Friday, September 21, 2012

Brachos 53a - Havdola Candle

The gemara says that you only make a bracha on a candle when the purpose is for light, but not on something that is lit for utility purposes such as cooking or if it is lit to provide honor to someone (this is how rashi understands, but rabbeinu chananel holds that a candle lit for an adam choshuv is considered for the purpose of light). However, it isn't entirely clear whether one would make a bracha on a light which is lit for a dual purpose such as to provide light and for some type of use.
Rashi (d.h. ha v'ha) writes that if a light is lit to honor an adam choshuv (which he holds you don't make a bracha on) and also to provide light for the chazan who will be eating in the beis hakneses, one does make a bracha on it. So long as it is also there for the purpose of light, a bracha can be made. This seems to fit well with the gemara earlier that said that one cannot make a bracha on the candle of a goy since it didn't rest on shabbos, yet technically after some time passes and the fire is considered to have "new" fire mixed with the original fire, a bracha can be made. We see that we don't require the entire flame to be worthy of a bracha in order to make a bracha on the fire. So long as it has mixed into it a form of fire worthy of a bracha, we can make a bracha on it.
However, the gemara that says a fire that is lit sometimes by day, even if it is being lit on motzei shabbos, no bracha can be made. Rabbeinu Yona writes that even though it is sometimes also lit for the purpose of light and not just for the purpose of honor, we see from here that a candle that is lit for a dual purpose, light and kavod, is not worthy of a bracha.
It seems that Rashi and Rabbeinu Yona argue on a fundamental point. Rashi holds that the halacha is that on a candle that provides light one can make a bracha, therefore even if it also serves another function it doesn't detract from the fact that it is also there for light. Rabbeinu Yona holds that the halacha is that a candle which is there for honor isn't worthy of a bracha, therefore even if it also has a component of providing light, the fact that it is there for honor ruins the ability to make a bracha. The rationale of Rabbeinu Yona would seem to be that since the bracha is to express appreciation to Hashem for creating fire which provides light, we can only make this bracha when it is clear from the fire in front of you that it's purpose is for light. Whenever there is a dual purpose, it isn't clear that the function of this candle is to provide light and therefore doesn't warrant a bracha.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Brachos 51b - Order of Brachos in Kiddush

The Mishna cites a machlokes Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel whether the bracha of borei pri hagafen is made before or after the bracha of kiddush. Beis Hillel says that we first make a borei pri hagafen, and Beis Shamai says that we first make the bracha of kiddush.
In the Braisa, Beis Hillel offers to reasons for the bracha of hagafen to come before the bracha of kiddush. 1. The wine is the cause to make the bracha of kiddush - if there would be no wine the bracha of kiddush wouldn't be said. 2. The bracha on the wine is considered tadir, more common, than the bracha of kiddush.
The Tzlach points out that both rationales of Beis Hillel are problematic. The first approach assumes that without wine or bread, one wouldn't make kiddush. Although Tosafos in Pesachim 106a questions whether m'doraysa kiddush requires a cup of wine, most rishonim understand that m'doraysa one doesn't require anything for kiddush, just to be mekadesh the day with words. How then can Beis Hillel say that the wine causes the kiddush to be said, since one would actually make kiddush even if they had nothing to make kiddush on? The second approach of Beis Hillel is also problematic. It is fair to assume that a mitzvah d'oraysa is considered mekudash when compared to a d'rabonon. The gemara in zevachim 90 concludes that between tadir and mekudash, we don't know which should be first, so we assume they are equal. Therefore, although hagafen may have the tadir advantage, kiddush has the mekudash advantage so the logic of Beis Hillel that tadir demands that hagafen come first, is not accurate.
The Tzlach explains that we are clearly assuming that the person had already davened and fulfilled the d'oraysa obligation in their tefilla, and the kiddush on the wine is only d'rabonon. In such a circumstance, both arguments of beis hillel are valid. Based on this the Tzlach concludes that women who don't daven ma'ariv or someone who didn't yet daven and is making kiddush on wine, should say the bracha of mekadesh hashabos before the bracha on the wine since in that cas e both arguments of Beis Hillel don't apply. The hagahos of the shoel umeishiv disagrees with this conclusion and explains that the rationale offered by the braisa is what the chachamim used to organize the order of the brachos. But, once they say that hagafen comes first (since they are assuming most people who are making kiddush have already davened and fulfilled their d'oraysa obligation), it will always come first, even for people who have not yet said kiddush in davening.

