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) APPRECIATING THINGS
(a) (R. Yirmeyah ben Elazar): Bavel was cursed, and also its neighbors were cursed -- "v'Samtiha l'Morash Kipod v'Agmei Mayim." (Wild birds will be there. They will damage the surrounding area);
(b) Shomron (the capital of the 10 tribes) was cursed, and its neighbors were blessed -- "v'Samti Shomron l'Iy ha'Sadeh la'Mata'ei Charem." (It will be a vineyard. The neighbors will benefit from it.)
(c) (Rav Hamnuna): If one sees a multitude of Yisre'elim, he says "blessed is He who knows secrets" (Rashi - each of their thoughts; Me'iri - all humanly attainable knowledge is possessed by such a crowd. Only Hash-m knows what is beyond this);
1. If one sees a multitude of Nochrim, he says "Boshah Imchem..." (It is shameful to their mothers, who gave birth to people whose end is desolation.)
(d) (Beraisa): If one sees a multitude of Yisre'elim, he says "blessed is He who knows secrets," for their minds are all unlike, and their faces are all unlike.
(e) While standing on a step in Har ha'Bayis, Ben Zoma saw a multitude of Yisre'elim. He said "blessed is He who knows secrets, and blessed is He who created all of these people to serve me."
(f) Ben Zoma: How hard it was for Adam ha'Rishon to get bread! He had to plow, plant, reap, make piles, thresh, winnow, select, grind, sift, knead and bake before he could eat. I find all of these done for me!
1. How hard it was for Adam to get clothing! He had to shear, clean the wool, unravel it, spin, and weave before he had clothing. I find all of these done for me! All craftsmen come to my door (to sell their wares. Ben Zoma was rich.)
(g) Ben Zoma: A good guest says, "How much my host toiled for me! He brought so much meat in front of me, so much wine, so many rolls -- all his exertion was just for me!"
1. A bad guest says, "What did my host toil for me? I ate just one roll, just one piece [of meat], and I drank just one cup. All his exertion was for his own household!"
(h) Regarding the good guest it says "Zechor Ki Sasgi Fa'alo Asher Shoreru Anashim." (Maharsha - the guest should aggrandize what his host did. Alternatively, he should praise Hash-m for preparing people who fulfill all his needs);
1. Regarding the bad guest it says "Lachen Yere'uhu Anashim..." (Man should fear Hash-m, for the wisest of men does not impress Him. Likewise, a bad guest is not impressed by the greatest hospitality.)
(i) (Rava): "Veha'Ish... Ba va'Anashim" refers to Yishai, David's father, who was accompanied by a multitude when he went in or out, and he would teach to a multitude.
(j) (Ula): [The blessing for] a multitude does not apply in Bavel.
(k) (Beraisa): "Multitude" refers to at least 600,000 people.
(l) (Beraisa): If one sees Chachmei Yisrael, he says "blessed is He who apportioned from His wisdom to those who fear Him";
1. If one sees Chachmei Nochrim, he says "blessed is He who gave from His wisdom to mortals" (text of Gra).
(m) If one sees Yisrael kings, he says "blessed is He who apportioned from His honor to those who fear Him;
1. If one sees Nochri kings, he says "blessed is He who gave from His honor to mortals."
(n) (R. Yochanan): One should strive to see Yisrael kings, and even Nochri kings, so that if he merits, he will perceive the difference between Malchei Yisrael (Mashi'ach, in the World to Come) and Nochri kings.
(o) Rav Sheshes was blind. Everyone was going to see the [Nochri] king. He went with them. He met up with a Tzeduki, who said "we take intact vessels to draw water, and not broken vessels! Why did you come? You will not see anything!"
1. Rav Sheshes: You will see that I know more than you do.
2. A throng passed. When it became noisy, the Tzeduki said "the king is coming!"
3. Rav Sheshes: He is not coming [yet].
4. A second throng passed. When it became noisy, the Tzeduki said "the king is coming!"
5. Rav Sheshes: He is not coming.
6. A third throng passed. When it became quiet, Rav Sheshes said "surely, now the king is coming!"
7. The Tzeduki: How do you know?
8. Rav Sheshes: Earthly kings are a semblance of the Heavenly King -- "Lo va'Ru'ach Hash-m... Lo va'Ra'ash Hash-m... Lo va'Esh Hash-m v'Achar ha'Esh Kol Demamah Dakah."
9. When the king came, Rav Sheshes blessed him.
10. The Tzeduki: Do you bless someone you do not see?!
(p) Question: What happened to the Tzeduki?
(q) Answer #1: His colleagues gouged out his eyes.
(r) Answer #2: Rav Sheshes put his eyes on him (Maharsha - he miraculously regained sight, in order to punish him. Alternatively, he cursed him), and he became a pile of bones.
2) THE EPISODE WITH RAV SHILA
(a) Rav Shila lashed a man who had relations with a Mitzris. The man informed on him to the king, that there is a Yisrael who judges without permission of the king. The king sent to take Rav Shila.
(b) They (the king's court) asked why he lashed the man. Rav Shila said "he had relations with a donkey."
