Sunday, January 14, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 4 - Highlights


Rava states that snow is as beneficial to mountains as five rains are for the ground. He states further that heavy rain is favorable for trees and gentle rain is of assistance for produce. Drizzling rain is beneficial for the seeds underneath a lump of earth.

Rava taught that a young Torah scholar can be compared to a seed underneath a lump of earth. Once a seed breaks through the ground, its growth is not impeded, so too the young student grows in status once his name is recognized.

Rava said another statement regarding young students. When a young scholar becomes angry, it is the Torah which boils within him that causes him to become angry.

Rav Ashi states that a Torah scholar who is not as hard as iron is not considered to be a true Torah scholar. Ravina says that nevertheless, he should conduct himself calmly as the Torah teaches us to avoid anger. (3b -4a)


Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmeini said in the name of Rabbi Yonason that there were three people who asked inappropriately. Two of them were answered generously and one was not.

Eliezer, the servant of Avraham requested that the first girl who offers him and his camels water to drink will be the one who he will bring for Yitzchak as a wife. It could have happened that a lame or blind girl would have responded to his request and if Eliezer would not notice her defect, he would bring her back to Yitzchak. He was answered appropriately since Hashem sent Rivkah to be the one.

Shaul made an improper guarantee when he promised wealth and his daughter to whoever would kill Goliath. The possibility existed that it could have been a slave or mamzer, but Hashem responded to him properly and sent David.

Yiftach made an inappropriate promise before heading out to wage a war against the Ammonites. He pledged that he would bring as a Korban whatever would come out of his house first. It was considered improper since it could have been a non-kosher animal. Hashem responded in an improper manner and sent out his daughter. The prophet complained about Yiftach that he did not go to Pinchas to have his vow annulled.

Rabbi Brachya cites another example where an inappropriate request was answered appropriately. Klal Yisroel asked of Hashem to resemble the rain. Hashem responded to them that rain is sometimes undesirable and instead, He will be to them like dew which is always beneficial. (4a)


 The Mishna stated that we ask for rain close to the rainy season. The Gemora inquires as to whose opinion is reflected in this ruling. Rava says that it is the viewpoint of Rabbi Yehoshua who maintains that we begin mentioning rain on Shmini Atzeres. This is considered close to the rainy season. Abaye suggests that the Mishna can be following the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer who holds that we begin mentioning rain on the first day of Sukkos. The Mishna is referring to the request for rain, v’sen tal u’matar. Rabbi Eliezer agrees that we do not begin asking for rain until the rainy season. (4a – 4b)


 The Gemora asks a contradiction in the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda. In our Mishna, Rabbi Yehuda stated that we stop mentioning rain on the first day of Pesach. A braisa is cited that presents a dispute between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Meir regarding the time during the year that we cease requesting for rain. Rabbi Yehuda maintains that v’sen tal u’matar is recited until Pesach is over and Rabbi Meir holds that it is recited until the end of the month of Nissan.

The Gemora attempts to resolve this contradiction by making a distinction between the mentioning of rain and the request for rain. This is proven to be illogical. If we stop mentioning rain on the first day of Pesach, we would certainly not continue asking for rain until the conclusion of Pesach. The Gemora is compelled to say that there are two Tannaim who have different versions of Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion.

Rabbah answers that when Rabbi Yehuda stated that we ask for rain until Pesach is over, he meant until the time of the slaughtering of the korban Pesach is over. It emerges that we would stop requesting rain during tefillas mincha on the day before Pesach.

Rabbah explains that just like in the beginning (Shmini Atzeres), we mention rain even though we do not request rain until much later (during the month of Cheshvan), so too at the end, we mention rain (the first Shacharis during Pesach) even though we stopped requesting rain the day before.

Abaye disagrees with Rabbah’s logic and states that there is a clear distinction between the beginning and the end. It is correct to mention rain in the beginning even though we are not yet requesting rain since we are praising Hashem that He provides rain in order that our request later will be listened to; however there is no reason to mention rain at the end when we are not requesting rain any longer. (4b)


 Rabbi Yochanan ruled that the halacha is according to Rabbi Yehuda who maintains that we begin mentioning rain on Shmini Atzeres.

The Gemora questions this statement from a Mishna that presents a dispute regarding the asking for rain. One Tanna holds that we begin on the third day of Cheshvan and Rabban Gamliel maintains that we begin on the seventh day of Cheshvan. Rabbi Elozar said that the halacha is in accordance with Rabban Gamliel.

Rav Assi answers that the first halachic ruling was issued by Rabbi Yochanan and therefore you cannot ask a question on this from a halachic ruling issued by Rabbi Elozar.

An alternative answer is given that Rabbi Elozar’s ruling is in regard to requesting rain and Rabbi Yochanan was referring to mentioning rain.

The Gemora rejects this answer because Rabbi Yochanan explicitly rules that the mentioning and requesting for rain must coincide in the beginning and in the end.

The Gemora offers a different answer. Rabbi Elozar’s ruling is relevant only to the people residing in Bavel and Rabbi Yochanan’s ruling applies to the people living in Eretz Yisroel. The harvest is gathered much later in Bavel and therefore the request for rain is postponed until Cheshvan.

The Gemora asks that even in Eretz Yisroel, we should be concerned on behalf of the people traveling back from their pilgrimage to the Beis Hamikdosh and we should postpone the request for rain until they return home.

The Gemora answers that Rabbi Yochanan was referring to the time that the Beis Hamikdosh was not in existence and that is why the request for rain commenced on Shmini Atzeres.

The Gemora concludes that Rabbi Elozar was referring to the time that the Beis Hamikdosh was in existence and that is why the request for rain is postponed until the month of Cheshvan. (4b)


 Rav rules that outside of Eretz Yisroel, where they observe two days of Shmini Atzeres, rain should be mentioned during Mussaf of the eighth day and withhold from mentioning rain again until Mussaf of the ninth day.

Shmuel vehemently objected to this ruling. How can we stop mentioning rain by Mincha of the eighth day? If the day was already considered holy, how can it now be regarded as ordinary?

Shmuel maintains that we mention rain by Mussaf and by Mincha of Shmini Atzeres. We withhold from mentioning rain by Maariv and Shacharis of the ninth day and resume during Mussaf of the ninth day.

Rava and Rav Sheishes rule that once we begin mentioning rain during Mussaf of the eighth day, we continue mentioning rain without stopping. The Gemora concludes tat this is indeed the halacha. (4b – 5a)