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Berachos 35

BERACHOS 35 - has been dedicated to the memory of Rivkah bas Yisrael Yakov (Ruth Glaser) who passed away on 27 Iyar 5750 -- by her children and grandchildren, Eli and Yitty Glaser and family of Kew Gardens Hills N.Y.


QUESTION: The Mishnah states that for vegetables, the blessing "Borei Pri ha'Adamah" is said. For bread, the blessing "ha'Motzi Lechem Min ha'Aretz" is said. Why is the word "Adamah" used in the blessing for vegetables, while the word "Aretz" is used in the blessing for bread? They both mean "ground" or "earth."

ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON (Shenos Eliyahu) answers that the word "Aretz" has a broader connotation than "Adamah." "Aretz" refers not only to the ground or earth, but also specifically to Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. Eretz Yisrael is blessed with the Shivas ha'Minim, the seven species of produce. The only reason those species exist anywhere else in the world is because Hashem granted them to the Land of Israel. Therefore, when we recite a blessing over bread, we are thanking Hashem for giving us bread (wheat) from the land (Aretz) -- *of Israel*. We recite this blessing over *all* bread, no matter where it came from, because all bread in the world is ultimately a result of the blessing of wheat that G-d gave to the land of Israel.

We could add that this also explains why, in Birkas ha'Mazon and in Berachah m'Ein Shalosh ("Al ha'Michyah"), which we recite after eating any of the seven species of produce unique to Israel, we make mention of the produce of the land of Israel, no matter where the produce we are eating was actually grown.

OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses the source for reciting blessings over food, and concludes that the source is from logic and not from the verse. Does this mean that blessings are d'Oraisa or d'Rabanan? The Rishonim explain that if blessings are derived from logic, then they are only d'Rabanan (see Tosfos DH l'Fanav Lo Kol she'Ken). However, some blessings are certainly d'Oraisa. Which ones? There are three opinions as to which blessings are mid'Oraisa:
(a) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Berachos 8:12) rules that only Birkas ha'Mazon is d'Oraisa.

(b) Many other Rishonim maintain that the blessing recited after partaking of the seven species (Berachah m'Ein Shalosh) is also d'Oraisa, because -- as our Sugya seems to conclude -- the verse that says, "You shall eat, be satisfied, and *bless Hashem your G-d*," is referring to all of the seven species and not just to bread. (SHE'ILTOS, Yisro #52; HILCHOS GEDOLOS; RASHBA; ROSH 6:16; TUR, end of OC 209; TOSFOS REBBI YEHUDAH HA'CHASID)

(c) REBBI YEHUDAH HA'CHASID quotes certain authorities who say that if we hold of "Neta Revai" (that is, that the laws of fruits of the fourth year apply to all fruits and not just to the vine), then the blessing recited after eating *all fruits* is also d'Oraisa.

(d) The MALBIM (Ki Tavo) suggests that even if Berachos for fruit are normally d'Rabanan, perhaps when one eats Neta Revai or Ma'aser Sheni (which are the subjects of the verse "Kodesh Hilulim"), he is obligated by the Torah to recite a Berachah (as the Gemara implies in Berachos 40b).

HALACHAH: Their is a practical difference between the various opinions. If a Berachah is d'Oraisa, when one is uncertain whether or not he has already recited the Berachah, he must repeat it (Berachos 21a). The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 209:3) records, in accordance with the Rambam's opinion (a), that the only Berachah one must recite when in doubt is Birkas ha'Mazon.

However, the MISHNAH BERURAH adds that the Acharonim recommend that if a person is in doubt as to whether he recited the Berachah m'Ein Sheva, he should satisfy the opinion of the many Rishonim who require that the Berachah be repeated by eating a bit more, until he is certain that he is now obligated to recite m'Ein Sheva.


QUESTION: Rebbi Yishmael teaches that one should "practice *in them* the practice of wordly pursuits" ("Hanheg ba'Hem Minhag Derech Eretz"). What does it mean to practice "in them?"

ANSWER: The NEFESH HA'CHAIM (1:8) explains that one's worldly pursuits should be done *while* one is still involved in and thinking Torah.