(c) When asked if he has witnesses, Rav Shila answered "yes". Eliyahu came in the guise of a man, and testified.
1. The court: If so, he is Chayav Misah!
2. Rav Shila: Once we were exiled from our land, we may not execute. You may do like you see fit.
(d) During the deliberations, Rav Shila said "Lecha Hash-m ha'Gedulah...". They asked what he was saying.
1. Rav Shila: I praise Hash-m, who gave kingship below which is a semblance of His Kingship, and gave to you authority and love of justice (Rashi. Maharsha - you are merciful in judgment. (He did not want the man to be killed, since he was not really Chayav Misah.))
2. The court: Since you love judgment so much, here is a staff [to enforce your authority]. Go judge!
(e) After they left, the man bewailed "miracles are done for a liar!" (I did not have relations with a donkey.)
1. Rav Shila: Mitzriyim are equated to donkeys -- "Asher Besar Chamorim Besaram."
(f) Rav Shila saw that the man was going to report this to the king. Rav Shila reasoned -- he seeks to kill me. The Torah says, if someone seeks to kill you, kill him first! He hit him with the staff and killed him.
(g) Rav Shila: Since a miracle was done for me through this verse, I will expound it:
1. "Lecha Hash-m ha'Gedulah" refers to the works of creation, like it says "Oseh Gedolos Ad Ein Cheker";
2. "Veha'Gevurah refers to Yetzi'as Mitzrayim -- "va'Yar Yisrael Es ha'Yad ha'Gedolah..." (This refers to mighty acts);
3. "Veha'Tif'eres" refers to the sun and moon standing still for Yehoshua. (This made him famous);
4. "Veha'Netzach" refers to the fall of Rome -- "v'Yez Nitzcham Al Begadai...";
5. "Veha'Hod" refers to the war in the valley of Arnon (above, 54a-b);
6. "Ki Chol ba'Shamayim uva'Aretz" refers to the war against Sisera -- "Min Shamayim Nilchamu ha'Kochavim...";
7. "Lecha Hash-m ha'Mamlachah" refers to the war against Amalek -- "Ki Yad Al Kes Kah." (His throne alludes to His kingship);
8. "Veha'Misnasei" refers to the war of Gog and Magog -- "Gog Nesi Rosh...."
9. (R. Chanan bar Rava): "L'Chol l'Rosh" -- Shamayim decrees [all authority, even] who will supervise the digging of water pits.
(h) (Beraisa - R. Akiva): "Lecha Hash-m ha'Gedulah" refers to Keri'as Yam Suf. "Veha'Gevurah" refers to Makas Bechoros. "Veha'Tif'eres" refers to Matan Torah. "Veha'Netzach" refers to Yerushalayim. "Veha'Hod" refers to the Beis ha'Mikdash.
3) BERACHOS ON DESOLATION
(a) (Beraisa): If one sees houses of [rich] Yisre'elim settled [in Eretz Yisrael during the time of the second Beis ha'Mikdash], he says "blessed is He who establishes the boundary of the widow";
1. If he sees them in desolation, he says "Baruch Dayan ha'Emes."
(b) If one sees houses of Nochrim settled, he says, "Beis Ge'im Yisach Hash-m" (they should be uprooted);
1. If he sees them in desolation, he says "Kel Nekamos Hash-m Kel Nekamos Hofi'ah."
(c) Ula and Rav Chisda were traveling. When they passed by the [desolate] house of Rav Chana bar Chanilai, Rav Chisda sighed.
(d) Ula: You should not sigh! Rav taught that sighing breaks half the body -- "... He'anach b'Shivron Masnayim!"
1. (R. Yochanan): It breaks the whole body -- "... Al Mah Atah Ne'enach; v'Names Kol Lev."
(e) Rav Chisda: How can I not sigh? In his house were 60 bakers during the day and 60 at night, for anyone hungry;
1. Rav Chana never took his hand out of his wallet, lest someone who lost his wealth come (for Tzedakah), and when I reach for my wallet he will be embarrassed;
2. He had doors in all four directions. Anyone who entered hungry left satiated.
3. In famine years, they would throw wheat and barley outside, so people who were embarrassed to take during the day could take at night.
4. Now his house is a mound. How can I not sigh?!
(f) (Ula citing R. Yochanan): From the day of the Churban it was decreed that houses of Tzadikim would be destroyed -- "... Batim Rabim l'Shamah Yiheyu Gedolim v'Tovim me'Ein Yoshev."
1. (R. Yochanan): In the future, Hash-m will resettle them -- "... ha'Botchim ba'Shem [Yiheyu] k'Har Tziyon" -- just like Hash-m will resettle Har Tziyon, He will resettle houses of Tzadikim.
(g) Ula saw that Rav Chisda was not comforted. He said "it suffices for the slave to be like his Master." [Hashem's house is desolate.]
(h) (Beraisa): If one sees graves of Yisre'elim, he says "blessed is He who created you b'Din (according to strict justice), and fed and financed you b'Din, and killed you b'Din, and will later revive you b'Din."
