Featured image of post Eliyahu's Bar Mitzva Speech

Eliyahu's Bar Mitzva Speech

My son's bar mitzva speech, originally delivered by my son Eliyahu on August 6th, 2023

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In Parshas Eikev it says:

ואכלת ושבעת וברכת את ה׳ א-לוהיך על הארץ הטובה אשר נתן לך

from here we learn the concept of ברכות הנהנין. מדאורייתא this only applies to someone who has become satisfied from eating bread. However, חז״ל tells us, that one is forbidden to enjoy anything from this word without a ברכה. Then, they took the general obligation to say a ברכה and specified various ברכות for different types of הנאה.

The משנה in ברכות דף נ״ד עמוד א says as follows:

בנה בית חדש, קנה כלים חדשים, מברך שהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה
If one build a new house, or buys new objects, he says the ברכה that he has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this time.

The ברכה of שהחיינו is a ברכה that is said at a time of particular joy.

The גמרא on דף נ״ט עמוד ב tries to clarify, Does one really need to say this ברכה every time he buys a new object!?

The גמרא brings a מחלוקת between ר׳ הונא and ר׳ יוחנן רב הונא says, our משנה is only referring to a case where - אין לו כיוצא בו - where he doesn’t own a similar item But if he already has a similar item, he does not need to make a שהחיינו However, רב יוחנן says he still must make a ברכה even if he already has such an item.

The גמרא then says it’s משמע from this - that the entire argument is about a case where he has a similar item already from inheritance, and then buys another one. But - קנה וחזר וקנה - if he BUYS the item, and then buys another one, even רב יוחנן would agree that you won’t need to say a שהחיינו.

רש"י explains the difference as follows: הואיל עניין קנייה חדש הוא אצלו צריך לברך Since the experience of buying the item is new to him, he must make a ברכה.

The גמרא will now offer an איכא דאמרי a different version of the מחלוקת between רב הונא and רב יוחנן According to this איכא דאמרי - Rav Huna holds that our משנה is only referring to a case where it’s his first time BUYING the item but, קנה וחזר וקנה, he doesn’t need to say a שהחיינו. However, רב יוחנן says he must still make a ברכה even in such a case.

The גמרא is then מדייק that if so, they all must agree, that in a case of אין לו כיוצא בו, where he has something similar from inheriting it and not from buying, he is מברך שהחיינו!

The גמרא tries to bring ראייה to the לישנא קמא, (the first version) by bring a ברייתא

מֵיתִיבִי: בָּנָה בַּיִת חָדָשׁ וְאֵין לוֹ כַּיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ, קָנָה כֵּלִים חֲדָשִׁים וְאֵין לוֹ כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶם — צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ. יֵשׁ לוֹ כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶם — אֵין צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי מֵאִיר. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר: בֵּין כָּךְ וּבֵין כָּךְ צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ

One who built a new house and does not already own a similar house, or purchased new items and does not already own similar items, must recite a ברכה. However, if he already owns a similar one, he doesn’t need to say a ברכה, this is the statement of Rebbe Meir. Rebbe Yehuda, on the other hand, says: In either case, he must recite a blessing.

The גמרא tries to reason that according the לישנא קמא this ברייתא makes sense: Rav Huna is going according to Rebbe Meir and Rav Yochanan is going according to Rebbe Yehuda… But according to the לישנא בתרא we can understand how Rav Huna is like Rebbe Yehuda, but who does Rav Yochanan hold like?

But this ראייה is ultimately rejected with the following reasoning. Rav Yochanan of the לישנא בתרא will tell you: Rebbe Yehuda will hold that you still make a ברכה, even in a case of קנה וחזר וקנה. If so, why are they arguing in a case of אין לו כיוצא בו? להודיעך כחו דרבי מאיר - to tell the extent of Rebbe Meir’s ruling. That even a case where he’s buying such an item for the first time, if he already has a similar item, he doesn’t make a שהחיינו.

