I say a little prayer for You (35a-35b)

Most mornings, upon awaking, I say two prayers – one of them is from the morning blessings “… l’havchin beyn yom u’veyn laylah” (“…who distinguishes between day and night”) and the other is the first line of the Sh’ma. I write “most mornings” because sometimes I forget. It seems odd that I might forget, but nonetheless it’s true – I forget. The same thing happens before bed … a bit of “chesbone ha’nefesh” (accounting of the soul) and then the bedtime Sh’ma – when I remember.

Yesterday’s daf is about blessings and when to say them, especially for fruits (of the vine and of the ground), wine, bread, and greens. It is a tour de force of Talmudic discourse, full of twists and turns. It’s a fun, if dizzying, read.

At one point the Rabbis simply state that there is no scriptural basis for reciting blessings on all foods and that the reason we do so is based on reason. It just makes sense to be grateful for everything from which we derive a benefit and, without too much of a leap, that pretty much includes everything.

Furthermore, the Gemara states that “Rav Yehudah said in the name of Shmuel: ‘Whoever derives benefit from this world without first reciting a blessing is regarded as if s/he has derived benefit from the consecrated property of God for it stated: ‘To HaShem belongs the earth and its fullness’ ”

“The Gemara elaborates further: Rabbi Levi contrasted two verses, noting an apparent contradiction and presenting the resolution: In one verse it is written  ‘To HaShem belongs the earth and its fullness’  which implies that humankind’s use of the earth and its fullness would constitute trespass on God’s property. But in another verse it is written: ‘As for the heavens — the heavens are HaShem’s, but the earth God has given to humankind’ which implies that the earth is humankind’s to use. How are these two verses to be reconciled? We must say that there is no contradiction: Here (in the verse which states that the earth belongs to HaShem) it refers to before one recites a blessing, whereas here (in the verse which states that HaShem has given the earth to humans) it refers to after one recites a blessing” [Art Scroll 35a5 – 35b1].

I say Amen to that!

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