Thursday, December 28, 2006

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 23 - Ruling Stringently by a Rabbinic Prohibition

Abaye, in explaining the Gemora’s reasoning as to why they didn’t institute to light the torches only on the night of the thirty-first is because this would compel the people of Bavel to cease from work for two days in the beginning of Tishrei. Those residing in Bavel would always refrain from work on the thirtieth of Elul since perhaps that day is Rosh Hashanah and if the torches will not be lit until after the thirty-first day, this would force them to abstain from work another day since perhaps Elul had thirty days and the thirty-first day is Rosh Hashanah. This is Rashi’s explanation.

Tosfos disagrees and understands the Gemora to be referring to every Rosh Chodesh where there is also a prohibition against working.
Turei Even asks that since the prohibition against performing work on Rosh Chodesh is only Rabbinic, shouldn’t we act leniently and allow those that are in doubt regarding the actual day of Rosh Chodesh to work?

He answers that if we would apply the principle of whenever there is a doubt on a Rabbinic matter, we rule leniently, we would be compelled to act in this manner on both days of Rosh Chodesh since there is a doubt on each day. On each day, we would say that the other day is indeed Rosh Chodesh. It will emerge that the prohibition against working will be uprooted completely. In such a circumstance, we do not apply the principle of ruling leniently.

This logic can be found in the Ran in Pesachim. There is a discussion regarding the four cups of wine that we drink on Pesach night. The Gemora is uncertain if there exists an obligation of reclining by the first two cups or the last two. The ruling is that since there is a doubt, we require one to recline by all four cups.

The Ran asks that since the mitzva of reclining by the drinking of the four cups is only Rabbinic, shouldn’t we act leniently? He answers that if we would indeed act leniently, we would be forced to rule that there is no obligation to lean by the first two cups or the last two cups which would result in the mitzva being uprooted completely. The principle of acting leniently does not apply in such situations.