Simanim 175-176 HaTov veHaMetiv

  • Rav Asher Meir
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion

SHIUR #109: Simanim 175-176


By Rabbi Asher Meir





The mishna at the beginning of chapter 9 of Berakhot says that "on rains and on favorable tidings we bless 'ha-tov ve-hametiv.'"  The gemara concludes that this blessing is said only by one who actually owns [agricultural] land, and so benefits personally and directly from the rain.  The gemara objects that one who builds a new house blesses "she-hechyanu," not "ha-tov ve-hametiv," and answers "here he has a partnership, here he has no partnership."


This answer has two interpretations in the Rishonim.  Rashi understands that the gemara is stating a fact, not creating a scenario.  The fact is that every person who owns land has a partnership in the benefit of the rain, since all landowners need rain.  But no one else benefits from one's house.  It follows that any landowner should say "ha-tov ve-hametiv" on rains that end a drought, and this is the ruling of the Rosh.


The Rif and the Rambam understand that the gemara is answering the objection by creating a scenario: the beraita that talks about saying she-hechyanu on a house refers to the case where there is no partner; the mishna that talks about saying ha-tov ve-hametiv refers to the case where there is a partner.  According to this, only a person who owns agricultural land in partnership with others says the blessing.  This is the ruling of the SA in siman 221.  (The ruling of the Rema is unclear, and we will discuss this IYH when we reach siman 221 next winter.)


The gemara further objects that on a change in wine ("shinui yayin") the blessing "ha-tov ve-hametiv" is made, even though there is no partnership.  The reply is that this blessing too is said only when drinking together in a group (Berakhot 59b).


The gemara's answer bears the same two interpretations.  We could say that the gemara is stating a fact: many other people are also benefiting from this wine.  Whatever year, district and variety of grapes apply to this wine also apply to wine that others drink.  (I think in those days all wines were vintage wines, and not mixed from various years and areas.)  This seems to be the interpretation of Rav Abudarham as cited in the Beit Yosef.


Alternatively, we could be creating a scenario: "ha-tov ve-hametiv" is said on wine only when several individuals drink together.  This is the understanding of almost all Rishonim, and the Beit Yosef suggests that perhaps even Rav Abudarham agrees with this.




What exactly is a "shinui yayin?"  What kind of change is necessary? Here are several interpretations:


1.  EVEN IF THE SECOND WINE IS WORSE: Since the blessing is said on the variety of wine per se, it may be said even if the second wine is worse than the first, as long as the second wine is not so much worse that there is no added enjoyment from the variety.  This is the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam and the Rashba.  This also seems to be implied in the Rambam.


Tosafot point out that this opinion is supported by a story in the Yerushalmi that says that Rebbe used to bless on each vat of wine he would open  (end of chapter 6).


2.  ONLY IF THE SECOND WINE IS DEFINITELY BETTER: Rashi explains that the gemara applies to a case where superior wine was brought to them, and this is also the explanation of the Rashbam to the parallel passage in Pesachim 101a. 


Tosafot point out that this opinion is supported by the statement of Abba bar Rav Huna in the Yerushalmi we just mentioned, who says "new wine, old wine, a blessing is necessary" - implying that the blessing is required because of the improvement from new to old wine.


3.  AS LONG AS THE SECOND WINE IS NOT KNOWN TO BE WORSE: Tosafot reconciles these adjacent yet conflicting implications in the Yerushalmi by suggesting that "new wine, old wine" requires a blessing, and so does every new vat, but not old wine followed by new wine because then there is a known and predicted change for the worse.


4.  ONLY IF THE WINES ARE OF COMPARABLE QUALITY: In many Yerushalmis (including current editions) the wording of Abba bar Rav Huna's statement is "old wine, new wine, a blessing is necessary."  This seems to support the first approach of the Rishonim.  However, the Ravia understands that Abba bar Rav Huna is talking about the berakha of "borei pri ha-gafen."  The "borei pri ha-gafen" said on good wine doesn't exempt the bad wine, and vice versa.  It follows that "ha-tov ve-hametiv" is never said on a change in the TYPE of wine, since this will always require a new birkhat ha-nehenin!


The Ravia's opinion is almost the opposite of the first opinion.  The first view emphasizes the importance of DIFFERENCE in the wine; the Ravia understands that difference doesn't obligate "ha-tov ve-hametiv" but rather "borei pri ha-gafen."  It follows that a certain degree of SIMILARITY is the hallmark of "ha-tov ve-hametiv."





We already explained that according to almost all Rishonim, one drinking alone does not say "ha-tov ve-hametiv."  How much partnership is needed in the wine in order to obligate this berakha?


