For the week ending 30 April 2005 / 21 Nisan 5765

Berachot 58 - 64

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Collective blessings and curses
  • Why everyone is needed
  • Blessings on wisdom and on royalty
  • Miraculous rescue of a Sage
  • Great houses of Israel
  • Blessings in the cemetery and on strange creatures
  • Blessings on comets, earthquakes, lightning, thunder, rainbow and other natural wonders
  • Blessing made once every 28 years
  • Blessings on acquiring and experiencing good things
  • Praying for a son
  • Prayers and blessings related to bodily functions
  • Prayers before retiring and upon waking
  • Blessing on bad tidings
  • All that the Merciful One does is for the good
  • Creation of man and woman
  • Ladies first?
  • Forces within man
  • Rabbi Akivas martyrdom and his fable of the fish
  • Respect for the Beit Hamikdash
  • Modesty in relieving oneself
  • King Davids fateful encounters
  • Respect for the Synagogue
  • A time for action
  • A clash with a dissenter
  • Honor for Torah scholars
  • Taking leave of the living and the dead
  • Peace through Torah study

All for the Best

Whatever the Merciful One does is only for the good.

This was the motto of Rabbi Akiva which he suggested to everyone for use in their own lives.

The example of his own application mentioned in our gemara deals with the time this traveling Sage was unable to find lodging in a town and was compelled to spend the night in the field. A wind blew out the candle he used for light, a cat killed the rooster he expected to wake him in the morning, and a lion devoured the donkey he used for transportation. In response to all these apparent tragedies Rabbi Akiva merely said, Whatever the Merciful One does is for the good. Upon entering the town the next morning he learned that it had been ransacked by bandits. It then became clear that the light of his candle, the crowing of his rooster or the braying of his donkey would have exposed him as well to these marauders and his faith in Heavenly kindness was vindicated.

There is another version of this idea in the Jerusalem Talmud concerning a philanthropic Jew named Abba Yehuda who always contributed generously to the Sages collecting for the poor. When he faced difficult times and could only give them half of his last remaining field, they blessed him that he would regain his wealth. While plowing this last plot of land his cow fell into a hole and broke its leg. Descending into the hole to retrieve her, Abba Yehuda discovered a gold mine and exclaimed, It was for my good that my cows leg was broken!

A modern version of this concept is the monument to the boll weevil in Enterprise, Alabama. The insect thus honored was the scourge of the cotton crop which was the main source of income in that southern American state. When the entire crop was destroyed, the initial panic gave way to developing alternatives such as growing peanuts and raising livestock. Even when a solution was eventually found for the boll weevil problem, the Alabamans realized that this insect had actually been a blessing for them by forcing them to diversify their economy and they actually erected a monument in its honor.

  • Berachot 60b

What the Sages Say

Torah scholars increase peace in the world. The Prophet Yeshayahu stated that All your sons shall be students of G-d and there will be much peace through your banayich (your sons). This final word should be read as bonayich (your builders) of peace in the world.

Rabbi Elazar in the name of Rabbi Chanina

  • Berachot 64a

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