Similarly, Mishnas Avos (a commentary on Avos written by Rav Yosef ben Yehudah Ibn Eknin, disciple of the Rambam) on Avos 4:10 asserts that even *while* a person finds himself involved in non-Torah matters he should be thinking Torah thoughts in the back of his mind. The Sefer Hafla'ah, in his introduction (par. 35; see also his introduction to Sefer HaMikneh, par. 32), elaborates further. How will a person ever succeed in business, asks the Hafla'ah, if his mind is always preoccupied with Torah? The answer: "Know Hashem while you go about your ways, and He will make your paths straight" (Mishlei 3:6). If you think thoughts of Torah while you work, Hashem will see to it that your business prospers. Similarly, "Happy is the person... who desires Hashem's Torah and ponders His Torah day and night... he will succeed in all that he does" (Tehillim 1:1-3). A person need not be concerned that his concentration on Torah thoughts will cause him to fail in worldly endeavors.

This is also the way the Nefesh ha'Chaim (in his commentary to Avos, Ruach Chaim, to Avos 2:2) explains the Mishnah's famous statement, "Torah is proper when accompanying worldly activity." This means that even while one is involved in worldly activity, it is good to think about Torah.

QUESTION: Rebbi Shimon tells us that the verse, "You will gather your grain" is dealing with people who are not fulfilling (to their utmost -- Tosfos DH Kan b'Zman) the will of Hashem. They are tending to their own grain, rather than waiting for others to do it for them.

Looking at the context of the verse it is very difficult to understand how Rebbi Shimon can possibly interpret the verse in this manner. The paragraph begins: "If you *carefully obey* my commandments that I command you today, to love Hashem and serve Him with *all* your hearts...." How can the continuation of this paragraph possibly be taken as a reference to people who are *not* properly fulfilling Hashem's words? (MAHARSHA, AHAVAS EISAN in the Ein Yakov, etc.)


(a) The MAHARSHA answers that in the paragraph in question, the Torah does not specify "b'Chol Meodchem," as it does in the first paragraph of Shema. These people are not serving Hashem with all of their money, and that is why they are not considered to be serving Hashem in the best possible manner.

(b) The MESHECH CHOCHMAH (Devarim 11:13) and others explain that the verse is discussing people who are following the Mitzvos religiously, but are not learning Torah. Since they are not studying the Torah, they must harvest their own food. Only those who study the Torah are blessed that others do their work for them. (Support for this can be found in a Midrash Tanchuma, Parashat Noach #3 - AHAVAS EISAN)

(c) Later in the paragraph that the Gemara is discussing, we read, "Beware, lest your heart become tempted and you go astray and worship other gods..." (Devarim 16-17). It would seem that after having been told of the reward for *following* Hashem's will, we are being told of the punishment for *not* following His will. However, there may be another way of interpreting the flow of the verses.

The Gemara tells us that "A full stomach is one of the worst sins" (Berachot 32a). Material success and complacency lead to arrogance, and arrogance leads to the worst of sins. The paragraph that we are discussing thus starts with a description of the rewards Hashem bestows upon the worthy, but then *warns* those who have merited such blessings of prosperity not to allow their success to lead them away from Hashem. As a support for this interpretation, it is may be noted that the Torah does not introduce the second half of the paragraph with the words, "*If* you do not obey My commandments, etc." Rather, it states, "*Beware* lest your heart become tempted...." The Sifri (ad loc., Chap. 43), in fact, states quite clearly that this is the intent of these verses.

If so, there are three parts to the section we are dealing with: (1) A description of the reward granted to those who keep the Mitzvot, (2) a description of an improper reaction to that reward, and (3) a description of the punishment that will be brought upon one who reacts to the reward in such a manner. Exactly where in the paragraph is the transition from the discussion of the reward, to the description of the reaction to the reward? According to Rebbi Shimon, the description of the reward ends in the middle of v. 14, with the words "I will grant you the rains of your land on time, the early rain and the late rain." The continuation of that verse -- "and you will gather in your grain, your wine and your oil" -- is already the beginning of the objectionable reaction to the blessings of prosperity. If you will react to the blessings of Hashem by "gathering in your own grain," -- devoting more and more time to cultivating your abundant grains, rather than putting your trust in Hashem -- and by "eating and becoming satisfied," then you must beware lest you completely rebel against Hashem!

If so, it is true that the section is dealing with the reward for those who *follow* the Mitzvot of Hashem to their utmost. Nevertheless, the verse that discusses "gathering in your grain" is not describing a positive deed. It is describing the *negative* reaction that may follow Hashem's bountiful blessings. (M. KORNFELD)

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