Friday, February 02, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 25 - Highlights

One day the wife of Rabbi Chanina said to him: "How long shall we yet be troubled with the want of our daily bread?" And he replied: "What can I do?" She said: "Pray to Hashem that He should provide you with something." He accordingly went and prayed. A hand came forth and gave him a leg of a golden table. Subsequently his wife saw in a dream that all the righteous in heaven ate on golden tables having three legs, while her table only had two. She said to Chanina: "Would you then like it, that all should eat at a table having three legs, while we should eat at one only having two? Pray to Hashem that the golden leg may be taken back." He prayed, and the leg was taken back. We have learned in a braisa that this latter miracle was even greater than the former; for we have a tradition, that it is usual for heaven to bestow but not to take back. (25a)

One Friday night, Rabbi Chanina noticed his daughter in a despondent mood. Upon asking her what the trouble was, she replied: "I got the two vessels containing oil and vinegar mixed, and poured the latter into the Shabbos lamp and lit it." He said: "My daughter! Why should that trouble you? He who has ordained that oil should burn can also ordain that vinegar should burn." We have learned in a braisa that the vinegar in that lamp burned all night and all day, until some of it was used for the Havdalah prayer. (25a)

Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa had a few goats, and he was told that his goats caused damage to others. He said: "If my goats do damage, may wolves devour them; but if they do not, may they each bring a bear impaled upon their horns." That same evening, each goat brought in a bear mounted on its horns. (25a)

A woman neighbor of Rabbi Chanina was building a house but her beams did not reach far enough. She came before Rabbi Chanina and told him her situation. Rabbi Chanina asked her, “What is your name?” She responded, “Aiku.” Rabbi Chanina blessed her that her beams should become long (Aiku can mean long). It was said that her beams protruded an amah on both sides and others say that pieces were conjoined with the beams so that they attained the required length. Plimo said that he witnessed this particular house and saw that the beams protruded an amah on each side. People told him that this is the house that Rabbi Chanina covered with beams through his tefillah. (25a)

How did Rabbi Chanina happen to have goats? Was he not a poor man? Rabbi Pinchas said: "It once happened that a man left a few chickens at the house of Rabbi Chanina, and the latter said to his wife: 'Do not use the eggs, for the chickens do not belong to us.'" Accordingly the eggs were left untouched, and in the course of time quite a number of chickens were produced, so that they became too troublesome, and Rabbi Chanina sold them and with the proceeds purchased goats. Subsequently the man who left the chickens returned to claim them. He was asked for a description of his property, which he gave correctly, whereupon Rabbi Chanina turned over the goats to him, and these are the goats that brought bears upon their horns.

Rabbi Elozar ben Pedas was extremely poor. On one occasion after being bled he found he had nothing to eat to regain his strength. He took the skin of garlic and put it in his mouth. He became faint and fell asleep. The rabbis who came to visit him saw that while he was sleeping he was crying and laughing and that a ray of light was radiating from his forehead. When he woke up they asked him why he had been crying and laughing. He answered because Hashem was sitting with me and I asked him: “How much longer will I suffer in this world? He said: ‘Elozar My son would you like me to return the world back to its beginning and recreate it so that perhaps you would be born at a more propitious time?’ I replied to Him in amazement: Despite all this effort of creating the world anew it would only be a possibility that my life would be better? I asked Him then: Which is longer the life I have already lived or what I still have to live? He answered: ‘The life you have already lived.’” Rabbi Elozar determined that he had already lived most of his years and as such, declined to have his life restarted. Hashem rewarded him for turning down the offer. As a reward, he would be given thirteen rivers of Afarsamon oil in the next world. Rabbi Elozar asked of Hashem if that will be his complete reward. Hashem responded that there must be a remainder to give to others. Rabbi Elozar requested the portions of the people who will not be receiving portions in the World to Come. Hashem flicked Rabbi Elozar on the forehead and said “My arrows have struck you.”

Rabbi Chama bar Chanina ordered a fast-day, but no rain descended, and he was told: "Why, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi would order a fast-day, and rain would commence to fall!" He said: "That was the son of Levi, and not I!" They responded: "We meant to say, that we should again congregate, and perhaps, if we prove contrite of heart, the rain will descend." They did so, and still no rain descended. He said to them: "Do you think that you deserve rain to descend?" They answered: "Yes." He said to the sky: "Cover your countenance." No results, however, were produced, and he exclaimed: "How impudent are the skies!" As he said that, they became covered, and rain commenced to fall. (25a)

Levi ordered a fast-day, but no rain descended. He said: "Creator of the universe! You did ascend to the heavens, and did sit down, but have no compassion upon Your children." As he said that, rain descended, but Levi fell and became lame.