Brachos 50 - Intending not to make a zimun

Rav Moshe (Igros Moshe 1:56) has a teshuva about people who are attending a wedding and don't want to stay around until the end for the sheva brachos. The question is that all the attendees have both an obligation of sheva brachos and an obligation of zimun, so how is anyone allowed to leave a wedding early? Rav Moshe explains that even if people sit together so that there is a kevius in their eating, if they are not intending to create a kevius for the bracha because they don't plan to bentch together, they are not obligated in zimun. His source is from the Rama (193:3) who says that when a group eats together in the house of a goy, the assumption is that they intend not to join for birchas hamazon (because skipping the harachaman for the ba'al habayis will be noticed and cause animosity). The Magen Avrohom in Hilchos Tisha B'av (552:9) uses this Rama to explain why one doesn't make a zimun for the seudah hamafsekes even when 3 people ate together. Since their intention when eating together is not to join for the bracha, they are not obligated in zimun. Rav Moshe explains that when there is no kevius for the bracha to obligate zimun, there is also no obligation to stay for sheva brachos.
At the end of the teshuva, Rav Moshe explains that with this yesod we can offer a better peshat in our gemara. Rava says that when they ate at the home of the Reish Gelusa they would make a zimun of groups of 3 quietly, and not wait for the Reish Gelusa. The gemara explains that due to the large crowd they wouldn't be able to hear the bentching from the reish gelusa, and to form groups of 10 would be obvious and anger the Reish Gelusa, so they formed groups of 3. The question is, how were they entitled to forfeit the obligation to make zimun with 10 people, just to avoid angering the Reish Gelusa. The Magen Avrohom writes that it would be disrespectful to the Reish Gelusa not to wait for him, so we allow kavod habriyos to override the obligation to bentch with a zimun of 10. However, in light of Rav Moshe's chiddush that when one never intends to be part of the zimun there is no obligation, he explains that we don't need to say that the kavod habriyos overrides the obligation of zimun. Rather, since initially the fully planned on breaking into smaller groups of 3 and not joining to be part of groups of 10, there never was an obligation of zimun on them to be mezamein with 10. Rav Moshe points out that since there is another explanation as to why they were able to avoid the zimun of 10 (kavod habriyos), there is no proof to the opinion of the Rama that intent to not join enables one to avoid the zimun. But in light of the Rama, we have a better explanation for the gemara.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Brachos 45 - Obligation to make a Zimun

The Mishna says that when 3 people eat together they are obligated to make a zimun for birchas hamazon and are not allowed to bentch individually. The gemara discusses whether 2 people are not obligated in zimun but may still do zimun if they wish, or whether the entire concept of zimun was only instituted for a group of 3. We pasken that with less than 3 people zimun cannot be done, as the gemara proves from R. Yochanan who says that with 2 people eating together one can be yotzei with the bracha of the other. Rashi explains that the concept of one being yotzei with the others bracha implies that we are not using the concept of zimun, because with zimun we view it as if each person is making their own bracha. The gemara also explains that this bidieved approach of one person being motzi another in birchas hamazon only applies when the listener is a boor and unable to make birchas hamazon himself, but if he is able to make birchas hamazon himself, he is obligated to do so. Even when the listener is a boor, the M.B. (193:5) cites two opinions whether the listener can be yotzei in lashon hakodesh when he doesn't understand lashon hakodesh.
Why is it that the Rabbonon were so much more stringent about birchas hamazon than they were about hamotzi? When it comes to the bracha of hamotzi one person is able to make a bracha for another even lichatchila (so long as they are koveia themselves together, as we do every shabbos), but for birchas hamazon, unless there are 3 and an obligation to make a mezuman, ideally each must bentch themself. Why?
Tosafos (d.h. im ratzu) explains that when it comes to bracha rishona they are coming together as a group to do things together, but when it comes to a bracha achrona when their intention is to break as a group and depart from one another, one cannot be motzi another unless there is a zimun. Tosafos offers another approach that birchas hamazon which is d'oraysa they were more machmir for than bracha rishona which is only d'rabonon. The difference between these two approaches is for one to be motzi another in a regular bracha achrona such as borei nefashos or bracha achas me'ein shalosh. According to the first approach of Tosafos, one cannot be motzi another in any bracha achrona unless the listener is unable to make a bracha himself, whereas according to the second approach, since bracha achas me'ein shalosh according to most opinions is only d'rabonon (not like rabban gamliel), one can be motzi another. The Pri Megadim understands that another difference would be when one at less than a כדי שביעה of bread. According to the first opinion someone else cannot be motzi him, but according to the second opinion someone else can be motzi him since he is only obligated m'drabonon.
Regarding an obligation to make a zimun when there are 3 people, the Bach writes that even on shivas haminin there may be an obligation for zimun, therefore 3 people should not eat together any of the shivas haminin since it will be questionable whether they require zimun. The M.B. (193:6) cites the Birkei Yosef who disagrees and says that only on bread is there an obligation of zimun.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Brachos 41b - 42a - Defining Pas Ha'ba B'kisnin

