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January 18, 2022 | 讟状讝 讘砖讘讟 转砖驻状讘 | TODAY'S DAF: Moed Katan 6

Introduction to Ta’anit

诇讝讻讜转 诇专驻讜讗讛 砖诇诪讛

聽诇专讘拽讛 讘转 讞讬讛, 转诪讬诪讛 讘转 砖专讛 讗诪谞讜, 砖讜诇诪讬转 讘转 驻讬讬讙讗 诇讬讘讗 讜砖专讛 讘转 专讞诇

讘转讜讱 砖讗专 讞讜诇讬 讬砖专讗诇

Masechet Taanit deals with fast days and with rain.聽 The connection between the two, at least in Talmudic times, is clear 鈥 the most common reason for decreeing a communal fast was a delay in the beginning of the winter rain in Israel.

Devarim 11:10-12 tells us:

讻旨执讬 讛指讗指专侄抓 讗植砖讈侄专 讗址转旨指讛 讘指讗志砖讈指诪旨指讛 诇职专执砖讈职转旨指讛旨 诇止讗 讻职讗侄专侄抓 诪执爪职专址讬执诐 讛执讜讗 讗植砖讈侄专 讬职爪指讗转侄诐 诪执砖讈旨指诐 讗植砖讈侄专 转旨执讝职专址注 讗侄转志讝址专职注植讱指 讜职讛执砖讈职拽执讬转指 讘职专址讙职诇职讱指 讻旨职讙址谉 讛址讬旨指专指拽變 讜职讛指讗指专侄抓 讗植砖讈侄专 讗址转旨侄诐 注止讘职专执讬诐 砖讈指诪旨指讛 诇职专执砖讈职转旨指讛旨 讗侄专侄抓 讛指专执讬诐 讜旨讘职拽指注止转 诇执诪职讟址专 讛址砖讈旨指诪址讬执诐 转旨执砖讈职转旨侄讛志诪旨指讬执诐變 讗侄专侄抓 讗植砖讈侄专志讛鈥 讗直-诇止讛侄讬讱指 讚旨止专值砖讈 讗止转指讛旨 转旨指诪执讬讚 注值讬谞值讬 讛鈥 讗直-诇止讛侄讬讱指 讘旨指讛旨 诪值专值砖讈执讬转 讛址砖讈旨指谞指讛 讜职注址讚 讗址讞植专执讬转 砖讈指谞指讛變

For the land that you are about to enter and possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come. There the grain you sowed had to be watered by your own labors, like a vegetable garden; but the land you are about to cross into and possess, a land of hills and valleys, soaks up its water from the rains of heaven. It is a land which the LORD

聽your God looks after, on which the LORD your God always keeps His eye, from year鈥檚 beginning to year鈥檚 end.

 

Rain does not fall year-round in Israel; rather, there is a 鈥渞ainy season,鈥 from late fall through winter. If there is little or no rain then 鈥 chances are that there will be no meaningful rain until the next fall.聽 This could lead to drought and famine, and could be catastrophic.聽 Thus, we can understand the deep concern about rain and the impetus to ordain a communal fast (as a sign of, and motivator for, repentance) in the agricultural society of Talmudic Israel.[1]

 

 

As the Rambam (Laws on Fast Days, 1:1-4) writes:

诪执爪职讜址转 注植砖讉值讛 诪执谉 讛址转旨讜止专指讛 诇执讝职注止拽 讜旨诇职讛指专执讬注址 讘旨址讞植爪讜止爪职专讜止转 注址诇 讻旨指诇 爪指专指讛 砖讈侄转旨指讘讜止讗 注址诇 讛址爪旨执讘旨讜旨专. 砖讈侄谞旨侄讗直诪址专 (讘诪讚讘专 讬 讟) “注址诇 讛址爪旨址专 讛址爪旨止专值专 讗侄转职讻侄诐 讜址讛植专值注止转侄诐 讘旨址讞植爪止爪职专讜止转”. 讻旨职诇讜止诪址专 讻旨指诇 讚旨指讘指专 砖讈侄讬旨指爪值专 诇指讻侄诐 讻旨职讙讜止谉 讘旨址爪旨止专侄转 讜职讚侄讘侄专 讜职讗址专职讘旨侄讛 讜职讻址讬旨讜止爪值讗 讘旨指讛侄谉 讝址注植拽讜旨 注植诇值讬讛侄谉 讜职讛指专执讬注讜旨:

