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Thought for the Day: What Defines a Bracha

I heard that a certain ba'al ha'bayis wanted to buy a set of Chazon Ish for himself and each of his sons-in-law.  The Chazon Ish asked if they were all planning to learn together in a chabura.  Since the ba'al ha'bayis answered that he just wanted each to have his own set, the Chazon Ish decided to only sell him one set.  "I am not in the business of selling furniture.  I am sure you can all get by with one set."

The last time I received furniture as a gift was when my first child was born (a beautiful and well used armoire; thank you, Dad).  When someone gives me a sefer, however, I do my best to be sure it retains its status and does not get relegated to dusty furniture.  Since I was going to Florida for Pesach, a good friend gave me my very own copy of Masores Moshe.  The sefer has two advantages for me as a traveler.  First, the format is a collection of sh'eilos and t'shuvos in conversational format.  R' Mordechai Tendler, one of R' Moshe's grandsons (and also a talmid) took his collection of questions that he had either asked himself or heard others asking his zeidy and arranged them by topics in the order of the Shulchan Aruch.  That enables a traveler who is quite off schedule to fit learning into his off schedule schedule.  Second, the t'shuvos were reviewed by R' Fuerst (he removed anything that seems like it was for a certain time and also pieces that could be easily misconstrued).  That makes the sefer a double pleasure, very learnable and very reliable.

Of course I started at the beginning (if it was good enough for the author, it's good enough for me).  In the second t'shuva, R' Moshe was asked if  -- according to Tosefos (P'sachim 104b dh kol ha'brachos posei'ach b'baruch v'chosem b'baruch) -- "elokai n'shama" can be counted as one of 100 brachos that a person is required to say each day.  Tosafos there is struck that "elokai n'shama" does not fit that formula; it doesn't start with "baruch", neither is it next to another bracha.  Tosafos concludes about "elokai n'shama" and a few similar examples that "einan brachos eleh shevach u't'fila b'alma" -- they aren't brachos, but simply praise and prayer.  Sounded like a good question to me.  R' Moshe, however, responded that of course "elokai n'shama" is a bracha -- after all, it ends with baruch and you aren't allowed to interrupt; therefore it counts in the requirement for 100 brachos a day; Tosafos was just explaining why Chazal were not concerned about making it fit the prescription.

I had to read and re-read Tosafos a few times before I could understand R' Moshe's p'shat.  Finally I noticed two things.  First, Tosofos begins by saying, "what about the bracha of elokai n'shama?"; so Tosofos themselves announce that it's a bonafide bracha.  Second, the gemara they are explaining does not say "kol brachos"/all brachos, but "kol ha'brachos"/all of these brachos.  Nice.  Comes out a beautiful chidush.  Chazal made brachos to awaken us to the beauty, wonder, and unlimited kindness of HaShem.  Brachos on mitzvos and on pleasure needs extra chizuk, so they all must start and end with "baruch".  Brachos which are by their very nature praise and/or t'fila don't need extra chizuk, it is enough that they end with "baruch" and cannot be interrupted.

Ok... that takes care of the first page; 620 to go.

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