Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Why It Is Forbidden to Eat Before Making a Bracha

I take full responsibility for the rough night you had last night worrying about the Maharsha's concern that sefeik brachos l'hakeil shouldn't apply to birkos ha'ne'henin because eating without making a bracha is considered stealing.  That would mean that a safeik bracha is also safeik stealing, and stealing is d'oraiso, so that rule of safeik d'oraisa would mean that you should make a (possibly second) bracha.  I forgot to add that we don't pasken like this Maharsha, so you can stand down.  Or maybe you should be nervous... let's see.

Why is eating without first making a bracha considered stealing?  It's a drash from Chazal contrasting two p'sukim from T'hilim.  First, "LaShem ha'aretz u'm'lo'ah"/The world and everything in it belongs to HaShem (T'hilim 24:1).  Second, "ha'shamyim shamyim LaShem, v'ha'aretz nosson livnei adam"/The heavens belong to HaShem, and the earth He has given to people (T'hilim 115:16).  R' Leivi (TB Brachos 35a) noted the contradiction and concluded that the first is before making the bracha, the second is after making the bracha.

Stealing is serious business.  Stealing from HaShem is very serious business.  A close chaver of mine wanted to suggest "ha'motzi mei'chaveiro, alav ha'rai'ya", putting the burden of proof on HaShem that I didn't make the bracha.  Somehow, though, I don't think I want that to be my defense in the beis din shel ma'alah.  I can just hear the prosecuting angel saying, "Sure; no problem. Run the tape, please, bailiff."

Minchas Shlomo (Vol 1, 18:9) notes that this Maharsha has a hard row to hoe.  An onein, who is not allowed to make brachos, certainly is allowed to eat.  If he eats bread, though, he'll need to wash first (without a bracha, of course) because it is built on an issur of t'ruma.  So if there were any issur at all, the onein would not be able to eat.

The Minchas Shlomo answers that the issur to eat before the bracha is because of the strength of the obligation to make the bracha and not that there is a separate issur that the bracha is removing.  This is similar to the situation before kiddush or havdalah when was is also not allowed to eat.  The kiddush and havdalah ceremonies do not remove an issur, rather the issur exists because of the obligation to perform the ceremony.  What about the stealing?  That is part of the decree to enforce how and why it is so important to make a bracha before eating.  Benefiting from the incomparable generosity of HaShem without even saying thank you is tantamount to being a brazen thief and snatching what you want from the King as if He didn't know and couldn't stop you.

Somehow I don't think I want that as my defense in the beis din shel ma'alah either: Hey!  It wasn't really stealing all those time I ate without making a proper bracha, just tantamount to stealing!


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…