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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Parashat Eikev 5775


This week’s parasha gives us the law of birkhat hamazon, the grace after meals. It falls in the middle of a view verses. One, which is two verses away, involves the seven species which grow well in the land of Israel. Whether or not this verse is connected to the verse about birkhat hamazon is unclear. Further, it seems that being satisfied is what leads to rebellion against God.
1) דברים פרשת עקב פרק ח
Deuteronomy Chapter 8
(7) For the Hashem your God is bringing you to a good land, a land of rivers, springs, and deep waters going through the valley and the mountain.
(ז) כִּי יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֶיךָ מְבִיאֲךָ אֶל־אֶרֶץ טוֹבָה אֶרֶץ נַחֲלֵי מָיִם עֲיָנֹת וּתְהֹמֹת יֹצְאִים בַּבִּקְעָה וּבָהָר:
(8) A land of wheat and barley, grape-vine, fig, pomegranate; a land of oil bearing olives and honey.
(ח) אֶרֶץ חִטָּה וּשְׂעֹרָה וְגֶפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמּוֹן אֶרֶץ־זֵית שֶׁמֶן וּדְבָשׁ:
(9) A land that not through poverty will you eat bread; you will not lack anything in it; a land whose rocks are iron and from its mountains you will cut bronze.
(ט) אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר לֹא בְמִסְכֵּנֻת תֹּאכַל־בָּהּ לֶחֶם לֹא־תֶחְסַר כֹּל בָּהּ אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲבָנֶיהָ בַרְזֶל וּמֵהֲרָרֶיהָ תַּחְצֹב נְחֹשֶׁת:
(10) You will eat and be satisfied; and you shall bless the Hashem your God regarding the good land that He gave to you.
(י) וְאָכַלְתָּ וְשָׂבָעְתָּ וּבֵרַכְתָּ אֶת־יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֶיךָ עַל־הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּבָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַן־לָךְ:
(11) Watch yourself, lest you forget Hashem your God, to not keep His commandments, laws, and statutes which I command you today.
(יא) הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן־תִּשְׁכַּח אֶת־יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְבִלְתִּי שְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתָיו וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו וְחֻקֹּתָיו אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם:
(12) Lest you eat, be satisfied, build nice houses, and settle.
(יב) פֶּן־תֹּאכַל וְשָׂבָעְתָּ וּבָתִּים טֹבִים תִּבְנֶה וְיָשָׁבְתָּ:
(13) And you cattle and flock will become great, and you will have great silver and gold and all that you have will be great.
(יג) וּבְקָרְךָ וְצֹאנְךָ יִרְבְּיֻן וְכֶסֶף וְזָהָב יִרְבֶּה־לָּךְ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר־לְךָ יִרְבֶּה:
(14) Then your heart will be haughty and then you will forget Hashem your God Who took you out from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.
(יד) וְרָם לְבָבֶךָ וְשָׁכַחְתָּ אֶת־יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֶיךָ הַמּוֹצִיאֲךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים:

The Meshekh Chokhma particularly thinks that one of the reasons for saying birkhat hamazon is that it prevents the rebellion that comes with being satisfied.

2) משך חכמה דברים פרשת עקב פרק ח
Meshekh Chokhma, Deuteronomy Chapter 8
Meir Simcha (18th and 19th Centuries Dvinsk)
That when one eats and is satisfied, then one is likely to rebel. Like the verses state, “Lest you eat, be satisfied… then you will forget Hashem your God.” “A full stomach is of a bad type,” (tractate Berakhot 32a).
שכשאוכל ושבע אז הוא עלול לבעט, וכמו שאמר הכתוב (פסוקים יב - יד) "פן תאכל ושבעת וכו' ושכחת את ה' אלקיך". מלי כריסי זני בישי (ברכות לב, א).
Therefore Hashem, may He be blessed, commanded that when one eats and is satisfied, one should recall God with thanks, bless Him, and recall that “He who gives you power to achieve wealth,” (Deuteronomy 8:18). And from His hand one takes food to fill his soul when he is hungry.  
לכן צוה השי"ת שכשיאכל וישבע, יזכיר שם אלקים בתודה ויברכנהו ויזכור כי "הוא הנתן לך כח לעשות חיל" (להלן פסוק יח) ומידו לוקח האוכל למלאות נפשו כי ירעב.
This is what it means to say in continuation, “Watch yourself lest you forget… lest you eat and be satisfied… then your heart will be haughty and then you will forget… then you shall remember… for he gave you the power to achieve wealth.”  
וזה שאמר בסמוך (יב - יח) "השמר לך פן תשכח וכו' פן תאכל ושבעת וכו' ורם לבבך ושכחת וזכרת וכו' כי הוא הנתן לך כח לעשות חיל".
It shows us the reason for the blessing, that one should not harden his heart from the ways of Hashem, may He be blessed, and His testimonies. And this might be only when he is satisfied, and when he is hungry.
הראה לנו טעם הברכה, שלא יקשיח לבבו מדרכי השי"ת ועדותיו. וזה יתכן דוקא כשהוא שבע, לא כשהוא רעב.

