BACKGROUND TO THE DAILY DAF
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
BERACHOS 31 (14 Elul) – This Daf has been dedicated in honor of the Yahrzeit of Yisrael (son of Chazkel and Miryam) Rosenbaum, who passed away on 14 Elul, by his son and daughter and their families.
[31a - 61 lines; 31b - 56 lines]
We recommend using the textual changes suggested by the Bach and the marginal notes of the Vilna Shas. This section is devoted to any other important corrections that Acharonim have pointed out in the Gemara, Rashi and Tosfos.
 Gemara 31a [line 27]:
"Ein Omdim l'Hispalel ... Ela mi'Toch Simchah Shel Mitzvah" אין עומדין להתפלל ... אלא מתוך שמחה
(a) The Girsa in the Re'ah, Talmidei Rabeinu Yonah and Dikdukei Sofrim #200 is mi'Toch Dvar Simchah (without the word Mitzvah) מתוך דבר שמחה.
(b) The Girsa in Beis Nasan and Menoras ha'Ma'or is mi'Toch Simchah Shel Torah;
מתוך שמחה של תורה apparently this was the Girsa of Rashi DH Ela mi'Toch Simchah.
 Gemara [line 31]:
"Lo Yipater me'Chaveiro... Ela mi'Toch Dvar Halachah" לא יפטר מחבירו ... אלא מתוך דבר הלכה
(a) The correct Girsa is Dvar Simchah דבר שמחה (as above, Girsa #1a); see also Hagahos ha'Gra
(b) The Girsa of the Paris manuscript is Devar Simchah Shel Halachah דבר שמחה של הלכה (which is similar to the Girsa of Rashi, see above, Girsa #1b)
 Gemara [line 36]:
The Vilna Ga'on erased the word "v'Chen" וכן (Hagahos ha'Gra #2)
This word also does not appear in the texts of Talmidei Rabeinu Yonah or of Dikdukei Sofrim #400
 Gemara [line 39]:
"Amar Lei Mar Vadai d'Amrei Inshei" אמר ליה מר ודאי דאמרי אנשי
The word "Mar" does not appear in Dikdukei Sofrim #3 or in Sotah 46b
 Gemara 31b [line 32]:
The words "v'Zo she'Lo Kilkelah, Nifkedes" וזו שלא קלקלה נפקדת
should be "v'Zo she'Lo Nisterah, Nifsedes" וזו שלא נסתרה נפסדת
This is the Girsa in Dikdukei Sofrim #20 and in Sotah 26a
 Gemara [line 35]:
The words "v'Amrei Lah Sheloshah Deveikei Misah" ואמרי לה שלשה דבקי מיתה do not appear in the Agadas ha'Talmud manuscript. It seems that Rashi also did not have this Girsa since he does not explain it (as he does in Shabbos 32a) (Dikdukei Sofrim #40)
1) [line 1] כסא דמוקרא KASA D'MOKRA - a valuable glass cup
2) [line 3] כסא דזוגיתא חיורתא KASA D'ZUGISA CHIVARTA - a cup made of white glass (crystal)
3) [line 6] לישרי לן מר LI'SHRI LAN MAR - [please] sing for us
4) [line 7] מיתנן MISNAN - we are going to die
5) [line 7] מה נעני בתרך? MA NA'ANEI BASRACH? - What should we sing as a response (lit. after you)?
6) [line 8] דמגנו D'MEGANU - that protect
7) [line 16] הלכה פסוקה HALACHAH PESUKAH - a clear-cut Halachah that does not need further analysis, and will therefore not disturb a person's concentration during the Shemoneh Esreh prayer
8a) [line 19] אפילו רואות טיפת דם כחרדל AFILU RO'OS TIPAS DAM K'CHARDAL
The Halachah requires that a woman who experiences even the smallest amount of bleeding must count seven clean days after the bleeding stops. This is the assertion of Rebbi Zeira in Nidah Daf 66a, who reports that Jewish women took it upon themselves to keep the laws of a Zavah, even if they did not experience bleeding on three consecutive days of Yemei Zivah. (See RASHI and TOSFOS to Megilah 28b and TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH to Berachos 22a (pagination of the RIF).)
