|Tractate Berachot, Chapter 6
Tosefta 51[A person] who sees large crowds2 [of people] should say [the following Beracha (blessing):] Baruch [Ata Hashem Eloheinu Melech Haolam] Chacham Harazim,3 because their faces are not similar to each other and their minds are not similar to each other.4 When Ben Zoma5 saw large crowds [of people] on the Temple Mount6 he said, “Blessed be the One who created all of these [people] to serve me. How much the first man toiled before he tasted [even] one mouthful?7 He planted [grain],8 ploughed,9 reaped,10 bound sheaves,11 threshed,12 winnowed,13 selected,14 ground,15 sifted,16 kneaded,17 and baked, and [only] after that [he] ate [bread]. And I stand up in the morning and I find all of these [foods] in front of me [already prepared].”18 How much the first man toiled before he wore a shirt? He sheared [wool],19 washed,20 combed,21 dyed,22 spun,23 wove,24 and sewed,25 and [only] after that he wore [clothes]. And I stand up in the morning and I find all of these [clothes] in front of me [already made].26 How many skilled laborers are anxious to wake up [early to sell their goods], and I stand up in the morning and I find all of these [goods] in front of me [already made].” And also Ben Zoma used to say,27 “What does a good guest say? ‘May the host be remembered for good! How many different types of wine he brought in front of us? How many different pieces [of meat]28 he brought in front of us? How many different types of fine white bread29 he brought in front of us? Everything that he did, he did only for me.’30 But what does a bad guest say? And what did I eat of his? I ate [only] one bread of his. I ate [only] one piece [of meat] of his. I drank only one cup [of wine] of his. Everything that he did, he did only for his wife and children.’” And so also it says, 31 “Remember this so that you may extol His work that people have witnessed.” (Iyov 36:24)32
מסכת ברכות פרק ו
הרואה את אוכלסין אומר ברוך חכם הרזים לפי שאין פרצופותיהן דומין זה לזה ואין דעתן דומות זו לזו. בן זומא כשראה אוכלסין בהר הבית אמר ברוך שברא כל אלו לשמשני. כמה יגע אדם הראשון ולא טעם לוגמא אחת עד שזרע וחרש וקצר ועמר ודש וזרה וברר וטחן והרקיד ולש ואפה ואחר כך אכל, ואני עומד בשחרית ומוצא אני את כל אילו לפני. כמה יגע אדם הראשון ולא לבש חלוק עד שגזז ולבן ונפס וצבע וטווה וארג ותפר ואחר כך לבש, ואני עומד בשחרית ומוצא את כל אילו לפני. כמה אומניות שוקדות ומשכימות ואני עומד בשחרית ומוצא את כל אילו לפני. וכן היה בן זומא אומר אורח טוב מהוא אומר? זכור בעל הבית לטוב! כמה מיני יינות הביא לפנינו? כמה מיני חתיכות הביא לפנינו? כמה מיני גלוסקאות הביא לפנינו? כל מה שעשה לא עשה אלא בשבילי. אבל אורח רע מה הוא אומר? וכי מה אכלתי לו? פת אחת אכלתי לו. חתיכה אחת אכלתי לו. כוס אחד שתיתי לו. כל מה שעשה לא עשה אלא בשביל אשתו ובניו. וכן הוא אומר (איוב לו:כד) זכר כי תשגיא פעלו אשר שררו אנשים.
- The Tosefta says a new law about Berachot. It is not related to any Mishna.
- The Hebrew word אוכלסין comes from the Greek word όχλος (ochlos) which means a crowd. Talmud Bavli (Berachot 58a) says that this law applies only to large crowds of Jews, however for large crowds of Non-Jews there is a different Beracha. However from this Tosefta there is no such indicaton and I would assume that the Tosefta means crowds in general, regardless of who they are. This also makes sense in the context since the Beracha that the Tosefta says to say on seeing large crowds, Chacham Arazim, emphasizes that God knows the thoughts of each individual eventhough each person is unique, which applies to all people and not just to Jews. Also, the Tosefta does not indicate how large the crowd has to be, but Talmud Bavli (Berachot 58a) indicates that it must be at least 600,000 people. However from this Tosefta there is no such indication and the Meiri seems to be agree with that (See Bet Habechira, Berachot 58a, Haroeh Ochlusei Yisrael) that according to the Tosefta this Beracha can be said even on a small crowd if it consists of impressive individuals.
- ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם חכם הרזים – Blessed You Hashem, our God, King of the world, Who is wise [to know] secrets. There is actually an argument between the Rishonim (Medieval Authorities) if this Beracha has to be said in its full form including the words “אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם” or it can be said without it exactly as it is written in the Tosefta. I have noted in the translation according to the opinion of the Ri (Rabeinu Yitzchak Ball Hatosafot) who says that it has to be said in its full form, since that seems to be the opinion that makes most sense. The Tosefta simply uses an abbreviated language as it is commonly used through out Talmudic Litarerature and does not write the full text of the Beracha so that it would have been easier for students to memorize it, since that is how it was learned prior to being written down. For a full discussion of both opinions see the Rashba (Berachot 54a, Vekatav Haraavad).
