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The Gemara in Brachot 35b says that the proper bracha on pure olive oil is "Borei Peri HaEtz". However, it says that this refers to when you mixed the oil with some אניגרון which Prof Marcus Jastrow translates as garum. It says that if you do not mix the oil with אניגרון then you say no bracha because the pure olive oil is מזיק (unhealthy or damaging to your body).

How does this gemara stand in terms of modern science? Is pure olive oil unhealthy? Does adding אניגרון help? If not, do any poskim consider that the Halacha may have changed and pure olive oil once again gets the bracha of Borei Peri HaEtz?

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yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/766411/Rabbi_Hershel_Schachter/… very recommended speech. Tell you the truth, I am listening to this Shiur right now but I'm not sure if he addresses this specific issue. –  Hacham Gabriel Dec 26 '11 at 0:11
    
Horayot 13b speaks highly of olive oil saying that it gives better memory. –  Hacham Gabriel Jan 26 '12 at 19:44

3 Answers 3

It's simple. The oil alone is unhealthy ,furthermore many modern medicines today are based on ancient known herbs. Science know only the helps of the olive oil components , by experiments on few specific things . Yet the ancient science saw the whole image of the oil effects, and some how discovered back-then that its only recommended to eat olive oil with other food combined. The oil is not the main component in the dish (unlike the vegetables in the salad for example), Therefore by make a bless for the drink which contain Anigron drink and oil the main component is the Anigron and you bless "Shehacol"שהכל (ask any chef if oil is consumed as a main part in any dish).

חכמה בגמרא זו חכמה מסיני שקיבלנו מבורא עולם 49 שערי בינה ובגלות הרבה נשתכח . למעט מה שכן יודעים ומוזכר בגמרא,למשל רפואה ,אבל לגבי אסטרונומיה חכמי ישראל מודים שלקחו מהיוונים מפני שנשתכח אצלם שמגלה שבא זבולון שהחזיק בחכמה הזו

בסרטים תמיד יכניסו לכם שפעם היו חסרי השכלה אבל תדעו שחכמי ישראל והחכמים של אז היו בעלי חכמה עצומה שלא כולה הגיע אלינו.

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What's the source of the last two lines in hebrew (such that we lost the knowledge of Astronomy when Zevulun (?) was sent into exile) –  Shmuel Brin Nov 10 '13 at 3:34
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@ShmuelBrin What's the source for any of the Hebrew? This doesn't seem to be a quote from anywhere Google has ever seen. –  Double AA Nov 10 '13 at 4:41
    
@DoubleAA that's what I meant –  Shmuel Brin Nov 10 '13 at 5:38

Here's what I understand from the Gemara:

Drinking oil alone doesn't get a bracha since it's mazik- it's like having a stand-alone butter, but a little better for you.

Drinking oil through anigron, the oil doesn't get a bracha because it's tafel to the anigron- think butter on bread. You wouldn't have the oil because it's mazik. It's there to enhance the anigron.

There is one case where one makes a bracha on oil: If someone drinks a lot of oil for health (ie his throat bothers him). Although normally this alone would not get a bracha, since here he gets benefit from the anigron and the anigron cannot be said to be primary in this case, the anigron flavor enhances the oil and becomes "a good tasting oil" and gets the bracha of haetz.

Strange, but I think it makes sense.

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That's a good summary of the gemara. I'm just questioning whether plain oil is really mazik. –  Double AA Dec 26 '11 at 4:11
    
So, I'm trying to say it is similar to butter. It might be a healthier substitute, but it's still fat. My point from the gemara is that anigron doesn't make oil healthy, it just makes it taste better and triggers a bracha despite the oil's unhealthiness. –  YDK Dec 26 '11 at 4:23
    
An interesting read, but I don't think it fits the words of the gemara well. The gemara seems to think that plain oil is harmful and that's why there is no bracha. If you don't think it tastes very good, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I don't think that's part of the gemara's calculation. –  Double AA Dec 26 '11 at 4:27
    
My intent was not that the bracha on the oil hinges on the oil's taste, but that the enhancement of the anigron allows the oil to be called an achila despite it's precondition of being harmful. –  YDK Dec 26 '11 at 6:18
    
@DoubleAA, I realize that probably seems a semantic change to you. The only way I can think of explaining it is that mazik doesn't mean absolutely no bracha. Mazik is not derech achila and not derech achila gets no bracha. Adding anigron enhances it to derech achila despite the mazik factor. –  YDK Dec 26 '11 at 6:25

Definitely not unhealthy. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are considered to be "a healthy dietary fat." As such, consuming this kind of fat is healthier than consuming saturated and trans fats. In addition,

Monounsaturated fatty acids, [such as olive oil], may help lower your risk of heart disease by improving related risk factors. For instance, monounsaturated fatty acids may lower your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fatty acids may also help normalize blood clotting. And some research shows that monounsaturated fatty acidss may also benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

But even healthier fats like olive oil are high in calories, so use them only in moderation. (Source: Mayo Clinic)

Also,

Olive oil contains a wide variety of valuable antioxidants that are not found in other oils. Hydroxytyrosol is thought to be the main antioxidant compound in olives, and believed to play a significant role in the many health benefits attributed to olive oil. Epidemiological studies suggest that olive oil has a protective effect against certain malignant tumours in the breast, prostate, endometrium and digestive tract. (Source: Wikipedia)


This question is related to the general questions of "Science and Medicine in the Talmud," and "Scientific and Technological advances in Halacha." I don't have a specific answer for this issue.

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That's all very nice. Olive oil can be super-healthy. The Gemara never said it isn't. The Gemara speaks about a case where it is drunk alone. –  yydl Dec 26 '11 at 5:00

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