b) [line 51] כחרדל K'CHARDAL - equal to the size of a mustard [seed]
9) [line 21] מערים אדם MA'ARIM ADAM - a person may perform a deceptive act
10a) [line 22] מכניסה במוץ שלה MACHNISAH B'MOTZ SHELAH - he takes it into his yard while the grain is still in it chaff, and it is exempt from Terumos and Ma'asros because: (a) it resembles animal food, which is exempt from Terumos and Ma'asros (RASHI to Menachos 67b, 1st explanation); (b) it is covered by the chaff and as such, the grain is not "Ro'eh Penei ha'Bayis" (lit. it does not see the front door of the house) - it was not harvested and brought into the owner's house in a normal manner (RASHI to Menachos 67b, 2nd explanation)
b) [line 22] מכניסה במוץ שלה MACHNISAH B'MOTZ SHELAH (MA'ASER: KOVE'A L'MA'ASER: ACHILAS ARAI / ACHILAS KEVA)
(a) Every fruit (or other produce) that must be tithed (see ) may not be eaten b'Achilas Keva (as a normal meal) before Terumos and Ma'asros have been removed or designated. It may, however, be eaten b'Achilas Ara'i (as a "snack," not as a meal) until it becomes "Hukba l'Ma'aser" (designated for tithing) through an action that demonstrates the final preparation of the fruit for eating. After it is Hukba l'Ma'aser, it is forbidden to eat even b'Achilas Ara'i before the tithes are separated.
(b) Seven actions can designate fruits as Hukba l'Ma'aser:
1. Pickling the fruit
2. Dipping the fruit in salt
3. Starting to prepare the fruit to be eaten through heating (cooking, roasting, etc.)
4. Designating the fruit to be eaten on Shabbos
5. Separating Terumah from the fruit
6. Bringing the fruit into the owner's yard ("Ro'eh Penei ha'Bayis")
7. Bringing the fruit to the market for sale
(c) Our Gemara brings the ruling of Rebbi Hoshayah (Oshayah), that when produce is brought into one's house while it is still covered by the chaff, it does not become Hukba l'Ma'aser. Under such circumstances, the Rabanan did not prohibit eating the grain in a temporary fashion (Achilas Ara'i). Feeding an animal is termed Achilas Ara'i and is therefore permitted.
11) [line 25] המקיז דם HA'MEKIZ DAM - one who lets blood [of an animal of Kodshim]
12) [line 26] מועלין בו MO'ALIN BO (ME'ILAH)
(a) It is forbidden to derive personal benefit from anything that is Hekdesh, as the Torah states, "Lo Suchal le'Echol b'Sha'arecha... u'Nedarecha Asher Tidor" - "You may not eat in your settlements... and your pledges [to Hekdesh] that you will pledge" (Devarim 12:17) (RAMBAM Hilchos Me'ilah 1:1-3; see ). The minimum amount for which one transgresses this prohibition is a Perutah's worth of benefit.
(b) If someone benefited from Hekdesh b'Mezid (intentionally), he is liable to Malkus (according to the Rabanan; according to Rebbi he is liable to Misah b'Yedei Shamayim - Sanhedrin 83a) and must pay to Hekdesh the amount that he benefited. However, the object from which he benefited remains Hekdesh.
(c) If someone benefited from Hekdesh b'Shogeg (unintentionally), the object loses its Kedushah. He must bring a Korban Asham Me'ilos (as described in Vayikra 5:15-16) and repay Hekdesh the value of his benefit plus an additional fifth (of the ensuing total, or a quarter of the original value). This is true of any object that has Kedushas Damim (i.e. its value is consecrated to Hekdesh). An object that has Kedushas ha'Guf (i.e. an object with intrinsic Kedushah, such as the utensils used in the Beis ha'Mikdash or a live Korban that is used in the Beis ha'Mikdash "as is") does not lose its Kedushah under any circumstances (Rosh Hashanah 28a; see Rashi to Me'ilah 8a DH Chatas ha'Of).
