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Moed Katan, 9


QUESTIONS: When the building of the Beis ha'Mikdash was completed in the times of Shlomo ha'Melech, the Jewish people experienced great joy and they celebrated for seven days prior to Sukos, as the verse relates (Melachim I 8:65). That year, says the Gemara, the Jewish people did not observe the fast of Yom Kipur, as they ate on that day as part of the celebration of the Chanukas ha'Mikdash.

The Gemara says that they derived their allowance to eat on Yom Kipur from the Torah's description of the Chanukas ha'Mishkan in the Midbar. When the Mishkan was dedicated, the Nesi'im brought Korbanos as part of the celebration, and they brought them even on Shabbos. The Jewish people learned from there that when the Mikdash is dedicated, the celebration overrides the obligation to fast on Yom Kipur. Hashem was pleased with this ruling, and at the end of the celebrations, a Bas Kol issued forth saying that they were all destined to Chayei Olam ha'Ba.

The Gemara says, however, that before the Bas Kol issued forth, the Jewish people were worried that they had transgressed by eating on Yom Kipur and would be punished with destruction (Kares).

Why did they think that they were liable for punishment? Even if they made a mistake, at worst it was an inadvertent transgress, an act of Shogeg, for which there is no punishment of Kares. Besides, certainly the people were following the ruling of Beis Din in this matter, so how could they be held accountable! At worst, the people would be Chayav to bring a Par he'Elem Davar (the Korban which is brought when the entire nation acts upon an erroneous ruling of Beis Din which permits an act that is actually forbidden with a punishment of Kares). Why were they afraid that they would be punished with destruction?

Second, the Gemara implies that their Derashah was indeed correct, and Hashem was pleased with the Simchah that they experienced on that Yom Kipur. Why, then, does the Gemara ask, "How do we know that Hashem *forgave* them," and why does it refer to their eating on Yom Kipur as "the *sin* of Yom Kipur." If they based their actions on a proper Kal v'Chomer, why does the Gemara call it a "sin," and why did they need forgiveness? (CHIDUSHIM U'VIURIM)

ANSWER: It must be that at the Chanukas ha'Mikdash, the Beis Din did not actually issue a ruling permitting (or requiring) the people to eat on Yom Kipur. In fact, the Beis Din did not convene at all to discuss the question. Rather, the people themselves, and the members of the Beis Din together with them, were so excited and euphoric about the inauguration of the Beis ha'Mikdash, the dwelling place for the Shechinah in this world, that they spontaneously assumed that it was permitted to celebrate even on Yom Kipur, based on the Kal v'Chomer. They assumed that there was no need to convene Beis Din to issue a Heter. Their joy was so great and their longing to express it so intense, that by common consent they decided to express their joy through eating despite Yom Kipur. Even though they based this ruling on a Kal v'Chomer, and they did not intentionally transgress the laws of Yom Kipur, their mistake in the Derashah, they feared, would be counted against them as an intentional act of transgression, for "Shigegas Talmud Oleh Zadon" (Pirkei Avos 4:13) -- a mistake in learning is considered to be a knowledgeable transgression.

What was their mistake in their Kal v'Chomer? The Gemara explains that their Kal v'Chomer was derived from the Korbanos of the Nesi'im, from which they learned that it is permitted to override the laws of Shabbos, and Yom Kipur, for the sake of celebrating the Chanukas ha'Mikdash. The Gemara asks, though, that we can only learn from there that *Korbanos* of the Chanukah override Shabbos, not that physical expressions of joy, such as eating, override the obligation to fast on Yom Kipur. How did they know that they could also permit eating and drinking on Yom Kipur? The Gemara answers that "there is no Simchah without eating and drinking."

The TOSFOS HA'ROSH asks, that is true if they had a source for a Mitzvah d'Oraisa to express Simchah upon the completion of the Mikdash. However, all that can be learned from the Korbanos of the Nesi'im is that *Korbanos* must be brought when the Mikdash is built! Where did they see an obligation to express joy -- through eating and drinking -- as well as bringing Korbanos?

The Tosfos ha'Rosh answers that they considered the obligation to rejoice to be an obvious corollary of bringing Korbanos, since whenever Korbanos are offered, there is Simchah, as the verse says, "You shall offer sacrifices and eat them and *rejoice* before Hashem." (Devarim 27:7)

This answer needs further elucidation. All that can be seen from the verse in Devarim is that one must rejoice *in the offering of the Korban*, not in the building of the Mikdash. There is no source to show that the joy of *offering a Korban* overrides Shabbos and Yom Kipur! We only see that the celebration of building the Mikdash has such a status. If so, why did the Jewish People think that their joy should override Yom Kipur?

It must be that their logic was as follows. Why, they asked, did Hashem tell the Nesi'im to offer their Korbanos on Shabbos? It must be because one cannot celebrate properly (in the times of the Mikdash) without eating the meat of Korbanos (Pesachim 109a, based on the above-mentioned verse in Devarim). Hashem allowed the Korban to be brought on Shabbos in order that there should be Simchah that day, through the offering and eating of the Korban.

