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Ta'anis 28

TA'ANIS 27, 28, 29, 30 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael


QUESTION: The Gemara says that when Rav visited Bavel, he saw that the community recited Hallel on Rosh Chodesh. He wanted to stop them, until he noticed that they skipped portions of Hallel. He understood from their omissions that their recitation of Hallel was merely a Minhag that they observed from their forebears.

RABEINU TAM (cited in Tosfos) learns from here that we recite a Berachah upon the performance of a Minhag, because if the people in Bavel did not recite the Berachah for their Minhag of saying Hallel, it would have been obvious to Rav that they were doing a Minhag and he would not have had any reason to stop them. Rabeinu Tam (cited in TOSFOS in Sukah 44b) points out that this is also evident from the fact that we recite Berachos upon the performance of the Mitzvos on Yom Tov Sheni (such as the Mitzvah of Lulav on Sukos, and the Mitzvah of Matzah on Pesach), the second day of Yom Tov outside of Eretz Yisrael, even though Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galuyos is only a Minhag, as the Gemara says in Beitzah (4b).

In addition, the HAGAHOS MAIMONI (Hilchos Chanukah 3:7, #5) cites another proof for the ruling of Rabeinu Tam from Maseches Sofrim, where it says that we recite a Berachah ("... Asher Kideshanu b'Mitzvosav v'Tzivanu...") upon reading each of the Megilos. The obligation to read the Megilos (Eichah, Koheles, Rus, Shir ha'Shirim) at certain times of the year is not mentioned anywhere in the Gemara and is obviously only a Minhag, but we still recite a Berachah!

Rabeinu Tam points out that although the Gemara in Sukah (44b) says that no Berachah is recited for the Minhag of Chibut Aravah, the Minhag of saying Hallel on Rosh Chodesh (and reading the Megilos) is different.

What is the difference between these Minhagim and the Minhag of Chibut Aravah? Rabeinu Tam says that the Minhag of Chibut Aravah is nothing more than an act of moving the Aravah. Reading Hallel, though, is a more significant act, "because it is like reading verses from the Torah."

What does Rabeinu Tam mean? How can we say, "... Asher Kideshanu b'Mitzvosav v'Tzivanu...," just because it is "like reading verses from the Torah?" In what way were we commanded to read Hallel any more than we were commanded to do Chibut Aravah? Moreover, how does that explain why we recite Berachos on Yom Tov Sheni?

ANSWER: The BRISKER RAV (end of Chidushim on Maseches Sukah) explains as follows. Rashi in Sukah (44a) says that the reason we do not recite a Berachah for a Minhag is because there is no Mitzvah of "Lo Sasur" ("do not turn away from what they (the Chachamim) instruct you") to observe a Minhag. However, the RAMBAM (introduction to Mishnah Torah) says that Lo Sasur includes the obligation to listen to any Mitzvah d'Rabanan *and* to any *Minhag* that the Rabanan taught us to practice. If so, why do we not recite a Berachah for the Minhag of Chibut Aravah?

The Brisker Rav explains that it must be that the Berachah recited on the performance of the act is not related to whether the act is a Minhag or a Mitzvah. Rather, when the Chachamim instructed us to observe a certain Minhag, but they did not enact it as a Mitzvah, they wanted to give it a different status than a Mitzvah. They wanted it to have a status of an obligation of a Minhag, and not an obligation of a Mitzvah. This means that they wanted us to perform a certain practice, but without giving the act the definition of a new Mitzvah (a "Shem Mitzvah"). For example, when the Chachamim enacted the Minhag of Chibut Aravah, they did not want it the act to be defined as any more than an act of picking up an Aravah and hitting it upon the floor ("Minhag Tiltul b'Alma" in the words of Tosfos here). It is not a new category of Mitzvah called "Chibut Aravah" which one is "Yotzei" or "not Yotzei."

For such a Minhag, a Berachah is not recited. This explains why some Minhagim are different, and a Berachah is recited before their performance. The acts which we do on Yom Tov Sheni (Lulav, Sukah, Matzah) are already defined as acts of Mitzvah, since they wer given as Mitzvos the day before, on the first day of Yom Tov. The act of picking up a Lulav on Yom Tov Sheni is defined as an act of Mitzvah of "Netilas Lulav," and not just a motion of bending down and picking up a palm branch. The same applies to reading the Megilos and reciting Hallel. When Rabeinu Tam says that Hallel is no different than reading from the Torah, the act of reading the Torah is a Mitzvah for which the Chachamim instituted a Berachah, and thus any act of reading a portion of the Torah is already defined as the type of act that was given a "Shem Mitzvah" of Keriyas Torah. That is why we may recite a Berachah when reading the Megilos and when reciting Hallel.

The RAMBAM (Hilchos Chanukah 3:7), though, rules that one does not recite a Berachah for Hallel on Rosh Chodesh "because it is a Minhag, and we do not recite a Berachah for a Minhag." However, he seems to contradict this ruling elsewhere, since in Hilchos Yom Tov (6:14), he writes that Yom Tov Sheni is also a Minhag, yet he agrees that we *do* recite the Berachos for its Mitzvos. Why is Hallel different from the Mitzvos of Yom Tov Sheni, according to the Rambam? Both should require a Berachah!

The Brisker Rav explains that the Rambam agrees with the difference between a Minhag which is defined as an act of a Mitzvah and a Minhag which is merely the motion of an act, but is not defined as a Mitzvah. That is why he writes that we recite Berachos for the Minhag of Yom Tov Sheni. Reading Hallel, though, is different. The Brisker Rav, quoting his father Rav Chaim, explains that it is not so simple that the Berachah recited for reading the Torah is a Birchas ha'Mitzvos. There is reason to say that the Berachah we recite for reading from the Torah is not a Berachah for performing the Mitzvah of reading the Torah, but rather it is a Berachah recited out of reverence for the Torah, as the Gemara derives from the verse, "Ki Shem Hashem Ekra Havu Godel l'Elokeinu" (Berachos 45a). Hence, we never find that reading the Torah is a pre-defined act of Mitzvah for which a Berachah of Mitzvos was instituted (perhaps Berachos are not made on such Mitzvos), and therefore Hallel cannot have a Birchas ha'Mitzvah of "li'Kro Es ha'Hallel" by virtue of it being an act of Mitzvah like reading the Torah!

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