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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Berakoth
Rab said: [If the host says to his guests,]1 Take, the benediction has been said,2 take, the benediction has been said, he [the host] need not say the benediction [again].3 If he said [between the benediction and the eating], Bring salt, bring relish, he must say the benediction [again]. R. Johanan, however, said that even if he said, Bring salt, bring relish, the benediction need not be repeated. If he said, Mix fodder for the oxen, mix fodder for the oxen, he must repeat the blessing; R. Shesheth. however, said that even if he said, Mix fodder for the oxen, he need not repeat; for Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: A man is forbidden to eat before he gives food to his beast, since it says. And I will give grass in thy fields for thy cattle, and then, thou shalt eat and be satisfied.4
Raba b. Samuel said in the name of R. Hiyya: The one who is about to break the bread is not permitted to do so before salt or relish is placed before each one at table. Raba b. Samuel was once at the house of the Exilarch, and they brought him bread and he broke it at once. They said to him: Has the Master retraced his own teaching? — He replied: This requires no condiment.5
Raba b. Samuel also said in the name of R. Hiyya: Urine is never completely discharged except when sitting.6 R. Kahana said: If over loose earth, even when standing. If there is no loose earth, one should stand on a raised spot and discharge down a declivity.
Raba b. Samuel also said in the name of R. Hiyya: After every food eat salt, and after every beverage drink water, and you will come to no harm. It has been taught similarly: After every food eat salt, and after every beverage drink water, and you will come to no harm. It has been taught elsewhere: If one ate any kind of food without taking salt after it, or drank any kind of liquor without taking water after it, by day he is liable to be troubled with an evil-smelling mouth, and by night with croup. The Rabbis taught: One who swills down his food with plenty of water will not suffer with his bowels. How much should he drink? R. Hisda says: A cupful to a loaf.
R. Mari said in the name of R. Johanan: If one takes lentils regularly once in thirty days, he will keep croup away from his house.7 He should not, however, take them every day. Why so? Because they cause a bad smell in the mouth. R. Mari also said in the name of R. Johanan: If one takes mustard regularly once in thirty days, he keeps sickness away from his house. He should not, however, take it every day. Why so? Because it is weakening for the heart. R. Hiyya b. Ashi said in the name of Rab: One who eats regularly small fish will not suffer with his bowels. Moreover, small fish stimulate propagation and strengthen a man's whole body. R. Hama b. Hanina said: One who takes regularly black cumin will not suffer from heartburn.8 The following was cited in objection to this: R. Simeon b. Gamaliel says: Black cumin is one of the sixty poisons. and if one sleeps on the east side of the place where it is stored, his blood will be on his own head?9 — There is no contradiction: The latter statement speaks of its smell, the former of its taste. The mother of R. Jeremiah used to bake bread for him and stick [black cumin] on it10 and then scrape it off.11
R. JUDAH SAYS, WHO CREATEST DIVERS KINDS OF HERBS. R. Zera, or as some say R. Hinnena b. Papa, said: The halachah is not as stated by R. Judah. R. Zera, or as some say, R. Hinnena b. Papa, further said: What is R. Judah's reason? Scripture says, Blessed be the Lord day by day.12 Are we then to bless Him by day and not bless Him by night? What it means to tell us is that every day we should give Him the blessing appropriate to the day.13 So here, for every species we should give Him the appropriate blessing.
R. Zera, or as some say, R. Hinnena b. Papa, further said: Observe how the character of the Holy One, blessed be He, differs from that of flesh and blood. A mortal can put something into an empty vessel14 but not into a full one. But the Holy One, blessed be He, is not so; He puts more into a full vessel15 but not into an empty one; for it says, If hearkening thou wilt hearken,16 implying, if thou hearkenest [once] thou wilt go on hearkening, and if not, thou wilt not hearken. Another explanation is: If thou hearkenest to the old,17 thou wilt hearken to the new, but if thy heart turns away, thou wilt not hear any more.
MISHNAH. IF ONE SAYS OVER FRUIT OF THE TREE THE BENEDICTION, 'WHO CREATEST THE FRUIT OF THE GROUND, HE HAS PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION. BUT IF HE SAID OVER PRODUCE OF THE GROUND, 'WHO CREATEST THE FRUIT OF THE TREE', HE HAS NOT PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION. IF HE SAYS 'BY WHOSE WORD ALL THINGS EXIST OVER ANY OF THEM, HE HAS PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION.
