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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Berakoth
have returned it? No, he replied. And if you had returned his greeting, what would they have done to you? They would have cut off my head with the sword, he replied. He then said to him: Have we not here then an a fortiori argument: If [you would have behaved] in this way when standing before an earthly king who is here today and tomorrow in the grave, how much more so I when standing before the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, who endures for all eternity? Forthwith the officer accepted his explanation, and the pious man returned to his home in peace.
EVEN IF A SNAKE IS WOUND ROUND HIS FOOT HE SHOULD NOT BREAK OFF. R. Shesheth said: This applies only in the case of a serpent, but if it is a scorpion, he breaks off.1 An objection was raised: If a man fell into a den of lions [and was not seen again] one cannot testify concerning him that he is dead; but if he fell into a trench full of serpents or scorpions, one can testify concerning him that he is dead! — The case there is different, because on account of his crushing them [in falling] they turn and bite him. R. Isaac said: If he sees oxen [coming towards him] he may break off; for R. Oshaia taught: One should remove from a tam2 ox fifty cubits, and from a mu'ad3 ox out of sight. It was taught in the name of R. Meir: If an ox's head is in a [fodder] basket,4 go up to a roof and kick the ladder away.5 Samuel said: This applies only to a black ox and in the month of Nisan, because then Satan is dancing between his horns.6
Our Rabbis taught: In a certain place there was once a lizard7 which used to injure people. They came and told R. Hanina b. Dosa. He said to them: Show me its hole. They showed him its hole, and he put his heel over the hole, and the lizard came out and bit him, and it died. He put it on his shoulder and brought it to the Beth ha-Midrash and said to them: See, my sons, it is not the lizard that kills, it is sin that kills! On that occasion they said: Woe to the man whom a lizard meets, but woe to the lizard which R. Hanina b. Dosa meets!8
MISHNAH. THE MIRACLE OF THE RAINFALL9 IS MENTIONED IN THE BENEDICTION OF THE RESURRECTION, AND THE PETITION10 FOR RAIN IN THE BENEDICTION OF THE YEARS, AND HABDALAH11 IN 'THAT GRACIOUSLY GRANTEST KNOWLEDGE'.12 R. AKIBA SAYS: HE SAYS IT AS A FOURTH BLESSING13 BY ITSELF; R. ELIEZER SAYS: IT IS SAID IN THE THANKSGIVING BENEDICTION.14
GEMARA. THE MIRACLE OF THE RAINFALL etc. What is the reason? — R. Joseph said: Because it is put on a level with the resurrection of the dead, therefore it was inserted in the benediction of the resurrection.
THE PETITION FOR RAIN IN THE BENEDICTION OF THE YEARS. What is the reason? — R. Joseph said: Because [the petition] refers to sustenance, therefore it was inserted in the benediction of sustenance.
HABDALAH IN THAT GRACIOUSLY GRANTEST KNOWLEDGE'. What is the reason? — R. Joseph said: Because it is a kind of wisdom,15 it was inserted in the benediction of wisdom. The Rabbis, however, say: Because the reference is to a weekday, therefore it was inserted in the weekday blessing. R. Ammi said: Great is knowledge, since it was placed at the beginning of the weekday blessings. R. Ammi also said: Great is knowledge since it was placed between two names,16 as it says, For a God of knowledge is the Lord.17 And if one has not knowledge, it is forbidden to have mercy on him, as it says, For it is a people of no understanding, therefore He that made them will have no compassion upon them.18 R. Eleazar said: Great is the Sanctuary, since it has been placed between two names, as it says, Thou hast made, O Lord, the sanctuary, O Lord.19 R. Eleazar also said: Whenever there is in a man knowledge, it is as if the Sanctuary had been built in his days; for knowledge is set between two names, and the Sanctuary is set between two names. R. Aha Karhina'ah demurred to this. According to this, he said, great is vengeance since it has been set between two names, as it says, God of vengeance, O Lord;20 He replied: That is so; that is to say, it is great in its proper sphere; and this accords with what 'Ulla said: Why two vengeances here?21 One for good and one for ill. For good, as it is written, He shined forth from Mount Paran;22 for ill, as it is written, God of vengeance, O Lord, God of vengeance, shine forth.20