The Shulchan Aruch 168:6 writes that on פת הבאה בכסנין one makes a mezonos before and a bracha achas me'ein shalosh after. In Si'if 7 the Shulchan Aruch offers 3 possibilities as to the definition of פת הבאה בכסנין.
1. Bread with a sweet filling. 2. Bread where sweet items are kneaded into the dough (the Rama holds that unless a very large amount is kneaded in, it would maintain the status of bread, whereas the shulchan aruch considers is to leave the status of bread so long as one can taste the sweetness). 3. Bread made into thin, cracker-like wafers. The Shulchan Aruch paskens that the halacha is like all of the opinions. Meaning that if it meets any of the requirements it is considered pas ha'bah b'kisnin. The Biur Halacha (8) explains that the Shulchan Aruch paskened to make mezonos out of safeik, meaning that since it may qualify as פת הבאה בכסנין, we assume that it does and we don't make hamotzi and bentch. However, when it comes to considering something to be פת הבאה בכסנין that would require a bracha in middle of a meal, unless it meets all 3 requirements (such as a pie with a sweet crust), one would be lenient and not make a bracha out of safeik.
However, there is another school of thought cited in the previous Biur Halacha (v'halacha) in the name of the ma'mar mordechai that perhaps these are just different examples of פת הבאה בכסנין, but they all truly qualify. The Biur halacha says that based on this school of thought, any cake-like item that meets even one of the three requirements should need a bracha during the meal. The Biur Halacha himself assumes that most opinions agree to the first definition that when it contains a sweet filling it qualifies even if the bread is not sweet, but most don't agree to the second definition so standard cakes would still be at best a safeik and not require a bracha during the meal.
Hagaon Rav Yaakov Mi'Lisa, the Ba'al Chavos Da'as and Nesivos HaMishpat and derech hachaim, printed a small kunteros in the back of his hagaddah (ma'aseh nissim) on halachos of brachos. SEE HERE. He raises an amazing question. Birchas HaMazon is d'oraysa. How can we say that if one eats a filling amount of פת הבאה בכסנין that he should not say birchas hamazon, rather just make an על המחיה, since there is a safeik d'oraysa that he must bentch? The Ohr Sameiach suggests that perhaps the requirement to say the full birchas hamazon is not d'oraysa, therefore he can fulfill the d'oraysa with a ברכה אחת מעין שלש as well. This question compels R. Yaakov mi'lisa to take an approach similar to the ma'mar mordechai. The different opinions about what is פת הבאה בכסנין, are merely different examples of what can be considered פת הבאה בכסנין. The definition of פת הבאה בכסנין he derives from Rashi 41b d.h. pas. Rashi says that it is the type of bread that is made into shapes, mixed with spices and one generally eats only a modest amount of it. The definition of פת הבאה בכסנין is the type of bread that it is not the type of bread that one typically is ko'veiah their seudah on. Therefore, any bread which is used for some other function and not for קביעת סעודה would qualify as פת הבאה בכסנין and be mezonos. Based on this approach, any cake that one eats during a meal should require mezonos. Also, this enables us to include things like soft pretzels (superpretzel) which doesn't fit any specific category of פת הבאה בכסנין, into the realm of פת הבאה בכסנין and allow one to just make mezonos and ברכה אחת מעין שלש. Surely, even for פת הבאה בכסנין one would need to wash and bentch if they ate an amount that one typically is koveiah seudah on (furthermore, many poskim, including Rav Moshe (o.c. 3:32, 4:41) hold that other things that one eats combine to even a small amount of פת הבאה בכסנין to require one to bentch). However, so long as one eats a modest amount, they can consider even a soft pretzel as פת הבאה בכסנין based on r. ya'akov m'lisa.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Brachos 40b - Bracha on Ma'aser

The gemara uses the pesukim in parshas ki tavo, in the context of viduy ma'aser as a source for making a bracha. לא עברתי ממצותך ולא שכחתי - לא עברתי מלברכך ולא שכחתי מלהזכיר שמך עליו. Rashi on chumash quotes this and implies that the requirement to make a bracha is d'oraysa. The meforshim on Rashi starting with the mizrachi are very troubled with this since we know that the requirement to make brachos on the performance of mitzvos such as teruma and ma'aser are only d'rabonon. Therefore, the Mizrachi explains that the bracha being referred to is not the technical birchas hamitzvah, rather it is the appreciation we show Hashem for giving us the produce from which we can separate teruma and ma'aser. The problem with the Mizrachi is that Rashi on our daf writes explicitly that the gemara is really referring to the Bracha of אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצוונו להפריש תרומה ומעשר. The problem is that we always assume that birchos ha'mitzvos are d'rabonon so how can the pasuk be referring to this bracha?
The Tzlach has an approach where he says that there are two sources, a mishna and a braisa. The mishna is listing things that are d'oraysa which is what rashi quotes in chumash, therefore in that context the bracha refers to showing hakaras ha'tov, however, in our gemara we are citing a braisa which uses the pasuk as an esmachta, therefore can refer to the specific birchas hamitzvah..
It seems to me that the pasuk is teaching us that we have a Torah obligation to show appreciation for what Hashem has given us. Hakaras HaTov is d'oraysa. However, this appreciation can be fulfilled through the specific birchas hamitzah on teruma and ma'aser that was instituted by chazal. Therefore, it is correct to say that birchos hamitzvos are only d'rabonon, yet we can still use this pasuk as a source for the requirement to make a birchas hamitzah because by doing so we fulfill the d'oraysa obligation to express appreciation to Hashem in some form.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Brachos 39a -- Shiurim for Brachos

