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Nedarim, 56

NEDARIM 56 - This daf has been dedicated l'Iluy Nishmas Esther Chaya Rayzel (Friedman) bas Gershon Eliezer, mother of Jeri Turkel, Marcia Weinblatt and Moshe Smulevitz, after the completion of the Shiv'a (Yahrzeit: 1 Elul). She was a woman of valor who was devoted to her family and gave of herself unstintingly, inspiring all those around her.


QUESTION: The Gemara initially suggests that a Dargash is "good luck bed" which was spread, but not used, in order to bring good fortune to the home. RASHI in Sanhedrin (20a) adds that it is a type of Nichush, superstition.

How is it permitted to set up a bed in one's home for the purpose of Nichush? The Torah prohibits Nichush (Vayikra 19:26)!

In fact, the statement that the Ran cites when defining the word "Gad" ("Mazal") in "Arsa d'Gada" is a statement in Shabbos (67b) that says that a person who says, in order to improve his luck, "Let my Mazal ('Gad') become fortuitous," transgresses the prohibition against Nichush! Moreover, Rebbi Yehudah there says that "Gad" is a term used for Avodah Zarah, which he proves from a verse in Yeshayah (65:11). CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN, Sanhedrin 20a)


(a) The ROSH here explains that the Sar of Ashirus, the divinely appointed spiritual being in charge of wealth and success, is named "Nakid," or "refined" (Pesachim 111b, Chulin 105b). A person can attract that Sar to his home by maintaining a clean and neat home. For this reason, many people had the practice of setting up a bed that was always neatly spread -- it was done in order to beckon the Sar of Ashirus to visit.

The EINAYIM LA'MISHPAT explains that the Rosh is telling us what the SEFER CHASIDIM (#458) states explicitly: doing an act which works through supernatural means (Mazal, or Ru'ach ha'Tum'ah) is permitted if it is widely known that such an act brings about a certain result. Since that act has been tried and tested and found to be effective, it is not called Nichush when one relies on performing that act in order to obtain a certain result. This explains why the Chachamim cautioned against eating food that was left underneath a bed because of Ru'ach ha'Tum'ah. Similarly, it is well-known that a bed that is kept neatly spread brings success to one's home, and therefore, the Sefer Chasidim explains, it is not called Nichush. (See Shabbos 67a, where the Gemara says that anything that is known to heal is not called Nichush; see also Insights to Shabbos 67:2:c.)

It is possible that this is what Rashi means as well. The purpose of the bed is for a type of Nichush that is permitted (Rashi calls it "Nichush" only because it works through supernatural ways).

(b) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES writes that the bed was not actually spread for good luck, but rather it was meant to welcome the heavenly emissary that Hashem sends to bring wealth to a home. By honoring the emissary, one honors the One who sent him. Hence, the bed has nothing to do with Nichush. He compares this to the Kisei Shel Eliyahu that is set up at every Bris Milah to honor the visiting emissary of Hashem, Eliyahu ha'Navi. (According to this explanation, it appears that this "emissary bed" was spread only by Jews. It was a way of showing Bitachon and confidence in Hashem that He will send His Divine emissary to bring us bountiful blessing.)

(c) The RAN in Sanhedrin (20a) answers that this "Arsa d'Gada" was not made for Mazal, luck, at all. Rather, it was a way of expressing gratitude to Hashem. By spreading a bed that is not even used, we are saying that we recognize that Hashem has blessed us with more than we need. The word "Gada" ("Mazal") in this context is a borrowed term. (Through thanking Hashem for what He has given us in the past, we will be Zocheh to have more Berachah in the home, and thus such a bed indeed brings wealth.)

QUESTION: The Gemara quotes the Mishnah in Moed Katan (27a) that says that when a Jewish king is in mourning and the Se'udas Havra'ah is brought to him, all of the people sit on the ground and the king sits on the "Dargash." The Gemara asks that if, like initially suggested, a Dargash is an "Arsa d'Gada" -- a special bed designated exclusively for bringing good fortune into the home, upon which no one sits or sleeps, then why do we let the king sit on it when he is an Avel, if he does not sit on it during the rest of the year? Why do we allow him more honor during Avelus? The Gemara answers that indeed we find that during Avelus, the Avel is given things of honor that he is not accustomed to receiving.

