Friday, July 30, 2010

Al ha'etz

Al ha’etz
The possuk says in this week’s sedrah:
אֶרֶץ חִטָּה וּשְׂעֹרָה וְגֶפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמּוֹן אֶרֶץ זֵית שֶׁמֶן וּדְבָשׁ. אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר לֹא בְמִסְכֵּנֻת תֹּאכַל בָּהּ לֶחֶם לֹא תֶחְסַר כֹּל בָּהּ אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲבָנֶיהָ בַרְזֶל וּמֵהֲרָרֶיהָ תַּחְצֹב נְחֹשֶׁת. וְאָכַלְתָּ וְשָׂבָעְתָּ וּבֵרַכְתָּ אֶת ה' אֱלֹקיךָ עַל הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּבָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָךְ.
“A land of wheat and barley, vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil producing olives and [date] honey. A land in which you will not eat bread scantily, you shall lack nothing in it. A land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you will quarry copper. And you will eat and be satisifed and you will bless Hashem your G-d for the good land that He has given you.”

This possuk tells us that there is a chiyuv to bentsch on bread.

There is a machlokess in the mishna in berachos (44a) whether there is a chiyuv to bensch on the shivas haminim:
אכל ענבים ותאנים ורמונים מברך אחריהם שלש ברכות דברי רבן גמליאל וחכ"א ברכה אחת (מעין שלש)
“If he ate grapes and dates and pomegranates, he says afterwards 3 berochos (i.e. the complete bensching), these are the words of Rabban Gamliel. The chachamim say he says one beracha (al ha’etz ve’al pri ha’etz).”

The simple understanding of the machlokess is that:
·         Rabban Gamliel is of the opinion that the possuk which says that there is a chiyuv to bensch goes back onto the passuk of bread and also onto the possuk that describes the shivas haminim.

·         The chachamim, on the other hand, say that the passuk that says there is a chiyuv to bensch only goes on the passuk that describes bread and not on the passuk that describes the shivas haminim. The reason for this is that there is an additional word ‘eretz’ at the beginning of the passuk which describes bread which interrupts between the halachos of the shivas haminim and the halachos of bread.

According to this way of understanding, the chiyuv to say al’haetz ve’al pri ha’etz is derabannan. However this is actually a machlokess between the rambam, who holds it is derbannan, and the rosh and the rashba, who hold that it is de’oraisoh.

According to the rosh and the rashba, the chachamim agree that the possuk stating there is a chiyuv to bensch goes on the possuk of the shivas haminim, but they hold that because the shivas haminim are not as significant as bread, the chachamim decided that it is sufficient to say al ha’etz.

The story of Rabban Gamliel and the zekenim
The gemara says in berachos (37a):
ומעשה ברבן גמליאל והזקנים שהיו מסובין בעלייה ביריחו והביאו לפניהם כותבות ואכלו ונתן רבן גמליאל רשות לר' עקיבא לברך קפץ וברך רבי עקיבא ברכה אחת מעין שלש אמר ליה רבן גמליאל עקיבא עד מתי אתה מכניס ראשך בין המחלוקת א"ל רבינו אע"פ שאתה אומר כן וחבריך אומרים כן למדתנו רבינו יחיד ורבים הלכה כרבים
“Rabban Gamliel and the zekenim were sitting in an attic in Yericho. They brought before them dates, and they ate them. Rabban Gamliel then gave Rb Akiva permission to bentsch. Rebbi Akiva jumped in (Meiri – he bensched by himself and did not make a mezuman) and said al ha’etz va’al pri ha’etz. Rabban Gamliel said to him, ‘Akiva, how long will you involve yourself in machlokess?’ (In other words, you have paskened like the chachamim and not like me.)
Rebbi Akiva replied – Our master, even although you say that you bensch on the shivaas haminim and the chachamim say that you say al ha’etz ve’al pri ha’etz, you have taught us yachid ve’rabim halacha k’rabim.”

