18 November 2008

Two Seconds of Commentary*

There is a very interesting attitude buried in the URJ's Ten Minutes of Torah for today. Tuesday deals with the Mishnah and the section studied focusses on what blessings to say for foods not specifically covered by more definitive blessings. In th end of the mishnah, Rabbi Yehudah says, "Anything which is a type of curse should not be blessed." He is referring to vinegar - as it is overaged wine; fruit gathered from the ground - as it is overripe; and locusts - as they are not only edible, but also dangerous to crops.

I am uncomfortable with Rabbi Yehudah's logic. On the one hand, I am critical of the belief that everything is a blessing; that even evil acts have an upside. However, I would not go as far as Rabbi Yehudah - vinegar has its own unique identity, taste, and purposes and its usage goes beyond that of leftover and spoilt wine.

Blessing is not just for ideals; there are blessings in that which is blemished.

*Thanks to Tom for the title of this post.


  1. I'm not sure I see any conflict between the opinions of Rabbi Yehudah and SholomRav, other than expressing different tastes. The things one thinks are blessing-worthy get blessed. Is the objection that Rabbi Yehudah is imposing his tastes on others?

  2. Tom, I'm happy to elucidate.

    In the 10 Minutes of Torah, Rabbi David Levine, in his explication of the text, seems to imply that Rabbi Yehudah thinks that each object has a moment of perfection - the example given is "ripeness" - and therefore when imperfect (at all other times) is not worthy of blessing. I would counter that there may be multiple moments of blessing. Challah is delicious fresh on Friday night. It is also wonderful the next morning as French Toast. I am unhappy with the concept of perfection (as difficult to attain in real life) and that something can be unworthy of blessing.

  3. Thanks --- perhaps if I had read the 10 Minutes of Torah, rather than the 2 Minutes of Commentary, I would have understood. It does seem narrow to assume a single moment of perfection. And if I were the type of person to be giving blessings, I would certainly include dropped fruit!