Diogenes Lives of the Eminent Philosophers 1.33


33 The oracle which the Coans received was on this wise: Hephaestus cast the tripod in the sea; Until it quit the city there will be No end to strife, until it reach the seer Whose wisdom makes past, present, future clear. That of the Milesians beginning "Who shall possess the tripod?" has been quoted above. So much for this version of the story. Hermippus in his Lives refers to Thales the story which is told by some of Socrates, namely, that he used to say that there were three blessings for which he was grateful to Fortune: "first, that I was born a human being and not one of the brutes; next, that I was born a man and not a woman; thirdly, a Greek and not a barbarian."

Menachot 43b

Babylonian Talmud

It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Meir would say: A man is obligated to recite three blessings every day praising God for His kindnesses, and these blessings are: Who did not make me a gentile; Who did not make me a woman; and Who did not make me an ignoramus. Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov heard his son reciting the blessing: Who did not make me an ignoramus. Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov said to him: Is it in fact proper to go this far in reciting blessings? Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov’s son said to him: Rather, what blessing should one recite? If you will say that one should recite: Who did not make me a slave, that is the same as a woman; why should one recite two blessings about the same matter? Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov answered: Nevertheless, a slave

 Notes and References

"... Montezinos’ prayer is curious. It vaguely resembles the traditional blessings attributed to R. Meir, ca. 130 CE (b. Menachot 43b): “Three thanksgivings must be said every day: Praised (be God) ... who made me an Israelite, who has not made me a woman, who has not made me an ignoramous.” Other sources offer a different first blessing, “Who has not made me a gentile [goy],” attributing the blessings to R. Yehuda ben Ilai, ca. 150 CE (Tosefta Berachot 7:18; JT Berachot 9:2, 12b). (A similar prayer was attributed by Diogenes Laertius to both Socrates and Thales, i.e. the earliest as well as the most famous Greek philosophers ...) By the ninth century, sages such as Saadia Gaon and Maimonides replaced the term “ignoramous” with “slave,” based on another passage from the same talmudic source (BT Men. 43b). The fact that Montezinos repeats his prayer daily indicates that it is a permutation of these traditional Jewish blessings said every morning ..."

Schorsch, Jonathan Swimming the Christian Atlantic: Judeoconversos, Afroiberians and Amerindians in the Seventeenth Century (pp. 404-405) Brill, 2009

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.