Thursday, January 3, 2013

Did You Make a Bracha On Your Computer?

By the logic of the commonly-used reason for saying brachos, you probably should have.

My daughter had been learning about making brachos in school, and today she told me that eating without making a bracha is stealing from Hashem.

The idea behind this notion is that everything is Hashem’s, and we need to ask Him permission before eating His food. To do otherwise is to use His food without His permission, which is stealing. It makes sense, up to a point, but raises several problems.

1. If everything is Hashem’s, why single out food? Shouldn’t we need to ask His permission for everything we use? We do make a shechiyanu on significant things, like new expensive clothes, but who makes a bracha upon opening a new roll of paper towels, or before viewing a new photo album? It seems that we single out food because of a single comment by R’ Akiva in mesechtas Brachos, but there’s no logical reason given why food should be different. It’s just that the gemara happens to be discussing brachos on food, and R’ Akiva made his comment in that context.

2. The text of the brachos doesn’t say anything about permission. They don’t even say anything about thanking Hashem, which is another reason often given for making brachos. All they do is acknowledge God as a the One Who caused the food to grow.

3. It’s generally accepted that the custom of brachos were established in the time of Ezra. If eating without making brachos is stealing, that means that everyone before Ezra’s time was guilty of stealing from Hashem.

I know, big picture, it doesn’t matter, but like fans who get upset when an author violates the rules of his fantasy setting, I’d at like some internal consistency.

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