(Permission is granted to print and redistribute this material
as long as this header and the footer at the end are included.)


brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld

Ask A Question about the Daf

Previous daf

Ta'anis 15


Rebbi Elazar says that in times to come, the kings (Melachim) of the world will stand up for Bnei Yisrael, and the officers (Sarim) will bow down, as the verse says, "... Melachim will see and they will rise; Sarim -- and they will bow down" (Yeshayah 49:7). The Gemara asks that the verse does not imply as Rebbi Elazar teaches. Had it said, "... *and* Sarim will bow down," then Rebbi Elazar's teaching would indeed have been implicit in the verse, which would have implied that only Sarim will bow down, and not Melachim. However, since the verse says "... Sarim -- and they will bow down," it implies that the Sarim will do both -- they will stand up for Bnei Yisrael and bow down to them!

The Gemara's question is difficult to understand. The previous Gemara (14b) says that Moshe was answered through supplicating through "Nefilah" (prostrating himself before Hashem), while Yehoshua and Kalev were only answered through "Keri'ah" (tearing their clothes in supplication). The Gemara asks that the verse says, "... *and* Yehoshua and Kalev... tore their clothes" (Bamidbar 14:6), which shows that they did *both* what was in the preceding verse (Nefilah), "and" that they *also* tore their clothes! How, then, can the Gemara here ask that had the verse said, "*and* Sarim will bow down," it would have implied that they will *only* bow down and not stand up like the Melachim will do? The addition of the word "and" should link this part of the verse to the first part, and imply that the Sarim do *both* what the Melachim do (stand) *and* bow down! (RASHASH)

ANSWER: The RASHASH and SEFAS EMES point out that the text of the Gemara as cited in the EIN YAKOV omits the word "Sarim" in the Gemara's question on Rebbi Elazar. Hence, the Gemara is saying that had the verse said "they will bow down," it would have meant that they will *only* bow down; but now that it says "*and* they will bow down," it means that they will do both -- stand up and bow down. Therefore, it is consistent with the Gemara earlier.

OPINIONS: The Mishnah describes the "Seder Ta'aniyos" -- the order of the day on the last seven of the 13 public fast days that are declared when no rain falls in the rainy season. It describes how the Sefer Torah is brought out into the street where the people will pray, and how ashes are placed on the foreheads of the Nasi and Av Beis Din, as well as on the heads of all of the people. It describes the elder's words of rebuke, the six blessings that are added to the Shemoneh Esreh, and the blowing of the Shofar. In addition, we find that on a Ta'anis Tzibur a Tefilas Ne'ilah would be recited (26a), the fasts were 24 hour fasts, work was prohibited on the fast days and all five Inuyim (afflictions) of Yom Kipur would be practiced on those days (12b).

It is clear from the Gemara that these fast days were practiced not only during times of drought, but anytime a life-threatening situation existed (14b, 19a). The TUR and SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 579) record these Halachos at length. Is this series of 13 fast days, and all of their practices, observed outside of Eretz Yisrael when there is a drought or when another life- threatening situation exists?

(a) Shmuel said earlier that "there is no Ta'anis Tzibur in Bavel" -- the special severity afforded to these fast days is not practiced in Bavel. RASHI in Pesachim (54b) explains that since Bavel was a naturally wet land (Ta'anis 10a), drought was not a life-threatening situation and there was no need to treat Ta'aniyos for water with such severity (or to decree fasts for water at all).

The Rishonim point out that if this is what makes Bavel unique, then if another life-threatening situation arises besides drought, the people of Bavel should indeed fast with the full severity of the fast days mentioned above. Why then did Shmuel say that there is *no* Ta'anis Tzibur (with full severity) in Bavel except for the ninth of Av?

The RITVA (12b) explains that Rashi may hold like the RAMBAM (Hil. Ta'aniyos 3:11, 4:1) who seems to rule that fast days instituted for any reason other than lack of rain did not carry the same severity as the fasts mentioned here. Only when fasting for rain were fast days similar to Tisha b'Av instituted. Since Bavel did not need rain, it had no severe fasts other than Tisha b'Av. This indeed appears to be Rashi's understanding in Pesachim (50b DH Ta'anis Tzibur; 54b DH Ein Ta'anis Tzibur). Although it is clear from the Gemara that in other life-threatening situations they would also decree fasts and blow the Shofar, as the Ramban (here) and Ritva (ibid.) prove, Rashi and the Rambam apparently distinguished between blowing the Shofar and the Tisha b'Av aspects of a Ta'anis (the severity of the five Inuyim and the prohibition against working etc.).

