Saturday, January 27, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 20 - Be Flexible like a Reed

Rabbi Abraham Twersky

Shema Yisroel

A person should always be flexible like a reed, and not rigid like a cedar (Taanis 20a).
Some people forget that they have the right to be wrong. They may see being wrong as showing weakness. They grossly misunder stand the true concept of strength.
In the physical world, many substances that are very rigid are also fragile. Glass, for instance, is hard but shatters into many splinters, and metals which lack resilience are apt to break under pressure.

Rigidity in people frequently shows ignorance. If people do something without understanding why they are doing it, they are likely to become very defensive when challenged. The reason is obvious: if they do not understand the reason for their actions, they of course do not know if they have any room for compromise. Since they can respond only in an all-or-nothing manner, they perceive any questioning of their principles or practices as a threat or even as a hostile attack. They therefore react defensively.

Willingness to listen to advice, to consider it, and to alter our opinion when the advice appears to be the correct thing to do are signs of strength, not of weakness. Honor means being honest, not being right all the time. As the Talmud says, "You should not say, `You must accept my opinion,' because the others may be right and not you" (Ethics of the Fathers 4:10).

Today I shall ... try to be flexible, to listen to other opinions, and not be obstinate in insisting that I am always right.

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Daf Yomi - Taanis 20 - Highlights

The Gemora cites a braisa that there were three people for whom sunset was miraculously delayed and they are: Moshe, Yehoshua and Nakdimon. The Gemora cites Scriptural verses to prove that the sun stayed East for Moshe and Yehoshua. (20a)

The Mishna had ruled that in a situation where there is rain in one city but not another, they call out immediately. A verse is cites which states that Hashem will deliver rain to one city and cause the rain not to fall in the other city. Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav that both the rain and the drought entail a curse. Rashi explains that the city which receives the rain will be so sodden that the grain will become destroyed. (20a)

The Gemora illustrates four occasions in which Rabbi Yehuda detects a positive aspect to an otherwise negative verse.

The fourth verse cited is a verse from Melochim where the Navi Achiya Hashiloni prophesied against Yerovem ben Nevot for enticing Klal Yisroel to commit idolatry. The Navi said that Hashen will smite the Jews like the reed that swings in the water. Rav Yehuda expounded this verse to mean a blessing. The Gemora explains that the curse of Achiya was better that the blessing of Bilam. Achiya cursed Klal Yisroel using the metaphor of a reed. A reed stands in a place of water, its stalks grow back after it’s cut and it has many roots. Even if all the winds of the world will come and blow, the reed will not move from its place; rather it will sway in the same direction as the wind is blowing. When the wind settles down, the reed will stand erect in its place. Bilam blessed Klal Yisroel using the metaphor of a cedar tree. A cedar tree does not grow in a watery place and therefore can dry up. Its trunk would not grow back and it doesn’t have many roots. Most winds cannot blow a cedar tree down but the powerful Eastern wind can uproot it. It was Bilam’s wish that Edom should deal such a powerful blow to the Jewish people that they wouldn’t be able to recover. The Gemora concludes that the reed merited that it is used by a scribe to write the Holy Scriptures. (20a)

The Gemora states that a person should be humble like a reed and not haughty or harsh like a cedar tree.

The Gemora cites an incident with Rabbi Elozar illustrating this theme. R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon rode his donkey along the riverbanks, traveling from his yeshiva to Migdal G'dor, his hometown. He was extremely happy, and self-assured having learned so much Torah. Suddenly, he met an exceptionally ugly man.
"Shalom alecha, Rebbi," the man greeted R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon. R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon however, instead of greeting him in return, scolded him.
"You -- good for nothing -- how ugly you are! Are all the people in your town as ugly as you?"
"I don't know," answered the man, "but maybe you'd like to tell the Craftsmen who made me, how ugly His work is!
R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon immediately realized that he had made a bad mistake. He got down from his donkey, and bowed down before the man.
"Please, forgive me," he begged.
"First," answered the man, "tell the Craftsmen who made me, how ugly His work is. Then I will forgive you!"
The man walked off, with R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon tailing humbly after him. They came to Migdal G'dor, R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon's hometown. There, many people came out to greet the great scholar. "Shalom alecha, Rebbi, Rebbi, Mori, Mori," they called.
"Whom are you calling Rebbi, Rebbi," the ugly man asked them.
"The person who walks behind you," they answered.
"If this is a rabbi," he exclaimed, "may there not be too many of them in Yisrael."
"Why do you say this?" they asked.
"Do you know how he treats people?" he answered, and told them the story.
"Even so, forgive him, for he is a Torah giant," the people requested.
"For the sake of this town I will forgive him," the man responded, "as long as he promises never to act like this again."
R' Elozar b'Rebbi Shimon then entered the shul and the people assembled there. "A person needs always to be as flexible as a reed," he taught them, "and not hard like a cedar." This, says the Gemora, is the reason, the common reed is used as a quill to write the Torah, tefillin, and mezuzos. (20a – 20b)

The Mishna had stated that a city where the buildings are collapsing should declare a fast and call out. The Gemora qualifies this halacha to be referring to buildings that are sturdy and not liable to collapse. The Gemora states that this excludes buildings that fall due to their height or because they were built on the banks of the water.

The Gemora relates a story pertaining to this theme. Rav and Shmuel would not pass under a certain old and shaky wall in Neharda'a. Even though it had stood thirteen years, it looked dangerous and as though it would fall at any moment. Therefore, they went to the trouble of encircling it and not passing under it. Once, the great Rav Ada bar Ahava visited Rav and Shmuel in Neharda'a. As they walked together, Shmuel reminded Rav, "We need to walk around that old wall, and not under it."
"No," Rav answered, "today this isn't necessary. Rav Ada bar Ahava, who has many merits, is with us and we have nothing to fear. (20b)

The Gemora relates a similar type of story. Rav Huna had barrels of wine in an old house. He wanted to remove them that he was scared of entering the building. There was a fear it might collapse on him. What did he do? He invited Rav Ada bar Ahava over, and entered a deep Torah conversation with him. As they spoke, workers removed the barrels. As they then left the old house, it collapsed. Rav Ada bar Ahava was angry with Rav Huna.
"How could you ignore the teaching of R' Yanai," he asked, "Never should a person stand in a dangerous place, and rely on a miracle. For, he cannot know that the heavens will perform a miracle for him. And even if they do perform a miracle, they deduct this from his heavenly merits. (20b)

The Gemora records the praiseworthy incident of Rav Adda bar Ahava. His student inquired of him “Why did you merit living so long?”
He responded, “It is because I never got angry in my house. I was careful not to walk in front of someone greater than me. I did not think in learning in filthy places. I never walked more than four amos without learning Torah and wearing tefillin. I never slept in a Beis Medrash, not even a nap. I never rejoiced when my friends stumbled. Lastly, I never called my friend by a derogatory nickname. ”
The Gemora records the praiseworthy incident of Rav Huna. Tell me of Rav Huna's good deeds," Rava asked Rafram bar Papa.
"About the good deeds of his youth," Rafram bar Papa answered, "I can't remember, but I can tell you the good deeds of his old age.
"On cloudy stormy days when strong winds would blow, he would inspect the city's walls riding in a golden carriage. If he saw a wall that was shaky or cracked, he would have it dismantled, that the owner should rebuild it anew. If the homeowner could not afford this repair, Rav Huna would rebuild it at his own expense.
"Every Erev Shabbos, towards evening, he sent a messenger to the market to buy up the remaining vegetables, and throw them in the river.”
"Why did he not give these vegetables to the poor? He didn't want the poor to rely on this handout. For there would certainly be some weeks that the market would sell out its goods, and they would have no food for that Shabbos.
"Why then didn't he throw the vegetables to his sheep and goats? He felt that giving what Hashem has given as a gift to us to animals, belittled this gift; alternatively, he knew poor people lower down the river would find this food and eat it.
"Why then did he buy the food at all? He didn't want the merchants to suffer losses over their unsold produce. This would discourage them from bringing fresh vegetables the following week, and consequently, the holy Shabbos would suffer.”
"Another great deed of his," Rafram bar Papa continued, "was when he sat down to a meal, he would open his door and announce, "Anyone who wishes to eat should come and join me."
"All these things," Rava told Rafram bar Papa, "I could also do, except for feeding the people that are passing by. They are so many paupers in Mechuza, they would eat all that I own.” (20b – 21a)

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis19 - Shabbos in the Daf

Shabbos in the Daf

by Reb Ben Adler

Taanis 19a

The Mishnah states that in times of peril, they would sound the shofar on Shabbos. Rabbi Yose maintains that they would only sound the shofar so that people would come to their aid, but they would not sound the shofar for an outcry. Rashi on 14a writes in his first explanation that Rabbi Yose maintains that we do not sound the shofar on Shabbos for the purpose of prayer, because we are not certain that our prayers will be effective on Shabbos. It is well know that the Vilna Gaon was very strict about not reciting any prayers on Shabbos in the form of a supplication, such as the passage of barchuni leshalom in the Shalom Aleichem that we recite when we arrive home from shul on Friday night. Apparently Shabbos is a time when we are one with HaShem, and we do not seek out the angels to be intermediaries for our prayers. HaShem has given us His Holy Shabbos as an opportunity to cleave to Him, and we must place our sole trust in HaShem.

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher


Ch. 21, v. 1: "L'nefesh lo yitamo" – A Kohein is prohibited to defile himself to a dead human body. The Tosfos on Bovo Metzia 114b d.h. "omar lei" asks, "How was Eliyohu permitted to resuscitate the son of the Ishoh haTzorfosis by coming into contact with him (M'lochim 1:17:21)? Since Eliyohu is a Kohein, he is prohibited to defile himself, as per our verse." Tosfos answers that he was CERTAIN that he would be successful in bringing the child back to life and was therefore permitted by virtue of the rules of "pikuach nefesh," saving one's life. (Technically he didn't save a life, but rather brought about the existence of a life, according to those who say that the child had expired. However, this is also permitted, as per commentators on gemara Shabbos 151b and Yoma 85b who derive from the words, "Tov she'y'chalel Shabbos achas k'dei she'yishmor Shabbosos harbei" that this too is permitted. Rabbi Eliezer Moshe Horovitz, Rov of Pinsk asks that even if Eliyohu wasn't certain, but even in DOUBT whether he would be successful, he should have been permitted to defile himself, as per the gemara Yoma 83a, that "sofik pikuach n'foshos docheh Shabbos."
He answers that the gemara Taanis 19a says that if a Jewish community becomes surrounded by enemies who want to attack, it is permitted to blow trumpets with a signal to outlying Jewish communities to come to their aid in battle even on Shabbos. Rabbi Yosi says that a blast to indicate that they should assemble in prayer for their welfare is not permitted. Rashi explains that this is not permitted, because to transgress the Rabbinical decree of sounding instruments is not cast aside for prayer, which might be ineffective. We see from here that although a call to arms might also not be successful, nonetheless the Rabbis only permitted pushing aside prohibitions for physical help in attempting to save lives, and not spiritual. A Kohein defiling himself to a dead body is even stricter than the Rabbinical prohibition. Therefore Tosfos says that Eliyohu had to be CERTAIN that his prayers would be successful, since his reviving the dead child was through prayer.
Along the same line: The responsa of the Divrei Yechezkel of Shinov has the following question raised: Is it permitted to send a telegram to a great tzadik on Shabbos, to advise him that someone is gravely ill, so that the tzadik will pray for his well-being? The Shinover Gaon answered that this is not permitted since it is a spiritual approach.
A subject relative to the above is if one may transgress a prohibition to attempt to save one's life through bringing it about by way of a supernatural manner, such as a "seguloh." The basis for this is a Mishneh Shabbos 67a.

