בסיעתא דשמיא

ברכות | Bringing blessing to all life on Earth, a d’var tefilah on making blessings over foods by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

In 2015, Rabbi David Seidenberg published a work germinating for ten years or more — Kabbalah and Ecology, an eco-theology deeply rooted in ideas developed within Judaism’s esoteric tradition. The entire work is available for purchase from Cambridge University Press. (An introduction to the book can be read here.)

We have presented here a teaching that Rabbi Seidenberg shared over the neoḥasid announcement listserve, “Chasidus w/o Borders” in 2013 just prior to the book entering its final phase of editing. Additionally, I have included with his teaching the sourcetexts he referenced from the Talmud Bavli, tractate Brakhot, and Rabbi Moshe Cordovero’s Palm Tree of Devorah. –Aharon N. Varady, ed.

The Talmud (Brakhot 35a-b, see below) teaches that eating food without saying a brakhah (a blessing) beforehand is like stealing. A lot of people know that teaching, and it’s pretty deep. But here’s an even deeper part: the Talmud doesn’t call it “stealing”, but מעילה (“me’ilah“), which means taking from sacred property that belongs to the Temple. So that means that everything in the world is sacred and this Creation is like a HOLY TEMPLE.

If me’ilah means that you can’t use property that’s sanctified, that’s because sanctified property must be used for a sacred purpose and it must be used by the priests. So if saying a brakhah changes the status of something so that you can now eat it, what status is the brakhah changing? Is it turning the food into something that’s no longer sacred and can therefore be used by an ordinary person (a הֶדיוֹט “hedyot“)? OR, is it turning the person from a hedyot into a priest?

I think it means that by saying a blessing before we eat–or before we take in any pleasure that has a brakhah–we become like priests administering to Creation, which means we take on an awesome responsibility: that we should act not just for our own sake but for the sake of all people and all beings. That’s the role of the priest in the Temple.

I bless us that we all merit to really see the world through such eyes, and that our every act of eating, of taking, from this world, be an act of sanctification and blessing — meaning, not just blessing God, but bringing blessing, to all the creatures that we share this planet with. Or, in Rabbi Moshe Cordovero‘s words, זֶה הַכְּלָל, הַחֶמְלָה עַל כָּל הַנִּמְצָאִים שֶׁלֹּא לְחַבְּלָם, תְּלוּיָה בְּחָכְמָה — may we live and work and act so that our actions “cause life to stream forth, to all beings”.


תלמוד בבלי ברכות כה א – ברכות כה ב
Talmud Bavli Tractate Brakhot 35a-b

מתני׳ כיצד מברכין על הפירות? על פירות האילן הוא אומר בורא פרי העץ, חוץ מן היין; שעל היין הוא אומר בורא פרי הגפן. ועל פירות הארץ הוא אומר בורא פרי האדמה, חוץ מן הפת; שעל הפת הוא אומר המוציא לחם מן הארץ. ועל הירקות הוא אומר בורא פרי האדמה. רבי יהודה אומר בורא מיני דשאים:
MISHNAH What blessing do we say over fruit? Over the fruit of trees, one says, “[Blessed are you, YHVH Eloheinu, cosmic majesty] Who forms the fruit of the tree,” except over wine; for over wine one says, “…Who forms the fruit of the vine.” Over the fruits of the Earth one says: “…Who forms the fruit of the ground,” except over bread; for over bread one says, “…Who brings forth bread from the Earth.” Over vegetables one says, “…Who forms the fruit of the ground” ; but Rebbi Yehuda declares: “…Who forms diverse kinds of herbs (desha’im).”

גמ׳ ת”ר אסור לו לאדם שיהנה מן העולם הזה בלא ברכה וכל הנהנה מן העולם הזה בלא ברכה מעל. מאי תקנתיה? ילך אצל חכם! ילך אצל חכם מאי עביד ליה הא עביד ליה איסורא? אלא אמר רבא: ילך אצל חכם מעיקרא וילמדנו ברכות כדי שלא יבא לידי מעילה
GEMARAH […] Our Rabbis have taught: A person is forbidden to enjoy anything of this world without a blessing, and whoever does so commits sacrilege. What is the remedy? Let them go to a Sage. Let them go to a Sage! What can they do for them, seeing that they have done what is forbidden? But, said Rava: [The meaning is,] let them from the first go to a Sage who will teach them the blessings, so that they should not come to commit sacrilege.

אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל: כל הנהנה מן העולם הזה בלא ברכה כאילו נהנה מקדשי שמים שנאמר (תהלים כד, א) לה’ הארץ ומלואה. ר’ לוי רמי: כתיב לה’ הארץ ומלואה וכתיב (תהלים קטו, טז) השמים שמים לה’ והארץ נתן לבני אדם! לא קשיא; כאן קודם ברכה, כאן לאחר ברכה. א”ר חנינא בר פפא: כל הנהנה מן העולם הזה בלא ברכה כאילו גוזל להקב”ה וכנסת ישראל שנאמר (משלי כח, כד) גוזל אביו ואמו ואומר אין פשע חבר הוא לאיש משחית — ואין אביו אלא הקב”ה שנאמר (דברים לב, ו) הלא הוא אביך קנך; ואין אמו אלא כנסת ישראל שנאמר (משלי א, ח) שמע בני מוסר אביך ואל תטוש תורת אמך. מאי חבר הוא לאיש משחית? א”ר חנינא בר פפא: חבר הוא לירבעם בן נבט שהשחית את ישראל לאביהם שבשמים:
Rav Yehudah said in the name of Shmuel: Whoever enjoys anything of this world without a blessing is as though he had partaken of the holy things of Heaven; as it is said, “The Earth is for YHVH and the fullness thereof” (Psalms 24:1). Rav Levi asked: It is written, “The Earth is for YHVH and the fullness thereof,” and it is written, “The heavens are the heavens of YHVH, but the Earth he has given to the children of Adam” (Psalms 115:16)! There is no contradiction; the former passage referring [[fol. 35 b.]] to before the blessing [has been uttered], the latter to after the blessing. Rav Ḥannina bar Pappa said: Whoever enjoys anything of this world without a blessing is as though he robbed the Holy One, blessed be He and the Community of Israel; as it is said, “Whoso robs his father or his mother and says, It is no transgression, the same is the companion of a destroyer” (Proverbs 28:24) — “father” is none other than the Holy One, blessed be He; as it is said, “Is not He your father that has acquired you?” (Deut. 32:6); and “mother” is none other than the Community of Israel; as it is said, “Hear, my son, the instruction of your father, and forsake not the teaching of your mother” (Proverbs 1:8). What means “the companion of a destroyer”? Rav Ḥannina bar Pappa said: He is the companion of Yerovam the son of Nevat, who corrupted Yisrael against their Father in Heaven.

רב משה קורדובירו, תומר דבורה, פֶּרֶק שְׁלִישִׁי
Rabbi Moshe Codovero (1522-1570, a/k/a RaMaK), Tomer Devorah (The Palm Tree of Devorah), Ch. 3.

הֵיאַךְ יַרְגִּיל הָאָדָם עַצְמוֹ בְּמִדַּת הַחָכְמָה.
How a person should accustom himself with the attribute of Ḥokhmah (Wisdom).

הִנֵּה, הַחָכְמָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה פְּרוּסָה עַל כָּל הַנִּמְצָאִים כֻּלָּם, עִם הֱיוֹתָהּ נֶעְלֶמֶת וְנִשְׂגָּבָה מְאֹד, וְעָלֶיהָ נֶאֱמַר [תהילים קד כד]: “מָה רַבּוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ ה׳ כֻּלָּם בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ”. כָּךְ רָאוּי לָאָדָם שֶׁתִּהְיֶה חָכְמָתוֹ מְצוּיָה בַּכֹּל, וְיִהְיֶה מְלַמֵּד לְהוֹעִיל לִבְנֵי אָדָם לְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד כְּפִי כֹּחוֹ, כָּל מַה שֶּׁיּוּכַל לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ עָלָיו מֵחָכְמָתוֹ יַשְׁפִּיעֵהוּ, וְלֹא תַטְרִידֵהוּ שׁוּם סִבָּה כְּלָל.
Although it is hidden and exceedingly exalted, the Supernal attribute of Ḥokhmah is spread out over all that exists. As it says regarding it, “How great are Your works, Hashem; You have made them all with Ḥokhmah.” Similarly, a person’s Ḥokhmah should be found in everything, and they should teach in order to benefit other people with their Ḥokhmah – each and everyone according to their capacity. They should influence others with their Ḥokhmah to the best of their ability – letting no factor at all distract them.

