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Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5, Tosefta 28 – 29

June 16th, 2009 No comments
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 281

Bet Shammai say, “[After washing the hands before the meal, a person] wipes his hands with a cloth napkin and puts it down on the table [so that he can use it during the meal to wipe himself], [because if he will put it on the cushion instead] may be the liquid inside the cloth napkin will become Tameh (ritually impure) because of the cushion2, and it will revert and make his hands Tameh [when he touches the cloth napkin again].”3 [And] Bet Hillel say, “[In case of] a doubt [if the] liquid [touches his] hands [or not, the hands remain] Tahor (ritually pure).”4 [Besides this there is] another explanation. Hands do not [need to be] washed [by Torah law, when eating] Chulin (ordinary food that does not have any special holiness to it). But rather [instead of putting the cloth napkin on the table, he should wash his hands and then] wipe his hands with a cloth napkin and put it on the cushion [so that he can use it during the meal to wipe himself], [because if he will put it on the table instead] may be the liquid inside the cloth napkin will become Tameh because of the table and it will revert and make the food Tameh [when the cloth napkin touches the food].5

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא כח

בית שמאי אומרים מקנח ידו במפה ומניחה על השולחן שמא נטמאו משקין שבמפה מחמת הכסת ויחזרו ויטמאו את הידים. בית הלל אומרים ספק משקים לידים טהור. דבר אחר. אין נטילת ידים לחולין. אלא מקנח ידו במפה ומניחה על הכסת שמא יטמאו משקין שבמפה מחמת השולחן ויחזרו ויטמאו את האוכלין.

Notes:

  1. Mishna 3 of chapter 8 mentions the argument between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel about where should the person put the cloth napkin with which he wipes his hands after washing them, on the table, or on the chair. Our Tosefta adds reasons for that argument.
  2. The regular Hebrew word for a chair is כסא. The word כסת really means a soft cushion. Since in Talmudic times they ate while reclining on beds, the beds were covered with soft cushions. However, for all practical purposes the cushion would be identical in this case to a chair since it is something the person is sitting on top of, therefore in all notes below I referred to it as a chair.
  3. For the rules of Tumah (ritual impurity), why unwashed hands are Tameh and why liquids make objects Tameh see above chapter 5, Tosefta 14, note 2. As was explained previously in Tosefta 26, note 4, Bet Shammai hold that a person is not allowed to eat with his hands being Tameh, because of a Rabbinical decree. So if he would put the cloth napkin which became wet from him wiping his wet hands on it, on to the chair, the chair which possibly may be Tameh on the second level of impurity (Sheni Letumah) will make the liquid inside it Tameh. People generally would use such Tameh chairs, because they cannot make anything else of importance Tameh, such as people or other utensils. The only thing that can become Tameh from such a chair is a liquid, since when liquids touch Sheni Letumah they become Rishon Letumah. However, the table cannot be Tameh, because Bet Shammai hold that people are not allowed to eat on a Tameh table, even if it is only Sheni Letumah, because may be they will eat Terumah on it and Terumah can become Tameh on a Third level of impurity (Shlishi Letumah), as I explained earlier in Tosefta 14, note 2.
  4. Bet Hillel hold that he should put the napkin on the chair and not on the table as they say in the end of this Tosefta. They hold that a person is allowed to use a Tameh table which is Sheni Letumah, since only Kohanim eat Terumah, but not most people who only eat Chulin. See Talmud Bavli (Berachot 52b). Also, it is only a doubt if the cloth napkin can actually make something else wet again, because it does not really have that much water in it. Bet Hillel hold that in the case of a doubt the Rabbis did not decree that liquids which become Rishon Letumah can make hands Tameh (see Mishna Taharot 4:7) and therefore the wet cloth napkin will not make his hands Tameh even if it touches the Tameh chair. However, Bet Hillel hold that even in the case of a doubt liquids which become Rishon Letumah can still make food Tameh, therefore it is better to keep the cloth napkin on the chair instead of the table, far away from the food.
  5. Talmud Bavli (Berachot 52b) as interpreted by Rashi (Berachot 52b, Afilu) explains that the reason that Bet Hillel add a second reason to their opinion is in order to refute Bet Shammai, even if they would theoretically agree to them that people cannot use a Tameh table. Bet Hillel are saying to Bet Shammai that even if the table is Tahor it is still better to put the cloth napkin on the chair and not on the table. The reason is that it is possible that someone will use a Tameh table which is Sheni Letumah, even though they are not allowed, and then the water in the napkin will make the food on the table Tameh. Since by Torah law there is no such thing as Tameh hands, because by Torah law only the person’s whole body can be Tameh, but not separate body parts, but there is such a thing as food becoming Tameh, we should be more concerned with the remote possibility of the food becoming Tameh and not the hands. It should be noted that this reasoning is just a logical derivation of why we should be concerned with the food possibly becoming Tameh as opposed to the hands. Both cases here are based on Rabbinical prohibitions since the whole concept of liquids becoming Tameh from something that is Sheni Letumah is a Rabbinical decree, so it really has nothing to do with Tumah by Torah law.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 291

Bet Shammai say, “[After the meal is over] we sweep the house [in order to clean up the bread crumbs that fell on the floor], in order to [prevent] the destruction of food, and [only] after that we wash hands [after the meal].”2 And Bet Hillel say, “If there is a waiter there, who is a Talmid Chacham (a Torah scholar),3 who picks up [all of] the crumbs that are the size of a Kezait (olive size), [then first] we wash hands [after the meal] and [only] then we sweep the house [from the crumbs].”4

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא כט

בית שמאי אומרים מכבדין את הבית מפני אבוד אוכלין ואחר כך נוטלין לידים. ובית הלל אומרים אם היה שמש תלמיד חכם מלקט פירורין שיש בהן כזית נוטלין לידים ואחר כך מכבדין את הבית.

Notes:

  1. Mishna 4 of chapter 8 mentions the argument between Bet Shammai abd Bet Hillel regarding what should be done first at the end of the meal, sweeping the house from bread crumbs or washing the hands after the meal (Mayim Acharonim). Our Tosefta adds reasons for that argument. The law of Mayim Acharonim was already explained earlier in chapter 5, Tosefta 14.
  2. It is disrespectful to food when it is left on the floor where people can step on it. Therefore prior to leaving the dining room, it needs to be swept to remove all of the food that fell on the floor. Bet Shammai hold that the house should be swept from dropped food before washing the hands after the meal, because if people would start washing hands while the food is laying on the floor they may spill some water on the floor and that will make the food that is there disgusting, thus disrespecting it.
  3. The reason that the waiter has to be a Talmid Chacham is because he has to be aware of this law that crumbs larger than a Kezait must be picked up. If he is uneducated then he would not know to do this and will leave them lying around.
  4. Bet Hillel hold that since the waiter will pick up by hand all of the bread crumbs that are larger than a Kezait before people are ready to wash Mayim Acharonim, we do not need to worry about water spilling on the floor and making the food disgusting. Bet Hillel hold that spilled water can only make disgusting pieces of bread that are larger than a Kezait. Crumbs that are smaller than that or other types of food do not become disgusting from spilled water. However Bet Shammai hold that any type of food of any size will become disgusting by having water spilled on it and therefore should be cleaned up first. Obviously Bet Hillel would agree to Bet Shammai that if there is no waiter there or the waiter is an Am Haaretz (an person uneducated in Torah law) then the house should be swept first and only then people should wash Mayim Acharonim, since some water may spill on pieces of bread larger than a Kezait and make them disgusting. Talmud Bavli (Berachot 52b) points out that Bet Hillel in fact hold that people are not allowed to use a waiter who is an Am Haaretz in general, but they must use a Talmid Chacham (i.e. a Chaver). For an explanation of what Chaverim were see above Tosefta 14, note 2.

It is important to note that it is apparent from the Tosefta that for some reason Bet Hillel would prefer in an ideal situation that everyone should wash Mayim Acharonim before the house is swept. Some commentators (see Pnei Moshe and also Perush Mibaal Sefer Chareidim on Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 8:4, Daf 60a, Im Hashamesh) ) say that really Bet Hillel does not have a preference for Mayim Acharonim to be washed before the house is swept. All they are saying is that a person is allowed to wash Mayim Acharonim before the house is swept if he wants to, but he may do the other way around as well. I do not agree with this explanation, because from the language of the Tosefta and even from the Mishna (Berachot 8:4) it is apparent that Bet Hillel insist that this must be the order and not the other way around. I would guess that the reason Bet Hillel insist on washing before sweeping the house is because it was more proper as far as the meal etiquette is concerned. Washing Mayim Acharonim and saying Birkat Hamazon is a part of the meal itself, but sweeping the house is not a part of the meal, therefore in an ideal situation it would more appropriate to complete the meal and only then sweep the house.

Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5, Tosefta 21 – 27

June 16th, 2009 No comments
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 211

Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel says, “[If after the guests] have gotten up [from their temporary seats, moved to the main eating hall] and reclined [on sofas],2 [a person] dipped together with them (i.e. other guests) [any piece of food into brine],3 even though he did not eat with them [even] a Kezait of grain, they can include him [into their group] to say Zimun.”4

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא כא

רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר עלו והסיבו טובל עמהן אף על פי שלא אכל עמהן כזית דגן הרי אלו מזמנין עליו.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta states a new law about Zimun. It is not related to any Mishna.
  2. In other words, if they already began eating the main meal and are not merely eating the appetizers. For the procedure of the meal see above chapter 4, Tosefta 8. Obviously if they are only eating the appetizers and did not start eating the main meal this law would not apply.
  3. This is the way this Tosefta is explained in Talmud Bavli (Berachot 48a-48b) and Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 7:2, Daf 54a). It is referring to any piece of food and not bread in particular. Dipping into brine is just an example of someone partaking of the same meal with any kind of food.  Dipping itself would not be required as long as the person ate something.
  4. Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel clearly says that in order to be included into Zimun the person does not have to eat bread but can merely join others in the meal by eating anything in any amount. This goes along with my explanation of Tosefta 19. See there note 3. According to Talmud Bavli the opinion of Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel is the main opinion which is the accepted halacha, thus it would seem to make sense that the Tosefta previously in Tosefta 19 assumes his opinion as a given.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 221

[If] a Non-Jew2 says a blessing [for anything] using God’s name we answer after him Amen [even if we did not here the whole blessing].3 [If] a Kuti says a blessing [for anything] using God’s name we do not answer after him Amen until we hear the whole blessing.4

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא כב

גוי המברך בשם עונין אחריו אמן. כותי המברך בשם אין עונין אחריו אמן עד שישמע את כל הברכה.

Notes:

  1. Mishna 8 of chapter 8 states that when a Jew says a Beracha we say Amen after it even if we did not hear the whole Beracha, but if a Kuti says a Beracha using God’s name then we must hear the whole Beracha before we can answer Amen. The Tosefta expands on that law. The law of answering Amen after a Beracha of a Jew and of a Kuti was already stated previously in chapter 3, Tosefta 26. The correct place for the discussion is here since that is where the Mishna discusses it. I have already explained the meaning of Amen, Kuti and the reason for hearing the whole Beracha of a Kuti before answering Amen back in chapter 3, Tosefta 26, so I will not repeat it here again. I will only explain the part about the Non-Jew.
  2. The reading in all of the Tosefta manuscripts is גוי (Non-Jew) and not עובד כוכבים (idol worshipper) as in the printed version of the Tosefta. I think that Non-Jew is the correct reading here, since the Tosefta’s statement does not apply only specifically to an Idol worshipper, but rather to any person who is not Jewish.
  3. Since he said God’s name we are sure that he said the blessing to God and not to an idol, since Non-Jews did not at the time of the Tosefta (3rd century CE) generally make blessings to both God and some idol. Thus we do not have to hear the whole blessing, but it is enough to just hear God’s name in the blessing. Obviously it does not matter in what language the Non-Jew made the blessing (hence I am referring to it here as a blessing and not a Beracha which denotes specifically a Hebrew blessing) as long as he said it to God.

It is important to note that Christians do make blessings to both God and Jesus in the same blessing by referring to the father and the son, thus this law would not apply to a Christian. It seems that when this Tosefta was written Christians were still not very common and therefore it did not mention them separately. It is also possible that in the 3rd century CE most Christians still did not consider Jesus divine, since that was not confirmed by the Roman church until the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, over 100 years after the Tosefta was most probably written. However the terminology of the trinity is used by the church fathers already in the 1st century CE (see The Epistle of Ignatius of Antioch to the Magnesians), so it is possible that already in the 1st century CE when Christians mentioned God in their blessings they may have included both the father and the son. But again, since most probably Christians at that time were not very common the Tosefta did not mention them. Another possibility why the Tosefta did not mention Christians is because they may not have used God’s name in their blessings, but rather said the word “father” which is not God’s name. Therefore if a Christian actually did say a blessing using God’s name then he did not mention the rest of the trinity and therefore would be included into the statement of the Tosefta about Non-Jews.