The gemara makes it clear that without kezayis there wouldn't be any bracha made. Tosafos qualifies the gemara to be referring to the bracha achrona, but when it comes to bracha rishona, Tosafos writes that we make it even on less than a shiur. The rationale of Tosafos is that the source for bracha rishona is אסור ליהנות בעוה"ז בלא ברכה, therefore, one must make a bracha rishona even on a tiny amount.
This approach seems difficult because the gemara on 35a was discussing both bracha rishona AND bracha achrona, yet according to Tosafos we reject the kal v'chomer and rely on the sevara of אסור ליהנות בעוה"ז בלא ברכה for both bracha rishona and bracha achrona. If this sevara is mechayev both bracha rishona and bracha achrona, why should bracha achrona be bound to a shiur kezayis and not bracha achrona? It seems that even if we use the sevara as the source for bracha achrona, chazal still modeled the bracha achrona after the din d'oraysa which is that we require an achila of kezayis. Although it is not exactly modeled after the bracha achrona d'oraysa because they instituted that bracha should be said even on a kezayis, even without se'viah. That is because se'viah is very subjective so they couldn't be magdir bracha achrona practically based on seviah. Instead they said that whenever one eats a kezayis they must make bracha achrona and if they happened to be satisfied from that eating, the bracha achrona they were making would actually be d'oraysa. But if they didn't allow you to make bracha achrona unless you reached שביעה, it would be impossible for people to figure out whether they met this requirement.
Bracha Rishona is made even on the smallest amount, provided that it is enough to provide a person pleasure. If one were to eat a crumb and could barely taste anything, they wouldn't make a bracha rishona, but if they at enough to receive some enjoyment, they would make a bracha. Tosafos doesn't say what bracha rishona is made, which implies that when one eats less than a shiur they make the standard bracha rishona appropriate for that food. However, Rabbeinu Yona writes that since what compels the bracha rishona on less than a shiur is not the nature of the food, rather avoiding benefiting without making a bracha, whenever one eats less than a shiur the bracha is shehakol. The Beis Yosef is medayek from the Rosh that on less than a shiur one should make the appropriate bracha for that food because when speaking about the bracha achrona, the rosh assumes that if one can't make the bracha appropriate for that food, there would be no other bracha to make. Similarly with bracha rishona, if one wouldn't make the appropriate bracha, there would be no other bracha to make. There is one opinion cited in Beis Yosef (kol bo) that even bracha rishona requires a shiur.
Regarding bracha achrona on less than a shiur, Tosafos cites the R"I who suggests making borei nefashos. Tosafos disagrees since the bracha on fruits is modeled after the ברכה אחת מעין שלש, therefore it should also require a shiur. The rationale of the R"I would be that only brachos which contain the term "achila" require a shiur of kezayis because that is the definition of achila. Borei Nefashos which doesn't use the term achila wouldn't require a kezayis.
Another issue is the shiur for bracha achrona on drinks. Tosafos assumes that the shiur is מלא לוגמיו   and therefore encourages one to always drink at least a מלא לוגמיו from a כוס של ברכה so that they can make a bracha achrona. R. Akiva Eiger in the Gilyon HaShas references Tosafos 49b who also cites the R"I and says that one should be machmir to make a bracha achrona on drinking even less than a מלא לוגמיו (presumably they me an a kezayis would be the shiur for drinking as well). Aside from the Gilyon HaShas pointing out that being machmir in brachos is against the standard rule (see Tosafos 12a citing the R"I who says there also we go l'chumra to make brachos out of safeik), R. Akiva Eiger is also pointing out that the R"I in our Tosafos seems to make borei nefashos on less than a מלא לוגמיו, whereas on 49b sounds like you would make the standard bracha.
The Tzlach finds this entire shiur of מלא לוגמיו to be strange. Tosafos in Yoma 79a offers possibilities as to what the shiur is for drinking. Either kezayis, or k'beitzah, or Revi'is, but not ma'lei lugmav. It seems to me that Tosafos wasn't sure if kezayis is sufficient but he was sure that the shiur couldn't exceed malei lugmav. On Y.K. the shiur of eating is a large date which is larger than the shiur for bracha, so the R"I understands that for drinking the shiur for bracha may be the same as Y.K. but it couldn't be larger than Y.K. which is malei lugmav. This is clear from Tosafos 49b citing the R"I to make a bracha on less than malei lugmav since we see that the shiurim for bracha are smaller than y.k. Therefore, even if in our Tosafos there is a possibility that the shiur should be like Y.K., it would be impossible for the shiur for drinking to be larger than Y.K. since the shiur for eating is smaller.

