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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Ta'anis 16

TA'ANIS 16 (11 Elul) - dedicated to the memory of Chana (Birnbaum) bas Reb Chaim, on the day of her Yarzeit.



(a) They Davened in the street, according to Rebbi Chiya bar Aba, as if to say, 'We cried out discreetly, to no avail. Now let us disgrace ourselves in public (perhaps that will evoke Divine mercy)'. Resh Lakish says that it is symbolical of exile, to say that 'We have gone into exile. May our exile atone for us'.

(b) The difference between the two explanations is that, according to the Rebbi Chiya bar Aba, they had to go out into the open; whereas according to Resh Lakish, an enclosed area is also called exile.

(c) They ...

1. ... took the Aron ha'Kodesh out into the street - to say 'We had a modest vessel, which has now become disgraced due to our sins.
2. ... wore sack-cloth - to demonstrate that they were worthless like animals (since it is clothes that give a person esteem - like Rebbi Yochanan, who used to refer to his clothes as 'Mechabdusai').
(d) After putting-on sack-cloth - they would go to the Beis-Olam and blow the Shofar.
(a) According to Rebbi Yehudah ben Pazi, they placed ashes on the Aron ha'Kodesh, because of the Pasuk in Tehilim "Imo Anochi be'Tzarah". Resh Lakish says - from "be'Chol Tzarasam, Lo Tzar".

(b) When Rebbi Zeira saw the Rabbanan placing ashes on the Aron ha'Kodesh for the first time - he shuddered.

(c) Rebbi Levi bar Chama and Rebbi Chanina (according to the Rif and the Rosh it should be Rebbi Levi bar Lachma and Rebbi Chama bar Chanina) argue over the reason why everyone placed ashes on their heads. One of them says it was to demonstrate that they were before Hashem like ashes; the other one says - that it was to remind Hashem of the Akeidas Yitzchak.

(d) The difference between the two reasons - is whether one may use ordinary earth, or whether they must use ashes.

(a) The same Amora'im argue over the reason that they would go out to visit the graves. One says that it is to demonstrate that they were like dead people; the other, in order to encourage the dead to pray on their behalf. According to the first reason, it makes no difference whether the graves are those of Jews or those of gentiles, whereas according to the second, it must be specifically Jews, since the gentile dead are not capable of praying for gentiles, let alone for Jews.

(b) One of the same Amora'im explains that the mountain on which the Akeidas Yitzchak took place is called 'Har ha'Mori'ah' because teaching went out from it to Yisrael - as the Pasuk says in Yeshayah "Ki mi'Tzi'on Teitzei Torah".

(c) The other one says that it was called by that name - because it caused the Nochrim to be afraid, when they saw the greatness of Yisrael.

(d) If, as some explain it, Har ha'Mori'ah refers to Har Sinai - then they were afraid of the thunder and lightning that emanated from the mountain when the Torah was given to Yisrael.

(a) If there is no Zaken present to say the 'humbling words', then a Chacham says them. A Zakein means - an elder who is also a Chacham. If there is not even a Chacham present - then it is a man of stature (who commands respect) who speaks.

(b) The gist of the Musar given by the Zakein - is that it is not the sack- cloth and ashes that count, but Teshuvah and good deeds.

(c) They bound the animals separately and their babies separately. They then say to Hashem - that if Hashem does not have mercy on them, then they will not have mercy on the animals.

(d) "va'Yikre'u el Elokim be'Chazkah" - they said to Him 'Ribono shel Olam, if one person is unfortunate and the other, fortunate, if one can't and one can, if one is a Tzadik and the other, a Rasha, who takes precedence? (Surely it is the unfortunate, the one who is unable, the Rasha, who comes first! - see Agados Maharsha.)

5) To prove that their Teshuvah was sincere, the people of Ninveh not only returned all the articles that they had stolen, but they even pulled down the house that contained a stolen beam, in order to return the stolen beam.


(a) Rav Ada bar Ahavah describes a person who confesses to having sinned but does not relinquish the sin (i.e. he fails to return the stolen article) - by comparing him to someone who Tovels in a Mikvah containing all the water in the world with a dead Sheretz in his hand.

