Birkat Hamazon 11

  • 50 minutes
  • Grades: 7-8
  • Lesson Plan

In this lesson students will explore Birkat Hamazon in the context of Jewish ritual and law by studying the Kitzur Shulhan Arukh (in Hebrew or in English). Students will learn about the laws and customs of this liturgy and compare customs from different Jewish communities.

Lesson objectives

The student will be able to:

  1. Describe the laws and rituals surrounding Netilat Yadayim.
  2. Describe the laws and rituals surrounding Hamotzi.
  3. Describe the laws and rituals surrounding preparation for Birkat Hamazon.
  4. Describe the laws and rituals surrounding Birkat Hamazon itself.
  5. Describe the laws and rituals surrounding Zimmun.
  6. Describe the laws and rituals surrounding special additions to Birkat Hamazon.
  7. Identify different versions of Birkat Hamazon.


  1. Navigate the Kitzur Shulhan Arukh.
  2. Read a section in the Kitzur Shulhan Arukh with understanding.


The student will be able to appreciate different groups and their customs.

Resources & Equipment needed

  • Worksheets
  • Copy of the Kitzur Shulhan Arukh for each student or relevant photocopied pages


  1. Trigger: Bring a slice of bread into class. Brainstorm with the class the different halakhot that pertain to this slice of bread. (Suggestions: Netilat Yadayim, Hamotzi, etc.) Explain the aims of the class (above).
  2. Set up six Batei Din (Jewish courts), each with one appointed area of research. The areas will be: a) Ritual washing of hands before eating (Netilat Yadayim); b) Blessing of bread (Hamotzi); c) Preparation for Birkat Hamazon; d) Birkat Hamazon; e) Zimmun; f) Special additions to Birkat Hamazon. Give each Beit Din a sheet of question that they will have to research by using the Kitzur Shulhan Arukh. The text can be studied in Hebrew or English depending on the abilities of the students. Each group should work quietly together, so no other group overhears the other.
  3. Upon completion of the worksheets, the Bet Din must think of halakhic questions for the other Batei Din to answer. The Bet Din that manages to answer the most halakhic questions is the winner.
  4. Conclude.
  5. Extra Classwork and Homework: If there is extra time in class, provide students with different texts of Birkat Hamazon (e.g., Ashkenazi, Sepharad, Nusach Ari, Eidot HaMizrach, Yemenite), and tell them to compare versions. What are the major differences? Can they think about how and why these differences came about?