POINT BY POINT OUTLINE
THE NEFF FAMILY MASECHES BERACHOS
prepared by Rabbi P. Feldman of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
1) ON WHICH LIGHT MAY WE BLESS?
(a) Question: What is considered light that did not rest?
1. Suggestion: Melachah was done with it, even if it was permitted.
2. Rejection (Beraisa): One may bless on light lit [in a permitted way on Shabbos, e.g.] for a woman who [recently] gave birth or for a [mortally] sick person.
(b) Answer (Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak): "Rested" means from forbidden Melachah.
(c) Support (Beraisa): If a big lamp [was lit before Shabbos and] burned all of Shabbos, one may bless on it.
(d) (Beraisa): If [on Motza'ei Shabbos] a Nochri lit from a Yisrael's flame, or a Yisrael lit from a Nochri's, one may bless on it;
1. If a Nochri lit from a Nochri, one may not bless on it.
(e) Question: Presumably, if a Nochri lit from a Nochri, one may not bless because it did not rest. The same applies when a Yisrael lit from a Nochri!
1. Suggestion: Perhaps the Isur does not apply to the Yisrael's flame, for every flame is a new entity.
2. Rejection (Beraisa): If one transferred a flame [on Shabbos from Reshus ha'Yachid] to Reshus ha'Rabim, he is liable.
i. If the new flame is a new entity, he should be exempt, for he did not do Akirah (uprooting from rest) and Hanachah (setting to rest) on the same object!
(f) Answer: Really, the flame of Isur (the old flame) is still there. We bless on the additional flame.
(g) Question: If so, when a Nochri lit from a Nochri, one should be able to bless on the additional flame! (No Isur was done with the addition.)
(h) Answer: Indeed, according to the letter of the law this should be permitted. Chachamim decreed not to, lest one bless on a Nochri's flame itself (that was used on Shabbos).
(i) (Beraisa): If one was walking outside a city and saw light:
1. If the city is mostly Nochrim, he may not bless on it;
2. If it is mostly Yisre'elim, he may bless on it.
(j) Contradiction: The Reisha (first clause) implies that if the city is half-Nochrim, he may bless on it. The Seifa implies that if it is half-Nochrim, he may not bless on it!
(k) Answer: Really, if it is half-Nochrim, he may bless on it;
1. The Seifa discusses a majority of Yisre'elim for parallel structure to the Reisha (but the same applies if it is half-Yisrael).
(l) (Beraisa): If one was walking outside a city and saw a child holding a torch, he must investigate:
1. If the child is a Yisrael, one may bless on it. If the child is a Nochri, one may not bless on it.
(m) Question: Why does it discuss a child? The same applies to an adult!
(n) Answer (Rav Yehudah): The case is, it is right after sundown;
1. If an adult held it, we would know that it is a Nochri, for a Yisrael would not take a fire so close to sundown (lest it is still day);
2. It is possible that a [Yisrael] child would do so.
(o) (Beraisa): If one was walking outside a city and saw light:
1. One may bless on it only if it is as thick as the [light that emanates from the] opening of a furnace. (Then, we may assume that it is for illumination.)
2) ON WHICH LIGHT MAY WE BLESS? (cont.)
(a) (Beraisa #1): One may bless on fire of a furnace.
(b) Contradiction (Beraisa #2): One may not bless on it.
(c) Resolution: One may not bless at the beginning (fire comes from the stones. It is not for illumination.) One may bless at the end. (There is a big fire. It is also for illumination.)
(d) (Beraisa #1): One may bless on fire of an oven.
(e) Contradiction (Beraisa #2): One may not bless on it.
(f) Resolution: One may not bless at the beginning, but one may bless at the end. (It is also used for illumination.)
(g) (Beraisa #1): One may bless on a light in a Beis ha'Keneses or Beis Midrash;
(h) Contradiction (Beraisa #2): One may not bless on them.
(i) Resolution #1: If there is a great person there, [it is for his honor, so] one may not bless on it. If there is no great person there, one may bless on it. (It is for illumination.)
(j) Resolution #2: In both cases there is a great person there. If there is a caretaker [who lives in the Beis ha'Keneses, it is also for illumination, so] one may bless on it. If not, one may not bless on it.
(k) Resolution #3: In both cases there is a caretaker. If there is moonlight, one may not bless on the light in the Beis ha'Keneses. (It is not needed for illumination.) If there is no moonlight, one may bless on the light in the Beis ha'Keneses.
(l) (Beraisa - Beis Shamai): If fire was brought to people in a Beis Medrash, everyone blesses for himself;
(m) Beis Hillel says, one person blesses for everyone -- "b'Rav Am Hadras Melech."
(n) Question: Beis Hillel gave their reason. What is Beis Shamai's reason?
(o) Answer: It is Bitul Torah for everyone to stop learning to listen to the Berachah and answer Amen.