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Daf Yomi - Taanis 19 - Lessons from Ein Yaakov: Nakdimon Supplies Water to the Olei Regel Pilgrims

Lessons from Ein Yaakov: Nakdimon Supplies Water to the Olei Regel Pilgrims
by Rabbi Chanoch Gevhard

Shema Yisroel

It was a drought. The Jews went up to Yerushalayim for the Sholosh Regolim, but they had no water to drink. Nakdimon ben Gurion, a wealthy man, saw this and went to the Roman governor who owned water cisterns and said to him, "Lend me twelve of your water cisterns so that I can give them to the pilgrims. I will return all the twelve cisterns of water and if I cannot, I will give you twelve large silver bars."
The silver was worth much more than the water. In fact, it was enough to pay for porters to transport that much water from afar and even have a great deal left over!
The two made up a date by which Nakdimon would have to replenish the cisterns — or pay the debt.
This governor had not dug those cisterns, but had seized them from Jews. He ruled the Jews and he was really responsible for the welfare of the people, but instead, he used the water to luxuriate in baths, while the people were parched for water to drink.
The date arrived, but no rains had yet fallen. That morning, the governor sent a messenger to remind Nakdimon to pay, since it hadn't rained and the basins were dry.
"The day is not yet over," replied Nakdimon. "I still have time."
He sent a messenger again in the afternoon, and received the same reply. The sun was leaning westward when he sent a third reminder, this time demanding, "Send me my money!"
"It's not dark yet," said Nakdimon.
The governor mocked him, saying, "No rain has fallen all year long and now you expect some to fall?"
He entered the public bathhouse in a joyous mood, confident that he would soon be receiving his money.
At the same time, Nakdimon went off to the Beis Hamikdosh.
The governor, it seems, gave the water to Nakdimon on loan and did not ask for payment at the outset. It is possible that he was not an evil man at all and that he really was touched by the plight of the olei regel. But it is more logical to assume that he felt that if rain hadn't fallen all winter long, it would surely not fall after Pesach. And so, when he made the agreement with Nakdimon he was almost certain that he would be paid with the money, and not the water.
Perhaps this is why, to begin with, he did not want to sell the water, but wished to appear magnanimous and concerned for the welfare of the thirsty travelers and let them drink their fill for free, knowing that Nakdimon would have to refill the cisterns anyway. When rain did not fall, he realized that he could become very wealthy from the arrangement, far more than if he had sold the water.
The due date arrives and the governor sends a messenger to demand payment. "Give me water or silver," he says.
He does not reveal his greedy heart. He speaks civilly and asks for water, but "if you can't provide water, then give me money." He did not say what he was really thinking — that he wanted the money.
Nakdimon was staunch in his faith in Hashem and even though no rain had fallen since he had struck the bargain with the gentile, still he was not discouraged. Throughout the long day he continued to trust that Hashem would yet save him and fill the cisterns with water.
"Water or money!" demanded the governor again at noon, and then once more in the late afternoon. When Nakdimon still bided his time, the governor scoffed, "How is it possible? No rain has fallen all year and you expect to fill the cisterns yet today, now? With no sign of impending rain?"

