(Permission is granted to print and redistribute this material
as long as this header and the footer at the end are included.)


brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld

Ask A Question about the Daf

Previous daf

Berachos 21


QUESTION: There are two blessings which we are obligated by the Torah to recite: Birkas ha'Mazon *after* we eat, and Birkos ha'Torah *before* we learn. Why did the Torah specifically command us to recite the blessing over food *after* eating, and the blessing over learning Torah *before* learning?

ANSWER: Before a person eats and is hungry, he is aware of his dependence on G-d for his sustenance. After he eats, however, when he feels full and satisfied, he may forget to Whom he owes his sustenance. Therefore, the Torah commands us to thank G-d for our food *after* we have eaten.

After one learns Torah, one feels closer to G-d and has a great sense of appreciation for His infinite wisdom. Before one learns, however, his motivation for learning may not be so pure, as he does not yet recognize the beauty of Torah. Therefore, the Torah requires us to recite a blessing over Torah study *before* we begin to learn. (MESHECH CHOCHMAH, Parshas Eikev)

QUESTION: The Gemara first uses a "Kal v'Chomer" to derive the blessing after learning Torah from the blessing after eating. Then, the Gemara reverses the Kal v'Chomer and derives the blessing before eating from the blessing before learning Torah! (See P'nei Yehoshua)

ANSWER: When it comes to eating, it is more obvious that we must recite a blessing *before* we eat in order to thank Hashem, because the pleasure of eating is much greater when one is hungry. When it comes to learning Torah, on the other hand, the pleasure is much greater *after* we have learned and have become acquainted with the Sugya.

Therefore, if the Torah requires us to recite a blessing *after* we eat, when the pleasure is not as great as it is before we eat, then all the more so must we recite a blessing *after* we learn, when the pleasure is much greater than before we learn. Similarly, if the Torah requires us to recite a blessing before we learn Torah when the pleasure is not as great, then certainly we must recite a blessing before we eat, when the pleasure is great. (Based on She'eilos u'Teshuvos SHA'AREI TZEDEK, cited in Peninim m'Shulchan ha'Gra)

In the final analysis, the Gemara rejects both Kol v'Chomers, citing verses as proofs to the contrary. The logical basis for this conclusion is that there may be other factors, besides enjoyment, involved in deciding when to make a blessing. (For example, the blessing may be intended to stop a person from rebelling; see Meshech Chochmah quoted above.)

OPINIONS: When Rebbi Yochanan said, "If only a person could Daven all day long," did he mean that a person may recite Shemoneh Esreh as many times as he wants? What did Rebbi Yochanan mean?
(a) TOSFOS (DH v'Rebbi Yochanan) explains that Rebbi Yochanan only meant that people should Daven again if they are in doubt whether they already Davened. If they know that they Davened already, they should not Daven again.

(b) The RIF and RAMBAM (Hilchos Tefilah 10:6) understand that Rebbi Yochanan meant that a person may recite another Shemoneh Esreh whenever he wants as a Tefilas Nedavah, a freewill offering of prayer. It is compared to bringing a Korban Nedavah, a freewill offering upon the altar in the Beis ha'Mikdash. They rule, therefore, that whenever a Korban Nedavah cannot be brought, a person, too, may not offer a freewill prayer of Shemoneh Esreh.

Consequently, (1) a person cannot Daven a freewill *Musaf* prayer. (2) A communal group may not Daven a freewill Shemoneh Esreh, because a community may not bring a Korban Nedavah. (Whenever we find that a communal group brings a freewill offering, it is considered like a partnership of many individuals, and not a single communal owner bringing a Korban -- Beis Yosef OC 107). (3) Similarly, one may not Daven a freewill Shemoneh Esreh on Shabbos or Yom Tov, when a Korban Nedavah cannot be brought.

The RIF adds another condition. (4) One may only Daven a freewill Shemoneh Esreh if he meant to Daven it as such initially, from the moment that he started. But if he started saying Shemoneh Esreh thinking that it was obligatory, and now he remembers that he Davened already and he wants to continue his prayers as a Nedavah, he may not continue and he must stop in the middle.

