This mishna, which includes all of this chapter’s mishnayot, contains a series of blessings and halakhot that are not recited at specific times, but rather in response to various experiences and events.
MISHNA: One who sees a place where miracles occurred on Israel’s behalf recites: Blessed…Who performed miracles for our ancestors in this place. One who sees a place from which idolatry was eradicated recites: Blessed…Who eradicated idolatry from our land.
One who sees conspicuous natural occurrences recites a blessing. For zikin and zeva’ot, which the Gemara will discuss below, for thunder, gale force winds, and lightning, manifestations of the power of the Creator, one recites: Blessed…Whose strength and power fill the world. For extraordinary (Rambam) mountains, hills, seas, rivers, and deserts, one recites: Blessed…Author of creation. Consistent with his opinion that a separate blessing should be instituted for each individual species, Rabbi Yehuda says: One who sees the great sea recites a special blessing: Blessed…Who made the great sea. As with all blessings of this type, one only recites it when one sees the sea intermittently, not on a regular basis.
For rain and other good tidings, one recites the special blessing: Blessed…Who is good and Who does good. Even for bad tidings, one recites a special blessing: Blessed…the true Judge. Similarly, when one built a new house or purchased new vessels, one recites: Blessed…Who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this time. The mishna articulates a general principle: One recites a blessing for the bad that befalls them just as one does for the good. In other words, one recites the appropriate blessing for the trouble that one is experiencing at present despite the fact that it may conceal some positive element in the future. Similarly, one must recite a blessing for the good that befalls them just as for the bad.
The mishna states: And one who cries out over the past in an attempt to change that which has already occurred, it is a vain prayer. For example, one whose wife was pregnant and they say: May it be God’s will that my wife will give birth to a male child, it is a vain prayer. Or one who was walking on the path home and heard the sound of a scream in the city, and says: May it be God’s will that this scream will not be from my house, it is a vain prayer. In both cases, the event already occurred.
The Sages also said: One who enters a large city, the Gemara explains below that this is in a case where entering the city is dangerous, recites two prayers: One upon their entrance, that they may enter in peace, and one upon their exit, that they may leave in peace. Ben Azzai says: One recites four prayers, two upon their entrance and two upon their exit. In addition to praying that they may enter and depart in peace, one gives thanks for the past and cries out in prayer for the future.
The mishna articulates a general principle: One is obligated to recite a blessing for the bad that befalls them just as one recites a blessing for the good that befalls them, as it is stated: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). The mishna explains this verse as follows: “With all your heart” means with your two inclinations, with your good inclination and your evil inclination, both of which must be subjugated to the love of God. “With all your soul” means even if God takes your soul. “And with all your might” means with all your money, as money is referred to in the Bible as might. Alternatively, it may be explained that “with all your might” means with every measure that God metes out to you; whether it is good or troublesome, thank God.
The mishna teaches several Temple-related halakhot. One may not act irreverently or conduct one's self flippantly opposite the eastern gate of the Temple Mount, which is aligned opposite the Holy of Holies. In deference to the Temple, one may not enter the Temple Mount with their staff, their shoes, their money belt [punda], or even the dust on their feet. One may not make the Temple a shortcut to pass through it, and through an a fortiori inference, all the more so one may not spit on the Temple Mount.
The Sages also instituted that one should greet another in the name of God, i.e., one should mention God’s name in their greeting, as it is stated: “And presently Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the harvesters, The Lord is with you, and they said to him, May the Lord bless you” (Ruth 2:4). And it says: “And the angel of God appeared to him and said to him, God is with you, mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). And it says: “And despise not your mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22), i.e., one must not neglect customs which one inherits. And lest you say that mentioning God’s name is prohibited, it says: “It is time to work for the Lord; they have made void Your Torah” (Psalms 119:126), i.e., it is occasionally necessary to negate biblical precepts in order to perform God’s will, and greeting another is certainly God’s will. Rabbi Natan says another interpretation of the verse: “Make void Your Torah” because “it is the time to work for the Lord,” i.e., occasionally it is necessary to negate biblical precepts in order to bolster the Torah.
The Gemara asks: What blessing does one recite? Rav Yehuda said: Blessed is…Who bestows acts of loving-kindness. Abaye said: And they must offer thanks before ten people, as it is written in the same chapter: “Let them exalt God also in the congregation of the people and praise God in the assembly of the elders” (Psalms 107:32), and congregation indicates a group of at least ten. Mar Zutra said: Two of them must be Sages, as it is stated there: “And praise God in the assembly of elders.” These elders are the Sages, and the use of the plural indicates a minimum of two.