Tractate Berakoth, by , by A. Lukyn Williams, , at sacred-texts.com
M.6. If men are already seated 1 each says the Benediction for himself. If they have reclined [on their couches to eat] one says it for them all. 2 If wine comes to them in the midst of the meal each one says the Benediction for himself. 3 If after the meal one says it for them all. And he says it over the spices put on the coals, 4 even though the spices are not brought in until only after the feast. 5
If they have gone upstairs 7 and reclined, and are
9. Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says: This was a great custom in Jerusalem; a towel was spread on the top of the doorway; all the time that the towel was spread guests could enter; when the towel was removed guests were not allowed to enter.
10. And further there was another custom in Jerusalem. They used to entrust the meal to a cook. If anything in the meal was faulty they used to fine the cook. Everything had to be for the honour of the host, and everything for the honour of the guests.
11. The rule in a feast is that if one goes out to relieve nature, he washes one hand; if to speak with his companion and he breaks off [from the meal], he washes both hands, 1 Where does he go to wash? He comes and reclines in his place, and washes, and dries his hands, 2 and returns the napkin to the guests.
12. Ben Zoma was asked: Why when wine comes in the middle of food does each one say the Benediction for himself? He said to them: because the gullet is not empty. 3
13. If rice is brought them and wine, one says a
V. 5. What is the order of reclining? When there are two couches, the eldest 3 reclines at the head of the first, and the second to him, below him; 4 and when there are three couches the eldest reclines at the head of the middle one, the second to him above him, the third to him below him. So they go on arranging them.
6. The order of washing hands—how is it [arranged]? Up to the number of five [persons] they begin with the eldest; from five and onwards they begin with the youngest.
The order of mixing the cup—how is it [arranged]? In the middle of the meal they begin with the eldest; and after the meal they begin with him who says the Benediction. If [the latter] wishes to assign the honour to his teacher, or to one who is older than himself, he is permitted to do so.
7. Two wait each for the other at a dish; 5 but three do not wait. 6 He who says the Benediction stretches his hand out first [to take the food]. If he wishes to assign the honour to his teacher, or to one who is older than himself, he is permitted to do so.
9. A man may not drink of a cup and give it to his companion, because men's taste differs. 1
M.VI. 7. If salted relish 2 is brought before him at first, and a piece of bread with it, he says the Benediction over the salted relish, and lets the piece of bread go free, for the piece of bread is an accompaniment to it. This is the general rule: In the case of everything which is the principal food, with other food accompanying it, one says the Benediction over the principal food, and lets the accompaniment go free.
Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says: Pieces of bread are a great sign to guests. So long as the guests see the pieces they know that something more is coming after them; 3 when [they see] a whole loaf and beans they know that nothing else comes after them.
15. We say 4 the Benediction over that corn which is of the choicest. How so? In the case of a whole loaf of Lesbian flour 5 and a whole loaf of
Now there is an incident in [the life of] Rabban Gamaliel and some Elders, who were reclining at a meal in Jericho. Dried dates 1 were brought before them. R. Aqiba made haste and said one Benediction after it. Rabban Gamaliel said to him: Aqiba, why dost thou put thy head between contending parties? 2 He said to him: Rabbi, thou hast taught us to incline after the greater number; although thou sayest so, yet the Rule is according to the words of those who are more numerous. 3
R. Judah says in the name of Rabban Gamaliel: In the case of everything which is one of the seven
16. There is an incident in the life of R. Tarphon, who was sitting in the shadow of a dovecot on a sabbath in the afternoon. A bucket of cold water was brought before him. R. Tarphon said to his disciples: In what manner shall he who drinketh water to satisfy his thirst say the Benediction? His disciples said to him: "Teach us, O our Rabbi." He said to them: "Thou that createst souls and that which they need." He said to them: "Shall I discuss this?" They said to him: "Teach us." He said to them: Behold He said: "and they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a travelling company of Ishmaelites," 1 etc. But is it not the custom of Arabs to he carrying nothing but skins of evil odour and resin? But [we read] that they set that righteous man 2 among their precious things. 3 Now behold these words yield the argument of the less to the greater: If this happened at a time when the righteous were under [God's] anger, and mercy was shown them, how much more in the time of His mercy!