Rabbi Elozar said that a person should never complain towards Heaven for a great person (Levi) once complained and became lame because of it. The Gemora asks that there is an incident recorded that Levi became lame for a different reason. He once demonstrated how to perform a kidah-bowing (One brings his face to the ground while standing and using only his thumbs for support, he rises back up again)in front of Rebbe and became lame because of it. The Gemora answers that it was both matters that contributed to him becoming lame. (25a)

Rabbi Chiya bar Luliani overheard clouds saying to each other that they should give rain to Ammon and Moav. He protested to Hashem that the nations which refused the Torah should not receive rain, and rain fell on the Jews instead. (25a)

Rabbi Chiya bar Luliani explained that the passuk compares a Tzadik to both a date-palm and a cedar because if he would be compared only to a date-palm and not a cedar, I would say that the Tzadik will not get resurrected in the same manner that the trunk of a date-palm does not regenerate. That is why he is compared to a cedar tree as well since the trunk of a cedar does regenerate. If he would be compared only to a cedar tree, I would say that a Tzadik will not receive rewards in the World to Come in the same manner that a cedar tree does not produce fruits. It is for this reason that he is compared to a date-palm.

The Gemora asks from a braisa regarding one who buys a tree with the intention of cutting it down and using the wood; he must leave (and not cut) some part of the tree above the ground. This is the halacha for all trees which regenerate. However, he is not required to leave any part of a cedar tree since they do not regenerate.

The Gemora answers that there are ten different types of cedar trees and some do regenerate and some do not. (25a – 25b)

The Rabbis taught: It once happened that Rabbi Eliezer ordered thirteen fast-days, but no rain descended. When the congregation dispersed after the thirteenth fast-day, he asked them if they had already ordered their graves, and they commenced to weep aloud, whereupon rain commenced to fall.

Another time it happened that Rabbi Eliezer recited the twenty-four benedictions at prayer, but he was not answered. Rabbi Akiva followed him at the reading-desk, and said: "Father and King! We have no other king but You. Only for Your sake have mercy upon us!" And his prayer was answered. The people then began to murmur (and say that Rabbi Akiva was a greater man than Rabbi Eliezer). A Heavenly voice went forth and said: It is not because Rabbi Akiva is a greater man than Rabbi. Eliezer that his prayer answered, but rather because he is forgiving, while Rabbi Eliezer is not." (25b)

The Mishna had stated that a series of fasts are declared if it did not rain. A braisa is cited which presents two opinions regarding the amount of rainfall needed to fall to be considered the end of the drought. Rabbi Meir maintains that it if the water will saturate the cavity made by a plow, there is no necessity to fast any longer. The Chachamim hold that if it is dry land, a tefach of rain is sufficient. If it is regular land, two tefachim are required. Three tefachim of rain are needed by plowed land. (Rashi learns that these are all the same amount of rainfall.) (25b)

Rabbah said that he saw an image of the angel Ridya who is the angel placed in charge of rain. The angel resembles a calf and his lips are parted. He stands between the lower and upper waters. He tells the upper waters to bring down the rain and he tells the lower waters to pour out their waters. (25b)

It was taught in a braisa that if the rain fell prior to sunrise, they are not required to fast but if the rain began falling after sunrise, they should complete the fast. That is Rabbi Meir’s opinion. Rabbi Yehuda maintains that the defining time is at midday and Rabbi Yosi holds that it is nine hours into the day.

The Gemora cites an incident where Rabbi Yehuda Nesiah declared a fast and it began to rain after sunrise. He was of the opinion that they should continue to fast. Rabbi Ami informed him that the halacha is according to Rabbi Yehuda that if it began to rain before midday, we are not required to complete the fast.

Shmuel Hakatan declared a fast, and it began to rain before sunrise. The community assumed that this was due to their credit, but Shmuel Hakatan told them otherwise. He offered a parable to a servant who requests his wages from his master. The master, wishing to show his displeasure with the servant sends his agent to pay him and this way, he will not be required to listen to his servant’s voice. Hashem was so displeased with them that He quickly sent rain, thereby avoiding having to listen to their pleas.

Another time, it started to rain after sunset, following an entire day of fasting and praying. When the people thought this to be a sign that Hashem had been interested to hear their prayers, Shmuel again assured them that Hashem's purpose was only to humble them with distress before alleviating their suffering. What did Shmuel believe would indicate worthiness? The Gemora answers, if the Shliach Tzibur said mashiv haruach
and the wind began to blow; or morid hageshem and it began to rain. (25b)

The Mishna concluded with an incident that the Chachamim declared a fast in Lod and it began to rain before midday. Rabbi Tarfon said to them that they should do eat, drink and declare a festival. They went out, ate, drank and made the day into a holiday and returned to the synagogues in the afternoon to recite Hallel Hagadol.

The Gemora asks as to why they didn’t recite hallel before they went home to eat. Abaye and Rava answer that hallel is only recited when a person is satisfied and with a full stomach. The Gemora cites an incident that Rav Pappa visited a synagogue of Abi Govar, which is near the city of Mechuza. They declared a fast on account of a drought and it began to rain before midday. They recited hallel and then went home to eat and drink. The Gemora explains that it was common for the townspeople of Mechuza to become drunk and therefore they recited hallel first. (25b – 26a)