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

36. Time and Space

November 19, 2015 | by Rabbi Shraga Simmons, Rabbi Chaim Gross

An after-bracha is subject to restrictions of when and where.

We learned in class #26 that if you eat continuously (with no hesech hada'at in between), no new bracha rishona is required. It follows, therefore, that one bracha achrona will also cover the entire eating session.

Mike began his marathon 6-hour work session by eating pretzels and drinking water. He continued nibbling throughout with no hesech hada'at. When Mike finally turns off the computer to leave, he will say Al Ha'michya and Borei Nefashot.

But it's not always so simple. In this class, we'll discuss the important rules regarding the limitations of time and location in saying a bracha achrona.

Time Limit

You may recite an after-bracha as long as you still feel the effect of the food or drink in your stomach; i.e., you have not yet become hungry again since eating the food. (In halacha, this is a specific point in the digestion process called z'man ikul.) After eating a big meal, this effect can last for hours.1

Regarding drinks, the moment you no longer feel the effect of the drink (i.e., you are thirsty again, which can occur rather quickly on a hot day), the after-bracha has been "lost" and you may not recite it until a new revi'it is drunk. That's why it is important to say the bracha achrona as soon as you finish drinking, even if you might decide to drink again later.2

But what if you got caught up with other things and you didn't say a bracha achrona right away? Here the halacha differentiates based on whether you had a snack or a heavier meal:

(1) A Small "Snack"

If you ate a fairly light snack – whether of bread or other foods – the amount of time you have to say a bracha achrona depends on when you ate your last bite of food:3

  • Within 30 minutes of finishing, you can say a bracha achrona.

  • Within 30-72 minutes – If your snack involved only non-bread foods, then you should eat another food requiring a different bracha rishona but the same bracha achrona – and have the first food in mind when saying the bracha achrona.4

Mike ate an apple, and an hour later realized that he forgot to say a bracha achrona. Mike should now get some other food requiring the after-bracha of Borei Nefashot (e.g. lemonade), say Shehakol, drink it – and say Borei Nefashot with the apple also in mind.

If, for some reason, this option is not available, you can still say a bracha achrona for up to 72 minutes after the last bite.

  • After 72 minutes – time is up and you have lost the chance to fulfill this important mitzvah.5

(2) A Large "Meal"

The above rules apply to a lighter snack. However, if you ate a large quantity of food – i.e. to the point of satiation – then the rules are as follows:

  • Within 72 minutes of finishing the last bite, you can still say a bracha achrona.

  • After 72 minutes, many people mistakenly believe that the time has automatically passed. In truth, it depends on whether you are now hungry or still feel satiated:

    1. If you still feel satiated, you should preferably eat another kezayit of the food that requires the bracha achrona in question (assuming that your bracha rishona is still valid, as discussed in class #26). For example, if you finished eating a bread meal more than 72 minutes ago, you should eat another kezayit of bread (without saying Hamotzee) and then bentch.

      If for some reason you cannot eat more food that requires the same bracha achrona, you can still say the bracha achrona – providing that you feel satiated.

    2. If you now feel hungry, even only slightly hungry, then time is up and you have missed the chance to say a bracha achrona.6

Mike finished eating supper at 7:00 p.m. and feels full. At 9:00 p.m. he feels somewhat hungry again. The z'man ikul in this case is two hours, and after that time Mike can no longer say his bracha achrona.


Now let's discuss an important, related topic. In classes #29-30, we explained how shinuy makom (a change of location) affects your bracha rishona. We will now discuss how a change of location affects your bracha achrona.

First of all, it is always preferable to say a bracha achrona before leaving the place where you ate. This is important because when the food and the dirty dishes are in front of you, your mind is on the meal and its accompanying bracha achrona. But once you leave, it is easy to forget... and before you know it, the time limit has passed.7

Even if you plan to remain in the same place, it is a good habit to say the bracha achrona immediately after eating, before becoming involved in other activities.8

As background to this discussion, we need to know how "original location" is defined. Here is a summary of the principles we learned in class #29:

  • Moving from one side of a room to another (even to a distant corner) does not constitute a shinuy makom.9
  • Moving in or out of a building is a shinuy makom.10
  • An outdoor area that is enclosed (e.g. by a fence) is considered as one room, and moving within such an area does not constitute a shinuy makom.11
  • An open outdoor area (i.e. unfenced) is not a shinuy makom as long as your original location is still visible.12

As we said, it's always best to say your bracha achrona before leaving the place where you ate. But let's discuss what happens if you did change locations:

You popped out to a café for a mid-morning snack of orange juice and banana cake. You are now obligated to say Al Ha'michya (for the cake) and Borei Nefashot (for the juice). However, you rushed back to the office for a meeting without saying any after-brachot.

