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Megilah, 22

MEGILAH 21-24 (3rd-6th days of Sukos 5760) - sponsored by Harav Ari Bergmann of Lawrence, N.Y., out of love for Torah and those who study it.


OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses how to split up the Torah portion that is read on Rosh Chodesh. Three paragraphs are read, consisting of 8, 2, and 5 verses respectively. These verses must be divided among four people.

The difficulty in dividing these verses arises because we must abide by several rules of Keri'as ha'Torah. First, an Aliyah must begin either at the beginning of a paragraph, or after three verses into the paragraph; we may not begin an Aliyah less than three verses into the paragraph, because those who enter the synagogue late will think that the previous Aliyah read only two verses. Similarly, we may not end an Aliyah with less than three verses remaining until the end of the paragraph; those who leave the synagogue early at that point will think that the next Aliyah is going to read only the remaining two verses. Finally, every Oleh must read at least three verses. Because of these rules, it is quite complicated to divide the verses of the Rosh Chodesh Keri'as Torah among the four Aliyos.

The Gemara discusses the problem at length, comparing it to the Keri'as ha'Torah of the Ma'amados. In the case of the Ma'amados, where there is a paragraph of five verses that must be divided into two Aliyos, Rav and Shmuel argue exactly what to do. Rav says "Doleg" -- the first Oleh reads the first three verses, and the second Oleh repeats the third verse, and continues with the last two verses of the paragraph. Shmuel says "Posek" -- the first Oleh reads two and a half verses, and the second Oleh continues from where the first left off and reads the remaining two and a half verses.

The RIF rules that the Halachah follows Rav, who says that when there are not enough verses to divide up among two Aliyos, one verse is read a second time by the second Oleh. Therefore, on Rosh Chodesh, the second Oleh re-reads the verse "v'Amarta," the third verse of the first paragraph (which has 8 verses). He reads the next two verses and stops, leaving three verses remaining in the paragraph for the third Oleh to read (who also reads the two verses of the second paragraph). In this manner, the eight-verse paragraph becomes a virtual nine-verse paragraph.

The RAMBAN challenges the ruling of the Rif. He points out that the intended benefit of the second Aliyah repeating the third verse is to avoid a problem for the third Aliyah; without repeating the verse, the third Aliyah would end up starting with only two verses left in the paragraph (the first would read three verses, the second would read three verses, leaving only two verses in the paragraph). However, asks the Ramban, that benefit is offset by another problem -- by being Doleg the third verse, people who enter for the second Aliyah will see that he is starting only two verses into the paragraph, and they will think that the first Oleh read only two verses! Nothing, then, was gained!


(a) The RASHBA says that it is still better for the second Oleh to repeat the third verse, for the following reason. If we are not Doleg, then the other option is for the second Oleh to finish the first paragraph, and the third Oleh to read the two verses of "uv'Yom ha'Shabbos," and another two verses from the third paragraph, "uv'Roshei Chodsheichem." In such a case, though, there would be *two* problems. First, someone entering *during* the third Aliyah will assume that he started from the beginning of the third paragraph (uv'Roshei Chodsheichem) and will think that he read only two verses. Second, someone entering *after* the third Aliyah has finished will see the fourth Aliyah starting from the third verse of the paragraph and he, too, will think that the previous Oleh read only two verses. Therefore, it is better to have only one problem of "Mipnei ha'Nichnasin" by having the second Oleh repeat a verse in the first paragraph.

(b) The RAN says that it is better to be Doleg for a different reason. If we leave over two verses at the beginning of a paragraph, or start two verses into a paragraph, then the people standing there will think that just like it is permitted to leave over two verses when there is no other option, it is acceptable even when there is another option. If we are Doleg, though, then people will not assume that they may do it elsewhere. They will see that it is an unusual situation which causes the need to be Doleg, because they know that we are never Doleg in a normal situation. (Granted, being Doleg does not take care of the problem of the people entering late, but that problem is unavoidable in either case.)

(c) The RAMBAN does not accept these answers. Instead, he says that the proper practice is *not* to be Doleg, but to read the verses without repeating anything. The first Oleh reads 3 verses, the second reads the next 3, the third reads the 2 verses of "uv'Yom ha'Shabbos" and 2 verses from "uv'Roshei Chodsheichem," and the fourth reads the remaining 3 verses. Even though there will be a problem of "Mipnei ha'Yotz'in" (those leaving after the second Aliyah will think that the third Oleh is going to read only the remaining two verses of that paragraph), if we are Doleg we will also have such a problem (those entering after the first Aliyah will think that the first one read only two verses), and thus nothing is gained by being Doleg. The Ramban mentions that this is also the practice as recorded in Maseches Sofrim (according to one opinion mentioned there).

