Tag Archives: Berachos

Quality & Quantity

Day 10 – Berachos 11

The Gemara is discussing the Berachos said before reciting the Shema. There is a dispute whether you say Ahava Raba or Ahavas Olam. Tosafos says that because there is a dispute, during Shacharis, one should say Ahava Raba and during Maariv one should say Ahavas Olam.

What is the difference between Ahava Raba and Ahavas Olam? Furthermore, why is Ahava Rabba said in the morning and Ahavas Olam at night?

I heard from my father, in the name of Rav Yosef Engel that the difference is one between the quality or the quantity of the love of Hashem for us.

Let’s explain.

In the morning, the world is bright and we see all the blessings of Hashem clearly, we say Ahava Rabba, that Hashem has a lot of love for us. However, as it becomes darker and we do not see so clearly the blessings of Hashem – in fact it appears to be very dark, we say Ahavas Olam. This reflects the eternal & deep love that Hashem has towards us.

Even if things are looking very dark – we recognize that Hashem still loves us and we say the Shema.

The Vasikin of Yerushalayim

#DafChallenge Day 8. Berachos 9

הֵעִיד רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בֶּן אֶלְיָקִים מִשּׁוּם קְהָלָא קַדִּישָׁא דְבִירוּשָׁלַיִם: כָּל הַסּוֹמֵךְ גְּאוּלָּה לִתְפִלָּה אֵינוֹ נִזּוֹק כָּל הַיּוֹם כּוּלּוֹ.

Rabbi Yosei ben Elyakim testified in the name of the holy community in Jerusalem, a title accorded a particular group of Sages who lived there, that one who juxtaposes redemption and prayer at sunrise will incur no harm for the entire day. 

Berachos 9b – Sefaria

In general, when referring to that which was said in Eretz Yisrael, The Talmud usually says Amri B’Maarava, but here the gemara says a unique terminology of Kehila Kadisha in Yerushalayim. Why?

I would like to suggest that perhaps it is referring to a select group of holy men in Yerushalayim who were called the Vasikin, those who rose early to daven. Rashi explains that these were humble people who loved doing mitzvos. In fact, the Tefilla is called Vasikin to this day after them. 

The concept of Tefilas Vasikin is to finish Shema before sunrise and say Shemone Esrei immediately after, thus, one who does so is guaranteed to not be hurt the rest of the day. 

Rav Yehonasan Eibschutz in his Sefer Alon Bachos writes that during the period of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash the time for vaskin was not known. However, he explains, if there would have been a vasikin minyan on the day of the Churban Beis Hamikdash, it would not have been destroyed.

The Ingredients of Unity

Day 7 – Berachos 8

The Gemara says that Hashem says that anyone who is involved in Torah, Chesed and Tefilla B’tzibbur, He considers that person as if they freed Him and his son from amongst the nations.

The Tiferes Shlomo explains that the last sentence עם הציבור is referring not just to tefilla, but to Chesed and learning Torah as well. He elaborates, if one has in mind that: the Torah that one learns should be a protection for the Tzibbur, and the reward for his Chesed should go towards the Tzibbur and finally that his tefillos are on behalf of the tzibbur. 

The Maharal takes this a step further and explains that these 3 things are what unites the Jewish people during the times of Galus where everyone is separated from each other and scattered amongst the nations. Therefore anyone who is involved in Torah, Chesed and Tefilla is working to bring the Jewish people back together and Hashem considers it as if you brought the Geula and redeemed Klal Yisrael from amongst the nations.

Based on Tiferes Shlomo Moadim. Maharal Netzach Yisrael 25

The Moment of Hashem’s Anger

Day 6 – Berachos 7

The Gemara discusses the idea that Hashem has a moment of anger every day and the only one who was able to know the exact time and tap into it was Bilaam. The Gemara further discusses the length of this moment. At first the Gemara tells us that it is 1/58,888 of an hour which is 1/16th of a second. A bit later the Gemara repeats the question and tells us that it is the amount of time it takes to say “Rega”.

Tosafos asks what curse can one say in this amount of time? He answers that one can say כלם, which means to destroy them. 

Rav Yehonasan Eibschutz takes issue with this. Firstly, Kalem, is very non specific so there is no indication that he was saying to destroy the Jews. Secondly, the Passuk clearly says that HaShem gets angry every day, so how can you say that he did not get angry? He explains that there must be 2 levels of anger. On a regular day the anger lasts 1/58888 of an hour. However, during the days of Bilaam, HaShem got angry for a shorter amount of time – the time that it takes to say “rega”. 

On this the Chida strongly disagrees and says that the Yearos Dvash is arguing against the Gemara and he brings a Zohar as well stating that Hashem did not get angry during the period of Bilaam cursing the Jews. The Chida says that we have to learn that during this time HaShem did not get angry at all. 

Regarding the first question of the Yearos Dvash, the Chida explains that although Billam just said one word – “כלם”, he was always thinking about cursing the Jews, and as one can have many thoughts in a split second, his thoughts joined together with his words to effect a curse on the Jewish people.

One more thought –  the Gemara relates that HaShem gets upset from those who worship the sun as it rises and sets. The Yearos Devash explains that this is why we daven Vasikin in the morning and Maariv close to sunset,  in order that the anger should not be directed towards us.

Based on Yearos Devash Drush 9, Chida Patach Einayim Brachos 7.

The Holy Glow of Rav Yochanan

Day 4. Berachos 5 

The Gemara relates a story

Rav Yochanan went to visit Rav Eliezer, who was sick. Rav Yochanan noticed that the room was very dark. Rav Yochanan proceeded to lift up his sleeve and the room filled with light. Rav Eliezer, however, immediately started to cry. Rav Yochanan tried to comfort Rav Eliezer while trying to understand why his friend was crying. Eventually Rav Eliezer told him I am crying over the beauty of your arm which will be decomposed in the earth. Rav Yochanan responded – This is something worthy of crying about and they both started crying together. 

Berachos 5

What is going on here?
Why is Rav Yochanan lifting up his sleeve to bring light into the house, just open the window?
Why is his arm even producing light?
Finally, why are these two great Sages crying over the eventual decomposition of Rav Yochanan?

The Meforshim explain as follows: The more pure and holy a person is, the more he shines, this is why we see the faces of Tzaddikim have a special glow. However, this glow is only for this world as it is on our physical bodies. Once there is Techiyas HaMeisim our bodies will return to how they were in this world. In the meantime, the shine of holiness stays inside the ground and is no longer revealed.

The seforim further teach us that the dirt of the ground is the secret of the future. We build and plant on the ground, as we look forward to the future.  Rav Eliezer was crying because he was thinking about the times of Mashiach in the future, when the holiness of Rav Yochanan will once again be revealed. 

Regarding why he was crying even though Rav Yochanan was still alive  – the meforshim explain that Rav Yochanan came from a family from Yerushalayim known for their beauty, and seeing his arm, reminded Rav Eliezer of Yerushalayim and he was crying over the Churban. Another explanation is that Rav Eliezer knew that this beauty of Rav Yochanan was similar to the beauty of Adam HaRishon, who brought the concept of death to the world and therefore he cried. 

Regarding why he picked up his sleeve – The meforshim explain based on the Yerushalmi that during the winter months, Rav Yochanan suffered from headaches and he only put tefillin on his arm. Rav Eliezer was crying over the light that glows on a person from the mitzvos that he does. However once a person dies, he no longer has the opportunity to reach this level of wholesomeness. 

May we all merit to this special glow of the tzaddikim. 

Based on Ayin Eliyahu; Semichas Chachamim; Maharsha, Imrei Daas & Maggid Taaluma