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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pleasure from this World (Part 4: A Related Question)

We'll analyze the halacha that an אונן eats without a ברכה according to both opinions separately.

According to the Rif, the prohibition of eating without a ברכה is based upon thגברא. Only a גברא who recognizes the idea of  ברכה, that Hashem is the source of his food, can eat. If an אונן does not make a ברכה because he is not halachikly allowed to, he is still the גברא of ברכה and there is clearly no violation.

According to the Ri, however, it is difficult. He learns that the action of eating is prohibited without making a  ברכה. If so, even if he doesn't say a ברכה because halacha does not allow him to, he is still lacking his מתיר to eat!

To answer for the Ri, we need to analyze the איסור of eating without a ברכה according to the Ri. There are two ways to interpret this halacha.

(a) Food is intrinsically אסור to eat. But, ברכה is a מתיר which allows you to eat.
(b) It is אסור to eat before you make a ברכה.  In other words, the very obligation to make a ברכה and recognize Hashem as the source of the food, is that which prohibits you from eating.  Your eating is not allowed to preempt your ברכה.

What is the difference? According to (a), food is prohibited to all people, including an אונן. Since an אונן cannot make a ברכה , he has no מתיר and therefore cannot eat. This however is not the halacha.

We therefore suggest that (b) is correct. According to (b), since an אונן is exempt from the institution of  ברכהhis eating without ברכה is not defined as eating before a ברכה. He is just eating. The prohibition against eating is contingent on the unfulfilled obligation to make a ברכה, which does not exist by an אונן. Therefore the halacha by אונן is consistent with both the Rif and the Ri.


  1. "If an אונן does not make a ברכה because he is not halachikly allowed to, he is still the גברא of ברכה and there is clearly no violation."

    In what way is he still the Gavra of Bracha? This is unclear to me.

    1. The Gavra of bracha is who benefits from this world with a proper recognition of God. The issur is to benefit from the world with an attitude of denial of God as the source of the food. One who ordinarily makes brachos (recognizes God) but does not when he is an onen (or likewise when safek brachos) is the gavra who has the right attitude. His refraining from bracha is not because of a wrong attitude, but because of a different proper consideration.

  2. I may not understand your point so well. It sounds like a Gavra conclusion to a Cheftzah Svara. Like the Cheftzah framework was simply tailored to function as a gavra-type mechanism.

    Could you please explain the differences between the Gavra Svara and (b)? Or even better some kind of Nafka Minah - ?

    1. could you elaborate on your question more that? what do you mean by "It sounds like a Gavra conclusion to a Cheftzah Svara?"

    2. Your svara comes to the conclusion that the Issur attaches to the food, if I understand it correctly - or perhaps the action of eating as option (b) implies. If this were simply the case, it would be asur for the Onein to partake as the Isur is still extant (as opposed to the Gavra Svara which removes him from the Asur Gavra - one who eats without Bracha). Yet your proposed answer for the Halacha of the Onein is that the Issur does not attach to the Chefta ,or Action of eating, but to the action defined as "eating without Bracha". To me this sounds like maneuvering to make a Cheftza Halacha act as a Gavra obligation.

      I'm not against it (which is why I would like an outside Nafka Minah), but it seems like a strange way to formulate the law without a reason.

    3. what we are saying according to everyone is that the issur is the act of eating.

      according to the Rif, this act is only assur for a certain type of person.

      according to the Ri, this action of issur applies to all people equally. the idea of (b) is that the objective of the issur is not the issur itself, but rather for the issur to be removed through a bracha. that is what we mean by it being contingent of the obligation of bracha. there would be no issur were it not for the fact that there is a positive idea of praising God before you eat. the essence of the Ri's formulation is not tied to the gavra.

    4. Maybe I'm not clear on the distinction between a Cheftza and Gavra but your formulation of the the Ri seems completely tied to the Gavra. "[R]emoved through a bracha", "obligation of bracha", and "idea of praising G before you eat" are all language of Gavra as I understand it. This Svara doesn't identify a thing as isur as a Cheftza Svara would, it establishes some kind of asur relationship between the person and the thing such as an obligation rooted in the gavra.

      I don't know. I guess I'll just think about it.

  3. The nafka minah is our case of safek brachos. By safek, if you dont make a bracha becasue of safek brachos lehakel, you are a gavra who recognizes God as the source of your eating- just now you cant make a bracha because safek. But if (b), there may be an absence of bracha and thus your action may be defined as preempting the bracha, a Biblical violation. Therefore,we cannot say safek lehakel.

    But an onen has no chiyuv (not subject to brachos) and therefore has no absence of bracha. Therefore his action cannot be defined as preempting the bracha.


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