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

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Ta'anis 20

TA'ANIS 20 (15 Elul) - dedicated by Yechiel Wachtel l'Iluy Nishmas his father, Reb Shimon Eliezer ben Reb Yechiel Wachtel (who passed away on 15 Elul 5757).


(a) Nakdimon prayed that he had taken the water only to benefit the pilgrims, and the rain promptly fell.
(b) When Nakdimon asked for the surplus water to be returned, the Roman replied that it was too late anyway, as it was after sunset.
(c) Nakdimon prayed again, and the sun came out.
(d) Nakdimon was really Buni; he was so called because the sun shone for him (Nikdarah Chama).
(a) (Beraisa) Three people merited that the sun changed its course for them: Moshe, Yehoshua, and Nakdimun.
(b) Question: Nakdimun is as we have said, Yehoshua is learned from a Pasuk, but how do we know that it happened with Moshe?
(c) Answer #1 (R. Elazar): It is learned from Yehoshua by way of a Gezerah Shaveh with the word Achel.
(d) Answer #2 (R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): The Gezerah Shaveh is with the word Tes.
(e) Answer #3 (R. Yochanan): The Pasuk says that the nations trembled, which refers to the sun stopping for Moshe.
(a) The Pasuk which speaks of one city receiving rain, and another not, means both as a curse; the one receiving rain receives too much.
(b) The Pasuk referring to Jerusalem as a Niddah is a blessing; just as a Niddah is eventually permitted, so too does Jerusalem eventually regain its status.
(c) The Pasuk says that Jerusalem is like a widow; only *like* a widow, but not actually as a widow; as a woman whose husband is overseas but will return.
(d) It speaks of Hashem making the Jews despised, which is a blessing in that they won't be appointed as tax-collectors or oppressive officers.
(e) The Pasuk which says that Hashem shall smite Israel as a reed in the water is a blessing:
1. Achiya ha'Shiloni's curse is better than Bilam's blessing.
2. Achiya cursed Israel as a reed, which stands in the water, renews its stem, has many roots, and sways with the wind.
3. Bilam blessed Israel as a cedar, which does not stand in the water, does not renew its stem, does not have many roots, and breaks in the southerly wind.
4. Furthermore, the reed merits that it is used as a quill for writing a Torah.
(a) (Beraisa) A person should always be as easygoing as a reed rather than as stiff (haughty) as a cedar.
1. R. Elazar b. R. Shimon was once riding and feeling proud of himself for having learned much Torah.

2. He happened across an ugly person, who greeted him.
3. R. Elazar responded by saying, "Good-for-nothing! Is everyone in your town as ugly as you?"
4. The man responded, "I don't know; why don't you ask the Craftsman Who made me?"
5. Contrite, R. Elazar bowed and begged forgiveness, but the man wouldn't be swayed.
6. R. Elazar followed the man to his town, whereupon his townsfolk came out and greeted R. Elazar as a rabbi.
7. The man said that if R. Elazar is a rabbi, there shouldn't be too many other such people.
8. The townsfolk urged him to forgive R. Elazar, which he did on the condition that he should not make a habit of such an attitude.
9. R. Elazar promptly expounded that a person should always be as easygoing as a reed rather than as stiff (haughty) as a cedar, and therefore the reed merits that it is used as a quill for writing a Torah, tefillin and mezuzos.
(a) The Mishnah said that a city which suffered pestilence or collapsing buildings sounds the Shofar and fasts.
(b) (Beraisa) This refers to buildings which were sound but not to those which are shaky; it refers to those which were not due to collapse, but not to those which were bound to collapse.
1. Question: Aren't sound buildings and building which are not due to collapse the same thing?
2. Answer #1: Buildings that are too tall might be sound but are bound to collapse.
3. Answer #2: Buildings that are situated on riverbanks might be sound but are bound to collapse.
(c) There was a ruinous wall in Neharda'a which Rav and Shmuel would not pass beneath, even though it had been standing for twelve years.
1. When Rav Ada bar Ahava passed that way, Rav told Shmuel that it was safe, as his merit would protect them.
(d) R. Huna made use of R. Ada b. Ahava's merit to retrieve his wine from a ruined building.
1. R. Ada b. Ahava was angry; he held that a person should not rely on a miracle, and even if one transpires, it detracts from his merits.
i. The Pasuk speaks of Yaakov's merits having decreased due to the miracles that Hashem did for him.
(e) R. Ada b. Ahava's merit was that, as he said when asked about his longevity, that he never grew angry at home, walked in front of a greater person, thought about Torah in unclean places, walked four Amos without Torah or Tefillin, slept or napped in a Beis ha'Midrash, rejoiced in another's downfall, or called someone by a derogatory nickname (other learn: a family nickname).
(a) Rava asked Rafram bar Papa about R. Huna's good deeds of his youth.
(b) He replied that on a cloudy day, R. Huna would ride around town in a golden carriage, and demolish all the dangerous walls. If the owner could not afford to rebuild it, he would pay for it himself.
(c) Every Friday he would send people to buy all the leftover vegetables from the market and throw them into the river.
1. Question: Why didn't he give the vegetables to the poor?
2. Answer: As then they would rely on him for their vegetables, which would be disastrous if he had none.
3. Question: Why didn't he give them to animals?
4. Answer: As he held that one is not permitted to give food that is fit for humans to animals.
5. Qustion: Why did he buy them at all?
6. Answer: So that they would not be discouraged from bringing vegetables for Shabbos.
(d) When he had a medical problem, he would place a bottle of water at the gate for anyone to take.
1. Some say he did this to avoid their being harmed by Shivsa, the demon who attacks anyone who eats without washing his hands.
(e) When he ate bread, he would open his door wide and invite anyone who wished to come and join him.
(f) (Rava) I could emulate all his deeds except that one, as there are too many poor people in my town.
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