וְהִנֵּה, אֶל הַחָכְמָה שְׁנֵי פָנִים, הַפָּן הָעֶלְיוֹן הַפּוֹנֶה אֶל הַכֶּתֶר, וְאֵין אוֹתָם הַפָּנִים מִסְתַּכְּלִים לְמַטָּה, אֶלָּא מְקַבְּלִים מִלְּמַעְלָה; הַפָּן הַשֵּׁנִי, הַתַּחְתּוֹן, פּוֹנֶה לְמַטָּה, לְהַשְׁגִּיחַ בַּסְּפִירָה שֶׁהִיא מִתְפַּשֶּׁטֶת בְּחָכְמָתָהּ אֲלֵיהֶם. כָּךְ יִהְיֶה אֶל הָאָדָם שְׁנֵי פָנִים, הַפָּן הָרִאשׁוֹן הוּא הִתְבּוֹדְדוּתוֹ בְּקוֹנוֹ, כְּדֵי לְהוֹסִיף בַּחָכְמָה וּלְתַקְּנָהּ; הַשֵּׁנִי, לְלַמֵּד בְּנֵי אָדָם מֵאוֹתָהּ חָכְמָה שֶׁהַקָּבָּ”ה הִשְׁפִּיעַ עָלָיו. וּכְמוֹ שֶׁהַחָכְמָה מַשְׁפַּעַת אֶל כָּל סְפִירָה וּסְפִירָה כְּפִי שִׁעוּרָהּ וְצָרְכָּהּ, כֵּן יַשְׁפִּיעַ בְּכָל אָדָם כְּפִי שִׁעוּר שִׂכְלוֹ אֲשֶׁר יוּכַל שְׂאֵת וְהַנָּאוֹת אֵלָיו לְצָרְכּוֹ, וְיִשָּׁמֵר מִלָּתֵת יוֹתֵר מִשִּׁעוּר שֵׂכֶל הַמֻּשְׁפָּע, שֶׁלֹּא תִמָּשֵׁךְ מִמֶּנּוּ תַּקָּלָה, שֶׁכֵּן הַסְּפִירָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה אֵינָהּ מוֹסֶפֶת עַל הַשִּׁעוּר הַמֻּגְבָּל בַּמְקַבֵּל.
Now to the Supernal attribute of Ḥokhmah, there are two aspects. The higher aspect – which faces Keter and does not face downwards; rather, it receives from above. The second and lower aspect – faces downwards, overseeing the other sefirot, to which it extends its Ḥokhmah. Likewise a person should have two aspects: The first aspect should be his contemplation in solitude with his Creator in order to increase and perfect his Ḥokhmah; the second should be to teach others the Ḥokhmah that the Holy One, Blessed is He, has bestowed upon him. And just as the Supernal attribute of Ḥokhmah bestows to each sefirah according to its measure and needs, so, too, one should bestow his Ḥokhmah to each person according to the measure his intellect can bear, and to what is proper for him and his needs. One should be careful not to give more than the mind of the recipient can contain, so that no harm will result, just as the Supernal sefirah of Ḥokhmah does not add on more than the limited capacity of the recipient (sefirah).

