|Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5
Tosefta 301[If a person was brought by the waiter wine and perfumed oil2 at the end of the meal,]3 Bet Shammai say, “He should hold the cup of wine in his right hand4 and perfumed oil in his left hand. [Then] he should say the Beracha (blessing) on the wine,5 and after that [he should make the Beracha] on the oil.”6 And Bet Hillel say, “He should hold the perfumed oil in his right hand and the cup of wine in his left hand. [Then] he should say a Beracha on the oil7 and smear it onto the head of the waiter,8 [if the waiter was in fact an Am Haaretz.9 However,] if the waiter was a Talmid Chacham (a Torah Scholar) [then] he should smear it onto the wall,10 because it is not praiseworthy for a Talmid Chacham to go out perfumed.”11
מסכת ברכות פרק ה
בית שמאי אומרים אוחז כוס יין בימינו ושמן ערב בשמאלו מברך על היין ואחר כך מברך על השמן ובית הלל אומרים אוחז שמן ערב בימינו וכוס יין בשמאלו מברך על השמן וטחו בראש השמש. אם היה שמש תלמיד חכם טחו בכותל לפי שאין שבח לתלמיד חכם שיצא מבושם.
- The Tosefta mentions another argument between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel about the laws of a meal. It is not related to any Mishna.
It should be noted that the text of the Tosefta printed in the back of Talmud Bavli is not correct and it reverses the words in both of the opinions of Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel. I have corrected the text the way it appears in all Tosefta manuscripts and in Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 8:5, Daf 60a) as well. The reason that the text is different in the printed version of the Tosefta is because it was edited to match the text of the Beraita quoted in the Talmud Bavli (Berachot 43b). However it is obvious that Talmud Bavli is not quoting the Tosefta, but rather a different Beraita which has the opinions of Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel recorded differently.
- Literally, “spiced oil”. It was very common in both Biblical (See (Devarim 28:40, Shmuel II 14:2, Yechezkel 16:9, Micha 6:15, Tehillim 104:15, Tehillim 141:5, Rut 3:3) and Talmudic times to use oil as a cosmetic and rub it on the head and the limbs, whether after bath or just because. Oil used in this way was usually olive oil scented with various spices, especially balsam (אפרסמון in Aramaic, See Talmud Bavli, Berachot 43a). It was made by soaking a stick of balsam tree in olive oil for a long time until the oil absorbed the smell of the balsam. See Meiri, Bet Habechira, Berachot 43b, Shemen Aparsamon. Nowadays it is still common to see Arabs using perfumed oil in this way. I have seen them rub it on the head, neck and arms, myself here in Israel. Perfumed oil was kept in jars or vials (not boxes) made of alabaster. See International Standard Bible Encyclopedia of 1915 (entry Ointment).
- The reason that the perfumed oil was brought was in order to rub it on his hands to remove the grease from the food that he ate. See Talmud Bavli (Berachot 53a and Rashi, ibid., Veshemen) The reason that the wine was brought is disputed. According to Rashi (Berachot 53a, Veshemen, Ein Mevarchin Alav) and the Raavad (Note on the Rambam, Hilchot Berachot 7:15) that the oil and the wine were brought to him in the end of the meal but not specifically to say Birkat Hamazon over, but rather just a regular cup of wine to drink. The Rambam (ibid.) however says that this wine was specifically the cup of wine which was brought over to say Birkat Hamazon and that he held both the oil and the wine while saying Birkat Hamazon. I think what may have prompted the Rambam to explain it this way is because right before they said Birkat Hamazon they washed hands with water to remove the salt as was explained above (Tosefta 14, note3). So it would not make sense that he would rub the oil before washing his hands, because then the oil would get washed off by the water and there would be no need to rub it on the waiters head or the wall as Bet Hillel say in the end of this Tosefta. Therefore the Rambam was pushed to say that they must have used this oil after they washed hands, and since there were no interruptions allowed between washing hands at the end of the meal (Mayim Acharonim) and saying Birkat Hamazon, it must mean that he rubbed the oil after Birkat Hamazon and the wine was the wine over which Birkat Hamazon is said. Rashi and the Raavad do not make as much sense in the context of the official etiquette of the meal in Talmudic times, but they do not necessarily restrict their explanation to the etiquette, but rather make it more generic and applicable even to meal that did not follow the strict etiquette, where the person may not have eaten the salt at the end of the meal, therefore not being required to wash his hands, and therefore could use the oil before Birkat Hamazon was said.
- Since Bet Shammai hold that the Beracha should be first said on the wine, the wine should be held in the right hand to show that it was more important than the oil. Bet Hillel who hold that the Beracha should be made on the oil first said that he should hold the oil in his right hand.