What, then, does the Gemara mean when it says that the Halachah is like Rav, that we are Doleg?

The Ramban explains that when the Gemara rules like Rav, that was only with regard to the Keri'as ha'Torah of the Ma'amados. Even though there are no Ma'amados today and thus it seems irrelevant to issue a Halachic ruling about them, nevertheless it was necessary to tell us the Halachah in order to teach that even though on Rosh Chodesh we are not Doleg, we are also not *Posek* (because Shmuel would hold that on Rosh Chodesh, we split one verse into two).

(d) The VILNA GA'ON says that we are Doleg on Rosh Chodesh, like our Gemara rules, but he says that the repeating of a verse is done in a different manner than that of the Rif. Instead of repeating the third verse ("v'Amarta"), the second Aliyah reads verses 4 to 8. Then, the third Aliyah repeats the last *three* verses of the first paragraph (verses 6, 7, 8), and then reads the two verses of the second paragraph. This avoids the Ramban's problem, since no Aliyah is started within two Pesukim from the beginning or end of a section.

This approach is actually mentioned by the Ramban, but he rejects it. The MAGEN AVRAHAM also rejects this approach, because he maintains that it is preferable to repeat only one verse (and have a problem of "Mipnei ha'Nichnasin") than to repeat three verses.

HALACHAH: The Poskim cite the Ran who defends the Rif and says that the second Oleh repeats the third verse ("v'Amarta"). This is the most widespread practice. There are, however, many congregations in Eretz Yisrael who conduct themselves according to the Vilna Ga'on, and they repeat the last three verses of the first paragraph for the third Aliyah.


QUESTION: The Gemara says that the reason why there is an extra Aliyah during the Keri'as ha'Torah of Rosh Chodesh is because there is no "Bitul Melachah l'Am," and thus by adding an Aliyah, there is no problem of causing people to miss work, since Melachah is not done on Rosh Chodesh.

RASHI explains that Melachah is not done by *women* on Rosh Chodesh, for they have the Minhag to refrain from Melachah, as the Yerushalmi describes, because Rosh Chodesh was their reward for not participating in the Chet of the Egel ha'Zahav (see next Insight).

However, why should the women's practice of not working on Rosh Chodesh affect how many Aliyos the *men* read in synagogue? The men work as usual, so why is there an extra Aliyah? It is going to cause the men to miss some of their work!


(a) The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 282) says that women are indeed obligated to hear the Torah reading. Accordingly, the Gemara means that half of the people listening to the Torah reading will not have to miss work, and therefore an extra Aliyah may be added. (The BIRCHEI YOSEF says that this Gemara is a proof from the opinion of the Magen Avraham that women are obligated to hear the Torah reading.)

(b) The RITVA and RABEINU YEHONASAN M'LUNIL say that the verse that Rashi cites from Shmuel I (20:19) that refers to Erev Rosh Chodesh as "Yom ha'Ma'aseh" ("a day of work"), implying that Rosh Chodesh itself is *not* a day of work, teaches that at one point in time, it was the Minhag that even men did not do Melachah on Rosh Chodesh. That was the Minhag at the time of the Mishnah. Even though the Minhag changed since then (for in the times of the Talmud Yerushalmi, it was the custom only for women to refrain from work), the initial enactment of reading four Aliyos on Rosh Chodesh remains.

(c) The MORDECHAI (#806), citing the RI, says that even men may not do work on Rosh Chodesh, as we see from the verse in Shmuel I. However, their Isur differs from women's Isur of Melachah. Men are required to refrain only from heavy work (plowing, sewing, harvesting, etc.), whereas women refrain even from light work.

(d) The TUREI EVEN suggests a novel approach. He says that during the times of the Beis ha'Mikdash, neither men nor women do Melachah on Rosh Chodesh, and the practice of refraining from Melachah is unrelated to the Chet of the Egel ha'Zahav. During the times of the Beis ha'Mikdash, the Korban Musaf is brought on Rosh Chodesh from public funds. TOSFOS in Pesachim (50a) says that when someone brings a Korban, he treats that day like a Yom Tov and refrains from Melachah. Since the Korban Musaf is brought for the entire Jewish people on Rosh Chodesh, no one does Melachah on Rosh Chodesh! Only now that the Beis ha'Mikdash is not standing has it become a Minhag for women to refrain from Melachah because of the Chet ha'Egel (as the Yerushalmi says).

The argument of the Turei Even is debatable, because there is no source for refraining from Melachah when a *public* Korban, like the Rosh Chodesh Musaf, is brought. After all, every day a public Korban is brought (the Korban Tamid), but we do not refrain from work every day! Rather, it is only when an individual brings a private Korban does that individual refrain from Melachah.

