THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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TA'ANIS 27, 28, 29, 30 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi
publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael
1) HALACHAH: EATING MEAT, WASHING CLOTHES AND CUTTING HAIR BEFORE TISHA B'AV
(a) EATING MEAT - The Gemara concludes that the Isur of eating meat and
drinking wine apply only during the Se'udah Mafsekes on Erev Tisha b'Av, when
the Se'udah Mafsekes is eaten after midday (this is the practice of Jews of
Yemenite descent today). According to the Gemara, it is permitted to eat meat
and drink wine earlier during the day on Erev Tisha b'Av, as well as during
the days before Tisha b'Av. However, the Rishonim write that the practice is
to refrain from meat and wine all day on Erev Tisha b'Av. Moreover, some rule
that meat and wine are prohibited during the week in which Tisha b'Av occurs
(based on the Yerushalmi), and some say that this prohibition should be
observed from Rosh Chodesh Av, which is the practice of Ashkenazim.
(b) WASHING CLOTHES AND CUTTING HAIR - The Tana'im argue when the Isurim of
washing clothes and cutting hair apply. Rebbi Meir says that it is Asur to
wash clothes and to cut hair from Rosh Chodesh Av until Tisha b'Av. Rebbi
Yehudah says that it is Asur the entire month of Av. Raban Shimon ben Gamliel
says that it is Asur only during the week in which Tisha b'Av falls. Rava
rules like Raban Shimon ben Gamliel, that it is Asur to wash clothes and cut
hair only during the week in which Tisha b'Av falls, and like Rebbi Meir,
that it is only Asur on the days before Tisha b'Av and not afterwards.
It is the practice of Ashkenazic communities to refrain from washing clothes
from Rosh Chodesh Av (REMA OC 551:3), and to refrain from cutting hair from
the Seventeenth of Tamuz. However, RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN (Igros Moshe OC 4:102)
rules that since the Gemara concludes that it is Asur only during the week of
Tisha b'Av, one may wash clothes or cut hair before the week of Tisha b'Av in
case of financial loss. During the week of Tisha b'Av, though, one may not
wash clothes or cut hair even in case of financial loss.
Why did it become the practice to lengthen the times during which meat and
wine, and washing clothes and cutting hair, are prohibited?
The BI'UR HA'GRA (OC 551:6) cites the Gemara in Bava Basra (60b) that says
that when the people wanted to stop eating meat and drinking wine altogether
after the Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed, Rebbi Yishmael ben Elisha told them
that "we do not enact Gezeiros upon the Tzibur if a majority of the Tzibur is
unable to observe them." Ideally we should refrain from eating meat and
drinking wine at all times while the Beis ha'Mikdash is in ruins, but that
would be too difficult for the Tzibur to abide by.
The Gaon explains that since the Tzibur *is* able to refrain from eating meat
and drinking wine for a short time period each year, the Chachamim introduced
the custom of abstaining for them for as they saw to be practical (in each
generation). We refrain from eating meat and drinking wine (and from washing
our clothes) for the nine days from Rosh Chodesh until Tisha b'Av since most
of the Tzibur is able to observe those stringencies for that amount of time.
(A similar logic may be applied to cutting hair during the three weeks from
the Seventeenth of Tamuz until Tisha b'Av.)
2) AGADAH: ALL WHO MOURN FOR YERUSHALAYIM WILL REJOICE IN HER
QUESTION: The Gemara states, "All who mourn for Yerushalayim, merit and see
her joy." What does this mean? Many great Jewish men and women have mourned
for Yerushalayim throughout the generations, but none of them merited to see
the rebuilding of the city and the Beis ha'Mikdash!
ANSWER: KOHELES YITZCHAK quotes RAV CHAIM BERLIN who gives a beautiful
explanation for this Gemara.
3) THE DAY ON WHICH THE PEOPLE IN THE "MIDBAR" STOPPED DYING
The Torah relates that Yakov Avinu mourned for Yosef for twenty-two years,
under the assumption that he had been killed. How could Yakov mourn for so
long? The Gemara in Berachos (58b) says that the memory of the impact of the
death of a loved one stays in one's heart for only twelve months, and after
that one naturally forgets about the pain of the loss! The Midrash, cited by
Rashi (Bereishis 37:35), answers that only if the person is actually dead
does the pain of his death fade from the heart. But if he is still alive and
his relative just does not know, the memory does not fade from the heart.
Similarly, after the Churban of the Beis ha'Mikdash, if the Beis ha'Mikdash
was irrevocably destroyed, then the painful memory should fade from its
mourners' hearts after twelve months, and they should no longer be mourning
for the Beis ha'Mikdash. The fact that they continue to mourn over the loss
of the Beis ha'Mikdash shows that it is not permanently destroyed, but that
it is really "still alive" and it will be rebuilt. This knowledge gives the
mourners encouragement, and they even experience joy knowing that the Beis
ha'Mikdash will be rebuilt!