(p) Support (Beraisa): R. Gamliel's household would not say "Merapei" (a blessing of health to one who sneezed) in the Beis Midrash due to Bitul Torah.
3) BLESSING ON SPICES
(a) (Mishnah): We do not bless on a Ner or spices of a corpse. (There is no difference between spices that are valid for the Berachah on spices during Havdalah, and those on which we bless at any other time.)
(b) Question: What is the reason?
(c) Answer: A Ner of a corpse is for honor. (It is not for illumination.) Spices of a corpse are to offset the stench. (They are not to be smelled for pleasure.)
(d) (Rav Yehudah): One may not bless on a Ner normally brought in front of a corpse during the day or night. One may bless on a Ner brought only at night. (This shows that it is for illumination.)
(e) (Rav Huna): One does not bless on bathroom spices (used to offset the odor) or oil used to remove filth from hands. (Rashi - on the latter, we do not bless Borei Atzei Besamim, rather, Borei Shemen Arev. Tosfos - we do not bless at all.)
(f) Inference: Whenever something is not intended to be smelled, we do not bless on it.
(g) Question (Beraisa): If one enters a spice store and smells fragrances, even if he was there the entire day, he blesses only once;
1. If he left and returned repeatedly, he blesses every time [he enters].
2. The spices are not meant to be smelled (they are just for sale), yet one blesses on them!
(h) Answer: Indeed, the owner wants people to smell them, to encourage them to buy them.
(i) (Beraisa): If one was walking outside a city and smelled a nice scent:
1. If the city is mostly Nochrim, he may not bless on it. If it is mostly Yisre'elim, he may bless on it.
2. R. Yosi says, even if it is mostly Yisre'elim, he may not bless, for Benos Yisrael offer incense for the sake of witchcraft.
3. Objection: Surely, most Benos Yisrael girls do not do so!
4. Answer: Indeed, only a minority offer incense for witchcraft, but other spices are burned to scent clothing. (The spices themselves are not meant to be smelled). The two minorities form the majority.
(j) (R. Chiya bar Aba): If one smells a fragrant smell on Erev Shabbos in Tiverya, or on Motza'ei Shabbos in Tzipori, he does not bless, for it is assumed to be from scenting clothing.
(k) (Beraisa): If one was walking in a Nochri market and willingly smelled [a scent], he transgressed (we assume that it was for idolatry).
4) MUST ONE BE ABLE TO BENEFIT FROM THE LIGHT?
(a) (Mishnah): We may not bless on light unless we [can] benefit from it;
(b) (Rav Yehudah and Rav Ashi): One need not actually [be able to] benefit from it. Rather, if [it is strong enough that] someone close could benefit from it, even someone far away may bless.
(c) Question (Beraisa): In the following cases one may not bless:
1. One had a lamp hidden in his lap or [glass] lantern, or he saw a flame but did not use its light, or he used its light but did not see the flame;
2. One may not bless unless he sees a flame and uses its light.
3. Question: Granted, one can use the light without seeing the flame, e.g. the flame was around a corner. However, how can one see a flame without [being capable of] using its light?
4. Suggestion: He was far away. (The Beraisa forbids blessing in such a case!)
(d) Answer: No. The case is, the flame was fading, and even someone close could not benefit from it.
(e) (Beraisa): One may bless on glimmering coals, but not on Omemos (dying coals, that are getting dimmer and dimmer).
(f) Question: What is considered glimmering?
(g) Answer (Rav Chisda): If one would insert a chip of wood, it would catch flame.
1. Question: Is "Omemos" spelled with an Alef, or with an Ayin?
2. Answer (Rav Chisda bar Avdimi): We learn from "Arazim Lo Amamuhu." (It is spelled with an Ayin.)
(h) (Rava): One must indeed [be close enough to able to] benefit from it.
(i) Question: How much usage must he be able to make?
(j) Answer #1 (Ula): He must be able to distinguish between an Isar and a Pundyon. (The latter coin is twice the weight of the former.)
(k) Answer #2 (Chizkiyah): He must be able to distinguish between the [standard] coins (Aruch; Rashi - weights) of Tiverya and Tzipori.
(l) Rav Yehudah used to bless on light from the house of Ada Daila (even though it was far away). Rava used to bless on light from the house of Gurya bar Chama. (It was close.) Abaye used to bless on light from the house of Bar Avuha.
(m) (Rav Yehudah): We need not exert ourselves to bless on light the way we must exert ourselves to perform other Mitzvos.
(n) (R. Zeira): I used to exert myself to bless on light. After I heard Rav Yehudah's teaching, I bless only if the opportunity presents itself.
5) RETURNING TO BLESS
(a) (Mishnah): If someone ate [and forgot to bless, Beis Shamai obligates him to return to where he ate. Beis Hillel permits him to bless in his current place.]
(b) (Rav Zevid): They argue about one who forgot to bless. If he intentionally left without blessing, all agree that he must return to his place.
