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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Berakoth
But why should he not also shift to one side anything which would not be spoilt and say the blessing? — R. Isaac Kaskasa'ah1 gave the reason in the presence of R. Jose son of R. Abin, quoting R. Johanan: Because it says, My mouth shall be filled with Thy praise.2
R. Hisda was asked: If one has eaten and drunk without saying a blessing, should he say the blessing afterwards? — He replied: If one has eaten garlic so that his breath smells, should he eat more garlic so that his breath should go on smelling?3 Rabina said: Therefore4 even if he has finished his meal he should say the blessing retrospectively, since it has been taught: If a man has taken a ritual immersion and come out of the water, he should say on his emerging, 'Blessed be He who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning immersion'. This, however, is not correct. In that case [of immersion] the man at the outset was not in a fit state to say a blessing;5 in this case the man at the outset was in a fit state, and once it has been omitted it must remain omitted.
Our Rabbis taught: Asparagus brew6 is good for the heart and good for the eyes, and, needless to say, for the bowels. If one uses it regularly it is good for the whole body, but if one gets drunk on it it is bad for the whole body. Since it is stated that it is good for the heart, we infer that we are dealing with a brew of wine. Yet it states that it is, needless to say, good for the bowels; but surely it has been taught: For La'AT7 it is good. for Ramat8 it is bad? — Our statement9 was made with reference to a brew of old wine,10 as we have learnt: If one takes a vow to abstain from wine because it is bad for the bowels and they say to him, Is not the old wine good for the bowels, and he says nothing, he is forbidden to drink new wine but permitted to drink old wine.11 This proves [that we are dealing with old wine].
Our Rabbis taught: Six things were said with reference to asparagus. It is only taken when the wine is undiluted and from a [full] cup; it is received in the right hand and held in the left hand when drunk; one should not talk after drinking it, nor stop in the middle of drinking it, and it should be returned only to the person who served it; one should spit after drinking it, and he should take immediately after it12 only something of the same kind. But it has been taught: He should take immediately after it only bread? — There is no contradiction: the one statement applies to a brew of wine, the other to a brew of beer.13
One [authority] teaches: It is good for La'AT and bad for Ramat, while another teaches that it is good for Ramat and bad for La'AT! There is no contradiction: one statement speaks of a brew of wine, the other of a brew of beer. One [authority] teaches that if he spits after it he will suffer, another that if he does not spit after it he will suffer! There is no contradiction: the one statement speaks of a brew of wine, the other of a brew of beer. R. Ashi said: Now that you say that if he does not spit after it he will suffer, he should eject the liquid even in the presence of a king.
R. Ishmael b. Elisha said: Three things were told me by Suriel the Officer of the [Divine] Presence.14 Do not take your shirt from the hand of your attendant when dressing in the morning,15 and do not let water be poured over your hands by one who has not already washed his own hands, and do not return a cup of asparagus brew to anyone save the one who has handed it to you, because a company of demons (according to others, a band of destroying angels) lie in wait for a man and say, When will the man do one of these things so that we can catch him.
R. Joshua b. Levi says: Three things were told me by the Angel of Death. Do not take your shirt from your attendant when dressing in the morning, and do not let water be poured on your hands by one who has not washed his own hands,16 and do not stand in front of women when they are returning from the presence of a dead person, because I go leaping in front of them with my sword in my hand, and I have permission to harm. If one should happen to meet them what is his remedy? — Let him turn aside four cubits; if there is a river, let him cross it, and if there is another road let him take it, and if there is a wall, let him stand behind it;17 and if he cannot do any of these things, let him turn his face away and say, And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan etc.,18 until they have passed by.
R. Zera said in the name of R. Abbahu — according to others, it was taught in a Baraitha: Ten things have been said in connection with the cup used for grace after meals. It requires to be rinsed and washed, it must be undiluted and full, it requires crowning and wrapping,19 it must be taken up with both hands and placed in the right hand, it must be raised a handbreadth from the ground, and he who says the blessing must fix his eyes on it. Some add that he must send it round to the members of his household. R. Johanan said: We only know of four: rinsing, washing, undiluted and full. A Tanna taught: Rinsing refers to the inside, washing to the outside. R. Johanan said: Whoever says the blessing over a full cup is given an inheritance without bounds, as it says, And full with the blessing of the Lord; possess thou the sea and the south.20 R. Jose son of R. Hanina says: He is privileged to inherit two worlds, this world and the next. 'Crowning': Rab Judah crowned it with disciples;21 R. Hisda surrounded it with cups. 'And undiluted': R. Shesheth said: Up to the blessing of the land.22 'Wrapping': R. Papa used to wrap himself in his robe and sit down [to say grace over a cup]; R. Assi spread a kerchief over his head. 'It is taken in both hands': R. Hinena b. Papa said: What is the Scriptural warrant for this? — Lift up your hands in holiness and bless ye the Lord.23 'And placed in the right hand'. R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: The earlier [students] asked: Should the left hand support the right? — R. Ashi said: Since the earlier [students] inquired and the question was not decided
we will follow the more stringent view.1 'He raises it a handbreadth from the ground': R. Aha b. Hanina said: What Scriptural text have we for this? — I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.2 'He fixes his eyes on it': so that his attention should not wander from it. 'He sends it round to the members of his household': so that his wife may be blessed.