讜职讚指讘指专 讝侄讛 诪执讚旨址专职讻值讬 讛址转旨职砖讈讜旨讘指讛 讛讜旨讗. 砖讈侄讘旨执讝职诪址谉 砖讈侄转旨指讘讜止讗 爪指专指讛 讜职讬执讝职注植拽讜旨 注指诇侄讬讛指 讜职讬指专执讬注讜旨 讬值讚职注讜旨 讛址讻旨诇 砖讈侄讘旨执讙职诇址诇 诪址注植砖讉值讬讛侄诐 讛指专指注执讬诐 讛讜旨专址注 诇指讛侄谉 讻旨址讻旨指转讜旨讘 (讬专诪讬讛 讛 讻讛) “注植讜止谞讜止转值讬讻侄诐 讛执讟旨讜旨” 讜职讙讜止’. 讜职讝侄讛 讛讜旨讗 砖讈侄讬旨执讙职专止诐 诇指讛侄诐 诇职讛指住执讬专 讛址爪旨指专指讛 诪值注植诇值讬讛侄诐:

讗植讘指诇 讗执诐 诇止讗 讬执讝职注植拽讜旨 讜职诇止讗 讬指专执讬注讜旨 讗侄诇旨指讗 讬止讗诪职专讜旨 讚旨指讘指专 讝侄讛 诪执诪旨执谞职讛址讙 讛指注讜止诇指诐 讗值专址注 诇指谞讜旨 讜职爪指专指讛 讝讜止 谞执拽职专指讛 谞执拽职专值讬转. 讛植专值讬 讝讜止 讚旨侄专侄讱职 讗址讻职讝指专执讬旨讜旨转 讜职讙讜止专侄诪侄转 诇指讛侄诐 诇职讛执讚旨址讘旨值拽 讘旨职诪址注植砖讉值讬讛侄诐 讛指专指注执讬诐. 讜职转讜止住执讬祝 讛址爪旨指专指讛 爪指专讜止转 讗植讞值专讜止转. 讛讜旨讗 砖讈侄讻旨指转讜旨讘 讘旨址转旨讜止专指讛 (讜讬拽专讗 讻讜 讻讝) “讜址讛植诇址讻职转旨侄诐 注执诪旨执讬 讘旨职拽侄专执讬” (讜讬拽专讗 讻讜 讻讞) “讜职讛指诇址讻职转旨执讬 讙旨址诐 讗植谞执讬 注执诪旨指讻侄诐 讘旨址讞植诪址转 拽侄专执讬”. 讻旨职诇讜止诪址专 讻旨职砖讈侄讗指讘执讬讗 注植诇值讬讻侄诐 爪指专指讛 讻旨职讚值讬 砖讈侄转旨指砖讈讜旨讘讜旨 讗执诐 转旨止讗诪职专讜旨 砖讈侄讛执讬讗 拽侄专执讬 讗讜止住执讬祝 诇指讻侄诐 讞植诪址转 讗讜止转讜止 拽侄专执讬:

