Thursday, February 01, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 24 - Highlights

What happened with the son and the daughter that so upset this student?
His son: One day when R' Yosi of Yokeres had workers working his fields, he was late in bringing them their daily meal, a normal duty of every employer in those days.
"We're very hungry," the workers, resting under a fig tree, complained to his son. The boy took this very much to heart.
"Fig tree, fig tree," his son said, "bring out fruit that my father's workers can eat." The fig tree produced beautiful figs, and the workers ate well.
In the meantime, R' Yosi of Yokeres appeared, apologizing for his delay. "Please don't suspect me of forgetting you," he told the workers, "I was involved in a mitzva which I couldn't leave. This is why I am late."
"Don't worry at all," the workers blessed him, "Hashem will surely fill all your needs as He has filled ours."
"Where did you find food?" R' Yosi asked them. They told him what his son had done. R' Yosi then turned to his son. "My son," he said sternly, "you troubled your Master to produce fruit before its time; therefore, you too must die before your time."
His daughter: R' Yosi of Yokeres had an exceptionally beautiful daughter. One day he saw a man undoing part of the wooden fence around his house that he might stare at the girl.
"What are you doing?" R' Yosi asked the man, "What are you looking at?"
"Rebbi," the man answered, "if I cannot have her as a wife, can I not, at least, enjoy looking at her?"
"My daughter," he later said to her, "you are causing pain to others. It would be better then that you return to the dust, and not cause men to sin on your account."

R' Yosi had a donkey which he would hire out on a daily basis. In the evening, they would send her home with the rental money on her. She would then go home. But if they put on her more or less money than they should have, she would not move from that place.
Once, they forgot on her a pair of shoes, and she would not budge. The people were puzzled until at last they found the cause. They removed the shoes from her back, and she went home. (24a)
When charity collectors would see Eliezer of Bartusa, they would hide themselves from him, for he always emptied out his pockets of all they held for tzedaka.
Once he came to the market to shop for his daughter's upcoming marriage. Again, charity collectors saw him and hid. However, he saw them first and ran after them.
"You must tell me," he ordered them, "what are you collecting for today."
"We are arranging a wedding between two orphans," they answered.
"Such a cause definitely comes before my daughter," he stated, and gave them his money. All he left for himself was one small coin with which he bought a little wheat. This wheat he threw into his storeroom, and went to learn Torah.
"What did your father buy?" his wife asked their daughter.
"I don't know," she answered, "but whatever it is, it's in the storeroom.
The daughter went to check the storeroom. The wheat so filled it that it was falling from the cracks and holes in the door. She couldn't even open the door.
She went to find her father in the beis hamedresh. "Come father," she said, "see what Hashem has done for you."
"This wheat is not to make you an extravagant wedding," he responded, "we will marry you like the Jewish poor marry, and the rest of it will go to charity. (24a)

Rabbi Yehuda Nesiah declared a fast because of a drought. He prayed for rain but to no avail. He said, “Look at the difference between Shmuel and myself. (Shmuel prayed privately and was answered with rain, but Rabbi Yehuda prayed publicly and wasn’t answered.) Woe is to my generation that had this happen to us.” He became depressed and then it began to rain. (24a)
There was a drought and the Nasi’s court declared a fast but Rabbi Yochanan and Rish Lakish were not informed about it. After realizing the next morning, Rish Lakish said to Rabbi Yochanan that they did not accept the fast from the day before. Rabbi Yochanan replied that it is not necessary since we can rely on the court of the Nasi. (24a)
The Gemora relates that once, when the Nasi declared a fast in order to bring rain but no rain appeared, a young student named Oshaya quoted a braisa that derived from the possuk: that the leadership of the people (i.e. the Nasi) were the "eyes" of the people. Just as a bride, if she has pleasing eyes, her body needs no other scrutiny, yet if they are not pleasing, her entire body requires scrutiny, so too, if the Nasi were worthy, the people would not need to undergo scrutiny. It is evident that the Nasi was also found wanting.