Nakdimon Requests Rain from Hashem
The governor expected to be a rich man within a very short time, and therefore entered the bathhouse in high spirits. He wished to prepare himself for the riches that would soon be his.
He thus expressed a compounded wickedness. Here are Jews thirsty for water prepared to pay a huge sum just to quench their thirst, while he had so much water to spare that he could allow himself to bathe luxuriously for pleasure. He expected to demand the full amount of the contract and not lower the price of the water, or wait a bit more. He would collect the full price — a drop of gold for every drop of water, and would pour that into his bath, so to speak.
At the same time that the governor entered the bathhouse in high spirits, Nakdimon ben Gurion entered the Beis Hamikdosh. And even though as a rule, one does not go to the Beis Hamikdosh empty-handed, without a sacrifice or some kind of tribute (a visit which is called bi'a reikonis — see Yoma 53a), nevertheless, one who comes with a special request to be eased from suffering that presses upon his heart, is not considered to be coming empty- handed.
Shlomo Hamelech defined the role of the Beis Hamikdosh: "Every prayer, every request which any person may have, to all of your people, Yisroel, who knows each one the pain of his heart, and shall come and spread out his hands to this House — You shall surely hear from Heaven, the Abode of Your residence, and You shall forgive him... and You shall give that man according to the ways that You know His heart" (Midrosh Aggada 38-39).
In such a case, the man is himself a sacrifice, as it is written, "The sacrifices of Hashem are a broken spirit" (Tehillim 51:19). And with a broken heart, thoroughly saddened, Nakdimon ben Gurion huddled in a corner and enveloped himself in a tallis, enshrouding himself as well in his trouble, hoping and waiting for Hashem's deliverance. This, some say, is what enveloped him (Tehillim 102:1; see Rashi there).
He stood in prayer and said, "Master of the World; it is known and revealed before You that not for my honor did I make this effort, nor for the honor of my father's house did I do this, but only, solely, for Your honor, so that there be water for the olei regel."
To utter these nice words is simple enough, but who can stand in the Beis Hamikdosh and declare before Hashem, with full confidence: "I did not do this for my own honor, nor for the honor of my father's house, but purely for Your Honor, Hashem?"
He was positive that he had no ulterior motive in his deed, not for future benefit, not to find favor with his people nor to prove his loyalty to them. He did not wish to make a public exhibit of concern and responsibility for the public. Whoever could have acted as Nakdimon did, with his purity of heart, can also expect that Hashem will not neglect or disappoint him.
Hashem Fulfills Nakdimon's Request
Indeed, his prayer was immediately answered. The skies darkened and filled with clouds which released rain. The rain pelted down heavily, filling all of the cisterns to overflowing. Not only that — it also washed down all of the caked mud that had been accumulated by the cisterns in the dry years and left them clean.
One can reckon in which season this took place. This whole episode was for the benefit of olei regel, which means it had to be before one of the pilgrimage festivals: Pesach or Succos or Shavuos. In the beginning of the story, Chazal noted that it was a drought year, so that we can infer that it did not take place Succos time, for if so, the drought would have referred to the previous year [since rain only falls in the fall and winter in Eretz Yisroel]. It is not logical that the gentile would agree to such a deal, for the rainy season was imminent and the cisterns may soon be filled. Besides, the definition of a `drought year' would not apply for no rain would, in any case, have fallen in the summer.
We can also eliminate Shavuos, for at that time of year, Nakdimon would not have promised to fill the cisterns with (rain) water. It is already past the rainy season and for rain to fall then would have required a miracle.
If, therefore, it was Pesach-time and rain had not fallen all winter long, then it would have been considered a drought year yet Nakdimon could still hope that rain might yet fall, namely, the final rain, known as the malkosh. For this he had the precedent of Yoel Hanovi who experienced a thoroughly dry winter, but in the spring enough rain fell to turn the drought into blessing (Taanis 5a).
The Surplus Water Belongs to the Miracle- Maker
It appears that not all the residents of Jerusalem greeted the rain that broke the drought with joy. The wicked governor did not rejoice at the rain. He would have preferred to see his constituents suffering from hunger, while his pockets were bursting with much money. He would have liked to wallow in the bathhouse, as was the Roman custom, and soak himself for hours (see Chovos Halevovos 2:3: "In his leisure time, the batlan goes to the bathhouse.")
As soon as he entered the bathhouse, however, he noticed the raindrops on the window and rushed outside quickly, even before having bathed. He had to intercept Nakdimon and tell him that he had not fulfilled his part of the bargain since it was already too late. He would not be able to prove that on the following day, but only at the onset of the rain, for then every passerby would be able to testify that the sun had already set.
It was necessary for the governor to rush quickly to Nakdimon and show that night had already fallen. He didn't even have time to dry himself off, and who knows if he took the trouble to put on all of his garments of office but perhaps wrapped himself only in a towel. In any case, he ran swiftly and not quite respectably through the city streets. Indeed, the Greeks tell the story of a distinguished scientist who rushed out of the bathhouse and ran through the city streets unclothed as, perhaps, in this case.
So we have the governor rushing to intercept Nakdimon, as Nakdimon emerges from his prayers in the Beis Hamikdosh. When they finally met, it is possible that Nakdimon already knew what the governor wished to tell him, but he rushed to speak first, saying, "Pay me for the extra water. I gave you back more than I took, for the cisterns were not filled to the top and now they are. You owe me. I did you another good turn besides, because when a cistern overflows from strong, gushing rain, it flushes the bad water out and keeps the good water in. Not only was the sediment at the bottom flushed out, but the caked mud on the sides was also cleaned away and, in addition, the force of the water actually increased the size of the cisterns so that now they can hold more water than before!
"This would not have happened with a regular, mild rainfall. It happened because of the strong, miraculous downpour. This is a supernatural rain, and it came because of my prayers," said Nakdimon to the governor. "And so, the surplus water certainly belongs to me and you must pay me for it."
Rain and Sun for the Sake of Hashem's Beloved Ones
The governor was reluctant to give up on the money he had so anticipated and said to Nakdimon, "I agree with you insofar as the rain that fell just now was supernatural. I am aware that your G-d upset the routine of the world for your sake. But that does not mean that I owe you money. On the contrary: you owe me money — the full amount that we originally agreed upon. A deal is a deal, and I am in the right; You owe me the money. The cisterns may have filled with rainwater, and I am truly glad for that, but the sun has already set. Thus, the water that filled the cisterns is mine, and you have no claim to it. You still owe me the money, because at the end of the day they were empty."
This dialogue took place on the road between the public bathhouse and the Beis Hamikdosh. There the two stood in the dark, under the blackness; the sky was so overcast with thick clouds that one could not see anything. It was impossible to tell if the sun had actually set or not. Perhaps it was still light beyond those dark rain clouds?
Nakdimon turned around and went back to the Beis Hamikdosh. He again enveloped himself in his tallis, and again stood in prayer before Hashem. And he beseeched, "Master of the World: I beg of You, if You deem that I must pay I shall pay, for this is what we agreed upon, and I will keep my bargain if I must. But when I first stated the price, I did so in my trust that You would intervene favorably for Your children who come by foot to visit Your House, and do so joyfully, out of their love for You (see Succa 49b) as it is written in Shir Hashirim, `How lovely are your footsteps — those of the olei regel.'
"Therefore, I plead with You, show that there are those who love You in this world. Let everyone see that You are pleased that they make the pilgrimage. If I must pay, so I shall, but the governor will be the one to gain and next time he will surely agree to such a arrangement, but no one will know that You are pleased with Your children who love You."
Nakdimon phrased his request thus, here, and not when he prayed for the rain, because rain can fall and seem entirely natural. Those who believe that it fell because Hashem loves His people will continue to believe, but the doubters will claim that it was an ordinary rain and not a sign of Hashem's love for us. However, if the sun retraces its course, it will be a clear and definitive sign that Hashem loves His children (Bei'urei Aggodos).
Nakdimon continued to plead: "I surely know that the rain fell because You love me and Your people. But, I beg of You, just as You performed a miracle for me the first time, so, please, perform one now, too. This second miracle will be much more prominent and obvious."
And, indeed, immediately after he had concluded praying, the wind began blowing from a different direction. The clouds dispersed and lo! The sun became visible, shining in the sky, and everyone clearly saw that the rain which had fallen, had fallen during that selfsame day.
The Governor is Forced to Admit His Lies
After Hashem swept aside the curtain of clouds and the last rays of the sun became clearly visible, the governor could no longer maintain his argument.
But he did not give up yet and said, "Nevertheless, even though we were unable to see the sun set because of the heavy clouds, I still maintain that according to my calculations, it should have set at that time. I cannot explain it, but neither can I argue with the facts for I can see the sun with my own eyes. All I can say is that you must admit: Had not the sun shone and illuminated the sky in the manner that it does every day before it sets, I would have been able to extract your money from you."
From here Chazal say that Nakdimon was originally called by the name of Buni. Why was he called Nakdimon? Because the sun shone (nokda), especially for his sake.
Take note of the governor's phrasing. He said "My money" and not "Your money." He really believed that the money rightfully belonged to him. Why? Because even though he saw the sun with his own eyes, he was certain that the time of sunset had already passed, and he felt as if he had been cheated out of money that was justifiably his.
We later see that he truly was correct and that his calculations were not inaccurate. The sun really had already set, but in honor of Nakdimon, it retraced its course and went backwards in its orbit. We might say, alternatively, that it stood still in the same spot in heaven without progressing. Another possibility is that a brilliant object was suddenly visible through a hole in the clouds which could lead one to believe that it was the rays of the setting sun.
Either way, at the time of their argument, it was already after sunset. But if this is so, why, truly, was Nakdimon not obligated to pay? We see that the governor was right! He said, correctly, "My money."
According to the gentile reckoning, one day turns into the next at midnight. When the agreement was made, the governor had in mind the rules by which he dealt in his daily transactions. This time, however, because of the borderline time frame, he sought to gain the money by claiming the turn of day according to the Jewish reckoning, even though he never transacted business dealings that way.
It is even possible that had it not been for the information supplied by one of his aides, he would never even have known that Jews reckon the new day after sunset. Hashem purposely waited until after sunset to test his reliability and honesty. Would his greed cause him to jump from the rules of gentiles to the laws of the Jews?
But we see that the governor did not admit that he was taking advantage of Jewish law to which he did not subscribe at all. Instead, he convinced himself that he was just and honest and that the rain really did fall after nightfall. But no one agreed to justify him for they saw the sun still shining and he was forced to keep quiet.
He was told that one cannot hold the rope at both ends, for if he had made an agreement whereby the date would change at midnight, would he have conceded that he was prepared to lose because he was ruling according to Jewish laws? For sure — not! He wanted to be safe on all accounts, and gain whichever way he could, arguing this way when it was to his advantage, or the opposite when that was to his advantage, so long as he came out the winner.
Here, however, Hashem intervened and would not let him carry out his deceit. It was truly for the governor's benefit, for he would have continued to lie and cheat up to half his lifetime, as is written, "Men of blood and deceit will not live out half their days . . . " and then he would have been caught. But when such a person wishes to deceive a tzaddik, Hashem will not allow it, even if He has to stop the sun in its tracks. There is nothing too difficult for Hashem to do for the sake of His beloved people, for those who keep His commandments.
Nakdimon — the Sun Was Beclouded and also Blazed for His Sake
It was taught: Ever since that episode, that rich man became known by a different name. Originally, he was called Buni, and not Nakdimon. Why then was his name changed? Because the sun shone, nikdera, for his sake.
What is the root of this somewhat unusual verb? It is derived from the root kodar, which means — cut an exact circle, as we find Chazal saying, "Vekadrin behorim" (Eruvin 35b). This means: to drill a hole. We also find by the wicked King Menashe that he `drilled' and removed certain mentions from the Torah (Sanhedrin 103b). He cut out the name of Hashem from the Torah and left everything around it intact, leaving a hole, so to speak.
The same happened here. Hashem did not waft away the clouds so that the sky would become light, but in a direct line from their eyes and the horizon a hole in the clouds was `drilled' to admit a few rays of sunlight from the setting sun.
There are other opinions as well as to the meaning of his name. Some say that nokda chama means that it became a point, a nekudah; it remained stationery, like a point in heaven. In spite of the passing time, the sun remained riveted in its spot, at the point of sunset.
One might alternatively explain that the sun did proceed as usual, but a point of light remained inexplicably behind to illuminate their eyes. They were then misled into thinking that the sun had not set.
However, if it had stated "nokda," we might interpret it thus, as a point. But it is written nikdera, which refers to the clouds that became dark (kodru) and the sun which drilled a hole in them.
We can also interpret the name Nakdimon from the word nikdema — it proceeded towards him, intercepted him. Then we would have to translate the word as coming from kodem: it stopped the progress of its usual orbit to come towards Nakdimon, as we find in the phrase, "A student who gets up early and arrives early (makdim) at his master's doorway."
Either way, it is obvious that the phenomenon occurred for Buni's sake. And from that time, his name was changed to commemorate the event, to remember the miracle that took place and the fact that Hashem loves His children, Israel. From that time on, the olei regel would not need an interceder like Buni; they would come eagerly, knowing that Hashem loves them so and that their deeds are favorable in His eyes. They would come, trusting that Hashem would take care of their needs. This entire chapter in bitochon is encompassed in the single name: Nakdimon.
Stopping the Sun — Three Times
Chazal taught: Three men experienced the miracle of nikdema — that the sun changed its orbit and went backwards (instead of forwards). In their merit, time stood still. They are: Moshe, Yehoshua and Nakdimon.
By Yehoshua, it explicitly says, "On the day Hashem delivered the Emori into the hands of Bnei Yisroel. And he said before the eyes of Yisroel: Sun in Giv'on — halt, and moon in the valley of Ayalon. And the sun stopped and the moon stood, until the nation was avenged." That is, until Yisroel took revenge from its enemies. This is what is written in Sefer Hayoshor: The sun stood in midheaven and did not run its course as on a regular day (Yehoshua 10:12).
It is later explained precisely how long the hands of the astronomical clock were stopped because of Yehoshua. And because of it, the Sages of his generation were given the opportunity to nullify the false belief of the idolaters who worshiped the sun, the astrological signs of the zodiac and their power over mankind. That is why they placed a figure of a sun over Yehoshua's grave, exactly in the same form that the priests did in their temples of idol worship (Rashi, Shofetim 2:9).
The Jews did it, however, for precisely the opposite reason. The idolaters put up an image in order to worship it, while the Jewish Sages placed such an image in order to show to one and all that the sun has no independent power. Yehoshua, servant of Hashem, was able to arrest its progress by the mere utterance of his mouth.
How do we know that Moshe Rabbenu also stopped the sun? Where in the Torah is there a hint to this happening?
R' Elozor said: We learn this from the parallel wording (gezeira shovo). It says that Hashem sent Moshe Rabbenu to war with the nations on the border of Eretz Yisroel. He promised him, "On this very day, I will impose (ocheil) your fear and dread upon the nations under the entire sky, who will hear of your fame and will become overwrought with fear of you" (Devorim 2:25). Even in the hearts of those nations distant from him.
We later see that the facts substantiate this fear, but here the gemora explains when this all began and the reason verifying it. It began when all the nations of the world noticed that the sun had stood still. The more distant nations did not know about the event that caused the sun to stand, but they certainly felt the difference of the sun not shining when it was supposed to shine. They experienced it because it was not a matter of a moment or two, but of several hours. Even without a clock, one could tell that there was something unusual going on, an aberration in nature.
In both places, the Torah uses the verb ocheil. By Yehoshua — "Ocheil gadlecho (Yehoshua 3:4)" — when the standing of the sun was apparent to the whole world. So by Moshe Rabbenu there was a similar occurrence. And from thence onward, a fear of the Jewish people gripped the nations of the world.
Archaeological diggings, while not generally substantial, significant or reliable to us, show the exact places where the heavenly bodies were worshiped in temples in ancient times, and where, thousands of years ago, people sacrificed to the sun. In distant eastern countries were found vestiges of national mourning that the people's god had disappointed them and refused to appear at its appointed time in the morning. Ostensibly a strange story, but when one examines the globe, one can see that at the time that it sets in Eretz Yisroel, it rises in that distant land. And if the sun was arrested in Giv'on, it could not have appeared at its appointed rising place in the lands of the Far East. The fright that the nations experienced is briefly mentioned in the Torah as "Ocheil teis pachdecho.
The Widespread Publicity of the Sun's Arrest
R' Shmuel bar Nachmeini said: The tradition transmitted from generation to generation that a similar occurrence took place with Moshe is mentioned in another place in the Torah: "Asya — we derive it from — the word teis — to give — which appears in two places. It is written here, in the war against the nations living in Canaan, `teis"' Hashem gave, delivered, them into the hands of Moshe. And it is written there, when Yehoshua arrested the sun in Giv'on: `On the day that Hashem delivered the Emori...' (Yehoshua 10:12).
From this parallel wording we can infer that the Torah is indicating that Moshe also arrested the sun, a fact that was known, up till that time, by word of mouth. R' Yochonon said: The fact can be learned from the written text itself, from the very simple rendition of the verse, for Hashem promised Moshe that `...who will hear of your fame, and they will become overwrought and will tremble before you.' When did this happen? When the sun nikdema, retraced itself, and was set back for Moshe's sake.
"Jerusalem was like an impure woman." Said R' Yehuda, "This is a blessing of sorts [even though it is included in Yirmiyohu's lament of Eichoh]. For just as an impure woman can be purified, so is Jerusalem able to make amends.
"Which the nations will hear of your fame and will become overwrought and will tremble before you." The entire world became fearful of Moshe. When? We can only surmise that the nations in Moshe's vicinity feared him and were terrified, as is stated in the exodus from Egypt, "Nations heard and became overwrought; terror seized the residents of Peleshes. Then did the chiefs of Edom become frightened, the mighty ones of Moav were seized with trembling. All the dwellers of Canaan melted with fear. Dread and fear fell upon them" (Shemos 15:15).
This long list only contains local nations, the Middle East. Bolok, King of Moav, also expressed his entire nation's fear, and sought ways to offset the evil that was to befall them (Bamidbor 25).
The Stopping of the Sun — Publicized Throughout the World
We see that only the local nations were seized with fear, for they felt threatened. But distant nations were not threatened by the Jews, and the news of the exodus had not even reached their ears. How, then, did they hear about Moshe Rabbenu?
The news could have reached them through traveling merchants and desert travelers, but then it would have taken the form of a wondrous happening to marvel at, a tale that would be embellished by every successive traveler to impress his listeners. And when the news reached those distant lands, from various sources, the accounts would be entirely different from one another. And surely, this would not cause those faraway people to melt from fear.
The truth is that those distant nations learned about it through the arresting of the sun, when time stopped. For when the sun was arrested here in our area, it was arrested there as well. And this is truly a frightening phenomenon. When the sun does not set at its appointed time, this throws the world off kilter, which is truly terrifying. But those who lived close by, were afraid, in any case, of the advancing camp of the Israelites which conquered nations as it progressed along its course.
In distant lands, however, the sun did not rise, and the people there had no way of knowing that it would eventually resume its course. They thought the world was coming to an end, and they became duly terrified, as anyone can imagine.
A similar occurrence took place when King Ochoz died. The sun speeded up its progress and the day ended two hours earlier, resulting in a shorter day, as at the poles. But when Chizkiyohu became ill, the sun paid back its debt, so to speak, and the day was lengthened by ten additional hours (Sanhedrin 91:1).