The Mishna presents a three way debate about when to say birkhat haazon. Rabban Gamliel, who seems to read a connection between the seven species and eating, being satisfied, and blessing, posits that birkhat hamazon (known here as “three blessings” since it originally contained three blessings) should be said on any of the seven species. This idea connects being satisfied with the bounty of the land God gives Israel.

The Sages think that the verse in between the seven species and the verse about blessing means that on the seven species on says a blessing after eating, but it is only a single blessing that has an echo of birkhat hamazon (and this is the normative law).

Rebbi Akiva, seeming to place an emphasis on being satisfied, thinks that whatever one makes into a regular meal deserves a full birkhat hamazon.
3) משנה מסכת ברכות פרק ו, משנה ח
Mishna Tractate B’rakhot, Chapter 6, Mishna 8
“If one ate figs, grapes, and pomegranates, he blesses after them three blessings,” in the words of Rabban Gamliel.
אכל תאנים וענבים ורמונים מברך אחריהן שלש ברכות דברי רבן גמליאל
But the Sages say, “One blessing like three.”
וחכמים אומרים ברכה אחת מעין שלש
Rebbi Akiva says, “Even if he ate boiled vegetables, and that is is sustenance, he blesses after them three blessings.”
ר"ע אומר אפי' אכל שלק והוא מזונו מברך אחריו ג' ברכות

4) תוספתא מסכת ברכות (ליברמן) פרק ד, הלכה טו
Tosefta, Tractate B’rakhot (Lieberman version), Chapter 4, Halakha 15
Rebbi Yehuda said in his own name: Anything of the seven species but not of grain, or grain but not made into bread, Rabban Gamliel says, “One says after it three blessings.”
ר' יהודה או' משמו כל שהוא ממין שבעה ולא ממין דגן או דגן ולא עשאו פת רבן גמליאל או' מברך אחריו שלש ברכות
But the Sages say, ‘One blessing.”
וחכמים או' ברכה אחת
And anything neither of the seven species nor of grain, Rabban Gamliel says, “Bless after it one blessing.”
וכל שאינו לא ממין שבעה ולא ממין דגן רבן גמליאל או' מברך אחריו ברכה אחת
But the Sages say, “Nothing.”
וחכמים או' ולא כלום
By implication, three blessings (birkhat hamazon) is only said on bread made from grain. This leads to a modern issue, well presented here by Rav Yoel bin Nun.

5) ברכת המזון – חיובה מן התורה – מדוע וכיצד
Birkhat HaMazon - An Obligation from the Torah - Why and How?
Yoel bin Nun (20th and 21st Century Israel)
It the custom of those eating that we replace bread with the grains of the morning, meat and rice, vegetables and potatoes for the afternoon or evening, as a broad concession for wheat bread (and the like), spread especially amongst those of wealth, rich and satisfied, and especially for celebratory occasions, where they eat like a bull and bless like a butterfly, saving the time and the bother of hand washing and birkhat hamazon, and satisfied with their good lot like those who pray and find a groom or father of a child to be circumcised and are exempt from tachanun (which is only a custom), as if these are just a bother for them.
מנהגי האכילה שמחליפים פת לחם בדגניים של בוקר, בשר ואורז, ירקות ותפוחי אדמה של צהרים, או של ערב, עם ויתור נרחב על פת חיטה (ודומיה), פשטו דווקא בחברת שפע, עשירה ושבעה, ובמיוחד באירועים חגיגיים, ש'אוכלים כמו פר, ומברכים כמו פרפר', "מרוויחים" זמן וטירחה של נטילת ידיים וברכת המזון, ושמחים בחלקם הטוב כמו מתפללים שמצאו חתן או בעל ברית, ונפטרו מ'תחנון' (שאינו אלא מנהג), כאילו כל אלה רק לטורח עליהם.