讜旨诪执讚旨执讘职专值讬 住讜止驻职专执讬诐 诇职讛执转职注址谞旨讜止转 注址诇 讻旨指诇 爪指专指讛 砖讈侄转旨指讘讜止讗 注址诇 讛址爪旨执讘旨讜旨专 注址讚 砖讈侄讬旨职专只讞植诪讜旨 诪执谉 讛址砖旨讈指诪址讬执诐. 讜旨讘执讬诪值讬 讛址转旨址注植谞执讬旨讜止转 讛指讗值诇旨讜旨 讝讜止注植拽执讬谉 讘旨执转职驻执诇旨讜止转 讜旨诪执转职讞址谞旨职谞执讬诐 讜旨诪职专执讬注执讬谉 讘旨址讞植爪讜止爪职专讜止转 讘旨执诇职讘址讚. 讜职讗执诐 讛指讬讜旨 讘旨址诪旨执拽职讚旨指砖讈 诪职专执讬注执讬谉 讘旨址讞植爪讜止爪职专讜止转 讜旨讘职砖讈讜止驻指专. 讛址砖旨讈讜止驻指专 诪职拽址爪旨值专 讜职讛址讞植爪讜止爪职专讜止转 诪址讗植专执讬讻讜止转. 砖讈侄诪旨执爪职讜址转 讛址讬旨讜止诐 讘旨址讞植爪讜止爪职专讜止转. 讜职讗值讬谉 转旨讜止拽职注执讬谉 讘旨址讞植爪讜止爪职专讜止转 讜职砖讈讜止驻指专 讻旨职讗侄讞指讚 讗侄诇旨指讗 讘旨址诪旨执拽职讚旨指砖讈 砖讈侄谞旨侄讗直诪址专 (转讛讬诇讬诐 爪讞 讜) “讘旨址讞植爪止爪职专讜止转 讜职拽讜止诇 砖讈讜止驻指专 讛指专执讬注讜旨 诇执驻职谞值讬 讛址诪旨侄诇侄讱职 讛'”:

It is a positive commandment from the Torah to cry out and to sound trumpets for all troubles that come upon the community; as it is stated (Numbers 10:9), “upon an enemy who attacks you and you sound trumpets.” That is to say, [with] every matter that troubles you 鈥 such as famine, a plague, locusts and that which is similar to them 鈥 cry out about them, and sound the trumpets.

And this thing is from the ways of repentance. For when a trouble comes and they yell out about it and sound [trumpets], everyone will know that it was because of their evil deeds that this bad was done to them. As it is stated (Jeremiah 5:25), “It is your iniquities that have diverted, etc.” And this is what will cause them to remove the trouble from upon them.

But if they do not cry out and sound [trumpets], but rather say, “What has happened to us is the way of the world, and this trouble is merely happenstance” 鈥 it is surely the way of cruelty, and it causes them to stick to their bad deeds. And the trouble will add other troubles. About this is it written in the Torah (Leviticus 26: 27-28), “but walk arbitrarily with Me. Then I will (also) walk arbitrarily with you in fury.” That is to say, “When I will bring upon you troubles 鈥 if you will say that it is arbitrary, I will increase the fury of this arbitrariness.”

And it is (a rabbinic commandment) from the words of the Scribes to fast for each trouble that comes upon the community until they are granted mercy from the Heavens. And on these fast days, we yell out with prayers and supplicate and sound only the trumpets. And if they were in the Temple, they would sound trumpets and the shofar. The shofar blows short and the trumpets blow long, since the commandment of the day is with trumpets. And we only blow with the trumpets and the shofar at the same time in the Temple, as it is stated (Psalms 78:6), “With trumpets and the blast of the horn raise a shout before the Lord, the King.”

 

Since the primary focus of a fast day is as a means of attaining atonement, the Masechet does not deal extensively with the laws of fasting, but rather with the other aspects of the day. As Rav Steinsaltz notes:

The fundamental idea of fast days is based on the assumption that events in the world do not happen by chance and for no reason. Rather, just as there are physical causes for occurrences, there are also spiritual and moral explanations. In general terms, reward is bestowed for good deeds and punishment for evil period human action is scrutinized by Divine Providence, again both on the level of the individual as well as that of the community, or indeed the entire nation. Therefore, any misfortune visited upon a congregation or an individual has a purpose and a meaning. Sometimes it serves as a warning that one鈥檚 actions are corrupt must be amended; on other occasions it is a punishment for sins, as explained at length by that or at in the chapter of rebuke (Leviticus, chapter 26 ). Accordingly, in every time of trouble and distress, one should increase his prayers, repent, and make amends for any wrongs he has committed. He should sanctify himself so that his previous transgressions will be forgiven, and pray and beseech God to avert the evil decree.