The Vilna Gaon (Shenos Eliyohu) asks; How could Rabban Gamliel criticise Rb Akiva for involving himself in a machlokess? Whatever he would have done would have been controversial. Had he bensched in accordance with Rabban Gamliel’s opinion – he would have been paskening like Rabban Gamliel against the chachamim and he would still have been involving himself in machlokess?

 The Gaon z”l answers with the following two halachos:
1.      The gemara in berachos (daf 12) says:
כגון דאכל תמרי וקסבר נהמא אכל ופתח בדנהמא וסיים בדתמרי [יצא] דאפילו סיים בדנהמא
 נמי יצא מאי טעמא דתמרי נמי מיזן זייני
“We are talking about a case where he ate dates and he thought it was bread. When he started bensching (see Rashi there that the discussion relates to the beracha acharonah) he thought he was saying a beracha acharona on bread (so he said the shem Hashem with bread in mind) but then he corrected himself and said the correct berochoh acharonah.

(The question is, does it matter that he had the wrong kavanah when he said the shem Hashem, or since he completed the beracha correctly, maybe he is yotze.)

The halcha is that he is yotze the beracha acharona (and does not need to make another beracha.) This is because even had he bensched he would have been yotze the beracha acharona on dates because you can eat dates as a meal.”

You see from the gemara that bedieved if you bensch on dates you are yotze.

2.      If you make a ha’etz on a vegetable, you have to make another beracha of ha’adamah. However, if you make a ha’adamah on a fruit you are yotze, because the tree derives its sustenance from the ground.
What happens if you do not know if something is a fruit or a vegetable?

The halacha is that you make ha’adamah, because then either way you are yotze. Even although making ha’adamah on a fruit is bedieved, and not something you should do le’chatchilah, here the situation is considered to be be’dieved because you want to eat the food.

Therefore, says the Gaon, Rabban Gamliel’s ta’anah to Rb Akiva was as follows:
We ate dates. The halacha is that bedieved if you bensch on dates you are yotze. So you should not have involved yourself in the machlokess. Simple bensch and then – according to me you did the right thing, according to the chachamim you are also yotze be’dieved (as you see on daf 12 that you can bensch bedieved on dates).

Even although this is bedieved (so how could he have asked Rb Akiva to do this le’chatchila), here we have a case similar to the safek ha’etz safek ha’adamah where you say ha’damah because the fact that you want to eat the food makes the situation be’dieved.

The Kehillos Yaakov
The Kehillos Yaakov (berachos siman 20) asks as follows:
How can the gaon say that bedieved Rb Akiva could have bensched on dates? The Rosh brings from the chachmei tzarphas (perek 1, siman 14) that when the gemara says you can say the same beracha acharona on dates as you do on bread, it is not referring to the entire bensching. Rather the gemara means that if you said the first beracha of bensching on dates (hazon es ha’kol)  you are yotze, but there is definitely no reason to say nodeh or rachem.

Subsequntly here Rb Akiva could not have bensched on the dates, because according to the chachamim the berachos subsequent to hazon would have been le’vatoloh?

The Steipler z”l answers that the gaon holds that al hamichyah is deoraisoh.  Therefore if someone said the whole of bensching on dates he did not make a beracha le’vatalah because the passuk of “ve’achalta ve’savata u’verachta es Hashem elokechah al ha’aretz hatova” actually goes on the shivas haminim as much as it goes on bread.

The chachamim were mekil that you do not need to bensch on the shivas haminim because they are not as siginificant as bread, but if you did bensch on shivas haminim (in a case where you were satisifed and therefore fulfilled the condition of ve’savata) you are yotze bedieved with the entire bensching.

Therefore Rabban Gamliel criticised Rb Akiva for involving himself in the machlokess because he could have bensched. Rb Akiva replied that he was not choshesh for Rabban Gamliel’s opinion at all because yachid verabim halacha kerabim, so he did not consider it even to be a safek.

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