GEMARA. What authority maintains that the essence of the tree is the ground? — R. Nahman b. Isaac replied: It is R. Judah, as we have learnt: If the spring has dried up or the tree has been cut down,18 he brings the first-fruits but does not make the declaration.19 R. Judah, however, says that he both brings them and makes the declaration.20
OVER FRUIT OF THE GROUND etc. This is obvious, is it not? — R. Nahman b. Isaac said: It required to be stated in view of the opinion of R. Judah, who maintains that wheat is a kind of tree. For it has been taught: R. Meir holds that the tree of which Adam ate was the vine, since the thing that most causes wailing to a man is wine, as it says, And he drank of the wine and was drunken.21 R. Nehemiah says it was the fig tree, so that they repaired their misdeed with the instrument of it, as it says, And they sewed fig leaves together.22 R. Judah says it was wheat, since a child does not know how to call 'father' and 'mother' until it has had a taste of corn.23 Now you might think that because R. Judah says that wheat is a kind of tree, therefore we should say over it the benediction 'who createst the fruit of the tree'. Therefore we are told that we say 'who createst the fruit of the tree' only in those cases where if you take away the fruit the stem still remains to produce fruit again
, but in cases where if you take the fruit the stem does not remain to produce again, the benediction is not 'who createst the fruit of the tree' but 'who createst the fruit of the ground'.
IF HE SAYS, BY 'WHOSE WORD ALL THINGS EXIST' etc. It has been stated: R. Huna said: Except over bread and wine.1 R. Johanan, however, said: Even over bread and wine. May we say that the same difference of opinion is found between Tannaim? [For it was taught:] 'If a man sees a loaf of bread and says, What a fine loaf this is! Blessed be the Omnipresent that has created it! he has performed his obligation. If he sees a fig and says, What a fine fig this is! Blessed be the Omnipresent that has created it! he has performed his obligation. So R. Meir. R. Jose says: If one alters the formula laid down by the Sages in benedictions, he has not performed his obligation'. May we say that R. Huna concurs with R. Jose and R. Johanan with R. Meir? — R. Huna can reply to you: I can claim even R. Meir as a supporter of my view. For R. Meir went as far as he did in that case only because the bread is actually mentioned, but where the bread is not actually mentioned even R. Meir would admit [that the obligation is not fulfilled]. And R. Johanan can reply to you: I may claim R. Jose also as a supporter of my view. For R. Jose only went as far as he did in that case because he made a benediction which was not instituted by the Sages, but if he says, 'by whose word all things exist', which has been instituted by the Sages, even R. Jose would admit [that he has performed his obligation].
Benjamin the shepherd made a sandwich2 and said, Blessed be the Master of this bread,3 and Rab said that he had performed his obligation. But Rab has laid down that any benediction in which God's name is not mentioned is no benediction? — We must suppose he said, Blessed be the All-Merciful, the Master of this bread. But we require three blessings?4 — What did Rab mean by saying that he had performed his obligation? He had performed the obligation of the first blessing. What does this tell us [that we did not already know]? That [he has performed his obligation] even if he says it in a secular language. But we have already learnt this: 'The following may be said in any language: the section of the Unfaithful wife,5 the confession over tithe,6 the recital of the Shema', and the Tefillah and grace after food?7 — It required to be stated. For you might have thought that this is the case only if one says the grace in a secular language in the same form as was instituted by the Rabbis in the holy tongue, but if one does not say it in the secular language in the same form as was instituted by the Rabbis in the holy tongue, he has not performed his obligation. We are therefore told [that this is not so].
It was stated above: Rab said that any benediction in which the Divine Name is not mentioned is no benediction. R. Johanan, however, said: Any benediction in which [God's] Kingship is not mentioned is no benediction. Abaye said: The opinion of Rab is the more probable. For it has been taught: I have not transgressed any of Thy commandments, neither have I forgotten.8 This means: 'I have not transgressed' so as not to bless Thee,9 'neither have I forgotten' to mention Thy name therein. Of sovereignty, however, there is no mention here. R. Johanan, however, reads: 'Neither have I forgotten' to mention Thy name and Thy sovereignty therein.