(d) The Lav of Me'ilah applies to the entire body of an animal that is Kodshei Kodashim, from the time that it is sanctified. After its blood is applied to or cast on the Mizbe'ach (Zerikas ha'Dam), the Lav of Me'ilah only pertains to the Eimurim of the animal (i.e. to the parts of the animal that are offered on the Mizbe'ach). Since the Kohanim may eat the rest of the animal, it is no longer called Kodshei HaSh-m (Vayikra 5:15).
(e) Kodshim Kalim are the property of their owner while they are alive and as such, the Lav of Me'ilah does not apply to them at that point since they are not "Kodshei HaSh-m." After Zerikas ha'Dam, the Lav of Me'ilah applies to the Eimurim (just as in Kodshei Kodashim), since they become Kodshei HaSh-m. (See chart #1 to Me'ilah 2a.)
(f) After Zerikas ha'Dam, the blood of any Korban may be used for any purpose, even fertilizer, as stated in Avodah Zarah 44a. Rav Ze'ira extrapolated that if blood was let from an animal of Kodshim while it is still alive, the Lav of Me'ilah does apply to this blood.
13) [line 30] קלות ראש KALUS ROSH - lightheadedness, flippancy
14) [line 38] מתוך כך זוכרהו MITOCH KACH ZOCHREHU - (a) he thereby remembers him; (b) his Halachah will cause his friend to remember another Halachah (MAHARSHA)
15) [line 38] אלוייה ALVEYEI - escorted
16) [line 39] בי צניתא דבבל BEI TZINYASA D'BAVEL - "Between the Palms of Bavel," the name of a place
17) [line 41] אדכרתן מילתא ADKARTAN MILSA ... - (lit. you have reminded me of a matter) The proof of the Gemara is: (a) that Rav Kahana showed Rav Shimi the Halachah of escorting, by showing him how far one is required to escort one's guest. The distance from Rav Kahana's house to Bei Tzenisa corresponded to this distance (SIFSEI CHACHAMIM); (b) that it is proper to tell one's guest a Halachah upon parting so that the guest will remember another Halachah and will share it with the host (MAHARSHA, see above 14:b)
18) [line 51] "[ודניאל כדי ידע די רשים כתבא על לביתה.] וכוין פתיחן לה [בעליתה נגד ירושלם וזמנין תלתה ביומא הוא ברך על ברכוהי ומצלא ומודע קדם אלהה כל קבל די הוא עבד מן קדמת דנה]" "[V'DANIEL K'DI YEDA DI RESHIM KESAVA AL L'VAISEI] V'CHAVIN PESICHAN LEI [B'ILISEI NEGED YERUSHLEM, V'ZIMNIN TELASA V'YOMA HU BARECH AL BIRCHOHI, U'METZALEI U'MODEI KADAM ELOKEI KOL KAVEIL DI HAVAH AVED MIN KADMAS DENAH.]" - "[When Daniel learned that the writing (i.e. the decree) had been inscribed, he went home]. He had windows in his attic that opened towards Yerushalayim. [Three times a day he would go down on his knees and pray and give thanks before G-d, just as he had done before this.]" (Daniel 6:11) (DANIEL IGNORES THE DECREE AGAINST TEFILAH)
(a) After Daryavesh, King of Medes, took over the sovereignty from Bavel, he appointed a body consisting of 120 ministers to look after all of the affairs of state. Those 120 governors were answerable to a panel of three senior ministers with whom they were to discuss all major issues. One of these three was Daniel, who was so obviously the wisest of them all that Daryavesh had in mind to appoint him as his Prime Minister. It is not surprising, therefore, that the other ministers were deeply jealous of Daniel and were constantly seeking an excuse to report him to the king for breach of trust. Like Yosef in Egypt, his impeccable integrity gave them no such opportunity.