- This Beracha emphasizes God’s omniscience (that He knows everything), since all people are unique and have look and think differently, despite which God knows about all of them and knows all of their thoughts.
- Both statements of Ben Zoma are about appreciation of other people. It is fitting for Ben Zoma to make such statements, because it seems to me that he was unemployed and spent his time studying Torah the whole day so he relied on others to take care of him. Ben Zoma lived in the end of the 1st, beginning of the 2nd Century CE. His full name is Shimon Ben Zoma, but he never received the title Rebbi, because he never became a full member of the Sanhedrin, but rather stayed a student. See Talmud Bavli (Horayot 2b). It seems to me that the reason he never became a full member of the Sanhedrin was because he never got married and never had any children, which was a requirement for members of the Sanhedrin, (See Tosefta Sanhedrin 7:3) thus preventing himself from receiving the title Rebbi. I have to admit that it does not say anywhere in the Talmudic literature that Ben Zoma never got married, but it is a good assumption, because he is often mentioned together and compared to Ben Azzai (see Talmud Bavli, Horayot 2b) about whom Talmud Bavli (Ketubot 63a) says that he was briefly engaged to Rebbi Akiva’s daughter, but then decided not to marry her since he wanted to devote all of his life to studying Torah and not get involved with raising a family. Based on this I also assume that both Ben Zoma and Ben Azzai were not engaged in any trade, but rather studied Torah the whole day. The Talmudic literature does not mention anywhere that they were envolved in any kind of trade or business. It seems that Ben Zoma was poor since he is the one who says in the Mishna (Avot 4:1): Who is a rich person? The one that is happy with his portion.
- During the pilgrimage holidays, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot very large numbers of people came to the Bet Hamikdash. We can imagine how many there were there based on how many Muslims come today to the Temple Mount during the holiday of Ramadan. In 2007, for the first Friday prayer of Ramadan, 93,000 Muslims showed up on the Temple Mount as was reported by various news outlets. It is clear that the Temple Mount has the capacity to hold over 600,000 people, although barely, that the Talmud Bavli requires to say the Beracha of Chacham Arazim as was mentioned above in note 1, since today the Al-Aqsa Mosque situated on the Southern side of the Temple Mount holds up to 400,000 worshippers at one time, bearing in mind that the space required for each person is roughly 0.8m x 0.5m to enable the submissive kneeling in prayer. On Fridays at noon, during the fasting month of Ramadan, and particularly the 27th of Ramadan (Lailat El-Qadr), the area is filled to virtual capacity. Although it is theoretically possible to say this Beracha in the presence of 600,000 people, I am convinced that Ben Zoma said his quote with a much smaller quantity of people. Since the Tosefta implies that Ben Zoma’s quote was equivalent to the Beracha of Chacham Harazim it is obvious that the Tosefta does not agree with Talmud Bavli’s requirement of having 600,000 people present in order to say this Beracha.
- It is unclear what does the Hebrew word לוגמא literally mean. Adolph Jellinek explains (Devarim Atikim, Leipzig, 1844, entry Lugma in Sefat Chachamim) that it means a mouthful and not a cheekful, and comes from the Arabic word Lukma which means a mouthful. Michael Sokoloff writes (Michael Sokoloff, A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, Bar Ilan University Press, 2002, entry Lugma) that it is a Syriac word which means a jaw or a Mandaic word which means a cheek. Both Syriac and Mandaic are dialects of Aramaic. It is important to pin this down exactly since a cheekful is a measure of volume equivalent to how much an average person can hold inside one of his cheeks where as a mouthful is how much he can hold in his whole mouth. A cheekful is less than half of a real mouthful, since a mouthful includes both cheeks plus the center of the mouth. From Talmud Bavli (Yoma 80a) it seems that the literal meaning of Maleh Lugmav means a mouthful since Shmuel specifically points out that in the Mishna it is not meant literally, but rather it is referring to just a cheekful (i.e. when a person moves the liquid to one side of his mouth). This implies that the word Lugma in the singular form would refer to just one cheek where as Maleh Lugmav in the plural form would refer to both cheeks together meaning the whole mouth. I have chosen to translate it in this Tosefta as mouthful even though it is written in the singular form since it makes more sense as an English expression and it is not talking about specific measurements.
- Ben Zoma is specifically talking about planting grain and not anything else since he outlines the 10 steps that it takes to produce bread from grain.
- I have written the text as it appears in the Vienna manuscript, namely first planting and then plowing. However in the Erfurt manuscript these two words are reversed, plowing is mentioned first and then planting. Technically both versions are correct, since both methods were used. Talmud Bavli (Shabbat 73b) explains that in the Land of Israel people planted first and then plowed, because the land is hard and the seeds would nto get buried underground if they were not plowed over, where as in Babylonia they first plowed and then planted, because the land is soft and the seeds make their way down by themselves. It makes more sense that Ben Zoma would express himself according to the practice of the Land of Israel, since that is where he lived, namely planting first and then plowing. It is also possible that people plowed their fields twice, before and after planting, although the Gemara implies that it was not necessary to do so under normal circumstances.