  1. See above chapter 3, Tosefta 26.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 231

[If a person] was sacrificing Menachot (Meal offerings)2 in Yerushalayim,3 he4 says [the following Beracha before bringing the Mincha sacrifices],4 Baruch [Ata Hashem Eloheinu Melech Haolam] Shehigiyanu Lazman Hazeh. (Blessed You Hashem, Our God, Ruler of the universe, who has helped us reach this time.)5 When he [actually] sacrifices them (i.e. Menachot) he says [the following Beracha immediately before bringing the sacrifice], Baruch [Ata Hashem Eloheinu Melech Haolam] Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Lehakriv Menachot. (Blessed You Hashem, Our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to sacrifice Menachot.)6 When he eats them (i.e. the Menachot) he says [the following Beracha immediately before eating them], [Baruch Ata Hashem Eloheinu Melech Haolam] Hamotzi Lechem Min Haaretz. (Blessed You Hashem, Our God, Ruler of the universe, Who brings bread forth from the earth.)7 [If a person] was sacrificing Zevachim (Animal offerings)8 in Yerushalayim,9 he10 says [the following Beracha before bringing the Zevach sacrifices], Baruch [Ata Hashem Eloheinu Melech Haolam] Shehigiyanu Lazman Hazeh. (Blessed You Hashem, Our God, Ruler of the universe, who has helped us reach this time.)11 When he [actually] sacrifices them (i.e. Zevachim) he says [the following Beracha immediately before bringing the sacrifice], Baruch [Ata Hashem Eloheinu Melech Haolam] Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Lehakriv Zevachim. (Blessed You Hashem, Our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to sacrifice Zevachim.)12 When he eats them (i.e. the Zevachim) he says [the following Beracha immediately before eating them], Baruch [Ata Hashem Eloheinu Melech Haolam] Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Leechol Zevachim. (Blessed You Hashem, Our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to eat Zevachim.)13

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא כג

היה מקריב מנחות בירושלים אומר ברוך שהגיענו לזמן הזה. כשהוא מקריבן אומר ברוך אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להקריב מנחות. כשהוא אוכלן אומר המוציא לחם מן הארץ. היה מקריב זבחים בירושלים אומר ברוך שהגיענו לזמן הזה. כשהוא מקריבן אומר ברוך אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להקריב זבחים. וכשהוא אוכלן אומר ברוך אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לאכל זבחים.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta states a new law regarding Berachot. It is not related to any Mishna.
  2. Menachot (singular: Mincha) are meal offerings made from either wheat or barley flour. There were 9 different types of Menachot that were brought in the Bet Hamikdash:

1)      Minchat Nesachim – a flour offering that was brought together with an Olah (Fire offering), a Shlamim (Peace offering) sacrifice as a part of that sacrifice, either private or public, and also with a Chatat (Sin offering) and Asham (Guilt offering) sacrifices that were brought by a Metzora (a leper). See Bemidbar 15:4-10.

2)      Minchat Haomer – a public barley flour offering which was brought on the 2nd day of Pesach. See Vayikra 2:14.

3)      Shtei Halechem – a public flour offering which was brought on the holiday of Shavuot. See Vayikra 23:15-17.

4)      Lechem Hapanim – a public flour offering that was brought every Friday. See Vayikra 24:5-9.

5)      Minchat Choteh – a private flour offering that is brought by a pour person who has sinned by violating certain oaths or entered the Bet Hamikdash while being Tameh (ritually impure). See Vayikra 5:11-12.

6)      Minchat Sotah – a private flour offering that is brought by a Sotah (a woman accused of adultery). See Bemidbar 5:12-15.

7)      Minchat Kohen Mashiach – a private flour offering brought by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) every day. See Vayikra 6:13-15.

8)      Minchat Chinuch – a private flour offering brought every day by a Kohen who is being trained to the service in the Bet Hamikdash prior to him being approved to do regular service. See Vayikra 6:16.

9)      Minchat Nedava – a private flour offering that any person can bring if he so desires for no particular reason as a personal vow. See Vayikra 2:1-7. There are 5 different versions of this type of Mincha:

  1. i.       Minchat Solet – uncooked, unbaked flour
  2. ii.      Chalot – baked loaves of unleavened bread
  3. iii.      Rekikim – baked wafers of unleavened bread
  4. iv.      Minchat Machvat – fried cakes in a shallow pan
  5. v.      Minchat Marcheshet – fried cakes in a deep pan
  1. This word is kind of redundant, since obviously the sacrifices could only be brought in the Bet Hamikdash which was located in Yerushalayim.
  2. From the language of the Tosefta it is not clear which person says the Beracha, the owner of the sacrifice or the Kohen (priest) who is actually sacrificing it. Tosafot (Berachot 37b, Hayah and Menachot 75b, Hayah) quotes Rashi (Rashi, Berachot 37b, Hayah; Rashi Ktav Yad, Menachot 75b, Lishna Achrina; Rashi, Menachot 75b, Hayah) who proposes three possible explanations, either that the Tosefta is referring to the owner of the sacrifice and not the Kohen or it is referring to a Kohen who is bringing the first sacrifice in his life, or it is referring to a Kohen who is bringing the public sacrifice that year such as the Omer. Tosafot rejects both of these explanations based on his understanding of the language of the Tosefta and proposes a different explanation that it is actually the Kohen that make this Beracha, and not just any Kohen but the first Kohen of each particular watch which was bringing the sacrifice. There were 24 different watches of Kohanim each of which has served twice a year for one week at a time. The watches would switch every Shabbat. See Mishna (Taanit 4:2) and Talmud Bavli (Taanit 27a). According to Rashi’s second explanation and Tosafot’s explanation this Beracha would be said for any type of the 9 nine types of Mincha since it is the Kohen who makes it and not the owner. According to Rashi’s first explanation it would only apply to private Mincha offerings since the public offerings do not have an owner. Also, see note 7 below.
  3. The version of this Beracha quoted in Talmud Bavli (Berachot 37b) as well as the one that is used nowadays on various occasions is ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם שהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה – Blessed You Hashem, Our God, Ruler of the World, Who has kept us alive, and sustained us, and who has helped us reach this time.
  4. Again it is not clear who makes this Beracha the owner of the sacrifice or the Kohen who is sacrificing it. On one hand it seems to me that for the private sacrifices it is the owner who should make this Beracha and not the Kohen, because it is the owner who is commanded by the Torah to bring the sacrifice. The Kohen is just there to serve the procedure but he is not the one who is commanded to bring it. However in the case of a public sacrifice it is the Kohen who is bringing it who should say the Beracha, because since the obligation for a public sacrifice applies to all of the Jewish people the Koehn serves as their representative and thus can make the Beracha. On the other hand one can argue in the opposite fashion regarding the private sacrifice that it is the Kohen who should make the Beracha since he is the messenger of the owner and he is the one who is physically sacrificing it. We find a similar thing by Brit Mila (circumcision) where it is the Mohel (the person who actually circumcises the child) that makes the Beracha over the Mila even though it is the father who is commanded to do the Mila to his child. See Tosefta Kiddushin 1:8. Since the Mohel is the messenger of the father and he is the one physically performing the commandment, so also he is the one that makes the Beracha. The opinions of the Rishonim (Medieval Rabbis) are not clear on this issue since they primarily do not discuss it. Personally, I am leaning towards the last explanation. Also, see note 7 below. For some discussion on the subject see the book, Berachot Shenishtaku (ברכות שנשתקעו) by Baruch Tzvi Gruner (Mosad Harav Kook, 2003, p.39-41).
  5. This is the regular Beracha for eating bread. Hence the Tosefta is only referring to those Mincha sacrifices that were baked into bread, and not left as plain flour. See note 2 above. The Mincha sacrifice was always eaten by a Kohen and not by the owner, as long as it was not the Kohen who was the owner. If the Kohen was the owner then it was not eaten at all, but rather completely burned on the altar. We may infer from the fact that since this Beracha is made by the Kohen since he is the one who eats it, then all previous Berachot mentioned in this Tosefta are also made by the Kohen. Hence the Tosefta always uses the same expression to refer to the person making the Berachot as “he” without differentiating between them.

It is somewhat puzzling why the Tosefta needs to emphasize that the Beracha for eating the Mincha offering is Hamotzi. It should be obvious in the case when it is bread, because that is the Beracha made before eating bread regardless of what type the bread is. It is possible that the Tosefta emphasizes this to teach us that even if the Mincha is fried in oil and not baked, such as Minchat Machvat or Minchat Marcheshet, the Beracha for it is still Hamotzi since it is a type of bread. In fact this answer is suggested by Tosafot (Berachot 37b, Lechem). Pnei Yehoshua (Berachot 37b, BePirush Rashi) suggests another answer to this problem. He says that the Tosefta is emphasizing that when he eats the Mincha sacrifice the only Beracha that he says is Hamotzi and he does not say the Beracha of Shehecheyanu, because it was already said at the time of the sacrifice. As opposed to, for example, a new fruit that a person has not eaten this season, on which he would say Shehecheyanu right before he eats it. I do not like this answer in particular, because there is absolutely no reason why Shehecheyanu should be said when the Mincha is eaten since it cannot be compared to a fruit which is only eaten and not sacrificed. Shehecheyanu is obviously made as early as possible once the main commandment is in progress. And since the main commandment here is to sacrifice it that is when Shehecheyanu is said.

Also, it is strange that the Tosefta does not say that there is a special Beracha for eating the Mincha offering similar to the one for eating the Zevach offering as the Tosefta states below. This Beracha should be Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Leechol Menachot – Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to eat Menachot. For the fact that this Beracha is not mentioned not in the Tosefta and not anywhere else it would seem that it did not exist. I was not able to find any reason for that.

  1. Zevachim (singular: Zevach) are animal offerings brought from cows, sheep, goats or birds. The reason they are called Zevachim is because all of these animals require to be slaughtered.  Hebrew word זבח means something that is slaughtered. There are 7 different types of Zevachim that were brought in the Bet Hamikdash:

1)      Olah – Fiery offering

2)      Chatat – Sin offering

3)      Asham – Guilt offering

4)      Shlamim – Peace offering, which includes into it the Todah sacrifice – Thanks offering

5)      Bechor – Firstborn offering

6)      Maaser Behemah – Animal tithe offering

7)      Karban Pesach – Pesach sacrifice

The first 3 offerings Olah, Chatat and Asham are in the category of Kadshei Kadashim – Holy of Holies, which means they get completely burnt on the altar and they do not get eaten. The rest of the sacrifices Shlamim (with the exception of the Shlamim of Shavuot which are Kadshei Kadashim), Bechor, Maaser Behemah and Karban Pesach are in the category of Kadshei Kalim – Minor Holies, which means that parts of them get eaten by the Kohanim who sacrificed it and parts of it get eaten by the owner who brought it.

  1. See note 3 above.
  2. See note 4 above. The same argument about Menachot applies to Zevachim as well.
  3. See note 5 above.
  4. See note 6 above. The same argument about Menachot applies to Zevachim as well.
  5. The Beracha for eating the Zevachim is made by each person who eats the meat of the sacrifice, regardless if he is a Kohen or the owner. Some sacrifices are eaten only by the Kohanim and some are eaten by both, the Kohanim and the owner. All of them would be required to make this Beracha.

It is important to note that in various manuscripts of the Tosefta and in the quotes of it by the Rishonim (Medieval Rabbis) there are variations of the text of the Beracha. Fro example, see Rambam (Hilchot Chametz Umatza 8:7). I have quoted the Beracha according to the way it is written in the Vienna manuscript, because it seems to be the most consistent form of it which matches the other Berachot. However in the Erfurt manuscript the ending of this Beracha is as follows: לאכל הזבח הזה – to eat this Zevach. Honestly, I do not think that this is the correct version, because the Berachot are usually written in a more generic form and do not emphasize the particular item over which the Beracha is said such as, “this Zevach” as opposed to “Zevachim” in general.

Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 241

Ten [people] that are going on the road,2 even though all of them are eating from the same loaf [of bread], each one of them makes the Beracha [over the bread] by himself.3 [If a group of people] sat down to eat [together] even though each one of them is eating from his own loaf [of bread], one of them makes the Beracha [over the bread] for all of them.3

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא כד

עשרה שהיו מהלכין בדרך אף על פי שכולן אוכלין מככר אחד, כל אחד ואחד מברך לעצמו. ישבו לאכול אף על פי שכל אחד ואחד אוכל מככרו, אחד מברך לכולן.

Notes:

  1. This Tosefta seems to be out of place. It is related to Mishna 6 of chapter 6 where the Mishna discussed when groups of people who are eating together make individual Berachot over their food or one person makes a Beracha for everyone. This subject was mainly discussed earlier in the Tosefta, in chapter 4, Tosefta 8.
  2. Tosefta states this as a common example when a group of people all would be eating from the same loaf bread. It was obviously common for people traveling to take large loaves of bread and share them with everybody. The number of people mentioned here – 10, is not specific and merely signifies a group.
  3. Since they are walking on the road they are not considered to be eating a meal together, therefore each one of them makes a Beracha over his bread by himself. The fact that they are eating from the same loaf does not signify that they are eating a meal together since they have not formally sat down to eat together.
  4. Since they sat down together in the same room to eat a formal meal, one person makes a Beracha over the bread for everyone. The fact that each one of them has a separate loaf of bread in front of him does not separate them from the group in anyway.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 251

Workers that were doing [work] by the owner of the house [when they have to say Birkat Hamazon] they say [only] two Berachot [instead of the four usual Berachot].2 [The way they say Birkat Hamazon is as follows.] He (i.e. the worker) says the first Beracha [in the regular fashion]. [Then] he combines [the Beracha] of Yerushalayim (i.e. the 3rd Beracha) with [the Beracha] of the land (i.e. the 2nd Beracha) [into one Beracha], and he seals it off with [the ending of the Beracha] of the land.3 If [the workers] were doing [the work] for him [and receiving] their meal [as pay, instead of money],4 or the owner of the house was saying the Birkat Hamazon for them [because he ate together with them,5 even if they were getting paid money for their work, then] they (i.e. the workers) say [all] four Berachot.6

[These are] the things during meals regarding which Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel argue.7 Bet Shammai say, “[When a person makes Kiddush on Friday night,]8 he says the Beracha for the day [first] and [only] after that he says the Beracha on the wine, because the day causes the wine to be brought, and since the day already began, however the wine has not been brought out yet [until later that evening].”9 And Bet Hillel say, “[When a person makes Kiddush on Friday night,] he says the Beracha for the wine [first] and [only] after that he says the Beracha on the day, because it is the wine that causes the holiness of the day to be discussed.10 [Besides this there is] another explanation. The Beracha for the wine is common and the Beracha for the [Shabbat] day is not common.”11 And the law follows the words of Bet Hillel.12

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא כה

פועלין שהיו עושין אצל בעל הבית הרי אלו מברכין שתים. אומר ברכה ראשונה, כולל של ירושלים בשל ארץ, וחותם בשל ארץ. אם היו עושין עמו בסעודתן או שהיה בעל הבית מברך להן הרי אלו מברכין ארבע.

