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Megilah, 3

MEGILAH 2-5 (Elul 27-Rosh Hashanah 5760) - have been dedicated by Dr. Jack and Sarah Dimenstein of Zurich Switzerland. May they be blessed with a year of health and prosperity, physical and spiritual!


The Gemara gives an example of how the Targum Yonasan in Nevi'im reveals explanations of verses that we otherwise would not have known. The verse in Zecharyah (12:1) says, "On that day, the mourning will be great in Yerushalayim, like the mourning of Hadadrimon at the valley of Megidon." However, there was no funeral for Hadadrimon in Megidon!

The Targum Yonasan explains that the verse is saying, "On that day, the mourning will be great in Yerushalayim, like [the two great funerals combined,] the mourning of [Achav bar Omri, who was killed by] Hadadrimon [ben Tavrimon in Ramos Gilad, and like the mourning of Yoshiyah bar Amon, who was killed by Pharaoh Chagira] in the valley of Megido."

Why does the verse compare the great mourning in times to come specifically to the mourning at these two funerals?

ANSWER: To answer this question, we have to first explore whom this great funeral described in the verse will be for in the times of Mashiach.

The Gemara in Sukah (52a) records an argument regarding this funeral. One opinion says that it will be for Mashiach ben Yosef, and another opinion says that it will be for the Yetzer ha'Ra, which will be killed at that time. The Gemara there explains that in the future, Hashem will slaughter the Yetzer ha'Ra, and both the Tzadikim and the Resha'im will cry. The Tzadikim will cry because they will see the huge mountain that stood before them in their service of Hashem. The Resha'im will cry because they will see that they were not able to conquer such a small thread which stood in their way. (See Insights to Sukah 52:1.)

The VILNA GA'ON (Kol Eliyahu) says that this is what the Targum Yonasan means. The Targum holds like the opinion that says that the funeral will be for the Yetzer ha'Ra. Normally, at a funeral, if the deceased was a Tzadik, then only the Tzadikim cry. If he was a Rasha, then only the Resha'im cry. In this case, at the funeral of the Yetzer ha'Ra, *both* groups will cry, as the Gemara in Sukah says! Thus, it will be like the funeral of Achav -- the great Rasha, when all the Resha'im cried, and like the funeral of Yoshiyah -- the great Tzadik, when all of the Tzadikim cried!

QUESTIONS: The Gemara derives from the words, "Every family and family (Mishpachah u'Mishpachah)" (Esther 9:28), that the families of the Kohanim and Levi'im are Mevatel their Avodah to come and hear the reading of the Megilah, and the Yisra'elim are Mevatel their Ma'amad. The Beraisa says that the Talmidim of the Yeshivah of Rebbi would be Mevatel Torah to come and hear the Megilah.

Why does the Gemara call it "Bitul Torah" to go hear the Megilah? Reading the Megilah is also Limud Torah! (RASHASH and others)

Second, we know that Talmud Torah is not Docheh any Mitzvah that is incumbent upon the person himself, such as Lulav (Moed Katan 9a). Why did the Talmidim of the Yeshivah of Rebbi have to find a source that permits them to be Mevatel Torah in order to read the Megilah? If there is a Mitzvah d'Rabanan to read the Megilah, then of course they may be Mevatel Torah, because the obligation to read the Megilah is incumbent upon each person! The whole point of learning Torah is to do the Mitzvos!

ANSWER: The Gemara says that they were Mevatel Talmud Torah "to come to read the Megilah." Why does the Gemara add the words "to come?" It should just say that they were Mevatel Talmud Torah to read the Megilah!

The RASHBA and RAN (Daf 5a) conclude from here that fulfilling the principle of "b'Rov Am Hadras Melech" ("in a large number of people there is glory for the king") when reading the Megilah is more important than Talmud Torah and Avodah and is Docheh them. Hence, even though Rebbi had hundreds of Talmidim in his Beis Midrash, he brought them to the synagogue to hear the Megilah so that there would be an even larger gathering of people.

