Bensching

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Bensching

Postby Kira » Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:56 pm

Sander mentioned a host that would not start bensching (the grace after the meal) for a long time, in order to extend the visit.

This past Shabbat, a young woman who was staying in our house for Shabbat, asked if she could bensch before dessert was served as she had arranged to meet a friend at a certain time. I thought that this was polite both to us and to her friend. Would I have felt differently if it was a man, and if we wouldn't have a mezumen (a better way of saying the grace, when at least 3 men are present) without him? Perhaps then we would all have bensched, and continued with dessert afterwards.

Anyway, we also like to linger at the meal, as this is pretty much the only time we have to socialize with our friends. But how much is too long?

Thoughts?

-Kira
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Re: Bensching

Postby Enora » Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:49 pm

What!? Nobody has replied yet!!? Ach halakha doesn't attract crowds :( boo


What do you call "lingering", and for how long...

We have 72 minutes to say birkat (upon finishing) but I assume the 72 minutes is the time it would take for a normal dinner w/conversation and a glass or two of wine (hence the number given... anyone have the background on this halakha?). Above 72 minutes, you're lingering but can still say birkat... and bedieved you have up to 6 hours provided you are still "full" or satiated by your meal (if you eat in between meals, you have a problem ). Obviously not ideal but allowed.

Secondly, there's the issue of including dessert as part of the meal. Unless it's some sort of cake...
Fruit, ice cream (uh ice soja I mean) etc is not meant to feed, it's not eaten with hunger (since you're already full). Fruit is to finish on a fresh sweet note. In our house, we do birkat before dessert and then we do the according brachot over dessert.

If your dessert can't be included in birkat , then waiting till after dessert for birkat is a problem.
Have your friends linger by serving them dessert after birkat, not by holding people hostage with birkat (I don't mean YOU specifically Kira... thinking about Sander's story)
They'll get some extra brachot/day in, thanks to you!

Personally right after birkat and with dessert and coffee I whip out the cognac, calvados, grand marnier etc.... every guest in my house KNOWS and they all wait hehe....
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Re: Bensching

Postby Kira » Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:11 pm

See, this is where Halacha is about what's expected. If a dessert is expected as part of the meal, we don't make a separate bracha.

We don't expect to serve anything after Bensching.

72 minutes is from the time you finished eating, not from the time you started. So if you leave food on the table, and people keep nibbling, it can drag out.

We actually had an issue once, we were visiting good friends on the other side of town (~30 min walk), and we really enjoy spending time together. So we sat there at the table, talking, for hours. Eventually we realized that if we don't bensch soon, we'll be ready for the next meal!

But even if in terms of Halacha, we could have a bite here and there and call it a meal, in terms of etiquette, isn't it wrong to keep people at your table longer than they expect? Or to stay longer than your hosts want you there?

-Kira
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Re: Bensching

Postby Enora » Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:45 pm

Yes, the halakha is 72 minutes upon finishing your meal and up to 6 hrs bediaved if you are still feel the effects of the meal lol (sustainment wise of course hehe)
I was wondering why 72? Why not 73 or 70... how we got that number and the reasoning behind it. I don't mean theoretically.
How etiquette takes it's part in halakha is interesting.
I'm off, shabbat shalom
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Re: Bensching

Postby Saronic » Tue May 04, 2010 11:33 pm

I believe the 72 minutes comes from the time it takes to walk 4 mil. (Don't ask me how far a mil is.)

The question still remains, though - why was this number picked? I think it's just a longish amount of time that has application elsewhere (according to some, how long after sunset/whatever does shabbos last, etc.) so it's conveniently copied over here.
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Re: Bensching

Postby LittleGator » Wed May 05, 2010 1:42 pm

Please forgive me for my ignorance in this situation. I live in the South and we have others over for dinner rather frequently, particularly in the summer. Are you telling me that we are staying at the dining table for that long? It seems rather uncomfortable, as dining chairs are not known for being the most supportive. I have never heard of such a thing.
When I have been invited to or played host to a dinner there seems to be a relatively well established routine. First we enjoy the dinner; afterwords extending gratitude to G-d, as well as the host and/or hostess; lastly aiding in clean up (if appropriate). Which more often than not means all of us ladies pile up in the kitchen and talk for an hour or more while cleaning up, while the men digest as far away from us as they can get :) . Then we move the conversation elsewhere, usually to the living rooms, or the back porch and yard. Giving people the option of leaving when they wish, even immediately if they need. So as long as they do not stay past a reasonable time. Or if they want to stay late give enough prior warning so that accommodations can be made for a late or even overnight visit.
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Re: Bensching

Postby Kira » Wed May 05, 2010 3:30 pm

That sounds like a nice routine, and there is nothing wrong with it.

But in our society, it is less common to linger after the meal, so we linger for the meal.

When I think about why this is, a couple of things come up. First of all, the meal itself is a celebration of Shabbat, it itself is holy. It seems disrespectful of Shabbat to eat and run. Moreover, one is supposed to sing Zemirot (Shabbat songs) at the table, and to speak words of Torah. That already implies more than just eating. Saying the grace after meals (Bensching) is the last step. Sometimes people stay afterwards, but more likely it's a sign that one should leave, so the hosts can have their Shabbat afternoon nap.

Normally our Shabbat lunch meal starts at 12pm and ends at around 2:30.

The Seder is a whole other story, it takes at least 4 hours, even without lingering.

-Kira
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Re: Bensching

Postby Kira » Wed May 05, 2010 3:32 pm

Also, I forgot to mention - since we can't really clean up properly on Shabbat itself, the guests (male and female) usually only help clear the table and put away the leftover food, perhaps stack the dishes. The rest is done after Shabbat anyway.

-Kira
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Re: Bensching

Postby LittleGator » Wed May 05, 2010 6:51 pm

Thank-you Ms Kira for explaining. As I am rather ignorant of jewish customs.
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Re: Bensching

Postby Enora » Thu May 06, 2010 10:53 am

there are "customs" and "obligations"
Like Kira said: shabbat is special, you don't just eat and run and you can't offer cigars to go with that cognac after the meal. People, the men at least, usually will go to shul for a shiur (lesson) before or after minha (depending on the time of year). Some people like to nap before.
Like my father in law says: Shabbat is the most tiring day for him because he also gives a gemara class in the afternoon (and they live on the 9th floor)
Then there is the actual shabbat table rituals and order, that do indeed take some time.
However
There are also customs that are more cultural and not religious.
Leaving right after birkat hamazon , in moroccan circles, would be a little rude unless you have a good excuse.
It must be the southern attitude but we also, move on to the other living rooms to serve coffee, cookies etc. Then everybody goes out for a walk together or hangs out on the terrasses and patios. Living rooms, in North African culture, are also meant to nap in. Sedari couches are in fact mattresses and can give you 3 or 4 additional sleeping spaces.
It's hot, everyone is stuffed (oh we serve A LOT of "kemiot" salads before the main course, you usually go through 2 or 3 hallot breads right then and there IF the salads are good)... you're not gonna make anybody walk home in the heat.
Everyone parts around minha, to each his own shul, shiur, whatever
Shabbat is a HUGE part of a jews social life lol.
There are tables you would almost kill to be invited at.
In ashkenazim circles, it's usually when there is a Rav or somebody respected by the community.
In sephardi circles, it depends on the wife's cooking and hostess talents. (Notice I didn't crack an easy joke at ashkenazi food? hehe)
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