(Letter begins:)I submitted this question to the Kollel Iyun Hadaf back when we were learning Brachos and received this reply.
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Subject: Berachos 35: Basis for berachos From: "Mordecai Kornfeld" Date: Mon, May 16, 2005 11:27 am To: "G S" ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ (Please include header and footer when redistributing this material.) _________________________________________________________________ THE DAFYOMI DISCUSSION LIST brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Yerushalayim Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld firstname.lastname@example.org ________________________________________________________________ Berachos 35: Basis for berachos
G S asked:
Tosfos concludes that bracha rishona is an asmachta (ie d'rabanon). However, why wouldn't we say its doraisa? The gemara concludes that bircas hanehenin are derived from a sevara and we see elsewhere that the gemara considers a sevara as even a stronger reason than a drasha
G S, chicago IL ----------------------------------------------
The Kollel replies:
An excellent question, one, to be honest, that has bothered me for ages. Incidentally, Tosfos merely concludes that the Pasuk first quoted is an Asmachta, not The B'rachah Rishonah, which could be d'Oraysa, if not for the Gemara in 'Mi she'Meiso', which considers it de'Rabbanan. The Rashba, commenting on the S'vara 'Asur le'Adam ... ', connects it with the Pasuk cited shortly "la'Hashem ha'Aretz u'Melo'ah". If the land belongs to Hashem, he explains, how can one possibly benefit from it without permission? Were it not for this Pasuk, we would presumably have thought that, having created the world for our benefit, it is now ours to do with as we please, and no B'rachah is necessary (interestingly enough, Chazal do say, with regard to Torah, that Hashem gave it to us in its entirety). Now the Pasuk under discussion is in Tehilim, and not in the Torah. Consequently, even though the B'rachah Rishonah is a S'vara, it can only be mi'de'Rabbanan, since the S'vara's source is a Pasuk in Nach.
R. E C
I would like to point out that the common assumption that only Bracha Achrona on bread and Bracha Rishona on Torah are De'oraysa is not correct.
First, there's Kiddush. Yes, I know Reb Akiva Eiger in OC 271 says that you're yotzei Kiddush Mi'deoraysa when you tell someone Good Shabbos. I don't care. The point is that the whole nusach of Kiddush is De'oraysa when you say it at the proper time, and part of it is a bracha..
Second, there are Rishonim that hold that Bracha Rishona on all mitzvos is De'oraysa, based on the passuk in Vidui Ma'asros "Velo shachachti," as Rashi there says, "Lo shachachti milevareche'cha," which means that some kind of acknowledgment of gratitude to Hashem for giving us the opportunity to do mitzvos is a chiyuv De'oraysa. (see note.)
Third, see the Gemara in Brachos there on 48b where Reb Nassan brings the passuk in Shmuel 1:9 that says that they did not eat the Korban before a Bracha was made. Rashi there DH Ki says that the Bracha was asher kidshanu... le'echol es hazevach. The Maharsa there argues, because we're looking for Birkas HaNehenin, and that's a Birkas Hamitzvos. So he says it's the She'hakol, in which case it's not an example of a Bracha Deoraysa.
Fourth, see the Teshuvos Ri Migash in the next paragraph, who says that She'Hechiyanu is De'oraysa.
Mar'ei makomos for Birkos Hamitzvos being De'oraysa: Rashi in Ki Savo, Devarim 26:13, and in Brochos 40b, says that "lo avarti...lo shachachti....refers to the birkas hafrasha. Tosfos Yomtov in Bikkurim 5:11, says that the whole Gemora is just an asmachta and the bracha is for sure not De'oraysa. The Tzlach in Brochos 40 brings the TYT, and argues. The Satmerer in his Vayo’el Moshe here says the same thing without bringing the Tzlach. R’ Akiva Eiger in Brochos 15 agrees with the Tzlach, but points out that the Tzlach means that the chiyuv De’oraysa to be meshabei’ach for the mitzvah is after doing the mitzvah, not before. The Shai LaTorah in Ki Savo brings the Griz and R Dovid Soloveitchik that the Gemora in Brochos is mashma that it’s a normal brochoh. The Rogotchover there brings and explains a Sifri and a Yerushalmi on this matter. The Shem Mishmuel brings from his father that he saw a Teshuvas Ri Migash that the bracha Rashi is referring to is She'hechiyanu, and that is a de'oraysa.
If so, then, it is possible that the Svara of Bracha Rishona does entail a Chiyuv De'oraysa, but not for specifically a nusach of Bracha, just some statement of gratitude, some expression of hakaras hatov.
Anyway, after writing this, Reb Chaim B sent me an excellent mareh makom to the Pnei Yehoshua in Brachos in the beginning of Keitzad Mevorchim.
Towards the beginning of the perek, the Pnei Yehoshua d'h Ella Svara, says a pshat in the Gemara that will have your eyebrows bumping up against your hairline. You have to see it inside, but in short, this is what he says:
1. He, too, says that he was always perplexed by the Gemara saying bracha rishona is a svara, and then saying it's only a derabanan and the passuk is an asmachta. All over Shas, Svara means de'oraysa. He asks exactly the kashe G S asked, in fact, even with the same tone.
2. He says that it is possible that what the Gemara, and Tosfos, mean, is that yes, the svara makes it a de'oraysa, but the PASSUK is only an asmachta.
3. If so, he asks, why do we hold that safek bracha rishona le'hakeil? He answers, because of the counterfactor of bracha she'eina tzricha or birchas shav.
4. Why, he then asks, does a ba'al keri not make bracha rishona? Doesn't the Gemara say that if it were De'oraysa, the chiyuv Bracha would be docheh the ba'al keri problem?
5. He answers that yes, it's de'oraysa, but it's not de'oraysa. It is the equivalent of a de'oraysa, but it stems from svara, not a passuk. So the same way it's de'oraysa based on svara, the idea that a ba'al keri should not make a bracha is also a svara. It is a svara of Ke'vod Hashem that he shouldn't be making brachos. So svara B outweighs svara A. This would not be the case if it were a passuk-based de'oraysa; a svara would never outweigh a din that is derived from a passuk, contrary to what a lot of people like to tell themselves and their temple-goers.
5. A person who doesn't make the bracha rishona, but who says a bracha achrona, is also not guilty of being ne'heneh from olam hazeh without a bracha.
On the topic of De'oraysas that are not exactly like other De'oraysasas, this is also worth knowing: