Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 8 - Highlights

Rish Lakish states that if you see a student who is having difficulty in his Torah studies, it is because his knowledge of the Mishna is not arranged in an organized manner. The remedy for him is to spend more time studying in Yeshiva where all the students are learning the Mishna. Rish Lakish would review the Mishna forty times corresponding to the forty days that Moshe studied the Torah at Sinai and only then would he come before Rabbi Yochanan to learn Gemora. Rav Adda bar Ahava would review the Mishna twenty-four times corresponding to the twenty-four books of Scripture and only then would he come before Rava to learn Gemora.

Rava states that if you see a student who is having difficulty in his Torah studies, it is because his teacher is not treating him well. The solution would be to send friends to the teacher to intervene on his behalf. (7b – 8a)

Rabbi Ami said that a person’s tefillah will only be accepted if he is truly sincere. The Gemora asks from a statement from Shmuel who states that tefillah is accepted even if it is insincere. The Gemora answers that an individual’s tefillah will only be accepted if he is sincere; however a tefillah of the congregation will be accepted even if some of their tefillos are insincere. (8a)
Rabbi Ami states that rain will fall in the merit of people who possess integrity in their business dealings.

Rabbi Ami said: Come and see how great are the people who trust in Hashem. Rabbi Ami points to the story of those who believe in the huldah u-bor - the rodent and the pit - arguing that if you believe in the huldah u-bor, certainly you can believe in Hashem.

It is interesting that the Gemora feels no need to explain what the story of the huldah u-bor entails, taking for granted that it was a story so well known that there was no need to put it in writing. Rashi and Tosfos both tell a short version of the story, but a lengthier version, whose source is in the traditions of the Ge'onim, appears in the Arukh.

As R. Natan ben Yehiel tells it in his Arukh, the story begins with a girl from a noble family who loses her way and, having fallen into a well while drinking, cannot manage to extract herself. A passerby hears her cries and shouts. After a lengthy conversation during which time he ascertains that she is, in fact, a woman and not a demon of some sort, he agrees to save her, on the condition that she will marry him. Upon lifting her from the well he wants to consummate the marriage immediately, but she objects, arguing that a Jewish man surely wants to marry according to the halacha and would not be interested in simply fulfilling animalistic urges. They agree to marry and appoint the well and a passing weasel as witnesses to their pact.

Upon returning home, she scrupulously kept her agreement, refusing the entreaties of all suitors. He, on the other hand, soon forgot the agreement and married another woman, who bore children - the first of whom was bitten by a weasel, the second of whom drowned in a well. Seeing that her children died under unnatural circumstances, she demanded an explanation from her husband, who admitted that he had promised another that he would marry her. They divorced and he searched for the woman who he had saved and promised to marry. When she refused him - as she did all others - he told her of the honest witnesses, the huldah u-bor, that brought him back to her. In the end they married and had many children, proving the passage in Tehillim (101:6) that God's eyes are upon the faithful who merit a close relationship with Him. (Courtesy of the Aleph Society)

Rabbi Yochanan states that one who conducts himself righteously in this world will be judged more strictly Above. There will be a strict judging of his deeds in order to cleanse him and thereby he can receive his total reward in the world to come.

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said that one who rejoices in his suffering brings salvation to the world. (8a)
Rish Lakish cites a Scriptural verse proving that when the sky is filled with rain clouds but they do not produce rain is comparable to a woman who has labor pains but does not give birth. This is dangerous to the world as it is a consequence brought about from sin.

Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmeini said that if Hashem had decreed that harsh rains shall fall as a punishment and then Klal Yisroel repented, the fierce rains will be diverted to the unpopulated mountains and hills where they will fall harmlessly and not be detrimental. If good rain is decreed then it will fall on the fields, cisterns and caves.

In the days of R' Shmuel bar Nachmeini, a plague as well as a famine raged through the land.

"How should we act?" the rabbis asked, "to pray that Hashem nullify them both is impossible. We cannot pray [effectively] for two things at once. Let us then pray that the plague should come to an end, and we will suffer through the famine."

"Not so," R' Shmuel bar Nachmani may told them, "rather, we should pray for the end of the famine, and Hashem will remove the plague as well. For, Hashem does not send His abundance to those who will die, only to those who will live. This the Torah teaches when it says, "You open your hand, and satisfy the living with their desires."

In the days of R' Zeira, the government issued decrees against Jewish religious observance and among the decrees, was a prohibition against Jews fasting (e.g. to end a drought). According to Rashi, this decree was to prevent benefit from coming to the world through the efforts of the Jews. R' Zeira said that nevertheless, they should all accept a fast upon themselves, and when the decree will be rescinded, they will then fulfill their promise and observe the fast. When asked how he knew it was possible to do this, he replied that the Posuk says: (Daniel 10:12) that Daniel accepted upon himself twenty one years of fasting, and that his Tefilos were accepted immediately, as soon as he had made the vow.

Rabbi Yitzchak said that even during an extreme drought, rain that falls on a Friday is nothing but a curse since it will inconvenience those that are shopping for Shabbos. Ameimar had said that if it wouldn’t be that rain is so necessary, we would pray to have it abolished since it prevents people from going back and forth.

Rabbi Yitzchak states that rain is so great that even businesses that do not require rain are blessed on a day of rain. (8b)
Rabbi Yitzchak states further that one can only find blessing in something that is hidden from the eye. This is similar to a braisa cited in the name of Rabbi Yishmael that blessing will not be found except by something that the eye cannot gaze at.

The Rabbis taught that one who enters his silo to measure the grain should pray that Hashem should send blessing in the work of our hands. Once he has started to measure it, he blesses Hashem for bestowing blessing upon the pile of grain. If he measured it and then recited the blessing, it is in vain, as blessing cannot happen to items weighed, measured or on something that has been counted. Blessing can only be found on those things concealed from the eye. (8b)