Friday, April 08, 2005

Sholosh Berokhos


I have noticed that over the last few days of Gemoro, the full birkas hammozaun has been being called שלש ברכות. This is very interesting, because it suggests that the fourth berokho of birkas hammozaun, הטוב והמטיב, was not yet being recited in Amoraic times. [Alternatively, it could be merely a fixed name, just as the full tefillo is known as שמונה עשרה ברכות, in contradistinction to מעין שמונה עשרה, even though it contains nineteen berokhaus.]

As kids, we all heard the story that the fourth berokho was instituted when the harughei Veisor (הרוגי ביתר) were given burial. But how historically accurate is this, and what is its source?

Shabbetha di-shelama,
Mar Gavriel

Re: Getting involved in other's arguments

Yesterday, when I sent my post "Re: Getting involved in other's arguments", was not working very well. Therefore, I ended up not being able to send some paragraphs that I wanted to conclude that post. I am including them here.

And on a more "relevant" (כביכול) point: are you sure that Rabban Gamaliel was the host? As far as I know, Rabban Gamaliel was from Yavne, and they were dining in Jericho. Perhaps, he asked Rebbi `Aqivo to bentsh merely by virtue of being Nesi Hassanhedrin. (I admit that from a historical point of view, we are not exactly sure what the position of נשיא הסנהדרין entailed, nor even what exactly the Sanhedrin was, or how it functioned. As Barry [Wimpfheimer] once pointed out to me, it will be a hundred years from now before we shall have done enough textual work to be able to do history.)

I could also make some kind of chassidishe vort such as the following: Jericho was the place which received גמולו של א־ל, the retribution of God (by being destroyed by Joshua), and no one was supposed to oppose that retribution by rebuilding the city. That גמולו של א־ל is represented by גמליאל. The רבים, or רבנן, fight (from the expression ריב) against God’s retribution, and therefore oppose גמליאל. I can’t take myself seriously in writing this, because (at least at this stage in my life) I don’t have a head or a heart for chasidishe verter, and therefore I have felt that it would not be proper to include a name of God in my ridiculous pseudo-vort. This is why, contrary to my usual practice on this blog, I have put a hyphen in the name Eil. However, if someone with a true feeling for chasidishe verter would like to use my associations to this story in a meaningful vort, by all means, I encourage him or her.

גּוּט שַׁבָּת לְכֻלְּכוֹן,
Mar Gavriel

Watch your laughter

The following exchange on today’s דף, ל"ט., provides a very valuable lesson:

נימא כתנאי, דהנהו תרי תלמידי דהוו יתבי קמיה דבר קפרא, הביאו לפניו כרוב ודורמסקין ופרגיות, נתן בר קפרא רשות לאחד מהן לברך, קפץ וברך על הפרגיות, לגלג עליו חבירו. כעס בר קפרא, אמר: לא על המברך אני כועס אלא על המלגלג אני כועס; אם חבירך דומה כמי שלא טעם טעם בשר מעולם - אתה על מה לגלגת עליו? חזר ואמר: לא על המלגלג אני כועס אלא על המברך אני כועס. ואמר: אם חכמה אין כאן, זקנה אין כאן? תנא: ושניהם לא הוציאו שנתן. מאי לאו בהא קא מיפלגי; דמברך סבר: שלקות ופרגיות שהכל נהיה בדברו, הלכך חביב עדיף; ומלגלג סבר: שלקות - בורא פרי האדמה, פרגיות - שהכל נהיה בדברו, הלכך פירא עדיף! - לא, דכולי עלמא שלקות ופרגיות שהכל נהיה בדברו, והכא בהאי סברא קא מיפלגי; מר סבר: חביב עדיף, ומר סבר: כרוב עדיף, דזיין

בר קפרא becomes angry at both of his students. The first student he is angry with is the one who laughed at his friend’s mistake. בר קפרא tells the laugher that he should have judged his colleague better and assumed the reason he began with the meat was because he was craving the bird meat. בר קפרא then turns around and shows his anger towards the one who said the blessing because he ignored the הלכה, that the cooked plums or the כרוב should have been eaten first because either food is a higher ברכה, בורא פרי אדמה. בר קפרא assumes פירא עדיף, which is the logic of the person laughing.

One lesson is that even if a person is correct, it doesn’t mean one should mock the one who is incorrect.

Also on our דף, ל"ט:, we have רבינא relating a teaching of his mother; The family מנהג varied with the מנהג of the community:
אמר רבינא, אמרה לי אם: אבוך עביד כרבי חייא, דאמר רבי חייא: צריך שתכלה ברכה עם הפת, ורבנן עבדי כרבא. והלכתא כרבא, דאמר: מברך ואחר כך בוצע

Following tradition over logic

Yesterday’s דף, ל"ח: has the following exchange.

אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן: שלקות מברכין עליהם בורא פרי האדמה, ורבי בנימין בר יפת אמר רבי יוחנן: שלקות מברכין עליהם שהכל נהיה בדברו. אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק: קבע עולא לשבשתיה כרבי בנימין בר יפת. תהי בה רבי זירא: וכי מה ענין רבי בנימין בר יפת אצל רבי חייא בר אבא? רבי חייא בר אבא - דייק וגמיר שמעתא מרבי יוחנן רביה, ורבי בנימין בר יפת - לא דייק; ועוד, רבי חייא בר אבא כל תלתין יומין מהדר תלמודיה קמיה דרבי יוחנן רביה, ורבי בנימין בר יפת לא מהדר; ועוד, בר מן דין ובר מן דין, דההוא תורמסא דשלקי ליה שבע זמנין בקדרה ואכלי ליה בקנוח סעודה, אתו ושאלו לרבי יוחנן, ואמר להו: מברכין עלויה בורא פרי האדמה; ועוד, אמר רבי חייא בר אבא: אני ראיתי את רבי יוחנן שאכל זית מליח ובריך עליו תחלה וסוף. אי אמרת בשלמא שלקות במילתייהו קיימי - בתחלה מברך עליו בורא פרי העץ ולבסוף מברך עליו ברכה אחת מעין שלש, אלא אי אמרת שלקות לאו במילתייהו קיימי, בשלמא בתחלה מברך עליו שהכל נהיה בדברו, אלא לבסוף מאי מברך? - דילמא: בורא נפשות רבות וחסרונן על כל מה שברא. מתיב רב יצחק בר שמואל: ירקות שאדם יוצא בהן ידי חובתו בפסח - יוצא בהן ובקלח שלהן, אבל לא כבושין ולא שלוקין ולא מבושלין; ואי סלקא דעתך במילתייהו קאי - שלוקין אמאי לא? - שאני התם, דבעינן טעם מרור - וליכא

The argument is a part of the discussion of which ברכה is appropriate for boiled (cooked) vegetables. According to רבי חייא בר אבא in the name of his teacher, רבי יוחנן, one should still recite בורא פרי אדמה. רבי בנימין בר יפת says the blessing should be שהכל נהיה בדברו. רבי זירא tells עולא that he shouldn’t follow רבי בנימין בר יפת for four reasons.

We follow רבי חייא בר אבא’s opinion for four reasons:
1. He learned from רבי יוחנן and was careful about what he learned
2. He reviewed what he learned from רבי יוחנן once every 30 days
3. People asked רבי יוחנן about a specific situation of cooked “vegetable.”
4. People witnessed רבי יוחנן eating salted olives, which they equate with cooked vegetables because of the change in stature of the olives from their natural state.

Without concerning ourselves with the halachic conclusion of the discussion, I find the explanation of why we follow one over the other to be quite interesting. Before this piece, we saw on our דף a couple of different discussions of how the ברכה is dependent on the communal customs, such as how people generally eat certain vegetables or how one views a food with medicinal powers. Now we are facing a situation where the social mores are ignored for the sake of more legitimate מסורה. How do we know that עולא was not choosing to say שהכל because the boiled vegetable he was eating was not something most people would eat cooked? Furthermore, how can the 4th reason, the one about salted olives, be proof?

The גמרא provides one answer, reading into the words of תחלה וסוף because of their ambiguity and never providing a resolution to which ברכות he said. Second, perhaps olives would still fall under a different category because they are one of the שבעה מינים.

The third proof is also a bit difficult because it says they cooked the food 7 times before serving it. If you are cooking something 7 times, I would be hard pressed to see it as the same item when it comes to ברכות. Unless you assume that this is still being used in its primary capacity.

Therefore, the גמרא, using רבי זירא as the debater, begins by claiming the tradition as the real reason to follow רבי חייא בר אבא. Even if רבי בנימין בר יפת might have the right סברא, tradition seems to trump סברא.

At this point, I am not sure if I would be seen as frum or not, but I do find it rather thought provoking. We look for the conceptual framework, but very often the more logical explanation might not be the right one practically.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Re: Getting involved in other's arguments

Brian wondered:

>If anyone knows why this detail of where they are eating is important, please share it.

Often, places where ma`asiyyos happened, or other seemingly irrelevant details, are included. I don't have my seforim with me here, but I believe that in the story about Rabban Shim`aun b. Gamaliel, Rebbi Yehudho, and Rebbi Yosé quoted on Pesahim 101a-b (from the somewhere in the later chapters of Toseftas Berokhaus) mentions the place that they were eating. Also, the story of Rabban Gamaliel and the Zeqenim in Tosefto of `Arvei Pesahim mentions that they were dining in the house of Baithos (=Boethius) ben Zonin in Lod. And don't forget the famous story of Rebbi Eli`ezer, Yehaushua`, El`ozor b. `Azaryo, `Aqivo, and Tarfaun in Benei Veraq, which we shall read in the Haggodho in a few weeks.

I remembering hearing somewhere (either I read it in the work of a rishaun or aharaun, or I heard it mippe qodshau shellerav dovidh hallivni מפה קדשו שלרב דוד הלבני) that these details were preserved to make the stories easier to memorize.

