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Ta'anis 18

TA'ANIS 17, 18, 19 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael


QUESTION: The Chachamim instituted that the thirteenth of Adar be observed as a day of commemorative celebration, called "Yom Taryanus," or Trajan Day. This is one of the Yamim Tovim recorded in Megilas Ta'anis on which fasting is prohibited. This Yom Tov commemorates the events that occurred when Taryanus, the wicked Roman leader, sought to execute Lulianus and Papus, two Jews who willingly gave up their lives Al Kidush Hashem and who became known as the "Harugei Lud." They told Taryanus that Hashem put them into his hands in order to punish him if he killed them. He killed them, and indeed, immediately afterwards a delegation arrived from Rome and killed Taryanus in a gruesome fashion. A Yom Tov was instituted to commemorate the awesome vengeance that Hashem demonstrated for his loved ones.

The simple understanding is that the celebration is because Hashem took revenge on the killer and showed everyone that He avenges the blood of his beloved. But why is it fitting to institute a day of celebration on the day of that the righteous Papus and Lulianus were put to death? If they would have come out alive, then there would be reason to celebrate. But why should we celebrate if they were killed -- does the show of Hashem's vengeance somehow outweigh the tragedy of their execution?


(a) RASHI explains that, initially, there was a Gezeirah to destroy *all* of the Jewish people. Through the martyrdom of Lulianus and Papus, the rest of the Jewish people were saved. It is *that* salvation which we celebrate on Yom Taryanus.

(b) The DIKDUKEI SOFRIM records a different text of the Gemara from a manuscript which omits the words "nevertheless he killed them." According to that Girsa, Taryanus did *not* succeed in killing them before his sudden death. This is also the way the incident is recorded in Megilas Ta'anis (ch. 12) and in Toras Kohanim (Parshas Emor, ch. 9). Since the evil ruler was killed before he carried out his plans to kill the Jews and they were spared miraculously, the Chachamim enacted that day to be one of celebration.

According to this explanation, we can understand the Yerushalmi which says that the Chachamim cancelled the celebration of Yom Taryanus when *Lulianus* and *Papus* were killed (and not Shemayah and Achiyah, as our Gemara says a few lines earlier). That is, the Yom Tov was instituted when they were saved from the hands of Taryanus, and it was annulled when, some years later, the same two righteous people were killed by another governing body. This might also be the intention behind the words of the Aruch (recorded in the margin of our Gemara) when he writes that Shemayah and Achiyah were the Harugei Lud. Does the Beraisa not say that Lulianus and Papus were the brothers killed in "Ludkia" (= Lydia; or Lud, as Rashi explains, see also Midrash Koheles Raba 9:8)? It must be that Shemayah and Achiyah were the Hebrew names of Lulianus and Papus. (Based on YEFEH EINAYIM)

The YEFEH EINAYIM also cites the exact circumstances under which Lulianus and Papus were eventually killled. He refers to the Yerushalmi (Shevi'is 4:2) which states that Lulianus and Papus were killed when they refused to drink from a cup that the emperor gave to them, upon which was inscribed the name of an Avodah Zarah. This occurred at a later time, after the miraculous incident with Taryanus. Apparently, when they were killed by the new emperor, the Chachamim annulled the Yom Tov which had been instituted because they were saved from the old one.

(According to this approach, it must be that Megilas Ta'anis was written during the lives of Lulianus and Papus, shortly after the destruction of the Temple, and that is why it records the day as a Yom Tov -- see Shabbos 13b.)

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