The Nasi’s servants threw a kerchief around Oshaya and began to hurt him. The people there intervened and said, “Leave him be since he used to criticize us but we realized that all his words are for the sake of Heaven.” (24a)

Rebbe decreed a fast, but the rain did not come. Ilfa (and some say [it was] Rabbi Ilfa) went down as the chazzan in Rebbe’s presence and just as he recited: “Who causes the wind to blow,” the wind blew. As soon as he recited: “Who causes the rain to fall,” the rain came. Rebbe asked him: “Why do you merit such immediate responses?” He said to him: “I live in a remote poor place in which there is no wine for kiddush and havdalah. I make an effort and bring wine for kiddush and havdalah, and discharge their obligation for them.” (24a)

Rav visited a community that was punished by drought. He declared a fast and prayed for rain, but nothing came. Eventually someone else stepped forward in front of Rav before the ark and prayed for rain and the rain came. “What do you do that your prayers are answered immediately,” asked Rav. “I am a teacher of small children and I teach the children of the poor as well as the rich and whoever cannot afford to pay me, I do not take anything from them,” replied the old man. “Besides, I have a fish pond, and I offer fish to any boy who refuses to study, so that he comes to study.” (24a)

Rav Nachman decreed a fast, but the rain did not come. He said, “Take Nachman and throw him from the top of the wall to the ground.” (I.e. he was saying that he should be removed from his position.) He became depressed and it began to rain. (24a)

Rabbah decreed a fast. He petitioned for mercy, but the rain did not come. They said to him: “But surely when Rav Yehuda would decree a fast, the rain would come.” He said to them: “What shall I do? If on account of study; we are better than they, for in the years of Rav Yehuda all [their] study was in [the order of] Nezikin, but we teach the six orders (all six sedorim of the Mishnayos).

And when Rav Yehudah reached in Uktzin: [If] a woman was pickling vegetables in a pot,’ and some say: ‘Olives that were picked with their leaves are ritually pure,’ he said: “I see [matters that are as difficult for me to understand as all the] arguments [raised by my teachers] Rav and Shmuel here!’ And we teach Uktzin [in] thirteen academies! But nevertheless when Rav Yehuda took off one shoe, rain came, and we cry out all day, and there is no one who pays attention to us! If [this is] on account of deeds, if there is someone who saw something, let him speak! But what can the leaders of the generation do, when their generation does not seem worthy?” (24a – 24b)