דברים שבין בית שמאי ובית הלל בסעודה. בית שמאי אומרים מברך על היום ואחר כך מברך על היין שהיום גורם ליין שיבא וכבר קדש היום ועדיין לא בא. ובית הלל אומרים מברך על היין ואחר כך מברך על היום שהיין גורם לקדושת היום שתאמר. דבר אחר. ברכת היין תדירה וברכת היום אינו תדירה והלכה כדברי בית הלל.

Notes:

  1. This Tosefta consists of two parts that are not related to each other. In the Zukermandel’s edition of the Tosefta it is actually split into two separate Toseftot. However, I have kept them together in order to be consistent with the numbering system of the Tosefta printed in the back of the Vilna edition of the Talmud Bavli. The first part of the Tosefta states a new law regarding Birkat Hamazon and it is not related to any Mishna. However the second part of the Tosefta is a restatement of the argument between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel mentioned in Mishna 1 of chapter 8, however the Tosefta adds reasons for their opinions.
  2. The owner of the house refers to the person who hired the workers. The first case of the Tosefta is referring to workers who are being paid hourly wages for their work. The reason that workers who are being paid hourly wages say a shorter version of Birkat Hamazon is because the Rabbis wanted to save money for the person who hired them. Even if the workers are not being paid for the time that they use to eat, still it is a waste of the owner’s time since they are sitting idle and not working. The Tosefta already discussed similar leniencies made by the Rabbis for workers earlier in chapter 2, Tosefta 8 regarding Shema and Shmoneh Esreh.
  3. As was explained earlier in chapter 4, Tosefta 6, note 6, Birkat Hamazon consists of 4 Berachot. The first 3 Berachot, were instituted by the prophets and therefore are considered to be more obligatory. However the 4th Beracha was instituted much later in Yavneh and is considered to be less important. See earlier chapter 4, Tosefta 6, note 6. Therefore in the case of the workers the Rabbis decreed that the 4th Beracha can be omitted completely. However the 3rd Beracha cannot be completely omitted since it was enacted by the prophets, therefore it is shortened instead. It is fitting to merge the text of the 2nd Beracha which talks about the Land of Israel into the 3rd Beracha which talks about the rebuilding of Yerushalayim, since Yerushalayim is a part of the Land of Israel.

It should be noted that the difference in the amount of time that it takes to say the regular Birkat Hamazon and the shortened Birkat Hamazon is probably around 1 minute, and despite this the Rabbis felt that it was important to save even one minute of time for the owner of the house since he is the one that is paying for the workers.

  1. I have explained this statement of the Tosefta according to the way it is quoted in the Talmud Bavli (Berachot 16a) even though the wording of the Tosefta quoted in Talmud Bavli is slightly different that the text in the Tosefta manuscripts.

If instead of paying the workers money the owner of the house has agreed to pay them by feeding them the meal, then the workers are entitled to enjoy the meal to its fullest, which includes saying the complete Birkat Hamazon.

  1. The version of the Tosefta quoted in the Talmud Bavli (Berachot 16a) says that the owner reclined together with them and not like our text that says that he said Birkat Hamazon for them. Since the only way the owner of the house would be allowed to say Birkat Hamazon for them if he ate together with them, (since in order to fulfill the obligation of others the person must be obligated in that Beracha himself) I have chosen to explain our Tosefta based on the text quoted in Talmud Bavli.
  2. If the owner of the house has joined the workers in eating the meal then he is making it known that he does not mind if they take their time to eat the meal, therefore they can say the complete Birkat Hamazon.
  3. These arguments will be discussed in the next few Toseftot.
  4. There is a rabbinical commandment to say a benediction sanctifying Shabbat on Friday nights before the meal over a cup of wine. That is called Kiddush. See Talmud Bavli Berachot 33a. The regular Kiddush on Friday night consists of two Berachot, one for the wine, and one for the Shabbat.
  5. Bet Shammai hold that the order of the Berachot in the Kiddush should be on the Shabbat first and only then on the wine. The reason is because the order in which they happen is this way. Shabbat begins at sunset on Friday night. However Kiddush is not normally made until the person comes home from the synagogue which is already after dark. So since Shabbat begins first and only afterwards the Kiddush over wine is made, the Berachot during Kiddush are made in that order as well. The reason that Bet Shammai hold that the order of Kiddush should follow the order in which these things happen is explained by the first part of Bet Shammai statement, that the reason that the wine is brought out is due to the fact that the day is Shabbat, meaning that if the day was some other day of the week then there would be no Kiddush; hence it is the day of Shabbat that causes Kiddush to be said. It seems to me that Bet Shammai state one long reason for their opinion, although it is possible to view it as two separate reasons as well, one that the Kiddush follows the order in which they happen, and the other is that Shabbat is more important since it is the cause of Kiddush in the first place.
  6. Bet Hillel hold that the order is reversed and the Beracha on the wine is said first. The reason is because the whole reason that the Rabbis decreed to say the Beracha for the Shabbat is due to the fact that Kiddush is being made over wine. If the person does not have any wine or bread (which can be used as a substitute for wine in order to make Kiddush) then the person would not say Kiddush at all. Thus the whole reason that the Beracha is said for the Shabbat is because of the wine, in which case the wine is more important and the Beracha over it is said first.

Talmud Bavli (Pesachim 106a) quotes a Beraita that learns out the mitzvah of Kiddush from a verse in the Torah. It says in the 10 commandments זכור את יום השבת לקדשו – Remember the day of Shabbat to make it holy. (Shemot 20:7) So the Beraita says that you should make it holy by making Kiddush over wine, in which you proclaim that Shabbat is holy. Based on this Beraita, as well some other sources in Talmud Bavli, some Rishonim (Medieval Authorities) (Tosafot (Pesachim 106a, Zochreyhu) and the Rambam (Hilchot Shabbat 29:1)) say that the mitzvah of saying Kiddush with words without the wine is a Torah obligation and the Rabbis have enacted that it should be said over wine. I would like to point out that from our Tosefta it seems that even the mitzvah of saying Kiddush with words without the wine is also a Rabbinical obligation and not a Torah obligation. Because if it would have been a Torah obligation how could Bet Hillel say that it is the wine that causes the holiness of the day to be said? It should be the other way around, that the Torah has commanded to say the holiness of the day, and that caused the Rabbis to enact this proclamation over wine. Instead we see that Bet Hillel’s reason precisely points out that both the proclamation of Kiddush with words is a Rabbinical obligation and the only reason that the Rabbis have enacted it is due to the fact that they wanted some kind of benediction to be said over wine in the beginning of the Shabbat meal.

  1. Bet Hillel add a second reason to why the Beracha on the wine is said first. Since the Beracha over wine is said on any day that a person drinks wine on, where as the Beracha for the Shabbat is only said once a week, on Shabbat, it make the Beracha over the wine more common. There is a principal that is accepted throughout the Talmudic literature that says, that when there are two things that a person needs to do he should do the thing that is more common first. (תדיר ושאינו תדיר, תדיר קודם.) See Mishna Zevachim 10:1. So Bet Hillel follow this principal.

There are a few possibilities why Bet Hillel felt that it was necessary to add a second reason to their opinion. It is possible that Bet Shammai actually held that Kiddush with words without the wine is a Torah obligation as Tosafot and the Rambam say and therefore the first reason of Bet Hillel would not apply as a rebuttal, therefore Bet Hillel felt that it was necessary to provide them with another reason why the Beracha on the wine should be said first. Secondly, Bet Shammai also kind of stated two possible reasons for their opinion, as was explained above in note 9, so Bet Hillel had to reply with reasons as well. Thirdly, it is possible that they added a second reason simply to strengthen their words, because two reasons are always better than one.

  1. It is unclear why the Tosefta has to explicitly say that the law follows Bet Hillel, since in arguments with Bet Shammai the law always follows Bet Hillel with 9 exceptions, 6 of which  are mentioned in Tosafot (Sukkah 3a, Deamar) and 3 of which are mentioned in Talmud Yerushalmi (Kilayim 8:4, Daf 39a-b). Talmud Bavli (Berachot 51b) attempts to answer this question, by providing two possible explanations. One is that the whole reason that the Halacha (law) is like Bet Hillel is because a Bat Kol (heavenly voice) proclaimed it to be so, (see Talmud Bavli, Eruvin 13b) and this Tosefta was written before the Bat Kol made its proclamation. Or a second answer is that this Tosefta holds like the opinion of Rebbi Yehoshua (see Talmud Bavli, Bava Metzia 59b) who says that we do not do things just because a Bat Kol said them and therefore the Tosefta had to clarify it for us.

It should be noted that the real reason why the Halacha follows Bet Hillel is not because of the Bat Kol, but rather because Bet Hillel always were the majority in the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court) and the Halacha always follows the majority. This is indeed stated by Tosafot (Berachot 52a, Verebbi). The Talmud even mentions specific cases when one day many students of Bet Hillel did not show up to the Sanhedrin and suddenly Bet Shammai were the majority that day and they overruled some of Bet Hillel’s opinions. For example see Talmud Bavli (Eruvin 13a). So the Gemara’s answers do not really apply since the Tosefta does not have to explain to us that the Halacha is like Bet Hillel if they are the majority. However, it is possible that since from the names of Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel it is not clear which one of them was the majority since both names imply that they were schools and simply included a lot of people, the Tosefta clarifies for us that Bet Hillel in fact were the majority and therefore the Halacha follows them.

Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 261

Bet Shammai say, “We wash hands [before the meal]2 first and [only] after that we pour the cup [of wine for Kiddush,3 because] may be the liquid outside of the cup will become Tameh (ritually impure), because of the [Tameh] hands, and in turn it will make the cup Tameh.”4 And Bet Hillel say, “The outside of the cup is always Tameh, [so therefore it does not matter if the liquid on the outside of the cup will make it Tameh.]5 [Besides this there is] another explanation. Hands should be washed as close to the meal as possible.”6

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא כו

בית שמאי אומרים נוטלין לידים ואחר כך מוזגין את הכוס שמא נטמאו משקין שבאחורי הכוס מחמת הידים ויחזרו ויטמאו את הכוס. ובית הלל אומרים אחורי הכוס לעולם טמאין. דבר אחר. אין נטילת ידים אלא סמוך לסעודה.

Notes:

  1. Mishna 2 of chapter 8 mentions the argument between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel about what should be done first, washing of the hands before the meal or making Kiddush. Our Tosefta adds reasons for that argument.
  2. The law of washing hands before the meal was already explained in chapter 4 Tosefta 8 and in chapter 5 Tosefta 14.
  3. Meaning make Kiddush. This is the explanation according to the Rif (Berachot 52b, Daf 38b in the Rif). However Rashi (Berachot 52b, Venitmi Kos Leyadayim) explains that the Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel are talking about the wine that was drunk before the meal, as was explained earlier in the Tosefta chapter 4, Tosefta 8 on any day, and not about Kiddush on Shabbat. I think that the Rif’s opinion makes more sense, because it makes this Tosefta flow better with the previous Tosefta, which also talked about Kiddush.
  4. For the rules of Tumah (ritual impurity), why unwashed hands are Tameh and why liquids make objects Tameh see above chapter 5, Tosefta 14, note 2. Bet Shammai hold that since his hands are Tameh by default if some wine from his cup will spill on the outside of the cup it will become Tameh from his hands, and since liquids become Tameh on the First Level (Rishon Letumah) they will then make the cup itself Tameh on the Second Level (Sheni Letumah). Of course, the cup itself cannot make the wine inside Tameh, because Chulin food does not become Tameh on the 3rd Level (Shlishi Letumah), but nevertheless Bet Shammai hold that a person is not allowed to drink from a cup the outside of which is Tameh. The reason is explained in Talmud Bavli (Berachot 52b) and is that even if the person’s hands have been washed and are Tahorim still if we let him use a cup the outside of which is Tameh, even though the cup itself cannot make the hands Tameh, because vessels do not make a person Tameh, what can happen is that some liquid can spill from the cup onto its outside, the cup which is Sheni Letumah will make the liquid Rishon Letumah, and then the liquid in turn will make his hands Tameh. Therefore Bet Shammai do not allow using a Tameh cup no matter what, even if his hands were Tameh from the beginning. This is kind of strange reasoning since what Bet Shammai do not really want is the person drinking something while his hands are Tameh even if he is drinking from a cup and the liquid inside the cup cannot become Tameh no matter what. The only reason they care about the cup becoming Tameh is due to his hands. So what they should have said is that they do not allow a person drinking with Tameh hands no matter what, regardless if the cup can become Tameh or not. It seems to me that what Bet Shammai are really concerned with is not whether his hands will become Tameh or not, but if we allow people to drink from a cup the outside of which is Tameh then what might happen is that some liquid that spills onto the outside of the cup may some how spill back inside the cup and make everything inside the cup Tameh. This is plausible although unlikely and this way Bet Shammai would be concerned with the cup becoming Tameh and not the hands, since theoretically the liquid can spill on to the outside of the cup and then spill back inside the cup without touching the hands.
  5. Bet Hillel hold that a person is allowed to use a cup the outside of which is Tameh. And they are not concerned with drops of the liquid inside the cup spilling onto the outside and then somehow spilling back inside.
  6. The reason Bet Hillel provide a second reason is because this refutes Bet Shammai’s opinion even if Bet Hillel would agree to the fact that we are concerned with some liquid spilling onto the outside of the cup and then spilling back into the cup. Obviously the reason that Bet Hillel hold that it is better to wash hands as close to the meal itself as possible is because during the meal the person touches his food with his hands and if he goes and touches something else in between him washing his hands and the meal his hands may become Tameh again, and then he will end up touching his food with Tameh hands.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 271

We pour the cup [of wine, for Kiddush, first] and [only] after that wash hands [before the meal].2

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא כז

מוזגין את הכוס ואחר כך נוטלין לידים.