(b) It occurred to them, however, that there was one area where they could ensnare Daniel - and that was with regard to religion. They realized that if Daniel was faced with a choice between his G-d and the king, he would categorically choose his G-d. It was with that in mind that they approached the king and requested from him - in the name of all the ministers and leaders throughout the land - that he issue a decree forbidding all his subjects from praying to any god or man other than to the king, for the next thirty days. This royal edict was to be written in the king's own handwriting, rendering it irreversible, as was the law in Persia and Medes. The king was unable to refuse, and - perhaps not realizing the ministers' motives behind the request - acceded to their request.
(c) When Daniel heard about the new decree, he arranged windows facing Yerushalayim in his attic, and he continued with his practice of kneeling three times daily and praying to HaSh-m, facing the windows. Meanwhile, the ministers - who had been waiting for just such an opportunity - caught him praying, and a delegation promptly reported him to Daryavesh. The king, who held Daniel in the highest esteem, argued with his ministers for hours to protect Daniel from the dreaded punishment, but to no avail. All the ministers joined the delegation and proceeded to convince the king of Daniel's guilt, and that the law of the land must prevail. Left with no option, Daryavesh acquiesced to their demands and sent Daniel to the lions' den, but not before he prayed for Daniel's safekeeping, a prayer that did no go unanswered.
(d) In any event, the king's good intentions and what he hoped the outcome would be were clear enough. It was with that in mind that the ministers placed a stone in front of the entrance to the den in order to ensure that the king would do nothing to rescue Daniel from inside it. As an extra precaution, they placed their own seal at the entrance (as the Metzudas David explains). Daryavesh, for his part, placed his seal there to ensure that the ministers would not move the stone in order to stone Daniel to death. As for Daniel's fate with the lions, Daryavesh reasoned, that was in the hands of HaSh-m, Who would protect Daniel from them, should He so desire.
(e) The following morning, Daryavesh approached the lions' den with trepidation, and called to Daniel in a sad voice. To his amazement and surprise, Daniel answered him. The king had Daniel - who had not a scratch on his body - removed from the lions' den and he put in Daniel's place those who had reported him, together with their wives and children. Before they had even reached the ground, the lions attacked them, and by the time they had finished with them, not a bone in their bodies remained intact.
(f) Following this miracle, Daryavesh ordered all of his subjects to fear the G-d of Daniel. As for Daniel, he continued in his role as Prime Minister for the remainder of Daryavesh's reign, and for the beginning of the reign of Koresh, King of Persia. Then he retired, and handed over the leadership to Zerubavel.
19) [line 52] הוחלה HUCHALAH - it began
20) [line 54] "[וחנה היא מדברת על לבה רק שפתיה נעות] וקולה לא ישמע [ויחשבה עלי לשכרה. ויאמר אליה עלי עד מתי תשתכרין הסירי את יינך מעליך]" "[V'CHANAH HI MEDABERES AL LIBAH RAK SEFASEHAH NA'OS,] V'KOLAH LO YISHAMA, [VA'YACHSHEVEHAH ELI L'SHIKORAH. VA'YOMER ELEHAH ELI, 'AD MASAI TISHTAKARIN? HASIRI ES YEINECH ME'ALAYICH!']" - "[And Chanah was speaking to her heart; only her lips moved,] her voice could not be heard; [so Eli thought that she was drunk. Eli then said to her, 'How long will you be drunk? Remove your wine from yourself!']" (Shmuel I 1:13-14) (CHANAH'S PRAYER, AND ELI HA'KOHEN'S REACTION)
(a) Elkanah, a Levi who lived in Ramatayim (in Har Efraim), had two wives: Chanah, who was barren, and Peninah, who bore him a number of children. Each Yom Tov he would travel to the Mishkan in Shiloh, where he would offer Korbanos. Of these, he would give Peninah and her children portions, but for Chanah he reserved a special portion to cheer her up, because he loved her and she had no children. It was then that Peninah chose to taunt Chanah. Her intentions may have been good (to encourage Chanah to pray more fervently to HaSh-m for children), but her taunts caused Chanah terrible anguish to the point that she declined to eat, crying bitterly while the family ate the meat of the Korbanos. Elkanah would try his utmost to dispel her depression, by trying to convince her that his love for her was more valuable than ten children (with reference to the children that Peninah had born him), but to no avail. According to some opinions, Peninah would eventually pay dearly for her heartlessness.
