Thursday, January 22, 2009

Actions or Results

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Rabbi Yochanan (Tannis 29a) said as follows: Were I living in those days, I would have ordained the fast for the tenth of Av; for on that day the greater part of the Beis Hamikdosh was burned. The Chachamim maintained that the day when the calamity began should be observed as a fast-day.

The Kotzker Rebbe asked from that famous Nimukei Yosef in Bava Kamma. Rabbi Yochanan said: One is liable on the damage caused by his fire on account of it being “his arrows” (it is as if he shot out an arrow which caused damage). The Nimukei Yosef explains that this is why one is permitted to light candles Friday afternoon even though they will be burning on Shabbos; since the candles were lit from before Shabbos, which is when he shot the arrow. According to this, why is Rabbi Yochanan stating here that he would have declared the fast on the tenth of Av if the fire started on the ninth?

The answer is that regarding Shabbos and damages, we are concerned with the action; when it occurred and how it happened. Regarding the Beis Hamikdosh being destroyed; we are not concerned with the action, rather with the result and it was burned on the tenth of Av. This is why Rabbi Yochanan said that if he were living in those days, he would have ordained the tenth of Av as the fast day.

The Avnei Neizer answers that the fire of the Beis Hamikdosh was a Heaven-sent fire and that is constantly being lit - that is why Rabbi Yochanan thought the fast should be on the tenth - we don’t look at the beginning.