The ruling for Al Ha'michya differs from the ruling for Borei Nefashot:

  • Borei Nefashot does not need to be recited in the same location as your original bracha rishona. However, remember that by being in a rush, you are in danger of forgetting to say it altogether. So it's always best to say it right away at the café – even if it means getting to the meeting five seconds later.13

As a general rule, you should never leave without saying a bracha achrona.14 Exceptions to this are:

  • leaving for only a moment, in which case you won't forget to return15
  • leaving for the sake of a mitzvah – e.g. to go to synagogue for the afternoon service, Mincha16

Al Ha'michya and Birkat Hamazon are a whole different story. In class #30 regarding the laws of shinuy makom, we learned that Birkat Hamazon and the Three-Faceted Blessing (Al Ha'michya, Al Ha'gefe or Al Ha'aitz) must be recited in the location where you ate your meal.17 Even if you left that spot, you are obligated to go back and say the bracha achrona in the location where you ate.18

So in the case of the café where you ate banana cake, no matter how big a rush you are in, you need to say Al Ha'michya before leaving the café.

If You Mistakenly Left

What happens in the event that you did not say Al Ha'michya (or Birkat Hamazon, as the case may be) at the café and now you're already back in the office?

  1. Best option: You should eat some mezonot (without saying a new bracha rishona) in your new location (the office). It is sufficient to eat less than a kezayit. Then say Al Ha'michy.19
  2. Next best: If you don't have any mezonot (or bread, as the case may require), then you should return to the café to say the proper bracha achrona.20 This assumes, of course, that the time limit (e.g. 72 minutes) will not meanwhile pass.
  3. Least acceptable option: Say the bracha achrona at the office.21

The above rules apply to Birkat Hamazon and Al Ha'michya. The halacha is a bit more lenient with regard to Al Ha'aitz and Al Ha'gefen, the bracha achrona if you had dates or wine at the café. In this case, if you mistakenly left, you can go ahead and say a bracha achrona at the office without eating any more fruit or drinking wine.22

Predicting the Change

For those who are always rushing from one place to another, there is a more elegant solution. We learned previously that when saying Hamotzee, if you originally intend to finish your meal in a different location, then as long as you have some bread (even less than a kezayit) in the second location, it's 100% fine to bentch there.23 For example:

In the morning you are in a rush to catch the train. You'd like to eat a bagel, but you won't possibly have enough time to eat and bentch. So when saying Hamotzee, simply have in mind to finish your bagel on the train and say Birkat Hamazon there.

This "stipulation" only works with bread, but not any other foods. 

One final halacha: If you are eating outside, you need to bentch within 4 cubits (approximately 7 feet) of where you ate.24 So if you were eating on a park bench, before you wander off for a walk,bentch on the bench!

This concludes class #36. In the next class, we will conclude the laws of bracha achrona.

  1. Orach Chaim 184:5
  2. Principles of Hilchos Brachos by Rabbi Daniel Schloss
  3. Mishnah Berurah 184:18
  4. If your snack involved bread, you should eat another kezayit of bread (within kiday achilat pras) and then bentch.
  5. Mishnah Berurah 184:20, 190:8; Kaf HaChaim (OC 184:29)
  6. Aruch HaShulchan (OC 184:8); Kaf HaChaim (OC 184:28, 29)
  7. Orach Chaim 178:2
  8. Chayei Adam 59:1
  9. Mishnah Berurah 184:1. If it is not possible to be in the same room, it is still considered “one location” as long as you can see into the room.
  10. Orach Chaim 178:1
  11. Mishnah Berurah 178:37; Halachos of Brochos, pg. 143 in the names of Rabbi S.Z. Auerbach and Rabbi Y.S. Eliyashiv
  12. Mishnah Berurah 178:38, 39, 42
  13. Orach Chaim 178:2, with Mishnah Berurah 36
  14. Mishnah Berurah – intro to 178
  15. Mishnah Berurah 178:34
  16. Rema – Orach Chaim 178:2
  17. Orach Chaim 178:5
  18. Orach Chaim 184:1
  19. Orach Chaim 184:2, with Mishnah Berurah 8, 9
  20. Orach Chaim 184:1, with Mishnah Berurah 7
  21. Mishnah Berurah 184:7
  22. Orach Chaim 178:5, with Mishnah Berurah 45; Chayei Adam 50:24. There is one additional stringency with Birkat Hamazon and Al Ha’michya (that does not apply to Al Ha’aitz or Al Ha’gefen): If you intentionally left the original location without saying the bracha achrona (Birkat Hamazon or Al Ha’michya), then you must eat some additional bread (or mezonot, as the case may be) in the second location. If you don’t, then you must return to the original location to say the bracha achrona (Orach Chaim 184:1 with Mishnah Berurah 3, 7, 8, 9). If you intentionally left the first location without reciting Birkat Hamazon (or Al Ha’michya, as the case may be), and you said it at the new location, then “after the fact” you have fulfilled your obligation (see Mishnah Berurah 184:5).
  23. Mishnah Berurah 184:9
  24. Mishnah Berurah 184:2


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