(b) This went on for some years, until one particular year, when Chanah arose from the table in her bitterness and entered the Mishkan to pray. She prayed silently, her lips moving but uttering not a sound. As she prayed, Eli ha'Kohen, who had just been appointed Kohen Gadol on that day, watched her.
(c) When Eli the Kohen Gadol saw Chanah praying quietly (as one should) he accused her of being drunk. When she denied his allegations, he made up for his mistake and blessed the childless woman (as the Halachah requires) with a son.
(d) His blessing took effect, and she became pregnant with a baby who would become Shmuel ha'Navi.
(e) When Eli later saw that Chanah had dedicated her son Shmuel to HaSh-m (to serve perpetually in the Mishkan), he blessed her with more children who would live with her at home. That blessing materialized as well, and she gave birth to three more sons and two daughters.
(f) See also Background to Kerisus 6:10.
21) [line 58] הלכתא גברוותא HILCHESA GIBARVASA - great laws
22) [line 59] נעות NA'OS - move
23) [line 8] אשה קשת רוח ISHAH KESHAS RU'ACH - that a woman of a sorrowful spirit
24) [line 19] "שלתך" "SHELASECH" - "your request" (Shmuel I 1:17)
25) [line 24] צבאי צבאות TZIV'EI TZEVA'OS - hosts of hosts, multitudes of multitudes
26) [line 27] אסתתר ISTATER (SOTAH)
(a) A Sotah is a woman who is suspected of committing adultery because she was warned by her husband not to seclude herself with a certain man and she violated the warning. The process of warning her in front of witnesses is called Kinuy. The witnesses who see her seclude herself with the suspected adulterer are called Eidei Stirah. The time of seclusion must be at least the time that it takes to roast an egg and swallow it. The woman is forbidden to her husband and the alleged adulterer until she drinks Mei Sotah (see (d), below). If she committed adultery after not heeding the warning of two witnesses, she is put to death by Chenek (choking), as it states in the Torah (Devarim 22:22). One witness to adultery ("Ed Tum'ah) prevents her from drinking the Mei Sotah.
(b) After Kinuy and Stirah, the husband must bring his wife to the Beis ha'Mikdash to perform the procedure of the Mei Sotah. On the way there, Beis Din appoints two Torah scholars to accompany them to make sure that they do not engage in marital relations, which are forbidden to them. Moreover, if the couple does have marital relations at this point, the Mei Sotah will not work, since the husband must be "Menukeh me'Avon," clear (lit. cleaned) of sin for the ceremony to work. The Gemara (Sotah 47b) explains that this means that he did not have relations with his wife from the time that she became prohibited to him, or with any other woman (ever) who was prohibited to him (RASHI to Sotah ibid.)
(c) The husband brings a sacrifice consisting of 1/10 of an Eifah (approximately 2.16, 2.49 or 4.32 liters, depending upon the differing Halachic opinions) of barley flour as a Minchah offering. Oil and Levonah are not added (Bamidbar 5:15), and Hagashah, Kemitzah and Haktarah are performed (see ). The Sheyarei ha'Minchah are eaten by the Kohanim. In the Azarah of the Beis ha'Mikdash, a Kohen reads Parshas Sotah, the portion of the Torah describing the curses with which a Sotah is cursed, out loud (in any language that the Sotah understands) and makes the Sotah swear that she has been faithful to her husband.