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Daf yomi - Taanis 19 - When to Recite Mashiv HaRuach U'Morid HaGeshem

When to Recite Mashiv HaRuach U'Morid HaGeshem

Tzemach Dovid

No definitive Halacha LeMa'aseh conclusions should be applied to practical situations based on THIS Shiur.
When Paroh pleads with Moshe to pray to Hashem that He should stop the plague of Barad, hail, Moshe says that when he leaves the city, he will spread out his hands to Hashem, and the plague will indeed end (Shemos 9:29). The Pardes Yosef on this Posuk (Ibid.) takes note of the fact that Moshe never says that he will actually ask Hashem to stop the hail, just that he will stretch out his hands. When he does approach Hashem (Ibid. Pasuk 33), he indeed never specifically requests that the hail and the rain stop; he merely stretches out his hands and the plague ends. The Pardes Yosef (Ibid.) explains that although Moshe stretched out his hands in prayer, he did not want to ask that there be no more rain or hail, because rain, of course, is generally necessary and beneficial, and it is improper to request that something good should stop, even if there is too much of it. Moshe therefore simply stretched out his hands, trusting Hashem to respond appropriately to his silent prayer.

This idea that one shouldn't ask Hashem to take away something good is found in a Mishnah in Taanis (19a) which describes different communal difficulties and tragedies because of which the Chachomim would declare public fast days, featuring special Tefillos; the Mishnah (Ibid.) states that they would never declare such a fast day if there was too much rain. The Gemara there (22b) explains that this is because it is inappropriate to daven to Hashem because one has too much of a good thing. The Gemara (Ibid.) adds, however, that if the excessive rain is actually damaging or dangerous, then one could daven for it to stop because it is then no longer a good thing. The same Mishnah (Ibid.) then relates the famous story of Choni HaMe'agel who "persuaded" Hashem to cause the rains to fall by "threatening" to remain standing in the circle he drew on the ground until it would rain, which it then did, coming down at one point with such force that Choni had to request that it fall in the proper measure. The Gemara (Ibid. 23a) elaborates on this story, saying that when the rain fell very hard, Choni's students asked him to daven that it should stop entirely, to which he responded that he had it by tradition that one doesn't daven because of having too much of a good thing. He solved the problem using only specific and precise language and actions. The Rambam (Hilchos Taaniyos 2:15) and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 576:11 and 577:1) rule in accordance with all of the above.
This issue of not asking Hashem to hold back something good even when we don't need it is relevant to us today concerning our practice regarding the last recitation of Mashiv HaRuach U'Morid HaGeshem in the spring. Based on the Mishnah at the beginning of Taanis (2a), the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 114:1) writes that we start reciting this phrase in the second Beracha of the Shemoneh Esrei at Mussaf on Shemini Atzeres. The Yerushaimi in Taanis (Perek 1 Halacha 1, 1b), discussing why we wait until Mussaf, quotes a view that an individual should not begin to say it until he has heard it from the Sheliach Tzibbur. The Shulchan Aruch (Ibid. Sif 2) accepts this view; the Ramo (Ibid.) adds that prior to the silent Shemoneh Esrei of Mussaf, an announcement is made to begin saying Mashiv HaRuach U'Morid HaGeshem so that the Tzibbur will say it then too.
This same Mishnah in Taanis (Ibid.) then indicates that we stop saying Mashiv HaRuach at Mussaf on the first day of Pesach, and the Shulchan Aruch (Ibid. Sif 1) rules accordingly. Here, however, no mention is made of any announcements not to say Mashiv HaRuach any longer. In fact, the Ramo (Ibid Sif 3) writes that the Tzibbur does indeed say it in the silent Shemoneh Esrei of Mussaf; only the Chazzan omits it in the Chazoras HaShatz, and the Tzibbur, hearing the Chazzan's omission, then leaves it out starting with Minchah. The Taz (Ibid. Sif Katan 9) explains that this is because any announcement not to say this phrase would be potentially confusing. The Magen Avraham (Ibid. Sif Katan 8) and the Be'er Heitev (Ibid. Sif Katan 5), however, explain that this is really because an announcement not to daven for rain would be like davening that Hashem should hold back something which is generally a Beracha, and this is inappropriate. Elsewhere, the Magen Avraham (Ibid. Siman 488 Sif Katan 4) actually quotes the aforementioned Gemara in Taanis (Ibid.) which says that one shouldn't daven to Hashem because one has too much rain as the source for this practice not to announce that people should stop saying Mashiv HaRuach U'Morid HaGeshem.
This idea may relate to an interesting question. Why do we wait on the first day of Pesach until Mussaf to stop saying it? Why not stop already the night before, at Maariv? The Yerushalmi cited above (Ibid.) discusses this question regarding when to start saying Mashiv HaRuach on Shemini Atzeres, and explains that we don't start at Maariv because not everybody is in Shul then. The Rosh in Taanis (Perek 1 Siman 2) elaborates, saying that since people often stay home at night, those in Shul will therefore know to say it, those at home will not, and as a result, different people will be doing different things, which is inconsistent and thus improper. The Rosh (Ibid.) says that this reason actually explains specifically why we don't stop saying Mashiv HaRuach at Maariv on the first night of Pesach; the Ra'avad (Hasagas HaRa'avad on Ba'al HaMaor to Taanis, 1b on the Rif Ot 2) says even more clearly that this reason applies only to the first night of Pesach. In truth, however, this explanation is not needed. If no announcement is made to stop saying Mashiv HaRuach, and the Tzibbur must first hear the Chazzan's omission of it before they omit it, obviously it will be said by the Tzibbur at Maariv.

As for making the change during Shacharis, the same Yerushalmi (Ibid.) presents two reasons for not starting to say Mashiv HaRuach then on Shemini Atzeres. First, people who were not in Shul the night before may think, upon hearing it at Shacharis, that it was to have been said at Maariv too, and will make a mistake in subsequent years. Second, since an announcement to recite it must precede the Shemoneh Esrei, at Shacharis no announcement is possible, because there can be no interruption at all between the Beracha of Go'al Yisrael and the start of the Shemoneh Esrei; we thus wait until Mussaf. The Magen Avraham (Ibid. Siman 114 Sif Katan 1) cites both these reasons. If, however, no announcement is actually made to stop reciting Mashiv HaRuach anyway, it would indeed be possible to stop at Shacharis on the first day of Pesach, at least during the Chazoras HaShatz, except for the first reason of the Yerushalmi (Ibid.) about causing confusion in subsequent years. The Aruch HaShulchan (Ibid. Sif 4) adds that the Halachos should be consistent; if we start saying Mashiv HaRuach at Mussaf, we should stop saying it at Mussaf as well, especially since there are more people in Shul at Mussaf time who will take note of the change. The Mishnah Berurah (Ibid. Sif Katan 2) does write, however, that if one did in fact recite Mashiv HaRuach at Maariv or at Shacharis on Shemini Atzeres, his Shemoneh Esrei is still valid.
It is worth noting that according to the Minhag of those who daven Nusach Sefard (and many who daven Nusach Ashkenaz), Morid HaTal is recited in place of Mashiv HaRuach U'Morid HaGeshem. That begins at Mussaf on the first day of Pesach, and for that, an announcement should be made, as the Mishnah Berurah (Ibid. Sif Katan 3) and the Aruch HaShulchan (Ibid. Sif 7) write. All the same explanations would then hold true for both insertions, as the Taz (Ibid. Sif Katan 3) implies. The Kaf HaChaim (Ibid. Ot 14) writes that the special Piyuttim recited by some before the Shemoneh Esrei (or perhaps, we may add, the special tune used by the Chazzan for Kaddish) may constitute a sufficient announcement for the Tzibbur to begin including the new insertion.

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Daf Yomi - Taanis 19 - Highlights

The Mishna teaches that there are certain circumstances in which we do not call for fasting that becomes progressively more severe, but rather we immediately declare a series of fasts with the strictest guidelines. Two cases listed in the Mishna are crops that grew strangely and if forty days passed between the first rain (in its proper time) and the second rain. The reason for this is because these are an affliction of food shortage. If rain fell for the crops and not for the trees, for the trees and not for the crops or it rained for both but not enough to fill the pits that were used for drinking water, we call out immediately. Also included would be a situation where there is rain in all communities but one and when a city is hit by plague or is surrounded by a non-Jewish enemy.

The Mishna proceeds to list cases of disasters where people everywhere are obligated to cry out because there is a good possibility that these disasters will spread. For plagues that ruin the grain, a severe drought that tends to cause the grain to yellow, locusts, wild animals and armies that are passing through we call out everywhere because these catastrophes travel to other areas.

The Mishna cites an incident where the elders went down from Yerushalayim to their cities to declare a communal fast because they saw the size of an oven mouth of plague damage on some grain in the city of Ashkelon. They also declared a fast due to an incident when wolves devoured two children on the other side of the Jordan River. Rabbi Yosi maintains that the fast was declared because the wolves were seen in the city.