R' Yehuda, on one occasion, was walking and saw people throwing bread to each other, as they would with a ball.
"I see there is an abundance of food in the world," he observed with disapproval. Shortly afterwards, a famine began.
"You are a close student of R' Yehuda," the rabbis said to Rav Kahana ben Nechunya, "invite him to go with you through the streets. That way he will notice how hungry the people are, and have mercy on them."
Rav Kahana did so. As they walked, they saw people crowding to buy dates. Even though, dates were the cheapest, most common food of those times, people were paying very high prices, and even buying the date pits.
"I see there is a famine in the land," R' Yehuda observed.
"Take off my shoes," he told his assistant, "that I may pray for Hashem's mercy." As the assistant removed the first shoe, the rain started falling. He was about to remove the second shoe, when Eliyahu HaNavi appeared.
"Stop," he cried out, "if you remove that second shoe, so much rain will fall that it will destroy the world.
"At that time," Rav Mari grandson of Shmuel later related, "I was standing on the wall overlooking the River Papa, and I saw angels in the guise of sailors bringing great quantities of sand and filling the ships there. All the sand turned into fine flour, and people began to crowd around them to buy from them.
"Don't buy from this flour," R' Yehuda instructed them, "heavenly miracles produced it, and it is preferable not to derive benefit from miracles."
The next day, boats came from Parzania, carrying wheat, and some say, rice. All were able to buy much food, and at cheap prices. (24b)
Rava by chance, came to Hagrunia. There he decreed a fast and prayed that rain should fall, but no rain fell.
"No one should eat tonight," he told the people there, "that the heavens should have mercy on us." And so they did.
The next morning he asked of them, "If anyone here received some sort of omen in a dream, please report it." R' Eliezer of Hagrunia stepped forward.
"I saw in a dream myself reading the words "Good wishes of peace to the good leader of his community from the good Lord, from whose goodness the world flourishes."
"This is an omen that this is a time of good will," Rava said, "therefore, let us now pray again." They prayed and the rain fell. (24b)
Rava's court lashed a certain man for sins he committed. As a result of his punishment however, he died. This news traveled to the courts of King Shapur, the Persian ruler of the time. He wished to punish Rava for this, however his mother Imra Hormiz, warned him, "My son, have no dealings with the Jews for whatever they ask for from Hashem, he grants them."
"What does Hashem do for them?" he asked her.
"When they ask for rain, immediately He sends it to them," she answered.
"That's because they ask for rain in the rainy season, and, even if they didn't pray for rain, it would fall," he answered, "Let me see them see them praying for rain in Tamuz, the dry season, then I will know that Hashem is with them.
She greatly admired Rava and sent him a message that he should pray intensely and ask Hashem to send rain. He did so, but no rain fell.
"Lord of the universe," he begged, "with our ears we heard it, our fathers told it to us, the great miracles you performed in the past. However we have never been privileged to see the miracles with our own eyes. Show us then Your wonders." The rains then fell so hard that the gutters overflowed, washing away the courtyards and pouring down to the Tigris River.
Rava's father appeared to him in a dream. "Is there anyone who so troubles Hashem," he asked Rava, "as you have done? Therefore change your place, do not sleep in your regular bed tonight."
Rava did so. In the morning he saw that his bed was cut up with knives. Demons had tried to kill him for asking Hashem to change nature and send rain in Tamuz. (24b)
Rav Papa decreed a fast that rain should fall, but no rain fell. The fast was long and hard for him, and he felt weak. He ate something, and then again prayed. Still, no rain fell.
"If you sir, will eat another spoon of porridge," said Rav Nachman to him jokingly, "maybe then the rain will fall."
Hearing this, Rav Papa turned red with embarrassment. He then turned again to his prayer. This time the rain fell. The hurt of his embarrassment was even more effective than his fasting to appease the heavens and bring down the rain. (24b)
Rebbi Chanina ben Dosa was once walking along the way and rain began to fall.
"Ribono shel Olam," he prayed, "the whole world sits comfortably in the shelter of their homes, and Chanina needs to suffer!" The rain then stopped falling.
When he arrived home, again he prayed, "Ribono shel Olam, the whole world is suffering, because they need rain, and Chanina (who had no fields) sits comfortably. The rain then began to fall.
"Of what use was the Kohen Gadol's prayer," R' Yosef said on hearing this story, "For the Kohen Gadol would pray on Yom Kippur that Hashem ignore the traveler who prays that the rains should stop, but R' Chanina's prayer over rid his request.
"Every day," Rav said, "a heavenly voice broadcasts: The entire world eats on account of Chanina, my precious son, yet Chanina, my precious son is so poor that he sustains himself on no more than a small quantity of carobs each week. (24b)
R' Chanina ben Dosa's wife would fire her oven on Friday, and place something in it that it may give off smoke. She did this so that her neighbors would think that she too was baking in honor of the coming Shabbos. The truth was however, that she had nothing to bake, and she only lit the oven so that she shouldn't feel embarrassment before her neighbors.
One of her neighbors was a nasty woman who resented her righteousness.
"What's all that smoke coming from R' Chanina's house," she asked herself, "they have nothing to bake." She went and knocked loudly on their door.
The wife of Chanina would make a fire in her oven on the eve of every Sabbath in order not to be ashamed before her neighbors. She had, however, one bad neighbor who said: "I know that Chanina and his wife have nothing to cook for the Sabbath, why does she make fire in her oven? I shall go and see." She went and knocked at the threshold, and Chanina's wife became ashamed and went into another room. In the meantime a miracle happened, and the oven became filled with bread. The neighbor, noticing the bread in the oven, called to Chanina's wife: "Bring the bread-shovel, or the bread will be burned!" And she replied: "I just went in for that purpose." We have learned in a braisa: Chanina's wife really did go into the next room for a shovel, because she was accustomed to have miracles happen to her. (24b – 25a)