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BENJAMIN THE SHEPHERD:

A shepherd who lived in Babylonia at the beginning of the third century. The Talmud has transmitted the formula of a blessing of which he was the author. Benjamin, who possessed no knowledge of Hebrew, and was therefore unable to recite the prescribed grace after meals ("birkat ha-mazon"), substituted the following brief ejaculation in Aramaic: "Blessed be the All-Merciful, the owner of this bread" (Ber. 40b). This prayer is still taught little children who are unable to recite the "birkat ha-mazon." Compare "Ba'er Heṭeb" to Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 187, 1; Bacher, in Brody's "Zeit. für Hebr. Bibl." v. 154. In Yer. Ber. vi. 10b, bottom, the same story is related of "some Persian"; in both places Rab is cited as approving the plain man's prayer.

J. Sr. L. G.
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