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Berachos 50


QUESTION: The Mishnah says that a group of ten saying Birkas ha'Mazon is no different than a group of ten thousand -- both groups recite the same thing. The Mishnah then seems to contradict itself and specifies different texts that groups of different numbers say. The Gemara answers that the beginning of the Mishnah is the opinion of Rebbi Akiva, and the rest of the Mishnah is Rebbi Yosi ha'Gelili. Why, then, did the Mishnah not mention their names at those places?

ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON answers that when the Mishnah says that ten and ten thousand are the same, it means that they are the same only insofar as that the name of Hashem is mentioned in Birkas ha'Zimun (as opposed to a group of three, which was discussed earlier in the Mishnah). The continuation of the Mishnah describes the additions in the Zimun that the larger groups make *besides* mentioning the name of Hashem, and does not contradict the previous statement at all. The entire Mishnah, then, is Rebbi Yosi ha'Gelili. If so, what is the Gemara's question?

Explains the Vilna Ga'on, it is obvious from the latter part of the Mishnah that ten is the same as ten thousand with regard to saying the name of Hashem. The Gemara's question is why the Mishnah has to add the statement that ten and ten thousand are the same (with regard to saying the name of Hashem) when that may be inferred from the end of the Mishnah. The Gemara answers that the additional statement in the Mishnah (that ten and ten thousand are the same) is alluding to the opinion of Rebbi Akiva, that they are the same with regard to the entire text they recite and not just the name of Hashem. Even though the simple understanding of the Mishnah is that it is teaching us Rebbi Yosi's opinion (and, therefore, the statements in the Mishnah are *not* out of order), the Mishnah added an apparently unnecessary phrase in the opinion of Rebbi Yosi in order to allude to the opinion of Rebbi Akiva since his is the Halachic ruling.

QUESTION: Rebbi Akiva and Rebbi Meir derive from a verse that even fetuses in the womb sang praise to Hashem at the splitting of the Sea. What does this mean? What is the relationship between unborn fetuses and the splitting of the Sea?

ANSWER: The RASHBA explains that it is common for a woman to miscarry as a result of experiencing extreme fright. When the Jews faced the oncoming Egyptian army at the Reed Sea, there was great reason to panic and for there to be potentially many miscarriages. Similarly, walking through the two sides of the divided Sea was terribly frightening. Nevertheless, none of the fetuses were lost. Therefore, it is incumbent upon those unborn children to give praise to Hashem for the miracle that happened to them.


OPINIONS: The Gemara says that if three people -- who were part of three groups that all were obligated in Birkas ha'Zimun -- left their groups and their original groups recited Birkas ha'Zimun, they can no longer make a Zimun even when all three come together to make a new group of three.

The Gemara brings a proof. A bed that was Tamei and was broken and then re-assembled does not become Tamei when it is re-assembled.

There are several ways to understand this Gemara. The two most basic ways are as follows.

(a) TOSFOS RABEINU YEHUDAH HA'CHASID explains that Rava is teaching that if the three deserters were part of groups of *four* people in each group, then if -- after they leave their groups -- the remaining three make a Zimun, the deserters can no longer make a Zimun based on the meal they ate earlier (and even though they were obligated to make a Zimun and they did not yet participate in a Zimun, they lost their opportunity to do so).

(b) The ROSH (7:29) does not accept this explanation, because the phrase, "Azmin Alaiyhu" ("they made a Zimun *with them*") implies that the deserters actually participated in the Zimun. Therefore, the Rosh explains that if these deserters *participated* in responding to the Zimun before they left their groups, they may no longer join together with each other to form a Zimun. This is the opinion of RASHI (DH Aval) and TOSFOS (50a DH Aval) as well.

This explanation is problematic, because it is obvious that they cannot make a Zimun if they already participated in one! The Rishonim offer two approaches to answer this problem with the Rosh's interpretation.
(1) The Rosh himself explains that even if they *ate together* more food afterwards, they still may not make a Zimun since they did not start a new meal (with Birkas ha'Motzi, etc.), but continued their old meal, which was already exempt from Zimun.
(2) The RA'AVAD cited by the RASHBA explains that even if the deserters were trying to run out of the original groups before those groups made a Zimun, if the original groups made a Zimun with them against their will before they had a chance to run out, they become exempt from the obligation of Zimun and may no longer make a Zimun with others whom they join later. (The Ra'avad is one of the Rishonim that hold that it is not necessary for the third person of the Zimun to actually respond; he just has to be present. See Insights 45:3-b.)

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 193:5) cites the opinion of the Rosh (b:1) that if three people were part of a Zimun and they left and joined with each other and ate some more, they cannot make a Zimun if the original groups made a Zimun already. However, the BI'UR HALACHAH says that if only *one* of the people in the second Zimun was a deserter (but the other two had begun their meal together and never said Zimun), it is unclear what the Halachah will be. Perhaps if they eat more together they will indeed be obligated in their own Zimun. The Halachah in such a case is left unresolved.
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