Bavli, B'rachos 31:2 says (in my own translation):

"Eli answered [Chana], saying 'go to peace'": Rabbi El'azar said, from here we derive, about someone who suspects his fellow of a matter that that fellow is not guilty of, that he must appease him. Moreover, he must bless him, as it says [there], "'and the god of Israel should grant your request'".

And I've heard this cited as practical halacha also (though I have no source beyond the Rosh and the Rif ad loc.): that if someone wrongly suspects an innocent person, he should (or must?) bless him.

Now, I understand that wrong suspicion generally has its root in a lack of empathy or love for the other, and to engender such love one must act in such a way as benefits the other[1]. But why a blessing specifically, as opposed to any other benefit he can bestow on the other, such as a favor or a tangible?

[1] which I understand is a major teaching of the yeshiva of Navahrudak and its heirs


1 Answer 1


Where else do we learn to bless one we wrongly accuse?

We could learn that lesson in Parashat Vayeitze from Lavan who blessed his daughters and grandchildren (Breishit 32:1) after accusing Jacob of stealing his idols (Breishit 31:30). Lavan's blessing turned out to be quite effective, as did Eli's blessing of Hanna. However, the accusation was not entirely baseless, and Rachel did not live to see those blessings come true.

Let's try a different parallel. We know about the curiously ordered contents of Parashat Nasso (Bamidbar 5 & 6), i.e. Sotah, Nazir, and Birkat Cohanim (the priestly blessing). Even though Hannah's son, Shmuel, was designated as a Nazir, Rabbi El'azar did not take that into account. So, let's focus on Eli.

Eli's accusation sounds like the falsely accused (but outwardly suspect) Sotah, his command to Hannah "Remove your wine from yourself!" sounds like a declaration of a Nazir, and his retraction begins "L'Chi L'Shalom" which matches the last words of Birkat Cohanim. Perhaps Rabbi El'azar learns that a false accusation not only obligates the accused to defend his/herself, but also requires the accuser to release the accused with a blessing ... because Eli Kohen Gadol replays the Torah's original scenario in the same way a Sotah is vindicated and Nazir status is closed with Birkat Cohanim.

  • You say that Lavan's blessing turns out to be effective, seeming to imply that Eli's did not, but this is not true, Eli's blessing was also quite effective as Channah went home an immediately conceived and has Shmuel. Dec 12, 2011 at 13:37
  • @DavidP.Hochman, if Eli's case is based on the replaying of Sotah and Nazir, R' Elazar has no right to extrapolate to other cases, which his statement implies that he does.
    – YDK
    Dec 13, 2011 at 5:35
  • @YDK R' El'azar could have applied MiG'zera Shavah (similar verses that clarify each other) or MiBinyan Av MiShney K'tuvim (a general principle derived from two verses). Dec 13, 2011 at 12:10
  • @DavidP.Hochman, A binyan av mishnei kesuvim specifically limits the rule to those two cases. But I guess what your saying is that there is some way of learning it out. Since your idea is somewhat of a chiddush, the onus is on you to clarify the vehicle for comparison.
    – YDK
    Dec 15, 2011 at 4:45

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