R. AKIBA SAYS: HE SAYS IT AS A FOURTH BLESSING, etc. R. Shaman b. Abba said to R. Johanan: Let us see: It was the Men of the Great Synagogue23 who instituted for Israel blessings and prayers, sanctifications and habdalahs.24 Let us see where they inserted them! — He replied: At first they inserted it [the habdalah] in the Tefillah: when they [Israel] became richer, they instituted that it should be said over the cup [of wine]; when they became poor again they again inserted it in the Tefillah; and they said that one who has said habdalah in the Tefillah must say it [again] over the cup [of wine]. It has also been stated: R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: The Men of the Great Synagogue instituted for Israel blessings and prayers, sanctifications and habdalahs. At first they inserted the habdalah in the Tefillah. When they [Israel] became richer, they instituted that it should be said over the cup [of wine]. When they became poor again, they inserted it in the Tefillah; and they said that one who says habdalah in the Tefillah must [also] say it over the cup [of wine]. It has also been stated: Rabbah and R. Joseph both say: One who has said habdalah in the Tefillah must [also] say it over the cup [of wine]. Said Raba: We can bring an objection against this ruling [from the following]: If a man forgot and did not mention the miracle of the rain in the resurrection blessing, or petition for rain in the blessing of the years, he is made to repeat the Tefillah. If, however, he forgot habdalah in 'that graciously grantest knowledge', he is not made to repeat, because he can say it over the cup [of wine]!25 Do not read, because he can say it over the cup [of wine], but read, because he says it over the cup [of wine].
It has also been stated: R. Benjamin b. Jephet said: R. Jose asked R. Johanan in Sidon — some report, R. Simeon b. Jacob from Tyre asked R. Johanan: But I have heard that one who has said habdalah in the Tefillah says it over the cup [of wine]; or is it not so? He replied to him: He must say it over the cup [of wine].
The question was raised: If one has said habdalah over the cup [of wine], need he say it [again] in the Tefillah? — R. Nahman b. Isaac replied: We learn the answer a fortiori from the case of Tefillah. The essential place of the habdalah is in the Tefillah, and yet it was laid down that one who has said it in the Tefillah must say it also over the cup [of wine]. Does it not then stand to reason that if he has said it over the cup [of wine], which is not its essential place, he must say it [again] in the Tefillah? R. Aha Arika26 recited in the presence of R. Hinena: He who says habdalah in the Tefillah is more praiseworthy than he who says it over the cup [of wine], and if he says it in both, may blessings rest on his head! This statement contains a contradiction. It says that he who says habdalah in the Tefillah is more praiseworthy than he who says it over the cup [of wine], which would show that to say it in Tefillah alone is sufficient, and again it teaches, 'and if he says it in both, may blessings rest on his head', but since he has said it in one he is quit, the second is a blessing which is not necessary, and Raba, or as some say Resh Lakish, or again as some say, both Resh Lakish and R. Johanan, have said: Whoever says a blessing which is not necessary transgresses the command of 'thou shalt not take [God's name in vain]'!27 Rather read thus: If he has said habdalah in one and not in the other, blessings shall rest upon his head.
Rabina said to Raba: What is the law?1 He replied to him: The same as in the case of sanctification. Just as the sanctification, although it has been said in the Tefillah, is also said over the cup [of wine], so habdalah, although it has been said in the Tefillah, is also to be said over the cup [of wine].