(d) An earthenware jug is then filled with half a Log of water from the Kiyor, and dirt from the floor of the Azarah is placed on top of the water. Parshas Sotah (that contains numerous appearances of HaSh-m's name) is written on parchment and then immersed in the water, which causes the ink to dissolve, erasing the Holy Names. The Sotah afterwards drinks from the water. If she was unfaithful to her husband and allowed herself to become defiled, the water would enter her body and poison her, causing her belly to swell out and her thigh to rupture. If she was faithful to her husband, she remained unharmed and would be blessed that she would become pregnant (Bamidbar 5:11-31). In times when there is no Mei Sotah such as in the present day, a Sotah must be divorced and does not receive her Kesuvah.
27) [line 28] פלסתר PELASTER - fraud
28) [line 33] דברה תורה כלשון בני אדם DIBRAH TORAH KI'LSHON BNEI ADAM
Every word in the Torah is holy and contains worlds of insights and nuances. However, certain sages of the Mishnah felt that there were some phrases recorded in the Torah that paralleled people's speech, and should not be used for homiletics or insights. "Dibrah Torah ki'Leshon Bnei Adam" means that the Torah [in this instance] speaks in the manner of man. (Rav Betzalel Rensburg points out that our case might be different from other cases of Dibrah Torah ki'Lshon Bnei Adam. We are actually dealing with the speech of a person, namely Chanah, and people sometimes speak repetitively without the intention of expressing two points.)
29) [line 35] בדקי מיתה BIDKEI MISAH - three actions of a woman are *checked* when her life is in danger. If she is found lacking in the laws of Nidah, Chalah or lighting Shabbos candles, she may die. Chanah specifically mentioned this point since she did not have any children, and the Gemara (Nedarim 64b) states that a childless person is among those who are considered as if they were dead.
30) [line 35] דבקי מיתה DEVEIKEI MISAH - three actions of a woman which bring death upon (lit. attach death to) her before her time (see Rashi to Shabbos 32a DH Deveikei and Girsa section #6)
31) [line 37] גברא בגוברין GAVRA B'GUVRIN - a man who stands out amongst men
32) [line 39] שמובלע בין אנשים SHE'MUVLA BEIN ANASHIM - who does not stand out noticeably amongst other men
33) [line 39] גוץ GOTZ - short
34) [line 39] אלם ALAM - thick
35) [line 40] צחור TZACHOR - white
36) [line 40] גיחור GICHOR - a person with a very reddish complexion (O.F. ros)
37) [line 41] מורה הלכה לפני רבו MOREH HALACHAH LIFNEI RABO
A person who teaches Halachos in the presence of his Rebbi demonstrates his lack of respect for the Torah and her sages. Eli was the greatest Torah leader of his generation, and thereby was considered the Rebbi of the entire nation (even though Shmuel had not yet as yet learned under him - TOSFOS DH Moreh).
38) [line 45] קבלה KABALAH (FOUR AVODOS OF KODSHIM)
Offering a Korban is comprised of four main actions. These four "Avodos" are Shechitah (slaughtering), Kabalas ha'Dam (collecting the blood of the Korban that will be applied to or cast on the Mizbe'ach), Holachah (carrying the blood towards the Mizbe'ach) and Zerikah (applying the blood to or casting the blood on the Mizbe'ach).
