״יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ״. “Who forms light and creates darkness, Who makes peace and creates evil, I am the Lord Who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).
לֵימָא: ״יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא נוֹגַהּ״! With regard to this formula of the blessing, the Gemara asks: Let him say the following formula instead: Who forms light and creates brightness, so as not to mention darkness, which has negative connotations.
כְּדִכְתִיב קָאָמְרִינַן. The Gemara answers: We say the blessing as the verse is written in the Bible and do not alter the formula that appears in the verse.
אֶלָּא מֵעַתָּה ״עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא רָע״, מִי קָא אָמְרִינַן כְּדִכְתִיב?! אֶלָּא כְּתִיב ״רַע״ וְקָרֵינַן ״הַכֹּל״ לִישָּׁנָא מְעַלְּיָא, הָכָא נָמֵי לֵימָא ״נוֹגַהּ״, לִישָּׁנָא מְעַלְּיָא! The Gemara strongly objects: But if so, what about the continuation of the verse: “Who makes peace and creates evil”? Do we say this blessing as it is written in the Bible? Rather, it is written evil and we euphemistically recite the blessing all things to avoid mention of evil. Here, too, let us euphemistically say brightness instead of darkness.
אֶלָּא אָמַר רָבָא: כְּדַי לְהַזְכִּיר מִדַּת יוֹם בַּלַּיְלָה וּמִדַּת לַיְלָה בַּיּוֹם. Rather, Rava said: The reason we recite: “Who creates darkness” is in order to mention the attribute of day at night and the attribute of night during the day, and thereby unify day and night as different parts of a single entity.
בִּשְׁלָמָא מִדַּת לַיְלָה בַּיּוֹם כִּדְאָמְרִינַן: ״יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ״, אֶלָּא מִדַּת יוֹם בַּלַּיְלָה, הֵיכִי מַשְׁכַּחַתְּ לַהּ? The Gemara continues and asks: Granted, the attribute of night is mentioned during the day, as we say: Who forms light and creates darkness, but where do you find the attribute of day mentioned at night? In the blessing over the radiant lights recited at night there is no mention of “Who forms light.”
אָמַר אַבָּיֵי: ״גּוֹלֵל אוֹר מִפְּנֵי חֹשֶׁךְ וְחֹשֶׁךְ מִפְּנֵי אוֹר״. Abaye said: Nevertheless, the attribute of day is mentioned at night in the words: Rolling away light before the darkness and darkness before the light.
וְאִידָּךְ מַאי הִיא? אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל: ״אַהֲבָה רַבָּה״. וְכֵן אוֹרִי לֵיהּ רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר לְרַבִּי פְּדָת בְּרֵיהּ, ״אַהֲבָה רַבָּה״. The Gemara asks: And what is the formula of the other blessing recited before Shema? Rav Yehuda said in the name of Shmuel: An abounding love [ahava rabba]. And Rabbi Elazar instructed his son, Rabbi Pedat, to also say: An abounding love.
תַּנְיָא נָמֵי הָכִי: אֵין אוֹמְרִים ״אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם״, אֶלָּא ״אַהֲבָה רַבָּה״. וְרַבָּנַן אָמְרִי אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם, וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר: ״וְאַהֲבַת עוֹלָם אֲהַבְתִּיךְ עַל כֵּן מְשַׁכְתִּיךְ חָסֶד״. That was also taught in a baraita: One does not recite: An eternal love [ahavat olam]; rather, one recites: An abounding love. And the Rabbis say that one recites: An eternal love, and so it says: “And an eternal love I have loved you, therefore I have drawn you with kindness” (Jeremiah 31:2).
אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל: הִשְׁכִּים לִשְׁנוֹת, עַד שֶׁלֹּא קָרָא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע — צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ. מִשֶּׁקָּרָא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע — אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ, שֶׁכְּבָר נִפְטַר בְּ״אַהֲבָה רַבָּה״. The blessing: An abounding love, is about God’s love for us and includes praise for His giving us the Torah. Therefore, Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: One who arose to study, until he recites Shema he must recite a special blessing over the Torah. If he already recited Shema he need not recite that blessing, as he has exempted himself by reciting the blessing of: An abounding love, which includes the components of the blessing over the Torah.
אָמַר רַב הוּנָא: לַמִּקְרָא צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ, וְלַמִּדְרָשׁ — אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ. Having mentioned the blessing recited over Torah, the Gemara focuses on a dispute over what constitutes Torah in terms of requiring a blessing. Rav Huna said: For the study of Bible, one must recite a blessing, as it is the word of God, and for halakhic midrash, the derivation of halakhot from verses, one need not recite a blessing.
וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר אָמַר: לַמִּקְרָא וְלַמִּדְרָשׁ צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ, לַמִּשְׁנָה — אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ. And Rabbi Elazar said: For Bible and midrash, which includes halakhot derived from verses themselves, one must recite a blessing; for Mishna, which is only comprised of halakhic rulings issued by the Sages, one need not recite a blessing.
וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן אָמַר: אַף לַמִּשְׁנָה נָמֵי צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ [אֲבָל לַתַּלְמוּד, אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ]. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Even for Mishna, which includes final, binding halakhic rulings, one must recite a blessing as well, but for Talmud, which comprises a study of the Mishna and the rationales for its rulings, one need not recite a blessing.
וְרָבָא אָמַר: אַף לַתַּלְמוּד צָרִיךְ (לַחֲזוֹר וּלְבָרֵךְ) [לְבָרֵךְ]. And Rava said: Even for Talmud, which is the means to analyze the significance of the halakhot, and is the only form of Torah study that leads one to its true meaning, one must recite a blessing.
דְּאָמַר רַב חִיָּיא בַּר אָשֵׁי: זִימְנִין סַגִּיאִין הֲוָה קָאֵימְנָא קַמֵּיהּ דְּרַב לְתַנּוֹיֵי פִּרְקִין בְּ״סִפְרָא דְבֵי רַב״, הֲוָה מַקְדֵּים וְקָא מָשֵׁי יְדֵיהּ, וּבָרֵיךְ, וּמַתְנֵי לַן פִּרְקִין. This statement is supported by the practical halakha derived from observation of Rav’s practice. His student, Rav Ḥiyya bar Ashi, said: Many times I stood before Rav to study our chapter in the Sifra, also known as Torat Kohanim, the halakhic midrash on Leviticus, of the school of Rav, and I saw that Rav would first wash his hands, then recite a blessing, and only then he would teach us our chapter. This demonstrates that even before their study of Torat Kohanim, which, due to Rav’s explanation of the reasons behind the halakhot, was the equivalent of studying Talmud, one must recite a blessing.
מַאי מְבָרֵךְ? אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל: ״אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לַעֲסוֹק בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה״. The Gemara clarifies: What formula of blessings does he recite? There is a dispute over the formula of the blessings as well. Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: The formula of this blessing is like the standard formula for blessings recited over other mitzvot: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who sanctified us with his mitzvot and commanded us to engage in matters of Torah.
וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מְסַיֵּים בַּהּ הָכִי ״הַעֲרֵב נָא ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֶת דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָתְךָ בְּפִינוּ וּבְפִיפִיּוֹת עַמְּךָ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנִהְיֶה אֲנַחְנוּ וְצֶאֱצָאֵינוּ וְצֶאֱצָאֵי עַמְּךָ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל כֻּלָּנוּ יוֹדְעֵי שְׁמֶךָ וְעוֹסְקֵי תוֹרָתֶךָ בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ הַמְלַמֵּד תּוֹרָה לְעַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל״. And Rabbi Yoḥanan concludes the blessing by adding the following: Lord our God, make the words of Your Torah sweet in our mouths and in the mouths of Your people, the house of Israel, so that we and our descendants and the descendants of Your people, the house of Israel, may be those who know Your name and engage in Your Torah. Blessed are You, Lord, Who teaches Torah to His people Israel.
וְרַב הַמְנוּנָא אָמַר: ״אֲשֶׁר בָּחַר בָּנוּ מִכׇּל הָעַמִּים וְנָתַן לָנוּ אֶת תּוֹרָתוֹ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ נוֹתֵן הַתּוֹרָה״. אָמַר רַב הַמְנוּנָא: זוֹ הִיא מְעוּלָּה שֶׁבַּבְּרָכוֹת. And Rav Hamnuna said an additional formula: Who has chosen us from all the peoples and given us His Torah. Blessed are You, Lord, Giver of the Torah. With regard to this formula, Rav Hamnuna said: This concise blessing is the most outstanding of all the blessings over the Torah, as it combines thanks to God for giving us the Torah as well as acclaim for the Torah and for Israel.
הִלְכָּךְ לֵימְרִינְהוּ לְכוּלְּהוּ. Since several formulas for the blessing over Torah were suggested, each with its own distinct advantage, the Gemara concludes: Therefore, let us recite them all as blessings over the Torah.
