י״ב בתשרי ה׳תשע״ג (September 28, 2012)

Berakhot 58a-b: Blessings Recited on People

There are occasions when simply seeing a group of people – or even a single individual – is reason enough to express thanks to God by means of reciting a blessing. Some examples that appear on today’s daf include:

taught: One who sees the Sages of Israel recites:
Blessed… Who has shared of His wisdom with those who revere Him.
One who sees Sages of the nations of the world recites:
Blessed… Who has given of His wisdom to flesh and blood.

The formula of the blessing for non-Jews in standard editions of the Talmud is livriyotav, “to His creations,” rather than levasar vadam, “to flesh and blood.” The censor made this change to soften the contrast between: “Those who revere him,” which is the formula of the blessing recited for Jews, emphasizing their connection with God, and: “Flesh and blood,” which indicates no such connection. The formula: “To His creations,” indicates that non-Jews have a connection with God as well.

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who sees his friend after thirty days have passed since last seeing him recites: Blessed…Who has given us life, sustained us and brought us to this time. One who sees his friend after twelve months recites: Blessed…Who revives the dead.

Tosafot and the Rosh both write that a blessing on seeing his friend after thirty days applies only to one who is especially close to the person he meets and he is not merely an acquaintance. In a responsum, the Rashba notes that there is no difference between men and women; in either case, this halakhah applies.

The Maharsha explains that the obligation to recite a blessing upon seeing a friend after twelve months is the fact that on every Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur all mankind is judged. If a full year has passed since the last time these two individuals met, obviously, each has been tried and lived. An appropriate reaction to meeting someone who has survived that ordeal is to recite: Blessed…Who revives the dead

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