וְעוֹד, שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ הַחָכְמָה לִהְיוֹתָהּ מַשְׁגַּחַת עַל כָּל הַמְּצִיאוּת, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה הַחוֹשֶׁבֶת עַל כָּל הַנִּמְצָאוֹת, וְעָלֶיהָ נֶאֱמַר [ישעיה נה ח] “כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם”, וּכְתִיב [שמואל ב’ יד יד] “וְחָשַׁב מַחֲשָׁבוֹת לְבִלְתִּי יִדַּח מִמֶּנּוּ נִדָּח”. וּכְתִיב [ירמיה כט יא] “כִּי אָנֹכִי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת הַמַּחֲשָׁבוֹת אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי חוֹשֵׁב עֲלֵיכֶם נְאוּם ה׳ מַחְשְׁבוֹת שָׁלוֹם וְלֹא לְרָעָה לָתֵת לָכֶם אַחֲרִית וְתִקְוָה”. כָּךְ צָרִיךְ הָאָדָם לִהְיוֹת עֵינָיו פְּקוּחוֹת עַל הַנְהָגַת עַם ה׳ לְהוֹעִילָם, וּמָחְשְׁבוֹתָיו תִּהְיֶינָה לְקָרֵב הַנִּדָּחִים וְלַחֲשֹׁב עֲלֵיהֶם מַחֲשָׁבוֹת טוֹבוֹת; כְּמוֹ שֶׁהַשֵּׂכֶל חוֹשֵׁב לְתוֹעֶלֶת הַנִּמְצָא כֻּלּוֹ, כָּךְ יַחֲשֹׁב הוּא תּוֹעֶלֶת הַחֲבֵרִים, וְיִתְיָעֵץ עֵצוֹת טוֹבוֹת עִם ה׳ וְעִם עַמּוֹ בִּפְרָט וּבִכְלָל. וְהַיּוֹצֵא מֶהַהַנְהָגָה הַטּוֹבָה יְנַהֲלֵהוּ אֶל הַהַנְהָגָה הַיְשָׁרָה, וְיִהְיֶה לוֹ כְּמוֹ שֵׂכֶל וּמַחֲשָׁבָה לְנַהֲגוֹ וּלְנַהֲלוֹ אֶל הַמִּנְהָג הַטּוֹב וְהַיֹּשֶׁר, כַּמַּחֲשָׁבָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה הַמְיַשֶּׁרֶת אֶת הָאָדָם הָעֶלְיוֹן.
Moreover, it is the nature of Ḥokhmah to oversee all of existence, for it is the Supernal Thought which forever thinks about everything that exists. Of Ḥokhmah it is said: “For My thoughts are not like your thoughts,” and it is written “He gives thought so that he who is exiled is not banished forever,” and it is written “For I know the thoughts which I think of you the House of Israel, says YHVH are thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Likewise, a person should keep an open eye on the conduct of the Nation of God in order to help them. Their thoughts should be concerned with bringing near those who have strayed, and with thinking of any good they can do for them. Just as the Divine Mind contemplates how to help all existence, they too should contemplate how to help their fellows. They should give good counsel for the sake of God and His nation, regarding both individual and communal matters. And concerning one who has strayed from the path of good conduct, they should guide them to the path of proper conduct, serving as their intellect and thought, to direct and lead them to good and upright behavior, just as the Supernal Thought corrects “Adam HaElyon” (the Heavenly form of Adam/humanity).

וְעוֹד, הַחָכְמָה תְּחַיֶּה הַכֹּל, כְּדִכְתִיב [קהלת ז יב] “הַחָכְמָה תְּחַיֶּה בְּעָלֶיהָ”. כָּךְ יִהְיֶה הוּא מוֹרֶה חַיִּים לְכָל הָעוֹלָם וְגוֹרֵם לָהֶם חַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא וּמַמְצִיא לָהֶם חַיִּים. זֶה הַכְּלָל, יִהְיֶה נוֹבֵעַ חַיִּים לַכֹּל.
Furthermore, Ḥokhmah instills life into everything. As it is written: “And Ḥokhmah instills life into those who possess it.” Likewise, one should instruct the entire world in the ways of life, causing them to attain life in this world and in the World to Come, thus providing them with true life. In general, one should be a constant source of life to all.