- Reaping is the step of the actual harvesting where the stocks of grain are cutoff using a scythe or a sickle.
- After the stocks of grain have been cut they are bound together into sheaves so that they can be transported to the threshing floor. A sheaf is a large bundle of grain.
- Threshing is the process of loosening the edible part of the grain from the inedible chaff that surrounds it. Threshing was done by beating the grain against the threshing floor using a tool called a flail. Another method of threshing was done by having donkeys or other large animals walking in a circle on the threshing floor and stepping on the grain.
- Winnowing is the step in which the chaff is actually removed from the grain. In Talmudic times it was done by throwing the grain up in the air and the wind blowing away the lighter chaff while the heavier kernels of the grain would fall back down.
- After the chaff is removed the grain is tossed around in a wooden tray to separate from it the stones and lumps of soil which clung to the roots when the grain was reaped. This step was called selecting, since the good portion of the grain was selected from the bad dirt.
- Once the grain was isolated from various other particles it was ground into flour. In Talmudic times this was done using a grinding stone. There were generally two sizes of grinding stones. A small one that was spun by hand and a large one which was spun by an animal, usually an ox or a donkey, while walking around in a circle.
- Once the grain was ground into flour it was sifted using a sieve (a box with a net with small holes in it) in order to separate large clumps of flour and remaining grain from the finer flour particles.
- The flour was mixed with water and yeast and then kneaded (pounded and mushed around) in order to make dough.
- Ben Zoma meant that he did not have to work hard to make bread, but rather he could go and buy bread that was already made.
- Ben Zoma is specifically referring to clothing made from wool since he outlines the 7 steps that it takes to turn wool into a garment. Wool is the hair of sheep which was cut from the sheep using scissors.
- Wool on a sheep is really dirty so once it is sheared it needs to be washed. This was done by two possible methods. The fleece (piece of wool that covers a side of the sheep) was placed inside a shallow river with small clean pebbles and letting the water flow over it. Or the wool was hand washed and scrubbed using some kind of a cleansing agent, usually white clay, urine, or ashes of certain plants. (See The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, entries Wool, Fuller) After washing the wool would become completely white.
- After the wool was washed it had to be combed to remove the knots since on the sheep it is entangled. Combing was done by laying out the wool on a surface and combing it with a metal comb similar to the way a person combs his hair.
- Once the wool was combed it could be dyed to give it a different color. This was an optional step since the wool could be left white. Dying was done by dipping the wool into a solution mixed with various chemeicals, usually plant or animals derivatives that gave the wool specific colors.
- Once the wool was dyed it was spun into thread by twisting the fibers. There were various methods of spinning the thread.
- Once the thread was ready it was woven into cloth. This was done on a loom. It should be noted that the process of weaving was divided into additional steps which were considered to be separate acts of work that are prohibited on Shabbat. See Mishna Shabbat 7:2. However it seems that Ben Zoma did not feel the necessity to outline them in his speech since they were simply substeps in the weaving process and could be included into the general category of weaving.
- The cloth was finally taken and sewen into a garment.
- Meaning that Ben Zoma could just go out and buy them without doing any extra work.
- Since the Tosefta quoted Ben Zoma making a speech about appreciating other it quotes another statement of Ben Zoma that discusses appreciation of others.
- The word pieces could be referring to any piece of food, but most probably refers to meat.
- For a detailed discussion of the word Gluska see above chapter 4, Tosefta 11, note 3.
- It is a little strange that Ben Zoma’s quote originally speaks in the plural, as if there were many guests, but then switches to the singular, referring nly to the person speaking. It is possible that he saying it in reference to a group of guests where one guest speaking for the rest of the guests. So originally he is speaking for all of them, but when it is time to really appreciate the host by saying that everything he did was only for him he is referring only to himself since that emphasizes his appreciation even more.
- It seems that this addition is not a part of Ben Zoma’s speech, but rather something that the editor of the Tosefta added.
- This verse is a part of Elihu’s speech to Iyov when Elihu is telling Iyov how great is God and how people do not understand God’s deeds. The verse is referring to previous verses where Elihu says that people do not have the right to tell God what to do or to say to God that He has commited injustice. Elihu emphasizes that Iyov must remember that in order to truly appreciate His deeds. So also a guest does not really have the right to say bad things about his host, since the host did him a favor by serving him and was not really obligated to serve him at all. This is my explanation, according to which this quote in the Tosefta is not specifically referring to either the good guest or the bad guest, but rather to how the guest should behave in general. However, Talmud Bavli (Berachot 58) speciflcally says that this verse is referring to the good guest. The Maharsha (Chidushey Agadot, Berachot 58b, Ben Zoma) explains that the Gemara means that this verse should be taken out of context and instead of talking about God it is talking about the guest who should remember what the host did for him and exalt and exaggerate about it, by mentioning how much food the host took for him and how many people served him, even if it is not necessarily true.