Saturday, December 23, 2006

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 18 - Highlights

The Gemora states that it is actually a dispute among the Tanaim if an individual’s decree can be reversed through repentance or prayer. Rabbi Meir used to say that if there were two people that were sick with an indistinguishable illness and one patient recovered and the other did not, how can this be explained? He answered that one prayed a complete prayer and was therefore answered and the other did not. Rabbi Elozar answers that one case was before the decree was issued and the other was afterwards. Rabbi Yitzchak states that calling out to Hashem will always be helpful even after the decree was issued. Rabbah bar Avuha says that during the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Hashem is always available to listen to an individual crying out to Him and will overturn an evil decree previously issued.(18a)

DECREE ON A COMMUNITY The Gemora states that a decree against a community cannot be overturned if it is accompanied with an oath but a decree that does not have an oath with it can be overturned. The Gemora cites Scriptural references to this. Rava states that if one studies Torah, the decree can be annulled somewhat. Abaye says that it can be annulled somewhat if one studies Torah and performs acts of kindness.(18a)

JUDGED SINGLE FILE The Mishna had stated that on Rosh Hashanah, the entire world passes in front of Hashem to be judged like “bnei maron.” The Gemora cites three opinions for the meaning of “bnei maron.” One explanation is that the people being judged are compared to sheep passing through a narrow gate as they are being counted for the tithing. Rish Lakish states that the analogy is to people traveling down a narrow path that has a sharp drop on both sides. Rav Yehudah says in the name of Shmuel that they are compared to the soldiers of Dovid as they were being counted single file as they prepared for battle. The Gemora concludes that even though they pass before Hashem in single file, they are judged simultaneously. (18a)

MESSENGERS SENT OUT The Mishna states that at the beginning of six months, messengers would be sent out to notify the Jewish communities as to which day was determined to be the first of the month. They were sent out in the month of Nissan because of the festival of Pesach. At the beginning of Av, they were sent out because of the fast. Messengers were sent in the month of Elul on the account of Rosh Hashanah. They were sent out during Tishrei because of Yom Kippur and Sukkos. Messengers were sent out during Kislev because of Chanukah and during Adar because of Purim. During the times that the Beis Hamikdosh was standing, they would send out messengers because of Pesach Sheini (for those that were not able to bring the Korban Pesach on Pesach). (18a)

VOLUNTARY FASTS The Gemora questions as to why there were no messengers sent out for Tammuz and Teves due to the fast days contained in those months. The Gemora answers that these fasts were not mandatory and therefore they didn’t bother sending out messengers in those months. The fast of the Ninth of Av, on the other hand, was obligatory and therefore messengers were sent out in the beginning of Av. (18a – 18b)

FOUR FASTS The Gemora cites a verse in Zecharya “The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth will be to the House of Yehudah for joy and for happiness.” Rabbi Akiva understands the passuk as follows: “The fast of the fourth” is referring to the ninth of Tammuz since on that day the city of Yerushalayim was breached and it is called the “fourth” since Tammuz is the fourth month from Nissan. “The fast of the fifth” is referring to the Ninth of Av since on that day the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed and it is called the “fifth” since Av is the fifth month from Nissan. “The fast of the seventh” is referring to the Third of Tishrei since on that day Gedalya was murdered and it is called the “seventh” since Tishrei is the seventh month from Nissan. “The fast of the tenth” is referring to the Tenth of Teves since on that day the Babylonian King began to surround Yerushalayim and it is called the “tenth” since Teves is the tenth month from Nissan. (18b)