Brachos 39a - Seviah without Achila

The pasuk requires one to say birchas ha'mazon (see Ohr sameiach who questions whether m'doraysa one needs to make all 3 brachos or perhaps just give some type of bracha to hashem for the food) after meeting the requirements of ואכלת ושבעת וברכת. The gemara 20b refers to a kezayis as a shiur d'rabonon because the torah doesn't require you to bentch until you eat a shiur of se'viah.
Rav Moshe (Igros Moshe O.C. 1:76) cites a pri megadim who says that a person who eats enough to fill himself up, but does so by spreading the eating over time so that he never ate a kezayis within a shiur of כדי אכילת פרס would still need to bentch. Essentially, he meets the requirement of שביעה but never met the requirement of אכילה, yet the pri megadim says that he is required to bentch m'doraysa. Rav Moshe disagrees and says that achila is also a d'oraysa condition and without an achila, one is not required to bentch on seviah alone. His proof is from a sick person who is satisfied after eating a half kezayis, and the halacha is that he doesn't bentch. He further proves this from a Radvaz cited by the Sha'arei Teshuva 197:8  who says that a sick or elderly person who eats a kezayis and is satisfied can make birchas hamazon to be motzi those who are chayev m'doraysa. The implication is that because they ate a kezayis they can be motzi others, but if they wouldn't have eaten a kezayis, they can't even bentch themselves. Therefore, Rav Moshe concludes that one must be careful to at least eat one kezayis within a כדי אכילת פרס in order to be chayev to bentch. If one has a safeik, he leans toward saying they shouldn't bentch and this doesn't qualify as a safeik d'oraysa l'chumra because he thinks that the halacha is not like the pri megadim.
Rashi on our daf seems to support Rav Moshe's approach. The gemara says that by removing the pit from the olive the shiur is reduced. Rashi comments that by birchas ha'peiros the Torah says אכילה, which means a kezayis. Rashi seems to be following the approach of Rabbeinu Yona at the beginning of the perek (24b and 25a on bottom) that the bracha achrona on 7 species of E.Y. is d'oraysa. But aside from that he seems to say clearly that the Torah insists on an achila as a condition for bracha achrona. If the only d'oraysa requirement were שביעה, rashi shouldn't be citing a pasuk and interpreting it as requiring a kezayis. Therefore, the Torah requires 2 conditions for Birchas HaMazon, אכילה which requires a kezayis within k'dei achilas pras and שביעה. 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Brachos 38a - Bracha on Medicine

The Shulchan Aruch 204:8 writes that any food or drink that one eats for medicinal purposes and has a good flavor requires a bracha before and after (if they eat a shiur). However, in si'if 11 the Rama writes that we don't make the appropriate bracha, rather we always make the bracha of shehakol. The M.B. explains the rationale is that since it is a medicine only eaten by sick people, even though there is benefit, the primary benefit is the medicinal purpose. We only make the appropriate bracha when the primary benefit is for the food, because the bracha is designed to be food specific, but when the primary benefit is medicinal, the bracha is the general bracha. The M.B. cites many achronim who disagree with the Rama and hold that one always makes the appropriate bracha. The M.B. and Rav Moshe (Igros Moshe 1:?) rule that the appropriate bracha for that food should be recited.
The source of this discussion is the gemara regarding shesisa which is made thick for eating purposes, since it contains grain the bracha is mezonos, but when it is made thin and liquidy for the purpose of refuah the bracha is shehakol. It isn't clear whether the primary distinction of the gemara is how it is prepared, or what purpose one is using it for. 
Rabbeinu Yona explains that the gemara doesn't mean to say that it loses its normal bracha because it is being used for medicinal purposes. The fact that one uses it for medicine is not a reason for the bracha to change. Rather, the gemara is saying that when it is made so thin and liquidy, the grain is not a primary ingredient (maybe it is only there to give some consistency - לדבק), therefore even if eaten for enjoyment and not for medicine one makes a shehakol. According to Rabbeinu Yona, this gemara is not mechadesh that for medicines the bracha is always shehakol, rather we always make the proper bracha on the medicine based on its ingredients.
The source of the ruling of the Rama is the Rosh (13) who writes very simply that when the purpose of the eating is for "achila" the bracha on the shesisa is mezonos, when the purpose is "refuah" the bracha is shehakol. The Rosh seems to understand that regardless of whether it is made from grains that should be mezonos or other vegetables that should be ha'adoma, if eaten for refuah it is always shehakol, as the Rama writes. The Divrei Chamudos explains that it is different than anigron which contains a lot of oil and is eaten for refuah, yet the gemara says we make ha'eitz, because that is something that even healthy people drink. But, something which is really a medicine and eaten primarily by sick people always gets a shehakol.
It seems to me that Tosafos has an opinion somewhere in between Rabbeinu Yona and the Rosh. Tosafos writes that the bracha on shesisa when made thin for refuah purposes is shehakol - 
ומ"מ לא יברך אלא שהכל כיון שאינו עשוי לסעוד כי אם לשתות, וא"כ כל דבר שיש בו מחמשת המינין ואינו עשוי לסעוד כי אם לשתות כגון שכר וכיוצ"ב מברך שהכל
Tosafos seems to understand that the rationale behind shehakol has nothing to do with the consistency being thin, and nothing to do with the intent to use it for refuah. Rather, the rule of Rav and Shmuel that grains are always considered a primary ingredient even when they are a minority is because they are meant to be סועד - to satisfy and fill one up. Tosafos understands that whenever one is eating something that contains grains and their intent is not to be סועד, rather they are intending to use it as a refuah i.e. shesisa, or meant to be a drink i.e. beer, we don't apply the rule of כל שיש בו מחמשת המינין מברכין עליו בורא מיני מזונות, therefore the bracha is shehakol. According to this approach, Tosafos is saying a chiddush in the halacha of כל שיש בו מחמשת המינין וכו, not a chiddush in the halacha of making brachos on medicine. Therefore, if for example the medicine will contain a majority of grain so that even without this din of כל שיש בו the bracha would be mezonos, one would make mezonos even if it is for refuah. Similarly, if it is made from vegetables the bracha will be ho'adama. Only when it is made from grain and the grain is a minority ingredient will Tosafos say that the bracha is shehakol since the chiddusho of Rav and Shmuel that when something contains grain it is always mezonos, only applies if it is functioning to be סועד.
Based on this, it seems to me that even if we pasken like the other achronim who hold that the appropriate bracha is always made, nevertheless, if it is made from grain and that grain is a minority, the bracha should be shehakol when eaten for refuah. We would reject the ruling of the Rama when the appropriate bracha based on the majority ingredient is mezonos or ho'adama, and make the appropriate bracha. But, we would accept the Rama when the mezonos is a minority ingredient, based on Tosafos.
According to my approach, the language of the M.B. in the sha'ar hatziyun 204:45 that the Rama rules that you make a shehakol "even when made from the 5 grains" is not so accurate. Perhaps only when it is an issue of being made from the 5 grains and they are a minority ingredient would we make shehakol, but if made from a vegetables we would make ho'adama when it is the majority ingredient.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Brachos 38a - Dividing Challah

