Berachos 7a:

אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי: מִנַּיִן שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִתְפַּלֵּל? ... מַאי מְצַלֵּי? אָמַר רַב זוּטְרָא בַּר טוֹבִיָּה, אָמַר רַב: ״יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנַי שֶׁיִּכְבְּשׁוּ רַחֲמַי אֶת כַּעֲסִי, וְיִגּוֹלּוּ רַחֲמַי עַל מִדּוֹתַי, וְאֶתְנַהֵג עִם בָּנַי בְּמִדַּת רַחֲמִים, וְאֶכָּנֵס לָהֶם לִפְנִים מִשּׁוּרַת הַדִּין״.‏

R' Yochanan said in the name of R' Yosi: How do we know that Hashem prays? ... What does He pray? R' Zutra bar Tovia said in the name of Rav: "May it me My will that My mercy conquers My anger, that My mercy roll over My attributes, that I act with My children with mercy, and that I open to them beyond the line of the law."

Immediately afterwards:

תַּנְיָא, אָמַר רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן אֱלִישָׁע: פַּעַם אַחַת, נִכְנַסְתִּי לְהַקְטִיר קְטוֹרֶת לִפְנַי וְלִפְנִים, וְרָאִיתִי אַכְתְּרִיאֵל יָהּ ה׳ צְבָאוֹת, שֶׁהוּא יוֹשֵׁב עַל כִּסֵּא רָם וְנִשָּׂא, וְאָמַר לִי: ״יִשְׁמָעֵאל בְּנִי, בָּרְכֵנִי!״ אָמַרְתִּי לוֹ: ״יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ, שֶׁיִּכְבְּשׁוּ רַחֲמֶיךָ אֶת כַּעַסְךָ, וְיִגּוֹלּוּ רַחֲמֶיךָ עַל מִדּוֹתֶיךָ, וְתִתְנַהֵג עִם בָּנֶיךָ בְּמִדַּת הָרַחֲמִים, וְתִכָּנֵס לָהֶם לִפְנִים מִשּׁוּרַת הַדִּין״. וְנִעְנַע לִי בְּרֹאשׁוֹ.‏

It was taught in a Braisa: R' Yishmael ben Elisha said, "Once I entered to bring the Ketores in the inner chamber, and I saw Hashem was sitting on the throne, high and exalted, and He said to me, 'Yishmael, My son, bless Me.' I said to Him, 'May it be Your will that Your mercy conquer Your anger, that Your mercy roll over Your attributes, that You act with Your children with mercy, and that You open to them beyond the line of the law,' and He nodded His head to me."

This is word for word Hashem's prayer recorded on the previous line, with the first-person pronouns changed for second-person ones.

Ignoring the gross anthropomorphisms, the question of what it means that Hashem prays, etc., was R' Yishmael aware of the text of Hashem's prayer and formulated his blessing off of it? Or, conversely, did Rav deduce the text of Hashem's prayer based on this Braisa of R' Yishmael's prayer?

1 Answer 1


Shitta Mekubetzes explains that R’ Yishmael Kohein Gadol was seemingly not aware that this was the very same thing that Hashem prays for. Rather G-d created a prophecy of sorts to come through his blessing (ניבא ולא ידע מה שניבא) to make this “birchos hedyot” become something substantial.

And it seems that we would learn that a birchos hedyot is only special because it may be G-d speaking through this person.

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Loose translation of the text: It would seem we can say: The Gemara isn’t intending to teach that the Blessing of a Hedyot (Commoner?) causes the actualization of the blessing he gives. Rather the concept of “lo tehey birchas hedyot kala” is that because this specific blessing was destined to to be fulfilled anyways, therefore G-d placed it into his mouth to bless this blessing through the concept of “niva vlo yada mah nivei” — “he prophesied but didn’t know what he was prophesizing”.

Because this blessing was destined to be fulfilled, the hedyot “jumped ahead” before it happened and blessed [as such]. Like we [similarly] find by David and Daniel that they blessed and the blessing was fulfilled.

And therefore don’t make light of a birkas hedyot, for it is an indication that G-d wanted to bring forth this bracha, and, as such, placed it into the mouth of this person to make the bracha.

  • +1, and if you edit this to emphasize the ניבא ולא ידע מה שניבא part – that R’ Yishmael was not award of the Divine origin of his prayer – you get the check mark. Welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thank you for bringing up this source. Looking forward to learning more with you!
    – DonielF
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 14:15
  • Please put in the English of at least the appropriate part. Commented May 1, 2020 at 13:17
  • Updated as requested. Appreciate the feedback.
    – Gre''i
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 9:26
  • "Like we [similarly] find by David and Daniel that they blessed and the blessing was fulfilled." - BTW If anyone knows what this is referring to I would be interested in hearing.
    – Gre''i
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 12:11

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