The Mishna continues by listing cases that are so severe, that we would even call out on Shabbos. If a city was surrounded by gentiles, a river threatening to flood the fields and a ship that is in danger of sinking; we would call out even on Shabbos. Rabbi Yosi disagrees and maintains that they would call out for help but not in prayer.

The Mishna states that we call out for any catastrophe that threatens the city except for an overabundance of rain. The Mishnah relates the story of Choni HaMa’agel. In the course of a year of drought, the Chachamim looked to Choni HaMa’agel and asked him to daven for rain. He instructed the people to bring their ovens inside in order that do not dissolve in the rain. When his first pleas did not produce rain, he drew a circle around himself and swore to Hashem that he would not leave that spot until Hashem showed compassion on His children by ending the drought.

At first, rain began to trickle, and Choni insisted on rain that fill the water holes. When angry rains began to fall, Choni demanded rains of mercy and blessing. Finally, the rains fell until flooding began, and the people were compelled to leave Yerushalayim for the Temple Mount. They turned to Choni and asked him to pray that the rain should stop, which he was reluctant to do. He told them to go and see if the stone which was used to announce lost articles has been covered by water. (This stone was so high, that if it was covered, he would have prayed for the rain to cease.)

The story concludes with the words of Shimon ben Shetach who said that Choni's words to Hashem were so presumptuous that he deserved to be excommunicated. But he cannot be punished since he has such a close, personal relationship with Hashem, that He fulfills your requests like a father to a son even after the son sins towards the father.

The Mishna discusses whether a fast should be completed if they were answered in middle of the fast. If rain began to fall before sunrise, they are not obligated to complete the fast but if rain began to fall after sunrise, they should complete the fast. Rabbi Eliezer disagrees and maintains that if rain began to fall before midday, they are not obligated to complete the fast but if rain began to fall after midday, they should complete the fast.

The Mishna concludes with an incident that seems to support Rabbi Eliezer’s viewpoint. 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. (18b)

The Gemora cites a braisa which states that they begin to fast if there is a delay in the third rains and it is apparent from our Mishna that they would begin to fast even if there is a delay in the first rains. Rav Yehuda explains that the Mishna is referring to a case where it rained in the proper time, however they planted seeds but nothing grew or they grew strangely; that is when they cry out immediately. (18b)

Rav Nachman distinguishes between a severe famine and a case where there is merely a food shortage. When one particular city doesn’t have food but they can have food delivered from another city through ships on a river, this is regarded as a food shortage and not a famine. If food is in short supply in one city and must be imported from another city by land route with donkeys, this condition is regarded as a famine since only minimal amount of food will be delivered. (18b – 19a)

The Mishna had stated that if rain fell for the crops and not for the trees, for the trees and not for the crops or it rained for both but not enough to fill the pits that were used for drinking water, we call out immediately. The Gemora explains each case. Light rain will be beneficial for crops but not for trees. Heavy rains will be beneficial for trees but not for crops. Heavy and light rain came but not enough to fill the water holes. There is an additional case listed in a braisa. If there was enough rain to fill the water holes but not for the trees and crops, we would cry out immediately. The Gemora explains this case that the rain descended in a heavy downpour which wasn’t beneficial for the trees or the crops. (19a)

The Gemora cites a braisa detailing the times of the year at which different water shortages become serious enough to necessitate fasting and crying out. If Pesach time came and there was insufficient water for the trees, we would cry out. If Sukkos time came and there was insufficient water to fill up the water holes (used for the animals and irrigation), we would cry out. Anytime there is not enough water to drink, we call out immediately. We cry out only inside the effected location. There are certain diseases that we would cry out for if they cause death. Certain locusts that generally come in large numbers, we cry out even if only a few were sighted. (19a)

There is a braisa cited that presents a dispute regarding crying out on account of the trees during the Shemitah year. Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel maintains that we would cry out because the fruits of the tree offer sustenance for the poor people. If there is a shortage of drinking water, we cry out even during Shemitah. (19a)

Rabbi Elozar ben Parta said that since the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed, rain does not fall liberally. Some years there might be an abundance of rain and some years the rain that falls will be inadequate. Some years the rain will fall in the appropriate time and in some years it will not fall in its proper time.

A year that rain descends in its appropriate time is compared to a servant who received his weekly portion of grain from his master on Sunday and thereby has sufficient time to bake the bread so he can eat it on Shabbos. A year that the rain does not descend in its appropriate time is compared to a servant who received his weekly portion of grain from his master on Friday and thereby does not has sufficient time to bake the bread so he can eat it on Shabbos.

Nakdimon ben Gurion
The entire Jewish people were in Yerushalayim for the festival, but there was no water to drink. A Jewish leader, Nakdimon ben Gurion, approached a Roman nobleman who lived there.
"Lend me twelve wells of water for the people," he told him, "and I will replace it with another twelve wells of water [i.e. Hashem will replenish them for you;] and if not, I will pay you twelve bars of silver."
The nobleman agreed, and they set a date by which time the water must be returned. That day came, and still no rain had fallen. That morning the nobleman sent a messenger to Nakdimon ben Gurion.
"Send me my water or my silver," he commanded.
"I still have time. The whole day is still mine," Nakdimon ben Gurion sent back.
At noontime, he again sent a messenger. "Give me my water or my money," he ordered.
"I still have time," Nakdimon ben Gurion sent back.
In the late afternoon, he again sent a messenger. "Give me my water or my money," he ordered.
"I still have time," Nakdimon ben Gurion sent back.
The nobleman had a good laugh on hearing this. "Could it be," he chuckled, "that the whole year no rain falls, and now enough rain to fill my wells will fall?" He went to the local bathhouse joyously rubbing his hands at the thought of twelve bars of silver.
At the same time, Nakdimon ben Gurion entered the Beis HaMikdash anxiously. He wrapped himself in his tallis and stood in prayer.
"Ribono shel Olam, You know that neither for my honor, nor the honor of my father's house did I do this. I did it all for Your honor alone, that the Jewish people may have water for the festival."
Immediately, the skies filled with clouds and a great rain fell, until the twelve wells overflowed with water. The nobleman hurriedly left the bathhouse, bumping into Nakdimon ben Gurion as he left the Beis HaMikdash.
"Give me my change for the additional water you received," Nakdimon ben Gurion said to the nobleman.
"I know that Hashem turned the world over only for you," the nobleman answered, "but it won't help you. You still owe me those twelve bars of silver, for that rain fell after sunset, and it's all mine."
Hearing this, Nakdimon ben Gurion quickly returned to the Beis HaMikdash, rewrapped himself in his tallis and stood in prayer.
"Ribono shel Olam, let them know that we are Your friends in this world," he begged. The clouds then scattered, and the sun shone.
"Were it not for that sun shining through," the nobleman groaned, "that money would have been mine."
"Buni was his real name and not Nakdimon," the rabbis taught. "He was called Nakdimon since the sun pierced ["nikdera"] through the clouds for him.

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Our Gemora relates the following incident: Yom Turyanus celebrated the death of Turyanus, a Roman officer who put two Jews - Papus and Lulianus - to death. Before doing so, he mocked them publicly, challenging the Jewish God to intervene on their behalf, as He was reputed to have done on behalf of Chananya, Misha'el and Azariah. Papus and Lulianus responded that they were not deserving of divine intervention, and neither was Turyanus on the level of Nevuhadnezzar to have a miracle take place because of him. They concluded that Hashem probably had made him (Turyanus) the instrument of their death in order to punish him for it. Immediately after their death, messengers from Rome arrived who removed him from his position and cracked his head with clubs. Since this incident occurred on the twelfth of Adar, they declared this day as a minor festival.

Rashi explains that Papus and Lulianus were righteous men. The emperor’s daughter was found murdered and they accused the Jews of committing the crime. The emperor threatened to kill all the Jews unless they could produce the murderer. Papus and Lulianus falsely admitted to the crime and they were the only ones executed by Turyanus.

There is a question discussed in halacha if a person is permitted to volunteer to die in order to save the lives of other people.

Some say that it is even a mitzvah to do so. The Chazon Ish (Yoreh Deah 69) proves the permissibility of this act from the story of Papus and Lulianus), about whom the Gemora (Bava Basra 10b) says that no person is allowed into their exclusive area in Olam HaBa.

However, the reason for this is a dispute among the Poskim. The Chazon Ish (ad. loc.) says that the reason for this is that this is considered primarily an act of saving others and not an act of getting oneself killed. On the other hand, the Binyan Tzion (2:173) states that the reason for this is that since if he does not volunteer he will die in any event, it is permitted.

Bari Veshemacites the above and elaborates on many issues related to this. Here is the entire discussion.
The 9/11 scenario in Halachah
A. Background
Is it permissibile to shoot down a plane full of passengers in the 9/11 (or the Corey Lidle) scenario, where the plane headed for a building with occupants?

The passengers of the plane will certainly die upon impact, and some of the occupants of the building will likely die if the plane is allowed to hit the building. The question is, may one actively deprive the passengers of the plane of Chayei Sha’ah, a short span of life, for the sake of preserving the extended life span of the building occupants.

The place to begin this discussion is the well-known Yerushalmi in the 8th Perek of Masseches Terumos:

"A group of people who were walking on the road and non-Jews accosted them, and said: ‘Give us one of you and we will kill him, and if not, we will kill all of you, even if they will all get killed they should not hand over one soul of Israel. If they designated one like Sheva the son of Bichri [In Shmuel II:20 Sheva ben Bichri is demanded by Yoav, the general of David’s army, for rebelling against the king] they should hand him over and not get killed.

R’ Shimon ben Lakish said: This is only so if he is liable for death, like Sheva ben Bichri.

And R’ Yochanan said: Even though he is not liable for death like Sheva ben Bichri (it is still permissible to hand over the one who was singled out)."

The first Halacha here, that where no particular individual was singled out it is forbidden to hand anyone over, even if they will all die as a result, is recorded in Rambam (Yesodei HaTorah 5:5) and by the Rema (Yoreh De’ah 157:1).

This requires some elucidation. Generally speaking, one is obligated to give up his life rather than murder another, based on a Sevara of מאי חזית דדמא דידך סומק טפי - "Why do you think your blood is redder?", meaning that there is no benefit in killing the other person, since either way a Jew will die, so there is no reason to allow the murder. However, in the case in the Yerushalmi, if they do not hand over one person, they will all die, including the person being handed over, so why do we not allow the handing over of one person to save the others?

The Kesef Mishneh on the Rambam (ad. loc.) explains that the Sevara of Mai Chazis is only necessary when the non-Jew who is asking you to kill has designated another particular Jew to be killed. In this case, however, even without the Sevara of Mai Chazis it is clearly forbidden to hand over one Jew, since there is no way to determine who should be handed over, and we cannot condemn one to death more than any of the others, and therefore they must all die and not hand anyone over.

