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Pesachim 68


QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Mar brei d'Ravina fasted all year, except for Shavuos, Purim, and Erev Yom Kippur, since those are days on which one is required to eat, as the Gemara explains.

The Gemara states that these three days were the only days on which Mar brei d'Ravina did not fast, which implies that he fasted on every other day of the year -- including Shabbos and Yom Tov. How could he fast on Shabbos and Yom Tov? It is forbidden to fast on Shabbos, as Rabah mentioned a few lines back! On Yom Tov, it should also forbidden to fast since the Halachah normally does not follow Rebbi Eliezer (Shamuti) when he argues with Rebbi Yehoshua. Rebbi Yehoshua, earlier in our Gemara, says that one is required to eat on Yom Tov.


(a) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR concludes from the practice of Mar brei d'Ravina that it is actually permitted to fast on Yom Tov, and that the Halachah follows Rebbi Eliezer who says that one does not need to eat on Yom Tov. (This is also the opinion of the MORDECHAI in Shabbos, 1:230.) According to the Ba'al ha'Me'or, Mar brei d'Ravina did *not* fast on Shabbos (although the Gemara does not say so specifically), since even according to Rebbi Eliezer one must eat on Shabbos, as Rabah stated earlier in our Gemara.

The RA'AVAD cites RAV HAI GA'ON who, initially, came to the same conclusion as the Ba'al ha'Me'or that the Halachah follows the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer. He adds, though, that Mar brei d'Ravina argues with Rabah and permits fasting even on Shabbos according to Rebbi Eliezer.

(b) The RA'AVAD himself disagrees, and writes that the Halachah does not follow Rebbi Eliezer, but it follows Rebbi Yehoshua. When the Gemara says that Mar brei d'Ravina fasted all year, it means that he accepted upon himself to fast throughout the year *only on* Mondays and Thursdays, as is customary for righteous people to do. At the time that he accepted this practice upon himself with a Neder, he remembered to specifically exclude the three days mentioned in the Gemara as exceptions, but he did not specify any other exceptions. Therefore, if another Yom Tov fell on Monday or Thursday, he fasted because of his Neder. (The Neder overrides the obligation to eat on Yom Tov since the Neder was not to fast *specifically* on Yom Tov.)

In a similar manner, TOSFOS (Berachos 49b, DH Iy Ba'i Achil) explains that Mar brei d'Ravina did not fast *every day* of his life, but rather that when he had a bad dream, he observed a "Ta'anis Chalom" -- a fast to annul the Divine decree that a bad dream represents -- any day of the year. It is permitted to observe a Ta'anis Chalom even on Shabbos and Yom Tov; but Mar brei d'Ravina did not want to observe even such a fast on the three days mentioned in the Gemara.

Once again, there is no proof from the practice of Mar brei d'Ravina that the Halachah follows Rebbi Eliezer, because even Rebbi Yehoshua would agree that it is permitted to observe a Ta'anis Chalom on Shabbos.

(c) RAV HAI GA'ON, in his final answer, concludes that Mar brei d'Ravina was not necessarily following Rebbi Eliezer's opinion. When he fasted on Shabbos and Yom Tov, that was because something traumatic once happened to him, for which he resolved to fast every day for the rest of his life as an act of *repentance*. A fast for repentance is permitted even on Shabbos, because one will experience more distress if he does not fast (since he will feel the lack of repentance). Fasting, then, is his form of pleasure, "Oneg."

Similarly, RABEINU DAVID says that Mar brei d'Ravina did not specifically accept upon himself to fast every day. Rather, he just happened to go without eating during the day because he was so involved in his *Torah learning*, and he would not eat until he came home from the Beis Midrash at night. Since his life's joy was in the study of Torah, he was permitted to go without eating on Shabbos because that itself was his "Shabbos pleasure" ("Oneg Shabbos"). On Yom Tov, as well, that was his "Simchas Yom Tov."