Why, though, is it necessary for the king to sit on a Dargash? It seems clear that the point of the Mishnah there is for the king to retain his honor even while he is an Avel. Therefore, everyone else sits lower down on the ground while he sits in an elevated position. Why, though, do we seat him upon a Dargash? If we are allowing him to sit higher up in any case, then we should let him sit on a bed ("Mitah") in the manner that he sits during the rest of the year! Why should we allow him to sit on a Dargash, which gives him more honor than he gets during the year, when it is not necessary?

ANSWER: The Gemara teaches that an Avel must overturn all the beds in the house, even those upon which he is not sitting. This statement includes two separate Halachos: first, an Avel should not sit on a bed, and, second, the beds in the house must be overturned, even if the Avel is not sitting on them. (This is why the Beraisa needs to teach us that a Mitah on which utensils are placed does not have to be overturned; see ROSH, Moed Katan 3:78.) The Chachamim were lenient and allowed a king to sit on an elevated place because of his honor, and therefore they removed the ban, with regard to a king, that prohibits an Avel from sitting on a bed during Avelus. However, they did not want to remove *both* Halachos -- the prohibition not to sit on bed *and* the requirement of turning over the beds in the house -- if not necessary. Therefore, they looked for something that did not have to be turned over upon which the king could sit, and that is why they enacted that the king sit on a Dargash (that does not need to be overturned), rather than on a bed (that needs to be overturned).

(The Mishnah in Moed Katan is following the view of the Tana Kama in the Beraisa cited on 56b who argues with Raban Shimon ben Gamliel and holds that it is not necessary to undo the straps of the Dargash. See RAN 56b, DH b'Shuka.)

However, the RAMBAM (Hilchos Avel 5:18) writes that it is not enough to overturn the beds in the house; the Avel must also sit upon the overturned beds (and not on a chair, nor even on the floor). From the ruling of the Rambam it seems that the Mitzvah of turning over the beds is not fulfilled unless the Avel actually sits on an overturned bed. Although the other Rishonim (see HAGAHOS HA'HASHLAMAH and TUR) disagree with the Rambam in this point as we mentioned above, the Rambam does relate turning over the beds to sitting on an overturned bed. According to the Rambam, if the Chachamim suspended the Halachah of sitting on an overturned bed in the case of a king who is an Avel, then there should be no necessity at all for a king to overturn the beds! Consequently, since the Rambam seems to hold that the purpose of turning over the beds is in order for the Avel to sit on an overturned bed, the king might as well sit on a regular bed that is not turned!

The answer is that the Rambam also agrees that the Halachah of sitting on an overturned bed and turning over the beds are two separate Halachos. This is clear from the fact that the Rambam writes (Hilchos Avel 5:18) that it is only necessary for an Avel to *sleep* on an overturned bed, implying that he may *sit* on the ground and he does not need to sit on the overturned bed. This is even more evident from the Rambam's ruling earlier (Hilchos Avel 4:9) where the Rambam writes that on the first day of Avelus, the Avel may not eat from his own food, and he is obligated to sit on an overturned bed. This implies that during the remaining days of Avelus, the Avel does not have to sit on an overturned bed (but he may sit on a mat or on the floor).

The RADVAZ and others explain that according to the Rambam there are three different Halachos of how an Avel sits during Avelus. First, all of the beds must be overturned. Second, the Avel is obligated to sleep on an overturned bed during the entire period of his Avelus, even though he does not have to sit there during the last six days of the Avelus. Third, on the first day (or during the time that others must feed him and he may not eat of his own), the Avel must also *sit* on an overturned bed.

According to the Rambam, then, it seems that we may also say that the Chachamim removed the necessity for the king to sit on an overturned bed in order to maintain his honor, but they did not want to change the other two Halachos. Therefore, he still must overturn all of his beds in his house (and he must sleep on an overturned bed). When he sits at the Se'udas Havra'ah, we must seat the king upon something other than a bed, and that is why we seat him upon a Dargash.


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