The Rambam and Rashi are not in complete agreement, though. From Rashi it would appear that it is only in Bavel that the severity of these Ta'aniyos is not practiced, while from the Rambam (3:11) it appears that not only Bavel, but everywhere outside of Eretz Yisrael the fasts days are not practiced with the severity of Tisha b'Av. It is only when fasting for *rain* in *Eretz Yisrael* that the Chachamim instituted such fasts.

(b) The other Rishonim reject this approach and assert that the full severity of these fasts applies no matter what life-threatening situation existed for which they were decreed. Why, then, was the severity of a Ta'anis Tzibur not practiced in Bavel? The RAMBAN and RAN (end of the first Perek) quote the RA'AVAD who explains that the above-mentioned practices were not decreed in Bavel because it would be too hard for the people there to observe them.

It was not prohibited to wear shoes on fast days in Bavel, since the ground was very damp, as mentioned above, and it would be too uncomfortable to have to walk on it without shoes. The Chachamim did not institute 24 hour fasts, or insist that they refrain from work on a fast day, since the people of Bavel were poor, and it would affect them too severely (see Kidushin end of 29b and Rishonim). They were not prohibited from washing and smearing oil, since they were generally in a weakened state, and it might adversely affect their health. Since some of the Inuyim did not apply, the entire package of five Inuyim does not apply in Bavel. (The other laws of a Ta'anis Tzibur, such as Ne'ilah, Shofar blasts and the extra six Berachos of Shemoneh Esreh, perhaps *did* apply to the people of Bavel.)

According to the Ra'avad, it is only in Bavel that the severity of Ta'anis Tzibur was not practiced. (See Ramban, though, who suggests that because of Bavel-like lands the severity of Ta'anis Tzibur was not instituted anywhere outside of Eretz Yisrael, according to the Ra'avad.)

(c) The RAMBAN rejects the Ra'avad's explanation as "weak." Instead, he the RITVA, RAN (here) and ROSH (1:9) champion the explanation of the RA'AVYA who suggest an entirely different reason why the Ta'aniyos in Bavel are not as severe as in Eretz Yisrael, based on a YERUSHALMI.

The only time a Ta'anis is practiced in its full severity is if it has the status of "Ta'anis *Tzibur*" by virtue of being accepted by the entire congregation as one. This can only be accomplished, though, through a central judicial authority or through a Nasi, a temporal leader. Since the justices of Bavel did not have Semichah and there was no Nasi in Bavel, any Ta'anis they would accept upon themselves would have to be accepted by each person as an individual. By definition, it would only be a Ta'anis Yachid! (Even though even an unqualified Ta'anis Yachid has the severity of a Ta'anis Tzibur, as Rav says on 12b, that is only at a time and place where a Ta'anis Tzibur *could* have been practiced, they assert.)

If so, fast days instituted *anywhere* outside of Eretz Yisrael, for any reason at all, do not have the severity of those in Eretz Yisrael. However, the Ramban cites a tradition from the Ge'onim (which he proves correct from the Gemara) that this applies only to the severity of fasting 24 hours, observing the five Inuyim and not working. The extra Tefilos (Ne'ilah and six Berachos in Shemoneh Esreh), as well as the Shofar blasts should be observed even outside of Eretz Yisrael.

HALACHAH: What is the common practice both outside and inside Eretz Yisrael today, with regard to a Ta'anis Tzibur?
1. INUYIM - We saw that many Rishonim agree that where there is no Nasi or Beis Din with a Semichah, all Ta'aniyos are considered only a Ta'anis Yachid and do not have the severity of a Ta'anis Tzibur. This is the accepted ruling (MISHNAH BERURAH 575:25), and therefore we do not practice the five Inuyim or the prohibition against working or 24 hour fasts nowadays outside of Eretz Yisrael. (As for Eretz Yisrael, see what we write later on this page.)

