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The bracha over wine and grape juice says "בורא פרי העץ". The word בורא is also used in many of the other brachot over food and smells.

My understanding is that the meaning of the verb-root ב.ר.א.‏ is "to create ex nihilo". So why is this the language of the bracha? Considering the fact that the verb is in the present tense, I would expect it to describe the way the food comes into existence nowadays. For example, "המוציא לחם מן הארץ" describes God as the one who "brings bread from the earth" since wheat grows from the earth and it makes sense to thank God for allowing that to happen.

So why do brachot over fruit and grapes use the language of לברוא? Fruit grows from the ground (or a tree) just like wheat does. So why not use a more appropriate verb?

  • What would you suggest instead? – Gershon Gold Jan 18 '15 at 17:19
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    @GershonGold עשה. יצר. יצא. נתנ. גדל. – Double AA Jan 18 '15 at 17:22
  • yonanewman.org/kizzur/kizzur56.html - translates it as "who creates". – Gershon Gold Jan 18 '15 at 17:26
  • Perhaps this is in agreement with the concept that G-d recreates the world daily? – DanF Jan 18 '15 at 21:07
  • @gershon I think that's a fine one-word translation, although it doesn't capture the complete meaning of the word. But in any case, why mention creation? – Daniel Jan 18 '15 at 22:26
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The Vilna Gaon in Aderes Eliyahu on Bereishis 1:1 explains that בריאה defines חידוש העצם, which he describes as that which no human,no matter how intelligent or advanced, could accomplish. Accordingly, the Gaon explains that in blessings the format of בורא פרי was established, because the essential act of creation is inimitable by mankind.

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ברא doesn't necessarily mean creation ex nihilo. See Iben-Ezra on Gen 1:1:

"בָּרָא" — רובי המפרשים אמרו שהבריאה להוציא יש מאין, וכן "אִם בְּרִיאָה יִבְרָא ה'" (במדבר טז ל). והנה שכחו "וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת הַתַּנִּינִם" (בראשית א כא), ושלושה בפסוק אחד: "וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאָדָם" (בראשית א כז), "וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ" (ישעיהו מה ז), שהוא היפוך האור, שהוא יש.‏

וזה דקדוק המילה "בָּרָא" לשני טעמים: זה האחד. והשני, "לֹא בָרָא אִתָּם לָחֶם" (שמואל ב יב יז). וזה השני – אל"ף תחת ה"א, כי כמוהו "וַיָּבֹא כָל הָעָם לְהַבְרוֹת אֶת דָּוִד" (שמואל ב ג לה), כי הוא מהבניין הכבד הנוסף. ואם היה באל"ף, היה כמו "לְהַבְרִיאֲכֶם מֵרֵאשִׁית כָּל מִנְחַת יִשְׂרָאֵל" (שמואל א ב כט).‏

ומצאנו מהבניין הכבד, "וּבֵרֵאתָ לְךָ שָׁם" (יהושע יז טו). ואיננו כמו "בְּרוּ לָכֶם אִישׁ" (שמואל א יז ח), רק כמו "וּבָרֵא אוֹתְהֶן" (יחזקאל כג מז). וטעמו לגזור, ולשום גבול נגזר, והמשכיל יבין.‏

  • maybe but yotzer seems like a better choice no? – ray Aug 2 '16 at 20:22
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(What follows is my opinion and no sources)

You may as well ask the same question for "shehakol nihyeh biDvaro" - Why do we talk about G-d creating with Words for things like eggs which clearly come from chickens, or Oreos which clearly come from the Oreo factory? (Ok, it's possible that Oreos come directly from G-d.)

A bracha is meant to remind us of G-d's role in creating the world as we know it. We only touch the results of G-d's work (life as it currently is). Brachot are there to remind us of what went into that and how G-d touched it. In the case of ברא, we are only talking about living things, and I think the life is what G-d created ex nihilo. Bread is constructed of ingredients. Life is created.

New Life as ברא

In the case of borei, we are reminding ourselves that though we planted that tomato ourselves and watched it grow from a seed, we had very little to do with it. G-d created that very tomato life just as much as G-d creates fetal calves' lives and fertilized fish eggs' lives.

New Type of Life as ברא

If "a new life" is too "yatzar-y" for you (and as a parent, I would argue strongly with you on that point), let's go back further. G-d created the first tomato whose seed created this tomato. So this tomato is simply a reflection of the first tomato G-d created.

[Insert aggadah about G-d's diecast that makes different patterns.]

Life Itself as ברא

If "a new type of life" is STILL too "from-something", let's go back to Day 3 when G-d created plant life from a Word. Clearly, that is ברא, and this tomato is simply an echo of that act of Creation.

Summary

G-d helped that fertilized seed create that tomato life. G-d created tomato life as a species. G-d categorically created plant life from Word. Each of those are ברא, and not יצר (potter crafting a bowl) or עשה (arranging things together).

  • Then what about mezonot? That should be in a similar category to bread w.r.t. its status of "aliveness" yet we still use the language borei minei mezonot – Daniel Jan 22 '15 at 22:31
  • @Daniel No, the wheat was alive. The bread is constructed – Charles Koppelman Jan 22 '15 at 22:32
  • The bracha for wheat isn't mezonot. The bracha for cake is. If the reason is because of being alive, why is bread different from cake? – Daniel Jan 22 '15 at 22:34
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Charles Koppelman Jan 22 '15 at 22:47

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