But why was bread ever the defining factor of a meal? The Talmud plays it out here, telling us that bread satisfies and people make meals on it. Anything else, even wine which does satisfy according to the Talmud, is not an item on which people establish a meal. Anyone who does is an outlier and the law does not follow such a case.
6) תלמוד בבלי מסכת ברכות דף לה עמוד ב
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate B’rakhot 35b
And does wine satisfy? Was it not Rava who would drink wine all erev Pesach since it would increase his appetite and he would eat a bit more matzah.
וחמרא מי סעיד? והא רבא הוה שתי חמרי כל מעלי יומא דפסחא כי היכי דנגרריה ללביה וניכול מצה טפי.
A lot increases appetite, a bit satisfies.
טובא גריר פורתא סעיד
Does it satisfy at all? Is it not written, “Wine gladdens the heart of man, and on bread the heart of man is satisfied, etc.?”
ומי סעיד כלל? והכתיב ויין ישמח לבב אנוש ולחם לבב אנוש יסעד וגו'?
Bread satisfies; wine does not satisfy. Rather, wine has both: satisfying and gladdening. Bread definitely satisfies but does not gladden.
נהמא הוא דסעיד חמרא לא סעיד אלא חמרא אית ביה תרתי סעיד ומשמח נהמא מסעד סעיד שמוחי לא משמח
If so, one should bless on it three blessings! A person does not make his meal on it.
אי הכי נבריך עליה שלש ברכות לא קבעי אינשי סעודתייהו עלויה
Rav Nachman son of Yitzchak said to Rava, “If he established his meal on it, what is the ruling?”
א"ל רב נחמן בר יצחק לרבא אי קבע עלויה סעודתיה מאי?
He said to him, “When Eliyahu comes, he will say if that is establishing [a meal]. For now, however, his thought is cancelled compared to everyone else.”
א"ל לכשיבא אליהו ויאמר אי הויא קביעותא השתא מיהא בטלה דעתו אצל כל אדם

However, we also have a case of eating bread like things which do not seem to quite be bread. If one eats enough of them, one needs to say birkhat hamazon. The reason is that people establish meals on such things (this is the category of bread coming though kisnim).
7) תלמוד בבלי מסכת ברכות דף מב עמוד א
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate B’rakhot 42a
Rav Huna ate thirteen rolls of one third of a kav and did not bless. Rav Nachman said to him: so much is your hunger? Rather, all that others establish a meal on, one needs to bless.
רב הונא אכל תליסר ריפתי בני תלתא תלתא בקבא ולא בריך. אמר ליה רב נחמן: עדי כפנא! אלא: כל שאחרים קובעים עליו סעודה צריך לברך.

The Kesef Mishna explains that nothing satisfies except for the five species of grain.
8) כסף משנה הלכות ברכות פרק א, הלכה א
Kesef Mishna, Laws of Blessings, Chapter 1, Law 1
Yosef Karo (15th-16th Century Spain, Turkey, and Israel)
As it is taught, “Birkhat Hamazon is from the Torah, as it says, ‘you will eat and be satisfied.” And it follows that it is only about the five grains that it is discussing from the choice of language, ‘you will… be satisfied,” and the only thing that satisfies is the five species of grain.
דקתני ברכת מזון מן התורה שנאמר ואכלת ושבעת ומשמע ליה דאחמשת מיני דגן דוקא קאמר מדנקט ושבעת ואין לך דבר שמשביע אלא ה' מיני דגן:

Rav Yoel bin Nun suggests a non-formal solution. What if the whole world made meals on things aside from bread, as is common in the modern Western world, richer world? What if birkhat hamazon’s bread limitation is only based on a milieu where everyone makes meals on bread? In that case, Rebbi Akiva’s opinion of making birkhat hamazon on even boiled vegetables would come back as the law.
9) ברכת המזון – חיובה מן התורה – מדוע וכיצד?
Birkhat HaMazon - An Obligation from the Torah - Why and How?
Yoel bin Nun (20th and 21st Century Israel)
Now we come to the root question: why do the Sages argue with Rebbi Akiva? Is it because they interpret the portion in Devarim in a different way and uphold it on bread from the species of grain only?
כאן אנו באים אל השאלה העיקרית – מדוע חולקים חכמים על רבי עקיבא – האם מפני שהם פירשו אחרת את הפרשה בדברים, והעמידוה על "לחם" של מיני דגן בלבד?
Or is it that “one for whom eating boiled vegetables is his sustenance,” his opinion is cancelled compared to everyone, but if everyone eats thusly, the Sages would agree with Rebbi Akiva?
או מפני שה' אוכל שלק והוא מזונו', בטלה דעתו אצל 'כל אדם'? אבל אם 'כל אדם' אוכלים כך – יודו חכמים לרבי עקיבא?

Raising the stakes, the Shulchan Arukh seems to suggest to us that one needs to make a meal everyday. Implied is a daily recitation of birkhat hamazon. Therefore, if one never eats a meal with bread, unless we follow Rav Yoel’s logic, we might be violating a law of not having a halakhic meal daily.
10) שולחן ערוך אורח חיים הלכות נטילת ידים סימן קנז, סעיף א
Shulchan Arukh, Orech Chayyim, Laws of Hand Washing, Siman 157, Article 1
Yosef Karo (15th-16th Century Spain, Turkey, and Israel)
When the fourth hour arrives one should make a meal; and if one is a scholar and engaged in study, one can wait until the sixth hour.
כשיגיע שעה רביעית יקבע סעודתו; ואם הוא ת"ח ועוסק בלימודו, ימתין עד שעה ו',
But one should not wait longer than this for it is like throwing a stone to a barrel if he does not taste something in the morning.
ולא יאחר יותר דהוי כזורק אבן לחמת אם לא טעם מידי בצפרא.

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