> Judaism 101 > Jewish Law > Laws of Blessings (Adv.)

29. Outdoor Eating

November 2, 2015 | by Rabbi Shraga Simmons and Rabbi Yair Spolter

The difference between enclosed areas and open areas.

In continuing our discussion of shinuy makom, let's begin by reviewing some of the basic ground rules:

  • Moving from one side of a room to another does not constitute a shinuy makom. Therefore, you may continue eating without saying a new bracha.
  • Moving in or out of a building is a shinuy makom, requiring a new bracha.

But what about if you are eating outdoors – how do the rules of shinuy makom apply? In such a situation, the halacha distinguishes between two different types of areas: enclosed areas and open areas.

Enclosed Areas

An enclosed area, whether it is fenced in or surrounded by bushes or the like, is considered as one room. Moving within such an area does not constitute a shinuy makom. This is true no matter how large the area is.1 So if you are at a giant campground that is fenced in, you can even go to the far end of the campground and continue eating without a new bracha.

The flip side of this is that exiting an enclosed area is like leaving a building, which does constitute a shinuy makom. So let's say you're playing Frisbee with your kids at the campground, and the Frisbee flies over the fence. Once you go outside the gate to find the Frisbee, when you come back in, you'll have to say Shehakol again on your drink.2

Open Areas

An open outdoor area (i.e. unfenced) is not considered like one big room. Rather, moving from place to place3 outdoors is like moving from one room to the next.4 Recall the rules we learned in class #27, that if you want to eat in another room, it is preferable to either:

  • have had in mind (while saying the bracha) to change locations, or
  • have your original place visible from where you want to continue eating.

These same rules will apply when saying a bracha in the open outdoors: You should have in mind that you might move if you want to continue eating in a different location, or make sure that your original location is still visible from where you continue eating.

However, there is one significant point where these two cases differ: We learned that when moving from room to room, even in the absence of these factors, you should still not say a new bracha. But when saying a bracha outdoors, if you did not have in mind to change locations, and your original place is no longer in sight, a new bracha should be said.5

The reason for this distinction is that moving from place to place outdoors is a more significant change of location than changing rooms within a house.

So if you're in the park sipping a Coke, and then decide to take a walk, after a few minutes you'll need to turn around and check to see of your original location is still within eyesight. If not – either due to distance or due to an obstruction (e.g. trees, a building, etc.) – then a new bracha is required.6

Likewise, if you began eating in an open area (e.g. a park), then leave that area completely and go to another park, that is like going from house to house, which is a shinuy makom.7

No Set Place

The concept of shinuy makom is based on the idea that when a person eats, he usually remains in the same place until he is finished. But what happens if you are eating while traveling from one place to the next?

The answer is that when you are in transit, you can go from one place to another, even in and out of buildings, without saying a new bracha. Since you never established your eating session in any particular place, there can be no shinuy makom. Getting in and out of a car, entering a rest stop, or any other change of location along the way does not end the effectiveness of your bracha. As long as you started eating while traveling, the assumed intention is that you want to continue eating while traveling, and the rules of shinuy makom do not apply.8

As a computer technician, Rebecca was always in and out of clients' homes and offices. Whenever she said a bracha on the road, she knew that it remained effective, even though she was moving from place to place.

The rules of shinuy makom also do not apply if – just before leaving the house ("on your way out") – you said a bracha and began eating. Since you were planning to leave immediately, it is as if you began eating "on the road" without confining your eating to any particular place.9

Just before leaving the house, you grab a fruit, say Ha'aitz, and take a bite. When you get in the car, you can continue eating without saying a new bracha.

If, however, you begin eating at home and then decide you want to go elsewhere, then the regular rules of shinuy makom apply. In other words, if you can no longer see your original location, or you entered a public area, it is considered a shinuy makom. The fact that you are "becoming a traveler" doesn't make a difference, since the start of your eating session was established in a particular place.10

Furthermore, if you stop on the road for lunch at a restaurant, your bracha is only effective in the building where you're eating. The fact that you are in transit is irrelevant, since you sat down to eat in a specific place.11

Going Outside While Eating

We learned that changing places necessitates a new bracha because it signifies a break in your eating session. Therefore, the idea of shinuy makom applies only if you stopped eating before changing places, and then started eating again afterwards. If, however, there is food in your mouth while you are changing places, then the change of place is not considered a "break."

So if you walk outside with food already in your mouth, since there is no actual interruption, no new bracha needs to be said on that food.12 This is often the case with chewing gum or a sucking candy.

What about munching on an apple or crackers, eating continuously as you go from one place to the next?13 According to some authorities, any pause longer than 2-3 seconds between bites is considered a shinuy makom. Therefore, in such a situation it is best to clearly stop eating for a few moments, change places, and then say a new bracha.14

And one last point: These halachot only apply to continuous eating. Merely holding the food in your hand while going outside does not prevent a shinuy makom.15

Resolving a Doubt

Throughout this course, we've encountered various situations of doubt over the need to recite a new bracha – for example, in a case where you are uncertain whether the original bracha "covered" a second food, or even in a case where you forgot whether or not you said a bracha.

We offered some suggestions for resolving such a doubt. For example, you could listen to someone else say a bracha on the same type of food that you want to eat and answer "Amen" to his bracha.16

Another possible solution is to effect a shinuy makom – thereby mandating a new bracha, and resolving the doubt.17

This concludes class #29 on Hilchot Brachot. In the next lesson, we'll wrap up our discussion of shinuy makom.

  1. Mishnah Berurah 178:37; Halachos of Brochos, pg. 143, citing Rabbi S.Z. Auerbach and Rabbi Y.S. Elyashiv
  2. Orach Chaim 178:2, with Mishnah Berurah 39
  3. This means leaving your immediate area, a radius of 4 cubits (about 7 feet).
  4. Mishnah Berurah 178:38, 39, 42
  5. Mishnah Berurah 178:42
  6. Mishnah Berurah 178:42
  7. Mishnah Berurah 178:39
  8. Orach Chaim 178:4, with Mishnah Berurah 42 and Sha’ar Hatziyun 38; Magen Avraham (OC 178:11); Shulchan Aruch HaRav (OC 178:4)
  9. Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 2:57)
  10. Mishnah Berurah 178:42; Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 2:57)
  11. Mishnah Berurah 178:42
  12. Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 2:57)
  13. Principles of Hilchos Brachos by Rabbi Daniel Schloss, citing Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits
  14. Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 2:57)
  15. Mishnah Berurah 178:39
  16. Orach Chaim 213:2, with Mishnah Berurah 17
  17. Shu”t Igros Moshe (OC 4:40:1); Laws of Brachos, pg. 188

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