B. Can one volunteer to die to save the others?
Yes. In fact, it is a Mitzvah to do so. The Chazon Ish (Yoreh Deah 69) proves the permissibility of this act from the story of Papus and Lulianus (who confessed to a crime of murder that they did not commit in order to save the Jews who were under threat - Rashi to Taanis 18b), about whom the Gemara (Bava Basra 10b) says that no person is allowed into their exclusive area in Olam HaBa.

However, the reason for this is a dispute among the Poskim. The Chazon Ish (ad. loc.) says that the reason for this is that this is considered primarily an act of saving others and not an act of getting oneself killed. On the other hand, the Binyan Tzion (2:173) states that the reason for this is that since if he does not volunteer he will die in any event, it is permitted.

(An apparent practical difference would be in a situation where the person who is volunteering has a chance of escaping, where the Chazon Ish would still permit it, whereas the Binyan Tzion would not. This is not the 9/11 scenario, however.)

C. Can we assume that the passengers on the plane would willingly volunteer, and shoot down the plane?

In a Sefer called Mishnas Pikuach Nefesh [by R’ Yosef Aryeh Lorincz, Bnei Brak 5763] (Simman 50), the author (when discussing this 9/11 scenario) assumes that there is an Anan Sahadei - a clearly valid assumption - that the passengers would be willing to give up their lives in this scenario, and it should be allowed.

However, he points out that usually there are minors (below Bar Mitzvah) on the plane, and for them the Anan Sahadei will not help (I assume, since they cannot waive their own lives, and we
cannot do it for them).

Additionally, in the Sefer B’Chol Nafsh’cha (10:(32)) the author is not sure whether one can volunteer to be actively killed by a Jew to save the many. (He says that from the Yam Shel Shlomo to Bava Kama (8:59) it would seem that is allowed, based on what he writes regarding Shaul HaMelech committing suicide, but it still requires more thought).

D. What is the Halachah in the dispute between R’ Yochanan and Reish Lakish?

When the non-Jews do designate someone to be killed, who is not liable for the death penalty, may he be handed over?

This is a Machlokes Rishonim. The Rambam (ad. loc.) says that they may not hand over the Jew who has been singled out, in accordance with the position of Reish Lakish, whereas many other Rishonim decide the Halachah in accordance with R’ Yochanan [The Beis Yosef (Yoreh Deah 157) quoting the Rash to the Mishnah in Terumos and the Ran to Yoma 82a; Bach understanding of Semag (Lavin 165) and Semak (78); Issur V’Hetter HeAroch (Klal 59).]

The Rema (Yoreh Deah ad loc) brings both opinions.

The Bach and Taz (157:7) decide the Halachah in accordance with the Rambam.

However, in Teshuvos Rema (11) he holds that the primary opinion is like Rabbi Yochanan. This is also the position of the Shaar Efraim (72), Tiferes Yisrael (Mishna Terumos 8:12) and the Chazon Ish (ad. loc.) say that the Halachah is in accordance with Rabbi Yochanan.

Most authorities hold that Rabbi Yochanan’s position is only true if the one who is singled out will certainly die in any event.

E. What is the rationale for R’ Yochanan’s position?
This is a further dispute. From many Rishonim (Kesef Mishneh ad loc., Rashi to Sanhedrin 74b s.v. Yatza, Ran (Yoma 4a in the Rif folio), Ritva and Maharam Chalawa to Pesachim 25) it seems that the reason for R’ Yochanan’s position is that the Sevara of the Kesef Mishneh quoted above for the prohibition of handing one of the people over is no longer applicable. Since the one who has been singled out is going to die anyhow, there is no reason why he should not be handed over to spare the others.

However, the Maharam Shick (Yoreh Deah 155), the Chazon Ish (ad loc) and Igros Moshe (Yoreh Deah 2:60) all say that the reason why he may be handed over is because, after he has been singled out, he has the status of a Rodef. [However, the Igros Moshe there does end up proving that the Ran and the Rash hold of the first reason as above.]

F. Does this hold true even at the expense of the condemned’s Chayei Sha’ah?
Yes. This is clear from the Chazon Ish and the Igros Moshe. R’ Moshe explains that the reason for this is because whatever time there is in excess of that Chayei Sha’ah which they are depriving that person of, only he is a Rodef on the others, but they are not a Rodef on him for that time span, since he will not have that time to live in any event.

Presumably, according to the first reason mentioned in the Rishonim as well, there is still reason enough to hand the one who is singled out over the others, since his lifespan is inevitably limited to Chayei Sha’ah.

[Although the Yad Avraham on the margin to the Shulchan Aruch seems to disagree, the Sefer B’Chol Nafsh’cha says that that position is in accordance with Reish Lakish].

G. Can we extrapolate from the Hetter to hand over the person, that it allowed to actively kill him to save the others?
The Meiri (Sanhedrin 72b s.v Zeh) as well as the Arugos HaBosem (brought in the Hagaha to the Mordechai (end of Perek Arba Misos) say that, while one may hand over the Jew to a non-Jew, one may not actively kill the Jew.

However, the Sefer B’Chol Nafsh’cha says that this is not implied by the simple reading of the other Rishonim (since the logic used should apply to direct murder as well).

If we were to decide the Halachah in accordance with the position of Rabbi Yochanan, then, it would seem that it is permissible to shoot down the plane, since they will die in any event, and the occupants of the building will be saved as a result.

However, we cannot simply discount the weighty position of the Rambam on this issue, as there are major Acharonim who decide the Halachah like him, as above.

H. Are there Hetterim even if we were to decide the Halachah in accordance with Reish Lakish?

a) There are positions in the Acharonim (Lechem Mishneh to Rambam ad loc., Tosefes Yom HaKippurim (Yoma 82) who hold that even Reish Lakish would only argue if there is some slim chance that the person singled out will escape. But if there is no chance at all, he would agree that he should be handed over.

b) The Chazon Ish (ad loc) discusses the following scenario:
"We must delve into a case where one sees an arrow about to kill many people, and he can divert it to a different side, where it will kill only one person on another side, and those on this side will be saved, and if he were to do nothing, the many will die and the one will live. It is possible that this is not the same as the case of handing over someone to be killed, since that handing over is a cruel act of killing someone, and in this act there is no salvation of others in the inherent nature of the act, it is only that the particular circumstance caused that this act will bring about salvation to others, so the saving of the others hinges on the handing over of a Jewish soul.

However, in the diversion of the arrow from one side to the other, there is essentially an act of salvation, and it is not connected at all to the killing of the individual on the other side, rather it is only now, in this circumstance, that there is another Jew on the other side. And since on this side many Jews will die, and on the other side only one, it is possible that we must make every effort to reduce the loss of Jewish life to whatever extent possible. After all, Lulianus and Papus were killed to save the Jews, as Rashi writes to Taanis 18b, and they say that no person can stand in their section.

However, here may be worse since he is actively killing, and we only find that we may hand over Jews, but to kill with one’s hands, perhaps we do not do so, and that which they killed Sheva ben Bichri was because he was a rebel against the king. But, this requires more delving into.

So, the Chazon Ish has a doubt whether one may do an act which is primarily one of salvation, which will actively kill an individual, to save the multitudes. It seems that the accepted position by the Sefarim on the topic is that the Chazon Ish permits this. [The Sefer B’Chol Nafshecha seems to understand that this case of the Chazon Ish is not really direct killing. He holds that the Chazon Ish’s doubt is only in real active murder, like swerving a car away from the many to run over an individual. Though I do not see how that fits into the language of the Chazon Ish.]

In the Sefer "Chashukei Chemed", which is a collection of Psakim by R’ Yitzchak Zilberstein Shlit"a of Bnei Brak in order of the Dapim on Pesachim, brings from the preface of the Pnei Yehoshua to his novellae on Shas, that he had vowed to dedicate his life to delving in to the depths of the Torah, after he was trapped under some collapsed buildings, and many came to save, "And those that they killed by their trampling (in the area) were even more than those who had originally died, although there was no way out of this, since their intent was to save and remove the rubble."

Rav Zilberstein understands that the Pnei Yehoshua is approving of what they did. (It seems to me that the language of the Pnei Yehoshua implies that the Hetter is because - if they don’t do this they would all die anyhow, in addition to this being an act with the intent of saving. This would be a parallel to the 9/11 scenario. Though it is not clear in the Pnei Yehoshua whether he would hold this to be true even according to Resh Lakish, nevertheless, in the final analysis, he says it is allowed).

I. Is shooting down the plane primarily an act of saving or of killing?
One could perhaps distinguish between that Pnei Yehoshua and the 9/11 scenario, wherein in the Pnei Yehoshua’s case they were not actually doing acts of killing, they were only inadvertently shifting debris that caused people to die.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlit"a, quoted in the Sefer Mishnas Pikuach Nefesh, says that he is unsure whether this should be considered an act of killing or of salvation.

J. Is a situation of war different?
In the Sefer Mishnas Pikuach Nefesh, the author raises the concern that if we were to conclude that it is impermissible to shoot down the plane, we would be in a terrible quandary. Our enemies could take a few Jews from their countries, put them on a plane (with a nuclear bomb!) drop it on the concentration of the Jews!

He therefore says that in the context of war, the rules are different. Here, everyone must fight and be willing to sacrifice his life to save the multitiudes from the enemy, and therefore it is allowed to down the plane although we are killing Jewish passengers.

This would even be true if there were children on the plane who are not obligated to fight against the enemy, since that is the Halachah, that in war we sacrifice the few to save the many.

And, so, a plane hijacked by terrorists would come under the rubric of war, and would be permissible, especially in light of Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky’s position on the impermissibility of ransoming the kidnapped Rav Hutner, on a hijacked plane, at the time, due to Israel being engaged in a war with the Arabs since ‘48.

[What would be in a case where one is not sure whether a terrorist attack is being perpetrated, like initially on 9/11, or in the Corey Lidle case, is an interesting question]

K. Conclusion:
We have a number of Tzedadim that would allow for downing the plane:
1) If all the occupants are adults, based on an assumed volunteering to save the multitudes.
2) If we hold like the many Rishonim who hold like Rabbi Yochanan, as some Acharonim aver, it would likely be allowed.
3) Even according to the Rambam and Resh Lakish, if it is clear that they will all die if nothing is done, some Acharonim say that it is allowed.
4) This may constitute primarily an act of salvation, with the killing being a side-effect, which is probably allowed according to the Chazon Ish.
5) In the context of war, this would certainly be permissible.

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Daf Yomi - Taanis 18 - Torah - the Habitat where we Survive

The Yeshivos Hakedoshos The Nation's Lifeline

Dei'ah Vedibur

This shmuess was delivered by HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum at Yeshivas Beis Hillel in Bnei Brak during a chizuk meeting before the beginning of the summer zman.

