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Moed Katan, 21

MOED KATAN 21 - sponsored by Harav Ari Bergmann of Lawrence, N.Y., out of love for Torah and those who study it.


OPINIONS: The Beraisa states that although an Avel is not allowed to learn Torah during his Aveilus, nevertheless if the public needs him ("Rabim Tzerichim Lo"), he may teach Torah to them. The Gemara says that Rebbi Yosi indeed taught Torah publicly while he was an Avel, and so did Rabah bar bar Chanah and Rebbi Yehudah bar Ila'i.

Is this Heter still practiced today? May a person who is an Avel teach Torah if the public needs him?

(a) The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 384:1) rules that an Avel whom the public needs is permitted to teach Torah. The SHACH adds in the name of the KOLBO and the MAHARSHAL (Teshuvos, #66) that Melamdei Tinokos, teachers of children, are also considered to be satisfying a need of the public, and therefore they may teach the children while Aveilim.

(b) The REMA, though, adds two limitations to the Heter of our Gemara. Based on the MORDECHAI, he rules that a Talmid Chacham who is an Avel may teach Torah to the public who needs him only by whispering to a Turgeman, who will then expound the Talmid Chacham's Torah to the public. The Talmid Chacham is not allowed to directly lecture to the public.

Second, the Rema says that it is only permitted for the Talmid Chacham to teach *Halachos* in public, and only when no one else is capable of issuing a Halachic ruling. It is prohibited for him to expound non-Halachic matters which the Talmidim do not need to know for the sake of the Halachah.

According to the Rema, why should it be permitted for a Melamed Tinokos to teach children? He meets neither of the Rema's requirements. First, he does not use a Turgeman, and, second, nor does he issue Halachic rulings when he teaches them!

Some Acharonim (e.g. BE'ER HA'GOLAH) have a different Girsa in the Rema, according to which he does permit teaching to the public without a Turgeman. In addition, even if the former Girsa is correct, this limitation perhaps applied only in the days when it was common to use a Turgeman and for the types of learning for which a Turgeman is usually used.

Regarding the fact that the Melamed Tinokos does not issue Halachic rulings when he teaches the children, the Maharshal (ibid.) says that since the Melamed Tinokos bears a heavy responsibility when he teaches the children he does not derive pleasure from the Torah he teaches them, and the prohibition against learning Torah during Aveilus is only because one experiences pleasure from learning. Another reason why it is permitted for a Melamed Tinokos to teach the children is that when the children are not learning, it is a Davar ha'Aved, and an Avel is permitted to do a Melachah for a Davar ha'Aved after the third day of his Aveilus. The TAZ indeed rules that a Melamed Tinokos should teach the children only after the third day of his Aveilus.

If the Melamed Tinokos or the Talmid Chacham whom the public needs does not *want* to teach during his Aveilus, he is certainly not required to teach. The Gemara says only that he "does not have to refrain" from teaching, but not that he is obligated to teach (SHEVET YEHUDAH).


OPINIONS: The Gemara concludes that a person should not greet an Avel with "Shalom" even after the Shiv'ah is over, until thirty days have passed. If the Avel is mourning for the passing of his father or mother, then one may not greet him until twelve months have passed. Is this prohibition practiced today?
(a) The RITVA and CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN write that they have not seen this Halachah observed, but they write that they do not know why it should be permitted. he SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 385:1) quotes the Halachah of the Gemara and says that greeting an Avel with "Shalom" is indeed prohibited.

(b) The REMA (YD 385:1), however, records that people are generally lenient to greet someone who is an Avel for a parent after thirty days (and if he is an Avel for a relative other than a parent, after seven days -- DARCHEI MOSHE). He suggests that the reason it is permitted is because the greeting that was extended in the times of the Gemara differed from the form of greeting which is common today. The DARCHEI MOSHE in Orach Chayim (89) explains that in the times of the Gemara, when they greeted each other with "Shalom Aleichem," they also bowed down. The Gemara is saying that only that form of greeting is prohibited. To extend a greeting the way it is done today -- by just saying "Shalom Aleichem" -- is permitted.

HALACHAH: The SHACH and MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 554:21) write that, l'Chatchilah, a person should be stringent and observe the Halachah as it is expressed by the Gemara, but if someone is lenient he does not have to be rebuked.
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