(c) Objection: This is obvious. The Mishnah explicitly says that he forgot!
(d) Answer: One might have thought that the same applies if he deliberately left without blessing. The Mishnah discusses when he forgot, in order to teach the extremity of Beis Shamai's opinion (that even then, one is obligated to return);
1. Rav Zevid teaches that this is not so.
(e) (Beraisa) Beis Hillel (to Beis Shamai): Will you say that one who ate at the top of a building must go up again to bless?!
1. Beis Shamai: If he left his wallet there, he would return to get it for his own needs. All the more so he should return for the sake of Heaven!
(f) There were two Talmidim. One of them forgot to bless. He returned to his place, like Beis Shamai, and found a wallet full of gold coins;
1. The other deliberately left before blessing, and did [not return] like Beis Hillel says [about one who forgot]. A lion ate him.
(g) Rabah bar bar Chanah was traveling with a caravan; he forgot to bless. He reasoned -- if I tell them this, they will say "[we need not wait for you to return.] You can bless Hash-m anywhere!"
(h) He told them that he forgot a golden dove. They agreed to wait for him. He returned, blessed, and found a golden dove.
(i) Question: Why did he say that he forgot a dove?
(j) Answer: Keneses Yisrael is compared to a dove -- "Kanfei Yonah Nechpah va'Kesef...";
1. Just like a dove saves itself only through its wings (R. Yehudah ha'Chasid - it need not perch to rest, it can fly with one wing and rest the other), Bnei Yisrael are saved only through Mitzvos.
(k) (Mishnah) Question: How long after eating [may one bless? He may bless until the food is digested.]
(l) Question: How long is it until the food is digested?
(m) Answer #1 (R. Yochanan): As long as he is not hungry, it has not been digested.
(n) Answer #2 (Reish Lakish): As long as he is thirsty due to eating, it has not been digested.
(o) Question (Rav Yeimar): R. Ami cited Reish Lakish to say that it is not digested until the time to walk four Mil (72 minutes; Rambam - 90 minutes)!
(p) Answer (Mar Zutra): If he ate a small amount, it is as long as he is thirsty. If he ate a large amount, it is the time to walk four Mil (Rashi; Tosfos switches which is for a small and large amount.)
6) ANSWERING AMEN
(a) (Mishnah): If wine was brought.... [We answer Amen after a Yisrael's blessing. We do not answer Amen to a Kusi's blessing unless we heard the entire blessing.]
(b) Inference: One answers Amen after a Yisrael's blessing even if he did not hear the entire blessing.
(c) Question: If he did not hear it, he cannot be Yotzei with it! (We are thinking that the Mishnah discusses one who fulfills the obligation of Birkas ha'Mazon through listening to the other person say it.)
(d) Answer (Chiya bar Rav and Rav Nachman): The case is, he did not eat with them. (He has no obligation to say Birkas ha'Mazon.)
(e) Rav (to his son Chiya, and Rav Huna to his son Rabah): Seize the opportunity to be the one to bless.
(f) Inference: It is better to bless than to answer Amen.
(g) Question (Beraisa - R. Yosi): One who answers Amen is more praiseworthy than the one who blesses;
1. R. Nehurai: Yes! Subordinate soldiers fight, and then the valiant ones enter and are victorious.
(h) Answer: Tana'im argue about which is better. (Rav holds like the following Tana);
1. (Beraisa): ["Kumu Barchu Es Hash-m"] connotes both the one who blesses and the one who answers. However, the one who blesses is rewarded first.
(i) Question (Shmuel): Should one answer Amen to a child learning [Berachos] from his Rebbi?
(j) Answer (Rav): We answer Amen to any Berachah, except for that of a child in front of his Rebbi, since it is only for the sake of learning.
1. This does not apply at the time of Mifteraihu (Rashi - when they are called to the Torah and bless for Maftir and the Haftarah; Rosh - when they [are obligated due to Chinuch to] say a blessing over food; alternatively, after they learn, we say Kaddish). Then, we do answer.
(k) (Beraisa - R. Zilai): After eating, one may not bless [Birkas ha'Mazon, or on food not exempted by ha'Motzi (e.g. dessert)] until anointing the hands with oil [to remove filth];
(l) R. Zivai says, oil is not Me'akev. (One may say Birkas ha'Mazon without annointing with it).
(m) R. Acha says, scented oil is Me'akev (for one who normally uses it).
(n) R. Zuhamai says, just like a smelly Kohen or animal is invalid for Avodah (Bechoros 41a), filthy hands disqualify a person from blessing.
(o) (Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak): I do not follow these opinions. Rather, I follow the following Beraisa;
1. (Beraisa): "V'Hiskadishtem" alludes to Mayim Rishonim. "Vi'Hyisem Kedoshim" alludes to Mayim Acharonim. "Ki Kadosh" alludes to oil. "Ani Hash-m Elokeichim" alludes to the Berachah (of Birkas ha'Mazon).