The Cost of Bread

Daf 57.

Summary. The gemara continues to present the meaning of signs commonly encountered in dreams, including dreams that depict the dreamer in prayer and intimate acts. For example, “One who cohabits with a married woman in a dream is assured that he is destined for a place in the World to Come. But this applies only when he does not know her and had not thought of her in the night before he went to sleep.”

The symbolic meaning in dreams of fruit, vegetables, animals, and birds is also elucidated; followed by various situations in which the dreamer may find himself. “All types of beverages are favorable in a dream except for wine, whose meaning is ambiguous and cannot be discerned.”

baraisa details the significance of the presence of Biblical characters in one’s dreams. Several teachings specify the blessings to be recited upon encountering various ominous visions.

Daf 58.

Summary. More blessings to be recited upon seeing various people, places, and events. Ben Zoma compares all Adam had to do to get a loaf of bread to his own exertions in accomplishing the same task.

Ulla says that the blessing over a large crowd of Jews is only said in Israel. (ArtScroll: “It is not appropriate to make a blessing upon the sight of a large number of Jews in exile.”)

R’Yochanan says, “A person should always exert himself and run to meet kings of Israel, and not only to greet kings of Israel, but even to meet kings of idolatrous nations” (so he will become aware of the difference). R’Shila defends himself in front of the king, supported by the (apparently false) testimony of Elijah, before slaying the man who sought his downfall.

The gemara discusses blessings that mention the resurrection of the dead.

Daf 59.

Summary. The Zodiac is a template for discussing the stars. Explanations of earthquakes, thunder, wind, and lightning are sought. R’Yehoshua ben Levi says, “Thunder was created only to straighten out the crookedness within the heart.” There is a dispute over what is the proper blessing to say over a rainbow.

“How long must one not have seen the Great Sea before he can again recite a blessing upon it?” Answer: Thirty days.

There is a dispute over what is the proper blessing upon rain. The resolution may depend upon whether one has seen the rain or only heard of it; or on the volume of rain that fell; or on whether one owns the land on which the rain fell; or owned the land in full or in partnership with others.


Exert yourself to greet the rulers of idolatrous nations and, if I may add, also the candidates who might one day rule, especially if it is the nation of your exile. Go forth to their fundraisers and unsheathe your cell phone to record their unscripted remarks to compare them with what they might say when they address your congregations. Do not confuse those who would rule over you with the leaders of old who are held in great regard as examples of an unattainable ideal. And do not dare to imagine that even the legendary leaders of old could stand to be measured against the legend that has been created around them.

Recite blessings over natural wonders when you see them with fresh eyes, but refrain from blessing the candidate whose promises have not been tested. On the contrary, when you see such a one, hasten, rather, to pray.

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