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The blessing for bread is hamotzi lechem min haaretz. The blessing for vegetables is boreh pri haadama. As far as I know aretz (land) and adama (soil or earth) are basically synonymous. I would like to know why we don't use the same word for both blessings. Meaning why not say either hamotzi lechem min haadama or boreh pri haaretz?

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4 Answers 4

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A straightforward answer is provided by the Meiri (Beis HaB'chira, B'rachos 35a) and echoed by the Shita M'kubeztes (Brachos 35a), who write that the phrasing for each is based on verses pertaining to each (as mentioned in Michoel's answer and in Shalom's answer).

Further, the Meiri indicates that borei p'ri ha'adama would also be suitable for bread, except that since bread's importance and significance warrants its own blessing, that special blessing is then tailored to the wording in the verse specific to bread:

על פירות הארץ... אומר בורא פרי האדמה וכלשון המקרא דכתיב מראשית כל פרי האדמה ולא אמר פרי הארץ חוץ מן הלחם שמתוך חשיבותו קבעו לו ברכה לעצמו והוא המוציא וכלשון המקרא להוציא לחם מן הארץ

A deeper approach is taken by the Tiferes Yisrael (B'rachos 6:1), who writes that "eretz" connotes the entire depth of the earth, while "adama" merely connotes the soil on the surface of the earth. He comments that bread, which is more substantial and nourishing than vegetables, draws its potential for nourishment from the earth in all its metaphysical depth:

ונ"ל דלהכי על פרי אדמה יברך בפה"א, ועל לחם, המוציא לחם מן הארץ, ולא שניהן בבורא ומהאדמה, או שניהן במוציא מהארץ, משום דבורא הוא יש מאין ומוציא היינו יש מיש, ואדמה הוא חלק העפריי שבארץ, אבל ארץ הוא שם כולל לכל כוחות הטמונים בכדור הארץ, ולהכי כל פרי אדמה שהוא רק מזון קל ואין צפון בו כח הזנה גדולה כל כך, לכן נברא רק מחצונית קליפת הארץ ממש יש מאין, להכי מברך עליו בורא פרי האדמה, אולם לחם לבב אנוש יסעד למרבה, שצריך להזנתו כח גדול וחזק, לכן גדול אדונינו ורב כח מוציא מכללות הכדור ומעמקיו הכוחות כולם הטמונים בכל מסתוריו כדי שיצא לאור דבר המחזק כח האדם כפיתא סעדתא דלבא והיינו יש מיש מכל הכדור, ולהכי מברך המוציא לחם מן הארץ

Prior to the Tiferes Yisrael, a very similar explanation for the difference in the formulations of the two blessings was discussed at length by the Maharal (N'sivos Olam, N'siv HaAvoda 17).

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The Shita Mekubetzes to Brochos 35a ask this, and explains that the choice of wording for the two blessings is in accordance with phrases found previously in Tanach - the blessing for bread is based on the verse (Tehillim 104:14) "להוציא לחם מן הארץ", whereas the blessing for vegetables comes from the verse (Devarim 26:2) "מראשית כל פרי האדמה".

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2  
I know this is similar to Shalom's second point, but I still feel it warrants it's own answer as it is sourced, and contrasts the two blessings. –  Michoel Apr 6 at 4:46
    
Concur! Thank you! And I hadn't thought about the "pri ha-adama." –  Shalom Apr 6 at 19:38

As a contrast to the manna, which was described as "lechem min hashamayim." "Shamayim" goes with "aretz." Not to mention that's how the verse in Psalms (Borchi Nafshi, like we say after davening on Rosh Chodesh) has it -- lehotzee lechem min ha'aretz.

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The Bach in O.C. Siman 167 has a nice explanation of this.

He starts by pointing out that the word "hamotzi" is the preferred word for the blessing, even though the word "motzi" would suffice, because "hamotzi" implies both past and future tense (Berachos 38a). The intent, he says, is both on this bread which came out of the ground, and on the bread that Hashem will bring out of the ground.

He points out that ha'adama means any ground, whereas ha'aretz is a double entendre - it can mean "the land" or it can be a reference to the Land of Israel.

The Talmud says that in the future, the Land of Israel is going to produce fully processed, finished loaves of bread, straight from the ground (Shabbos 30b). Therefore, the blessing on bread was formulated to accommodate this future reality as well. It means that Hashem brings bread forth from the ground, but it also means that He will bring out bread from the Land of Israel, fully formed loaves.

(I skipped one step for simplicity's sake, but you could see it here)

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