(c) The RA'AVAD (Hasagos to Rambam, ad loc.) rules that a person who wants to Daven an additional Shemoneh Esreh as a freewill prayer may only do so when the Shemoneh Esreh that he is repeating is a prayer of requests to Hashem for mercy. Therefore, a person may recite Musaf a second time on Rosh Chodesh or Chol ha'Mo'ed as a Nedavah. On a day when it is not appropriate to ask for Rachamim, though, such as Shabbos or Yom Tov, one may not Daven a Nedavah. According to the Ra'avad, a communal group may also Daven a Shemoneh Esreh as a Nedavah. (The Ra'avad does not agree with the Rif that only when a Korban Nedavah may be brought, may a freewill Shemoneh Esreh be recited.)

(d) The OR ZARUA in the Hagahos Ashiri and RAV HAI GA'ON write that a person may recite a freewill Shemoneh Esreh whenever he wants, but only on condition that he adds a new request to his Shemoneh Esreh. The concept of a Nedavah, they understand, is that a person is asking for something more, and not that he is bringing a freewill offering.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 107:1) rules like the Rif and Rambam (b). However, the TUR cites the ROSH who concludes in a responsum that one should only Daven a second time if he adds a new request, like the opinion of Rav Hai Ga'on (d). The Rosh also rules that one should not Daven a Nedavah prayer on Shabbos or Yom Tov (he does not mention the limitations of Musaf and compunal prayer), which appears to be in accordance with the Ra'avad's opinion (c) that a Nedavah prayer must be Davened as a prayer for Rachamim. The Rosh, then, requires the conditions of both the Ra'avad and Rav Hai Ga'on.

The Rosh adds that a person should not Daven an extra Shemoneh Esreh unless he is certain that he will be able to have proper Kavanah throughout the entire Shemoneh Esreh.


QUESTION: The Gemara rules that a person who is in the middle of his Shemoneh Esreh may not interrupt to say Kedushah with everyone else. Therefore, if he comes late to synagogue, he should not start his Shemoneh Esreh if everyone else will get to Kedushah before he finishes his Shemoneh Esreh. Why is he not allowed to start? Let him start his Shemoneh Esreh, and when the Tzibur gets to Kedushah, he can fulfill his obligation by *listening* to Kedushah ("Shome'a k'Oneh")!


(a) TOSFOS (DH Ad sh'Lo) cites Rashi in Sukah (38b) who says that one *could* fulfill his obligation by listening to Kedushah, but it is better to say it himself and not just listen to it. Therefore, one should not start saying Shemoneh Esreh if he will not finish by the time the Tzibur recites Kedushah.

(b) RABBEINU TAM and the RI disagree with Rashi. A person may not fulfill his obligation through listening to Kedushah while Davening. If he were to do so, it would be an interruption in his Shemoneh Esreh, as if he had actually recited Kedushah in the middle of his Shemoneh Esreh!

It seems that their argument is based on how the ability to fulfill one's obligation to recite something by listening to it being recited works. Is it because speech is not necessary, and *listening* is a form of fulfilling one's obligation? Or is speech necessary, but the other person's *speech* exempts the listener as well as if he had spoken it out himself?

Rashi understands that "Shome'a k'Oneh" means that a person fulfills his obligation through listening, and therefore it is not considered an interruption in one's Shemoneh Esreh to pause and listen to Kedushah. On the other hand, it is a lower form of fulfilling one's obligation than speech.

Rabbeinu Tam and Ri understand "Shome'a k'Oneh" to mean that he fulfills his obligation because it is as if he actually *said* every word, and therefore listening is considered an interruption (as if he actually spoke), and it is no less worthy a way of fulfilling one's obligation than speaking. (EINAYIM LA'MISHPAT #4. See also TOSFOS 20b, DH k'd'Ashkechan. KEHILAS YAKOV, Maseches Berachos #13 (5750 edition), discusses this dichotomy at length in the context of other Sugyos.)

Next daf


This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.
For information on subscriptions, archives, and other Shema Yisrael
Classes, send mail to daf@shemayisrael.co.il

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel

In the U.S.:
Tel. (908) 370-3344
Fax. (908) 367-6608

Toll free line for dedications: 1-800-574-2646