- The Beracha for wine is Borei Pri Hagafen as was already explained earlier in chapter 4, Tosefta 2, note 6.
- There was a special Beracha for anointing oneself with perfumed oil. See Talmud Bavli (Berachot 43a). It was ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו מלך העולם בורא שמן ערב – Blessed You Hashem Our God, King of the world, Who created perfumed oil. It is interesting to note that if one would anoint oneself with such oil today he would have to say this Beracha prior to anointing himself. From the language of the Beracha it would seem that it should not be said over regular perfume simply because it mentions perfumed oil specifically by name and does not generalize to all kinds of perfumes. However this can be up for discussion.
- The reason for the argument between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel according to the version of their opinions in this Tosefta is unclear. According to the version quoted in Talmud Bavli (Berachot 43b) where their opinions are reversed regarding the order of the Berachot, we could say that Bet Hillel hold that he should make the Beracha on the wine first because it is a more common Beracha, as Bet Hillel already said earlier in Tosefta 25. However, in our Tosefta it is Bet Shammai who says that the Beracha on the wine should be made first, so we cannot explain that their reasoning is due to the fact that it is more common. I would like to propose an explanation of their argument based on the text in our Tosefta. Bet Shammai hold that the Beracha on the wine should be said first, because it is the wine that causes him to use the oil, similar to Bet Shammai’s opinion earlier in Tosefta 25. Since the reason he is using the oil is to remove the grease from his hands, he might end up spilling some wine over his hands and therefore he would need the oil to remove the spilled wine. However Bet Hillel hold that the Beracha on the oil should be said first, because in the verse in the Torah that mentions the seven species for which the Land of Israel is blessed (Devarim 8:8), the word “oil” is closer to the word “land” as compared to the word “vine” which gives it priority. See Talmud Bavli (Berachot 41b). For a discussion how Bet Hillel according to the text in Talmud Bavli (which has their opinion stated in the opposite fashion) would refute this reasoning see the commentary Male Haroim (Berachot 43b), printed in the back of Talmud Bavli.
- Nowadays this seems to be extremely insulting to wipe one’s hands with oil on them on someone else’s head. However in Biblical and Talmudic times it was a sign of great honor to the person to have his head smeared with perfumed oil. One way of showing honor to a guest was to anoint his head with oil. See Tehillim 23:5. This custom was not only prevalent in ancient Israel, but also in Egypt (See Eugen Strouhal, Life of the ancient Egyptians, 1992, p.133), and I would guess all over the Mediterranean region, although I do not have a source for that. Therefore I would assume that the reason Bet Hillel recommended to wipe the hands with perfumed oil on the head of the waiter was to show great honor to the waiter. It was similar to us giving the waiter a tip for good service.
- An Am Haaretz is someone who is not a Torah scholar. See above Tosefta 29, note 4, for a discussion of Bet Hillel’s opinion that only a Talmid Chacham waiter should be used if possible.
- It is kind of strange that Bet Hillel recommended smearing his hands on the wall of the house and not on a napkin. I would guess that they only had one napkin per guest and by the end of the meal the napkin was already dirty, because he used it during the whole meal to wipe his dirty hands on. Obviously they did not view wiping perfumed oil on the wall as something that would be damaging to the looks of the house. It is also possible that what Bet Hillel are saying is not that he should wipe his hands on the wall as his first choice, but even if he has nothing else to wipe them on and his only option is to wipe them on the wall, it is better to do that then walking outside smelling like perfume.
- Talmud Bavli (Berachot 43b) explains that the reason why a Torah scholar should not walk outside perfumed is because it may appear like he is a homosexual and is trying to attract other men. Walking around perfumed was looked down upon not only by the Rabbis, but also by the Romans (See Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 6.2, 5, Loeb ed. 2., p.59; Pliny, Natural History, 12 (5) 24, Loeb ed. 4, p.113). Josephus (The Jewish War 4.9.10 [561-562], Loeb ed. 3, p.167) writes that the only people who were well perfumed among Jews were the Zealots, who “indulged in effeminate practices.” Walking in public perfumed for men was considered to be extravagant, effeminate and indicative of homosexual tendencies. For a more detailed discussion on this and other references on this matter see Daniel Sperber, A Commentary on Derech Eretz Zuta, Bar-Ilan University Press, 1990, 6:1, p.53-54.