וְעוֹד, הַחָכְמָה אָב לְכָל הַנִּמְצָאוֹת, כְּדִכְתִיב [תהילים קד כד] “מָה רַבּוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ ה׳ כֻּלָּם בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ”, וְהֵן חַיִּים וּמִתְקַיְּמִים מִשָּׁם. כָּךְ יִהְיֶה הוּא אָב לְכָל יְצוּרָיו שֶׁל הַקָּבָּ”ה, וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵל עִקָּר, שֶׁהֵן הַנְּשָׁמוֹת הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת הָאֲצוּלוֹת מִשָּׁם. וִיבַקֵּשׁ תָּמִיד רַחֲמִים וּבְרָכָה לָעוֹלָם, כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהָאָב הָעֶלְיוֹן רַחֲמָן עַל בְּרוּאָיו, וְיִהְיֶה תָּמִיד מִתְפַּלֵּל בְּצָרַת הַמְּצֵרִים כְּאִלּוּ הָיוּ בָּנָיו מַמָּשׁ וּכְאִלּוּ הוּא יְצָרָם, שֶׁזֶּהוּ רְצוֹנוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּבָּ”ה, כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁאָמַר הָרוֹעֶה הַנֶּאֱמָן [במדבר יא יב] “הֶאָנֹכִי הָרִיתִי אֶת כָּל הָעָם הַזֶּה וְגו’ כִּי תֹאמַר אֵלַי שָׂאֵהוּ בְּחֵיקֶךָ”, וּבָזֶה יִשָּׂא אֶת כָּל עַם ה׳ “כַּאֲשֶׁר יִשָּׂא הָאוֹמֵן אֶת הַיּוֹנֵק” [שם] ,בִּזְרוֹעוֹ יְקַבֵּץ טְלָאִים וּבְחֵיקוֹ יִשָּׂא, עָלוֹת יְנַהֵל” [ישעיה מ יא] הַנִּכְחָדוֹת יִפְקֹד הַנֶּעֱדָר יְבַקֵּשׁ, הַנִּשְׁבֶּרֶת יְרַפֵּא, הַנִּצְרָכָה יְכַלְכֵּל, הָאוֹבְדוֹת יַחֲזִיר. וִירַחֵם עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְיִשָּׂא בְּסֵבֶר פָּנִים יָפוֹת מַשָּׂאָם, כְּאָב הָרַחֲמָן הָעֶלְיוֹן הַסּוֹבֵל כֹּל, וְלֹא יִבֹּל וְלֹא יִתְעַלֵּם וְלֹא יָקוּץ, וִינַהֵל לְכָל אֶחָד כְּפִי צָרְכּוֹ. אֵלּוּ הֵן מִדּוֹת הַחָכְמָה, אָב רַחֲמָן עַל בָּנִים.
In addition, Ḥokhmah is the ‘father’ of all existence. As it is written: “How great are Your works, Hashem: You have made them all with Ḥokhmah.” Thus, everything lives and exists from there (from that source). Likewise, one should act as a father to all of the Holy One, Blessed is He’s creatures, particularly to the Bnei Yisroel, for they are holy souls which emanate from there. One should constantly pray for mercy and blessing for the world, the same say that the Supernal ‘Father’ has mercy on all His beings. And they should constantly pray for the salvation of those who are in distress, as if they were actually one’s own children and they, themself, had formed them, for this is what the Holy One, Blessed is He, desires. As in the way the faithful shepherd Moshe said: “Did I conceive this nation…that You say to me, ‘Carry it in your breast’?” In this way, a person should carry all of God’s nation “as a nurse carries a nursing infant.” “They should gather the lambs in his arm, lifting them to his bosom, and lead the young nursing ones.” They should remember to recover the forgotten, look after the desolate, heal the broken, nourish the incapacitated, and return the lost. One should have mercy on Bnei Yisroel, bearing its burdens cheerfully, just as the Merciful Supernal Father bears all. One should not tire or look away or get disgusted; rather, they should lead each and every one according to their needs. These are the qualities of Ḥokhmah – to be like a merciful parent toward their children.

