The Stressful Cabbage and Cornish Hen Controversy
Two students were studying with Bar Kaparah. A meal consisting of cabbage “durmaskin” and Cornish hens was brought to Bar Kaparah. He gave the honor to make the “Bracha – blessing” to one of them. The Student immediately made a Bracha on the chicken. His “friend” scoffed at him. Bar Kaparah was angered. He said ‘I am not angry at the one who made a Bracha instead I am angry with the one who scoffed. Does your friend seem to be the type of person who has never tasted meat in his life? Why did you scoff at him?’ Bar Kaparah continued. ‘I am not angry with the scoffer instead I am angry with the one who made the Bracha. If there is not wisdom here certainly there is age.’ It is said that the two did not live through the year. (Brachot 39a)
In trying to understand this discussion Maharsh”a states that Bar Kaparah was originally angry at the student who made the Bracha because he did not first ask what the Halacha is. However, he was angrier with the scoffer student. This is because the scoffer had the overconfidence to state his opinion in front of his teacher in such a rowdy way. According to Maharsh”a the scoffer apologized to Bar Kaparah before he stated that he was angry at the student who made the Bracha. The scoffer had told Bar Kaparah that he did not mean to scoff at the rabbi but scoffed at the student who did not make the proper Bracha. Bar Kaparah remained angry with this student since he should have asked what to make a Bracha on. There are several other possibilities discussed in Ein Yaakov on this story.
According to the Shulchan Aruch )205 – 1) one should make the Bracha of Shehakol on raw cabbage. On cooked Cabbage one should make Boreh Pri Ha’adama. The above story is even more difficult to understand if the ”Cabbage” was raw and therefore it was really the same Bracha as the Chicken.
We cannot absolutely state that this stressful controversy would have been avoided had the student first made a Bracha over the cabbage.
Cabbage is one of several foods that improve with cooking. Because of this quality it is also a discussion how to deal with heating cabbage on Shabbat. (Shabbat 38a)
Cabbage is usually very healthy. Several other discussions in the Talmud state that cabbage is universally healthy. It can be used both as a food and as a medicament. (Brachot 44b)
Modern and alternative medicine believes that cabbage is universally healthy and should be eaten often. It has a lot of vitamin C and fiber for digestion. Cabbage is also believed to assist in healing Peptic Ulcers.
Before using any health advice in these articles it is best to consult health professionals.