Previous Folio / Berakoth Contents / Tractate List
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Berakoth
alongside of 'streams' as it says, [How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob …]1 as streams2 stretched out, as gardens by the river side, as aloes planted3 etc.? To tell you that, just as streams bring a man up from a state of uncleanness to one of cleanness, so tents4 bring a man up from the scale of guilt to the scale of merit.
IF ONE RECITES IT BACKWARD, HE HAS NOT PERFORMED HIS OBLIGATION etc. R. Ammi and R. Assi were once decorating the bridal chamber for R. Eleazar. He said to them: In the meantime I will go and pick up something from the House of Study and come back and tell you. He went and found a Tanna reciting before R. Johanan: If [reciting the Shema'] one [recollects that] he made a mistake but does not know where, if he is in the middle of a section he should go back to the beginning; if he is in doubt which section he has said, he should go back to the first break;5 if he is in doubt which writing6 he is on, he goes back to the first one. Said R. Johanan to him: This rule applies only where he has not yet got to 'In order that your days may be prolonged', but if he has got to 'In order that your days may be prolonged', then [he can assume that] force of habit has kept him right.7 He came and told them, and they said to him, If we had come only to hear this, it would have been worth our while.
MISHNAH. WORKMEN MAY RECITE [THE SHEMA'] ON THE TOP OF A TREE OR THE TOP OF A SCAFFOLDING, A THING THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DO IN THE CASE OF THE TEFILLAH. A BRIDEGROOM IS EXEMPT FROM THE RECITAL OF THE SHEMA' FROM THE FIRST NIGHT UNTIL THE END OF THE SABBATH, IF HE HAS NOT CONSUMMATED THE MARRIAGE.8 IT HAPPENED WITH R. GAMALIEL THAT WHEN HE MARRIED HE RECITED THE SHEMA ON THE FIRST NIGHT: SO HIS DISCIPLES SAID TO HIM: OUR MASTER, YOU HAVE TAUGHT US THAT A BRIDEGROOM IS EXEMPT FROM THE RECITAL OF THE SHEMA'. HE REPLIED TO THEM: I WILL NOT LISTEN TO YOU TO REMOVE FROM MYSELF THE KINGSHIP OF HEAVEN EVEN FOR A MOMENT.
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: Workmen may recite [the Shema'] on the top of a tree or on the top of a scaffolding, and they may say the tefillah, on the top of an olive tree and the top of a fig tree,9 but from all other trees they must come down to the ground before saying the tefillah, and the employer must in any case come down before saying the tefillah,10 the reason in all cases being that their mind is not clear.11 R. Mari the son of the daughter of Samuel12 pointed out to Rab a contradiction. We have learnt, he said: WORKMEN MAY RECITE [THE SHEMA'] ON THE TOP OF A TREE OR THE TOP OF A SCAFFOLDING which would show that the recital does not require kawanah.13 Contrast with this: When one recites the Shema', it is incumbent that he should concentrate his attention14 on it, since it says, 'Hear, O Israel', and in another place it says, Pay attention and hear, O Israel,15 showing that just as in the latter 'hearing' must be accompanied by attention, so here it must be accompanied by attention. He gave no reply. Then he said to him: Have you heard any statement on this point? — He replied: Thus said R. Shesheth: This is the case only if they stop from their work to recite. But it has been taught: Beth Hillel say that they may go on with their work while reciting? — There is no contradiction. The former statement refers to the first section, the latter to the second section [of the Shema'].
Our Rabbis taught: Labourers working for an employer recite the Shema' and say blessings before it and after it and eat their crust and say blessings before it and after it, and say the tefillah of eighteen benedictions, but they do not go down before the ark16 nor do they raise their hands [to give the priestly benediction].17 But it has been taught: [They say] a resume of the eighteen benedictions?18 — Said R. Shesheth: There is no contradiction: one statement gives the view of R. Gamaliel, the other of R. Joshua.19 But if R. Joshua is the authority, why does it say 'labourers'? The same applies to anyone! — In fact, both statements represent the view of R. Gamaliel, and still there is no contradiction: one refers to [labourers] working for a wage, and the other to [those] working for their keep;20 and so it has been taught: Labourers working for an employer recite the Shema' and say the tefillah and eat their crust without saying a blessing before it, but they say two blessings after it, namely, [he says] the first blessing21 right through22 and the second blessing he begins with the blessing for the land, including 'who buildest Jerusalem' in the blessing23 for the land. When does this hold good? For those who work for a wage. But those who work for their keep or who eat in the company of the employer say the grace right through.21
A BRIDEGROOM IS EXEMPT FROM RECITING THE SHEMA'.24 Our Rabbis taught: 'When thou sittest in thy house': this excludes one engaged in the performance of a religious duty. 'And when thou walkest by the way': this excludes a bridegroom. Hence they deduced the rule that one who marries a virgin is exempt, while one who marries a widow is not exempt. How is this derived? — R. Papa said: [The sitting in the house] is compared to the way: just as the way is optional, so here it must be optional. But are we not dealing [in the words 'walkest by the way'] with one who goes to perform a religious duty, and even so the All-Merciful said that he should recite? — If that were so, the text should say, 'in going'. What is meant by 'in thy going'? This teaches that it is in thy going that thou art under obligation, and in the going for a religious duty thou art exempt.
If that is the case, why does it say, 'One who marries a virgin'? The same would apply to one who marries a widow! — In the former case he is agitated, in the latter case he is not agitated. If his agitation is the ground, then even if his ship has sunk in the sea he should also be exempt? [And if this is so], why then has R. Abba b. Zabda said in the name of Rab: A mourner is under obligation to perform all the precepts laid down in the Torah except that of tefillin, because they are called 'headtire', as it says, 'Thy headtire bound upon thy head' etc.? — The reply is: There the agitation is over an optional matter, here it is over a religious duty.