Notes:

  1. This Tosefta does not add anything new to the opinion of Bet Hillel mentioned in the previous Tosefta that was not already said. It is merely a restatement of their opinion.
  2. There is a lot of controversy about the text of this Tosefta. Most commentators agree that it belongs in the previous Tosefta and it is really a continuation of the words of Bet Hillel. Cheshek Shlomo goes as far as to completely remove it from this spot and add it to the beginning of the words of Bet Hillel in the previous Tosefta, since that it is the way it is quoted in Talmud Bavli (Berachot 52a). In the Tosefta manuscripts the rest of the text that is present in the printed editions of the Tosefta is not present at all; therefore I did not include it into the main text of the Tosefta either. However I will include it in the note since the Cheshek Shlomo believes that it is the correct reading of the Tosefta and it was preserved only in the Talmud Bavli. It says as follows:
Because if you say that we wash first, then may be the water that is on the hands will become Tameh, because of the cup [which is Tameh] and it will go back and make the hands Tameh. But rather [we must say that] we pour the cup [of wine for Kiddush] and [only] then wash hands [before the meal].

שאם אתה אומר נוטלין תחלה שמא יטמאו משקין של ידים מחמת הכוס ויחזרו ויטמאו את הידים אלא מוזגין את הכוס ואחר כך נוטלין לידים.

If this text remains present in this Tosefta it does not make any sense with the previous Tosefta, because the Tosefta already mentioned two reasons for the opinion of Bet Hillel and this line seems to add a more elaborate explanation for the first reason for Bet Hillel’s opinion, which does not flow with the fact the second opinion was already mentioned. Of course, according to the Cheshek Shlomo it belongs in the previous Tosefta and should be written right after the first reason in which case it would make sense. However I did not dare make such an elaborate emendation of the text in the main text of the Tosefta itself without any references from manuscripts. I will let the reader decide which reading is more correct.

Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5, Tosefta 11 – 20

June 16th, 2009 No comments
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 111

One [person] who is serving to two [people] can eat together with them [without asking them for permission, because after he joins them they can say Zimun].2 [However, if there are] three [people eating together], he cannot eat with them until they give him permission [to eat together with them, because they can already say Zimun without him].3

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא יא

אחד משמש את השנים הרי זה אוכל עמהן. שלשה אין אוכל עמהן עד שיתנו לו רשות.

Notes:

  1. Mishna 1 of chapter 7 says that if three people eat together they must say Zimun before Birkat Hamazon. The Mishna adds that if there are two people eating and they are being served by a waiter, if the waiter eats a Kezait (size of an olive) of bread he thus joins them and now they can say Zimun. Our Tosefta expands on that law. However see Tosefta 19, note 3 further in this chapter that clarifies that this Tosefta does not necessarily agree with the Mishna that the 3rd person must eat a Kezait of bread in order to join. It merely states that since it is better to say Zimun with 3 people who ate a Kezait of bread than just with 2 people, the waiter can join them without asking for their permission, although according to the Tosefta he would not be required to eat a Kezait in order to join them.
  2. For the description of Zimun see Mishna Berachot 7:3. Since the servant enables the other two people to do a mitzvah of Zimun he does not have to ask them for permission to join them in their meal. It should be noted that the same law would apply if there are nine people eating together. Since adding a tenth person would enable them to say the word Eloheinu in the Zimun (See Mishna Berachot 7:3), which they were not able to say otherwise, the servant does not have to ask them for permission to join.
  3. Since three people who are eating together can already say Zimun, the servant joining them does not provide them any benefit, thus he must ask them for permission before he can join them.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 121

If they (i.e. the people eating) were brought [by the servants] a sweet relish2 together with [other] food, he makes the Beracha on the [other] food and exempts the sweet relish [from the requirement of saying Beracha over it].

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא יב

בא להם מתיקה בתוך המזון מברך על המזון ופוטר את המתיקה.

Notes:

  1. Mishna 7 of chapter 6 states a rule that whenever a person has a main food and a side dish that is eaten together with the main food he makes the Beracha on the main food and that automatically exempts the side dish from making a Beracha on it. It is unclear why this Tosefta is listed here and earlier right after Tosefta 10 of chapter 4 where this law was already discussed. Perhaps it is listed here, because the Tosefta is discussing things that happen in the middle of a meal.
  2. The word מתיקה refers to some food that is sweet from the word מתוק (sweet). It can refer to relish, dressing or seasoning (See Talmud Bavli, Avodah Zara 66a), as well as a sweet drink (See Talmud Bavli, Yoma 76b). In our Tosefta it is obviously referring to something like relish or a dressing that is not eaten by itself, but rather together with another food.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 131

Rebbi Muna says in the name of Rebbi Yehudah, “Stuffed pastry2 [that was served] after the [main] meal, [but before Birkat Hamazon,] requires a Beracha before it and after it.”3

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא יג

רבי מונא אומר משום רבי יהודה פת הבאה בכסנין אחר המזון טעונה ברכה לפניה ולאחריה.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta states another law regarding the subject of foods brought in the middle of a meal. It is not related to any Mishna.
  2. Pat Haba Bekisnin is a dried pastry stuffed with nuts and spices that was commonly served in Talmudic times as dessert at the end of a meal. For the detailed description of the word and other explanations see above chapter 4, Tosefta 4, note 4.
  3. Since it is not considered to be a part of the meal, it requires a Beracha before it (i.e. Borei Minei Mezonot) and a Beracha after it (i.e. Al Hamichya). It should be noted that it is the opinion of this Tosefta that Pat Haba Bekisnin requires a Beracha after it, however in Talmud Bavli (Berachot 41b) the prevalent opinion seems to be that no Beracha is required to be said after it at all. See above chapter 4, Tosefta 7, note 5. Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 6:5, Daf 47b-48a) quotes both opinions.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 141

Washing [hands] before [the meal] (Mayim Rishonim) is optional.2 [Washing hands] after [the meal] (Mayim Acharonim) is obligatory.3 [When he washes] Mayim Rishonim, if he wants to interrupt [the water flow over his hands and pour the water over them the second time] he may do so. [However, when he washes] Mayim Acharonim, if he wants to interrupt [the water flow over his hands and pour the water over them the second time] he may not do so, [but rather he must pour the whole cup of water over the hands in one shot].4

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא יד

מים ראשונים רשות. אחרונים חובה. מים ראשונים רצה להפסיק מפסיק. אחרונים רצה להפסיק אינו מפסיק.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta states a new law regarding washing of hands before and after the meal. It is not related to any Mishna. I have explained this whole Tosefta according to the way it is explained in Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 8:2, Daf 58b).
  2. The reason for washing hands before the meal is not clearly explained anywhere. There seem to be different opinions why a person has to wash his hands before the meal. See Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 8:2, Daf 58b). It seems that there two prevalent reasons for this. One reason to wash hands before a meal is simply because we want the person to eat with clean hands. However another reason is due to ritual impurity (Tumah). In order to understand it I have to give an explanation of how ritual impurity works. These rules are dispersed through out the Mishna in Seder Taharot, so I will summarize them here without citing sources for each statement.

There are different levels of ritual impurity. A human dead body is considered to be the highest level of impurity, called in Hebrew Avi Avot Hatumah. An object or a person that touches the dead body becomes ritually impure (Tameh) on one level below that, called Av Hatumah. Something that touches Av Hatumah becomes Tameh on one level below that, called Rishon Letumah (primary level of impurity). And something that touches Rishon Letumah becomes Sheni Letumah (secondary level of impurity). Ordinary objects that do not have any special holiness to them (called Chulin) cannot become Tameh on a lower level than Sheni Letumah. Also, by Torah law an object can never become Tameh on the same level or a level above it as the object that touched it. It always becomes Tameh on one level below the level of the object that touched it. This means that any object that is Sheni Letumah cannot make something else Tameh at all, since there is no lower level of impurity than Sheni Letumah. Besides Chulin there are various holy objects that have more levels of Tumah below the level of Sheni. For example, Terumah (a fruit or vegetable tithe given by a regular Jew (Yisrael) to a Cohen (a Priest)) has another level of Tumah called Shlishi Letumah (third level of impurity). Thus if an object that is Sheni touches Terumah, the Terumah will become Tameh on a level of Shlishi Letumah. Below that however, even Terumah does not become Tameh. Sacrifices have two additional levels beyond Terumah, known as Revii Letumah (4th level of impurity) and Chamishi Letumah (5th level of impurity). The way they become Tameh is in the same fashion as anything else. However the Rabbis made two special decrees regarding Tumah that were Rabbinical in nature since by Torah law Tumah does not behave itself in such a fashion. The first decree that they made was that a person’s hands as long as they are not washed with water are always Tameh on the level of Sheni Letumah by default, even if the person did not touch anything that was Tameh. The second decree that they made was that if something that was Sheni Letumah touches a liquid, the liquid will become impure on the level of Rishon Letumah (i.e. one level up).

In addition to all of this in Talmudic times there was a special group of people called Chaverim (literally “friends”, singular “Chaver”) who were extra stringent and scrupulous about keeping mitzvot. Most of them made sure that all food that they ate was completely ritually pure (Tahor) even if it was Chulin and was not required to be Tahor by the Jewish law. Talmudic Sages and Torah scholars generally were Chaverim, although not exclusively. See Talmud Bavli (Bechorot 30b) that even Talmidei Chachamim (Torah Scholars) had to accept upon themselves to become Chaverim in front of three people, implying that some of them did not. For more details about who the Chaverim were see Mishna Demai 2:3, Tosefta Demai chapter 2, and Talmud Bavli (Bechorot 30b). Now that you understand how basic Tumah works and how serious people were about keeping it I can explain the reason for washing hands before a meal.

During a meal it was customary for people to dip various foods into liquid relishes and various dips. Since Chaverim required that all of their food remained Tahor, they had to wash their hands before eating, because otherwise their hands which would by default were Sheni Letumah would make all of the liquids Rishon Letumah, and then in turn the liquids would touch the rest of the food and make it Sheni Letumah, thus making everything Tameh. Thus in order for this not happen all of the people had to wash their hands before the meal, so that their hands would be Tahorim and nothing would become Tameh.

It seems from our Tosefta that it is of the opinion that the reason for washing hands before a meal is due to Tumah and not due to cleanliness. Therefore since technically everybody were not required to wash their hands, because food that was Chulin was allowed to become Tameh, the Tosefta says that it is optional. In other words, if a person was a Chaver and wanted everything to remain Tahor then he would wash and if he was not a Chaver and he did not care if his food was Tameh then he would not wash.

  1. Talmud Bavli (Eruvin 17b) says that the reason for Mayim Acharonim being obligatory is because the Salt of Sodom may remain on the hands and damage someone’s eyes. In Israel, the area around the Dead Sea, otherwise known as Sodom (based on the location of the Biblical City) was the chief source of salt both in Biblical and in Talmudic times. Salt can be scooped up from the bottom of the Dead Sea or chiseled off the mountains around the Dead Sea many of which are comprised of salt. The salt that comes from the Dead Sea is different from regular table salt that we are used to in a way that it is mostly comprised from chloride and bromide of magnesium and calcium, as opposed to regular table salt or sea salt which is mostly sodium chloride. See International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Dead Sea entry). Magnesium chloride gives the Dead Sea salt an especially bitter taste. It is also a severe eye irritant. It is not really clear if Magnesium Chloride is any more dangerous to the eyes than Sodium Chloride. My suspicion is that people felt in ancient times that since the Dead Sea salt was much more bitter than regular salt it was also much more dangerous to the eyes, than regular salt; however I was not able to find any information to substantiate that.

It should be noted that the Rabbis recommended to eat salt at the end of the meal to prevent bad smell from a person’s mouth and throat pain (אסכרא – croup or angina). See Talmud Bavli (Berachot 40a). This means that people specifically ate salt right before they said Birkat Hamazon and since the most common salt around was Salt of Sodom it was bound to remain on their hands if they did not wash them and eventually would end up in their eyes.

  1. The text quoted in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 8:2, Daf 58b) does not say the words “if he wants” implying that it is obligatory by Mayim Rishonim to wash the hands twice, but by Mayim Acharonim it is not obligatory. The reason is because since the purpose of washing Mayim Rishonim is due to Tumah of the hands, he has to pour the water once on the hands to purify the hands themselves, and then pour the water on the hands the second time in order to wash off the first water which became Tameh after it touched the Tameh hands. However by Mayim Acharonim he does not have to do so, because the reason to wash then is to wash off the Salt of Sodom and not to purify the hands, besides his hands are considered to be Tahorim at the end of the meal anyway since he already washed and thus purified them before the beginning of the meal. However, according to the version of the text in the Tosefta manuscripts, as quoted here, this explanation does not fit, because the Tosefta says exactly the opposite, that by Mayim Rishonim he may wash twice if he wants to, although he does not have to, but by Mayim Acharonim he is not allowed to wash twice even if he wants to. Due to this problem the Gra (Vilna Gaon) modified the text of the Tosefta here so it matches the text quoted in the Yerushalmi. However, I believe that this is unnecessary and the text of the Tosefta should be explained in a different fashion than the Yerushalmi explains it.

Chazon Yechezkel explains our Tosefta as follows. Our Tosefta is talking about the interruption between the washing of the hands and the thing that comes next, mainly the meal itself or Birkat Hamazon. By Mayim Rishonim, if he wants he may wash his hands in two pours since it is ok that their will be a longer interruption between the washing of the hands and the meal itself. However, by Mayim Acharonim the person is required to say Birkat Hamazon immediately after washing without any interruption at all. See Talmud Bavli (Berachot 42b). Hence the extra pour on the hands will serve as an extra interruption and thus it is not allowed.