'Ulla was once at the house of R. Nahman. They had a meal and he said grace, and he handed the cup of benediction to R. Nahman. R. Nahman said to him: Please send the cup of benediction to Yaltha.3 He said to him: Thus said R. Johanan: The fruit of a woman's body is blessed only from the fruit of a man's body, since it says, He will also bless the fruit of thy body.4 It does not say the fruit of her body, but the fruit of thy body. It has been taught similarly: Whence do we know that the fruit of a woman's body is only blessed from the fruit of a man's body? Because it says: He will also bless the fruit of thy body. It does not say the fruit of her body, but the fruit of thy body. Meanwhile Yaltha heard,5 and she got up in a passion and went to the wine store and broke four hundred jars of wine. R. Nahman said to him: Let the Master send her another cup. He sent it to her with a message: All that wine6 can be counted as a benediction. She returned answer: Gossip comes from pedlars and vermin from rags.7
R. Assi said: One should not speak over the cup of benediction.8 R. Assi also said: One should not speak over the cup of punishment. What is the cup of punishment? — R. Nahman b. Isaac said: a second cup.9 It has been taught similarly: He who drinks an even number10 should not say grace,11 because it says, Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel,12 and this one is not fitly prepared.
R. Abbahu said (according to others, it was taught in a Baraitha): One who eats as he walks says grace standing; if he eats standing up he says grace sitting; if he eats reclining he sits up to say grace. The law is that in all cases he says grace sitting.
MISHNAH. THESE ARE THE POINTS [OF DIFFERENCE] BETWEEN BETH SHAMMAI AND BETH HILLEL IN RELATION TO A MEAL. BETH SHAMMAI SAY THAT THE BENEDICTION IS FIRST SAID OVER THE DAY13 AND THEN OVER THE WINE, WHILE BETH HILLEL SAY THAT THE BENEDICTION IS FIRST SAID OVER THE WINE AND THEN OVER THE DAY. BETH SHAMMAI SAY THAT WASHING THE HANDS PRECEDES THE FILLING OF THE CUP,14 WHILE BETH HILLEL SAY THAT THE FILLING OF THE CUP PRECEDES THE WASHING OF THE HANDS. BETH SHAMMAI SAY THAT AFTER WIPING HIS HANDS WITH A NAPKIN THE DINER PLACES IT ON THE TABLE, WHILE BETH HILLEL SAY THAT HE PLACES IT ON THE CUSHION.15 BETH SHAMMAI SAY THAT [AFTER THE MEAL] THE FLOOR IS SWEPT BEFORE THE WASHING OF THE HANDS,16 WHILE BETH HILLEL SAY THAT [THE DINERS] WASH THEIR HANDS AND THEN THE FLOOR IS SWEPT. BETH SHAMMAI SAY THAT [THE PROPER ORDER17 IS] LIGHT, GRACE, SPICES, AND HABDALAH, WHILE BETH HILLEL SAY: LIGHT, SPICES, GRACE, AND HABDALAH.18 BETH SHAMMAI SAY [THAT THE BLESSING OVER LIGHT CONCLUDES WITH THE WORDS], WHO CREATED THE LIGHT OF THE FIRE, WHILE BETH HILLEL SAY [THAT THE WORDS ARE], WHO IS CREATING THE LIGHTS OF THE FIRE.
A BENEDICTION MAY NOT BE SAID OVER THE LIGHTS OR THE SPICES OF IDOLATERS OR OVER THE LIGHTS OR THE SPICES OF DEAD,19 OR OVER THE LIGHTS OR THE SPICES OF IDOLATRY, AND A BLESSING IS NOT SAID OVER THE LIGHT UNTIL IT HAS BEEN UTILIZED.
IF ONE HAS EATEN AND FORGOTTEN TO SAY GRACE, BETH SHAMMAI SAY THAT HE MUST RETURN TO THE PLACE WHERE HE ATE AND SAY THE GRACE, WHILE BETH HILLEL SAY THAT HE SHOULD SAY IT IN THE PLACE WHERE HE REMEMBERED. UNTIL WHEN CAN HE SAY THE GRACE? UNTIL SUFFICIENT TIME HAS PASSED FOR THE FOOD IN HIS STOMACH TO BE DIGESTED. IF WINE IS SERVED TO THEM AFTER THE FOOD, AND THAT IS THE ONLY CUP THERE, BETH SHAMMAI SAY THAT A BLESSING IS FIRST SAID OVER THE WINE AND THEN [THE GRACE] OVER THE FOOD, WHILE BETH HILLEL SAY THAT A BLESSING IS FIRST SAID OVER THE FOOD AND THEN OVER THE WINE. ONE SAYS AMEN AFTER A BLESSING SAID BY AN ISRAELITE BUT NOT AFTER A BLESSING SAID BY A CUTHEAN, UNLESS THE WHOLE OF IT HAS BEEN HEARD.20
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: The points of difference between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel in relation to a meal are as follows: Beth Shammai say that the blessing is first said over the [sanctity of] the day and then over the wine, because it is on account of the day that the wine is used, and [moreover] the day has already become holy21 before the wine has been brought. Beth Hillel say that a blessing is said over the wine first and then over the day, because the wine provides the occasion for saying a benediction.22 Another explanation is that the blessing over wine is said regularly23 while the blessing of the day is said only at infrequent intervals, and that which comes regularly always has precedence over that which comes infrequently. The halachah is as laid down by Beth Hillel. What is the point of the 'other explanation'? — Should you say that there [in explanation of Beth Shammai's view] two reasons are given and here [in explanation of Beth Hillel's] only one, we reply, there are two here also, [the second one being that] the blessing over wine is regular and the blessing of the day infrequent, and that which is regular has precedence over that which is infrequent, 'And the halachah is as stated by Beth Hillel'. This is self-evident, for the Bath Kol24 went forth [and proclaimed so]!25 If you like I can reply that this statement was made before the Bath Kol [had issued forth], and if you like I can say that it was made after the Bath Kol
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