to include a boy who shows signs of puberty before his years? The law, however, is not as laid down in all these statements, but as in this statement of R. Nahman: A boy who knows to whom the benediction is addressed may be counted for zimmun. Abaye and Raba [when boys] were once sitting in the presence of Rabbah. Said Rabbah to them: To whom do we address the benedictions? They replied: To the All-Merciful. And where does the All-Merciful abide? Raba pointed to the roof; Abaye went outside and pointed to the sky. Said Rabbah to them: Both of you will become Rabbis. This accords with the popular saying: Every pumpkin can be told from its stalk.1
Rab Judah the son of R. Samuel b. Shilath said in the name of Rab: If nine persons have eaten corn and one vegetables, they may combine.2 R. Zera said: I asked Rab Judah, What of eight, what of seven,3 and he replied: It makes no difference. Certainly if six [were eating corn]4 I did not need to ask. Said R. Jeremiah to him: You were quite right not to ask. What was the reason there [in the first case]? Because there is a majority [eating corn]; here too there is a majority. He, however, thought that perhaps an easily recognizable majority is required.5
King Jannai and his queen were taking a meal together. Now after he had put the Rabbis to death,6 there was no-one to say grace for them. He said to his spouse: I wish we had someone to say grace for us. She said to him: Swear to me that if I bring you one you will not harm him. He swore to her, and she brought Simeon b. Shetah, her brother.7 She placed him between her husband and herself, saying. See what honour I pay you. He replied: It is not you who honour me but it is the Torah which honours me, as it is written, Exalt her and she shall promote thee,8 [she shall bring thee to honour when thou dost embrace her].9 He [Jannai] said to her: You see that he10 does not acknowledge any authority!11 They gave him a cup of wine to say grace over.12 He said: How shall I say the grace? [Shall I say] Blessed is He of whose sustenance Jannai and his companions have eaten? So he drank that cup, and they gave him another and he said grace over it. R. Abba the son of R. Hiyya b. Abba said: Simeon b. Shetah in acting thus13 followed his own view. For thus said R. Hiyya b. Abba in the name of Johanan: A man cannot say grace on behalf of others until he has eaten at least the size of an olive of corn food with them. Even as it was taught:14 R. Simeon b. Gamaliel says: If one went up [on the couch] and reclined with them, even though he only dipped [a little bit] with them in brine and ate only one fig with them, he can be combined with them [for zimmun]. Now he can be combined with them, but he cannot say grace on behalf of others until he eats the quantity of an olive of corn food. It has also been stated: R. Hanah b. Judah said in the name of Raba:
Even though he only dipped [a little bit] with them in brine or ate with them only one fig, he can be combined with them; but for saying grace on behalf of others he is not qualified until he eats the quantity of an olive of corn food with them. R. Hanah b. Judah said in the name of Raba: The law is that if he ate with them a vegetable-leaf and drank a cup of wine, he can be combined; but he cannot say grace on behalf of others until he eats with them the quantity of an olive of corn food.
R. Nahman said: Moses instituted for Israel the benediction 'Who feeds'1 at the time when manna descended for them. Joshua instituted for them the benediction of the land2 when they entered the land. David and Solomon instituted the benediction which closes 'Who buildest Jerusalem'.3 David instituted the words. 'For Israel Thy people and for Jerusalem Thy city',4 and Solomon instituted the words 'For the great and holy House'.4 The benediction 'Who is good and bestows good'5 was instituted in Jabneh with reference to those who were slain in Bethar. For R. Mattena said: On the day on which permission was given to bury those slain in Bethar,6 they ordained in Jabneh that 'Who is good and bestows good' should be said: 'Who is good', because they did not putrefy, and 'Who bestows good', because they were allowed to be buried.
Our Rabbis taught: The order of grace after meals is as follows. The first benediction is that of 'Who feeds'. The second is the benediction of the land. The third is 'Who buildest Jerusalem'. The fourth is 'Who is good and bestows good'. On Sabbath [the third blessing] commences with consolation and closes with consolation.7 and the holiness of the day is mentioned in the middle [of this blessing]. R. Eliezer says: If he likes he can mention it in the consolation, or he can mention it in the blessing of the land,8 or he can mention it in the benediction which the Rabbis instituted in Jabneh.9 The Sages, however, say that it must be said in the consolation blessing. The Sages say the same thing as the First Tanna? — They differ in the case where he actually did say it [in some other place].10
Our Rabbis taught: Where is the saying of grace intimated in the Torah? In the verse, And thou shalt eat and be satisfied and bless:11 this signifies the benediction of 'Who feeds'.12 'The Lord Thy God': this signifies the benediction of zimmun.13 'For the land': this signifies the blessing for the land. 'The good': this signifies 'Who buildest Jerusalem'; and similarly it says This good mountain and Lebanon.14 'Which he has given thee': this signifies the blessing of 'Who is good and bestows good'. This accounts for the grace after [meals]; how can we prove that there should be a blessing before [food]? — You have an argument a fortiori; if when one is full he says a grace, how much more so should he do so, when he is hungry! Rabbi says: This argument is not necessary. 'And thou shalt eat and be satisfied and bless' signifies the benediction of 'Who feeds'. The responses of zimmun are derived from O magnify the Lord with me.15 'For the land': this signifies the blessing of the land. 'The good': this signifies, 'Who buildest Jerusalem'; and so it says, 'This goodly mountain and Lebanon'. 'Who is good and bestows good' was instituted in Jabneh. This accounts for the grace after [meals]; whence do I learn that a blessing must be said before [food]? — Because it says, 'Which He has given thee', implying, as soon as He has given thee.16 R. Isaac says: This is not necessary. For see, it says, And He shall bless thy bread and thy water.17 Read not u-berak [and he shall bless] but u-barek [and say a blessing]. And when is it called 'bread'? Before it is eaten. R. Nathan says: This is not necessary. For see, it says, As soon as ye be come into the city ye shall straightway find him, before he go up to the high place to eat; for the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice, and afterwards they eat that be bidden.18 Why did they19 make such a long story of it? Because20 women are fond of talking. Samuel, however, says that it was so that they might feast their eyes on Saul's good looks, since it is written, From his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people;21 while R. Johanan says it was because one kingdom cannot overlap another by a hair's breadth.22
We have found warrant for blessing over food; whence do we derive it for the blessing over the Torah? R. Ishmael says: It is learnt a fortiori: If a blessing is said for temporal life, how much more should it be said for eternal life! R. Hiyya b. Nahmani, the disciple of R. Ishmael, said in the name of R. Ishmael: This is not necessary. For see, it says, 'For the good land which He has given thee', and in another place it says, And I will give thee the tables of stone and a law and commandments, etc.23 (R. Meir says: Whence do we learn that just as one says a blessing for good hap, so he should say one for evil hap? — Because it says, Which the Lord thy God hath given thee, [as much as to say,] which He hath judged thee24 — for every judgment which He has passed on thee, whether it is a doom of happiness or a doom of suffering.) R. Judah b. Bathyrah says: This is not necessary. For see, it says 'the good' where it need only have said 'good'. 'Good' signifies the Torah; and so it says, For I give you a good doctrine.25 'The good' signifies the building of Jerusalem; and so it says, This good mount and Lebanon.26
It has been taught: If one does not say the words 'a desirable, good and extensive land' in the blessing of the land and does not mention the kingdom of the house of David in the blessing 'Who buildest Jerusalem', he has not performed his obligation. Nahum the Elder says: He must mention in it [the second blessing] the covenant. R. Jose says: He must mention in it the Torah. Pelimo says: He must mention the covenant before the Torah, since the latter was given with only three covenants27
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