I do not like the explanation of the Chazon Yechezkel simply because washing in one pour or in two pours is still washing and cannot be considered an interruption. When Talmud Bavli (Berachot 42b) says that he must say Birkat Hamazon immediately after washing Mayim Acharonim without an interruption it is referring to an interruption by eating something or by talking and not by simply taking a little longer to wash. See Rashi (ibid. Lenetilat Yadayim). Also, the Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 1:1, Daf 6a) implies that this statement is referring to Mayim Rishonim and to Mayim Acharonim at all, like Rashi explains.

I would like to propose a different explanation of our Tosefta. We have to remember that the cup that he is using to pour water on his hands is the same size in both cases. It must hold a minimum amount of water, which is a Reviit. See Mishna Yadayim 2:1. (The Halacha seems to follows Rebbi Meir there as can be seen from the Rambam Hilchot Berachot 6:10. It is possible that the Rambam ruled like Rebbi Meir there, because our Tosefta agrees with him, based on my explanation.) If he pours the whole thing at once then he is pouring a Reviit on his hands in one shot. However if he pours it in two shots then he is pouring half a Reviit each time. The reason that by Mayim Rishonim he may wash in two pours if he wants to is because the reason that he is washing then is due to Tumah and therefore it makes sense for him to pour the water from the cup in two shots to wash off the Tameh water, although that is not required since he must dry his hands anyway before he starts eating thus removing all of the water.  See Talmud Bavli (Sotah 4b). However by Mayim Acharonim he is not allowed to pour the water in two shots, because if he does so he may not pour an adequate amount of water each time enough to wash off the Salt of Sodom, since half a Reviit may not be enough to melt the salt that is on his hand. Therefore he must pour out the whole Reviit in one shot so that for sure the whole hand will get washed and all of the salt will get washed off.

Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 151

Everyone is obligated in [saying] Birkat Hamazon (Grace after meals),2 Kohanim (Priests),3 Leviim (Levites),4 and Yisraelim (Israelites, regular Jews),5 converts [to Judaism],6 freed [non-Jewish] slaves,7 Chalalim (Kohanim who have lost their priestly status),8 Natinim,9 Mamzerim (bastards),10 [a person] castrated by [a deliberate act of another] person,11 [a person who was] born castrated,12 [a person] with [one or both] testicles crushed, and [a person] with a cutoff member. All of them are obligated [in saying Birkat Hamazon] and they can relieve others (i.e. say it for others) of their obligation [of saying Birkat Hamazon].13 A Tumtum (a person of unknown sex),14 and a hermaphrodite15 are obligated [in saying Birkat Hamazon],16 but they cannot relieve others (i.e. say it for others) of their obligation [of saying Birkat Hamazon].17

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא טו

הכל חייבין בברכת המזון, כהנים, לוים, וישראלים, וגרים, ועבדים משוחררין, חללין, נתינין, וממזרין, סריס אדם, סריס חמה, פצוע דכא, וכרות שפכה. כולן חייבין ומוציאין את הרבים ידי חובתן. טומטום ואנדרוגינוס חייבין ואין מוציאין את הרבים ידי חובתן.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues with a list of people who are obligated in Birkat Hamazon. It is not related to any Mishna.
  2. Birkat Hamazon is a Torah obligation, as it is said, “And you should eat, and be satisfied, and bless Hashem, your God, for the good land that He gave you.” (Devarim 8:10) It is not a commandment that is related to time (i.e. said only at specific times), which means that everyone is obligated in saying it, including women and slaves, as is mentioned in the Mishna Berachot 3:3. Our Tosefta does not list women and slaves, because later on in Tosefta 18 it says that women and slaves are exempt from Birkat Hamazon and it seems to argue on the Mishna. I will discuss this in more details later on in Tosefta 18.

The list of people in this Tosefta is somewhat strange, since the Torah addresses all Jews when it says the commandment of Birkat Hamazon, we would assume that all Jews are obligated in it, and there is really no reason to assume that someone would not be obligated. It is possible however, that since the Torah says, “… for the good land that He gave you” people who did not receive a portion in the land when the land was divided and who do not inherit land in the Land of Israel from their fathers such as Kohanim, Leviim, converts, freed slaves, Natinim and Chalalim we might think that they also do not have to say Birkat Hamazon, so the Tosefta teaches us that they do. However it is still unclear why the Tosefta lists the other people since all of them did get a portion in the land. Also, see Talmud Bavli (Arachin 4a) regarding another potential reason why Kohanim are mentioned in our Tosefta.

  1. Kohanim (singular: Kohen) are Jewish priests. All men who are direct descendants of Aharon, Moshe’s brother, are inherently Kohanim. Kohanim were the priests who served in the Bet Hamikdash and they are entitled to various gifts, such as Terumah, parts of sacrifices, first sheared wool and others. See Bemidbar 18:1-20.
  2. Leviim (singular: Levi) are all men who are direct descendants from the tribe of Levi. Even though Kohanim are also direct descendants from the tribe of Levi, they are excluded from the title of Leviim since they have their own separate category. Leviim were singled out by the Torah as caretakers of the Bet Hamikdash and they are entitled to receive Maaser (tithe). See Bemidbar 3:5-9 and Bemidbar 18:21-32.
  3. Yisraelim (singular: Yisrael) are regular Jewish men who are not descendant from the tribe of Levi.
  4. Gerim (singular: Ger) are people who have formally converted to Judaism in a Jewish court, by accepting upon themselves to keep the Torah, circumcising themselves (if it is a man), and dipping in the Mikvah (ritual pool) for the sake of conversion. See Talmud Bavli (Keritut 9a).
  5. There are two types of slaves that the Torah discusses, Jewish slaves and Non-Jewish slaves. Jewish slaves are considered to be of the exact same status as regular Jews as far as the fulfillment of commandments goes, so they are not the ones that the Tosefta is talking about. Non-Jewish slaves are essentially in the same category as women with regard to their obligations in commandments and will be discussed in detail later on in this chapter in Tosefta 18. However Non-Jewish slaves that have been freed generally acquire the same status as that of a Ger (a convert) and therefore they are listed here separately. See Talmud Bavli (Yevamot 47b-48a and 77b).
  6. A Chalal (literally: desecrated) is a boy born from a union between a Kohen and a woman whom the Kohen is not allowed to marry, such as a divorcee or a prostitute. See Talmud Bavli (Yevamot 69a). Also see note 10 below. A boy who is a Chalal is not allowed to serve as a priest in the Bet Hamikdash.
  7. Natinim (singular: Natin) were descendants of the converts from the town of Givon, Gibeonites, who have converted to Judaism during the time of Yehoshua (about 1150 BCE) due to fear of being exterminated during the conquest of the land of Canaan. See Yehoshua chapter 9 and Talmud Bavli (Yevamot 79a). The reason they were called Natinim, because the verse in Yehoshua (Yehoshua 9:27) says that Yehoshua “gave them over” to be wood cutters and water carriers. The name Natin comes from the word נתן meaning “gave”. Gibeonites came to Yehoshua under false pretences that they were from a far away land and not from the land of Canaan, asking that Yehoshua make a treaty with them. Yehoshua made a treaty with them, swearing to them that they would not be exterminated like the other nations during the conquest. However, when he found out that the lied to him and that really they were inhabitants of the land of Canaan whom he was supposed to kill out, he got upset, but decided to keep them alive and make them wood cutters and water carriers for the Israelites. Apparently they have converted to Judaism since they were allowed to remain among Jews, but remained as a separate group and were treated as second rate citizens even into Talmudic times, over a thousand years later after the event. They were not allowed to marry regular Jews, but could only marry converts, freed slaves, and Mamzerim. See Talmud Bavli (Yevamot 79a) and Mishna Kiddushin 4:1. However they were still considered to be full fledged Jews as far as their obligations in commandments were concerned.
  8. Mamzerim (singular: Mamzer) are children produced from a union of a couple who are not capable to marry each other due to the fact that their marriage is invalid, such as a man and another person’s wife or a sister and a brother or a son and a mother. See Mishna Kiddushin 3:12. The word Mamzer is commonly translated as a “bastard” however it has a wider connotation than the word “bastard” is used in common English, since it also applies to children from incestuous marriages and not just adulterous marriages. The key difference between a Mamzer and a Chalal is that a Mamzer is a child who comes from a union in which marriage is not only forbidden, but also invalid, where as a Chalal is a child who comes from a union in which marriage is forbidden, but nevertheless valid if it was done anyway.
  9. A man who is castrated is not allowed to marry a regular Jewish woman, but can marry a convert or a freed slave woman. See Devarim 23:2 and Mishna Yevamot 8:2. As far as castration goes there is really no difference with regard to marriage if the person was actively castrated, born castrated, became castrated due to some disease, had even one of his testicles damaged or had his member cutoff. However there are some nuances with regard to various laws that differentiate between them. For some examples, see Mishna Yevamot 8:4-6. Since regarding other laws these people are treated differently our Tosefta lists them separately.
  10. סריס חמה literally means “a person castrated by the sun”. This is an expression used to refer to someone who was not actively castrated, but rather was born incapable of reproduction. It does not mean that he is physically castrated. See Talmud Bavli (Yevamot 79b-80a). The reason he is called “castrated by the sun” is because, we say that the sun never shun on him as a real man. See Talmud Yerushalmi (Yevamot 8:5, Daf 50a).
  11. People can say Berachot for others who have the same type of obligation as them or better. For example, if one person is obligated in a Beracha from the Torah and the other one is also obligated in it from the Torah then either one of them can say it for the other. However if one of them was only obligated by the Rabbis and the other one was obligated by the Torah then the one obligated by the Rabbis cannot say it for them who is obligated by the Torah since his obligation is of a lower level. But vice-versa it would be ok since the obligation of the one from the Torah is of a higher level than the one who is only obligated from the Rabbis. In our Tosefta, since all of the men mentioned are obligated by the Torah to say Birkat Hamazon they can say it for others.
  12. A Tumtum is a person who is born with his sex organs not revealed, but rather has them covered over with skin. Since his sexual identity is unknown he is treated as a doubt of a man or of a woman.
  13. A hermaphrodite is a person who has both sexual organs of a man and of a woman present. Androginos is a compound Greek word άνδρόγυνος, which means “man and woman”. I have seen mentioned on the internet that this word was made up by the Rabbis in Talmudic times who did not want to use the other Greek word, namely hermaphrodite, since it was the name of a Greek pagan god, Hermaphroditus, after whom the term was named. This allegation is completely not true, since Plato uses this word in his work Symposium (189E), written a few hundred years earlier than any of the Rabbinic works.

A hermaphrodite is also treated in Jewish law as an individual whose sexual identity is in doubt.

  1. The reason they are obligated is because since they are individuals whose sex is in doubt, they may be potentially a man, and therefore be obligated just like a regular man is.
  2. Since women are not obligated in Birkat Hamazon as will be stated later on in Tosefta 18, an individual whose sex is in doubt may potentially be a woman and therefore not be obligated in Birkat Hamazon; hence not being able to say it for another person who is obligated.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 161

A hermaphrodite can relieve his own kind (i.e. say it for another hermaphrodite) of his obligation [of saying Birkat Hamazon], but he cannot relieve [another person] who is not his own kind (i.e. a man, a woman or a Tumtum).2 A Tumtum cannot relieve neither his own kind (i.e. say it for another Tumtum) of his obligation [of saying Birkat Hamazon], nor [another person] who is not his own kind (i.e. a man, a woman or a hermaphrodite).3

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא טז

אנדרוגינוס מוציא את מינו ואינו מוציא שאינו מינו. טומטום אינו מוציא לא מינו ולא שאינו מינו.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues with the discussion of the law discussed in the previous Tosefta.
  2. From our Tosefta it appears that it considers a hermaphrodite a separate creature, and not a doubt man, doubt woman, since if it would have been a doubt he could not relieve another hermaphrodite, because theoretically it is possible that the first hermaphrodite is really a man and the second hermaphrodite is really a woman. See Talmud Bavli (Yevamot 83a-83b). On the other hand it is possible to explain that even if the Tosefta holds that a hermaphrodite is a doubt it would still allow him to relieve other hermaphrodites of their obligation of saying Birkat Hamazon, because since both hermaphrodites have organs of both sexes present their status of doubt is not any different from each other. Meaning that it is not that they are any different from each other, but we are simply not sure if they would be considered men or women.  For a discussion on this matter see Lechem Mishneh (Rambam, Hilchot Nachalot 5:1).

It should be noted that there are various levels of intersexuality found in humans and some cases are more clear cut than others. The terms used by the Talmudic literature such as that “a hermaphrodite is a separate creature” may make more sense in some cases where the sex is truly unidentifiable even through genetic testing and may make less sense in other cases where the person is more closer to one particular sex but has certain deformities. There are cases of people who have been classified as hermaphrodites, but later on gave birth to healthy children, which would make them much closer to a woman than to a separate creature.

