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Ta'anis 22

TA'ANIS 21, 22 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael


QUESTION: The Mishnah (19a) teaches that when a city's crops face destruction by being smitten with Shidafon, or if an illness (Rashi) of Yerakon threatens the townspeople, the residents of that city blow the Shofar ("Masri'in") in supplication and to arouse the people to do Teshuvah. All other cities also blow the Shofar, even though the threat has not yet reached their area. The Mishnah records an incident in Ashkelon where the elders decreed a Ta'anis because they saw Shidafon affecting crops the size of the opening of an oven.

The Gemara here quotes a Beraisa in which Rebbi Akiva says that we blow the Shofar in a situation of Shidafon and Yerakon no matter what the quantity is; because of the dire threat posed by Shidafon and Yerakon, we react even if there exists only a minute amount.

RASHI points out that the incident in the Mishnah seems to contradict Rebbi Akiva's opinion. The Mishnah says that they react to Shidafon only when there is enough to fill the opening of an oven, while Rebbi Akiva says that any amount of Shidafon warrants reaction.

Rashi gives two answers. In his first answer, he says that Rebbi Akiva means that we blow the Shofar for any amount of Shidafon, but in order to declare a Ta'anis, the amount must be enough to fill the opening of an oven. The Mishnah is referring to the amount required to declare a Ta'anis.

The MAGID MISHNAH (Hilchos Ta'anis 2:11) asks how can Rashi suggest that we blow the Shofar for any amount of Shidafon, while we fast only if there is a specific minimum amount. The Mishnah states that fasting is a *less* severe reaction to a trouble! That is, for a smaller trouble, we fast without blowing the Shofar, and for a greater trouble, we blow the Shofar as well. Consequently, whenever we blow the Shofar, we are also fasting. (This is true according to most Rishonim, and such is implicit in the words of Rashi on the Mishnah as well; note, however, that the Ra'avad, cited by the Ritva and Rishonim, understands the Mishnah differently.) How, then, can Rashi suggest that for a minute amount of Shidafon, we blow the Shofar without fasting?


(a) The SEFAS EMES answers that perhaps Rashi means as follows. Rashi maintains that since Ashkelon, where the incident in the Mishnah took place, was in Chutz la'Aretz (see Gitin 2a), it was only necessary to fast in Eretz Yisrael and not to blow the Shofar. This is what Rashi means when he says that the Mishnah is talking about fasting; he means that the Mishnah is discussing a Shidafon in Chutz la'Aretz for which we fast and do not blow the Shofar. Moreover, if the Shidafon is outside of Eretz Yisrael, there must be a minimum amount (enough to fill the opening of an oven) in order to fast. Rebbi Akiva of our Beraisa is talking about seeing Shidafon in Eretz Yisrael, in which case we blow the Shofar in addition to fasting. Just as Shidafon in Eretz Yisrael is more severe than in Chutz la'Aretz since we blow the Shofar in addition to fasting, it is also more severe in that we blow the Shofar (and fast) for any amount.

(b) There is an argument in the Mishnah regarding the cities which are near a city suffering from drought and famine. The Tana Kama says that those cities fast but do not blow the Shofar, while Rebbi Akiva says that those cities blow the Shofar and do not fast. Most Rishonim rule that those cities fast and do not blow the Shofar (like the Tana Kama).

Even though Rashi seems to rule like the Rishonim who say that we fast first, and then if the threat increases we blow the Shofar, here Rashi says that we blow the Shofar first, and then we start to fast if the threat increases, because the Beraisa here is expressing the opinion of Rebbi Akiva. And it is Rebbi Akiva in our Mishnah who says that we blow the Shofar without fasting; he holds that blowing the Shofar is a less severe reaction! Rashi is saying that Rebbi Akiva in the Beraisa is consistent with his opinion in the Mishnah. Since he holds that we blow the Shofar before we fast, he is able to say that the incident in the Mishnah, in which a fast was declared only because a minimum amount of Shidafon was found, refers specifically to fasting. The Shofar is blown even when a minute amount of Shidafon is found. The Chachamim, though, hold that we both blow the Shofar and fast only when there is enough Shidafon to fill the opening of an oven. (Rashi could have said that Rebbi Akiva argued with the story of the Mishnah, just as he argues with the Tana Kama in the Halachah, but he preferred not to have Rebbi Akiva and the Tana Kama arguing over factual occurrences.)

QUESTION: The Beraisa says that we blow the Shofar when a wild animal is at large, threatening the safety of the townspeople, only when that wild animal is "Divinely sent" ("Meshulachas"), as opposed to one which is roaming around naturally. The Beraisa defines at length what constitutes a wild animal that is Divinely sent and one that is not (see Chart).

