THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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TA'ANIS 21, 22 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi
publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael
1) FASTING AND BLOWING THE SHOFAR -- TWO REACTIONS TO TROUBLE
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.
2) A DIVINELY-SENT BEAST
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
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
3) FASTING ON BEHALF OF SOMEONE ELSE'S TROUBLES
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
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.)