However, the RADAK in Shmuel I (20:19) indeed says something very similar to the Turei Even. In the times of the Beis ha'Mikdash, people did not go to work on Rosh Chodesh because they used to come to the Beis ha'Mikdash to see the Avodah while the Korban Musaf was being offered, and to prostrate themselves before Hashem, as the verse says in Yeshayah (66:23), referring to the third Beis ha'Mikdash, "From one new moon to another, and from one Shabbos to another, all mankind will come to worship before Me, says Hashem." Since the people did not do Melachah, there was no Bitul Melachah l'Am on Rosh Chodesh, and thus an extra Aliyah was added!

QUESTION: The Gemara says that the reason why there is an extra Aliyah during the Keri'as ha'Torah of Rosh Chodesh is because there is no "Bitul Melachah l'Am," and thus by adding an Aliyah, there is no problem of causing people to miss work, since Melachah is not done on Rosh Chodesh.

RASHI explains that Melachah is not done by *women* on Rosh Chodesh (see previous Insight), for they have the Minhag to refrain from Melachah. The Yerushalmi (Ta'anis 1:6) explains that women who refrain from work on Rosh Chodesh are following an established custom. The source for this custom is described in PIRKEI D'REBBI ELIEZER (ch. 45), quoted by Rashi and Tosfos here, which says that the holiday of Rosh Chodesh was granted to women as a reward for refusing to give their jewelry to their husbands who wanted to use it to make the Golden Calf.

The sin of the Golden Calf, however, occurred on the 17th of Tamuz, and not on Rosh Chodesh. Why, then, did Hashem reward women specifically with the holiday of Rosh Chodesh?


(a) The TUR (OC 417) offers an explanation for the above Midrash in the name of his brother, Ha'Rav Yehudah. On the three Regalim -- Pesach, Shavuos, and Sukos -- all of the Jewish people ascend to Yerushalayim to offer Korbanos in the Beis ha'Mikdash. These festivals were given to the Jewish people, Ha'Rav Yehudah explains, in the merit of the three forefathers: Pesach for Avraham, Shavuos for Yitzchak, and Sukos for Yakov. Similarly, the twelve Roshei Chadashim were to be given as holidays in the merit of the twelve tribes. However, when the twelve tribes that were in the desert committed the sin of the Golden Calf, they lost those holidays. The women, who refrained from sinning with the men, were rewarded with them.

(b) The PERISHAH cites another answer in the name of his rebbi, Rav Heschel. Rav Heschel explains that the real reward given to the women for their refusal to partake in the sin of the Golden Calf is found at the end of the above-quoted Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer. Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer tells us that Hashem also rewarded them in the World to Come "that they will be renewed like the Roshei Chadashim, as the verse says, 'Your youth shall be renewed to be [as light] as an eagle (Tehilim 103:5).'" Rosh Chodesh hints to this future reward because the moon, after disappearing, becomes "youthful" again at the beginning of every month, when it reappears and begins to grow anew. Therefore, it is appropriate for the women to be granted Rosh Chodesh as a holiday, in order to allude to their eventual reward of regaining their youthfulness.

However, the Midrash itself requires further explanation. Why did Hashem choose to reward the women specifically by returning them to their youthfulness? Perhaps the reason is that had the sin of the Golden Calf never happened, there would be no death in the world and the Jewish people would have enjoyed eternal life and youthfulness (Avodah Zarah 5a). Since the women did not sin, they will receive that eternal youth in Olam ha'Ba.

(c) The DA'AS ZEKENIM (Shemos 35:22) points out that at the sin of the Golden Calf, the men forced the women against their will to give them their jewelry to make the idol. In contrast, when the Mishkan was being built, the women donated their jewelry with great joy and eagerness. As a reward, they were granted the day that the Mishkan was erected as their special holiday. Since the Mishkan was erected on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, that day became the women's holiday. Because they observe that Rosh Chodesh as a festival, they continue to observe every Rosh Chodesh as a festival.

(d) Perhaps we may suggest a novel approach to why Rosh Chodesh is the women's reward for not participating in the sin of the Golden Calf.

What is it that Rosh Chodesh celebrates? More specifically, what is special about the new moon? The Gemara in Eruvin (54a) says that if the Jewish people had not committed the sin of the Golden Calf, they never would have been sent into Galus. It was their sin which changed their destiny to be a nation in exile. However, there is another side to Galus. Although it is clearly meant as retribution for our sins, it is also a means for the continued existence of the Jewish people.