There is a statement of Rav Yochanan in Maseches Challah Yerushalmi that is paskened in Shulchan Aruch 326:2 that if one makes enough dough that is beyond the shiur challah, but intends to "divide it", they are not obligated in the mitzvah of hafrashas challah. It is not clear what exactly the case is that this halacha is referring to. The achronim try to reconcile this with the practice that women have to make many small challas from the dough which has the shiur challah and make a bracha on their hafrashas challah. Why doesn't this qualify as העושה עיסה לחלקה בבצק פטורה? The Shach (5) and Taz (2) write that this halacha is limited to a case where it is being made for the purpose of dividing among many people AND that it will be distributed while still in the dough state. However, if one is baking many loaves of challah to be distributed among a group of people, but will be distributed after baking it is obligated in hafrashas challah. Certainly if one is baking it with the intention to divide it into smaller loaves that they will be keeping for themself, it is also obligated in the mitzvah of hafrashas challah.
However, both the Pischei Teshuva in citing the Beis Ephraim and the Tzlach in our sugya point out that from Tosafos quoting Rabbeinu Yechiel, this doesn't seem to be true. Tosafos implies that anytime the dough which has a shiur challah is going to be divided up and then baked as separate loaves, even if it will all belong to one person, he questions whether there is a mitzvah of hafrashas challah (so that no bracha should be made). According to Tosafos, whenever a woman bakes challah for shabbos and makes multiple loaves so that there will be lechem mishna, there is no bracha made on the hafrashas challah. The Tzlach struggles trying to justify the minhag that women have to make a bracha, with this approach of Tosafos.
The Madanei Yom Tov (also cited by Pischei Teshuva) suggests that if she is dividing it to bake a little now and a little at some later point (for example she is freezing some of the dough), she may not be obligated in hafrashas challah. But, if her intent is to bake everything now, she is obligated in this mitzvah. The Tzlach says that this also doesn't read well into Tosafos because Tosafos should have mentioned that the safeik of whether it is obligated in hafrashas challah is because sometimes it isn't all baked at one time.
The Tzlach understands Tosafos simply that if the loaves are divided while they are dough there is no mitzvah of hafrashas challah. But offers two approaches to justify the minhag to be mafrish challah with a bracha. 
1. There is a machlokes rishonim whether we pasken like Rav Yochanan to exempt from challah when dough is divided. The Rambam paskens like R. Yochanan, but the Ra'avad doesn't. There is also a machlokes as to whether the oven can combine the loaves to create an obligation. Therefore, we have a s'feik s'feikia obligating in the mitzvah of challah, and are entitled to make a bracha on the hafrasha. Although one is being mafrish with a bracha in the state of dough before they even enter the oven, the fact that one intends to put them in the oven in a way that they may combine, makes it that they are not considered דעתו לחלק and is obligated in the mitzvah of hafrashas challah.
2. The nature of this exemption of דעתו לחלק is that when one divides the dough and intends to distribute it among many people, it is unlikely to ever come back together and therefore exempt. It doesn't really matter whether it is being given out to others or kept for oneself. So long as the chances of it coming back as one unit is very slim, it is patur from hafrashas challah. Normally, when one doesn't distribute to others we are concerned that they different loaves will come back together in one basket and be obligated in challah, therefore even now the separating into separate loaves doesn't exempt. Tosafos is speaking about a type of bread that is going to be sufganin in the end (meaning it will be made in a way that there is excessive oil and shouldn't be subject to challah). The only reason to subject them to challah is because now they are all in one dough and we pasken תחילתו עיסה וסופה סופגנין חייבין. Therefore, if one intends to separate them into separate loaves, it is now exempt and later will never become obligated because later it will be sufganin which are exempt from challah.