If so, this was their mistake. They were attempting to read their own reasons into the commandments of the Torah (Doresh Ta'ama d'Kra) and derive Halachos in that manner, using a method that is not one of the accepted 13 principles of Halachic exposition. For that reason, their act was called a sin, and required atonement. Nevertheless, a Bas Kol issued forth and informed them that since what they did was done purely for the sake of honoring Hashem, they would not be punished. They were even rewarded for their pure intentions. (M. Kornfeld. See also Sanhedrin 21b, "Why were the reasons for the Mitzvos not revealed? Because in the two instances in which they were revealed, the greatest person in the world (*King Shlomo*) erred... "I will marry and I will not be affected...," Y. Shaw.)


OPINIONS: Rebbi Yonasan ben Asamai and Rebbi Yehudah ben Gerim resolved a contradiction between two verses. One verse implies that it is permitted to measure each Mitzvah and choose to do the greater one (Mishlei 4:26), while another verses says that one may not measure the Mitzvos in order to do the greater one (Mishlei 5:6). They answered that one verse refers to when the Mitzvah can be done by someone else (Mitzvah sh'Efshar la'Asos Al Yedei Acherim), while the other verse refers to when the Mitzvah cannot be done by someone else (Mitzvah sh'Iy Efshar la'Asos Al Yedei Acherim). There are several ways of explaining what this answer means, and what the logic is behind it.
(a) RASHI says that both verses refer to a situation where there are two Mitzvos presenting themselves before the person. The verse which implies that one should choose the greater Mitzvah (Mishlei 4:26) refers to when one of the two Mitzvos can be done by someone else (Efshar la'Asos Al Yedei Acherim). Since someone else can do one of the Mitzvos, you might as well do the bigger one. But when there is no one else to do the other Mitzvah, and you are going to have to do both of them, then you must do whichever one comes to your hands first, whether it is the smaller one or the bigger one.

(The CHACHAM ZVI #106 says that this Gemara is the source for the ruling of the RADVAZ, Teshuvah 13. The Radvaz was asked that if a Jew who is in prison is allowed to go out for one day of the year, should he go out right away in order to do a small Mitzvah, or should he wait until a later day on which he can do a big Mitzvah. The Radvaz ruled that he should go out at the earliest opportunity in order to do even a small Mitzvah, because of the principle, "Mitzvah ha'Ba'ah l'Yadcha Al Tachmitzenah." The Chacham Zvi says that the source for the ruling of the Radvaz is our Gemara, that one should not take into account a bigger Mitzvah that will come later when there is a smaller Mitzvah presenting itself now.)

(b) The TOSFOS HA'ROSH explains the Gemara differently. He connects this Gemara with the following Gemara, in which two other verses are shown to apparently contradict each other. The Gemara resolves those two verses by saying that the only time one may stop learning Torah to do a Mitzvah is when that Mitzvah cannot be done by anyone else. But if the Mitzvah can be done by someone else, then one may not interrupt his learning to do that Mitzvah.

This is also the meaning of the first two verses the Gemara discusses. When the Gemara says that one verse refers to a Mitzvah that cannot be done by someone else, it means that the verse permits one to take into account the performance of another Mitzvah and interrupt one's learning in order to perform a Mitzvah that cannot be done by anyone else. The verse that says that one may not measure the Mitzvos refers to a Mitzvah that can be done by someone else. Since it can be done by someone else, one may not take it into account and interrupt his learning. Learning Torah is itself a Mitzvah sh'Iy Efshar la'Asos Al Yedei Acherim, a Mitzvah which cannot be done by someone else, and therefore it overrides any Mitzvah which can be done by someone else. (See also SEFAS EMES.)

(c) The MAHARSHA says that the verses are referring to a situation when two Mitzvos present themselves to a person at once, and he can only do one of them. Which one should he do? It depends whether one of the Mitzvos can be done by someone else. If one of the Mitzvos can be done by another person as well, then one may do the smaller Mitzvah (not like Rashi rules), since both of them will eventually be performed (by him and by someone else). But if neither Mitzvah can be done by someone else, and he can only do one of them and must choose which one he should do, then he should choose the bigger Mitzvah, as the Gemara discusses in various places (regarding a person faced with two Mitzvos and he can only do one, such as the Mitzvah to bury a Mes Mitzvah and the Mitzvah to offer the Korban Pesach). If someone else could do one of the Mitzvos, then he can let that person do the bigger Mitzvah and he can do the smaller one.

(The Maharsha's approach need not contradict Rashi's approach. According to the Maharsha, the Gemara is explaining when a person is *obligated* to choose the greater Mitzvah. A person is not obligated to choose the bigger Mitzvah when another person can do it. According to Rashi, the Gemara is discussing when a person is *is allowed to* to choose to do the greater Mitzvah. When another person will do one of the two Mitzvos that present themselves, one is *allowed* to perform the greater Mitzvah himself (and it is even recommended to do so) and he may leave the other Mitzvah for his friend.)

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