I am honored to say divrei chizuk to bnei Torah before the coming summer zman. Although it is always important to strengthen others in Torah study, the gemora (Erchin 16b, according to the reading of the Shitta Mekubetzes) teaches us, "R' Tarfon said, `I wonder if anyone living today can rebuke others. If one man says, "You must remove a splinter from between your eyes [a small sin -- see Rashi]," the other will rebut, "You must remove the plank from between your eyes [a major sin]." ' R' Eliezer ben Azaryah said: `I wonder if anyone living today accepts rebuke willingly.'"

HaRav Yisroel Salanter zt'l, the renowned founder of the mussar movement, once commented that even if a single person out of a large audience will take what the darshan says to heart, the darshan should go ahead and speak. Since I feel I am benefiting from what I am telling you, I feel justified in talking, and perhaps others will be motivated too.

Let us appraise the value of studying Torah. The gemora (Brochos 61b) tells us that "the wicked kingdom [Rome] once forbade Jews to study Torah. Papus ben Yehudah found R' Akiva disseminating Torah in public. Papus said to him: `Akiva! Why are you not afraid of what the government will do to you?' R' Akiva answered: `This can be compared to a fox that walked along the river-bank and saw fish darting from one place to the other. [The fox] asked them: "From what are you fleeing?" [The fish] answered: "We are fleeing from the nets that men cast [in the river]." [The fox] asked: "Perhaps you want to come up to the dry land, and we will live [together] just like our ancestors?" [The fish] answered him: "Why are you considered the most clever animal? You are stupid and not clever! If we live in fear in a habitat where we can survive, surely in a habitat where we cannot survive we will live in fear."'"

What exactly was the argument between Papus ben Yehudah and R' Akiva? Chazal (Taanis 18b, see Rashi, s.v. bekodkiyah) write that Papus gave up his life for am Yisroel. A princess was found murdered, and since it was unknown who committed the murder, the non-Jews accused the Jews. The king decreed that all Jews should be killed. To save all the Jews Papus accepted the blame. He was put to death and the decree was annulled. This was Papus ben Yehudah. [Editor's Note: In Taanis it refers only to "Papus" and not "Papus ben Yehudah," but they may have been the same person.]

Nonetheless, when Papus ben Yehudah saw R' Akiva engaging in Torah study and disseminating Torah publicly when it was forbidden to study Torah, he reproved R' Akiva for not being afraid that the government would punish him.

Papus ben Yehudah's question was actually deeper than that. We are not obliged to die for the sake of studying Torah. It is not one of the three aveiros for which the rule yeihoreig ve'al ya'avor applies. When we do not study Torah we are only passively not fulfilling the Torah--shev ve'al ta'aseh. Even if R' Akiva believed this was a time of shmad, in which we are required to be moseir nefesh, why did he need to teach Torah publicly? He could have studied Torah at home. Why did he place himself in a situation of pikuach nefesh? The Torah instructs us "You shall live by them" (Vayikra 18:1) -- "and not die by them" (Yoma 85b). Papus ben Yehudah asked R' Akiva a solid kashye.

What was R' Akiva's answer? He compared Papus's argument to the fox's proposal for the fish to join him on dry land. Surely the clever fox did not overlook the obvious fact that fish need to live in water. The fox intended to suggest a way in which they could live on dry land, and planned to pour water in a pipe or in an aqueduct so the fish could live there and would not be endangered by the fishing nets. If so, why did the fish answer so defiantly "You are stupid!" and what is the comparison to what Papus asked? Was his question so ridiculous?

Papus ben Yehudah actually asked R' Akiva how he could dare act as he did, since it was not according to halocho. We are not obliged to die for talmud Torah, and at the least we are surely not obliged to teach Torah publicly when danger of death is involved. If R' Akiva disagreed and maintained that according to halocho one is even obligated to die in order to teach Torah publicly, that surely did not make Papus's question ridiculous. Papus ben Yehudah was himself an odom godol.

Let us think a little deeper. Why did the fish summarily reject the fox's suggestion?

The fish claimed that even if the fox provided them with water by pipe, dry land can never be "the habitat where we can survive." The danger of living there is far more than in the river. The moral R' Akiva inferred was that studying Torah can never "cause" one's death. Studying Torah is not a regular mitzvah; it has the special characteristic of being "the habitat where we can survive." If in the end one does die, it can only be because of some other reason, perhaps known only in Shomayim.

What type of Torah are we discussing? Teaching Torah to others. Although undoubtedly we can fulfill the mitzvah of talmud Torah when studying at home, "the habitat where we can survive" is only when we teach Torah publicly to others, and therefore it cannot possibly cause any decree of death. This is exactly what the fish answered: No matter how much water you provide us with, it cannot be an alternative to "the habitat where we survive."

But why did R' Akiva call Papus ben Yehudah foolish simply because he did not understand the above? Was it so simple and evident?

The gemora (Yevomos 9a) tells us that once after Levi asked Rabbenu HaKodosh a question, Rebbe answered: "It seems that you do not have any brain in your skull!" The gemora discusses why the question is not a question. Here too a difficulty must be resolved. Why did Rebbe answer Levi so sharply? Should a talmid be answered in such a way after he asks a question? In addition, we see the gemora itself discusses the various sides of this question, which shows the question is certainly not simple.

A rav's obligation to teach his talmid is not limited to teaching him proficiency in the Talmud's text. He must teach him how to comprehend the gemora properly. When a talmid asks a baseless question the rav cannot be content with just informing him it is incorrect. Doing so is improper chinuch. The rav must clarify to the talmid why he should never have conceived of such a question. His mistake in the process of analyzing the gemora must be fully elucidated to him.

Since Rebbe knew that Levi's kashye was worthless, in order to teach him how to analyze Torah correctly he had to emphasize that such a question only befits someone without a head on his shoulders. The talmid would afterwards think more deeply, and not remain with only a superficial understanding. Compared to correct comprehension, a mistaken understanding is like having no mind at all.

This is what R' Akiva clarified to Papus: One cannot question whether the obligation of yeihoreig ve'al ya'avor is relevant to teaching Torah publicly, whether it is unjustified mesirus nefesh. Such a question is intrinsically erroneous. It is incorrect understanding, actual foolishness. To think that Torah study can possibly cause one's death is absurd. On the contrary, teaching Torah publicly is the essential factor in "the habitat where we survive."

We now understand the inner meaning of what we say each day in davening (Bircas Krias Shema), that "it is our life and the length of our days." This is a halocho lema'aseh. R' Akiva taught Torah publicly although it seemed he was endangering his life, because Torah itself is life and not death. Not only studying Torah is life, teaching Torah publicly also is life. It is not only an additional level in one's study, it is the fact of life.

The yeshiva, where Torah is studied, is "the habitat where we survive." (I am, however, uncertain if individuals studying alone or with a chavrusa are considered studying berabim when they do this within a tzibbur, or perhaps only when many come together to hear a shiur from the Rosh Yeshiva it is considered studying berabim. This must be clarified.)

Although those who study Torah live frugally in comparison to those engaged in making a livelihood, this cannot be considered mesirus nefesh for Torah. On the contrary, we must understand that studying Torah does not induce any loss; it is "the habitat where we survive." We dare not think that for studying Torah we are giving up on life. We are not giving up on life; the Torah generates life. This is true even if it seems to us that it is not so, just as Papus ben Yehudah thought.

Dovid Hamelech said: "Surely goodness and chesed shall pursue me all the days of my life" (Tehillim 23:6). Maran the Chofetz Chaim asks, Do goodness and chesed pursue a person? Being pursued caries a negative connotation.

The Chofetz Chaim answers that sometimes it appears that studying Torah causes one to suffer. Someone who goes into business enjoys luxury, but someone engaged in Torah lives sparingly. When Pesach arrives he may even have to borrow money from a gemach to pay for his yom tov expenses. It looks as if the Torah is "pursuing" him. Dovid Hamelech, however, requested, "If I am supposed to be punished by being pursued, I want goodness and chesed to pursue me."

We must think like this. Torah does not cause any hardships, but it is possible that HaKodosh Boruch Hu will do chessed with a person and so hardship that is intended to come from other causes seem to be caused by the Torah.

The Torah is our lives -- in this world! If you think that in America a person enjoys Olam Hazeh I am telling you that Olam Hazeh has nothing to sell no matter where you are. What does a person gain by eating a more delicious meal or by having more green dollar bills? Nothing at all! When we are studying Torah we feel that it is our lives and the length of our days. In every Tosafos and Rashi we sense enormous chochmah. I feel Hashem's chochmah in every section of the gemora.

How fortunate are we to be zoche to Gan Eden in Olam Hazeh, being able to study Torah without distractions.

I want to say how amazed I am that since rosh chodesh Nisan fell this year on erev Shabbos and Shabbos, the summer zman started on Sunday. How is it possible to restrain oneself until Sunday? Is the Torah not "our lives and the length of our days"? If people were handing out money somewhere, would any normal person patiently wait a few days, or would he run right over to grab some money for himself? "Studying Torah in public" is our life.

The gemora (Avoda Zorah 17b) tells that R' Eliezer ben Parta and R' Chanina ben Tradyon were caught by the government. R' Eliezer said to R' Chanina, "How fortunate are you that you were caught for doing one thing! Woe to me that I was caught for doing five things." R' Chanina was imprisoned only because he taught Torah and therefore had hope to be saved, but R' Eliezer was imprisoned because of five things and therefore had less hope to be saved.

R' Chanina answered, "How fortunate are you that you were caught for five things, for you will be saved. Woe to me that I was caught for one thing, for I will not be saved. You engaged in Torah and gemilus chassodim, but I engaged only in Torah. Anyone who engages only in Torah is like someone without an Elokim." Rashi explains that it is "as if he does not have an Elokim to save him." Rabbenu Chananel adds that he is like someone who does not have an Elokim, and therefore will also not have the reward for studying Torah.

But why did R' Chanina not engage in gemilus chassodim, if he believed that someone who does not engage in it is as if he has no Elokim? Furthermore, if R' Chanina understood that engaging in gemilus chassodim can save one's life, why did he not do so, since he knew he might be condemned to death because of teaching Torah?

R' Chanina was later asked how he could engage in Torah study after the government decreed punishment of death for doing so. R' Chanina answered: "Shomayim will have pity." He afterward asked if he would be zoche to Olam Haboh. He was answered that since he gave money to poor people in an incident of a sofeik whether the money belonged to tzedokoh, he would merit Olam Haboh for this.

One would think that his being moseir nefesh for Torah and being burnt for kiddush Hashem, wrapped in a sefer Torah and wool put around his heart so that his death would take a long time, was enough of a reason to be zoche to Olam Haboh. Even the executioner who removed the wool from over R' Chanina's heart was zoche because of that to Olam Haboh. Is it not logical that R' Chanina himself should be zoche? Furthermore, if it was forbidden for R' Chanina to study when a gezeira was in force, why did he endanger himself?

