|Tractate Berachot, Chapter 6
From where do we know that just like you have to say a Beracha (blessing) after [eating food] you also have to say a Beracha before [eating food]?2 The Torah teaches us, “… which He has given you” (Devarim 8:10), [meaning] from the moment that He gave [the food] to you, [you have to say a Beracha on it.]3 From where do we know that [you have to say a Beracha] even on [seeing] mountains and hills? The Torah teaches us, “… for the land …” (Devarim 8:10).4 From where do we know that [you have to say a Beracha] even on [studying and reading] the Torah and on [performing] Mitzvot (commandments)? The Torah teaches us, “… which He has given you” (Devarim 8:10), and it says, “… and I will give you the tablets of stone …” (Shemot 24:12).5
מסכת ברכות פרק ו
מניין שכשם שאתה מברך לאחריו כך מברך לפניו? תלמוד לומר (דברים ח:י) אשר נתן לך, משעה שנתן לך. מניין אף על ההרים ועל הגבעות? תלמוד לומר (דברים ח:י) על הארץ. מנין אף על התורה ועל המצות? תלמוד לומר (דברים ח:י) אשר נתן לך ואומר (שמות כד:יב) ואתנה לך את לחת האבן.
- The Tosefta continues expounding on the same verse (Devarim 8:10) as the previous Tosefta did regarding the laws of Berachot. Also, the Tosefta brings a source for the law in Mishna 9:2 that a person who sees mountains has to say a Beracha.
- For various types of Berachot before eating food see Berachot Mishna 6:1 and 6:3.
- It is generally accepted in the Talmud that Berachot before eating food, as well as Berachot on seeing various phenomena, such as mountains, as well as Berachot before reading and studying the Torah and performing Mitzvot, are all of Rabbinical origin and are not Torah obligations. See Talmud Bavli (Berachot 33a), which says that various Berachot were established by Anshei Knesset Hagedolah (The Men of the Great Assembly) sometime during the early days of 2nd Bet Hamikdash. It is not clear from this Tosefta if it really means to derive the origin of these Berachot from the Torah as a primary source, making them Torah obligations, or simply using the verses that it quotes them as an Asmachta (Scriptural text used as support for a Rabbinical enactment). Obviously the verses in this Tosefta are completely taken out of context since they are talking about saying a Beracha after food only, and about Moshe receiving the tablets with the 10 commandments on them, and not about Berachot that are said on Mitzvot or natural phenomena. However it is possible that just like the previous Tosefta held that Zimun and the 4th Beracha of Birkat Hamazon are Torah obligations, so too all other Berachot are Torah obligations as well, and the Rabbis have merely defined a specific text for them, where as the Torah required them to be said, but did not specify the text.
- Since mountains and hills are features of the land they would require a Beracha. I do not think that the Tosefta implies that this Beracha would specifically apply in the Land of Israel and not anywhere else, since “the land” referred to in the verse is specifically Israel, since it is using the verse out of context anyway. The Beracha on seeing mountains is mentioned in Berachot Mishna 9:2. It is ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם עושה מעשה בראשית – Blessed You Hashem, our God, King of the world, who does the action of creation.
- Since the word “give” is used in the 2nd verse in reference to the Torah (the tablets with the 10 commandments) so too the 1st verse must be using it with reference to Torah. This is an application of an exegetical tool called Gezeirah Shavah, which is one of the methods of Torah exegeses. The way a Gezeirah Shava works is it takes two unrelated verses that have the same word in them and applies a rule that is definitely known by one verse to the other verse. However, I am not completely sure if in this case the Tosefta really intends this to be a real Gezeirah Shavah, which would make these Berachot Torah obligations, or it simply uses the same methodology as a Gezeirah Shavah, but in a way of an Asmachta which would simply provide additional support to the Rabbinical enactment of these Berachot. Either way is possible. Talmud Bavli (Berachot 21a) quotes the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah who says that Berachot before studying and reading the Torah are Torah obligations, although he uses a different verse to derive this from than this Tosefta. A similar derivation is quoted by Talmud Yerushalmi (Berachot 7:1, Daf 52a) although anonymously. For a lengthy discussion on this matter see Mareh Hapanim on Yerushalmi (Berachot 7:1, Daf 52a, Katuv Batorah). The Beracha before studying the Torah consists of two Berachot and before reading the Torah consists of one Beracha. See the Siddur (Jewish Prayer Book) for the text of these Berachot, since they are somewhat too long to quote here.