Brachot 44 and 45

Wow what a great couple of daf! There were so many inyanim  that I wanted to cover but I have limited myself to 3 from these 2 pages of Talmud:

1. Medical cures and the Rambam

2. Halachic decision making process

3. Women and the obligation to combine in a quorum for bentching

These are all very big topics which I am only going to touch on. In each case I will try and refer to sources and material  to further your understanding.

1. Medical cures and the Rambam

It is clear to me that the Rambam would only have accepted those “cures” found in the Talmud if he could demonstrate that they were true scientifically. Over the last few pages of Brachot the Talmud has given us the medicinal qualities of many foods and plants. However the Talmud does not give us any philosophical reason behind using medicine to cure us of ailments.

In a fascinating section of the Rambam’s Shemoneh P’rakim (his introduction to Ethics of the Fathers) he tells us that, on the one hand we are like animals needing food and sustenance, but, on the other hand, this is not an end in itself. The body is simply a receptacle for the soul and nourishment is aimed only at keeping the body healthy so that we as human beings can obtain wisdom. We are obliged to look after ourselves in both body and mind so that we can come to know God.

In relation to the mind, the Rambam deals with depression and how to cure it. We might have expected him to tell us to lean more Torah or do more mitzvoth but his advise, remarkably modern is to “listen to songs, and types of instruments, walk in the gardens and look at beautiful buildings and objects”. Enjoying the world and uplifting the soul in order to come to an understanding of God – what a great message for the coming days of awe!

2. Halachic decision making process

What do Rabbis in the Gemara do when they do not know what the halacha is? They debate, they argue and sometimes they conclude that we will not know the answer until the coming of Elijah the Prophet. However at beginning of daf 45a says the following:

אמר ליה רבא בר רב חנן לאביי, ואמרי לה לרב יוסף: הלכתא מאי? – אמר ליה: פוק חזי מאי עמא דבר

Rava bar Rav Hanan said to Abaye, and some say to Rav Yosef: What is the Halachah [in this dispute]? He said to him: Go out and observe what the people are doing [and act accordingly].

I listened to a fascinating shiur recently (by Rabbi Adam Mintz) which compared the Aruch HaShulchan and the Mishnah Berurah. [Link]. It was suggested that in a number of places the Aruch HaShulchan used the world “etzleinu” and implied that the halachah followed a common practice which may not be the ideal lechatchila way to behave. This is a huge topic but the shiur linked above is a great starting point!

3. Women and the obligation to combine in a quorum for bentching

Whilst this should not be a contentious topic, it is one which seems to be little known or understood. Without getting into the debates surrounding the topic it is worth noting that the Talmud clearly accepted that 3 women could combine to make a quorum for the purpose of grace after meals.

Rabbi Yehuda Henkin in his book Responsa on Contemporary Jewish Women’s Issues has several chapters dealing with various issues around this subject. I thought I would share his clear bullet points summarising the laws of women and zimun:

1. A woman and two men, or a man and two women, do not constitute a quorum for zimun.

2. When three or more women have dined with one or two men, one of the women may lead zimun and the men may listen and respond.

3. One or two women who have dined with three men are obligated to respond to the men’s zimun.

4. Three or more women who have dined with from three to nine men may either respond to the men’s zimun or recite their own.

5. Ten women may not recite zimun b’Shem (the form of zimun said in the presence of a minyan) but only the regular zimun, following the ruling of the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch, and contrary to the opinion of the Sefer haMeorot and others.

6. When ten men have dined with any number of women, a man leads zimun b’Shem for all.

7. Women may recite their own zimun or not recite it, as they wish. Even if they occasionally recite their own zimun, they are not required to do so at every opportunity.

8. However, if they recite it at three consecutive meals (not counting meals where women’s zimun is not possible or is superseded by men’s zimun), it becomes obligatory for them, unless they stipulate that their intent is bli neder – that is, not to give it binding status.

Shana Tova to all – I will not be posting until Motzei Rosh Hashanah but will then post on the next 3 days of Daf Yomi.

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About bookabazza

I am an Osteopath and University Lecturer who is trying to keep up with the 7 year daf yomi cycle. I thought I would try and share a few small thought on the daf each week.
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One Response to Brachot 44 and 45

  1. Pingback: Rav Kook’s Orot HaTeshuva | Ideas on the daf

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