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Is one allowed to continue eating after saying shir hamalos? For example, someone didn't know that desert was being served, so after he says shir hamalos, wants to eat the desert. What steps would he need to take to be allowed to eat it, if any?

  • possible dupe? judaism.stackexchange.com/q/53493/759 – Double AA May 22 '15 at 2:28
  • I looked over that question,and although it discusses mayim acharonim and handing out bentchers, it did not specify that to do in the case of shir hamalos specifically – bluejayke May 22 '15 at 2:36
  • Totally not an answer, but I've always assumed you can because it's purely an "introductory psalm" not actually the beginning of benchting. To support that, it even comes before zimun, the call to benching. – andrewmh20 May 22 '15 at 3:51
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The Yalkut Yosef (קיצור ש''ע ילקוט יוסף א, קפח) says:

היכא שאמר שיר המעלות בשוב ה' וגו', מותר לו להמשיך לאכול, דלא חשיב היסח דעת. [ילקוט יוסף ח''ג על הלכות ברכת המזון וברכות עמוד רלד בהערה].

See here as well:

נראה שבאמירת שיר המעלות לבד, ולא אמר הב לן ונברך, לא הוי היסח הדעת, שהרי בגמ' מצינו רק לענין הב לן ונברך, או מים אחרונים

It is permitted to continue eating if one has already recited Shir Hamaalos for it is not considered a hesech hadaas.

The English book Halachos of Brachos (page 129) quoting Rav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg saying that Shir Hamaalos is not considered a hefsek since people occasionally resume eating after singing it.

However, this source sheet brings opinions which disagree with the conclusions above:

ב. שאלה: כתבו המג“א והמ“ב ]סימן א‘[ בשם השל“ה, שראוי לומר בכל סעודה בחול על נהרות בבל ובימים שאין אומרים בהם תחנון שיר המעלות. ומנהג העולם לאומרם בסוף הסעודה. ויש לעיין האם מכיון שנהגו לאומרם בסוף הסעודה נחשבת אמירתם כאמירת הב לן ונברך שפסק השו“ע בסימן קע“ט דהוי היסח הדעת לענין שתיה, ויש אומרים דהוא הדין לענין אכילה, או לאו.

תשובה: הגאון הגדול רבי חיים קניבסקי שליט“א אמר שמסתבר דחשיב הפסק כמו אמירת הב לן ונברך, וכן הסכים הגאון רבי יעקב מאיר שטרן שליט“א דהו“ל כהיסח הדעת, דהאי אמירת שיר המעלות מראה שהולכים לברך ואין דרך בני אדם להמשיך באכילה ושתיה. וכעין זה במ“ב )קע“ט ס“ק ג‘( דאם הסיח דעתו בלבו מלשתות עוד ואח“כ רוצה לשתות צריך לברך על המשקה וע“ש בשעה“צ בשם הגר“ז והבית מאיר.

The opinon of Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlit"a says that it makes sense to say that Shir Hamaalos is considered a seccesation of the meal, similar to Hav Lan Unevarevh (T.N.the invitation to bentch), and thus one should bentch after saying Shir Hamaalos.

The link above quotes Rav Mendel Shafran Shlit"a who says that since this is matter of disagreement between the poskim:

ולפ“ז יש להחמיר בדבר וכדעת האומרים דהוא משום היסח הדעת

One should be stringent and assume that saying Shir Hamaalos is considered a hefsek.

Thus, you should bentch right away.

See further there for a fuller treatment.

  • If one, for whatever reason, wanted to eat something after shir hamalos and before bentching, would he have to wash again (even if he just wanted to eat a non bread product), or would he simply say another brocho (depending on which kind of food he eats)? – bluejayke May 22 '15 at 15:50
  • +1 this is very good. But there is no real machlokes here. It all depends on common practice. If people don't treat it as an end to the seuda, its not. Likulei alma. And if they test it as if it is, than it's the end. Likulei alma. – user6591 May 22 '15 at 15:50
  • @user2016831 You are opening a different box of grasshoppers. If he eats food that is part of the meal, he need not make a bracha as his meal is not over. If he wants to eat something which is not part of a meal (like many desserts in certain situations), he must make a bracha rishona on that (possibly its own bracha achrona too) even if he wouldn't have said shir hamaalos. – user6591 May 22 '15 at 15:53
  • Slightly related: if deserts are considered outside of the meal, then is one permitted to say a blessing in them and eat them in the case where the third meal of shabbos extends into the evening? – bluejayke May 22 '15 at 22:44
  • Why automatically make the assumption that just because there are multiple opinions we need to be machmir? – andrewmh20 May 26 '15 at 22:39
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Shu"t B'tzeil Hachochma 6:68 says that Shir HaMa'alos does not prohibit one from eating according to all opinions (of the Rishonim). His reasoning is that the conclusion of the Gemara in Berachos 42a is that even things which are a hesech hada'as (an interruption in the continuity of the meal) do not meet the standard of hesech hada'as which requires one to stop eating with the exception of netillas yadayim, as netillas yadayim is unique in that it is more than just a an indication that the meal has ended, but is really the conceptual beginning of bentching, and תכף לנטילה ברכה (there should be no interruption between netillas yadayim and bentching), as opposed to other things that merely indicate the end of the meal, one can still interrupt between those points and bentching. Shir Hama'alos is not required to be immediately attached to bentching, and therefore is only the level of an indication of the end of the meal, after which one can resume eating.

According to this logic, it has nothing to do with what people "usually" do, so long as it is not a conceptual initiation of bentching, which Shir Hamaalos is not.

  • By netillas yadaim I assume you mean our modern-day mayim acharonim? – bluejayke May 26 '15 at 20:15
  • @user2016831 I assume that's what I mean also, but I was just borrowing the words of the Gemara :) – Y     e     z May 26 '15 at 21:22
  • You also said that the reshonim agree to this approach, does that mEan this is the accepted view in the shulChan aruch (mishna bururah and shulchan aruch harav)? – bluejayke May 26 '15 at 22:33
  • @user2016831 B'tzeil HaChochma claims that everyone would agree. It happens to be implied, in my opinion, in the Mishna Berura 179:9. – Y     e     z May 26 '15 at 22:44

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