Friday, January 26, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 18 - Highlights


It is written in Megillas Taanis that these are the days that one is not allowed to fast on them and on some of them; it is not even permitted to eulogize. From Rosh Chodesh Nissan until the eighth day of Nissan, the Chachamim were victorious over the Sadducees in a debate regarding the korban tamid (The Sadducees maintained that the tamid should be donated by individuals and the Chachamim convinced them that communal funds are required.). These days were declared as minor festivals and it is prohibited from fasting or even eulogizing on these days. From the eighth day of Nissan until after Pesach, the debate regarding the Yom Tov of Shavuos was settled (The Baitusim held that Shavuos must be on a Sunday) and therefore it was decreed that one cannot fast or eulogize on these days.

The Gemora asked on the necessity regarding the decree that it is prohibited from eulogizing on the first day of Nissan; it should be prohibited regardless since it is Rosh Chodesh. The Gemora answers that the decree is needed in order to prohibit the day before the festival as well. The Gemora explains that since Rosh Chodesh is Biblical, it would not require strengthening (by prohibiting the day before also), however the festivals mentioned in Megillas Taanis are only a Rabbinical ordinance and hence they require strengthening.

The Gemora asks a similar question on the second section cited in Megillas Taanis. What was the purpose of including the days of Pesach in the decree? Rav Pappa answers that due to the decree, the day following Pesach is also prohibited.

This Gemora is obviously in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yosi who maintains that the day following a day on which Megillas Taanis prohibits eulogizing is also prohibited (According to the Tanna Kamma, only the day preceding such a day would be prohibited). If so, why does Megillas Taanis find it necessary to rule that the twenty-ninth day in Adar is subject to the prohibition of eulogizing because it is the day preceding the first of Nissan, let it be prohibited because it is the day following the twenty-eighth of Adar, which is also a festival. The Gemora cites the braisa in Megillas Taanis which records the incident. The Romans had decreed that the Jews could not study Torah, perform circumcisions or keep Shabbos. Yehudah ben Shamua took advice from a Roman noblewoman and the Jews went out into the streets at night to protest. They cried out that we are brothers (the Jews and the Romans), and we are children from the same father and mother. Why are you (the Romans) issuing such harsh decrees on us? The Romans listened and revoked the decree. This day was pronounced as a festival.

Abaye answers that the decree was necessary in an instance where Adar had thirty days. It would emerge that the day following the twenty-eight of Adar would be the twenty-ninth and the there would be no prohibition on the thirtieth. Since the first of Nissan was declared to be a festival, the thirtieth of Adar will be prohibited since it is the day preceding the first of Nissan.

Rav Ashi answers that declaring the first of Nissan as a festival is necessary even when Adar has twenty-nine days. If the twenty-ninth is only prohibited due to its being the day following the twenty-eighth, it would be forbidden to fast but eulogizing would be permitted; now that the twenty-ninth is located between two festivals, it was considered a festival in itself and even eulogizing would be forbidden.

The Gemora asks another question on this segment of Megillas Taanis. Why was it necessary to say “from the eighth of Nissan,” the eighth of Nissan is anyway subject to the laws against eulogizing because it was included in the first festival (the first eight days of Nissan because of the debate regarding the tamid)? The Gemora answers that if for some reason, the Chachamim would abolish the first festival, the eighth of Nissan would still be prohibited because of the second decree.

The Gemora concludes that we could utilize the same answer to the challenge raised before. The braisa needed to teach that the twenty-ninth of Adar is prohibited on account that it is the day preceding the first of Nissan even though it would have been prohibited anyway since it is the day following the twenty-eighth of Nissan. This is just in case the festival of the twenty-eighth was abolished; the twenty-ninth would still be prohibited. (17b – 18a)


 The Gemora asks a contradiction regarding Shmuel’s rulings pertaining to the laws discussed in Megillas Taanis. Shmuel rules that the halacha is in accordance with Rabbi Meir who maintains that when eulogizing is prohibited on a particular day, the prohibition extends only to the day before and not the day after. Yet, Shmuel is also quoted as ruling in accordance with Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel who holds that only the days that were declared as festivals are prohibited but the day preceding and the day following the festival is permitted. The Gemora answers that initially Shmuel thought that Rabbi Meir was the most lenient opinion and therefore he ruled like him (since the prohibition against fasting is only a Rabbinical one). When he discovered that Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel was even more lenient, he retracted and ruled according to him. (18a)

