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Shabbat Parashat Shemot| 5771

Ein Ayah: The Basis of Berachot

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 6:1)

With this we begin the second volume (of four) of Ein Ayah]

Gemara: “How does one make a beracha (blessing) on a fruit?” … From where do we know these words [that there are berachot]? As the baraita says: The pasuk, “holy of praisings to Hashem” (Vayikra 19:24) – this teaches us that they need berachot before and after [eating them]. From here, Rabbi Akiva derived that it is prohibited for one to eat before he blesses.


Ein Ayah: Sanctified objects teach that one should seek human, spiritual benefit even from physical things. Therefore, it is more proper to enjoy the knowledge of Hashem’s creations, especially those creations from which we benefit by having our spirits elevated, than to enjoy the physical enjoyment of taste. It is also proper for one’s spiritual outlook to relate to Hashem’s kindness and wisdom in the creation itself in addition to being thankful for his particular benefit from it. This is the idea of a beracha before eating. 

The beracha afterward has more to do with one’s thanks for his ability to survive due to that which Hashem provides him. Added to the matter of survival is the fact that he enjoys the food, including the spiritual enjoyment of being able to appreciate Hashem’s creations. That is why it is forbidden to taste the food without a beracha, as one should recognize the value of the benefit of the taste.

Although one who just tastes food (but doesn’t swallow it) is exempt from a beracha, that is only when he does so in order to ascertain what taste it has. However, if one tastes the food for enjoyment, he should make a beracha on that enjoyment [an interesting halachic chiddush], for that is one of the benefits for which we bless, as is implied by Rabbi Akiva’s statement.


Like Misappropriating from Hekdesh

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 6:3)


Gemara: It is forbidden to benefit from the world without a beracha, and whoever benefits from the world without a beracha is like one who violates me’ila (misappropriation of funds of hekdseh, that which is set aside for a use related to the service of Hashem, classically, in the Beit Hamikdash). What is the remedy? … He should go, before the situation arises, to a scholar, who will teach him the berachot.


Ein Ayah: The prohibition of benefiting without a beracha relates to the failure to recognize the good one has received, which is a foundation of the service of Hashem. Additionally, all the benefits in the world are not able to fulfill their purpose unless they are used for the appropriate moral function that brings awareness of Hashem into the world. Therefore if one does not make a beracha but uses the benefit only for its material value, he has made a change in the purpose of the object’s existence. This is very similar to one who uses hekdesh, which is set aside to bring one to spiritual completeness, for physical pleasures, thus changing its designation in the process. This change, known as me’ila, transforms holy into mundane, and the Torah warns us against this.

A person is used to following his eyes and his physical pleasures and will not necessarily notice the spiritual opportunities that stand before him. Therefore, he should go to a scholar from the outset to teach him how to view matters, before his senses pull him too far in the physical direction. Only then will he succeed in raising his level of fear of Hashem to the point that he sees the spiritual benefit before the physical one. Such a person will not come to me’ila but will fulfill the instruction to “in all of your ways, know Him” (Mishlei 3:6), which is a small idea that all of the Torah is connected to (Berachot 63a).


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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim
is dedicated
 to the memory of
R' Meir
 ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
Hemdat Yamim is
dedicated in memory of
Rivka Rozenhak bat
Yoseph and Leah Hirsch z”l
Passed away on
Tevet 3rd 5771
Hemdat Yamim
is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker
of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
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Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l
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