“You will eat and you will be satisfied, and bless HASHEM, your God, for the good Land that He gave you.” — Devarim/Deuteronomy 8:10
Mazon, “A Jewish Response to Hunger,” offers educational resources regarding food and hunger.
Our Rabbis taught: Where is the saying of grace intimated in the Torah? In the verse, And thou shalt eat and be satisfied and bless. (B. Berakhot 48b)
Birkat hamazon, grace after meals, or — more literally — “food blessing,” is discussed a great deal in the Talmud tractate Berakhot. A nice explanation of its components, as well as links to further study, can be found at Wikipedia, and a Reconstructionist Federation meditation on being satisfied is below.
The Union for Reform Judaism provides print and audio for the Shabbat versions of grace after meals. Kolot, the Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies, offers both feminine and masculine versions — in print and audio — of the related blessings BEFORE meals, also in the context of Shabbat (this is the archive site; it’s not longer on the active RRC site).
Inviting others to recite grace after meals — zimmun (or zimun) — is presented with different formulations for calling three, ten, 100, 1000, or 10,000 to bless (B. Berakhot 49b).
Women’s obligation in birkat hamazon is discussed in the same tractate, pages 20a and 20b, 45a and 45b.
Kavana for Birkat Hamazon
This was originally available on the Reconstructionist Federation’s site. It can still be found in the WayBack Machine and is shared here for convenience:
Kavana (Intention) for Birkat Hamazon (Blessing After Meal)
Ilana Streit | 03/05/2007
Mah sh’achalnu, yih’yeh l’savah
May our experience of eating and being satisfied, help liberate the world from the illusion that resources are scarce and that we have to hoard.
U’mah she’shatinu, yih’yeh lirfuah
And may what we drank, help us to be fluid and flexible, and to heal.
U’mah she’hotarnu, yih’yeh livracha
And may what we have left behind — leftovers at this meal (because we knew that we didn’t have to eat food, simply because it was in front of us), the words that we have exchanged, the ideas we’ve shared, the openness and intimacy we’ve created — and also that which we leave behind in our lives, the ways that we clear space for the divine to manifest — may all of this be for blessing.
And may we see how blessed we are, and may we have the clarify of vision to bless it.
Note: This is a commentary on a few lines of text at the end of birkat ha’mazon in the Kol Haneshamah bensher (blessing book). The text is part of the traditional Sephardic benching.