עוֹד צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת רַחֲמָיו פְּרוּסִים עֶל כָּל הַנִּבְרָאִים, לֹא יְבַזֵּם וְלֹא יְאַבְּדֵם. שֶׁהֲרֵי הַחָכְמָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה הִיא פְּרוּסָה עַל כָּל הַנִּבְרָאִים, דּוֹמֵם וְצוֹמֵחַ וְחַי וּמְדַבֵּר. וּמִטַּעַם זֶה הֻזְהַרְנוּ מִבִּזּוּי אֳכָלִים. וְעַל דָּבָר זֶה רָאוּי, שֶׁכְּמוֹ שֶׁהַחָכְמָה הָעֶלְיוֹנָה אֵינָהּ מְבַזָּה שׁוּם נִמְצָא וְהַכֹּל נַעֲשָׂה מִשָּׁם, דִכְתִיב [תהילים קד כד] “כֻּלָּם בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ”, כֵּן יִהְיֶה רַחֲמֵי הָאָדָם עַל כָּל מַעֲשָׂיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ. וּמִטַּעַם זֶה הָיָה עֹנֶשׁ רַבֵּנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ, עַל יְדֵי שֶׁלֹּא חָס עַל בֶּן הַבָּקָר שֶׁהָיָה מִתְחַבֵּא אֶצְלוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ “זִיל, לְכָךְ נוֹצַרְתָּ” [בבא מציעא פה], בָּאוּ לוֹ יִסּוּרִין, שֶׁהֵם מִצַּד הַדִּין, שֶׁהֲרֵי הָרַחֲמִים מְגִנִּים עַל הַדִּין, וְכַאֲשֶׁר רִחֵם עַל הַחֻלְדָּה, וְאָמַר “וְרַחֲמָיו עַל כָּל מַעֲשָׂיו כְּתִיב”, נִצַּל מִן הַדִּין, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁפֹּרַשׂ אוֹר הַחָכְמָה עָלָיו, וְנִסְתַּלְקוּ הַיִּסּוּרִים.
Furthermore, one’s compassion should extend to all creatures and they should neither despise nor destroy them, for the Supernal Ḥokhmah spreads over all of creation: inanimate objects, plants, animals and humans. For this reason, we are warned by our Sages against treating food disrespectfully. This is a proper concept, for just as the Supernal Ḥokhmah does not despise anything that exists, since everything is created from it – as it is written, “You have made them all with Ḥokhmah,” so, too, a person’s compassion should be upon all the creations of the Blessed One. For this reason, Rabbi Yehudah “the Holy One” was punished, because he did not have pity on a calf that hid by him under his cloak, in order to evade slaughter, and he said to it, “Go! You were created for this purpose.” Suffering – which derives from the aspect of strict judgment – came upon him. For only compassion shields against strict judgment. Thus, when he had mercy on a weasel, and said “His compassion is upon all His creations,” he was delivered from strict judgment, for the light of Ḥokhmah spread over him, and his suffering was removed.

וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה לֹא יְבַזֶּה שׁוּם נִמְצָא מִן הַנִּמְצָאִים, שֶׁכֻּלָּם בְּחָכְמָה, וְלֹא יַעֲקֹר הַצּוֹמֵחַ אֶלָּא לְצֹרֶךְ, וְלֹא יָמִית הַבַּעַל חַי אֶלָּא לְצֹרֶךְ, וְיִבְרֹר לָהֶם מִיתָה יָפָה בְּסַכִּין בְּדוּקָה, לְרַחֵם עַל כָּל מַה שֶּׁאֶפְשָׁר.
Similarly, one should not disparage any creature that exists, for all of them were created with Ḥokhmah. Nor should one uproot plants or kill animals unless they are needed. And one should choose a noble death for them, using a carefully inspected sharp knife, in order to be merciful as much as possible.

זֶה הַכְּלָל, הַחֶמְלָה עַל כָּל הַנִּמְצָאִים שֶׁלֹּא לְחַבְּלָם, תְּלוּיָה בְּחָכְמָה.
This is the general principle: Having pity on all beings not to hurt them, is contingent on Ḥokhmah.
compiled by Aharon Varady. All translations in the Public Domain.
Translation courtesy of Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, with minor changes by Aharon Varady for gender
Tehillim 104:24
Isaiah 55:8
II Samuel 14:14
Jeremiah 29:11
Kohelet 7:12
Tehillim 104:24
Bamidbar 11:12
Isaiah 40:11
Tehillim 104:24
Bava Metzia 85a
Tehillim 145:9
The text of the Tomer Devorah continues with the following qualification which I believe was written by another author: זוּלָתִי לְהַעֲלוֹתָם מִמַּעֲלָה אֶל מַעֲלָה, מִצּוֹמֵחַ לְחַי, מֵחַי לִמְדַבֵּר, שֶׁאָז מֻתָּר לַעֲקֹר הַצּוֹמֵחַ וּלְהָמִית הַחַי, לָחוּב עַל מְנָת לְזַכּוֹת. “Except, when elevating them to a higher level – from plant to animal, or from animal to human – then it is permissible to uproot a plant or slaughter a live animal, causing damage in order to bring merit.”

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