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Moed Katan 2

MOED KATAN 2 - dedicated by Ivan Silverman in memory of his father, Shmuel ben Boruch Silverman, Alav ha'Shalom.


QUESTIONS: The Mishnah states that on both Chol ha'Mo'ed and Shevi'is, we may water a Beis ha'Shalchin (an irrigated field which does not have its own natural water source) with the water from a spring, but we may not water a Beis ha'Ba'al (a field naturally irrigated by rainwater or springwater). However, we may not water a Beis ha'Shalchin on Chol ha'Mo'ed with rainwater or with water from a cistern.

The Gemara explain that the reasoning underlying the laws in the Mishnah is that on Chol ha'Mo'ed, Melachah is prohibited unless it is needed for a Davar ha'Aved (to prevent a loss), in which case the Rabanan permitted it. However, the Rabanan permitted doing a Melachah for the sake of a Davar ha'Aved only if the Melachah does not involved excessive labor (Tircha Yeseira).

This reasoning explains the laws in the Mishnah regarding Chol ha'Mo'ed: it is permitted to water a Beis ha'Shalchin on Chol ha'Mo'ed, because without that Melachah, the field might dry up completely since it has no natural water source. It is prohibited to water a Beis ha'Ba'al, because watering that type of field is not a Davar ha'Aved -- a Beis ha'Ba'al will not dry up if one does not water it, because it has its own natural source of water. This reasoning also explains why it is only permitted to water a Beis ha'Shalchin from a spring, but not from rainwater or from a cistern. Even though watering a Beis ha'Shalchin is a Davar ha'Aved, watering it from a cistern involves strenuous work and thus it is prohibited.

(a) However, this reasoning only explains the laws as they relate to doing Melachah on Chol ha'Mo'ed. How, though, does it explain these Melachos as they relate to Shevi'is? During Shevi'is, there is no reason to differentiate between a Melachah done for a Davar ha'Aved and one that is not for a Davar ha'Aved. If watering a field is an Avodah which is Asur during Shevi'is, then it should be Asur in both a Beis ha'Shalchin and a Beis ha'Ba'al! If watering is not a forbidden Avodah during Shevi'is, then it should be permitted in both types of fields!

(b) The same question applies for the prohibition of doing a Melachah, even for a Davar ha'Aved, which involves a Tircha. If watering a field is permitted during Shevi'is, then what difference does it make if it is an excessive Tircha? There is no sort of prohibition against exerting oneself during Shevi'is! A person may do as much Melachah (assuming it is not a type of Melachah of working the ground that is Asur during Shevi'is) with as much exertion as we wants during Shevi'is! Why should watering from a cistern be Asur during Shevi'is because of Tircha?

(a) The Rishonim argue concerning the answer to the first question, that during Shevi'is there should be no difference between a Beis ha'Shalchin field and a Beis ha'Ba'al field -- if watering the ground is permitted during Shevi'is, it should be permitted everywhere! RASHI, cited by TOSFOS (6b, Marbitzin) and cited by the NIMUKEI YOSEF, says that indeed, it is permitted to water both types of fields during Shevi'is. When the Mishnah says that it is permitted to water only a Beis ha'Shalchin, it is referring to Chol ha'Mo'ed; during Shevi'is, though, it is permitted to water even a Beis ha'Ba'al. The reason why it is permitted during Shevi'is is, like Rava says (end of 2b), that when the Torah prohibited Avodas ha'Karka, working the land, on Shevi'is, it did not prohibit Hashka'ah, watering the land. Only certain Toldos of Melachos are prohibited and not others.

Even though the Beraisa (3a) itself notes that some other Toldos are prohibited mid'Rabanan, Rashi contends that watering is not one of them. The Beraisa distinguishes between Toldos that are prohibited mid'Rabanan because they involve farming-type labor, and others which do not involve "labor." The Nimukei Yosef explains that watering plants is not considered a "labor" because it is done constantly for the upkeep of the field. A "labor" is an act done only once in a while in order to bring about a desired effect. Since watering must be done regularly, it is not a labor, a "Melachah Chashuvah" (rather, it is just a "daily chore"). This is evident from the Beraisa itself, which provides a long list of the Toldos which are Asur mid'Rabanan, and does not list watering among them.

