with its blessing. This can only be supported by the fact that in 212 no mention is ever made regarding a case that the Ikkur is Mezonos or Hamoitzi, and rather the cases mentioned are only regarding Shehakol, Hadama, and Heitz. This explains how the ruling ion Admur 249 does not at all contradict his previous rulings, and on the contrary, compliments it! This is unlike how many others have understood and created a contradiction in Admur saying that he retracted from his opinion in 212 and 215! I believe this is completely inaccurate. Likewise, the ruling in Hilchos Pesach in 473 does not contradict anything of Admur, as there he refers to saying Borei Nefashos in middle of the meal when it can actively be exempted with Birchas Hamazon, or saying it before the meal and causing another same blessing of Hadama to be recited. Hence, it seems that Admurs rulings in 212 and 215 have not been properly understood by certain individuals, hence making it seem that his other rulings contradict it, although in truth a fine analysis shows that there is no contradiction, and that the rulings compliment each other. VeHashem Yair Eitneinu Betoras Rabbeinu Hagadol! Opinions who rule that one may not delay dessert until after Bentching even on Shabbos: M”A 215:6; 212:3; Chesed Lealafim 215:6; Birkeiy Yosef 46:6; Kaf Hachaim 215:30; Piskeiy Teshuvos 215:15 Opinions who rule that one may delay dessert on Shabbos for the sake of 100 blessings: Shelah Shabbos 134a, brought in M”A 215:6; Admur in Kuntrus Achron ibid that so is also ruling of Or Zarua, Darkei Moseh, Maharam Galanti, Sefer Hazichronos, Kneses Hagedola, Tur, Rosh and Shulchan Aruch and one may rely on them against the M”A

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