  1. Since a Tumtum’s sexual organs are covered up by skin he is really a doubt man, doubt woman. Meaning, that if we would do surgery on him and cut off the skin that covers his sexual organs we may discover that he is either a regular man or a regular woman, since a Tumtum has only one set of sexual organs present just they cannot be seen on the outside. Therefore there is a very real possibility that one Tumtum is really a man and neither Tumtum is really a woman. Since that possibility is very real a Tumtum cannot say Birkat Hamazon for another Tumtum, and for sure not for anyone else.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 171

[A person] who is half slave, half free person2 cannot relieve [another person of their obligation of saying Birkat Hamazon], (i.e. say it for another person) not [if the other person is of] the same kind as him (i.e. A half slave, half free person), and not [if the other person is] not of the same kind as him (i.e. either a slave or a free person).3

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא יז

מי שחציו עבד וחציו בן חורין אינו מוציא לא את מינו ולא את שאינו מינו.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues with the discussion of the law discussed in the previous Tosefta.
  2. There are a few possible ways how a slave can become half slave, half free. The simplest way for it to occur if there was a slave who was owned by two partners and then one partner freed his half and the other partner did not. See Talmud Bavli (Gittin 42a). Another really strange way is that the master says to his slave that one side of his body is free and the other side of his body remains a slave. In the last case, the only reason why a master would do that is to torment his slave, since it gives no benefit to the master. See Talmud Bavli (Gittin 41b). The Rabbis were very against a master who puts his slave into such a situation, because when it happens the half slave cannot get married neither to a regular free woman, nor to another slave woman, since half of him is forbidden from marrying the other kind, thus preventing him from having children and leading a normal life. The Rabbis decided that if such a case occurs it is the responsibility of the local court (Bet Din) to force the master to completely free such a person. See Mishna Gittin 4:5.
  3. It is obvious why a half slave, have free person cannot relieve another free person from his obligation of saying Birkat Hamazon. Since the one half of him is exempt from Birkat Hamazon he is clearly not fully obligated as a regular free person. However we need to explain why he cannot relieve another half slave, half free person, since both of them are obligated on the same level. Tosafot (Gittin 41a, Lisa Shifcha) ask a similar question, why a half slave, half free person cannot marry a woman who is also a half slave, half free? Tosafot answer that the problem is that within the person himself we cannot differentiate which part of him is free and which part of him is a slave, therefore what would happen is that the part of him that is free will end up marrying the part of the other person which is a slave and vice versa, and since a free person is not allowed to marry a slave, this type of marriage would not be allowed. The same answer can apply in the case of our Tosefta, that since we cannot differentiate between the two halves of the person, it will end up that the half that is not obligated in Birkat Hamazon (i.e. the slave half) will end up saying Birkat Hamazon for the free half of the other person, which is obligated in Birkat Hamazon. In fact, there is an opinion mentioned in Talmud Bavli (Rosh Hashana 29a) says that due to this problem of not being able to differentiate between the halves of a person he cannot even fulfill his own obligation of a mitzvah (in the case there of blowing the Shofar no Rosh Hashana), but I am not sure if our Tosefta agrees with that statement or not.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 181

Women, slaves and children are exempt [from saying Birkat Hamazon],2 and they cannot relieve many [people, who include men] from their obligation [of saying Birkat Hamazon]. In reality, they (i.e. the Rabbis) said that a woman can say [Birkat Hamazon] for her husband, a son can say [Birkat Hamazon] for his father, [and] a slave can say [Birkat Hamazon] for his master.3

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא יח

נשים ועבדים וקטנים פטורין ואין מוציאין את הרבים ידי חובתן.  באמת אמרו אשה מברכת לבעלה, בן מברך לאביו, עבד מברך לרבו.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues with the discussion of who is obligated in Birkat Hamazon and who is not. It is not related to any Mishna.
  2. Children (boys until 13 and girls until 12 years of age) are exempt from all Torah commandments and only by a Rabbinical decree the parents are obligated to train their children in performing commandments once they are ready. Women and slaves are exempt from commandments that are time bound (i.e. that apply only during certain times) like saying sitting in the Sukkah on Sukkot or blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana. See Mishna Kiddushin 1:7. However, Birkat Hamazon is not really a time bound commandment since a person has to say it after he eats no matter when that happens. In fact, our Tosefta argues on the Mishna (Berachot 3:3) which says that women and slaves are obligated in Birkat Hamazon. Due to this contradiction, Cheshek Shlomo takes out the word “exempt” from our Tosefta and says that it is a printing mistake. The Meiri (Berachot 20b, Betosefta) quotes our Tosefta with a different reading. His version says the word “obligated” instead of the word “exempt”. However, all Tosefta manuscripts that we have (Vienna and Erfurt) have the word “exempt” in the text, so I assume it to be the correct text. Also, the question whether women are obligated by Torah law or by Rabbinical law is asked by Talmud Bavli (Berachot 20b) and as a part of the answer the Gemara quotes the second half of our Tosefta from the words “In reality …” and until the end, implying that it agrees with the fact that it is the Rabbis who said that a woman can say Birkat Hamazon for her husband, a son for his father, and a slave for his master. From there we can infer that that Gemara held that the first part of our Tosefta meant that women and slaves are exempt from Birkat Hamazon by Torah law. Also the fact that the Talmud did not quote the first half of our Tosefta further confirms that it said the word “exempt” and they did not quote it because it was in contradiction with the Mishna and therefore was ignored.

One possible explanation proposed by Rashi (Berachot 20b, Oh Deraban) to exempt women and slaves is due to the fact that the Torah mentions land in the verse of Birkat Hamazon, “And you should eat, and be satisfied, and bless Hashem, your God, for the good land that He gave you.” (Devarim 8:10) Since women and slaves do not inherit land in the Land of Israel, thus they would be exempt from saying Birkat Hamazon by Torah law. However, this explanation is problematic, because earlier Tosefta 15 said that Kohanim, Leviim, and converts are obligated in Birkat Hamazon, despite the fact that they also do not inherit land in the Land of Israel, because either they do not get a portion in the land at all (Kohanim and Leviim) or they do not have a Jewish father to inherit it from (converts). Due to this question Tosafot (Berachot 20b, Nashim) proposes a different answer, saying that since women are not obligated in learning Torah and they do not have circumcision, they cannot really say the words in the 2nd Beracha of Birkat Hamazon, which say “Al Beritcha Shechatamta Bivsareinu Veal Toratcha Shelimadetanu” (For Your covenant that you sealed in our flesh, and for Your Torah that You have taught us), therefore they should be exempt. However this explanation is even more problematic, since the text of Birkat Hamazon was written by the Rabbis and by pure Torah law there is no requirement to say this text exactly as it is.

I would like to propose a different explanation, although I realize that it is somewhat farfetched as well. Talmud Bavli (Berachot 20b) asks why the Mishna (Berachot 3:3) has to say that women and slaves are obligated in Birkat Hamazon, when it should be obvious since it is not a time bound commandment. It answers that since there is a verse in the Torah that says, “… when Hashem will give you meat in the evening to eat, and bread in the morning to satisfy yourselves …” (Shemot 16:8) we may think that eating bread is time bound and therefore Birkat Hamazon is also time bound, therefore the Mishna has to teach us that despite that verse Birkat Hamazon is not a time bound commandment and therefore women are obligated in it. What is strange in the Gemara’s answer is that that verse is taken completely out of context. It is simply an expression which Moshe says to rebuke the Jews for complaining against God and has nothing to do with putting any kind of time limit on eating. However it is possible that the Tosefta held that due to that verse it was implicit that eating is time bound especially that people ate only at specific times of the day, and therefore Birkat Hamazon was a time bound commandment as well. In addition, Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 3:3, Daf 25b) says that we might assume that people can say for others Birkat Hamazon even though they did not eat at all, therefore the Torah had to explicitly say, “You should eat, and be satisfied …” meaning that only a person who ate is obligated and no one else. We can infer from this that the Torah itself set a time limit on Birkat Hamazon in terms that you only say it after you eat, and this was enough of a time limit for the Tosefta to hold that it is a time bound commandment and therefore women and slaves are exempt.

  1. The Tosefta now clarifies that even though women and slaves are exempt from Birkat Hamazon by Torah law, the Rabbis still obligated them in saying it. Talmud Bavli (Berachot 20b) says that our Tosefta is talking about a case where the man (i.e. the husband, the father, and the master) did not eat enough bread to be obligated to say Birkat Hamazon by Torah law and therefore he himself is obligated to say it only by Rabbinical law. Since now his obligation and the woman’s, slave’s or child’s obligation is of the same level, namely Rabbinical, they can say Birkat Hamazon for the man and he can fulfill his obligation this way. However if he would be obligated to say Birkat Hamazon by Torah law then obviously they would be able to say it for him. Rashi (ibid., Shiura Derabanan) explains that in order to be obligated to say Birkat Hamazon by Torah law the person must eat to his full satisfaction, where as according to the Rabbis he only has to eat a Kezait (olive size) in order to be Rabbinically obligated.

Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 3:3, Daf 25b) says that our Tosefta could be talking about a case even if the man ate to his full satisfaction, and it means that the woman, slave, or the child are merely saying the words of Birkat Hamazon out loud so that the man can repeat it after them as they say it. I have to admit that the Bavli’s explanation fits the words of the Tosefta better, since the Tosefta begins by saying, “In reality …” implying that despite the Torah law the Rabbis still said that the woman, slave or child can still say Birkat Hamazon for the man, referring to them fulfilling his obligation and not him merely repeating after them. For a discussion on this see Mareh Panim (Talmud Yerushalmi, Berachot 3:3, Daf 25a, Ubirkat).

Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 191

A child who is able to eat a Kezait (olive size piece) [of bread] is included into [a group of three people to say] the Zimun.2 And [a child] who is not able to eat a Kezait [of bread] is not included into [a group of three people to say] the Zimun. And we do not check the child [if he is really capable of eating a Kezait or not].3

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא יט

קטן שיכול לאכול כזית מזמנין עליו. ושאין יכול לאכול כזית אין מזמנין עליו. ואין מדקדקין בקטן.

Notes:

  1. Mishna 2 of chapter 7 states that a child is not included into a group of three people to say the Zimun. Our Tosefta expands on that law.
  2. Zimun is a special blessing that is said before Birkat Hamazon if at least three people ate together. See Mishna Berachot 7:1 and 7:3. It is a rabbinical commandment and not a Torah commandment as is implied from Talmud Bavli (Berachot 45a). The Mishna (Berachot 7:2) states that a child (a boy before the age of 13) does not get included into a group of three people to say Zimun no matter what. However our Tosefta seems to explicitly argue on the Mishna, since it says that if a child can eat a Kezait of bread he does get included into a group of three to say the Zimun.
  3. Our Tosefta implies that the child can be included as the 3rd person even if he did not eat a Kezait of bread, because the Tosefta says that he must be capable of eating a Kezait, but not that he actually ate it. Also, since the Tosefta says that we do not physically check if the child can eat a Kezait of bread or not by making him eat a piece of bread before being included into the group of three to say Zimun, implies that he did not eat any bread. Otherwise the Tosefta would not need to say that he does not need to be checked, since he would have eaten a Kezait of bread right in front of us anyway. This seems to be a contradiction since Mishna 1 of chapter 7 says clearly that a waiter that serves two people must eat a Kezait of bread with them before he can join them in saying Zimun and Tosefta 11 earlier in this chapter seems to agree with the Mishna’s statement.

Due to this problem as well as a different quote of what seems to be our Tosefta in Talmud Bavli (Berachot 47b) the Gra (Vilna Gaon) and the Minchat Bikkurim want to change the reading in our Tosefta. Instead of “a child who can eat a Kezait of bread … a child who cannot eat a Kezait of bread …”, they say that the reading should be “A child who has two pubic hairs [even though he is younger than 13 years old] … a child who does not have two pubic hairs [even though he is younger than 13 years old”. According to that reading the Tosefta merely discusses a case where a child has reached puberty and has two pubic hairs, but he is still not 13 years old, is he old enough to say Zimun or not. According to that reading the last phrase in the Tosefta that says, “And we do not check the child.” is referring to a child who has become 13 years old, but who has not produced 2 pubic hairs, thus technically remaining a minor or vice-versa a child who is not 13 years old, but who already has 2 pubic hairs thus technically reaching puberty and being an adult. What the Tosefta teaches us that in that case (i.e. if a child is 13 years old) we do not physically check him if he has 2 pubic hairs or not, or vice-versa if the child has 2 pubic hairs we do not check how old the child is (i.e. if he is 13 or not). The same explanation of this last statement is given by Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 7:2, Daf 53a-b). Despite all of this all manuscripts of the Tosefta have the reading the way it is stated above and not the way it is stated in Talmud Bavli, which implies to me that our reading of the Tosefta is correct and the Bavli merely quotes a different Beraita and not this Tosefta. We do not know what the Yerushalmi quotes since the Yerushalmi only quotes the last line and not the Beraita, but I am almost convinced that it is not our Tosefta, since the Yerushalmi’s explanation of it does not fit into our text.

I would like to propose a different resolution of the contradiction between this Tosefta and Tosefta 11. Our Tosefta clearly argues with Mishna 1 of chapter 7 and the Tosefta holds that the 3rd person does not have to eat a Kezait of bread in order to join the group of two to say Zimun. However Tosefta 11 does not necessarily agree with the Mishna. It can even agree with our Tosefta. Tosefta 11 is a continuation of discussing proper etiquette at the meal. Since it is clearly better if all three people in the group ate a Kezait of bread than if only 2 of them did and one did not, the waiter is allowed to join the other 2 people without their permission. However our Tosefta states a bare minimum law, which says that the 3rd person does not have to eat with the other two people, but can simply join them to say Zimun without eating at all. Therefore a child who did not eat at any bread, as long as he is old enough to be capable to eat a Kezait of bread, can join the other 2 people to say Zimun.

It is important to note that there is a 3rd different explanation of this Tosefta proposed by the Cheshek Shlomo. He says that the Tosefta really agrees with the Mishna that the child must eat a Kezait in order to join the other 2 people in the Zimun. The phrasing in our Tosefta that he must be capable is not very precise and does not pose a contradiction. However, most importantly, the last sentence of our Tosefta and the first sentence of the next Tosefta must be read together as one sentence. If that is the case what the Tosefta is saying is that we do not check (meaning, “correct”) the child if instead of saying Nevarech (Let us Bless) as adults should say in the Zimun he simply says Barchu (Bless) thus implying that he did not include himself into the Zimun. This explanation is certainly plausible since in the manuscripts there are no divisions between the Toseftot, thus we do not know for sure where each Tosefta begins and ends. Zuckermandel’s edition of the Tosefta has this Tosefta and the next Tosefta read together as the Cheshek Shlomo explains. I have decided to keep my explanation as the main one, because in my opinion the next Tosefta is talking about a different subject and is not connected to this Tosefta at all. Cheshek Shlomo’s explanation for the next Tosefta is problematic as will be explained in note 6 on the next Tosefta.

