Sunday, March 11, 2007

Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 2 - Why Moed Katan?

What is the meaning in the name “Moed Katan”?

The Torah refers to the sun as the meor hagadol and the moon as meor hakatan. Rashi cites from Chazal that they were both created the same size, but the moon complained and said that two kings cannot use the same crown and therefore the moon was diminished. The question is asked: It is well known that the moon does not have any intrinsic light source of its own, but rather it is only reflecting the sun light. What is the meaning that they were created equally?

The Gemora Bava Metziah (12b) states: An adult who is supported by his father is regarded as a katan, a minor and a katan who is not provided for by the father, but rather supports himself, he is referred to as an adult, a gadol.

It emerges that the term gadol means that he has from himself and katan means that he receives from someone else.

Reb Aryeh Tzvi Frummer answers that that this was precisely the punishment to the moon; the moon did not decrease in size but rather its retribution was that it will not contain its own light and it will only provide light that it receives from the reflection of the sun.

Initially, the sun and the moon were both gedolim since they both had an intrinsic light source; afterwards, the moon became a katan because it could not provide light by itself. The Zohar in Breishis seems to explain in an identical manner.

The Beis Yosef (O”C 31) cites the Zohar in Shir Hashirim that Chol Hamoed is akin to the moon; it does not have its own sanctity but rather it receives kedusha from the Yom Tov.

It is for this reason why the name of this Mesechta, which contains many halachos regarding Chol Hamoed, is called Moed Katan.