QUESTIONS: One of the things that occurred on the Fifteenth of Av, making it
a day of celebration, was that no more Jews in the Midbar died ("Kalu Mesei
Midbar"). Rashi cites the Midrash which says that in the Midbar, on every
Tisha b'Av the people would dig graves for themselves, lie down in them
overnight, and the next morning many of them would not arise. In the final
year of their sojourn in the Midbar, all of those who went to sleep in their
graves on the night of Tisha b'Av woke up the next morning. The next night,
they continued to go to sleep in the graves, thinking that they had erred in
the calculation of the date. They continued doing this until they saw the
full moon in the sky and knew that it was the middle of the month, the
Fifteenth of Av.
Upon closer examination, this event poses several difficulties.
First, on that year, whoever had been decreed to die had already died. No one
who was of age at the time of the sin of the Meraglim (for which it was
decreed that all men between 20 and 60 would die and not enter Eretz
Yisrael). Why, then, did they think that they had to dig graves?
Second, if no one died that Tisha b'Av, and Tisha b'Av was the only time that
people died, then the last time people died was on the Tisha b'Av of the
previous year! They should have instituted the day of celebration on the
*tenth* of Av, and not on the Fifteenth of Av, because the last day on which
people died was the ninth of Av of the previous year! The Shechinah's Dibur
should have come back to Moshe the year before, since Tisha b'Av of the
previous year was the last time that the Gezeirah applied!
Third, why does the Gemara have to mention that on that day, the Fifteenth of
Av, communication between the Shechinah and Moshe Rabeinu was restored? If
the celebration of the day is that nobody died, why mention the fact that the
Shechinah began speaking again to Moshe Rabeinu?
(a) TOSFOS in Bava Basra (121a, DH Yom sh'Kalu) explains that it is true that
the people died only on Tisha b'Av. However, even in the fortieth and final
year, they also died! The rest of the Jewish people were mourning for their
relatives who died on that Tisha b'Av. They mourned for seven days, during
which time the Shechinah was not dwelling among the people, since the
Shechinah dwells only amidst joy, and not amidst mournfulness. Since the
Shechinah was not dwelling among the people, Moshe Rabeinu received no
communication from it, until the Aveilus was finished. Seven days after Tisha
b'Av (including Tisha b'Av itself, and part of the seventh day, for "Miktzas
ha'Yom k'Kulo") -- came out on the Fifteenth of Av!
This is not in agreement with the Yerushalmi cited in Rashi of our Sugya,
(b) TOSFOS here cites an explanation that says that even though most of the
people died each year on Tisha b'Av, there were some people who died on other
days of the year. The last day that *anyone* died was the fourteenth of Av.
After the fourteenth, no one died anymore, and therefore the fifteenth became
a day of Simchah.
This answer, too, does not agree with the Yerushalmi that Rashi quotes, which
says that no one died on Tisha b'Av of the last year and they dug graves
(c) TOSFOS in Bava Basra cites RABEINU TAM who suggests that Hashem indeed
annulled the Gezeirah that they died in the Midbar, and the people who were
supposed to die on the last year did not die. That explains why they kept
digging graves -- there were still people alive who were decreed to die!
Why did the Shechinah return to Moshe only on the fifteenth of Av, and why is
that fact relevant? Furthermore, what is so special about the fifteenth if
they stopped dying the year before?
It could be that until the fifteenth of Av, Hashem had not yet annulled the
decree, and they were still destined to die. That is why they had to return
to their graves each day. But on the fifteenth of Av, the Shechinah came back
to Moshe Rabeinu and that showed that Hashem had annulled the Gezeirah and
pardoned the people. Those who had been decreed to die lived.
(The Yerushalmi says that they knew that the Gezeirah was lifted because they
saw the full moon.. On that point, our Gemara argues with the Yerushalmi and
says that they knew that the Gezeirah was over because the Dibur returned to
However, how can it be that the decree was annulled, and some of the people
of that generation lived? The verse says that the only ones left from that
generation who lived were Yehoshua and Kalev (Bamidbar 26:65)!
Rabeinu Tam answers as follows. The Gezeirah had been that anyone between the
ages of 20 and 60 at the time of the sin of the Meraglim was decreed to die
in the Midbar. The Midrash says that each year, those who reached the age of
60 would die, so that at the end of forty years all of the people who were
over 20 at the time of the Meraglim would have died. The last year, the only
ones who were still alive who thought that they would die (for whom Hashem
annulled the Gezeirah) were those who were exactly 20 at the time of the sin
of the Meraglim.
Before Hashem annulled the Gezeirah, the intent of the Gezeirah was to be
*inclusive* -- anyone between the ages of 20 and 60 was to die, including the
20 year-olds. When Hashem had mercy and decided to annul the remainder of the
Gezeirah, He did not completely annul the Gezeirah; rather, He re-interpreted
it: instead of being inclusive of the 20 year-olds, He made it *exclusive* of
the 20 year-olds! Thus, it is correct to say both that the Gezeirah was
entirely carried out and no one was left who was included in the Gezeirah,
and to say that Hashem annulled the Gezeirah! Since Yehoshua and Kalev were
older than 20 at the time of the Meraglim, they indeed were the only ones who
remained of all of those between the ages of 20 (exclusive) and 60 who had to
die, had Hashem not granted them life.