Honour and Respect

I sent out an email to my JewCrew this morning, asking for opinions. This was the text of my email:

“I wanted to know your opinion. halacha based or not. over chag we were blessed for the first time to have a mezuman in our house. KoD was here, and I now have two barmitzvah boys. My eldest son led the mezuman the first day. He said as follows “Birshut Baal HaBayit HaZeh, ve Imi Morati baalat habayit hazeh nevarech…..”

Was he right? Should he not have said “Imi Morati baalat habayit hazeh ve’et Baalah, Baal Habayit HaZeh”? I know it may seem to be just semantics. But it was obvious he wanted to include BOTH of us.

what are your thoughts? what is the etiquette here? Is there a halachic name for a step father?”

I received some varied yet interesting responses. I refer to all by initials.

DG “OK, my Hebrew and Jewish knowledge is far from complete, but I’m assuming you are referring to the part of Birkat where one says thanks to one’s host — one way if this is your parent’s home, etc., etc., etc.

As highly as the kids think of KoD, I’m not sure Prince Number 1 is correct.  It seems this is a blessing for his father.  At the same time, there ought to be a way to express gratitude for a step parent, and this is hardly a BAD way to do so.”

HF “In my humble opinion, this is so far removed from a “real” halachik issue that he should do whatever honors you and KoD the most!”

HSM (me) “David – I was specifically talking about the beginning of the birkat hamazon – but my question I guess does include this section too. In the mezuman – you do not have to specify baal habayit etc, but my son chose to. if he chooses to do this, i want him to do it correctly.”

TH “If I understand correctly, you’re talking about when leading the benching. Technically he doesn’t need your permission because you wouldn’t lead the benching in the presence of 3 males (sorry) so just KoD’s whom he had included in baal habayis already. That being said, there is no issue with adding whomever you want. We always included my mother for the heck of it. My brother adds his wife in.”

NR “Birshut literally means “with the permission of,” and references the one who should be leading, but deferred to you…

To distinguish between those who have deferred to me, and those females who I want to honor, I have used the language “Birshut (Male who should be leading), uvichvod (other female in the room who is honored and noteworthy)…”

There is not prohibition involved here, and therefore no “wrong” so much as consistent and inconsistent with the meaning of the words…”

YM “I don’t have any knowledge to add, but I appreciate the inclusion in an interesting discussion! My husband and i disagree as to whether I should include my father (who is a non-Jew) in that section because there is some halacha about blessing non-Jews (not sure if that’s in regards to birkat hamazon or in general) but I continue to do so as he is my father, my teacher, and one of the main reasons I am who I am today physically, spiritually, etc. At least until I have a psak saying otherwise of course.”

HSM “ok so in the zimun he doesnt have to include me….but what about the harachaman? what would be the correct terminology for my sons to use? “

SH “OK, so as I understand you try to ask following questions:

1) correct ‘naming’ of KoD in zimun – this is a very specific topic,
but ‘baal a-bait a-ze’ is definitely correct usage. He is the head of
the house and regardless of how related you to him he is still baal

2) order of including you and KoD – KoD definitely goes first as
someone else said earlier that it’s male part of job to do zimun.”

TH “Baal habayit will do the job there as well, although I presume you’re looking for something more personal.”

HSM “but the thing is, he is their step dad, not just any baal habayit. is there no terminology that can be used here that denotes that?”

DB “I don’t think there’s a wrong answer so long as everyone present is satisfied.

If you don’t like “ball habayit hazeh” your son could reference KOD by
however “stepfather” is said in Hebrew and that would also be
perfectly fine.”

EF “There is no “right” or “wrong” answer.

He could say whatever he wants, or whatever you want or whatever KoD wants.

It’s pretty much freestyle for these types of things.”

MR “I completely agree – there is no “wrong” here.  In fact, in my opinion, the need to honor parents/stepparents/rabbis/etc would overcome any “procedural” objection in any case.

When I lead the zimun, I almost always try to include everyone one way or another.  At my parents house it would be “birshut avi mori, veimi morati, ve kol hamesubin …”.  As a guest, if might be “bershut baal habayit vebaalat habayit, ve kol hamesubin …”. Some people add (perhaps incorrectly) “bershut … hakohen/hakohanim/helevi/heleviim …”. Another more sticky issue is how do you directly include someone important who is NOT the baal habayit and not a parent, can you use a name?  I think yes, no reason why not.  How do you say stepfather in nice Hebrew?  Maybe “bershut …. ve-KoD my stepfather ….”?

As far as the brachot in the harachaman, I err on inclusivity and will include everyone, and their family, etc there.  It’s all mumbled anyway :) and an extra bracha can never hurt.  Finally, some people, like my BIL don’t even do the harachamans at all, he and his family stops at the end of the final bracha by “al yechasrenu”.”

MY “Agree with EF, not that he needs my approval

My own history: when I turned 13 my Rabbi taught me to say Balat Hasyis as well

My father died and my mom remarried I said: Bershut HaChohen Baal Habayis hazeh vEs Ishto Imi Morati Balat Habayis Hazeh

For my Father-in-law  I say Avi Mori

I think one needs to ask permission from those who could bench in front of them: Cohen, Rabbi, Father, Head of the house.

not halachic but one should or can or may  ask from who ever would be insulted, and if insult is what is being targeted one should say what the other person wants to be called

PS the insulted party should not be so thin skinned

Good luck”

KB “In general I stay away from adding anything unless I am 100% sure of why or who I am adding, usually only if a Rav is present.

So in other words, not adding anything is perfectly acceptable because you do not create potential issues.

For those who say the men are only important, while that may be correct halachically, it is pigheaded to most women who understand what you are saying.

Kids need to learn something though, simplicity is best. Embellishments are the trappings of haughty cultures, even if you were the king, one is not on the level of Hashem and thus to ask anyone’s specific permission(when usually you have been asked already) is just being a bit over the top to me. “

RG “The best way to honor is to include everyone…“

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  1. You should cont to have nachas from your bar mitzvah boys and the 11 yr old talmid hashavuah

    • hadassahsabo says:

      thank you so much!! you missed one, tho, the little yummy who is 7.5…..and totally delicious. I am blessed beyond belief. BH

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