It is important to note that later in this chapter Tosefta 21 says that a person does not have to eat bread to join the Zimun, but merely can partake in the meal by eating any type of food in any amount. Our Tosefta agrees with that and obviously the child would have to eat something in order to join the meal. However the Tosefta does not mention that, because its main point is to teach us that he does not have to eat bread.

Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 201

Regardless if [a person that is leading the Zimun] said Nevarech (Let us bless)2 or if he said Barchu (Bless)3 we do not stop4 him [and correct him] for this. [Only] cavilers5 stop [the leader] for this!6 [A group] of twenty [people] can split up [into two groups of ten people],7 as long as not even one person gets excluded from the Zimun.8

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא כ

בין שאמר נברך בין שאמר ברכו אין תופסין אותו על כך. הנקדנין תופסין על כך. בעשרים נחלקו ובלבד שלא יהא בהן אחד שמפטירין אותו מן הזמון.

Notes:

  1. Mishna 3 of chapter 7 says that if there are 3 people saying the Zimun then the leader begins the Zimun by saying Nevarech (Let us bless), but if there are 4 people then the leader begins by saying Barchu (Bless). Our Tosefta argues on that law and says that regardless of how many people there are if the leader said either Nevarech or Barchu it is ok. Mishna 4 of chapter 7 says that 10 people cannot split up until there are 20 people, because their Zimun has the word Eloheinu (our God) in it which cannot be said with less than 10 people. Our Tosefta expands on that law.
  2. The leader can begin the Zimun by saying to the other people Nevarech – Let us bless.
  3. Or the leader can begint he Zimun by saying Barchu – Bless. Barchu is a command to people, but it implies that the person himself is commanding others to bless and thus excluding himself, where as by saying Nevarech he clearly includes himself into the command as well.
  4. תופסין means literally “grab”, but I have translated it as “stop” because it makes more sense like that in English.
  5. A caviler is a person who raises annoying petty frivolous objections. The word הנקדן is correctly translated as a caviler, because it has a negative connotation to it as can be seen from Masechta Derech Eretz Zuta 6:4 which says that a person should not be a Nakdan. It is not the same as the word מדקדק which means a careful and precise person who pays attention to detail, and has a positive connotation.
  6. The Tosefta says this in a mocking manner, clarifying that if someone decides to nitpick on the leader over this issue, he is clearly a caviler, something that a person should strive not to be. See Masechta Derech Eretz Zuta 6:4. This is in clear contradiction to the Mishna which says that it is not a choice for the leader to say Nevarech or Barchu, but rather Nevarech is said in a group of 3 people and Barchu is said in a group of 4 people or more. Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 7:3, Daf 54b) explains the Tosefta in the same fashion that the word Nakdan is used in a negative connotation and therefore a person should not be pedantic over the wording of Nevarech or Barchu.

It should be noted that Rashi on Talmud Bavli (Berachot 50a, Vehanakdanin) explains this Tosefta differently and says that the word Nakdan has a positive connotation as someone who is scrupulous in the phrasing. According to the Bavli our Tosefta does not argue on the Mishna, but merely clarifies it to say that it is proper to correct the leader if he said Barchu instead of Nevarech. However I do not think that the Gemara’s explanation is the simple meaning of our Tosefta. I think the Gemara simply used it to make a proof to its previous statement that saying Nevarech is better than saying Barchu, but it had to twist the simple meaning of the Tosefta in order to do so. Hence I am sticking with my explanation as confirmed by the Yerushalmi.

See note 3 on the previous Tosefta where I have quoted a completely different explanation of this Tosefta proposed by Cheshek Shlomo. According to his explanation it is a continuation of the previous Tosefta and it is referring to the cavilers correcting the child. However this does not really make sense, because this implies that it is the child who is leading the group in the Zimun since only the leader says the words Nevarech or Barchu and no one else. Also, the previous Tosefta used the phrase מזמנין עליו which implies that Zimun is lead by someone else and the child is a mere participant and not the leader. Due to this reason I prefer my explanation over Cheshek Shlomo’s. Talmud Bavli (Berachot 50a) also explained this Tosefta as a separate statement and not a continuation of the previous Tosefta, although in somewhat different fashion as I already mentioned.

  1. When 10 or more people make a Zimun together they add the word Eloheinu (our God) to the blessing, as explained by Mishna 4 of chapter 7. If there are 20 people who ate together they can split up into two groups of 10 each and each group can still say the word Eloheinu. Thus the Tosefta says that it would be ok for 20 people to split up into two groups of 10.
  2. However they can split up providing that not even one person leaves either of the groups, because if he would leave there will be only 9 people in that group and they will not be able to say the word Eloheinu thus diminishing the Beracha of Zimun, since now they will not be able to say God’s name in it.

Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5, Tosefta 2 – 10

June 16th, 2009 No comments
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 21

It happened [once] that Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel, Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Yossi we reclining [and eating] in Akko2 [on Friday afternoon],3 and the day was over (i.e. it became dark and Shabbat began). Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel said to Rebbi Yossi, “Let us stop [eating because of] Shabbat.”4 He said [back] to him, “Everyday you prefer my words in front of Yehudah, [and] now you prefer the words of Yehudah in front of me. ‘Do you also want to kidnap the queen with me in the house?’ (Esther 7:8)”5 He said [back] to him, “If so, let us not stop [eating because of Shabbat, because] may be [if our students will see us stopping] the Halacha (law) will be established for generations [like Rebbi Yehudah].”6 They (i.e. their students) [later] said that they (i.e. Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel, Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Yossi) did not move from there until they have established the Halacha (law) like Rebbi Yossi.7

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא ב

מעשה ברבן שמעון בן גמליאל ורבי יהודה ורבי יוסי שהיו מסובין בעכו וקדש עליהם היום. אמר לו רבן שמעון בן גמליאל לרבי יוסי נפסוק לשבת. אמר לו בכל יום אתה מחבב דברי בפני יהודה עכשיו אתה מחבב דברי יהודה בפני. (אסתר ז:ח) הגם לכבוש את המלכה עמי בבית? אמר לו אם כן לא נפסוק שמא תקבע הלכה לדורות. אמרו לא זזו משם עד שקבעו הלכה כרבי יוסי.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues with a story regarding the second argument between Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Yossi mentioned in the previous Tosefta.
  2. Akko is a port city in Northern Israel on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
  3. Since Rebbi Yehudah was there it must be that they began their meal on Friday morning and continued eating the whole day. See the previous Tosefta, note 4.
  4. In accordance with the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah that when Shabbat starts a person must pause his meal in order to say Kiddush. See Note 5 on the previous Tosefta.
  5. The verse in Esther was said by King Achashverosh in anger when he saw that Haman jumped on Esther’s bed and started pleading with her for his life. Rebbi Yossi said it here to imply that Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel is embarrassing him by saying in front of him that they should follow Rebbi Yehudah’s view.
  6. Rabban Gamliel agreed that the Halacha should be like Rebbi Yossi and therefore he agreed to follow his view, but not because of Rebbi Yossi’s embarrassment, but rather because the students may see them doing like Rebbi Yehudah and concluding from that he Halacha follows Rebbi Yehudah and not Rebbi Yossi. Originally Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel wanted to do like Rebbi Yehudah in this particular case, before Rebbi Yossi’s remark. Since Rebbi Yehudah’s view is more stringent Rabban Gamliel did not mind following him and he did not think that it would somehow offend Rebbi Yossi, since Rebbi Yossi does not require continuing the Friday meal into Shabbat, he merely says that one may if he wants to. So figured that for the sake of the honor of Rebbi Yehudah, Rebbi Yossi would not mind in this particular case doing like him.
  7. Apparently Rebbi Yehudah started to argue back that the Halacha should be like him and not like Rebbi Yossi. So they kept on arguing until Rebbi Yehudah finally gave up and agreed that he Halacha should be like Rebbi Yossi and not like him.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 31

“[If] guests have been reclining [and eating] by a person in the house and the day was over (i.e. Friday was over and Shabbat began), as soon as it gets dark they interrupt [their meal, say Birkat Hamazon and go] to the Bet Midrash (Study Hall) [to pray].2 [After that] they come back [from the Bet Midrash to the house], they (i.e. the servants) pour for them a cup [of wine and] they say over it Kiddush of the day (i.e. Friday night Kiddush).”3, [these are] the words of Rebbi Yehudah. Rebbi Yossi says, “He continues eating [his Friday afternoon meal] from when it gets dark [and on].”4, 5

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא ג

אורחין שהיו מסובין אצל בעל הבית וקדש עליהם היום, עקרו עם חשיכה לבית המדרש, חזרו ומזגו להם את הכוס, אומרים עליו קדושת היום דברי רבי יהודה. רבי יוסי אומר אוכל והולך משתחשך.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues from the previous Tosefta with the discussion of the argument between Rebbi Yossi and Rebbi Yehudah.
  2. In this Tosefta the word עקרו is used to signify that they have completely stopped their Friday afternoon meal and said Birkat Hamazon, before they went to the Bet Midrash. It is not clear why the Tosefta says Bet Midrash (Study Hall) instead of Bet Knesset (Synagogue), since it seems that they went to pray the evening prayer of Maariv there and not simply to just study Torah, but it does not really matter since people prayed in the Bet Midrash as much as they prayed in the Bet Knesset.
  3. Once they come back to the house from praying Maariv in the Bet Midrash the first thing that they need to do is make Kiddush before they can continue eating.
  4. I have modified the text of the Tosefta to read משתחשך (from when it gets dark) according to the reading quoted by the Meiri (Pesachim 102b, Benei Chabura) and by the Raavad (Tamim Deim, Hasagot Reish Arvei Pesachim), and not like the reading in the Vienna and Erfurt manuscripts which says עד שתחשך (until it gets dark), since that seems to be the correct reading and is confirmed by Prof. Saul Lieberman in Tosefet Harishonim.
  5. On the surface it appears that this Tosefta does not add anything to the argument between Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Yossi that we do not already know from the previous two Toseftot. However it seems that this Tosefta clarifies when the person should make Kiddush which was not said explicitly in the previous Toseftot. It was only my notes that added that in. Rebbi Yehudah says that even though he does not have to make Kiddush as soon as Shabbat begins, because he may go to pray instead, he still must make Kiddush before he eats his Shabbat meal and he cannot eat anything on Shabbat without making Kiddush first. The reason that Rebbi Yehudah says in this case that the people should say Birkat Hamazon before making Kiddush is because they were leaving to go to the Bet Midrash, which is a complete interruption of the meal. However if they were not going anywhere, then Rebbi Yehudah simply requires them to pause their meal, say Kiddush and then they can continue eating and say Birkat Hamazon in the end, as was explained previously in Tosefta 1, note 5. Rebbi Yossi however says that he does not have to make Kiddush in order to finish his Friday Afternoon meal, he can simply continue eating from the moment that it gets dark and until whenever he wants to finish it, and only after that he needs to make Kiddush and eat the Shabbat meal.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 41

[When a person says Birkat Hamazon on Friday night after interrupting the Friday afternoon meal,] they (i.e. the servants) pour for him the first cup [of wine] over which he says Birkat Hamazon2 [for the Friday afternoon meal], and mentions in [that] Birkat Hamazon [the paragraph] for Shabbat (i.e. Retzei Vehachlitzeinu).3 On the second [cup of wine] he says Kiddush of the day (i.e. Friday night Kiddush).4, 5

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא ד

מזגו לו כוס ראשון מברך עליו ברכת המזון ומזכיר של שבת בברכת המזון ובשני אומר עליו קדושת היום.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues on the subject mentioned in the previous Tosefta. It clarifies that the person first says Birkat Hamazon and only then he says Kiddush.
  2. It was customary in Talmudic times to say every Birkat Hamazon over a cup of wine and make a Beracha over the wine (Hagafen) after Birkat Hamazon has been completed. See Mishna Berachot 8:8.
  3. Even though the meal over which he is saying Birkat Hamazon really belongs to Friday afternoon and not to Shabbat, since he is saying Birkat Hamazon on Shabbat, he mentions Shabbat in it. This Tosefta holds that we go after the time during which Birkat Hamazon is said and not after the time to which it really belongs to.
  4. The reason that he says Kiddush on a separate cup of wine and not on the same cup of wine as Birkat Hamazon is because we do not want to do two separate mitzvot in a bundle out of respect for each mitzvah. See Talmud Bavli (Pesachim 102b).
  5. It is clear that this Tosefta goes like the opinion of Rebbi Yossi and does not go like the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah who holds that you cannot eat or drink anything on Shabbat until Kiddush is made. Hence Rebbi Yehudah would require him to say Kiddush first and only then say Birkat Hamazon over a cup of wine and drink the wine from that cup. Or he could say Birkat Hamazon without a cup of wine and then make Kiddush, as was mentioned in the previous Tosefta. But he would not be able to drink the wine from Birkat Hamazon before he makes Kiddush. The version of the Tosefta quoted in Talmud Bavli (Pesachim 102a) mentions their argument regarding which cup should be drunk first explicitly. For a detailed explanation of their argument see above Tosefta 1, note 5.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 51

What is the order of [the beds in the room used for] reclining [during eating]?2 At the time when there are [only] two beds,3 the [most] senior [person]4 reclines on top of5 the first [bed] and the second one to him [in seniority reclines] below him (i.e. his head is at the first person’s feet).6 And at the time when there are three beds,7 the [most] senior [person] reclines on top of the middle [bed], the second one to him [in seniority reclines] above him, [and] the third one to him [in seniority] reclines below him.8 [If there are more than three people, then] they get ordered in this way (i.e. in groups of three) and on.9

