Sunday, December 13, 2009

Halachos of the Daf - Bava Basra 91

Fasting and Blowing Trumpets

The Torah commands us to blow trumpets when a community faces a calamity or danger. In such circumstances, we fast and pray as well, in order that Hashem should have mercy on us.

The reason we blow trumpets explains the Chinuch, is because a person needs to be jolted out of his complacency.

The Pri Megadim elaborates: The whole point of blowing trumpets and praying when there is an impending calamity is so that we take to heart the fact that everything that happens is from Hashem, even the calamity that is imminent. Therefore we fast and pray, and most of all repent, and Hashem will take away the danger. The primary reason why Hashem sent it in the first place is to get us to repent.

There are many different types of dangers that would require us to fast and blow trumpets. Among them include the following:

1) A non-Jewish army is on the way to wage war against the Jews, or to impose taxes, or to forcibly take away a piece of land, or even if they would decree that Jews may no longer adhere to a particular Mitzvah.

2) A plague that kills people (even non-Jews), or pigs. Pigs are of concern since they have similar intestines to people, therefore we are afraid that the plague will travel to people.

3) If the price of any item (or items) which is largely the sole profit of the region, would plummet to nearly half the price. Although at first glance this would seem to be good news, since the poor can now afford these items, it is a serious calamity, for without this item being sold at the regular profit, the population will find themselves in a depression.

Whenever a fast day was instituted, there was a specific schedule. From after Shacharis until midday - the Beis Din would analyze the actions of the community, to determine if there was any area that could use strengthening. If they would find a problem, they would immediately fix it. From after midday until nightfall – in the first half the community would read from the Torah and Neviim, and in the second half the community would pray Mincha intensely.