17. Like that [are the words] "So they drew near, and carried them in their coats," 4 etc. And do not these words yield an argument of the less to the
18. There is an incident of four elders who were sitting in the portico of R. Joshua. These were they: Eleazar ben Mattai, Chananiah ben Chakinai, and Simeon ben Azzai, and Simeon the Temanite. 5 They were occupied with what R. Aqiba had taught them: Why did Judah deserve the kingdom? Because he made confession about Tamar. They added further of themselves: "Which wise men tell from their fathers, and have not hid it; unto whom alone the land was given, and no stranger passed among them." 6 He 7 said to them: What! Is a reward given for transgression? 8 But 9 why did Judah deserve the kingdom? Because he delivered his brother from death, for it is said: "And Judah
But why did Judah deserve the kingdom? Because of his humility. For it is said: "Now therefore, let thy servant, I pray thee, abide instead of the lad," 4 etc. Even Saul deserved the kingdom only because of his humility, for it is said: "Lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take thought for us," 5 etc. He accounted his servant like himself. But Samuel did not so, but [said]: "Lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and taketh thought for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?" 6 And when he was fleeing from the princedom, what does it say? "Therefore they asked of the LORD further, Is there yet a man to come hither? And He said," 7 etc. He 8 said to them: But was he [Judah] not a surety, and the end of being surety is to become free from suretyship. 9 But why did Judah deserve the kingdom? Because he sanctified the name of God [lit.: the Place] at the Sea, for when the tribes came and stood on [the edge of] the sea, this one said: I am going down first, and this said: I am going down first; the tribe of Judah made haste and went down first, and sanctified the name of God at the sea. And concerning that time does it say: "Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire," 10 etc., and so it says: "When Israel went forth out of Egypt, the
19. If [during the meal] they have moved to conduct a bride home, 2 and have left there [at the meal] even one old man, or even a sick man, it is not necessary for them to say a Benediction in irregular order; 3 and, when they return, it is not necessary for them to say it as at the beginning. If they have not left anyone there, even an old man, or a sick man, it is necessary for them to say a Benediction in irregular order, and when they return it is necessary to say it as at the beginning.
20. In the case of the master of the house who is reclining and eating, 4 and his partner calls him to speak with him, it is not necessary to say a Benediction in irregular order, and when he returns it is not necessary to say it as at the beginning. If he withdraws [voluntarily and for some time] it is necessary to say a Benediction in irregular order, and when he returns it is necessary to say it as at the beginning.
21. In the case of workmen who are picking figs, or cutting dates, or plucking olives, although they repeatedly break off and eat (some of what they pick), it is not necessary for them to say the Benediction in irregular order, and when they return it is not necessary for them to say the
VI. 8. If one has eaten figs, and grapes, and pomegranates, he says three Benedictions 1 over them. 2 This is the opinion of Rabban Gamaliel. But the Majority say: One Benediction [which is] the summary of three. R. Aqiba says: even if he eats vegetable potage as his meal, he says three Benedictions over it. And he who drinks water to satisfy his thirst says [the Benediction], "For all came into existence by His word." 3 R. Tarphon says: [He says], "Thou that createst souls and their needs." 4
48:1 already seated. i.e. without any previous intention of having a meal together. They were seated, as it were, by chance, not in the regular order of reclinings at a feast together.
48:2 For they are plainly of one company.
48:3 for himself. The mouths of the others may not be empty, and they cannot say Amen with safety. Also they may not be paying attention. The answer is attributed to Ben Zoma in T. IV. 12.
48:4 spices put on the coals. To sweeten the room after the meal, or in honour of the guests (Krauss, i, 238, 690; iii. 63). Cf. infra, p. 68.
48:5 after the feast. When the closing Benediction will have been already said.
48:6 are given water. Zuckermandel's text (Erfurt MS.), not the Vienna MS. or the ordinary text, has two terms for this (wnāthalu wnāthnu).
48:7 If they have gone upstairs, i.e. into the special dining-room. Cf. the "upper room" (ἀνάγαιον) of the Last Supper (Mark 1415, parallel Luke 2212).
49:1 both hands. Long absence makes it almost like beginning the meal afresh.
49:2 dries his hands. This is what we expect, but both Zuckermandel's and the common text (the latter in brackets) read whi.tpiach, which usually means "and makes his hands wet." But it may perhaps mean, "and claps his hands," i.e. to dry them.
