The Text of Borei Nefashot

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April 06 2005

Tosafot (Berakhot 37a, s.v. borei) explain the meaning of the phrases in the berakhah of “borei nefashot”. The first part “who creates…with their deficiencies”, refers to the necessary staples of life, such as bread and water. The second part, “for all that you have created”, refers to the additional culinary pleasures of life upon which life is not dependant. The Tosafot then add that although the ending of the berakhah is “Blessed is He, the life of the worlds”, the Talmud Yerushalmi [Berakhot 6:1] has the text “Blessed are You, Hashem, the life of the worlds”.

The Resp. Hitor’rut Teshuvah (I-II, 92) explains the connection between the first and second comments of Tosafot. The rule, as indicated by several rishonim (see Tos. Pesachim 104b, s.v. chutz, and Rashi, Ketubot 7b) is that when a berakhah is simple and contains one theme, it ends “Barukh…” without the Name of G-d. When a berakhah is complex, and has more than one theme, it end with “Barukh Atah …” with G-d’s Name. Thus, the berakhot recited by one who gets an aliyah end with “Barukh Atah…” because they contain two themes, the selection of Israel and the giving of the Torah.

Accordingly, there is a connection between the interpretation of “borei nefashot” and the question of how it should end. Rashi (Ber. 45a, s.v. mai) appears to understand the berakhah as containing one theme, the creation of all that is enjoyed by Man. Tosafot, as noted, perceived two referents in the berakhah; thus, they cite the Yerushalmi’s position of closing with “Barukh Atah…”.

The debate as to how to end the berakhah continued into later generations. The Tur (O.C. 207) favors the version of the Yerushalmi, and claims this was the practice of his father the Rosh. The Beit Yosef, however, cited the opinions against using G-d’s Name, and ruled accordingly in Shulchan Arukh (207:1). The Gra, in turn, endorsed the position of the Rosh, while the Mishnah Berurah (citing Magen Giborim) and the Arukh HaShulchan recorded that the practice is not to use G-d’s Name in the closing. (See Resp. Orach Yisrael, 1:3-4, and Resp. Y’feh Nof, 32).

The Tzitz Eliezer (Resp., XX, 12:2) approvingly cites a view that asserts that the principle of “safek berakhot l’hakel” (indeterminate situations of berakhot are treated leniently) is not applicable here, because that rule is founded on the concern to not take G-d’s Name in vain; in this case, if the wrong text is used, the berakhah will be deficient and the mention of G-d’s Name in the beginning will be in vain. (He notes that a similar perspective, regarding birkhat eirusin, appears in Resp. Noda B’Yehudah, tinyana, E.H. 81). [See also Resp. Hitor’rut Teshuvah, I-II, 91),


Collections: Rabbi Feldman Mini Shiur (Daf)

References: Berachot: 37a Berachot: 45a  

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