MISHNAH. OVER ANYTHING WHICH DOES NOT GROW FROM THE EARTH ONE SAYS: 'BY WHOSE WORD ALL THINGS EXIST'. OVER VINEGAR, NOBELOTH10 AND LOCUSTS ONE SAYS, 'BY WHOSE WORD ALL THINGS EXIST'. R. JUDAH SAYS: OVER ANYTHING TO WHICH A KIND OF CURSE ATTACHES NO BENEDICTION IS SAID.11 IF ONE HAS SEVERAL VARIETIES BEFORE HIM, R. JUDAH SAYS THAT IF THERE IS AMONG THEM SOMETHING OF THE SEVEN KINDS,12 HE MAKES THE BLESSING OVER THAT, BUT THE SAGES SAY THAT HE MAY MAKE THE BLESSING OVER ANY KIND THAT HE PLEASES.
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: Over anything which does not grow from the ground, such as the flesh of cattle, beasts and birds and fishes, one says 'by whose word all things were created'. Over milk, eggs and cheese one says, 'by whose word, etc.'. Over bread which has become mouldy and over wine on which a film has formed and cooked food which has become spoilt one says, 'by whose word'. Over salt and brine and morils and truffles one says, 'by whose word'. This would imply that morils and truffles do not grow from the ground. But has it not been taught: If one vows to abstain from fruit of the ground, he is forbidden to eat of fruit of the ground but is allowed to eat morils and truffles? If he said, I vow abstention from all that grows from the ground, he is forbidden to eat morils and truffles also?13 — Abaye said: They do indeed spring up from the earth, but their sustenance is not derived14 from the earth. But it says, 'over anything which grows from the earth'? — Read: Over anything which draws sustenance from the earth.
OVER NOBELOTH. What are NOBELOTH? — R. Zera and R. El'a [gave different answers]. One said: fruit parched by the sun;15 the other said: dates blown down by the wind. We have learnt: R. JUDAH SAYS: OVER ANYTHING TO WHICH A KIND OF CURSE ATTACHES NO BLESSING IS SAID. This accords with the view of the one who says that nobeloth are fruit parched by the sun, which can rightly be called something to which a curse attaches. But if we say they are dates blown down by the wind, what has 'a kind of curse' to do with them? — This expression relates to the other things [mentioned].16
Some report as follows: On the view of him who says that they are fruit parched by the sun, it is quite right that we should say 'by whose word, etc.'; but according to the one who says that they are dates blown down by the wind, we should say, 'who createst the fruit of the tree'?17 — The fact is that all are agreed that nobeloth in general are fruit parched by the sun. The difference arises over nobeloth of the date-palm, since we have learnt:18 Things in regard to which the law of demai is not so strict19 are shittin, rimin, 'uzradin, benoth shuah, benoth shikmah, gofnin, nizpah and the nobeloth of the date-palm. Shittin, according to Rabbah b. Bar Hanah reporting R. Johanan, are a kind of figs. Rimin are lote. 'Uzradin are crabapples. Benoth shuah, according to Rabbah b. Bar Hanah reporting R. Johanan, are white figs. Benoth shikmah, according to Rabbah b. Bar Hanah reporting R. Johanan, are sycamore figs. Gofnin are winter grapes. Nizpah is the caper-fruit. Nobeloth of the date-palm are explained differently by R. Zera and R. El'a. One says that they are fruit parched by the sun, the other that they are dates blown down by the wind. Now the view of him who says that they are fruit parched by the sun accords well with what it teaches [concerning them], 'things about which the law of demai is not so strict', and if there is a doubt about them, they are free from the obligation of tithe, which shows that if there is no doubt20 they are subject to it. But on the view of him who says that they are dates blown down by the wind, must, in case of certainty, tithe be given from them? They are hefker!21 — With what case are we dealing here? Where one made a store of them. For R. Isaac said in the name of R. Johanan reporting R. Eliezer b. Jacob: If [a poor man] has made a store of gleanings, forgotten sheaves and produce of the corner,22 they are liable for tithe.
Some report as follows:
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