Acharei Mos-Kedoshim 5778

Blessings from the Almighty[1]

ובשנה הרביעת יהיה כל-פריו קודש הלולים ליקוק
In the fourth year, all of its fruit will be holy; a praise[2] to Hashem[3]

A Rabbinic enactment which is very comprehensive is that of berachos, or blessings[4]. We are required to make a beracha before and after we eat[5]. There are berachos before performing a mitzvah[6]. There are berachos of praise upon experiencing certain events[7], or witnessing certain sights[8]. There are berachos that are part of the daily prayers[9]. Chazal, when they created this enactment, had a basis for their invention. The gemarra asks[10] what that basis was, and one answer given is a verse in this week’s parsha. The Torah, when describing the mitzvah of orlah, the fruit of a new tree, says that the fruit is off-limits for the first three years of its growth. In the fourth year, the fruit becomes sanctified, and is to be eaten exclusively in Jerusalem[11]. The Torah describes the celebration of eating this fruit as a “praise to Hashem”. Chazal saw in this the concept that before one eats, they should make a beracha, which is a form of praise to Hashem[12]. One can ask, why of all places is this where the Torah hints to the concept of berachos? Why not anywhere else? There are other instances where the Torah describes eating food[13]

A possible explanation is based on the continuation of that gemarra. It is taught that someone who benefits from this world without making a beracha, is as if they have unjustly benefited from something sanctified. This is considered an act of theft. This is based on contradictory verses: one verse says[14] that the entire world, including everything in it, belongs to Hashem. However, another verse says[15] that the Heavens are for Hashem, and the Earth He gave to mankind. The resolution to this contradiction is that it depends: before a person makes a beracha, the food belongs to Hashem, so it is as if it is sanctified. However, once the person makes the beracha, it becomes their property to enjoy. We see from here that before the beracha is made, the food isn’t ours to benefit from. After the beracha is made, it leaves the Heavenly domain and enters the Earthly domain[16].

The food discussed in our verse, known as nata revaii, produce of the fourth year, is classified[17] as mamon gavoah, the property of the Almighty. This means that it cannot be sold, used as collateral, or other personal uses. Only permission for consumption is granted, and only in Jerusalem. Since the goal of a beracha is to take it from the Heavenly domain, from the property of the Almighty, and bring it into the Earthly domain, I would think that nata revaii doesn’t need a beracha[18]. Even after a beracha would be made, it’s still the property of the Almighty. Nothing seems to be accomplished when saying the beracha. That is why the Torah chose this verse specifically to hint to the concept of berachos. Despite the fact that it remains the property of the Almighty, we should still make a beracha[19]. From this we would learn that for sure other situations as well, call for making a beracha.

Good Shabbos

[1] Based on Be’er Yosef to Leviticus 19:24

[2] From the world הלל (Ibn Ezra ad. loc.) or שבח (Targum Onkelos ad. loc.). Rashi ad. loc. brings both explanations

[3] Leviticus loc. cit.

[4] Mishneh Torah Hilchos Berachos 1:2, 3

[5] Berachos 6:1, 3, 6

[6] For examples, see Berachos 11b, 51a, 60b, Shabbos 23a, Pesachim 7b, among others

[7] Berachos 9:2

[8] ibid mishnah 1

[9] ibid 1:4, 4:3

[10] ibid 35a

[11] For an explanation on the significance of this mitzvah, see

[12] Even though the gemarra eventually drops this answer, it brought a baraisa which seems to learn the concept from this verse. Tosafos ad. loc. s.v. אלא resolves this seeming contradiction and says that the baraisa holds that the verse is an אסמכתא. So, the following question would still apply

[13] For example, Exodus 13:6, Leviticus 6:9, 19, 22:13, Deuteronomy 12:20, among others

[14] Psalms 24:1

[15] ibid 115:16

[16] For explanations on how this works, see Gur Aryeh to Leviticus 20:3 § 6 and Nesivos Olam Nesiv HaAvodah Chapter 14

[17] Mishneh Torah Hilchos Ma’aser Sheni 3:17 and 9:1. This is because the halacha is like Beis Hillel, who say that ma’aser sheni and nata revaii have the same classification, and the Mishnah in Ma’aser Sheni 1:1 rules that ma’aser sheni has the status of mamon gavoah

[18] See the rest of the Be’er Yosef who brings a precedent for this to be considered a novelty

[19] See Nefesh HaChaim Sha’ar Beis Chapter 4 for an explanation for what a beracha would accomplish in such a case, and in fact is accomplished with every beracha. It also gives another explanation for why not making a beracha is considered theft