It seems that the way R' Chanina acted comes under the category of "an aveira done lishmah, which is greater than a mitzvah done not lishmah" (Nozir 23b), which we learn from Yael, who did an aveira to save Yisroel from Sisra.

This needs to be understood too. If what Yael did was commendable, why is it at all called an aveira and not a mitzvah? When an aseih supersedes a lo sa'aseh, is doing the aseih considered an aveira? Surely not!

It seems that an aveira lishmah remains an aveira, but it is better to do it in order to save all of Yisroel. This is similar to what is written in Shabbos (4a), that it is preferable to commit a mild aveira to save an am ho'oretz from a severe aveira. Chazal (Shabbos 151b) also write, "Profane one Shabbos for him so he can observe Shabbos many times." An aveira to save Klal Yisroel is an aveira, but it worthwhile doing it to save the nation.

It is possible that R' Chanina, who was a godol beTorah, decided that if he engaged himself in gemilus chassodim he would be less of a talmid chochom and Klal Yisroel would lose out. All of am Yisroel needed the Torah of R' Chanina. By not engaging in gemilus chassodim he was moseir nefesh, although it was considered as if he had no Elokim and although he knew that because he acted in this way HaKodosh Boruch Hu would not save him. He nonetheless sacrificed himself for am Yisroel so they would have a godol beTorah who had studied Torah his whole life without stopping even for a moment, not even stopping to do gemilus chassodim.

R' Chanina therefore asked if he would be zoche to Olam Haboh. It was possible that he should not have studied Torah during the time of a gezeira, since it was not a case of yeihoreig ve'al ya'avor, but R' Chanina knew that if he did not engage in Torah publicly the Torah itself would be in danger. He was moseir nefesh for the Torah's sake. He asked whether he would be zoche to Olam Haboh since perhaps he did not act according to the din and forfeited Olam Haboh.

How terrifying it is to think that a person is prepared to be moseir nefesh and forfeit all of his Olam Haboh only for the sake of am Yisroel!

It is worthwhile to forfeit all of one's worlds so that the Torah will remain for am Yisroel. Even for the additional ma'alah of teaching Torah publicly it was worthwhile for R' Chanina to forfeit Olam Hazeh and all of his Olam Haboh for the Torah. This is really awesome.

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Daf Yomi - Taanis 18 - Highlights


It is written in Megillas Taanis that these are the days that one is not allowed to fast on them and on some of them; it is not even permitted to eulogize. From Rosh Chodesh Nissan until the eighth day of Nissan, the Chachamim were victorious over the Sadducees in a debate regarding the korban tamid (The Sadducees maintained that the tamid should be donated by individuals and the Chachamim convinced them that communal funds are required.). These days were declared as minor festivals and it is prohibited from fasting or even eulogizing on these days. From the eighth day of Nissan until after Pesach, the debate regarding the Yom Tov of Shavuos was settled (The Baitusim held that Shavuos must be on a Sunday) and therefore it was decreed that one cannot fast or eulogize on these days.

The Gemora asked on the necessity regarding the decree that it is prohibited from eulogizing on the first day of Nissan; it should be prohibited regardless since it is Rosh Chodesh. The Gemora answers that the decree is needed in order to prohibit the day before the festival as well. The Gemora explains that since Rosh Chodesh is Biblical, it would not require strengthening (by prohibiting the day before also), however the festivals mentioned in Megillas Taanis are only a Rabbinical ordinance and hence they require strengthening.

The Gemora asks a similar question on the second section cited in Megillas Taanis. What was the purpose of including the days of Pesach in the decree? Rav Pappa answers that due to the decree, the day following Pesach is also prohibited.

This Gemora is obviously in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yosi who maintains that the day following a day on which Megillas Taanis prohibits eulogizing is also prohibited (According to the Tanna Kamma, only the day preceding such a day would be prohibited). If so, why does Megillas Taanis find it necessary to rule that the twenty-ninth day in Adar is subject to the prohibition of eulogizing because it is the day preceding the first of Nissan, let it be prohibited because it is the day following the twenty-eighth of Adar, which is also a festival. The Gemora cites the braisa in Megillas Taanis which records the incident. The Romans had decreed that the Jews could not study Torah, perform circumcisions or keep Shabbos. Yehudah ben Shamua took advice from a Roman noblewoman and the Jews went out into the streets at night to protest. They cried out that we are brothers (the Jews and the Romans), and we are children from the same father and mother. Why are you (the Romans) issuing such harsh decrees on us? The Romans listened and revoked the decree. This day was pronounced as a festival.

Abaye answers that the decree was necessary in an instance where Adar had thirty days. It would emerge that the day following the twenty-eight of Adar would be the twenty-ninth and the there would be no prohibition on the thirtieth. Since the first of Nissan was declared to be a festival, the thirtieth of Adar will be prohibited since it is the day preceding the first of Nissan.

Rav Ashi answers that declaring the first of Nissan as a festival is necessary even when Adar has twenty-nine days. If the twenty-ninth is only prohibited due to its being the day following the twenty-eighth, it would be forbidden to fast but eulogizing would be permitted; now that the twenty-ninth is located between two festivals, it was considered a festival in itself and even eulogizing would be forbidden.

The Gemora asks another question on this segment of Megillas Taanis. Why was it necessary to say “from the eighth of Nissan,” the eighth of Nissan is anyway subject to the laws against eulogizing because it was included in the first festival (the first eight days of Nissan because of the debate regarding the tamid)? The Gemora answers that if for some reason, the Chachamim would abolish the first festival, the eighth of Nissan would still be prohibited because of the second decree.

The Gemora concludes that we could utilize the same answer to the challenge raised before. The braisa needed to teach that the twenty-ninth of Adar is prohibited on account that it is the day preceding the first of Nissan even though it would have been prohibited anyway since it is the day following the twenty-eighth of Nissan. This is just in case the festival of the twenty-eighth was abolished; the twenty-ninth would still be prohibited. (17b – 18a)


 The Gemora asks a contradiction regarding Shmuel’s rulings pertaining to the laws discussed in Megillas Taanis. Shmuel rules that the halacha is in accordance with Rabbi Meir who maintains that when eulogizing is prohibited on a particular day, the prohibition extends only to the day before and not the day after. Yet, Shmuel is also quoted as ruling in accordance with Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel who holds that only the days that were declared as festivals are prohibited but the day preceding and the day following the festival is permitted. The Gemora answers that initially Shmuel thought that Rabbi Meir was the most lenient opinion and therefore he ruled like him (since the prohibition against fasting is only a Rabbinical one). When he discovered that Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel was even more lenient, he retracted and ruled according to him. (18a)

 It was said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan that the halacha is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yosi. Rabbi Chiya bar Abba clarified this ruling. On a day that Megillas Taanis declared not to fast on them, Rabbi Yochanan ruled that the halacha is like Rabbi Yosi that it is forbidden to fast on the preceding day as well (but not on the following day). However, regarding a day that Megillas Taanis prohibited eulogizing, Rabbi Yochanan rules in accordance with Rabbi Meir that only the day preceding will be subject to the prohibition of eulogizing. (It emerges according to Rabbi Yochanan, that any day mentioned in Megillas Taanis that prohibits eulogizing or fasting, the halacha would be that the preceding day will also be prohibited but not on the day which follows.)

The Gemora asks on Rabbi Yochanan from a Mishna which would seemingly indicate that the day preceding a minor festival recorded in Megillas Taanis will not be prohibited. Since it is an anonymous Mishna, Rabbi Yochanan should rule according to that opinion.

The Gemora cites the Mishna in Megillah that even though the Megillah is sometimes read earlier than the normal day, eulogizing and fasting would be permitted on those days. The Gemora proceeds to analyze as to which day precisely the Mishna is referring to. It cannot mean the fourteenth since that day is Purim and Megillas Taanis explicitly prohibits eulogizing and fasting. It cannot be referring to the thirteenth since that day is Yom Nikanor, which is a minor festival mentioned in Megillas Taanis. It cannot be referring to the twelfth since that day is Yom Turyanus, which is also a festival mentioned in Megillas Taanis. The only remaining day that it can be referring to is the eleventh. The Mishna is ruling that the Megillah can be read on the eleventh but there are no prohibitions against fasting or eulogizing even though this is the day preceding Yom Turyanus. This is inconsistent with Rabbi Yochanan’s opinion that the halacha is in accordance with Rabbi Yosi.

The Gemora answers that in fact, the Mishna is referring to the twelfth; and the answer to the objection raised above is that the Chachamim had subsequently abolished the festival of Yom Turyanus because of two pious brothers who were killed on that day. The Gemora persists that it should still be prohibited from fasting on the twelfth because it is the day preceding Yom Nikanor. The Gemora answers that if the tragedy was sufficient enough of a reason to abolish the festival, we cannot decree that it is prohibited to fast on the account of it being the day preceding Yom Nikanor. (18a – 18b)


 The Gemora proceeds to explain the festival of Yom Nikanor and Yom Turyanus. Yom Nikanor celebrated the death of Nikanor, a Greek general, who would wave his hand at Yerushalayim and its vicinity and say, "when will these fall into my hands so that I can trample it?" When the Hasmoneans succeeded in driving the Greeks from Israel, he was captured. They cut off his thumbs and big toes and hung them by the gates of Yerushalayim. This incident occurred on the thirteenth of Adar and they declared this day as a minor festival.

Yom Turyanus celebrated the death of Turyanus, a Roman officer who put two Jews - Papus and Lulianus - to death. Before doing so, he mocked them publicly, challenging the Jewish God to intervene on their behalf, as He was reputed to have done on behalf of Chananya, Misha'el and Azariah. Papus and Lulianus responded that they were not deserving of divine intervention, and neither was Turyanus on the level of Nevuhadnezzar to have a miracle take place because of him. They concluded that Hashem probably had made him (Turyanus) the instrument of their death in order to punish him for it. Immediately after their death, messengers from Rome arrived who removed him from his position and cracked his head with clubs. Since this incident occurred on the twelfth of Adar, they declared this day as a minor festival. (18b)


 The Mishna cited Rabban Gamliel who said that the Chachamim would never decree that the first day of the series of fasts should be on Rosh Chodesh, Chanukah, or Purim. If the fasts began already and one of the days of the fasts fell out on Rosh Chodesh, we would not interrupt the fasts.

Rav Acha explains that this is only correct if there were already three fasts; then we continue even though one of the fast days fell on Rosh Chodesh. Rabbi Assi maintains that this is true even if they fasted just once.

The Mishna had stated that Rabbi Meir maintains that even though Rabban Gamliel said that they do not interrupt, he would admit that the fast should not be completed. This halacha is identical to a case where Tisha B’av fell on Erev Shabbos.

Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav that the Chachamim disagree and maintain that the fast must be completed. Mar Zutra said in the name of Rav Huna that the halacha is in accordance with the opinion of the Chachamim. (18b)

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