Saturday, January 27, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 20 - Highlights

The Gemora cites a braisa that there were three people for whom sunset was miraculously delayed and they are: Moshe, Yehoshua and Nakdimon. The Gemora cites Scriptural verses to prove that the sun stayed East for Moshe and Yehoshua. (20a)

The Mishna had ruled that in a situation where there is rain in one city but not another, they call out immediately. A verse is cites which states that Hashem will deliver rain to one city and cause the rain not to fall in the other city. Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav that both the rain and the drought entail a curse. Rashi explains that the city which receives the rain will be so sodden that the grain will become destroyed. (20a)

The Gemora illustrates four occasions in which Rabbi Yehuda detects a positive aspect to an otherwise negative verse.

The fourth verse cited is a verse from Melochim where the Navi Achiya Hashiloni prophesied against Yerovem ben Nevot for enticing Klal Yisroel to commit idolatry. The Navi said that Hashen will smite the Jews like the reed that swings in the water. Rav Yehuda expounded this verse to mean a blessing. The Gemora explains that the curse of Achiya was better that the blessing of Bilam. Achiya cursed Klal Yisroel using the metaphor of a reed. A reed stands in a place of water, its stalks grow back after it’s cut and it has many roots. Even if all the winds of the world will come and blow, the reed will not move from its place; rather it will sway in the same direction as the wind is blowing. When the wind settles down, the reed will stand erect in its place. Bilam blessed Klal Yisroel using the metaphor of a cedar tree. A cedar tree does not grow in a watery place and therefore can dry up. Its trunk would not grow back and it doesn’t have many roots. Most winds cannot blow a cedar tree down but the powerful Eastern wind can uproot it. It was Bilam’s wish that Edom should deal such a powerful blow to the Jewish people that they wouldn’t be able to recover. The Gemora concludes that the reed merited that it is used by a scribe to write the Holy Scriptures. (20a)

The Gemora states that a person should be humble like a reed and not haughty or harsh like a cedar tree.

The Gemora cites an incident with Rabbi Elozar illustrating this theme. R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon rode his donkey along the riverbanks, traveling from his yeshiva to Migdal G'dor, his hometown. He was extremely happy, and self-assured having learned so much Torah. Suddenly, he met an exceptionally ugly man.
"Shalom alecha, Rebbi," the man greeted R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon. R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon however, instead of greeting him in return, scolded him.
"You -- good for nothing -- how ugly you are! Are all the people in your town as ugly as you?"
"I don't know," answered the man, "but maybe you'd like to tell the Craftsmen who made me, how ugly His work is!
R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon immediately realized that he had made a bad mistake. He got down from his donkey, and bowed down before the man.
"Please, forgive me," he begged.
"First," answered the man, "tell the Craftsmen who made me, how ugly His work is. Then I will forgive you!"
The man walked off, with R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon tailing humbly after him. They came to Migdal G'dor, R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon's hometown. There, many people came out to greet the great scholar. "Shalom alecha, Rebbi, Rebbi, Mori, Mori," they called.
"Whom are you calling Rebbi, Rebbi," the ugly man asked them.
"The person who walks behind you," they answered.
"If this is a rabbi," he exclaimed, "may there not be too many of them in Yisrael."
"Why do you say this?" they asked.
"Do you know how he treats people?" he answered, and told them the story.
"Even so, forgive him, for he is a Torah giant," the people requested.
"For the sake of this town I will forgive him," the man responded, "as long as he promises never to act like this again."
R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon then entered the shul and the people assembled there. "A person needs always to be as flexible as a reed," he taught them, "and not hard like a cedar." This, says the Gemora, is the reason, the common reed is used as a quill to write the Torah, tefillin, and mezuzos. (20a – 20b)

The Mishna had stated that a city where the buildings are collapsing should declare a fast and call out. The Gemora qualifies this halacha to be referring to buildings that are sturdy and not liable to collapse. The Gemora states that this excludes buildings that fall due to their height or because they were built on the banks of the water.

