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Monday, April 07, 2014

Saying Hatov Vehameitiv at the Seder

Although the usual blessing made before drinking wine is Borei Pri Hagefen, in very specific circumstances one may make the blessing of Hatov Vehameitiv. The specific circumstances is worthy of an article of its own, however in a nutshell, when a second wine is brought out unexpectedly and is better than the first, and is to be shared by more than one participant then the beracha can be made. [Before putting this into practice please consult with a halachic authority, or study the sources].

Can this beracha be made at the Seder? The Tur (OC 473) quotes this question as being posed to the Maharam of Rothenberg (1215-1293), a German Scholar. His response was that whereas the beracha made is not Hagefen, therefore it will not appear as if he is adding on to the required four cups and it is permitted.

It is apparent that the Maharam was referring to additional cups of wine, drunk sometime in the middle of the Seder. Since we make Hagefen on each of the required four cups, as long as we don’t make Hagefen on any additional cups there is no cause for concern. The Rema, in his commentary to the Tur seems to concur with this ruling.

However the Maharil, quoted by the Ba’er Heitiv (OC 175:1) rules that one ‘should not make Hatov Vehameitiv on Seder night so as not to appear as if they are drinking additional [required] cups of wine’.

The Chida (Birkei Yosef) quoted by the Shaarei Teshuva (ibid) writes that many disagree with the Maharil, and rule that it is permitted to make Hatov Vehameitiv at the Seder.

The Chida goes on to write that in an instance where kiddush was recited over wine, and the wine was found to be inferior, one should certainly not refrain from sending for a better wine for the second cup. In this instance the Maharil would agree, since we are not discussing additional, non-required wine, this
is wine that is necessary for the second of the Four Cups.

The Mishnah Berura in Shaar Hatzion (175:3) agrees that there is no problem with upgrading, and necessitating a Hatov Vehameitiv, for one of the Four Cups. However, he then presents the following dilemma:

Ashkenazi custom is to make an additional blessing over each of the four cups, even though the second is close to the first, and the fourth to the third. According to the Shulchan Aruch, a blessing is only made on the first and third cups.

The reason to make a blessing on each cup is because each cup is an independent mitzvah, and a cup of wine used in the process of a mitzvah (e.g. Kiddush or Havdalah) require their own Hagefen.

Now, ordinarily, the circumstances that one makes Hatov Vehameitiv are, by definition, where one has already drunk wine, and does not make a second blessing. So the Mishnah Berura writes that in this specific case one would make Hagefen because of the mitzvah, and then Hatov Vehameitiv, for the upgraded quality of wine.

There is a minority opinion of the Bais Yehuda (53) that one may never make Hatov Vehameitiv on a Mitzvah required cup of wine, as this would be considered a physical benefit of the mitzvah. However, the Kaf Hachayim disagrees, and, based on our discussion until now, so would the Chida and the Mishnah Berura.

In conclusion, there seems to be a halachic preference to not drink additional cups of wine in the course of the meal that would require one to make Hatov Vehameitiv. [Even in this scenario the Mishnah Berura writes that it’s permitted, but should not be done ipso facto]. However, the vast majority of the poskim write that as one of the four cups it would be permitted, bringing about the very rare scenario of making both Hatov Vehameitiv and Hagefen on the same cup of wine.

Inspired by, and dedicated to, Uncle Ray

Posted on 04/07 at 10:12 AM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch HaberRabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber spent his childhood globetrotting with his family. His pioneering spirit first surfaced in Melbourne, Australia, where he was excited to be a member of the opening class of Mesivta Bnei Torah. From Australia the Haber family settled down in Monsey, NY. Ever the maverick, Tzvi promptly left home to study in Yeshiva Ohr Hameir in Peekskill, where he became a mainstay of the Yeshiva, and inspired his younger brothers as well as several friends from the Mesivta in Melbourne to follow him. He then joined his chaburah in Jerusalem, first at the Mir Yeshiva and then at the Bais Medrash of Rav Dovid Soloveitchik, a senior scion of the famed Brisk dynasty. As his globetrotting family returned to Jerusalem, Tzvi returned to the US, to freeze in the famed, yet comparatively chilled Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood.

 In 2004 he met his wife, Suzanne Schor, a native of the warmer Los Angeles climate, and the couple settled in Lakewood, where he focused his pioneering and independent strengths on the study of Halacha, or Jewish law. His innovative spirit and innate ability to help others seeking to clarify the finer points of Judaism and integrate them into their daily lives inspired his decision to commute daily from Lakewood to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in order to bask in the day to day exposure to the world renowned Posek, HaRav David Feinstein. The daily commute was more than compensated for when he received Semicha from Rav Feinstien and the Kollel L’Torah U’lhorah (a division of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem) in Tamuz 5768, June 2008.

In August 2009, the Habers moved west, heading toward Los Angeles where Rabbi Haber joined the LINK-LA Kollel. After being an active member of the Kollel for several years, he joined the business world, however he is still actively involved in teaching and learning in LA.

Actively involved in all aspects of TorahLab, Tzvi has taken upon himself a quasi-role as administrator of quality control and has effectively improved and upgraded many of the smaller yet vital details involved in our site. His advice is eagerly sought and gracefully given.

Rabbi Haber is now living in the La Brea section of Los Angeles with his wonderful family. He can be contacted at tzvi@torahlab.org