This answers both questions. The reason that there is Bitul Torah involved when reading the Megilah is because they have to walk to the synagogue (and wait for the Tzibur to begin reading), during which time they will not be able to learn the same way as they learn while sitting in the Beis Midrash (ARUCH HA'SHULCHAN OC 687:8). This also explains why the Gemara has to teach us that one is Mevatel Talmud Torah for this Mitzvah. It is not necessary to teach us that the Mitzvah of reading the Megilah overrides Talmud Torah, because every Mitzvah is like that. Rather, the Gemara is teaching that we are Mevatel Torah even to go to a synagogue to be part of a large gathering in order to read the Megilah! (Y. Shaw)


OPINIONS: The Gemara says that even though reading the Megilah is more important than Avodah and Talmud Torah and it thus overrides those Mitzvos, reading the Megilah does not override the Mitzvah of burying a Mes Mitzvah. Burying a Mes Mitzvah overrides the Mitzvos of Avodah, Talmud Torah, and Mikra Megilah.

The Rishonim discuss the extent of the Halachah that Megilah overrides other Mitzvos, and set specific guidelines. (See Chart #2)

(a) We know that Mikra Megilah overrides the Avodah. However, reading the Megilah takes a relatively short time, and after reading the Megilah, the Kohanim and Levi'im can go back to doing the Avodah.

What is the Halachah, though, if the day is nearing its end, and if they read the Megilah there will be no time to do the Avodah? Does the reading of the Megilah still override the Avodah?

1. The RAN says that Mikra Megilah does not override Avodah, because Avodah is a Mitzvah d'Oraisa and it thus overrides a Mitzvah d'Rabanan like Megilah. This also seems to be the opinion of Tosfos (DH Mevatlin), that only when the Avodah will be done afterwards do we read the Megilah first.

2. The PISKEI TOSFOS in Erchin (#19) writes that even if reading the Megilah will require that the Avodah be entirely pushed off, we still say that reading the Megilah comes first. This is also the conclusion of the VILNA GA'ON and the TAZ in the Shulchan Aruch (OC 687:2). They prove this from the fact that the Gemara compares it to being Mevatel Talmud Torah to hear the Megilah. Obviously, those moments of Talmud Torah that were pushed off are irrevocable and were pushed off forever.

(b) The Gemara says that burying a Mes Mitzvah overrides Mikra Megilah. Does this also apply if burying the Mes Mitzvah will require pushing off the reading of the Megilah entirely, and not just delay it to a later time?
1. The MIZRACHI, cited by the BEIS YOSEF, says that in such a case, Mikra Megilah comes first, because the Mes Mitzvah can always be buried after Mikra Megilah, even the next day. There is no other time, though, to make up the reading of Megilah once Purim has passed. Therefore, it is more important to read the Megilah.

2. However, the VILNA GA'ON, TAZ and MAGEN AVRAHAM say that Mes Mitzvah still takes precedence, even when Mikra Megilah will be pushed off entirely. In this ruling, they are consistent with their understand of our Gemara as discussing pushing off a Mitzvah entirely and not just delaying it in order to do another Mitzvah.

(c) When we say that a Mes Mitzvah overrides Mikra Megilah, does that also apply to every other Mes in need of burial, or only to a Mes Mitzvah?
1. The SHILTEI GIBORIM and the RAMBAN (in TORAS HA'ADAM) say that only a Mes Mitzvah overrides Megilah. Any other Mes does not override the Megilah; rather, we read the Megilah first and then bury the Mes.

2. The REMA says that any Mes that needs assistance in the burial overrides Mikra Megilah.

HALACHAH: The MISHNAH BERURAH says that if it is a question of overriding Mikra Megilah entirely in order to bury a regular Mes, since there are some who hold that Mes Mitzvah does not come before Megilah at all while others hold that Mes Mitzvah does preempt Megilah, we are stringent only for a Mes Mitzvah (and we push off Megilah entirely) but not for a regular Mes. If it is a question of just pushing off Mikra Megilah to a later time, then even a regular Mes pushes off Mikra Megilah to a later time.

There are two exceptions. First, the VILNA GA'ON says that even a regular Mes is exactly like a Mes Mitzvah if one already started the burial before the time of Mikra Megilah arrived. In such a situation, the burial continues and pushes off Mikra Megilah. Second, the DARCHEI MOSHE says that the burial of a Talmid Chacham always preempts Mikra Megilah because Kavod ha'Torah of even a single person is more important that Avodah and Megilah.

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