The Gemora relates a story pertaining to this theme. Rav and Shmuel would not pass under a certain old and shaky wall in Neharda'a. Even though it had stood thirteen years, it looked dangerous and as though it would fall at any moment. Therefore, they went to the trouble of encircling it and not passing under it. Once, the great Rav Ada bar Ahava visited Rav and Shmuel in Neharda'a. As they walked together, Shmuel reminded Rav, "We need to walk around that old wall, and not under it."
"No," Rav answered, "today this isn't necessary. Rav Ada bar Ahava, who has many merits, is with us and we have nothing to fear. (20b)

The Gemora relates a similar type of story. Rav Huna had barrels of wine in an old house. He wanted to remove them that he was scared of entering the building. There was a fear it might collapse on him. What did he do? He invited Rav Ada bar Ahava over, and entered a deep Torah conversation with him. As they spoke, workers removed the barrels. As they then left the old house, it collapsed. Rav Ada bar Ahava was angry with Rav Huna.
"How could you ignore the teaching of R' Yanai," he asked, "Never should a person stand in a dangerous place, and rely on a miracle. For, he cannot know that the heavens will perform a miracle for him. And even if they do perform a miracle, they deduct this from his heavenly merits. (20b)

The Gemora records the praiseworthy incident of Rav Adda bar Ahava. His student inquired of him “Why did you merit living so long?”
He responded, “It is because I never got angry in my house. I was careful not to walk in front of someone greater than me. I did not think in learning in filthy places. I never walked more than four amos without learning Torah and wearing tefillin. I never slept in a Beis Medrash, not even a nap. I never rejoiced when my friends stumbled. Lastly, I never called my friend by a derogatory nickname. ”
The Gemora records the praiseworthy incident of Rav Huna. Tell me of Rav Huna's good deeds," Rava asked Rafram bar Papa.
"About the good deeds of his youth," Rafram bar Papa answered, "I can't remember, but I can tell you the good deeds of his old age.
"On cloudy stormy days when strong winds would blow, he would inspect the city's walls riding in a golden carriage. If he saw a wall that was shaky or cracked, he would have it dismantled, that the owner should rebuild it anew. If the homeowner could not afford this repair, Rav Huna would rebuild it at his own expense.
"Every Erev Shabbos, towards evening, he sent a messenger to the market to buy up the remaining vegetables, and throw them in the river.”
"Why did he not give these vegetables to the poor? He didn't want the poor to rely on this handout. For there would certainly be some weeks that the market would sell out its goods, and they would have no food for that Shabbos.
"Why then didn't he throw the vegetables to his sheep and goats? He felt that giving what Hashem has given as a gift to us to animals, belittled this gift; alternatively, he knew poor people lower down the river would find this food and eat it.
"Why then did he buy the food at all? He didn't want the merchants to suffer losses over their unsold produce. This would discourage them from bringing fresh vegetables the following week, and consequently, the holy Shabbos would suffer.”
"Another great deed of his," Rafram bar Papa continued, "was when he sat down to a meal, he would open his door and announce, "Anyone who wishes to eat should come and join me."
"All these things," Rava told Rafram bar Papa, "I could also do, except for feeding the people that are passing by. They are so many paupers in Mechuza, they would eat all that I own.” (20b – 21a)


Eric said...

R. Adler,

I love your website. Don't know if you remember me but I used to live in Cleveland and go to your 9 PM Daf Yomi shiur at the C-G Kollel.

I had a question from Daf 20a. The Gemara brings two possible gezairos shavos to prove that Moshe also made the sun stand still. Our Daf Yomi shiur here in Philadelphia was bothered by the fact that a gezairah shavah was used to prove a neis was performed, first because it is an unusual use of gezairah shavah and also what is the nafka mina l'halacha which is usually what a g"sh teaches (may not be a g"sh in the strict limud sense of the word).

However, learning the parsha this week compounds the question even more, as Rashi brings the Tanchuma which says that Moshe made the sun stand still "Ad ki bo shemesh" during the war with the Amalekim. If so, why should the passuk use a gezairah shavah in Devarim by the Emorim?

I did see that the Torah Temimah in Devarim mentions that it might be related to "Pnei Moshe K'pnei Chamah" which I understood to mean in this context that if Yehoshua made the sun stand still then obviously Moshe did it at some point since Yehoshua learned everything he knew from Moshe but was on a lesser level (as sun:moon), but the war with Amalek would be a better example as Moshe and Yehoshua are specifically mentioned there fighting (Moshe with prayer) and Yehoshua would certainly have noticed the sun standing still.

It could be conflicting aggadeta but I was hoping for a unifying answer.


Avromi said...

Please remind me of your last name.

Do you want the daf notes emailed by pdf?

i will bli neder look for the answer and respond - look back here or a new post for todays daf

thanks and a good shabbos

Eric said...

R. Adler,

I actually look at it on-line during the day so no need for e-mail.

Eric Haas

Avromi said...

I actually remembered over shabbos

im still searching for your question

some people like in pdf format so its easy to print out and some like an email to know when the new material has been posted