by R. Daniel Mann
Question: When I am home for extended periods, I take snacks and drinks on no particular schedule, and I move from room to room and floor to floor. A similar situation exists at work, where I am based in one office but also go to other rooms. Should I make berachot each time I eat or drink?
Answer: The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 273) deals with an apparent contradiction between the Bavli and Yerushalmi regarding making Kiddush in one place and eating in another. The Yerushalmi says that if this was his original intention, the Kiddush is valid, whereas the according to the Bavli, it is invalid. Rabbeinu Nissim (see Rosh, Pesachim 10:5) says that there is no machloket, as it depends on location. Under one roof, even in separate rooms and separate floors, intention to go from one to another connects the locations, whereas it does not help for different houses or from indoors to outdoors. The Ran says that there is a machloket, and we accept the Bavli that intention does not waive the requirement to eat in the room where he made Kiddush.
The Rama accepts Rabbeinu Nissim (OC 273:1) and, based on that, rules that one can make a beracha in one room or floor with the intention to exempt food he ate in a different one (OC 178:1). If you regularly move around the house, that counts as your standard intention (see Mishna Berura 206:20). If you normally eat in those other places, you do not need a new beracha if under the same roof (ibid.). If you usually eat only in one room and did not intend otherwise, you would need another beracha to eat in a different room not visible from the first (see Mishna Berura 178:12). However, going normally to other rooms does not obligate you in a new beracha upon return (Mishna Berura 178:3).
Although the Shulchan Aruch is non-committal about Rabbeinu Nissim regarding Kiddush (OC 273:1) and is silent on the matter in OC 178:1, the above seems true for Sephardim. Yalkut Yosef (OC 273:5) relies on Rabbeinu Nissim b’di’eved regarding Kiddush and rules like the Rama in OC 273:1 (ibid. 178:9), as the Shulchan Aruch (OC 178:3) implies.
After seeing the beracha can extend, we should consider how to best time the berachot. We wrote about berachot strategy during sporadic drinking during a hike in Living the Halachic Process (II, B-4) and will summarize what we need to know to get started here. There are a couple of halachic doubts regarding breaks in drinking: If one does not continue before becoming thirsty again, does the beracha rishona’s efficacy cease? After how long should we assume one becomes thirsty? Should one make a beracha acharona when he finishes a round of drinking and the next round is not far away, and how does that affect the beracha rishona?
Regarding a hike, we distinguished between “frequent sippers” and “occasional gulpers.” Frequent sippers should make one beracha in the beginning and one beracha acharona at the end (if they drank a revi’it in one shot at some point). Occasional gulpers are to make a set of berachot for each drinking.
While indoors without exertion, one is likely to eat and/or drink less frequently, but on the other hand, he will probably not get as hungry/thirsty as quickly, which “extends the life” of the beracha rishona and allows one to wait for the beracha acharona. Assuming people will not eat or drink very often, the standard practice should be to make a set of berachot for each “unit” of eating and drinking. Despite this, one should train himself to expect to move around before finishing each food session and not make additional berachot necessary. Regarding cups of tea, coffee, or water, it is halachically preferable to drink a revi’it at one point so that he can make a beracha acharona at the end of a cup and thereby also solve any beracha rishona questions as well. If that does not suit his needs, it is usually best (except for “chain drinkers”) to have in mind that the beracha is effective for just one cup and then (plan to) not take another cup until at least a couple dozen of minutes pass, so that a new beracha is appropriate then.