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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Berakoth
MISHNAH. WHAT BLESSINGS ARE SAID OVER FRUIT? OVER FRUIT OF THE TREE ONE SAYS, WHO CREATEST THE FRUIT OF THE TREE, EXCEPT FOR WINE, OVER WHICH ONE SAYS, WHO CREATEST THE FRUIT OF THE VINE. OVER THAT WHICH GROWS FROM THE GROUND ONE SAYS: WHO CREATEST THE FRUIT OF THE GROUND, EXCEPT OVER BREAD, FOR WHICH ONE SAYS, WHO BRINGEST FORTH BREAD FROM THE EARTH. OVER VEGETABLES ONE SAYS, WHO CREATEST THE FRUIT OF THE GROUND; R. JUDAH, HOWEVER, SAYS: WHO CREATEST DIVERS KINDS OF HERBS.
GEMARA. Whence is this derived?1 — As our Rabbis have taught: The fruit thereof shall be holy, for giving praise unto the Lord.2 This3 teaches that they require a blessing both before and after partaking of them. On the strength of this R. Akiba said: A man is forbidden to taste anything before saying a blessing over it.
But is this the lesson to be learnt from these words 'Holy for giving praise'? Surely they are required for these two lessons: first, to teach that the All-Merciful has declared: Redeem it4 and then eat it, and secondly, that a thing which requires a song of praise requires redemption,5 but one that does not require a song of praise does not require redemption,6 as has been taught by R. Samuel b. Nahmani in the name of R. Jonathan. For R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: Whence do we know that a song of praise is sung only over wine?7 Because it says, And the vine said unto them: Should I leave my wine which cheereth God and man?8 If it cheers man, how does it cheer God? From this we learn that a song of praise is sung only over wine.
Now this reasoning9 is valid for him who teaches 'The planting of the fourth year'.10 But for him who teaches 'The vineyard of the fourth year', what can be said? For it has been stated: R. Hiyya and R. Simeon the son of Rabbi [taught differently]. One taught, 'Vineyard of the fourth year', the other taught, 'Planting of the fourth year'. — For him who teaches 'Vineyard of the fourth year' also there is no difficulty if he avails himself of a gezerah shawah.11 For it has been taught: Rabbi says: It says there, that it may yield unto you more richly the increase thereof,12 and it says in another place, the increase of the vineyard.13 Just as in the latter passage 'increase' refers to the vineyard, so here it refers to the vineyard. Thus one hillul is left over to indicate that a blessing is required. But if he does not avail himself of a gezerah shawah, how can he derive this lesson? And even if he does avail himself of a gezerah shawah, while we are satisfied that a blessing is required after it,14 whence do we learn that it is required [before partaking]? — This is no difficulty. We derive it by argument a fortiori: If he says a blessing when he is full, how much more so ought he to do so when he is hungry?15
We have found a proof for the case of [the produce of the vineyard]: whence do we find [that a benediction is required] for other species?16 It can be learnt from the vineyard. Just as the vineyard being something that is enjoyed requires a blessing, so everything that is enjoyed requires a blessing. But this may be refuted: How can we learn from a vineyard, seeing that it is subject to the obligation of the gleanings?17 — We may cite the instance of corn.18 How can you cite the instance of corn, seeing that it is subject to the obligation of hallah?19 — We may then cite the instance of the vineyard, and the argument goes round in a circle: The distinguishing feature of the first instance is not like that of the second, and vice versa. The feature common to both is that being things which are enjoyed they require a blessing; similarly everything which is enjoyed requires a blessing. But this [argument from a] common feature [is not conclusive], because there is with them20 the common feature that they are offered on the altar!21 We may then adduce also the olive from the fact that it is offered on the altar. But is [the blessing over] the olive derived from the fact that it is offered on the altar? It is explicitly designated kerem,22 as it is written, And he burnt up the shocks and the standing corn and also the olive yards [kerem]?23 — R. Papa replied: It is called an olive kerem but not kerem simply. Still the difficulty remains: How can you learn [other products] from the argument of a common factor, seeing that [wine and corn] have the common feature of being offered on the altar? — Rather it is learnt from the seven species.24 Just as the seven species are something which being enjoyed requires a blessing,25 so everything which is enjoyed requires a blessing. How can you argue from the seven species. seeing that they are subject to the obligation of first-fruits? And besides, granted that we learn from them that a blessing is to be said after partaking, how do we know it is to be said before? — This is no difficulty, being learnt a fortiori: If he says a blessing when he is full, how much more should he do so when he is hungry? Now as for the one who reads 'planting of the fourth year', we may grant he has proved his point with regard to anything planted. But whence does he derive it in regard to things that are not planted, such as meat, eggs and fish? — The fact is that it is a reasonable supposition that it is forbidden to a man to enjoy anything of this world without saying a blessing.26
Our Rabbis have taught: It is forbidden to a man to enjoy anything of this world without a benediction, and if anyone enjoys anything of this world without a benediction, he commits sacrilege.27 What is his remedy? He should consult a wise man. What will the wise man do for him? He has already committed the offence! — Said Raba: What it means is that he should consult a wise man beforehand, so that he should teach him blessings and he should not commit sacrilege. Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: To enjoy anything of this world without a benediction is like making personal use of things consecrated to heaven, since it says. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness there of.28 R. Levi contrasted two texts. It is written, 'The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof', and it is also written, The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth hath He given to the children of men!29 There is no contradiction: in the one case it is before a blessing has been said
