Agreeing to Disagree about Ingredients - Berakhot 37
There are also times when the disagreement does not permit a compromise. On today’s page, Rabban Gamaliel, the head of the Rabbinic assembly, believes one must recite three blessings (as after a meal) after eating any of the “seven species” (seven foods listed in Deuteronomy 8). “The Rabbis,” on the other hand, believe one may say an abbreviated form instead. An anecdote appears to resolve the dispute: Rabbi Akiva, given permission by Gamaliel to bless the food, follows the practice of The Rabbis instead! Gamaliel says, “Akiva, how long will you put your head into disputes?” Akiva’s defense: “have you not taught us, with one versus many, the halakha (law) is with the many?” And that is the end of the debate – an early example of majority ruling over authority.
In today’s page, the disagreements continue to address food whose blessing may or may not be changed by preparation – rice, in today’s example, is in fact changed. Or has it? One says rice is a kind of grain, and is treated more like wheat, while another claims it is treated more like a cooked dish. Other disputes include common (for their day) combinations of various foodstuffs – is the dish more honey than grain, or more grain than honey? They do not haggling over recipes for taste’s sake, but for ritual purposes. Again, we also pay attention to ingredients, but more for health of the body than that of the soul.
Rabbi Adam Chalom