Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 191

Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 191 (Modified)

פועלים העושים מלאכה אצל בעל הבית מקצרין בברכת המזון כדי שלא לבטל מלאכת בעל הבית כיצד ברכה ראשונה כתקנה ושניה פותח בברכת הארץ וכולל בה בונה ירושלים וחותם בברכת הארץ ואין אומרים ברכת הטוב והמטיב כלל במה דברים אמורים כשנוטלים שכר על מלאכתן מלבד הסעודה אבל אם אין נוטלים שכר אלא הסעודה שאוכלים לבד מברכין כל ד' ברכות כתקנן וכן אם בעל הבית מיסב עמהם אף על פי שנוטלים שכר מלבד הסעודה מברכין כל ד' ברכות:

Laborers, who are engaged with work at an employer, should abbreviate the Grace After Meals (Birkat Hamazon in Hebrew) in order not to waste the work time of the employer…

In what situations does the previous ruling (about abbreviating the Grace) apply? In a situation where they get paid for their work above and beyond the meal itself. However, if they only get paid with the meal itself that they eat, then they should recite the full 4 blessings of the Grace After Meals as they were arranged (i.e., in full). Furthermore, if the employer eats with them, then even if they do get paid beyond the meal itself, they should recite the full 4 blessings.

Source: English Translation by Jon Levisohn. Hebrew text from Interpretation found in Rabbi Jill Jacobs’ “Jewish Employee-Employer Relations.”

Discussion Questions for Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 191

  1. In your own words, what is this text saying? What is the primary point of this text?
  2. What does this text teach us about the responsibilities of workers and employers?
  3. If you were a worker during this time, how might you interpret this text? How could this text support the mission of joining a union to fight for better wages and working conditions?
  4. If you were a factory owner during this time, how might you interpret this text? How could this text support the decision to keep a union out of your factory?
  5. Now prepare a short presentation for the other groups in which you will share your text and then discuss:
    1. Does this text seem to favor the perspective of the worker or the factory owner, or is it neutral? What makes you say that?
    2. After you discuss, ask if any of the other groups have a different interpretation of your text that they would like to share.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 191." (Viewed on April 24, 2024) <>.