Even though Rebbi Yehoshua requires "Lachem" -- that one partake in food and drink in order to experience personal Simchah on Yom Tov, he agrees that one fulfills "Lachem" if one has so much Simchah in learning Torah that he experiences no physical discomfort as a result of not eating (RAV MORDECHAI GIFTER, shlit'a, cited in a footnote to the above).

The HAGAHOS MAIMONIYOS (Hilchos Ta'anis 1:2) similarly explains that Mar brei d'Ravina's fasts were based on abnormal circumstances. He writes that Mar brei d'Ravina was accustomed to fasting throughout the year, and if he would eat (even on Shabbos) it would upset his stomach. Therefore, it was permitted for him to fast on Shabbos, since eating on Shabbos would be a change from his normal dietary routine and would cause him to be ill. Fasting, then, was his "Oneg" on Shabbos.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 288:2) cites that "some say" one may fast on Shabbos if eating causes him harm, because then the fast itself is his Shabbos pleasure. Similarly, if one fasts all year and therefore eating on Shabbos will cause him to become sick, he is permitted to fast (288:3), like the Hagahos Maimoinyos in (c) above.

In addition, one may observe a Ta'anis Chalom on Shabbos -- but in such a case one must also fast on a weekday in order to atone for not having Oneg on that Shabbos (288:4). Some say, however, that nowadays we are not expert in understanding dreams, and one should not observe a Ta'anis Chalom on Shabbos (Shulchan Aruch OC 288:5).

As far as Yom Tov is concerned, the Halachah follows Rebbi Yehoshua (Shulchan Aruch 529:1) and one must eat on Yom Tov. (The exceptions enumerated above for eating on Shabbos will also apply to Yom Tov.)

QUESTION: The Gemara says that according to Rebbi Eliezer, who holds that one's Yom Tov activity may be totally dedicated to Hashem with no personal physical pleasure, there are three days on which one must have physical pleasure as well: Shavuos, Shabbos, and Purim. The Gemara explains the reason for each one. Shavuos is the day on which the Torah was given. Shabbos requires "Oneg Shabbos" as the verse commands. Purim is a day of "celebration and joy."

Why we must eat and be happy on Shabbos and Purim is clear. But why must we eat on Shavuos because that is the day the Torah was given? On the contrary, that should be a day completely dedicated to Hashem! It would seem that the appropriate way of showing appreciation for Torah would be to learn Torah all day on the day that it was given! Furthermore, we know that the Mishnah in Avos (6:4) says that the way of Torah is for one to eat only bread with salt, and to minimize one's physical pleasures (6:6). Why, then, is Shavuos not to be completely dedicated to Hashem?

ANSWER: Shavuos is not designated as the day of *learning* Torah per se, but as the day of *Kabalas ha'Torah*. In fact, all three days which Rebbi Eliezer agrees must have some element of personal pleasure are days of Kabalas ha'Torah. The Gemara (Shabbos 88a) says that on Purim, the Jewish people renewed their acceptance of the Torah. Shabbos, too, is that day of the week on which the Torah was given (ibid.), and that is why we mention Kabalas ha'Torah in the Shemoneh Esreh on Shabbos morning.

The days that represent Kabalas ha'Torah are days on which we must eat and feel pleasure, because if we were to fast, and not be happy and rejoice, that would show that we feel that observing the Torah is a burden (especially since we were forced to receive the Torah, as the Gemara in Shabbos explains). Therefore, on the day of receiving the Torah, we must emphasize our joy by celebrating publicly.

This is the same reason that Rav Yosef (who was blind) made a festive meal when he was told that a blind person is obligated to keep the Mitzvos (Kidushin 31a, Bava Kama 87a). He wanted to show that he was happy to be obligated in Mitzvos. This is also why a young man's Bar Mitzvah is celebrated with a festive meal -- to show the joy of accepting the Torah and Mitzvos.


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