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Ta'anis 19

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


QUESTION: The Mishnah states that if a day of fasting was decreed due to a lack of rain, and it rains during that day, then -- depending on what time of day it rained -- the fast does not continue. According to the Tana Kama, if it rained before sunrise, then the fast does not continue. According to Rebbi Eliezer, if it rained before midday, the fast does not continue. Rather, the people eat and drink and treat the day like a festive Yom Tov, and in the afternoon they recite Hallel. Their reasoning is that once the fast has begun (to the Tana Kama) or once most of it has passed (to Rebbi Eliezer), it must be carried out in full (YERUSHALMI). According to this reasoning, if the community accepted upon themselves an entire series of fasts, such as the three of seven days of fasting that the community normally fasts due to lack of rain, it is clear that there is no need to complete the series of fast days.

Earlier (10b), the Gemara taught that if one was fasting because of some Tzarah which then passed, or if a person was fasting for a sick person who then became well, he must *complete* his fast. In addition, the Rishonim write that this implies that if his fast was part of a series of fasts which he had accepted upon himself, he must continue to observe the entire series of fasts (RASHI ad loc. and Rishonim; see Me'iri, though, who disagrees).

What is the difference between the fast on Daf 10b and the one of our Mishnah?


(a) The RA'AVAD (Hilchos Ta'aniyos 1:15) explains that whether or not one must complete the fast depends on the Tzarah for which one is fasting. Only when fasting for rain do we cease fasting when the Tzarah passes on the day of the Ta'anis. We make the day into a day of Simchah and we eat and rejoice, because rain is different from all other Tzaros. When rain comes and ends a drought, we know that there is absolutely no Tzarah left. When fasting for other Tzaros (such as disease or disaster), though, even if the Tzarah passes we still have to worry that it might return.

The GEVURAS ARI suggests that according to the Ra'avad's reasoning, only if the Tzarah stops and relief comes; we must continue fasting because of the concern that the Tzarah might return. However, if we are fasting on behalf of a sick person and that person dies, the Tzarah is clearly finished and we should stop fasting. However, there is reason to question this conclusion. RASHI (10b, DH Al ha'Tzarah) points out that there is another consideration to take into account when the Tzarah ends. If we stop fasting with the Tzarah ends tragically with no salvation, it appears as though we are threatening Hashem, saying that we will only fast if He gives us salvation, and this is disrespectful. We therefore continue fasting if a Tzarah ends without a positive salvation.

The ROSH, however, questions the Ra'avad's approach. How can the Ra'avad say when rain comes one day, it ends the drought and we know that the Tzarah has ended? We stop fasting even if only a little rain has fallen, and not enough rain for the entire season. Perhaps it will stop raining for the rest of the season and the drought will return! (The Ra'avad apparently learned that that would be considered a "new" drought.)

(b) RASHI (25b DH v'Yiheyu) and other Rishonim say that it does not make a difference what type of Tzarah it is, for all Tzaros are the same when it comes to interrupting the fast day. Rather, the difference is whether one is fasting an individual Ta'anis (a Ta'anis Yachid) or a communal Ta'anis (a Ta'anis Tzibur). When fasting individually, one must continue fasting, but when fasting with the Tzibur, the people stop fasting. Several explanations are offered for this difference.

1. The MAGID MISHNAH, in his first explanation, says that the Chachamim were lenient with regard to a Ta'anis Tzibur so as not to overburden the entire community ("Tircha d'Tzibura").

2. The MAGID MISHNAH, in his second explanation, says that when Beis Din decrees a Ta'anis for the community, they include a condition that if it rains in the middle, the Ta'anis will be annulled. This condition is effective even if Beis Din does not explicitly state it, because of the principle of "Lev Beis Din Masneh Aleihen" -- unspoken conditions for enactments of Beis Din are fully binding and effective. In contrast, when an individual observes a private Ta'anis, any condition which he does not verbally state is not binding, because "Devarim sheb'Lev Einam Devarim" -- thoughts in one's heart are not binding [until they are verbalized].

3. The ROSH infers from the wording of the RAMBAM a different explanation. When the community observes a Ta'anis Tzibur, they are obligated to recite Hallel ha'Gadol if Hashem answers their prayers. Since Hallel may be recited only when one is satiated and feels good (top of 26a), the people must stop fasting in order to eat something so that they can fulfill their obligation to recite Hallel. An individual, on the other hand, does not recite Hallel when his prayers are answers, and therefore there is no reason for him to stop his fast in the middle.

HALACHAH: The answer of Rashi, as explained by the Rosh (b:3) is cited by the SHULCHAN ARUCH as Halachah (OC 569). The Shulchan Aruch adds, based on the Yerushalmi, that if the Chachamim and Talmidei Chachamim decide to continue fasting nonetheless, then the rest of the Tzibur is also obligated to finish the fast.

If it is discovered that the Ta'anis was accepted in error -- that is, the Tzarah ended, unbeknownst to those who were fasting, *before* the fast was even accepted -- then even an individual does not have to complete his fast.

If the Ta'anis was being observed on behalf of a sick person and the sick person died, then an individual who was observing a Ta'anis Yachid must complete his fast (as Rashi says on 10b). Whether a *Tzibur* has to complete the Ta'anis Tzibur or not in such a situation is the subject of dispute among the Acharonim (see MISHNAH BERURAH 569:5). Some say that a Tzibur must complete the fast (even if the person died before midday), based on the reasoning suggested by the ROSH (as mentioned above, that the only reason to stop fasting is in order to say Hallel, which the Tzibur obviously does not say when the person died). Others maintain that the Tzibur may stop their fast, because the other two reasons mentioned above (1 and 2) still apply.

The SHA'AR HA'TZIYON says that perhaps we should be stringent and complete the fast, because even according to the reason that Beis Din makes the fast conditional upon the Tzarah persisting (2, above), the Beis Din may stipulate that the fast will be annulled only if Hashem answers their prayers, as a sign of celebration. But if the Tzarah ends without Hashem answering their prayers (such as in the case of the sick person passing away), then the fast is perhaps not annulled.


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