(According to Abaye, who says on 2b that the Mishnah which permits watering a field during Shevi'is is referring only to Shevi'is d'Rabanan, it is obvious that even Rashi would agree that the Heter applies only to a *Beis ha'Shalchin* during Shevi'is; since the Isur of Shevi'is is mid'Rabanan, the Rabanan only permitted watering the ground for a Davar ha'Aved.)

TOSFOS (6b), though, mentions another opinion that says that the Mishnah permits watering *only* a Beis ha'Shalchin during Shevi'is (apparently, even according to Rava). Even though watering fields is permitted mid'Oraisa during Shemitah, the Rabanan prohibited it when there is no loss involved (like the other Toldos which are prohibited mid'Rabanan). This is also the view of the RITVA, who says that watering a field which is not a Beis ha'Shalchin and is not a Davar ha'Aved is Asur mid'Rabanan according to the Mishnah. This also seems to be the opinion of the RAMBAM.

(b) Concerning the second question, why should a Melachah involving excessive Tircha be prohibited during Shevi'is, the NIMUKEI YOSEF and RASHI (as cited by the Ritva) write that there is no prohibition of excessive Tircha on Shevi'is, and therefore it is obvious that the Isur of watering a field from a cistern applies only to Chol ha'Mo'ed and not to Shevi'is.

However, the RITVA argues and says that the simple reading of the Mishnah implies that the Halachos apply equally to Chol ha'Mo'ed and to Shevi'is. It must be, he says, that although the Torah does not prohibit acts of excessive Tircha on Shevi'is, the Chachamim prohibited watering in a manner that involves Tirchah. They made Shevi'is like Chol ha'Mo'ed when it comes to matters of working the ground

The explanation of the Ritva, though, is difficult to understand in light of the continuation of the Mishnah. The Ritva says that the Rabanan decreed that Shevi'is has all of the Halachos of Melachah of Chol ha'Mo'ed. But the next line in the Mishnah clearly records a distinction between the two! Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah says that "we may not make an Amah (irrigation canal) on Chol ha'Mo'ed and Shevi'is." (Even though the Amah would be made for a Beis ha'Shalchin which will otherwise be lost (it is a Davar ha'Aved), Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah does not permit work on Chol ha'Mo'ed or Shemitah even for a Davar ha'Aved, as the Beraisa later on this Amud tells us.) The Chachamim argue and say that an Amah may be made on Shevi'is, because it is a Davar ha'Aved. The Chachamim then add that on Chol ha'Mo'ed, it is permitted to *fix* an Amah, but not to make a new one -- apparently because it is an excessive Tircha. It is clear that the Chachamim hold that doing a Melachah for a Davar ha'Aved which involves excessive Tircha is prohibited on Chol ha'Mo'ed but *permitted* on Shevi'is -- not like the Ritva says!

It must be that the Ritva understands the Mishnah as follows. Indeed, the Chachamim do not equate Chol ha'Mo'ed with Shevi'is. The question is what does the *Tana Kama* of the Mishnah hold? Does the Tana Kama argue with the Chachamim mentioned later in the Mishnah who do not equate Chol ha'Mo'ed (Asur) with Shemitah (Mutar) with regard to a Melachah involving Tircha, or does he hold that both are Asur?