תְּנַן הָתָם: אָמַר לָהֶם הַמְמוּנֶּה: ״בָּרְכוּ בְּרָכָה אַחַת!״. וְהֵם בֵּרְכוּ. וְקָרְאוּ עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת, ״שְׁמַע״, ״וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמוֹעַ״, ״וַיֹּאמֶר״. וּבֵרְכוּ אֶת הָעָם שָׁלֹשׁ בְּרָכוֹת, ״אֱמֶת וְיַצִּיב״, וַעֲבוֹדָה, וּבִרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים. וּבְשַׁבָּת מוֹסִיפִין בְּרָכָה אַחַת לַמִּשְׁמָר הַיּוֹצֵא. The Gemara returns to dealing with the blessings that accompany Shema, and describes the practice in the Temple. We learned there, in a mishna in tractate Tamid: In the morning the deputy High Priest appointed to oversee activity in the Temple, said to the priests who were members of the priestly watch [mishmar] on duty that week: Recite a single blessing. The members of the priestly watch recited a blessing, and read the Ten Commandments, Shema, VeHaya im Shamoa and VaYomer, the standard recitation of Shema. Additionally, they blessed the people with three blessings. These blessings were: True and Firm, the blessing of redemption recited after Shema; Avoda, service, the special blessing recited over God’s acceptance of the sacrifices with favor, similar to the blessing of Temple Service recited in the Amida prayer; and the priestly benediction, recited in the form of a prayer without the outstretched hands that usually accompany that blessing (Tosafot). And on Shabbat one blessing is added to bless the outgoing priestly watch, as the watch serving in the Temple was replaced on Shabbat.
מַאי ״בְּרָכָה אַחַת״? כִּי הָא דְּרַבִּי אַבָּא וְרַבִּי יוֹסֵי בַּר אַבָּא אִקְּלַעוּ לְהָהוּא אַתְרָא, בְּעוֹ מִנַּיְיהוּ: מַאי ״בְּרָכָה אַחַת״? לָא הֲוָה בִּידַיְיהוּ. וַאֲתוֹ שַׁיְילוּהוּ לְרַב מַתְנָה לָא הֲוָה בִּידֵיהּ. אֲתוֹ שַׁיְילוּהוּ לְרַב יְהוּדָה. אֲמַר לְהוּ: הָכִי אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל, ״אַהֲבָה רַבָּה״. Certain details in this mishna are not sufficiently clear. First, what is the single blessing that the deputy High Priest instructed the guards to recite? The Gemara relates: It is like the incident where Rabbi Abba and Rabbi Yosei bar Abba happened to visit a certain unnamed place, and the people there asked them: What is the single blessing mentioned in the mishna? They did not have an answer readily available. So they came and asked Rav Mattana, and he too did not have an answer readily available. They came and asked Rav Yehuda, and he told them: Shmuel said as follows: An abounding love is the single blessing recited by the priestly watch.
וְאָמַר רַבִּי זְרִיקָא, אָמַר רַבִּי אַמֵּי, אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן לָקִישׁ: ״יוֹצֵר אוֹר״. כִּי אֲתָא רַב יִצְחָק בַּר יוֹסֵף, אָמַר, הָא דְּרַבִּי זְרִיקָא לָאו בְּפֵירוּשׁ אִתְּמַר אֶלָּא מִכְּלָלָא אִתְּמַר. דְּאָמַר רַבִּי זְרִיקָא אָמַר רַבִּי אַמֵּי, אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן לָקִישׁ: זֹאת אוֹמֶרֶת, בְּרָכוֹת אֵין מְעַכְּבוֹת זוֹ אֶת זוֹ. Rabbi Zerika said that Rabbi Ami said that Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said a different answer: This single blessing is: Who creates light. That was how Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish’s statement was received in Babylonia, yet when Rav Yitzḥak bar Yosef came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said that this halakha was not a direct quote of a statement by Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish. That which Rabbi Zerika said was not stated explicitly by Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, but rather it was inferred from another statement. As Rabbi Zerika said that Rabbi Ami said that Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: From the expression: Recite a single blessing, in the mishna in tractate Tamid, it follows that failure to recite one of the blessings recited before Shema does not prevent one from reciting the other. This means that if only one of the blessings was recited, the obligation to recite that blessing was fulfilled, as the two blessings are not mutually dependent.
אִי אָמְרַתְּ בִּשְׁלָמָא ״יוֹצֵר אוֹר״ הֲווֹ אָמְרִי, הַיְינוּ דִּבְרָכוֹת אֵין מְעַכְּבוֹת זוֹ אֶת זוֹ, דְּלָא קָא אָמְרִי ״אַהֲבָה רַבָּה״. The conclusion was drawn from Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish’s statement that he held that the single blessing recited was: Who creates light. The considerations that led the Sages to that conclusion were: Granted, if you say that they would recite: Who creates light, then the conclusion of Reish Lakish, that failure to recite one of the blessings recited before Shema does not prevent one from reciting the other, is understandable, as they recited: Who creates light, and did not recite: An abounding love, and they nonetheless fulfilled their obligation.