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by R. Nosson Slifkin
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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Ta'anis 5

TA'ANIS 2-5 sponsored by a generous grant from an anonymous donor. Kollel Iyun Hadaf is indebted to him for his encouragement and support and prays that Hashem will repay him in kind.


(a) We ask for rain until...
1. (R. Yehudah) Until Pesach has passed.
2. (R. Meir) Until Nisan has passed, as we see in a Pasuk that Yoreh (the early rains) and Malkush (the late rains) fall in Nisan.
(a) Question: Yoreh falls in Cheshvan!?
(b) Answer: This is referring to the era of Yoel b. Pesuel, when the first rains fell on the first of Nisan, and the prophet told the people to sow the remaining grain; the second rainfall was on the fifth, and the Omer was brought eleven days later.
1. This is alluded to by the Pasuk of "Those who sow in tears..."
2. (R. Yehudah) "...going and weeping... coming in joy" refers to the ox weeping as it ploughs, and eating sprouting vegetation on its way back.
3. (R. Chisda) "bearing the sheaves" refers to the ears of grain being twice the size of the stalks.
(a) Question: A Pasuk refers to a seven-year famine - how did the people survive?
(b) Answer: In the first year, they ate what they had in the houses; in the second year, what was in the fields; in the third year, kosher animals; in the fourth year, non-kosher animals; in the fifth year, vermin and insects; in the sixth year, the flesh of their children; in the seventh year, their own arms.
(c) Question: What does the Pasuk of "It is holy in you midst, I shall not come to the city" refer to?
(d) Answer: Hashem is saying that He shall not enter the Jerusalem of Above until He has entered the Jerusalem of below.
1. We know that there is a Jerusalem above as a Pasuk refers to the companion of Jerusalem.
(e) Question: What does the Pasuk of "They shall burn with one..." refer to?
(f) Answer: One sin - idolatry - causes wicked people to burn in Gehinom.
(g) Question: A Pasuk refers to two sins having being committed - but surely twenty-four were enumerated?
(h) Answer: It means one sin which is as bad as two - idolatry.

1. The Pasuk refers to the Kutiyim worshiping fire, even though they know that the Kedrayim's god of water extinguishes it, yet the Jews have replaced their G-d with something useless.
(i) Question: How can the Pasuk refer to Shmuel growing old, seeing as he died at 52?
(j) Answer: He aged prematurely, regretting that he had appointed Shaul.
1. He asked that, like Moshe and Aharon, his successor should outlive him.
2. Hashem noted that He couldn't kill Shaul, as Shmuel didn't want that; nor could He simply kill Shmuel, as people will think badly of him for having died young; not could He let them both live, as David's kingship was due to begin.
3. Therefore, He made Shmuel age prematurely.
4. This explains the Pasuk speaking of Shaul in Givah and Ramah - it refers to the two and a half years that Shaul reigned in Givah due to the prayer of Shmuel ha'Ramasi.
i. We see in a Pasuk that one person's life can be cut short on account of another.
(a) R. Nachman was asked by R. Yitzchak at a meal to speak, but replied that one shouldn't do so because one might choke.
1. Afterwards, he said: "Yaakov did not die."
2. R. Yitzchak asked, "Did they mourn, embalm and bury him for nothing?"
3. He answered that nevertheless a Pasuk compares him to his descendants, that they are both still alive.
(b) (R. Yitzchak) Anyone who says "Rachav, Rachav!" (the name of a harlot) becomes a Baal Keri.
1. R Nachman asked that he can say it without suffering that consequence.
2. R. Yitzchak explained that he was referring to someone who is familiar with her.
(c) When they parted, R. Nachman asked R. Yitzchak for a blessing.
1. R. Yitzchak gave the parable of a starving traveller who benefits from a tree, and can bless it only that its descendants should be as wonderful as it.
2. In the same way, R. Nachman, who already had Torah, wealth, and children, could only be blessed that his descendants should turn out like him.
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