1. (Mar brei d'Ravina): He concludes "and He knows your number and in the future will revive and sustain you; Baruch Mechayeh ha'Mesim."
(i) If one sees graves of Nochrim, he says "Boshah Imchem...."
4) BERACHOS FOR SEEING PEOPLE
(a) (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): If one sees a friend for the first time in 30 days, he blesses Shehecheyanu;
(b) If one sees a friend for the first time in 12 months, he says "Baruch Mechayeh ha'Mesim."
1. (Rav): A Mes is not forgotten until 12 months -- "Nishkachti k'Mes mi'Lev Hayisi ki'Chli Oved." (One despairs from a lost vessel after 12 months).
(c) Rav Papa and Rav Huna brei d'Rav Yehoshua were walking. They encountered Rav Chanina brei d'Rav Ika. They told him "we can make two Berachos for seeing you - 'Blessed is He who apportioned from His wisdom to those who fear Him,' and Shehecheyanu."
1. Rav Chanina: To me, you are like 600,000 Yisre'elim (you possess all forms of wisdom). For seeing you, I can make the two Berachos you mentioned, as well as "Blessed is He who knows secrets."
2. Version #1 (Ramban, in Milchamos Hash-m) Rav Papa and Rav Huna: You must be such a Chacham [to see from our faces that we contain all forms of wisdom]! (Ben Yehoyada - also, saying "to me, you are like 600,000," was an ingenious way to show humility, as opposed to denying that he is worthy of the blessing they made on him.)
3. Version #2 (Bach, OC 224) Rav Papa and Rav Huna: Are you such a Chacham (to rely on your wisdom to make a blessing for which you have no tradition)?! (end of Version #2)
(d) They put their eyes on him, and he died (Bach - because he made a Berachah l'Vatalah; Ramban - from Ayin ha'Ra. Ben Yehoyada - they had an intrinsic Midah of Gevurah, which automatically brought Din upon him.)
5) BERACHOS FOR UNUSUAL THINGS
(a) (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): If one sees a freckled person, he says "Baruch Meshaneh ha'Beriyos" (Who varies the creations).
(b) Question (Beraisa): If one sees a person who is black, red, very white, with an oversized stomach (alternatively, very tall), a midget, or with warts (alternatively, with a crooked mouth), he says "Baruch Meshaneh ha'Beriyos";
1. If one sees someone missing an arm or leg, blind, or his hair sticks together (Rashi; Aruch - his head is oval-shaped), stricken with boils, or freckled, he says, "Baruch Dayan ha'Emes."
(c) Answer: R. Yehoshua ben Levi discusses someone born freckled. The Beraisa discusses when this happened after he was born.
(d) Support: Presumably, all cases in the Beraisa resemble one missing a limb, which happened after he was born!
(e) (Beraisa): If one sees an elephant, ape or Kafuf (Rashi - vulture), he says "Baruch Meshaneh ha'Beriyos."
(f) If one sees nice creatures or trees, he says "blessed is He who has such in His world."
(g) (Mishnah): On Zikin [one says "Blessed is He whose might fills the world."]
(h) Question: What are Zikin?
(i) Answer [#1] (Shmuel): They are shooting stars.
1. Shmuel: I know the pathways in the sky like the streets of my city, except for shooting stars. I do not know what they are;
2. We have a tradition that they do not pass the constellation Kesil;
3. If one would pass Kesil, it would destroy the world.
4. Question: We see shooting stars pass Kesil!
5. Answer [#1]: Their light passes. It appears as if they pass.
(j) Version #1 (Rashi) Answer #2 (Rav Huna brei d'Rav Yehoshua): Zikin are rips in Vilon (the lowest firmament), light from the sky is revealed.
1. Version #2 (Tosfos) Answer #2 (to Question (4) - Rav Huna brei d'Rav Yehoshua): [Shooting stars do not pass Kesil. Rather,] Vilon tears, and light from the sky is revealed. (end of Version #2)
2. Answer #2 (or #3) (Rav Ashi): A star on one side of Kesil starts to move, and another star on the other side gets afraid and moves. It looks like a star passed Kesil.
(k) Contradiction (Shmuel): It says "Oseh Ash Kesil v'Chimah" (Hash-m made Kesil before the constellation Kimah), and it says "Oseh Chimah u'Chesil"!
(l) Resolution: The verses teach that Kesil is essential. If not for its heat, the chill of Chimah would destroy the world. Also Chimah is essential. If not for its chill, the heat of Kesil would destroy the world!
(m) If the tail of the scorpion (a part of the constellation Teleh (lamb); Rashi - scorpion is Kimah) would not be in the Dinur River, anyone bitten by a scorpion would die.
(n) This is why Hash-m told Iyov "Haskasher Ma'adanos Kimah Oh Moshchos Kesil Tefate'ach" (do you tie Kimah [to hold in most of its cold]? Do you untie the harness of Kesil [to allow some of its heat to soften the chill from Kimah]?)
(o) Question: Why is it called Kimah?
(p) Answer (Shmuel): Its strength [chill] is concentrated in k'Me'ah (about 100) stars.
(q) Some say that these stars are gathered, and some say that they are spread out.