THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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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.
1) "ARETZ" OR "ADAMAH"
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."
2) HALACHAH: WHICH BLESSINGS ARE MID'ORAISA?
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
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.
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.
(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).
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.
3) TORAH STUDY AND WORLDLY PURSUITS
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?"
4) PERFORMING HASHEM'S WILL TO THE UTMOST
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
(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)