TalmuDigest

For the week ending 29 September 2012 / 12 Tishri 5773

Berachot 51 - 57

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Forgotten blessing before eating
  • Cup of wine for group Grace after meal
  • Order of blessings in Kiddush and Havdalah
  • Debate of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai in regard to meals
  • The candle and fragrances of Havdalah
  • Forgotten blessing after eating
  • Blessing at special sites and special occasions
  • Historical miracles
  • Four who must offer thanksgiving sacrifices
  • The long prayer and long meal
  • When its wrong to defer
  • Heavenly designations
  • Wisdom of Betzalel
  • Good dreams and other ones
  • Prayer as cure for bad dream
  • Prediction of dreams and interpretation of them
  • Some observations on nature and nutrition

The Colors of Fire

In our Havdalahprayer made at the conclusion of Shabbat we make a blessing on fire. Our Sages (Pesachim 54a) tell us that it was on Motzei Shabbat that Adam was granted by Heaven the intelligence to rub two stones together and bring forth the first spark of fire.

In regard to the text of the blessing we make in recognition of the Divine creation of fire, there is a difference of opinion between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. While the former contend that we refer to the fire as meorei haeish (the lights of the fire), the latters position is that the text should be meor haeish (the light of the fire).

The explanation offered by Rabbi Yosef for these two positions is that Beit Shmmai hold that there is only a single flame while Beit Hillel hold that there are several flames (red, white and blue-greenish Rashi).

In order to understand the position of Beit Shammai which seems to run counter to what we observe when we see the multicolored flame, the Gaon of Vilna distinguishes between the fundamental source of fire created by G-d and the fire which we produce by human effort. While the primeval fire was of a single color, the one we produce is of several colors. Beit Shammai contend that our blessing is on the creation of fire and it is for this reason that they insist that the blessing begin with the word bara He created. Beit Hillel, on the other hand, contend that the blessing must pay tribute to our ability to constantly produce fire which has many colors. For this same reason the text they insist on for the beginning of the blessing is borei a term referring to both the past and present creation of fire.

  • Berachot 52b

What the Sages Say

The Jewish People are compared to a dove. Just as the dove is saved from its pursuers by its wings (which help it escape or do battle Rashi) so is Israel saved from its enemies only through its mitzvot.

Rabbi Rabba bar Chana

  • Berachot 53b

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