 

The concern about rain engendered two Rabbinic commandments:

  • The insertion of prayers for rain in the daily tefilla (诪砖讬讘 讛专讜讞 讜诪讜专讬讚 讛讙砖诐 in the second blessing of the Amida, and a request for rain in the ninth (讜转谉 讟诇 讜诪讟专 诇讘专讻讛) based on the season[2]
  • The declaration of fast days if the rain was delayed

Our short Masechet covers the following topics:

Chapter 1: 诪讗讬诪转讬 (2a 鈥 15a)

  • The two rain references in the daily Amida and when each starts
  • The special series of fast days decreed if rain doesn鈥檛 fall by a certain date. This is an escalating complex cycle, which intensifies as the drought continues
  • The nature and importance of rain; dates for rainfall
  • The relationship between rain and the people鈥檚 spiritual status
  • The berachot recited when there is a drought-breaking rainfall
  • Torah study (since water and rain are common metaphors for Torah)

Chapter 2: 住讚专 转注谞讬讜转 讻讬爪讚 (15a 鈥 18b)

  • The prayer service when a drought-related fast is observed
  • A discussion of Megillat Taanit (the list of minor holidays observed during the Second Temple)[3]

Chapter 3: 住讚专 转注谞讬讜转 讗诇讜 (18b 鈥 26a)

  • Fast days decreed for other disasters (abnormal rainfall, plagues, locusts, sieges, etc鈥)[4] whether occurring to community that is fasting or in solidarity with another community
  • Individual fasts
Yeshaya 58 (read as the Haftara on Yom Kippur) describes the true purpose of the fast:

讛植诇讜止讗 讝侄讛 爪讜止诐 讗侄讘职讞指专值讛讜旨 驻旨址转旨值讞址 讞址专职爪只讘旨讜止转 专侄砖讈址注 讛址转旨值专 讗植讙只讚旨讜止转 诪讜止讟指讛 讜职砖讈址诇旨址讞 专职爪讜旨爪执讬诐 讞讎驻职砖讈执讬诐 讜职讻讎诇志诪讜止讟指讛 转旨职谞址转旨值拽讜旨

No, this is the fast I desire: To unlock fetters of wickedness, And untie the cords of the yoke-To let the oppressed go free; To break off every yoke.

  • Stories about inspirational people and miracles that happened to them.[5]

Chapter 4: 讘砖诇砖讛 驻专拽讬诐 (26a 鈥 31a)

  • The 诪注诪讚讜转 fasts and services. During the Temple era, the entire nation was divided into 24 groups, known as maamadot.聽 These groups represented the nation by attending the public korbanot in the Temple and fasting and praying that the sacrifices be accepted.
  • The national tragedies commemorated on the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av.
  • Laws pertaining to Tisha Be鈥橝v.
  • The most joyous days in the Jewish calendar: Yom Kippur and the 15th of Av.

 

Hoshea 14:6 describes Hashem鈥檚 response if we accede to his request for our repentance (砖讜讘讛 讬砖专讗诇 鈥 14:2)

讗侄讛职讬侄讛 讻址讟旨址诇 诇职讬执砖讉职专指讗值诇 讬执驻职专址讞 讻旨址砖讈旨讜止砖讈址谞旨指讛 讜职讬址讱职 砖讈讎专指砖讈指讬讜 讻旨址诇旨职讘指谞讜止谉

I will be to Israel like dew; He shall blossom like the lily, He shall strike root like a Lebanon tree.

_____________________________________________________________

[1] There are other reasons (impending disasters) for which fasts are decreed, which are also discussed in this Masechet.

[2] The start date for 讜转谉 讟诇 讜诪讟专 诇讘专讻讛 differs in Israel and outside it. In Israel, it begins on the 7th of Cheshvan, while outside, it starts 60 days after the tekufa 鈥 at Arvit of the 4th or 5th of December (if the oncoming year is a solar leap year, it starts on the 5th). We will learn more about this on 10a.

[3] We just learned about this in Rosh Hashana 18b!

[4] See Shlomo鈥檚 extensive list in I Melachim chapter 8.

[5] This chapter is sometimes referred to as 驻专拽讗 讚讞住讬讚讗 (The chapter of the pious ones) because of these anecdotes

Gitta Jaroslawicz-Neufeld

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