49:3 Cf. M. VI. 6 (p. 48).
50:1 lets the wine go free. It is treated as sauce for the rice.
50:2 lets the unripe dates go free. Similarly they are treated as condiments to the radishes.
50:3 the eldest. The position at meals is determined by age, but in the lecture hall, or the tribunal, by learning. See Krauss, iii. 45, where there is also a picture of an early model of a meal, reproduced from Benzinger.
50:4 below him. Persons reclined on their left side that their right hands might be free. "Below" therefore means on the right, "above" on the left. In John 1323, 25, St. John himself was on the right of our Lord, and perhaps St. Peter on our Lord's left.
50:5 Two wait. Presumably because being less than three they cannot form a religious company (vide infra, pp. 59, 62, 63) and each is equal to the other.
50:6 three do not wait. They do form a company and have a leader, who helps himself first.
51:1 men's taste differs. So Krauss, iii. 53, 264.
51:2 salted relish. After eating much sweet fruit—"fruits of Gennesareth," T. B. 44a—to prevent weakness of the stomach.
51:3 after them. For the pieces of bread served as spoons.
51:4 We say. When bread of different kinds is set before us.
51:5 a whole loaf of Lesbian flour (shlêma shel glusqin). In view of the succeeding phrases glusqin is the material, and represents fine flour of some special brand. Jastrow (p. 246b) says it equals p. 52 "Lesbian," with a guttural before it. But in form the connexion with κόλλιξ, κολλίκιον, a thick roll, is more probable. In the latter case the classical implication that, κόλλιξ was a roll made of coarse grain does not apply to the term when hebraized. See Krauss, i. 105, 472.
52:1 Dried dates. (Kôthbôth.) See Krauss, ii. 246.
52:2 thy head between contending parties: i.e. why deviate from the established rule?
52:3 Aqiba argues that although Gamaliel and his companions asserted that three Benedictions ought to have been said, yet this was not the opinion of the real majority of scholars.
53:1 Gen. 3725. The passage continues, "came from Gilead, with their camels bearing spicery, and balm, and myrrh."
53:2 that righteous man. Cf. Wisd. 105 sq.; and perhaps 2 Pet. 28.
53:3 R. Tarphon's words end here (see Bacher, Ag. Tann. I. 354 n. 3). He is explaining how God gives persons what they need.
53:4 Lev. 105 The Erfurt MS. has, "and they brought them near," wayqārbūm, but this can hardly be right.
54:1 thou findest it said. Literally, "thou sayest." But it is a technical expression used of a further deduction from a fresh passage. See Bacher, Terminologie, I. 76.
54:2 1 Kings 1328.
54:3 They said to him. Bacher, Ag. Tann. I. 354, n. 5, would omit these words, because Tarphon naturally gives the answer.
54:4 he made confession. (Hodah.) The same root as Judah.
54:5 On these four contemporaries (c. 100-130 A.D.) see Bacher, Ag. Tann. I. pp. 352-354.
54:6 Job 1518 sq.
54:7 He. Namely R. Aqiba, or perhaps R. Tarphon, § 16.
54:8 for transgression. In spite of the quotation from Job, Judah's confession of sin might deserve pardon for his sin, but not a reward.
54:9 But. Introducing a fresh question in argument, and so in the rest of the section. Cf. Matt. 118 sq.
55:1 Gen. 3726 sq.
55:2 He. See p. 54, note 7.
55:3 for the sale. And therefore does not deserve the further blessing of the kingdom.
55:4 Gen. 4433.
55:5 1 Sam. 95.
55:6 Sam. 102.
55:7 Ibid. ver. 22, which reads, "and the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff."
55:8 He. See note 2.
55:9 from suretyship. Therefore no other reward is expected.
55:10 Ps. 691 sq.
56:1 Ps. 1141 sq.
56:2 to conduct a bride home. This was so meritorious an act that the study of the Torah might be interrupted in order to do so. See Krauss, ii. 39.
56:3 in irregular order. (lmiphrea‘.) Because it ought to be said really after the whole meal, and (if it is said), it is in fact followed by a fresh Benediction as at the beginning. The presence of an old or a sick man continues the one meal until the others return. In M. II. 4 (3) it refers to saying the portions of the Shma‘ in an irregular order (supra, p. 16).
56:4 eating. Alone, without guests.