R. ELIEZER SAYS: IN THE THANKSGIVING BENEDICTION. R. Zera was once riding on an ass, with R. Hiyya b. Abin following on foot.2 He said to him: Did you really say in the name of R. Johanan that the halachah is as stated by R. Eliezer on a festival that falls after Sabbath?3 He replied: Yes, that is the halachah. Am I to assume [he replied] that they [the Rabbis] differ from him?4 — And do they not differ? Surely the Rabbis differ! — I would say that the Rabbis differ in regard to the other days of the year, but do they differ in regard to a festival which falls after a Sabbath? — But surely R. Akiba differs?5 — Do we follow R. Akiba the rest of the year that we should now6 commence to follow him? Why do we not follow R. Akiba all the rest of the year? Because eighteen blessings were instituted, not nineteen. Here too [on the festival] seven were instituted, not eight!7 [R. Zera then] said to him: It was not stated that such is the halachah,8 but that we incline to this view.9 It has been stated: R. Isaac b. Abdimi said in the name of our teacher [Rab]: Such is the halachah, but some say, we [merely] incline to this view. R. Johanan said: [The Rabbis] agree [with R. Eliezer].10 R. Hiyya b. Abba said: This appears correct.11 R. Zera said: Choose the statement of R. Hiyya b Abba, for he is very accurate in repeating the statements of his teacher, like Rahaba of Pumbeditha. For Rahaba said in the name of Rabbi Judah: The Temple Mount was a double stoa — a stoa within a stoa.12 R. Joseph said: I know neither one nor the other,13 but I only know that Rab and Samuel instituted for us a precious pearl in Babylon:14 'And Thou didst make known unto us, O Lord our God, Thy righteous judgments and didst teach us to do the statutes that Thou hast willed, and hast made us inherit seasons of gladness and festivals of freewill-offering, and didst transmit to us the holiness of Sabbath and the glory of the appointed season and the celebration of the festival. Thou hast divided between the holiness of Sabbath and the holiness of the festival, and hast sanctified the seventh day above the six working days: Thou hast separated and sanctified Thy people Israel with Thy holiness. And Thou hast given us' etc.15
GEMARA. We understand why he is silenced if he says 'WE GIVE THANKS, WE GIVE THANKS', because he seems to be acknowledging two powers;18 also if he says, 'BE THY NAME MENTIONED FOR WELL-DOING', because this implies, for the good only and not for the bad, and we have learnt, A man must bless God for the evil as he blesses Him for the good.19 But what is the reason for silencing him if he says 'THY MERCIES EXTEND TO THE BIRD'S NEST? — Two Amoraim in the West, R. Jose b. Abin and R. Jose b. Zebida, give different answers; one says it is because he creates jealousy among God's creatures,20 the other, because he presents the measures taken by the Holy One, blessed be He, as springing from compassion, whereas they are but decrees.21 A certain [reader] went down [before the Ark] in the presence of Rabbah and said, 'Thou hast shown mercy to the bird's nest, show Thou pity and mercy to us'. Said Rabbah: How well this student knows how to placate his Master! Said Abaye to him: But we have learnt, HE IS SILENCED? — Rabbah too acted thus only to test22 Abaye.
A certain [reader] went down in the presence of R. Hanina and said, O God, the great, mighty, terrible, majestic, powerful, awful, strong, fearless, sure and honoured. He waited till he had finished, and when he had finished he said to him, Have you concluded all the praise of your Master? Why do we want all this? Even with these three that we do say,23 had not Moses our Master mentioned them in the Law24 and had not the Men of the Great Synagogue come and inserted them in the Tefillah, we should not have been able to mention them, and you say all these and still go on! It is as if an earthly king had a million denarii of gold, and someone praised him as possessing silver ones. Would it not be an insult to him?
R. Hanina further said: Everything is in the hand of heaven except the fear of heaven,25 as it says, And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee but to fear.26 Is the fear of heaven such a little thing? Has not R. Hanina said in the name R. Simeon b. Yohai: The Holy One, blessed be He, has in His treasury nought except a store of the fear of heaven, as it says, The fear of the Lord is His treasure?27 — Yes; for Moses it was a small thing; as R. Hanina said: To illustrate by a parable, if a man is asked for a big article and he has it, it seems like a small article to him; if he is asked for a small article and he does not possess it, it seems like a big article to him.
WE GIVE THANKS, WE GIVE THANKS, HE IS SILENCED. R. Zera said: To say 'Hear, hear', [in the Shema'] is like saying 'We give thanks, we give thanks'. An objection was raised: He who recites the Shema' and repeats it is reprehensible. He is reprehensible, but we do not silence him? — There is no contradiction; in the one case he repeats each word as he says it,28 in the other each sentence.29 Said R. papa to Abaye: But perhaps [he does this because] at first he was not attending to what he said and the second time he does attend? — He replied:
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