Brachos 36b - Bracha on pits

Tosafos proves from the fact that the gemara considers pits to be included in the issur of orlah that they are considered part of the fruit. Therefore if one eats eatable pits, the bracha is בורא פרי העץ. However, the Rashba disagrees and says that just as we include the shell for orlah based on the extra word את פריו, to include even the shomer of the fruit, we include pits for orlah from the same source, but they are not actually part of the fruit and therefore the bracha is בורא פרי האדמה. Although the Shulchan Aruch 202:3 paskens like Tosafos (and the Rosh), the Tzlach says that he thinks that the halacha should be like the Rashba to make ho'adoma on fruit pits. He proves this from a mishna in Orlah 1:8 that says that although they are included in orlah, they are exempt from revai. This would only make sense if they are not really part of the fruit, but if they would be part of the fruit they should be included in revai as well. Although the tzlach himself rules in accordance with the Rashbah, he offers an answer for Tosafos. The tzlach suggests that there is the outer shell over the eatable part of the pit which is exempt from revai, but the inner eatable pit is part of the fruit and ha'eitz.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Brachos 36a - Eating to save one's life

The gemara says that if one is sick and needs to eat something for medicinal purposes, since he benefits from it, he makes a bracha. Rashi explains that whenever one receives a benefit of enjoying what they are eating, aside from the medicinal benefit, they must make a bracha. This is also the approach of Tosafos, however, the Rambam seems to say that as long as the person receives benefit from this eating such as for medicinal purposes where the food heals him, even if there is no enjoyment from the actual eating, a bracha would be made. The Shulchan Aruch 204:8 paskens like Rashi that one would only make a bracha if they receive some enjoyment from the food or medicine they are eating.
The Rama adds that if one were threatened at gun point and forced to eat something that they weren't interested in eating, no bracha would be made. However, in si'if 9 the Shulchan Aruch writes that if one had to eat things that are forbidden due to pikuach nefesh, they would make a bracha on it. The question is, why would one need to make a bracha on medicine or food that they need for pikuach nefesh, so long as they are receiving enjoyment from the eating, yet they wouldn't make a bracha on food when they are being forced to eat it at gun point? There are some achronim cited by M.B. 45 who equate these two halachos and say that just as one would not make a bracha when they are forced to eat at gun point, they would also not make a bracha on foods that they are eating for pikuach nefesh (see sha'ar hatziyun 40 - this is clearly the opinion of the re'ah). However, most achronim cited by the M.B. make a distinction between the two cases. When one is being forced to eat either physically forced by the food being stuffed down their throat, or forced by gun point, they are not making a decision to eat at all. Since the entire act of eating is forced upon them, there is no bracha. But, when one is dying and needs to eat for pikuach nefesh, they are not being forced to do the act of eating, rather they are making a decision to eat due to the dire circumstances. Since they are eating as a result of a decision that they are making, they must make a bracha.
There is a similar distinction made between one who violates an issur that they should have given their lives for i.e. avoda zara, but the violation was to save their life. Do we say that the person is given capital punishment for violating avoda zara or do we consider them an o'nes? The Rambam (Yesodei HaTorah 5:4) says that if they were forced to bow down to avoda zara at gun point we consider them an o'nes (even though they should have given their life) and there is no capital punishment, whereas when one uses the avoda zara for medicinal purpose to save their life, the are considered to be willfully violating avoda zara and are given capital punishment (Yesodei HaTorah 5:6). In the first case they are being forced to do the avoda zara and are considered an o'nes on the act of avoda zara so there is no capital punishment, but in the second they are deciding to use the avoda zara due to their dire circumstance, so they are punished for making a decision to use avoda zara.
The Sha'ar Hatziyun (38) asks that the gemara says one can fulfill the mitzvah of matzah that they are eating by force - כפאוהו ואכל מצה יצא. Why is a mitzvah different than a bracha? The Sha'ar Ha'tziyun offers two approaches. 1. Eating by force qualifies as eating so that the mitzvah is fulfilled, but we can't make someone give thanks on an act that they don't want to do. 2. We don't regard forced eating to be eating at all, but when there is an element of mitzvah such as by matzah, we assume that he later is happy that he ate it and it therefore qualifies as eating. According to the second answer, if one were forced to eat matzah, not only would they fulfill the mitzvah, but would also have to make birchas hamazon since in a mitzvah situation we regard it as eating.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Brachos 35a - Status of Brachos: D'oraysa or D'rabonon

