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In general, long Brachot start with “Baruch Ata HaShem” and the last sentence also begins with “Baruch Ata HaShem”. This is true for every Bracha Rishona on food as well, save for Borei Nefashot, which ends “Baruch Chai HaOlamim.” Why is it not the same structure is most Brachot?

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    The Tur brings it's a dispute between the Bavli and the Yerushalmi if it should end with Baruch Atah Hashem. Since it's a dispute most are lenient and leave it out. I believe the Vilna Gaon would say it. Are you asking why the Bavli leaves it out?
    – robev
    Oct 24, 2021 at 17:03
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    @robev classically, sefardim treated it as a short blessing with no ending, and ashkenazim had a full conclusion. I don't know what you mean by "lenient" though, since the Mishna says explicitly not to add conclusions to short blessings AND not to remove them from long blessings. Neither option is more "lenient" than the other.
    – Double AA
    Oct 24, 2021 at 17:07
  • @DoubleAA touche
    – robev
    Oct 24, 2021 at 17:20

2 Answers 2

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What you are quoting is not really the original text of the blessing.

In [our editions of] the Bavli (Berakhot 37a) the text is presented as just בורא נפשות רבות וחסרונן על כל מה שברא which is a typical short-form blessing structure. Spanish Rishonim generally speaking had sundry variations on that in their prayer books.

In [our editions of] the Yerushalmi (Berakhot 6:1) the text is presented as אשר ברא נפשות רבות להחיות בהם נפש כל חי ברוך אתה יי חי העולמים which is a typical long-form blessing structure. The Geonim and Ashkenazi Rishonim generally speaking had sundry variations on that in their prayer books. (See Siddur R' Saadya Gaon, Machzor Vitri #54, Siddur Rashi #75, Tosfot Pesachim 104b, Or Zarua 1:183, Raavyah Berakhot 98, Rokeach 341, Berakhot Maharam [of Rothenberg] #1, Tashbetz Katan #322, Rosh/Tur OC 207. She'iltot Yitro 51 has ברוך חי העולמים but Netziv there explains this is clearly just a common shorthand way to indicate a full conclusion; cf. Shu"t R' Natronai Gaon OC #9.)

The Spanish-born Rambam (#184) and Rashba (1:149) were both asked about the practice of using a long-form blessing structure and answered in the negative, almost even confused at the question. Apparently it seems the Ashkenazi tradition continued [or was willing to accept] the Yerushalmi tradition whilst the Spanish tradition continued [or balked at straying from] the Bavli text.

Prima facie, this isn't really an issue of potential blessings in vain since the whole thing is still one blessing (eg. we wouldn't ordinarily say that someone who says a long-form blessing by accident has said two blessings in vain). The Mishna (Berakhot 1:4) does warn us to not add conclusions to short-form blessings AND to not remove conclusions from long-form blessings. Accordingly, we're stuck and have to pick a side and that's what people did.

Rabbenu Yonah (Berakhot 32a) following his local Spanish practice viewed the blessing as a short-form one, but in light of the text in the Yerushalmi thought it worthwhile to add a pseudo-conclusion without God's name. R' Yosef Karo (OC 207) views this stringency of adding to the short-form blessing as worthwhile (ראוי) and writes to do so in his Shulchan Arukh. (This compromise position definitely doesn't hurt but it's not so clear that it really helps anything; perhaps he was really trying to include the phrase חי העולמים which was apparently "original" into a straight short-form text.)

However we mustn't let this stringency become a leniency. Usually one much answer Amen to a blessing within a short time span after hearing it (OC 124:8). Seemingly, for this position the time starts after נפש כל חי since that's really the end of the blessing. Additionally, some are strict to recite Tefillat HaDerekh after another blessing (OC 110:6) which seemingly needs to be a long-form one (Tosfot Ketubbot 8a); accordingly, this blessing would not work since it's really a short-form blessing.

But what of the Ashkenazi practice? Rama notes the common practice to use a proper conclusion without qualms in his Darkei Moshe (at least in the parallel case of OC 127) but makes no comment in the Shulchan Arukh, which might indicate he saw the compromise position of Rabbenu Yonah as worthwhile as well, though the full conclusion was still around in his student's code (Levush 207) which may indicate Rama may have simply not felt a need to comment on every small detail of Nusach that people knew from their prayer books. The Vilna Gaon (Maaseh Rav #45 and #76) accepted the traditional Ashkenazi Nusach, as he generally did, but even among his students it's generally unheard of these days probably due to the influence of the Shulchan Arukh.

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    It's worth noting that, somewhat unusually, the Geonim side with Ashkenazi/Yerushalmi against Sefardi here. That may indicate the conclusion is original and just happened to have not been mentioned in the Bavli text [as we have it and] as made it to Spain. (Indeed one could infer from Tosfot Berakhot 37a that it was in their versions of the Bavli)
    – Double AA
    Oct 25, 2021 at 14:57
  • Also worth noting that applying R' Yonah's compromise to the parallel case ברוך אתה ה׳ אל ההודאות is somewhat of an impossible task since אל is a name of God that can be used to form a blessing. Accordingly, finishing in our case ברוך אל חי העולמים (in parallel to Yishtabach, for instance) would seem to be the best compromise.
    – Double AA
    Oct 25, 2021 at 15:00
  • Halachot Pesukot has the same as the Sheiltot.
    – magicker72
    Oct 25, 2021 at 17:37
  • biur halacha uses this as an example of an opinion not fully rejected which someone might follow he.wikisource.org/wiki/…
    – Double AA
    Feb 25 at 19:00
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This is actually a machlokes between the rishonim. The Bavli doesn't mention any chasima but the Yerushalmi does. The Tur in O"C רז brings his father's , the Rosh, minhag which was to end with a chasima ("Baruach Ata Hashem"). The Bais Yosef (O"C 207:5) brings the Teshuvas Harashba who never heard of such a minhag and as such holds that we must not end with a beracha, following the Bavli. Talmidei Rabeinu Yonah explain that the reason for not ending with a beracha is that Borei Nefashos has the status of a "short" beracha and as such does not require a chasima. The Mechaber paskens like the Rashbo. The Mishna Berura (207:5) bring the Vilna Gaon, who did require a chasma, but the Mishna Berura does not follow his psak. Interestingly, the reason we end with "Baruch Chay Haolamim" even though it is not mentioned in the Bavli,) is instead of an actual chasima. Following this "newer" addition, Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT"L (as brought in the Dirshu Mishnah Berurah) holds that one should not prolong that part of the beracha so that anyone answering Amein can still correspond to the original Nusach of the bavli (which excludes "barch chay haolamim")

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    Ah we we're working at the same time! I remembered R' Moshe Feinstein's psak but couldn't find where he wrote it. Do you have a source for that?
    – Double AA
    Oct 25, 2021 at 14:52

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