The Ritva understands that the Tana Kama does equate Chol ha'Mo'ed with Shemitah -- not like the Chachamim later in the Mishnah. The Ritva says that this is evident from the fact that the Tana Kama does not make any statement differentiating between Chol ha'Mo'ed and Shevi'is in the case of a Melachah involving Tircha (watering a field from a cistern). The reason it is also Asur on Shevi'is is because the Rabanan decreed that Shevi'is has the Halachos of Chol ha'Mo'ed with regard to Melachos of the land that involve excessive Tircha. (See also Ritva, top of 3a, who follows his opinion.) The other Rishonim (RASHI cited by the Ritva; NEMUKEI YOSEF, etc.) hold that the Tana Kama of the Mishnah is the same opinion as the Chachamim later, who do not equate Chol ha'Mo'ed with Shevi'is and permit doing a Melachah which involves excessive Tircha for a Davar ha'Aved, on Shevi'is. This is also clear from the YERUSHALMI.

QUESTION: The Gemara asks who is the Tana of our Mishnah who permits doing Melachah on Chol ha'Mo'ed for a Davar ha'Aved (in order to prevent a loss) but not for a Harvachah (in order to ensure a profit), and who prohibits doing a Melachah, even for a Davar ha'Aved, when it involves excessive Tircha. Rav Huna proposes that the Tana of the Mishnah is Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov. In the Mishnah later (6b), Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov says that it is permitted to draw water from one tree to another on Chol ha'Mo'ed, as long as one does not water the entire field (a Beis ha'Ba'al). The fact that he prohibits watering the entire field shows that he holds that doing a Melachah for the sake of Harvachah is prohibited -- like our Mishnah.

The Gemara asks that we see that Rebbi Eliezer agrees with one point of our Mishnah, that Melachah is not permitted for the sake of Harvachah, but we do not see that he holds that even for a Davar ha'Aved, Melachah is not permitted if it involves excessive Tircha. Perhaps he holds that even where there is excessive Tircha, it is permitted for the sake of a Davar ha'Aved.

Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov's opinion, though, is not clear. If he agrees with the first point of the Mishnah, that Melachah is not permitted for the sake of Harvachah, then why does he permit watering the trees? Watering the trees also seems to be an act to ensure that the trees grow well, and is not a Davar ha'Aved!


(a) TOSFOS (DH Mosh'chin) and RASHI (6b, DH Mosh'chin) explain that putting water around the trees is indeed a Davar ha'Aved, and is necessary in order *to prevent a loss*. Therefore, it is like watering a Beis ha'Shalchin which is Mutar because of Davar ha'Aved (even though the rest of the field around these trees is a Beis ha'Ba'al).

(b) RASHI on the Rif (DH Mashkin Beis ha'Shalchin) says the opposite -- watering trees is not something done to prevent a loss, since the trees will not suffer if they are not watered during Chol ha'Mo'ed. They are not considered like a Beis ha'Shalchin and do not have the status of a Davar ha'Aved. Only a field of Tevu'ah, grain and other produce, can be have the status of a Beis ha'Shalchin. If so, why does Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov permit watering trees on Chol ha'Mo'ed?

Rashi on the Rif, on the Mishnah later (2a of the pages of the Rif), explains that the reason this Melachah is permitted is because it involves no Tircha whatsoever and it is being done for Harvachah, to ensure a profit. There is no Tircha, the RITVA adds, because there are grooves, like small trenches, in the field leading from one tree to the next, and therefore bringing water from one tree to the other involves no Tircha. According to Rashi's approach, Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov's wording is very accurate: he says "Moshchin (draw, or let flow) water from one tree to the other," and he does not use the typical word "Mashkin" (we may water). The word "Moshchin" limits the Halachah to drawing water from trees which are connected by grooves, such that there is no Tircha involved in this Melachah because it involves merely letting the water flow from one tree to another through the grooves in the ground.

Hence, according to Rashi on the Rif, there are three levels of Melachah on Chol ha'Mo'ed: (1) A Melachah which involves no Tircha: this is Mutar even for Harvachah (ensuring a profit) and not just for a Davar ha'Aved (to prevent a loss); (2) A Melachah which involves a slight Tircha: this is Mutar only for a Davar ha'Aved, but not for Harvachah; (3) A Melachah which involves excessive Tircha: this is Asur even for a Davar ha'Aved.


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