BabylonianTalmud, Brachot 58a

 

תלמוד בבלי, ברכות נח.

Original Text:

תנו רבנן: הרואה אוכלוסי ישראל אומר: ברוך חכם הרזים. שאין דעתם דומה זה לזה, ואין פרצופיהן דומים זה לזה. בן זומא ראה אוכלוסא על גב מעלה בהר הבית, אמר: ברוך חכם הרזים, וברוך שברא כל אלו לשמשני. הוא היה אומר: כמה יגיעות יגע אדם הראשון עד שמצא פת לאכול: חרש, וזרע, וקצר, ועמר, ודש, וזרה, וברר, וטחן, והרקיד, ולש, ואפה, ואחר כך אכל, ואני משכים ומוצא כל אלו מתוקנין לפני. וכמה יגיעות יגע אדם הראשון עד שמצא בגד ללבוש: גזז ולבן ונפץ וטוה וארג, ואחר כך מצא בגד ללבוש, ואני משכים ומוצא כל אלה מתוקנים לפני. כל אומות שוקדות ובאות לפתח ביתי, ואני משכים ומוצא כל אלו לפני.

Translation:

Our Rabbis taught: One who sees a crowd of Israelites, is to say, Blessed is the One who discerns secrets, for their minds are not similar to each other, and their faces are not similar to each other. Ben Zoma once saw a crowd on one of the steps of the Temple Mount. He said, Blessed is the One who discerns secrets, and blessed is the One who has created all these to serve me. For he used to say: What labors the first person had to carry out before he obtained bread to eat! He ploughed, he sowed, he reaped, he bound [the sheaves], he threshed and winnowed and selected the ears, he ground [them], and sifted [the flour], he kneaded and baked, and then at last he ate. But I get up, and find all these things done for me. And how many labors the first person had to carry out before he obtained a garment to wear! He had to shear, wash [the wool], comb it, spin it and weave it, and then at last he obtained a garment to wear; whereas I get up and find all these things done for me. All kinds of craftsmen come early to the door of my house, and I rise in the morning and find all these before me.
[Soncino translation]
[The standard text reads אומות, which translates as “craftsmen”. Alternate texts read אומנויות, nations, and Rashi explains this is because a single nation cannot provide every person’s need. What one country lacks, the other provides]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What was Ben Zoma's realization?
2. In what ways is Ben Zoma like us? In what ways is he different?
3. Whom do we credit with providing us with our food and clothing today? Do we give proper recognition?

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Related Sourcesheets:Texts on Social Change v. Social Action, Jewish Guide to Fairtrade: Consumption, Put the THANKS in THANKSGIVING

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