The Rif rules that the wine must be jointly owned.  The Magen Avraham explains that this follows from the Rif's ruling above that the field must be jointly owned.  While this may be true, we should note that there is an important difference.  The field is the RECIPIENT of the benefit, whereas the wine is the SOURCE of the benefit.  The most direct parallel to the ruling of the Rif regarding rain would require that the exact same drop of wine benefit both individuals, just as in a jointly owned field the same drop of rain benefits both - this would be an obvious impossibility.


Perhaps the Rif understood that joint ownership is not a condition on the "cheftza," the object that provides or absorbs blessing, but rather in the "gavra" (the person) - two individuals who have joint ownership have a feeling of fellowship.  Or perhaps the Rif understands that the "tov ve-hametiv" is not said on the rain at all, but rather directly on the field - that is, the field is conceived of as the source of good.


It follows from the Magen Avraham's explanation that according to Rashi it is enough that two people enjoy the same wine, even if they are not partners in it.


The Magen Avraham rules that we should conduct ourselves like the Rif because of "safek berakhot le-kula" (when there is a doubt as to whether or not to say a blessing, we are lenient and do not say the blessing).


The Magen Avraham then rules that if the individuals are drinking in separate rooms there is no blessing on a change of wine.  There is a subtle contradiction between this ruling and his previous one.  According to the Rif, the togetherness in enjoyment is created by the joint ownership.  Two partners in a field don't have to be together in order to say "ha-tov ve-hametiv" on the rain. 


This ruling makes much more sense according to Rashi.  If rain falls in a valley, it is clearly one rainfall for all landowners.  But if two people drink one wine in separate rooms, who says that they are both enjoying the same wine?  It is certainly not the same drops.  We could then say that drinking together in the same room is what creates fellowship.


Perhaps the Magen Avraham agrees with this analysis, and the two lenient rulings are both due to "safek berakhot le-kula.




Our siman is based on the following mishna:


Blessing on the wine drunk before the meal exempts the wine drunk after the meal. 

Blessing on the parperet eaten before the meal exempts the parperet eaten after the meal. 

Blessing on the bread exempts the parperet, on the parperet does not exempt the bread.  Beit Shammai say, not even the porridge.  (Berakhot 42a)


The exemption of wine was the subject of the shiur on siman 174.  Our siman deals with the mysterious "parperet." The Rishonim give three main explanations of this term.


1.  Rashi explains that parperet refers to fish or tender chickens, meaning evidently what we would call a side dish, not a dish eaten for satiety like meat or starch.  According to this approach, the mishna needs to tell us that bread exempts the parperet, since the parperet is not something eaten WITH bread nor is it something eaten LIKE bread, to fill up on.  Even so, it is considered part of the bread meal and it is exempted.


It is a little more difficult to understand why the mishna needs to inform us that the blessing on the parperet doesn't exempt the bread.  In addition, the word "parperet" remains obscure.  For these reasons, other Rishonim conclude that parperet is a kind of perurim - breadcrumbs.  Since breadcrumbs are really a kind of bread, it is important to know that making a blessing on them doesn't exempt bread.  So this translation solves the textual problem as well as the etymological one.


2.  Rabbenu Chananel says that parperet is breadcrumbs.


3.  Rabbenu Yona points out that Rabbenu Chananel's explanation is consistent with his ruling that breadcrumbs do not require a "ha-motzi" - because they lack "torita denahama," the appearance of bread.  But we explained in siman 168 that according to most Rishonim, the appearance of bread is important only if the bread has undergone some kind of transformation, such as re-cooking.  Ordinary breadcrumbs DO require a "ha-motzi."  If parperet is breadcrumbs, we can't explain why it doesn't exempt ordinary bread, insofar as it itself is considered bread.


Rabbenu Yona concludes that parperet refers to the same food as the Aramaic term "chavitza."  As we explained at length at the end of siman 168, this is a kind of dumpling made from breadcrumbs stuck together by fat or honey or the like, and if the crumbs are small the blessing is "mezonot."


This is the ruling adopted by the SA and the Rema.


Beit Shammai rule that the "mezonot" on the parperet doesn't exempt porridge (oatmeal, farina, etc.), but of course halakha is not according to Beit Shammai and this "mezonot" applies to porridge as well.


The bottom line is that parperet is considered ordinary mezonot.  But this is a chidush, because we might have thought that parperet is like bread, since it is breadcrumbs (according to Rabbenu Chananel) or is made from breadcrumbs (according to Rabbenu Yona).


In chapter 168, we saw that the Rishonim give several definitions of "pat ha-ba'ah be-kisanin," and that the SA includes all of them.  We explained that some Acharonim, including the MB, consider that this is only due to doubt - since we don't know which is the "real" pat ha-ba'ah be-kisanin, we may not make a "motzi" on any.  Other Acharonim rule that each Rishon gave one example, but all can agree that any kind of near-bread is pat ha-ba'ah be-kisanin.  The BH on our siman points out one complication that follows from the first approach.


Please read carefully the four special rules enumerated at the end of the MB, as they are very important and neglected halakhot.