|Tractate Berachot, Chapter 5
Rebbi Yehudah said, “[If a person is eating a meal on Saturday night before the end of Shabbat and now he is done eating and he has to say Birkat Hamazon (Grace after meals) and Havdalah2,] Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel do not argue about Birkat Hamazon which [should be said] first and Havdalah which [should be said] last.3 [So] what do they argue about? About the [order of the Berachot] on [seeing] the fire and on [smelling] the spices [in Havdalah itself]. Bet Shammai say [first he makes the Beracha on seeing the] fire and [only] after that [he makes the Beracha on smelling the] spices, and Bet Hillel say [first he makes the Beracha on smelling the] spices and [only] after that [he makes the Beracha on seeing the] fire.”4
מסכת ברכות פרק ה
אמר רבי יהודה לא נחלקו בית שמאי ובית הלל על ברכת המזון שהיא בתחלה ועל הבדלה שהיא בסוף. על מה נחלקו? על המאור ועל הבשמים שבית שמאי אומרים מאור ואחר כך בשמים ובית הלל אומרים בשמים ואחר כך מאור.
- Mishna 8 of chapter 5 mentions an argument between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel about the order in which Birkat Hamazon and the Berachot of Havdalah should be said at the conclusion of Shabbat. Bet Shammai say that the order should be first the Beracha on the fire, then Birkat Hamazon, then on the spices, and then the Beracha of Havdalah itself. Where as Bet Hillel say that first he says the Beracha on the fire, then on the spices, then Birkat Hamazon and then the Beracha of Havdalah itself. Our Tosefta quotes the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah who says that that is not the argument between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel, but rather it is as our Tosefta describes it.
- Just like a person is obligated to say Kiddush in the beginning of Shabbat (see above Tosefta 25, note 10) so too he is obligated to say Havdalah at the end of Shabbat. It is an argument between the Rishonim (Medieval authorities) if the obligation to say Havdalah verbally is a Torah obligation or a Rabbinical obligation. See Rambam (Hilchot Shabbat 29:1 and Maggid Mishna there). However everybody agree that Havdalah over a cup of wine is a Rabbinical obligation. The Rabbis have decreed that at the end of Shabbat a person has to say 4 Berachot as a part of Havdalah. The Beracha on wine, the Beracha on smelling the spices, the Beracha on a fire (a lit candle with multiple wicks) and a Beracha of Havdalah itself which mentions how God has separated between the holy and the mundane.
- Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel agree that a person can complete his meal first by saying Birkat Hamazon and only after that he needs to say Havdalah. The person does not need to interrupt his Shabbat day meal which has continued into the night in order to say Havdalah, but he can continue eating until he is done. In this way Havdalah is different from Kiddush on Friday night which does require and interruption of the Friday afternoon meal, as has been already mentioned in Tosefta 1 of this chapter. The only thing that they argue about is the order of 2 out of the 4 Berachot during Havdalah itself. They agree that the Beracha on the wine should be said at the beginning of the Havdalah procedure and the Beracha of Havdalah itself should be said in the end of the Havdalah procedure. They argue about the order of the 2 Berachot that are said in the middle of Havdalah, namely the fire and spices.
It should be noted that the neither the Tosefta, nor the Mishna explicitly say that the Beracha on the wine is said first and the Beracha of Havdalah itself is said last, however this is implied by the fact that since Birkat Hamazon was said first, there was a Beracha at the end of it on the wine, which would serve its purpose for Havdalah as well. And when the Tosefta says the word “Havdalah which [should be said] last” it is not just referring to the general procedure of Havdalah which includes in it all 4 Berachot, but rather it is referring to the Beracha of Havdalah specifically which is the last Beracha out of the 4. Rashi (Berachot 51b, Ner Umazon) explains that the reason Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel include Birkat Hamazon into their argument about Havdalah is because they are talking about a case where there is only 1 cup of wine and it needs to be used both on saying over it Birkat Hamazon and Havdalah, so that is a further proof to the implication that when the Tosefta says that Birkat Hamazon is said first that includes the Beracha over the wine.
- According to Bet Shammai the order of the Berachot of Havdalah is as follows: 1) Wine 2) Fire, 3) Spices, 4) Havdalah itself. And according to Bet Hillel the order is as follows: 1) Wine 2) Spices, 3) Fire, 4) Havdalah itself. The reason for the argument is based on their earlier opinions mentioned in Tosefta 25. Bet Hillel hold that the Beracha on smelling the spices is more common since it is something people do every day, as opposed to the Beracha on seeing the fire which is only said at the end of Shabbat, therefore the Beracha on the spices should be said first. But Bet Shammai hold that since the Beracha for seeing the fire is caused by the fact that it is the end of Shabbat, it should be said first and only after that the Beracha on the spices should be said since the whole reason for smelling spices during Havdalah is to make the person feel better about the fact that Shabbat is over and now he has to go to work. So once the person has been reminded by the fire that Shabbat is over and he can now do work, he can now smell the spices to make himself feel better about that fact.