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא ה

כיצד סדר ההסיבה? בזמן שהן שתי מטות גדול מיסב בראשה של ראשונה ושני לו למטה הימנו. ובזמן שהן שלש מטות גדול מיסב בראשה של אמצעית שני לו למעלה הימנו שלישי לו למטה הימנו. כך היו מסודרין והולכין.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta states a new rule regarding the etiquette of the meal. It is not related to any Mishna.
  2. Since each person reclined while eating on a separate sofa the beds were order in a particular fashion, similarly to the way in our time at large banquet people are seated in a particular order at a long table.
  3. Meaning that there are only two people eating together.
  4. Meaning a person who deserves more respect due to either his social status, his age or his knowledge of Torah.
  5. Literally, “at the head of”, since a person would lean on his side and recline on the top of the bed which was tilted upwards or had pillows on it so it would be more comfortable for him to recline.
  6. The reason that the most senior person reclines on the bed above is so that when he wants to talk to the person next to him he does not have to turn his head around. It is unclear why the beds could not be placed facing each other so that neither one of them had to turn his head.
  7. Meaning there are three people eating together, each one on his own bed.
  8. The reason they were order this way is again, so that it would more convenient for the most senior person to talk to the other two. The senior person can talk to the other two either straight on or by turning his head. It was more respectful for the person in the middle to turn his head towards the second person than to the third person, hence the second one was placed above him and the third below him. See Talmud Bavli 46b.
  9. If there were more than three people then they would get ordered in groups of three with the most senior person of that group in the middle and the other two above and below. Obviously if the number of people was not divisible by three the remaining one or two people would be seated in a separate group of just one or two.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 61

What is the order [in which people] wash [their] hands [before2 starting the meal]? [If there were] less than five [people] they begin [washing their hands] from the [most] senior [person].3 [If there were] five or more [people] they begin [washing their hands] from the [most] junior [person].4

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא ו

כיצד סדר נטילת ידים? עד חמשה מתחילין מן הגדול, מחמשה ואילך מתחילין מן הקטן.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta states a new rule regarding the etiquette of the meal. It is not related to any Mishna. It should be noted that I have chosen the text of the Tosefta according to the way it appears in both the Vienna and the Erfurt manuscripts, and not the way it appears in the printed editions. This version seems to be more correct as can be seen from the way it is quoted in Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 8:2, Daf 59a). The version in the printed edition is written in a way that it conforms to the Beraita quoted in Talmud Bavli (Berachot 46b), but I am convinced that the Beraita quoted by the Bavli is not this Tosefta, but rather a different Beraita.
  2. The Tosefta is talking about the washing of the hands before the meal (known as Mayim Rishonim) and not after the meal (known as Mayim Acharonim). This is apparent from Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 8:2, Daf 59a). See there the commentary of Baal Sefer Chareidim (ibid., Veim Hayu) who is correct in his assertion that the Tosefta is talking about Mayim Rishonim. The commentary of Pnei Moshe (ibid., Matnita) there explains that the Tosefta is talking about Mayim Acharonim which is not correct as apparent from the Yerushalmi’s quote. The reason that the Pnei Moshe got confused is because he assumed that the Yerushlami is quoting the same Beraita as the Bavli, which it does not. It is also apparent from the fact that the next Tosefta continues with the rules of the etiquette during a meal and discusses the pouring of the wine in the middle of the meal. Since the Tosefta is written in order it must be that our Tosefta is talking about the beginning of the meal and not about the end.
  3. When a few people were eating together one person would make the Beracha of Hamotzi on bread for everybody after all of them have finished washing. Since the wait for four people to wash is not very long the most senior person gets to wash first. For types of seniority see above Tosefta 5, note 4.
  4. However if there are five or more people then the wait for the Beracha is long enough that it is disrespectful to the most senior person who now has to sit around idle until he eats the bread. So in this situation they began washing from the most junior person instead. The reason they started in the reverse order is so not to disrespect other people who are more senior than others by selecting some of them before others. For example, let us say that there were 6 people in the order of seniority Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehudah, Yissachar and Zevulun. If they would start washing from the middle senior person, in the following order, Yehudah, Yissachar, Zevulun, and then Reuven, Shimon and Levi, it would be disrespectful to Levi who was the more senior than the first three and still he got the long wait. So due to this problem they washed in the reverse order, so that this way no one got priority. It is similar to the way people get listed in credits for some event or show in alphabetical order, so not to give priority to anyone.

It is apparent from this Tosefta that even though they were served by servants, everyone was served the same bowl of water and the same cup which had to be passed around, since technically the servants could have brought each person an individual bowl and cup to wash, so that all of them could wash simultaneously.

Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 71

What is the order [in which the servants] pour the cup [of wine to the people eating]?2 In the middle of the meal, they (i.e. the servants) begin [pouring the wine] with the [most] senior [person].3 After the meal, they (i.e. the servants) begin [pouring the wine] with the [person] who will lead [everyone] in the Birkat Hamazon.4 If [the person who was going to lead everyone in Birkat Hamazon] wanted to give honor to his Rebbi (i.e. his teacher) or to someone who is greater than him [and have the servants pour his cup of wine first], he is allowed to do so.5

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא ז

כיצד סדר למזיגת הכוס? בתוך המזון מתחילין מן הגדול. אחר המזון מתחילין מן המברך. רצה לחלוק כבוד לרבו או למי שגדול ממנו הרשות בידו.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues with the discussion of the meal etiquette. Since the previous Tosefta discussed washing of hands in the beginning of the meal, our Tosefta continues with the wine that is served in the middle and at the end of the meal.
  2. It was customary in Talmudic times to serve wine in the middle of the meal. Each participant was poured his own cup of wine and everyone drank the cups together. At the end of the meal each participant was poured another cup of wine which was drunk by everyone at the end of Birkat Hamazon.
  3. The wine is poured to people in the order of seniority regardless of how many participants there are. The reason they get poured the wine in order of seniority is out of respect to the more senior people. For types of seniority see above Tosefta 5, note 4.
  4. One person leads everyone in saying a special blessing before Birkat Hamazon called the Zimun. See Mishna Berachot 7:1 and 7:3. After that he says the endings of each blessing of Birkat Hamazon out loud and everyone answers Amen. After all of them have finished saying Birkat Hamazon the leader says the Beracha over the wine out loud for everybody and they all drink the wine that was poured for them at the end of the meal, right before Birkat Hamazon. We still have this custom nowadays where everyone drinks the wine after Birkat Hamazon during the Pesach Seder.

After the leader was poured his wine, the rest of the people get their wine poured in order of seniority as in the middle of the meal. The leader is specially honored in this case that he was chosen to lead everyone in Birkat Hamazon, so he is also honored by having his cup of wine poured first. The criterion for choosing the leader is complicated. Talmud Bavli (Berachot 47a) says that the most senior person should be chosen to be the leader; however the most senior person can give up his honor to some one less senior than him if he wants to. See Talmud Bavli (Berachot 43a and 46b). Also if there are guests present the host can chose one of the guests to lead everyone in Birkat Hamazon regardless of his greatness. See in Talmud Bavli (Berachot 46b), the story of Rebbi, Rav and Rebbi Chiya, in which Rebbi chose Rav to lead the Birkat Hamazon since he was the guest, even though Rebbi Chiya was greater than him.

  1. The leader is allowed to forfeit his honor and have a more senior person or his teacher poured their cup first. However he is not allowed to forfeit his honor of being the leader in Birkat Hamazon and give that to someone else. See Talmud Bavli (Berachot 55a). Two reasons are given for this. Either it is, because in Birkat Hamazon the leader said a special blessing for the host and in this case he refused to do so. See Rashi (ibid. Veavarcha). Or it is because it appears arrogant of him to decline an opportunity to cause everyone else to bless God in the Zimun. See Meiri (ibid., Mi Shemezamnim).
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 81

Two [people who are eating together] have to wait for each other [to continue eating from their] dish (i.e. one of them cannot eat from the dish while the other one has paused from eating for some reason).2 [However] three [people who are eating together] do not have to wait [for one person who paused to continue eating from their dish].3 [The person] who says the Beracha [in the beginning of the meal over the bread for everyone], gets to take [the bread into his hand] first.4 If he (i.e. the person who said the Beracha over the bread for everyone) wants to give the honor [of taking the first piece of bread into the hand] to his Rebbi (his teacher) or to someone who is more senior than him, he is allowed to do so.5

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא ח

שנים ממתינין זה את זה בקערה. שלשה אין ממתינין. המברך פושט ידו ראשון. רצה לחלוק כבוד לרבו או למי שגדול ממנו הרשות בידו.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues with the discussion of the meal etiquette. It is not related to any Mishna.
  2. I have explained this Tosefta based on the way the Rambam (Hilchot Berachot 7:6) seems to understand it. See the commentary of Rabeinu Manoach on the Rambam. (ibid. Frankel edition, Shnaim) The etiquette required that when two people were eating together they must keep eating at the same time out of respect for each other. If one of them had to stop eating for whatever reason, if for example he started talking to someone else, or he had to leave the table to go to the bathroom, the second person had to sit and wait for him to resume eating before he could continue eating himself.
  3. However if there are three or more people they do not have to wait for one person who has paused eating for whatever reason. Since they are the majority it is not considered proper for many people to wait for one person. It is unclear what the etiquette required if two people paused eating together, if the third person had to wait for them to resume or not. It is possible to say that two people would not pause for the same reason, hence we treat each of them as an individual against the majority and the third person does not have to wait for them. On the other hand, it would also make sense for him to wait out of respect. There is simply not enough information in the Tosefta to figure it out.
  4. This is a new case and is not related to the previous statement in the Tosefta. A person who makes the Beracha on the bread for everyone, makes it on a whole loaf. Then he cuts the loaf into pieces, and puts each piece of bread on the table of each person who is eating with him in the dining room. See Rambam (Hilchot Berachot 7:5). We have to remember that each person had a separate table so the person who made the Beracha had to somehow walk around or may be have one of the servants walk around and place a piece of bread on the table in front of each person. Then each person took the piece of bread into his hand and waits for the person that made the Beracha to eat his piece first. Our Tosefta tells us that after all of the pieces have been passed around and placed on each individual table, the one that made the Beracha gets to be the first one to pick up his piece and hold it in his hand, before eating it. It is his right since he is the one that made the Beracha.
  5. However, he is allowed to forfeit his right to take the first piece and honor someone else instead. It should be pointed out that the Tosefta is only talking about taking the piece of bread into his hand. However the person who made the Beracha must be the first one to eat his piece of bread. He is not allowed to let someone else eat a piece of bread before him, because none of the people present are allowed to eat anything until the person who made the Beracha over the bread takes a bite of his piece of bread. See Talmud Bavli (Berachot 47a) and Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 6:1, Daf 44a). The reason for this is unclear. Talmud Yerushalmi (ibid.) says that this does not apply to drinks or if each person had a whole load of bread in front of them. In both of these cases they can eat their bread or drink before the person that made the Beracha for everyone ate or drank. This implies that this was a matter of pure etiquette and had nothing to do with interruptions between him saying the Beracha and tasting the food over which he made it.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 91

A person should not take a bite from a piece [of bread] and then put it back into the [common] dish [with bread], because of danger.2

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא ט

לא ישוך אדם מן הפרוסה ויחזירנה בקערה מפני סכנה.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues with the discussion of the meal etiquette. It is not related to any Mishna.
  2. It is not clear what danger the Tosefta is referring to. One possible explanation is that other people will be disgusted by the site of a bitten piece of bread and will stop eating because of it, thus staying hungry and causing themselves some harm. However it is not really clear what kind of harm would it cause to them if they simply stay hungry. It is possible that the Tosefta is referring to a farfetched case where someone might be starving already and since he would be disgusted by the site of a bitten piece of bread, he would not eat at this meal and he would simply die from starvation. Talmud Bavli (Tamid 27b) actually quotes a similar story where a student refused to drink from a cup that his Rebbi drank from and died from thirst.  Another possible explanation is that the reason that it is dangerous to eat a bitten piece of bread is because of spreading germs and decease. However it is not clear if the Sages at the time of the Tosefta (i.e. 3rd century CE) were aware of such things such as spread of germs. It is possible however, because the earliest reference that we know of about spread of germs in the book On Agriculture by Marcus Terentius Varro, published in 36 BCE, where there is a warning about living in the proximity of swamps: “… and because there are bred certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases.” (Marcus Terentius Varro, On Agriculture 1,xii, Loeb edition) However it would seem that the Sages were not aware of this, because the next Tosefta states that drinking from a cup from which another person drank is disgusting to some people, but it does not say that it is dangerous. If the reason for the danger here would be due to the spread of germs then it should be equally dangerous to drink from someone else’s cup. It should be noted that in Masechta Derech Eretz Rabbah (9:2-3) the statements of this and the next Toseftot are quoted, but the reasons are reversed. There it says that people will be disgusted by the bitten piece of bread, but drinking from someone else’s cup is dangerous. See note 2 on the next Tosefta.
Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5

Tosefta 101

A person should not drink from a cup and then give it to his friend [to drink from], because people’s sensitivities are not the same.2

מסכת ברכות פרק ה

תוספתא י

לא ישתה אדם מן הכוס ויתננו לחבירו לפי שאין דעת הבריות שוות.

Notes:

  1. The Tosefta continues with the discussion of the meal etiquette. It is not related to any Mishna.
  2. Our Tosefta states that some people may be disgusted by the fact that someone already drank out of the cup and therefore it will be rude to give to drink from the same cup. However, in Derech Eretz Rabbah (9:2-3) the statements of the previous and this Toseftot are quoted, but the reasons are reversed. There it says that it is dangerous for someone to drink out of a cup that someone else already drank from. It is possible that the reason for the danger is that someone who is already dying from thirst will refuse to drink from such a cup and will actually die from thirst. Talmud Bavli (Tamid 27b) actually quotes such a story where a student refused to drink from a cup that his Rebbi drank from and died from thirst. Another possibility is that it is dangerous, because it spreads germs; however it is not clear if the Sages in Talmudic times were aware of germs at all. See note 2 on the previous Tosefta.