The gemara at first tries to learn brachos from pesukim, implying that they are d'oraysa. There seems to be two opposite approaches being used by the gemara regarding the bracha rishona vs. the bracha achrona. On one hand the gemara implies that had we only had one source for bracha, we would assume it referred to bracha achrona, indicating that bracha achrona is more compelling. Yet, the gemara also introduces a kal v'chomer that if we make a bracha achrona, we should certainly be making a bracha rishona, implying that bracha rishona is more compelling. Rashi seems to be bothered by this question and explains that although the gemara assumes the rationale to require a bracha rishona is stronger than for a bracha achrona (therefore is able to make a kal v'chomer from bracha achrona to bracha rishona), nevertheless, had we only had one source for bracha we would assume that the bracha achrona was d'oraysa because we find a precedent for bracha achrona being d'oraysa on bread - ואכלת ושבעת וברכת.
At the conclusion of the gemara it seems to use pesukim as a source for bracha achrona on all 7 species, but is unable to find a source for bracha achrona for other foods and is forced to conclude that it is just logic - סברא הוא, אסור לו לאדם שיהנה מן העוה"ז בלא ברכה. According to this it should come out that bracha achrona on all 7 species, not just bread is d'oraysa. This is actually the opinion of Rabbeinu Yona (although the chidushei anshei sheim points out that Rabbeinu Yona at the end of the perek 32a in dafei ha'rif writes that the ברכה אחת מעין שלש is only d'rabonon), however, the Rosh implies that at the conclusion of the gemara our only source for bracha (other than birchas hamazon on bread) is just logic, implying that even on the 7 species it is only d'rabonon. I also found that the Rabbeinu Chananel (on the page in some printings) writes explicitly that according to the opinon who holds kerem r'vai the gemara concludes that ואכלת ושבעת וברכת is going on all 7 species, so the bracha achrona will be d'oraysa. And the opinion who holds of neta revai will hold that bracha achrona on all trees that are subject to revai is going to be d'oraysa. The sevara is only needed to fill in for other items and for bracha rishona.
The gemara also seems to conclude that on whatever the bracha achrona would be d'oraysa, the bracha rishona on that item would also be d'oraysa based on the kal v'chomer. Meaning, that according to most rishonim who consider bracha achrona on everything except bread to be d'rabonon, the bracha rishona on bread my still be d'oraysa based on the kal v'chomer. And according to Rabbeinu Yona that the bracha achrona on all 7 species is d'oraysa, we could use the kal v'chomer to say that the bracha rishona on all 7 species is also d'oraysa. However, Tosafos and Rabbeinu Yona both point out that the gemara 21a seems to reject this logic because it considers bracha rishona d'rabonon even on bread where bracha achrona is certainly d'roraysa. We see that ultimately the gemara doesn't accept this kal v'chomer (for an explanation as to why we don't accept the kal v'chomer, see Meshech Chochma on the pasuk in parshas eikev ואכלת ושבעת וברכת). The Tzlach proves that even bracha rishona on bread is only d'rabonon from the mishna 42a where we allow one to make a bracha rishona for others. If bracha rishona were learned from bracha achrona using a kal v'chomer it would only be d'oraysa when eating a shiur of שביעה, so how can we simply say that one can make a bracha rishona for others - perhaps the me'vareich is not eating a shiur so his bracha is only d'rabonon whereas the others are eating a shiur and are required m'doraysa (there is no arvus for bracha rishona). Clearly, we always assume bracha rishona is only d'rabonon.
Another point raised by the Pnei Yehoshua is that elsewhere we find that a sevara can be in place of a verse in the Torah. The gemara in kesubos says that the source of פה שאסור הוא הפה שהתיר, of believing someone to be telling the truth because they created the doubt to begin with, and the concept of המוציא מחבירו עליו הראיה, which are both Torah concepts are learned from sevara. Therefore, although the gemara concludes that the source is sevara, bracha rishona may still be d'oraysa. The Tzlach disagrees and says that this is not possible. Although sevara can replace a pasuk to teach a din, it cannot be a source of a mitzvah or an obligation. If sevara were able to be a source of a mitzvah, we wouldn't need the Torah to write any מצות שכליות (logical mitzvos such as stealing and killing) since we can learn them out from sevara. Furthermore, if the sevara can introduce a mitzvah, it should apply even to goyim, yet the requirement to make brachos is only for Jews. Since the gemara concludes that bracha rishona is derived from sevara, we assume that all bracha rishona are only d'rabonon.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Brachos 33b - Compassion on the Birds Nest

The Mishna says that one who davens asking for mercy because על קן צפור יגיע רחמיך, we shut him up. The gemara offers 2 approaches as to why this is inappropriate. 1. It causes jealousy between the animals. 2. It turn the middos of Hashem into acts of compassion when in truth they are gezeiros.
The first approach seems to assume that in truth, this mitzvah is a mitzvah to have compassion on birds. The halacha in the mishna is just that one shouldn't use this in davening because to verbalize it in a way that singles out birds from other animals will cause "jealousy" between Hashem creatures. This is what Rashi seems to say - לומר על אלה חס ולא על שאר הבריות. One shouldn't say in their tefillah that Hashem only has compassion on birds. According to this approach, the halacha if משתקין אותו is only because it is being used in tefillah, but not that it is actually wrong.
Rashi explains the second approach of the gemara to be that we have to view ALL the mitzvos of Hashem as gezeiros that we do whether we understand or don't understand. The moment we start giving rationale for mitzvos, it may lead one to discriminate between what they consider more rationale and less rationale, which is obviously wrong. According to this approach, which also seems to be the approach of the Rambam, mitzvos cannot be considered acts of compassion, rather decrees of Hashem that we fulfill simply because we are his servants.

However, the Raman (ki seitzei) elaborates and disagrees. The Ramban explains that the point of this mishna and other midrashim is to say that we shouldn't reduce Hashem's mitzvos to being minor acts of compassion on birds and animals. True, the nature of this mitzvah and many others is compassion, but it is not to display compassion on the birds, rather it is to teach us to be compassionate people. Hashem wants these mitzvos to be used to be מצרף the human beings and turn them into compassionate people rather than a display of compassion on the birds.
R. Akiva Eiger in the gilyon ha'shas points to a midrash rabba at the beginning of ki seitzei that seems to disagree. It seems to consider the mitzvah of mila a form of compassion on the child and the mitzvah of sending away the mother a form of compassion on the birds. This seems to contradict our mishna? One of the commentaries on the midrash (pirush maharzu) explains that compassion on the birds is certainly one element or aspect in this mitzvah, but we cannot limit the entire mitzvah to just a mere act of compassion.