in the other case after. R. Hanina b. Papa said: To enjoy this world without a benediction is like robbing the Holy One, blessed be He, and the community of Israel, as it says. Whoso robbeth his father or his mother and saith, It is no transgression, the same is the companion of a destroyer;1 and 'father' is none other but the Holy One, blessed be He, as it says. Is not He thy father that hath gotten thee;2 and 'mother' is none other than the community of Israel, as it says, Hear, my son, the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the teaching of thy mother.3 What is the meaning of 'he is the companion of a destroyer'? — R. Hanina b. Papa answered: He is the companion of Jeroboam son of Nebat who destroyed Israel's [faith in] their Father in heaven.4
R. Hanina b. Papa pointed out a contradiction. It is written, Therefore will I take back My corn in the time thereof, etc.,5 and it is elsewhere written, And thou shalt gather in thy corn, etc.!6 There is no difficulty: the one text speaks of where Israel do the will of the Omnipresent, the other of where they do not perform the will of the Omnipresent.7
Our Rabbis taught: And thou shalt gather in thy corn.6 What is to be learnt from these words? Since it says, This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth,8 I might think that this injunction is to be taken literally. Therefore it says, 'And thou shalt gather in thy corn', which implies that you are to combine the study of them9 with a worldly occupation. This is the view of R. Ishmael. R. Simeon b. Yohai says: Is that possible? If a man ploughs in the ploughing season, and sows in the sowing season, and reaps in the reaping season, and threshes in the threshing season, and winnows in the season of wind, what is to become of the Torah? No; but when Israel perform the will of the Omnipresent, their work is performed by others, as it says. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks. etc.,10 and when Israel do not perform the will of the Omnipresent their work is carried out by themselves, as it says, And thou shalt gather in thy corn.11 Nor is this all, but the work of others also is done by them, as it says. And thou shalt serve thine enemy etc.12 Said Abaye: Many have followed the advice of Ishmael, and it has worked well; others have followed R. Simeon b. Yohai and it has not been successful. Raba said to the Rabbis: I would ask you not to appear before me during Nisan and Tishri13 so that you may not be anxious about your food supply during the rest of the year.
Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan, reporting R. Judah b. Ila'i: See what a difference there is between the earlier and the later generations. The earlier generations made the study of the Torah their main concern and their ordinary work subsidiary to it, and both prospered in their hands. The later generations made their ordinary work their main concern and their study of the Torah subsidiary, and neither prospered in their hands.
Rabbah b. Bar Hanah further said in the name of R. Johanan reporting R. Judah b. Ila'i: Observe the difference between the earlier and the later generations. The earlier generations used to bring in their produce by way of the kitchen-garden14 purposely in order to make it liable to tithe, whereas the later generations bring in their produce by way of roofs or courtyards or enclosures in order to make it exempt from tithe. For R. Jannai has said: Untithed produce is not subject to tithing15 until it has come within sight of the house, since it says. I have put away the hallowed things out of my house.16 R. Johanan, however, says that even [sight of] a courtyard imposes the obligation, as it says, That they may eat within thy gates and be satisfied.17
EXCEPT OVER WINE. Why is a difference made for wine? Shall I say that because [the raw material of] it is improved18 therefore the blessing is different? But in the case of oil also [the raw material of] it is improved, yet the blessing is not different, as Rab Judah has laid down in the name of Samuel, and so R. Isaac stated in the name of R. Johanan, that the blessing said over olive oil is 'that createst the fruit of the tree'?19 — The answer given is that in the case of oil it is not possible to change the blessing. For what shall we say? Shall we say, 'That createst the fruit of the olive'? The fruit itself is called olive!20 But we can say over it, 'That createst the fruit of the olive tree'? — Rather [the real reason is], said Mar Zutra, that wine has food value but oil has no food value. But has oil no food value? Have we not learnt: One who takes a vow to abstain from food is allowed to partake of water and salt,21 and we argued from this as follows: 'Water and salt alone are not called food, but all other stuffs are called food? May we not say that this is a refutation of Rab and Samuel, who say that the blessing "who createst various kinds of food" is said only over the five species [of cereals]?'22 and R. Huna solved the problem by saying that [the Mishnah] refers to one who says, 'I vow to abstain from anything that feeds'; which shows that oil has food value?23 — Rather [say the reason is that] wine sustains24 and oil does not sustain. But does wine sustain? Did not Raba use to drink wine on the eve of the Passover in order that he might get an appetite and eat much unleavened bread? — A large quantity gives an appetite, a small quantity sustains. But does it in fact give any sustenance? Is it not written, And wine that maketh glad the heart of man … and bread that stayeth man's heart,25 which shows that it is bread which sustains, not wine? — The fact is that wine does both, it sustains and makes glad, whereas bread sustains but does not cheer. If that is the case, let us say three blessings after it?26 — People do not make it the basis of the meal. R. Nahman b. Isaac asked Raba: Suppose a man makes it the basis of his meal. what then? — He replied: When Elijah comes he will tell us whether it can really serve as a basis; at present, at any rate, no man thinks of such a thing.27
The text [above] stated: 'Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel, and so too said R. Isaac in the name of R. Johanan, that the blessing said over olive oil is "that createst the fruit of the tree"'. How are we to understand this? Are we to say that it is drunk? If so, it is injurious, as it has been taught: If one drinks oil of terumah,28 he repays the bare value, but does not add a fifth.29 If one anoints himself with oil of terumah, he repays the value and also a fifth in addition. Do we suppose then that he consumes it with bread? In that case, the bread would be the main ingredient and the oil subsidiary, and we have learnt: This is the general rule: If with one article of food another is taken as accessory, a blessing is said over the main article, and this suffices also for the accessory!30 Do we suppose then that he drinks it with elaiogaron? (Rabbah b. Samuel has stated: Elaiogaron is juice of beetroots; oxygaron is juice of
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