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  • Birkat Hamazon - Grace after the Meal

Birkat Hamazon


Rabbi Moshe Leib Halberstadt

Adar 23, 5770
My daughter asked me about what we say in birkat hamazon. She said" It is not true that Hashem מכין מזון לכל בריותיו with all the people starving in different places of the world. What do I answer her???
First of all praise her for saying Birkat Hamazon with Kavannah, for being a deep thinker and for asking such an excellent question. Add an aside that it is very important to ask in a manner of respect and humility, instead of saying it is not true. When not understanding something, one should say: I do not understand. In regard to the question itself, it is an excellent question that can actually be asked right at the beginning of Birkat Hamazon on "Hazan Et Haolam Kulo" and also on other sources which the Nusach of the first Brachah of Birkat Hamazon is actually based on. In Tehilim (136, 25) it says: "Noten Lechem Lechol Basar Ki Leolam Chasdo" (Who gives bread to all flesh, for His kindness endures forever). The Talmud Tractate Brachot (10a); states that the Holy One Blessed be He nourishes the whole world. In Tractate Avodah Zarah (3b) it is stated that the Holy One Blessed be He sits and nourishes the whole world from Oryx’s horns to nits. How can we say that Hashem gives bread to all flesh and nourishes the world, when there are people dying of hunger around the world? The answer to this is that we are saying that Hashem prepared in the creation all kinds of food suitable to all the creatures, and all the creatures who receive their food, receive it from the hands of Hashem. As the Radak explains on the Pasuk in Tehilim "Noten Lechem Lechol Basar” (Who gives bread to all flesh) it is a great kindness from Him to the creatures, that He makes every single creature and creature find its suitable food. Nevertheless we are not saying that every one of Hashem’s creatures will always receive its food in every case and every situation. Hashem created a world where there is hunger and poverty and we are unable to understand it in many cases as it says “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 55, 8). But despite our lack of understanding, Hashem rules this world with absolute justice as it says “The Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice; a God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is He” (Deuteronomy 32, 4). The Chafetz Chaim used to interpret the verse “The ordinances of the LORD are true, they are righteous altogether”. Only when they are together are they righteous. In other words, only when we will know what was with a person before he was created and what will be afterwards, can we understand why they are righteous, but not in any other way (Chafetz Chaim on the Torah, Deuteronomy 32, 4). It is also important to note that Birkat Hamazon is from the Torah, and that the first Brachah was instituted by Moshe Rabbeinu (Brachot 48b), and despite the differences in the Nusach of the Brachah among the various communities, the basic idea that it is based on, is the same by all, that the Holy One Blessed be He nourishes the whole world with his kindness.
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