(b) He learns from the Pasuk in Mishlei "u'Modeh ve'Ozev Yerucham" and from the Pasuk in Eichah "Nisa Levaveinu el Kapayim" - the importance of following up one's confession with the appropriate action.

(c) If they had a choice of Chazen between a Zakein on the one hand, and someone who was more conversant with the text of the Tefilah with the other - they would choose the latter.

(a) According to Rebbi Yehudah, they looked for many additional qualities in the Chazen. He needed to have many children and struggle to make ends meet - because then he would Daven with all his heart.

(b) He also had to work hard (in the fields) - and he had to be humble.

(c) And he had to be well-liked, so that they would agree with his choice as Ba'al Tefilah.

(d) A sweet and pleasant voice was important, too. And besides being fluent in all the Berachos - he was also required to possess expertise in T'nach, Medrash, Halachos and Agados, like Rav Yitzchak bar Ami.

(a) Having said that he struggled to make ends meet, Rebbi Yehudah adds 'his house is empty' - meaning empty of sin.

(b) 'u'Pirko Na'eh' means - that even in his youth, he had done nothing that stigmatized him.

(c) When Yirmiyahu ha'Navi writes " ... Nasnah Alai be'Kolah, Al-Kein Seneisiha" - he is referring to a Shatz who goes 'down to the Teivah' even though he is unworthy to fill that role (Rashi appears to have in his text of the Gemara, that it refers to those who appoint such a Shatz, but that is not how Rashi is quoted however, nor does our text condone this explanation).




(a) When they said 'Mi she'Anah es Avraham be'Har ha'Mori'ah Hu Ya'aneh Eschem ve'Yishma Kol Tza'akaschem ha'Yom ha'Zeh' - the Berachah concluded 'Go'eil Yisrael'.

(b) In the Beis Hamikdash, the same Berachah would end 'Baruch Hashem Elokei Yisrael min ha'Olam ve'Ad ha'Olam (the standard text for every Berachah in the Beis Hamikdash), Baruch ... Go'el Yisrael'. Everybody answered - 'Baruch Sheim Kevod Malchuso Le'olam Va'ed'.

(c) We learn from the Pasuk ...

1. ... "Kumu Borchu es Hashem Elokeichem min ha'Olam ad ha'Olam" - that the standard text of a Berachah in the Beis Hamikdash begins 'Baruch Hashem Elokei Yisrael min ha'Olam Ad ha'Olam' (instead of 'Baruch Atah Hashem').
2. ... "vi'Yevarchu Sheim Kevodecha" - to answer in the Beis Hamikdash 'Baruch Shem ... ' (instead of 'Amen').
3. ... "u'Meromam al Kol Berachah u'Sehilah" - that each Berachah must begin as in 1. (and not that the entire Tefilah is covered by one Berachah).
10) The Tana of the last Beraisa place what we have called until now 'the conclusion' of the Berachah ('Mi she'Anah es Avraham ... ') literally at the end of the Berachah (even after the people have answered 'Baruch Sheim ... ', whereas until now, the Tana'im placed it before 'Baruch Atah Hashem' - because he is not referring to the Chazen, but to the Shamash, who repeated 'Mi she'Anah ... ' after the conclusion of the Berachah (see Rashash on Rashi DH 'Chazan ha'Keneses').


(a) We learned in our Mishnah that, according to Rebbi Yehudah, they did not include Zichronos and Shofros among the six extra Berachos. In his opinion, Zichronos and Shofros are only said on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kipur of Yovel and in wartime.

(b) We learned this Din by Rosh Hashanah above (on Daf 16a - 'Say before Me Malchiyos and Zichronos ... '), and on 26b., we learned that Yom Kipur of Yovel has the same Din as Rosh Hashanah regarding Berachos (and Teki'ah). Rashi does not know from where we learn that one says Berachos and Pesukim of (Malchiyos - see Rashash) Zichronos and Shofros when going to war.

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