When they sinned, Hashem wanted to wipe them out. "Let my anger flare up against them and I shall annihilate them!" (Shemos 32:10). After Moshe Rabeinu pleaded with Hashem to refrain from punishing them with sudden and total destruction, Hashem agreed to mete out the punishment slowly throughout the generations: "Now, go and lead the people to where I have told you... [but] each time the Jewish people sin in the future, I shall bring this sin to account against them [along with their other sins]" (Shemos 32:34). This is the purpose of Galus. Although Galus is a punishment, it is also the key to our continued existence. If the Jews had not been granted Galus as an opportunity for atonement, Hashem would have annihilated them completely in the desert!

This second role of Galus is expressed by the Gemara in Sanhedrin (37b) which says that "Galus is an atonement for everything," and in Ta'anis (16a), "We have been exiled, may our exile be an atonement for us." Although Galus has many negative aspects, it is at the same time a vehicle for Jewish survival.

This concept goes deeper. The Midrash (Bereishis Rabah 6:3) says compares Esav to the sun and Yakov to the moon, and thus the nations of Esav (the greater, or older brother) base their calendar on the sun (the greater luminary), while the nation of Yakov (the lesser, or younger brother) bases its calendar on the moon (the lesser luminary). Esav counts his days by the sun, which is greater. The sun rules only by day and not by night, and so, too, Esav has a portion only in this world, but not in the World to Come. Yakov counts his days by the moon, which is lesser. Just as the moon can be seen both by day and by night, so, too, Yakov has a portion both in this world and in the World to Come.

Since Yakov is compared to the moon, the phases of the moon represent Yakov's fate. The moon shrinks, getting smaller and smaller until it reaches its smallest point. This alludes to Galus, a punishment which necessarily involves the reduction and weakening of the Jewish people. Afterwards, though, the moon again waxes, increasing in size until it becomes full. This represents the other side of Galus -- the eventual strengthening and redemption of the Jewish people. This explains the reason for the joy experienced upon seeing the moon at the beginning of the month, a time when the moon has just begun to return after its disappearance. We are celebrating the return of Yakov and his children to their former glory (see Insights to Rosh Hashanah 25:3).

The Gemara in Chulin (60b) supports this interpretation, when it explains that the moon was punished for complaining that "two kings cannot share the same crown." Originally, the Gemara explains, the sun and moon were of equal size. When the moon complained, Hashem made it small, the "lesser" luminary (Bereishis 1:16). However, because the moon's complaint was correct, Hashem comforted the moon and made it rule both by night and by day.

The Gemara implies that Hashem punished the moon by making it both less luminous than the sun, and subject to phases, during which it "shrinks" for half a month (see Chizkuni, Bereishis 1:16). How, though, is the moon subject to punishment? It has no mind nor free choice, nor the ability to speak or capacity to sin!

Having shown the comparison between the moon and Galus, we can better understand that Gemara. The moon represents the Jewish people. It is the Jewish people who complain to Hashem that He created Esav as the twin of Yakov, thereby granting them equal power. If Esav, who is conspiring to do evil instead of the will of his Creator, is granted strength equal to Yakov's (i.e. two kings sharing the same crown), then there is no guarantee that Yakov will prevail. Instead, as we see from the sin of the Golden Calf, Esav and the forces of evil can prevail over Yakov and the legions of good.

Hashem responds to the complaint of the Jewish people, "Make yourself smaller!"-- hinting, as we have suggested, that the Jews will be punished for their sin with exile. The moon then counters that its complaint was valid -- it is Esav who should be minimized, to prevent the triumph of evil! What good will be accomplished by shrinking the moon? Reducing the power of the nation of Yakov will only make matters worse! Hashem replies, "Rule by day and by night!" Hashem assures the Jewish people that instead of making the situation more difficult for them by sending them into Galus, He is ensuring their survival and their eventual victory. Due to the expiatory effects of the Galus, they will eventually rule both "by day and by night" -- in this world, and in the World to Come, as seen in the previous Midrash. (See also Maharsha in Chulin 60b, Zohar Chadash 15b.)

With this understanding, we can return to our original question, why was the women's restraint from sin rewarded with the holiday of Rosh Chodesh? We may now suggest the following. On one hand, the shrinking of the moon represents the exiles and the punishments for the transgressions of the Jewish people. The moon's waxing, on the other hand, represents Hashem's promise that this state of reduction and weakness is only temporary. It shows that *because* of our trials and tribulations, we will be able to survive as Hashem's nation and merit the final redemption.

The men, who committed the sin of the Golden Calf, do not deserve to celebrate the waxing of the moon. After all, if the men had not sinned, there would have been no need for a Galus to guarantee the survival of the Jewish people. The men, therefore, have nothing to celebrate when the moon waxes. The women, however, did not sin, and therefore did not deserve to be punished. The women, then, can rightfully celebrate the waxing of the moon. They are the ones who are entitled to rejoice in Hashem's promise to preserve the Jewish people as a nation forever!

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