39a) [line 47] שבקי לי דאענשיה SHIVKI LI D'I'ANSHEI - let me punish him
b) [line 48] ויהיב לך רבא מיניה V'YAHIV LACH RAVA MINEI - and HaSh-m will give you [a son] greater than he
40) [line 54] ליתיב תעניתא לתעניתא LEISIV TA'ANISA L'TA'ANISA - he should fast [on Sunday to atone] for fasting [on Shabbos]
41) [line 54] הטיחה דברים כלפי מעלה HETICHAH DEVARIM KELAPEI MA'ALAH - she spoke out against HaSh-m
42) [last line] "ענני ה' ענני וידעו העם הזה כי אתה ה' האלקים ואתה הסבת את לבם אחרנית" "[ANEINI HASH-M ANEINI V'YEID'U HA'AM HA'ZEH KI ATAH HASH-M HA'ELOKIM,] V'ATAH HASIBOSA ES LIBAM ACHORANIS!" - "[Answer me, HaSh-m, answer me! And let this people know that You are HaSh-m Who is G-d,] and thus You will turn their hearts back to You! " (Melachim I 18:37) (ELIYAHU PLEADS WITH HASH-M)
(a) The commentaries explain the double expression at the beginning of the verse in a number of ways: 1. "Answer me with fire; answer me with rain" (since a terrible famine was currently ravaging the land, as mentioned earlier); 2. "Answer me with fire; answer me that the people should accept my actions as miracles and not as witchcraft; 3. When Eliyahu said (in the previous verse), "Let it be known today that You are G-d in Yisrael, that I am Your servant Let them know that You are G-d in Yisrael, and that I am Your servant," he meant that if HaSh-m would answer him now, then the people will also believe him when he will come in the future to herald the coming of Mashi'ach.
(b) Chazal interpret the final phrase in the verse in the past tense: "and You (HaSh-m) turned their hearts away" [by giving them a strong Yetzer ha'Ra], and, moreover, HaSh-m conceded that Eliyahu was correct. RASHI (on the verse, and to Berachos 31b-32a) explains that Eliyahu protested that since HaSh-m gave Bnei Yisrael the opportunity to sin by creating the Yetzer ha'Ra, He is capable of turning their hearts back to Him.
(c) When the wicked king Achav referred to Eliyahu ha'Navi as "Ocher Yisrael" (the one who destroys Yisrael) for having decreed a famine in the land, Eliyahu arranged a confrontation with the 850 prophets of the idol Ba'al on Mount Carmel. All of Yisrael was invited to witness the event, at which Eliyahu intended to demonstrate to Yisrael that HaSh-m was the true G-d.
(d) After challenging Yisrael to decide whether to worship HaSh-m or Ba'al, Eliyahu took two bulls; the prophets of Ba'al would choose one, leaving him with the other. Both parties would then prepare an altar and firewood on which they would place their cut-up bull as a sacrifice. Each party would then beseech his god to send fire from the heavens and consume his animal. The One which responded would prove Himself to be the true G-d.
(e) The entire morning, until close to Minchah time, accompanied by the taunts of Eliyahu, the prophets of Ba'al ranted and raved, pranced on their altar and, in their frenzy, even cut themselves in an attempt to arouse their god, but to no avail.
(f) The Midrash relates how the prophets of Ba'al attempted to cheat by placing one of their men (Chi'el of Beis El, who built up Yericho and lost all of his children in the process) underneath their Mizbe'ach, with instructions to set fire to the wood and to burn the bull. What they did not know was that a snake had bitten him and killed him (perhaps because he transgressed the decree of Yehoshua bin Nun not to build up Yericho, for so it is said that "someone who breaches the fence [that the Chachamim build] will be bitten by a snake").
(g) Eliyahu then called upon Yisrael to watch carefully as he proceeded to rebuild a Mizbe'ach that Shaul ha'Melech had once built and that the idolaters had demolished, and to dig a ditch around it. Then, after cutting up the bull and placing it on the wood which he arranged on the altar, he ordered four large jugs of water to be poured over the animal and the wood, and to repeat this three times. A terrible famine was currently ravaging the land and there was no water to be found, but the fingers of Elisha (Eliyahu's disciple and successor) turned into fountains from which the water gushed out and filled the ditch.
(h) It was at Minchah time that he finished his preparations and prayed to HaSh-m to answer his prayers and demonstrate once and for all that He is G-d. As Eliyahu finished his prayer, a fire came from the heavens and consumed the bull, together with the wood and the stones of the altar, and it even licked up the water in the ditch and dried it up. The people declared unanimously, "HaSh-m is G-d! HaSh-m is G-d!"