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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Ta'anis 31



(a) Rav Masna attributes Chamishah-Asar be'Av to the dead of Beitar - who were killed fifty-two years after the second Churban, but whose blood the Romans used to fertilize their vineyards, and whom they therefore forbade to be buried. A miracle occured, and when eventually, a number of years latwer, the decree was rescinded, all the bodies were found to have remained whole.

(b) So Chazal instituted the Berachah of 'ha'Tov ve'ha'Meitiv' - both as the fourth Berachah of Birchas ha'Mazon, and to recite when drinking a superior wine during a meal (under certain circumstances).

(c) The significance of the words 'ha'Tov ve'ha'Meitiv' - is 'ha'Tov', that the bodies did not decompose; 've'ha'Meitiv' - that the decree was rescinded and permission was granted to bury them.

(a) Rabah and Rav Yosef presents the final reason for the institution of Chamishah-Asar be'Av in connection with the cutting of the wood for the Beis Hamikdash. As a result of that, it became known as 'Yom Tavar Magal' - which means the day on which they broke their axes (since they were no longer needed to cut the wood for the Mizbei'ach).

(b) They stopped cutting wood for the Mizbei'ach then - because from then onwards, the days become shorter and the heat of the sun begins to decrease. Consequently, the wood is not so dry and contains more worms(which are disqualified from going on the Mizbei'ach).

(c) The main thrust of this reason for Chamishah-Asar be'Av being a Yom-Tov seems to be the fact that, since the nights now become longer, there is more time to study Torah (and David wrote in Tehilim "Pikudei Hashem Yecharim, *Mesamchei Leiv"*). The Beraisa says about someone who does not avail himself of the opportunity to learn extra 'mi'Ka'an va'Eilech, de'Lo Mosif Yasif'. Rav Yosef explains this statement to mean - that his mother will bury him.

(a) A princess would borrow a dress from the daughter of the Kohen Gadol. The daughter of ...
  1. ... the Kohen Gadol - from the deputy Kohen Gadol;
  2. ... the deputy Kohen Gadol - from the Kohen Gadol for war;
  3. ... the Kohen Gadol for war - from another Kohen.
(b) We learned in our Mishnah that all the borrowed dresses required Tevilah. This extended even to dresses that came straight from their owners' wardrobes, in spite of the fact that they had not even been worn - so that those girls who *had* worn their dresses should not have cause to be embarrassed (when they saw them being Toveled).

(c) It was customary for men who were not yet married to go out to the vineyards whilst the girls were dancing there - to choose themselves a wife.

4) In spite of our Mishnah, the Beraisa divides the groups of girls into three.
1. The beautiful ones among them say - 'Look for beauty, since a woman is only for beauty'.
2. The ugly ones - 'Make your choice for Hashem's sake, provided you adorn us with golden ornaments (or with beautiful clothes) after we are married.
On to Megilah


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