As part of leading birkat hamazon (grace after meals) there is a custom for the leader to mention he has been given permission to lead by the male homeowner.

I am wondering if there is any discussion about whether or not to include, and if so how, the spouse (female co-owner) in this dialogue.

Ie: b'rshut baal habayit u'baalat habayit

Sample zimun texts for reference RCA Artscroll Siddur Tefillos.com

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    Why, she can't do zimmun anyway, its the husbands right to give the honour – user15464 Apr 29 '19 at 20:03
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    I'm unaware that there is any protocol regarding whom you wish to honor or mention. Most siddurim I've seen don't even mention ba'al habyit. But, I have heard what you mentioned as well as the phrase ba'al habayit ve'ishto. I've heard people mention even "habanim vehabanot* in situations where the entire family pitch in for some part of the meal. (It's nice to acknowledge the 5-year old girl who helped mommy mix the batter and shape the cookies, or the 7-year old boy who helped mommy get some things at the supermarket!) – DanF Apr 29 '19 at 20:28
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    Can you source that custom? Anyone can mention anyone they want (real, imaginary, living, dead, male, female, human, alien or dog) before Zimmun so the only way this is on topic is if you can source the existence of some Jewish standard to try to meet – Double AA Apr 29 '19 at 20:40
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    @user why does whether she can lead the zimmun affect who has the right to give the honor? You just made that up! – Double AA Apr 29 '19 at 20:40
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    Thought experiment: the husband asks you to lead and the wife asks you not to (or vice versa). What would you do? I'd probably stay awkwardly silent. – Double AA Apr 29 '19 at 20:47

i've innovated: birshus ba'al habayis u'bizchus ba'alas habayis. i hope that is satisfactory to all without implying that the woman is asked to defer her priority to lead the benching... and it is the zchus of the female head of the household that enables the meal + the benching. acknowledgment of her integral contribution is imho also warranted for the sake of shalom bayis.

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  • Very similarly -- I'm told one of the popular "YU feeder" yeshivas in Israel -- KBY, I think? -- does birshus ba'al habayis ubichvod baalas habayis. A gracious nod to the hostess (without whom you wouldn't be there!) without going full-on egalitarian. – Shalom Sep 11 at 10:34

I heard a lecture on "the feminist movement in Judaism" that mentioned some examples that have direct נ"מ to your question:

  1. We follow the rule of אשתו כגופו, like it is customary to address a couple as "Mr. and Mrs. Eli Berkowitz", so my wife is included with me. When we bless בעל הבית we refer to him, his spouse and his whole family.

  2. As even Avizarayu deArayos are Deorayso (as with Rambam - לא תקרבו לגלות ערוה) the sages minimized possible interactions with married women. You know, first comes blessing, then winking and then we have 50% rate of divorces. So it might be considered immodest (in some communities).

Anyway, the part you're referring to is optional (either the beginning or the end of Birkas Hamozoyn) so everything that goes there is purely traditional (a Minhag).

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  • I would never address a couple as "Mr and Mrs Eli Berkowitz" (unless he was Eliezer and she was Eliana, and even then I'd probably opt for Elis Berkowitz). Does Judaism really care how you formulate English honorifics? – Double AA Apr 30 '19 at 19:17
  • @DoubleAA When we're invited to a wedding of our American part of the family in Israel, the table notes say exactly that, I didn't make it up, I was surprised myself. Yes Judaism cares, when we send invitations we say רבי אליהו ומשפ' where משפ' refers to the spouse. – Al Berko Apr 30 '19 at 20:12
  • That's odd. The invitees to my wedding didn't get cards like that. (And no, Judaism doesn't care at all. Your community may have some peculiar arbitrary custom, but that has nothing to do with Judaism.) – Double AA Apr 30 '19 at 21:19
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    "First comes blessing and then comes winking." Tell that to the malachim who asked Sarah how Avraham was doing ... – Shalom May 30 '19 at 18:09
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    We are not afraid to mention women during the bless. Just google the phrase "הרחמן הוא יברך את בעלת הבית הזה" – Alaychem goes to Codidact May 14 at 9:34

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