Brachot 46 - The host breaks bread, and the guest blesses

Rabbi Zeira once took ill, and Rabbi Abahu, who came to visit him, took upon himself a vow, "If this small man with singed thighs recovers, I will make a big meal for the Sages." At the meal, Rabbi Abahu invited Rabbi Zeira to say the blessing and break the bread, but Rabbi Zeira refused, quoting the rule that "The host breaks bread." When after the meal Rabbi Abahu asked Rabbi Zeira to saying the prayer after the meal, he again refused, saying that the one who broke bread should also say the prayer after it. However, the last rule is not like that. Rather, the host breaks bread, because he will give big pieces with a good gesture, and the guest says the prayer after the meal, in which he includes a blessing for the host.

What is the blessing for the host? - May it be the will of God that the host will not be shamed in this world, and not humiliated in the World to Come; may he be successful with all his possessions, and may the though of wrongdoing never come before him - or before us.

Why was Rabbi Zeira called a "small man with singed thighs?" Every thirty days he used to seat himself in a burning oven, to test whether he was vulnerable to fire, as an indication whether the fire of Gehinnom would ultimately have an effect on him. He was never harmed except once, when an evil eye was cast upon him, and that is how he got his nickname. "Zeira" means small one.

Art: George, of Chichester Smith - Still Life With Bread, Cheese And A Decanter