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Moed Katan, 25

MOED KATAN 24, 25 - anonymously dedicated by an Ohev Torah and Marbitz Torah in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.


QUESTION: The Gemara describes how Rav Chaga brought Rav Huna's coffin into the burial cave in which Rebbi Chiya and his sons, Yehudah and Chizkiyah, were buried. When Chizkiyah arose to make room for Rav Huna, a terrifying pillar of fire appeared. Rav Chaga, in his fright, erected the coffin of Rav Huna in an upright position and fled the burial cave. The Gemara then says that "the reason why he was not punished was because he stood up the coffin of Rav Huna in an upright position."

What does the Gemara mean? Why is that the reason why Rav Chaga was not punished? To the contrary -- he should have been punished for placing Rav Huna's coffin in such a disrespectful position (an upright position is disrespectful to the deceased, as the Gemara says in Bava Basra 101b)!


(a) From the words of RASHI here and in KSAV YAD, it seems that Rav Chaga stood up Rav Huna's coffin in front of him so that the pillar of fire would not harm him. However, that seems disrespectful -- to protect himself with Rav Huna's coffin! Why, then, did it serve to protect him?

The BEN YEHOYADA says that Rav Chaga was not attempting to use Rav Huna's coffin as a shield against the pillar of fire. Rather, Rav Chaga did not want to gaze at the pillar of fire, because doing so would have been disrespectful (since the pillar of fire represented the Kavod Hashem, see Chagigah 16a). Had he looked at the pillar of fire, then he would have been punished. Therefore, standing up Rav Huna's coffin was done not out of self-protection, but out of honor for Hashem and for the deceased.

(b) RAV NISAN ZAKS in his notes to PERUSH RABEINU GERSHOM ME'OR HA'GOLAH explains that Rav Chaga was not attempting to protect himself from the fire. Rather, he was protecting the coffin of Rav Huna from the fire by standing it up straight. This is what Rashi means when he says that "he stood up the coffin before the pillar of fire so that *it should not harm him*," referring to Rav Huna.

(c) RABEINU CHANANEL has a slightly different Girsa. According to his Girsa, the Gemara says that "the reason why the *members of the household of the Reish Galusa* (d'Vei Reish Galusa) were not punished was because he stood up the coffin of Rav Huna in an upright position." This is also the Girsa of RABEINU TAM in SEFER HA'YASHAR (#513) and PERUSH RABEINU SHLOMO BEN HA'YASOM and other Rishonim. The DIKDUKEI SOFRIM in his Hagahos says that he has no idea what the Gemara means according to this Girsa.

It appears that according to this Girsa, the Gemara is saying as follows. The disgrace shown to Rav Huna in his burial, by being interred vertically, served as an atonement not only for him but also for his descendants who were the family of the Reish Galusa (as Tosfos points out, that Rabeinu Chananel holds this Rav Huna was Rav Huna the Reish Galusa). If so, the Gemara is very clear.


QUESTION: The Gemara relates that when Rava came to the Tigris River, he asked Rav Avin to say some words of pray so that he should be saved from the water. What exactly was Rava afraid of? ANSWERS:
(a) The YA'AVETZ says that the Girsa of the Gemara should be "when the Tigris came" instead of "when he came to the Tigris" ("Ki Havah Asa Diglas" instead of "Ki Hava Asa *l*'Diglas"). It means that when the Tigris overflowed and threatened to drown Rava's city, Rava asked Rav Avin to pray.

This is indeed the Girsa of RASHI KSAV YAD, and the way he explains the Gemara in his second explanation.

(b) The PERUSH RABEINU GERSHOM ME'OR HA'GOLAH explains that when Rava came to the Tigris he was afraid because "the waters were frightful." This is also the explanation of RASHI KSAV YAD in his first explanation. (See Berachos 59b, "the waters of the Tigris are Chadin v'Kalin"; see also RASHI to Bereishis 2:14.) This is also the explanation of the ARUCH (Erech Os). Rava was going to cross the river, and he feared that something would happen to the ferry because the waters were so rough.

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