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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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    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
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    If all you want to know is what is commonly done then just go outside and check. Not sure that is alone on topic without some Judaism based reason for doing this.
    – Double AA
    Apr 29 '19 at 20:58
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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 '20 at 10:34
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The Kol Bo (21) brings the custom to request permission before zimmun:

ומדרך המוסר לכל מי שיברך שיטול רשות מן הגדולים המסובים שם

This custom to say 'ברשות' before zimmun is found when someone who has the first rights to zimmun is present, like a baal habayis, father or a kohein.

Because women are not obligated in zimmun, there would seemingly be no reason to request their permission.

R' Yitzchok Zilberstein (Chashukei Chemed, Berachos pg 276) writes regarding three sons sitting by their mother, that the mevarech should say birshus imi morasi. Although a woman is not obligated in zimmun and therefore has no precedence, there is still a different reason to request permission from the mother. This is because the Rambam writes:

ולא ישב לפני רבו עד שיאמר לו שב, ולא יעמוד מלפניו עד שיאמר עמוד, או עד שיטול רשות לעמוד

Because the laws of kibbud em are similiar to kibbud rabo (see Pischei Teshuva YD 240:6), this would apply equally to one sitting with his mother. Therefore, there is reason to request permission even though she is not obligated in zimmun.

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    Actually, a woman eating with her three sons IS obligated in zimmun.
    – Double AA
    Jan 10 at 0:29
  • "This custom to say 'ברשות' before zimmun is found when someone who has the first rights to zimmun is present, like a baal habayis, father or a kohein." I don't see any source for this in your link (or anywhere in Judaism). You are building a straw man to then tear it down. Indeed the only reason ever to ask permission is proper manners as you conclude. This is not a chiddush.
    – Double AA
    Feb 8 at 21:13
  • Woman are obligated in zimun same as men, they just don't join with men to make a zimun.
    – N.T.
    Feb 10 at 11:35
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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" May 14 '20 at 9:34

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