The Beraisa says that if a wild animal kills two people and eats only one of them, it is Divinely sent, because a wild animal normally does not kill people unless it is hungry, in which case it eats whoever it kills. Therefore, if it kills two people and does not eat one of them, it is a sign that the animal is Divinely sent. TOSFOS says that the animal is also Divinely sent if it kills two people and does not eat either of them, and that the Beraisa is teaching a Chidush by saying that it ate one person (i.e. we might have thought that since it ate one person, it was hungry and is not Divinely sent).

Why does the Gemara define Divinely sent as a beast that killed two people and ate only one of them? The Beraisa should say that it is Divinely sent if it killed even one person and did not eat him! The fact that it killed him but did not eat him shows that it killed due to Divine retribution and not because it was hungry! (GEVURAS ARI)


(a) The GEVURAS ARI answers that by saying that the beast killed two people, it is teaching a greater Chidush. We might have thought that when a beast kills two people and eats only one of them, it is not considered Divinely sent, because perhaps it was indeed hungry and just killed more than it needed and had leftovers, as Tosfos suggested. The Beraisa therefore teaches that wild animals kill only as much as they need to eat, and no more. It is certainly Divinely sent, though, if it kills one person and does not eat him, or kills two people and eats none.

(b) The SEFAS EMES argues and says that it is only Divinely sent if it kills two and eats one. If it kills one and does not eat him, it is not Divinely sent. The reason for this is because the Gemara in Shabbos (151b) says that even a lion does not attack two people, because it is afraid of them. If an animal sees a single person, though, and is afraid of him, it does not necessarily run away; it might attack the person out of self- defense and not because it is a hungry (and thus it will not eat the person). Therefore, if a wild animal kills a single person or runs after a single person, even though it does not eat him, it is not Divinely sent. It would not start up with *two* people, though, unless it is hungry, and thus if it killed them, it should have eaten them both. Therefore, if it eats only one, it is Divinely sent.


QUESTION: If a city is in danger, surrounded by Nochrim or by a flooding river, or if a boat is tossing in a storm at sea, a single person is permitted to "torture" ("l'Sagef") himself by fasting according to the Tana Kama of the Beraisa. Rebbi Yosi argues and says that one is not permitted to torture himself by fasting, because he might become sick and be unable to work, and then he will have to rely on begging. It seems that all agree that when there is a city or a person whose life is in danger, there is no *obligation* for an individual to fast for them (if no public Ta'anis has been declared). Even if an individual wants to fast, the Tana Kama and Rebbi Yosi argue whether it is permitted.

This seems to contradict the Mishnah earlier (18b) that states that if rain does not fall on one city, the surrounding cities fast for the city in trouble. How do we reconcile the Mishnah and the Beraisa?


(a) RASHI in the Mishnah (19a) answers the first question by saying that the cities around the city in trouble are not fasting for the other city, but rather they are fasting for themselves. Since the city that has received no rain is going to buy their food from the surrounding cities, those cities are also in danger because their food supply might be completely bought out.

However, the RAMBAN, RITVA and other Rishonim argue with Rashi there. They maintain that the surrounding cities fast in sympathy for the city that received no rain.

(b) The RAMBAN cited by the Ran answers that fasting for someone else's Tzarah depends on what type of Tzarah it is. The Beraisa here is discussing an immediate, mortal danger. In such a case, the people in danger are unable to fast themselves, for they are busy trying to do something natural to save themselves. Since they cannot fast, the people around them also have no obligation to fast, since we do not fast for someone who himself has no obligation to fast.

(c) The RAN answers that in a case of immediate danger, the people do not fast the normal series of Monday-Thursday-Monday fasts, but rather they observe consecutive fasts, day after day, until they are answered. It is not possible to obligate surrounding cities to fast such consecutive Ta'aniyos. Therefore, in such a case of immediate danger, the Chachamim do not require the surrounding cities to fast at all. The argument between the Tana Kama and Rebbi Yosi is whether it is *permitted* for an individual to fast consecutive fasts one day after another. That is why they refer to the individual fasting as "torturing" ("l'Sagef") himself, since such fasts are like torture.

This also answers another point. The Amora'im argue (11a) whether a person who observes a private fast is considered a sinner or a holy person. Why does neither opinion cite support from the Tana'im in this Beraisa? (See TOSFOS DH Rebbi Yosi.)

The Ran answers that the argument between the Tana Kama and Rebbi Yosi is unrelated to the argument regarding it is good or bad to fast (11a). Everyone agrees that it is not good to fast for *consecutive* days, since it could weaken the person to the point that he becomes unable to support himself. (That is, a person is not normally physically strong enough to afflict himself in such a manner.)

(d) The RAMBAN at the end of Daf 19a seems to offer a different solution. He says that the Chachamim did not institute that the Tzibur fast when an individual, or individuals, are in danger. They fast only when there is reason for the entire Tzibur to be in distress. Rebbi Yosi and the Rabanan are only arguing over a case where *individuals* are in danger, such as a ship on stormy seas or a person being chased by Nochrim. (They do not argue over the case of a *city* which is surrounded by Nochrim or a river.)

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