The גמרא then asks, let the ברייתא tell us a case of קנה וחזר וקנה to tell us the extent to which Rebbe Yehuda requires a ברכה? The גמרא answers that it preferred to tell you extent of Rebbe Meir’s שיטה - because he פטור׳ס you from saying a ברכה and כח דהתירא עדיף - the strength of leniency is preferable.

רש״י in the beginning of ביצה explains כח דהתירא עדיף as follows:

דהתירא עדיף ליה - טוב לו להשמיענו כח דברי המתיר שהוא סומך על שמועתו ואינו ירא להתיר אבל כח האוסרין אינה ראיה שהכל יכולין להחמיר ואפילו בדבר המותר

The תנא would rather show us the extent to which one is מתיר because he relies on his opinion and is not afraid to be מתיר. However, the extent to which a שיטה is אוסר (forbids something), proves nothing - because anyone can be מחמיר even on something which is מותר (due to a ספק)

Having said that, NOW COMES THE QUESTION:

The use of כח דהתירא עדיף in this case is confusing. We know there is a כלל (a general rule) - of ספק ברכות להקל - if one is in doubt of an obligation to say a ברכה - he should be מיקל and not say the ברכה, so that he won’t say a ברכה לבטלה.

Since this the case, it’s the תנא that says you DO make a ברכה that must be certain of the obligation. Maybe the reason Rebbe Meir says not to make a שהחיינו is because he is מסופק about the חיוב to say a ברכה in this case.

The ברייתא should tell us the extent to which רבי יהודה is מתיר MAKING a שהחיינו!!! That would be כח דהתירא עדיף! Rebbe Yehuda must not have any ספק about the חיוב ברכה here!

רבי עקיבא איגר in the גליון הש״ס seems to be bothered by this קשה and tells us to look in the רש״ל in פסחים ק״ב עמוד א

There, the רשב״ם uses the concept of כח דהתירא עדיף in a similar context of ברכות הנהנין and the רש״ל asks our question:

ואני אומר אדרבא הכא הוא כח דהתירא - שמיקל לברך עוד- ולא חיישינן לברכה לבטלה…
And I say, the opposite is true, the כח דהתירא is the one who is מיקל to allow a ברכה and is not worried about a ברכה לבטלה

The מהרש״א and the אליה רבא say a TREMENDOUS חידוש here! They טענה that the general rule of ספק ברכות להקל, only applies to ברכות המצוות where the ברכה is not מעכב the מצווה! But for ברכות הנהנין - it is אסור to eat anything without a ברכה! ספק ברכות להקל does not apply to ברכות הנהנין!! …

It would seem that Rebbe Akiva Eiger would apply to this reasoning to our case as well. The כח דהתירא would go like רבי מאיר who is מתיר the הנאה of getting new objects, or building a new house - without a ברכה - if one already has similar objects or owns a home!!

This would certainly make our גמרא and the רשב״ם in פסחים make sense, and if you look in the הגהות רבי עקיבא איגר in שולחן ערוך you can see that he brings this להלכה! But what about the ים של שלמה, and all the פוסקים that hold ספק ברכות להקל on all ברכות, even ברכות הנהנין?

There are many interesting ways to be מתרץ this. But I want to just share an interesting ב״ח in הלכות תפילין at the end of סימן כ״ט.

The ב״ח says there’s a חילוק between שהחיינו and all other ברכות - since שהחיינו is a ברכה made על שמחה שבלבו - on the joy in his heart - even if he is not absolutely obligated - he is not making a ברכה לבטלה if he feels joy and is giving blessing to Hashem who has given him life, sustained him, and allowed him to reach this special time!

I certainly would like to give praise to thanks to Hashem for giving me life, sustaining me, and bringing me to this special time! I would like to thank each and everyone of you for coming to share this special time with me! Your being here has truly put JOY IN MY HEART!

thank yous here

May the time come when are all זוכה to say שהחיינו on a new שמחה בביאת גואל צדק במהרה בימינו אמן!!!

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