2. TEFILAH - All the interpretations of the Rishonim cited above seem to agree that at least the Tefilah of Ne'ilah, the six extra Berachos in Shemoneh Esreh, and the Shofar blasts should be practiced everywhere, even in Bavel and other lands outside of Eretz Yisrael. However, the Ramban and Ritva mention that in their region, although the extra six Berachos were added to Shemoneh Esreh and the Shofar was blown, Ne'ilah was not recited, since that might be limited to the severe Tisha-b'Av-like fast days, which are not practiced outside of Eretz Yisrael (as mentioned in opinon (c) above). As for the extra six Berachos, although the Ritva says that it was common practice to add them to the Shemoneh Esreh by a public fast day even outside of Eretz Yisrael, the Rambam only records them with regard to a fast day for *rain* in *Eretz Yisrael* (3:11, 4:1).

3. SHOFAR - The Ritva (later on 12b) mentions that the tradition in France (based on a ruling of Tosfos) was not to blow the Shofar on fast days today. The Shofar blown on a Ta'anis Tzibur is really a Chatzotzra and not a Shofar, as the Gemara says in Rosh Hashanah 26a and the Rambam rules (Ta'aniyos 1:1 -- see Shabbos 36a, that the word Shofar really means a "Chatzotzra"). Since we do not have Chatzotzros today, we do not blow at all. The MAGEN AVRAHAM (beginning of OC 576) wonders why it is not the practice to blow the Shofar on publicly decreed fast days today, as the Torah commands. Although some Acharonim contend that the Mitzvah applies only in Eretz Yisrael (see RAN, Rosh Hashanah 26b; NESIV CHAIM, OC ibid.) the BIRKEI YOSEF writes that even there the blowing of the Shofar was not practiced on a Ta'anis. The answer, possibly, is that we rely on the ruling of the French community mentioned in the Ritva.

4. In Eretz Yisrael, the PE'AS HA'SHULCHAN writes that the Seder Ta'aniyos are observed exactly as they are described in the Gemara and recorded by the Shulchan Aruch, and the BIRKEI YOSEF (OC 575, cited by the Mishnah Berurah ibid.) who lived at about the same time period, records that he actually met elderly Jews in Yerushalayim and Chevron who remembered observing such Ta'aniyos when young. In practice, we have not seen Ta'aniyos with any of the unique severity, Tefilos or Shofar blasts of a Ta'anis Tzibur observed even in Eretz Yisrael in recent years. This is consistent with the ruling of the RAMBAN and Rishonim that when there is no Nasi, the Ta'aniyos do not have the severity of Ta'anis Tzibur anywhere in the world. Although the BIRKEI YOSEF mentions the possibility that the Gedolim in present day Eretz Yisrael are "delegates of the original Semuchim," this is apparently not the present day practice.

This explains why the Inuyim etc. and Ne'ilah are not observed in Eretz Yisrael, but it is not clear why we do not say the 24 Berachos of Shemoneh Esreh when fasting due to a drought in Eretz Yisrael. (Perhaps it is because nowadays a drought is not nearly so deadly as it once was, since food can be brought in more easily from other countries. Even Eretz Yisrael today is like the Bavel of old, in that sense.)

RAV YECHIEL MICHAL TIKUCHINSKY zt'l (Sefer Eretz Yisrael) writes that although in modern times the Seder Ta'aniyos are not observed, there is one part of the Ta'aniyos that we continue to observe today. During a time of drought in Eretz Yisrael today, the prayer of "va'Aneinu [Borei Olam b'Midas ha'Rachamim...]," is added to the Berachah of Shome'a Tefilah. (This is the "Hasra'ah b'Peh" mentioned in the Gemara earlier (14a), which is recited in the Shemoneh Esreh in the blessing of "Shome'a Tefilah. The text of this prayer in most Sidurim differs slightly from the text recorded by the TUR, and there are different Minhagim as to which Girsa to follow.) We do not change any other part of the Shemoneh Esreh or blow Teki'os.


Next daf


For further information on
subscriptions, archives and sponsorships,
contact Kollel Iyun Hadaf,