MISHNAH. [RABBAN GAMALIEL] BATHED ON THE FIRST NIGHT AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE. HIS DISCIPLES SAID TO HIM: YOU HAVE TAUGHT US, SIR, THAT A MOURNER IS FORBIDDEN TO BATHE. HE REPLIED TO THEM: I AM NOT LIKE OTHER MEN, BEING VERY DELICATE. WHEN TABI HIS SLAVE DIED HE ACCEPTED CONDOLENCES FOR HIM. HIS DISCIPLES SAID TO HIM: YOU HAVE TAUGHT US, SIR, THAT CONDOLENCES ARE NOT ACCEPTED FOR SLAVES? HE REPLIED TO THEM: MY SLAVE TABI WAS NOT LIKE OTHER SLAVES: HE WAS A GOOD MAN. IF A BRIDEGROOM DESIRES TO RECITE THE SHEMA ON THE FIRST NIGHT, HE MAY DO SO. RABBAN SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAYS: NOT EVERYONE WHO DESIRES TO PASS AS A SCHOLAR1 MAY DO SO.
GEMARA. How did Rabban Gamaliel2 justify his action?3 — He held that the observance of aninuth4 by night is only an ordinance of the Rabbis, as it is written, [And I will make it as the mourning for an only son,] and the end thereof as a bitter day,5 and where it concerns a delicate person the Rabbis did not mean their ordinance to apply.
WHEN TABI HIS SLAVE DIED etc. Our Rabbis taught: For male and female slaves no row [of comforters]6 is formed, nor is the blessing of mourners7 said, nor is condolence offered. When the bondwoman of R. Eliezer died, his disciples went in to condole with him. When he saw them he went up to an upper chamber, but they went up after him. He then went into an ante-room and they followed him there. He then went into the dining hall and they followed him there. He said to them: I thought that you would be scalded with warm water; I see you are not scalded even with boiling hot water.8 Have I not taught you that a row of comforters is not made for male and female slaves, and that a blessing of mourners is not said for them, nor is condolence offered for them? What then do they say for them? The same as they say to a man for his ox and his ass: 'May the Almighty replenish your loss'. So for his male and female slave they say to him: 'May the Almighty replenish your loss'. It has been taught elsewhere: For male and female slaves no funeral oration is said. R. Jose said: If he was a good slave, they can say over him, Alas for a good and faithful man, who worked for his living! They said to him: If you do that, what do you leave for free-born?
Our Rabbis taught: The term 'patriarchs' is applied only to three,9 and the term 'matriarchs' only to four.10 What is the reason? Shall we say because we do not know if we are descended from Reuben or from Simeon? But neither do we know in the case of the matriarchs whether we are descended from Rachel or from Leah! — [Rather the reason is] because up to this point they were particularly esteemed, from this point they were not so particularly esteemed. It has been taught elsewhere: Male and female slaves are not called 'Father so-and so' or 'Mother so-and so'; those of Rabban Gamaliel, however, were called 'Father so-and-so' and 'Mother so-and-so'. The example [cited] contradicts your rule? It was because they were particularly esteemed.
R. Eleazar said: What is the meaning of the verse, So will I bless Thee as long as I live; in Thy name will I lift up my hands?11 'I will bless Thee as long as I live' refers to the Shema'; 'in Thy name I will lift up my hands' refers to the tefillah. And if he does this, Scripture says of him, My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness.12 Nay more, he inherits two worlds, this world and the next, as it says, And my mouth doth praise Thee with joyful lips.13
R. Eleazar on concluding his prayer14 used to say the following: May it be Thy will, O Lord our God, to cause to dwell in our lot love and brotherhood and peace and friendship, and mayest Thou make our borders rich in disciples and prosper our latter end with good prospect and hope, and set our portion in Paradise, and confirm us15 with a good companion and a good impulse in Thy world, and may we rise early and obtain the yearning of our heart to fear Thy name,16 and mayest Thou be pleased to grant the satisfaction of our desires!17
R. Johanan on concluding his prayer added the following: May it be Thy will, O Lord our God, to look upon our shame, and behold our evil plight, and clothe Thyself in Thy mercies, and cover Thyself in Thy strength, and wrap Thyself in Thy lovingkindness, and gird Thyself with Thy graciousness, and may the attribute of Thy kindness and gentleness come before Thee!
R. Zera on concluding his prayer added the following: May it be Thy will, O Lord our God, that we sin not nor bring upon ourselves shame or disgrace before our fathers!18
R. Hiyya on concluding his prayer added the following: May it be Thy will, O Lord our God, that our Torah may be our occupation, and that our heart may not be sick nor our eyes darkened!
Rab on concluding his prayer added the following: May it be Thy will, O Lord our God, to grant us long life, a life of peace, a life of good, a life of blessing, a life of sustenance, a life of bodily vigour,19 a life in which there is fear of sin, a life free from shame and confusion, a life of riches and honour, a life in which we may be filled with the love of Torah and the fear of heaven, a life in which Thou shalt fulfil all the desires of our heart for good!20
Rabbi on concluding his prayer added the following: May it be Thy will, O Lord our God, and God of our fathers, to deliver us from the impudent and from impudence, from an evil man, from evil hap, from the evil impulse, from an evil companion, from an evil neighbour, and from the destructive Accuser, from a hard lawsuit and from a hard opponent, whether he is a son of the covenant or not a son of the covenant!21 [Thus did he pray] although guards22 were appointed23 to protect Rabbi.
R. Safra on concluding his prayer added the following: May it be Thy will, O Lord our God, to establish peace
- To Next Folio -