 It was said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan that the halacha is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yosi. Rabbi Chiya bar Abba clarified this ruling. On a day that Megillas Taanis declared not to fast on them, Rabbi Yochanan ruled that the halacha is like Rabbi Yosi that it is forbidden to fast on the preceding day as well (but not on the following day). However, regarding a day that Megillas Taanis prohibited eulogizing, Rabbi Yochanan rules in accordance with Rabbi Meir that only the day preceding will be subject to the prohibition of eulogizing. (It emerges according to Rabbi Yochanan, that any day mentioned in Megillas Taanis that prohibits eulogizing or fasting, the halacha would be that the preceding day will also be prohibited but not on the day which follows.)

The Gemora asks on Rabbi Yochanan from a Mishna which would seemingly indicate that the day preceding a minor festival recorded in Megillas Taanis will not be prohibited. Since it is an anonymous Mishna, Rabbi Yochanan should rule according to that opinion.

The Gemora cites the Mishna in Megillah that even though the Megillah is sometimes read earlier than the normal day, eulogizing and fasting would be permitted on those days. The Gemora proceeds to analyze as to which day precisely the Mishna is referring to. It cannot mean the fourteenth since that day is Purim and Megillas Taanis explicitly prohibits eulogizing and fasting. It cannot be referring to the thirteenth since that day is Yom Nikanor, which is a minor festival mentioned in Megillas Taanis. It cannot be referring to the twelfth since that day is Yom Turyanus, which is also a festival mentioned in Megillas Taanis. The only remaining day that it can be referring to is the eleventh. The Mishna is ruling that the Megillah can be read on the eleventh but there are no prohibitions against fasting or eulogizing even though this is the day preceding Yom Turyanus. This is inconsistent with Rabbi Yochanan’s opinion that the halacha is in accordance with Rabbi Yosi.

The Gemora answers that in fact, the Mishna is referring to the twelfth; and the answer to the objection raised above is that the Chachamim had subsequently abolished the festival of Yom Turyanus because of two pious brothers who were killed on that day. The Gemora persists that it should still be prohibited from fasting on the twelfth because it is the day preceding Yom Nikanor. The Gemora answers that if the tragedy was sufficient enough of a reason to abolish the festival, we cannot decree that it is prohibited to fast on the account of it being the day preceding Yom Nikanor. (18a – 18b)


 The Gemora proceeds to explain the festival of Yom Nikanor and Yom Turyanus. Yom Nikanor celebrated the death of Nikanor, a Greek general, who would wave his hand at Yerushalayim and its vicinity and say, "when will these fall into my hands so that I can trample it?" When the Hasmoneans succeeded in driving the Greeks from Israel, he was captured. They cut off his thumbs and big toes and hung them by the gates of Yerushalayim. This incident occurred on the thirteenth of Adar and they declared this day as a minor festival.

Yom Turyanus celebrated the death of Turyanus, a Roman officer who put two Jews - Papus and Lulianus - to death. Before doing so, he mocked them publicly, challenging the Jewish God to intervene on their behalf, as He was reputed to have done on behalf of Chananya, Misha'el and Azariah. Papus and Lulianus responded that they were not deserving of divine intervention, and neither was Turyanus on the level of Nevuhadnezzar to have a miracle take place because of him. They concluded that Hashem probably had made him (Turyanus) the instrument of their death in order to punish him for it. Immediately after their death, messengers from Rome arrived who removed him from his position and cracked his head with clubs. Since this incident occurred on the twelfth of Adar, they declared this day as a minor festival. (18b)


 The Mishna cited Rabban Gamliel who said that the Chachamim would never decree that the first day of the series of fasts should be on Rosh Chodesh, Chanukah, or Purim. If the fasts began already and one of the days of the fasts fell out on Rosh Chodesh, we would not interrupt the fasts.

Rav Acha explains that this is only correct if there were already three fasts; then we continue even though one of the fast days fell on Rosh Chodesh. Rabbi Assi maintains that this is true even if they fasted just once.

The Mishna had stated that Rabbi Meir maintains that even though Rabban Gamliel said that they do not interrupt, he would admit that the fast should not be completed. This halacha is identical to a case where Tisha B’av fell on Erev Shabbos.

Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav that the Chachamim disagree and maintain that the fast must be completed. Mar Zutra said in the name of Rav Huna that the halacha is in accordance with the opinion of the Chachamim. (18b)