And on a more "relevant" (כביכול) point: are you sure that Rabban Gamaliel was the host? As far as I know, Rabban Gamaliel was from Yavne, and they were dining in Jericho. Perhaps, he asked Rebbi `Aqivo to bentsh merely by virtue of being Nesi Hassanhedrin.

Ramsho Tovo (רמשא טבא)
Mar Gavriel bereih de-Rav Ashi

Getting involved in other's arguments

I would like to highlight the interesting story from yesterday’s דף, ל"ז.

On ל"ז., there is a story involving רבן גמליאל and רבי עקיבא:

ומעשה ברבן גמליאל והזקנים שהיו מסובין בעלייה ביריחו, והביאו לפניהם כותבות ואכלו, ונתן רבן גמליאל רשות לרבי עקיבא לברך. קפץ וברך רבי עקיבא ברכה אחת מעין שלש. אמר ליה רבן גמליאל: עקיבא, עד מתי אתה מכניס ראשך בין המחלוקת! אמר לו: רבינו, אף על פי שאתה אומר כן וחבריך אומרים כן, למדתנו רבינו: יחיד ורבים הלכה כרבים.

Loosely translated: רבן גמליאל and the elders were eating together in an upstairs chamber in Jericho.[1] A plate of dates are brought out for the group to eat. After eating, רבן גמליאל chooses רבי עקיבא to lead the group in blessing G-d for the dates. רבי עקיבא says the ברכה מעין שלש (the abridged Grace after meals). רבן גמליאל becomes unhappy over this and says to רבי עקיבא, “Since when do you get involved in other people’s arguments (implying that רבי עקיבא was not following the custom of the host).” רבי עקיבא responds to רבן גמליאל, “Even though you say one thing (to recite the whole ברכת המזון for the 7 species of food from Israel) and the חברים (the rabbis) say something different (to say ברכה מעין שלש), we don’t follow you because we have a principle; one opinion versus the majority, the law follows the majority.

The גמרא then continues to discuss the מחלוקת between רבן גמליאל and the רבנן.

When looking at this story, I am struck by the seeming lack of respect for רבן גמליאל. He asked רבי עקיבא to lead the ברכה אחרונה. Instead of רבי עקיבא declining out of respect for רבן גמליאל, because it becomes obvious that רבי עקיבא does not follow רבן גמליאל, we see רבי עקיבא blatantly disregarding his host’s feelings.

However, רבי עקיבא’s action is consistent with following the majority. Being that the guest list at the meal included רבי עקיבא, רבן גמליאל and other elders at the meal, the majority of people at the meal did not follow רבן גמליאל’s opinion.

I guess one lesson from this is that in communal settings, a person needs to curb one’s intuition in order “keep the peace.” However, in the realm of ברכות and תפילה, when acting as an individual, it is fine to follow one’s own thinking (I would distinguish these rules from the discussion of calendar setting which we find in מסכת ראש השנה).

[1] If anyone knows why this detail of where they are eating is important, please share it.

Teyuvto de-Rav u-Shemuel teyuvto

Rabbothai u-ghevirothai:

It seems that I am the first to post on this blog.

יהא רעווא מן קדם אלהא דשמייא דנצליח בסייעתיה

(I don't mind writing sheimos on the Internet, because, not being written, they are not going to be נמחקין. I might not want to write them on a website that does not show kovodh to them, but I do not feel that they would be dishonored by a Daf Yomi blog, even a pluralistic Daf Yomi blog-- nay, especially on a pluralistic Daf Yomi blog.)

On the very bottom of Berokhos 36b, two statements were reported in the name of Rav and Shemuel: 1) כל שיש בו מחמשת המינין מברכין עליו בורא מיני מזונות, and 2) כל שהוא מחמשת המינין מברכין עליו בורא מיני מזונות. Mr. Stam (i.e. the stammo di-gemoro) extrapolates from #1 that Rav and Shemuel mean to include these grains even when they are `al yedei ta`roveth (or, if you must, ta`aruves), and by #2 to rice. Mr. Stam goes on to question that Rav and Shemuel can be right. Ultimately, he quotes a boraitho (on 37a) that says when rice is ground, baked, and then boiled, one should say over it בורא מיני מזונות. Mr. Stam concludes: תיובתא דרב ושמואל תיובתא.

Yet on 37b, Rovo argues that one should say בורא מיני מזונות on any kind of rihata (apparently a kind of sweet cereal), based on statement #1 of Rav and Shemuel.

My frum teirutz of this contradiction would probably be that only statement #2 of Rav & Shemuel, which supposedly excludes rice, has been teyuvta'd by the boraiso, and that statement #1 is still available for Rovo to use as pesaq.
My akademishe explanation would be: Rav & Shemuel's statements never meant to exclude rice, so there was no reason for them to be teyuvta'd until Mr. Stam made them exclude rice and brought them into contradiction with the boraiso. For Rovo, living before the time of Mr. Stam, Rav and Shemuel's statements were both still considered valid.

תהווי ברכתא דיי עליכון

Mar Gavriel