Birkat haMinim

Birkat haMinim.

The Birkat haMinim (Hebrew ברכת המינים "Blessing on the heretics") is a Jewish curse on heretics (minim). Modern scholarship has generally evaluated that the Birkat haMinim probably did originally include Jewish Christians before Christianity became markedly a gentile religion.[1] It is the 12th of the Eighteen Benedictions or Amidah.[2]

The writing of the benediction is attributed to Shmuel ha-Katan at the supposed Council of Jamnia which was inserted in the "Eighteen Benedictions" as the 19th blessing in the silent prayer to be said thrice daily, the Amidah. The benediction is thus seen as related to the Pharisees, the development of the Hebrew Bible canon, the split of early Christianity and Judaism as heresy in Judaism, the origins of Rabbinic Judaism, origins of Christianity, Christianity in the 1st century, and the history of early Christianity.

According to one theory, it was useful as a tool for outing minim ("heretics"), because no min would recite aloud or reply amen to it, as it was a curse upon minim.[3]

Composition

According to the Babylonian Talmud Tractate Berakhot 28b–29a, Shmuel ha-Katan was responsible for the writing of the Birkat haMinim:

"Rabban Gamaliel said to the sages: Is there no one who knows how to compose a benediction against the minim? Samuel Ha-Qatan stood up and composed it."[4]

The blessing exists in various forms.[5][6] Two medieval Cairo Genizah copies include references to both minim and Notzrim ("Nazarenes", i.e. "Christians").[7][8][9]

"For the apostates let there be no hope. And let the arrogant government be speedily uprooted in our days. Let the noẓerim and the minim be destroyed in a moment. And let them be blotted out of the Book of Life and not be inscribed together with the righteous. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who humblest the arrogant" (Schechter)."[10]

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