Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fasting on the 17th of Tammuz, pt vii

In this segment, we turn to the Rambam, in his peirush haMishnayos on Rosh Hashanah.

He writes:

"And during the Second Temple, the only one who fasted on the 10th of Tevet or the 17th of Tammuz as he who wanted to fast, but whoever did not want to fast would not fast. And because of this, they {the messengers} did not go out for Tevet or Tammuz.

Hashem, Yitbarach, said in Zechariah 8:
יט כֹּה-אָמַר ה צְבָאוֹת, צוֹם הָרְבִיעִי וְצוֹם הַחֲמִישִׁי וְצוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וְצוֹם הָעֲשִׂירִי יִהְיֶה לְבֵית-יְהוּדָה לְשָׂשׂוֹן וּלְשִׂמְחָה, וּלְמֹעֲדִים, טוֹבִים; וְהָאֱמֶת וְהַשָּׁלוֹם, אֱהָבוּ. {פ} 19 'Thus saith the LORD of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful seasons; therefore love ye truth and peace. {P}
It appears like that He gave in their hands the choice. If they want, they fast; if they want, they do not fast.

And the "fast of the fourth" is the 17th of Tammuz, for Tammuz is the fourth month. And the "fast of the fifth" is the 9th of Av, which falls out on the fifth month. And the "fast of the seventh" is the fast of Gedaliah. And the "fast of the tenth" is the tenth of Tevet, for it is in the tenth month.

And even though the permission was in their hands not to fast on the 9th month, as we mentioned, they fasted on it, because of the run of many types of mournful things that happened on it, as is explained in Taanit."

This ends the quote of the Rambam from perush haMishnayot.

We also have the Rambam in Mishneh Torah, the 5th perek of הלכות תענייות:

א יש שם ימים שכל ישראל מתענים בהם, מפני הצרות שאירעו בהן, כדי לעורר הלבבות, ולפתוח דרכי התשובה; ויהיה זה זיכרון למעשינו הרעים, ומעשה אבותינו שהיה כמעשינו עתה--עד שגרם להם ולנו אותן הצרות: שבזכרון דברים אלו, נשוב להיטיב, שנאמר "והתוודו את עוונם ואת עוון אבותם" (ויקרא כו,מ).

ב ואלו הן: יום שלושה בתשרי--שבו נהרג גדליה בן אחיקם, ונכבת גחלת ישראל הנשארה, וסיבב להתם גלותן; ועשירי בטבת--שבו סמך מלך בבל נבוכדנאצר הרשע על ירושלים, והביאה במצור ובמצוק; ושבעה עשר בתמוז, חמישה דברים אירעו בו--נשתברו הלוחות, ובטל התמיד מבית ראשון, והובקעה ירושלים בחורבן שני, ושרף אפוסטמוס הרשע ספר תורה, והעמיד צלם בהיכל.

ג ותשעה באב, חמישה דברים אירעו בו--נגזר על ישראל במדבר שלא ייכנסו לארץ; וחרב הבית בראשונה, ובשנייה; ונלכדה עיר גדולה ובית תור היה שמה והיו בה אלפים ורבבות מישראל, והיה להם מלך גדול ודימו כל ישראל וגדולי החכמים שהוא המלך המשיח, ונפל ביד גויים ונהרגו כולם, והייתה צרה גדולה כמו חורבן המקדש; ובו ביום המוכן לפורענות, חרש טורנוסרופוס הרשע ממלכי אדום את ההיכל ואת סביביו, לקיים "ציון שדה תיחרש" (ירמיהו כו,יח; מיכה ג,יב).

ד וארבעת ימי הצומות האלו--הרי הן מפורשין בקבלה, "צום הרביעי וצום החמישי וצום השביעי וצום העשירי" (זכריה ח,יט): צום הרביעי--זה שבעה עשר בתמוז, שהוא בחודש הרביעי; וצום החמישי--זה תשעה באב, שהוא בחודש החמישי; וצום השביעי--זה שלושה בתשרי, שהוא בחודש השביעי; וצום העשירי--זה עשרה בטבת, שהוא בחודש העשירי

ה ונהגו כל ישראל בזמנים אלו, להתענות בשלושה עשר באדר, זכר לתענית שנתענו בימי המן, שנאמר "דברי הצומות, וזעקתם" (אסתר ט,לא.


יט כל הצומות האלו, עתידים ליבטל לימות המשיח; ולא עוד, אלא שהם עתידים להיות ימים טובים וימי ששון ושמחה, שנאמר "כה אמר ה' צבאות, צום הרביעי וצום החמישי וצום השביעי וצום העשירי יהיה לבית יהודה לששון ולשמחה, ולמועדים, טובים; והאמת והשלום, אהבו" (זכריה ח,יט

But there is an extremely important girsological variant in the fifth paragraph to have a period after the word להתענות and a vav in ובשלושה עשר באדר, the importance of which we will describe later, but basically is whether the "minhag Yisrael" is said about the four fasts, or rather about Taanis Esther, which is a fast not mentioned in the gemara and is indeed a fast whose entire basis is that of minhag Yisrael. We will eventually come to discuss this. The text we use above is from Mechon Mamre, and in determining their text, they use the majority of Yemenite manuscripts.

We will examine supercommentaries later, but for now let us try to hammer out a peshat out for ourselves. As a result, this is my own speculative peshat. We will starting with the perush haMishnayos and carry it over to the Mishneh Torah, if we can:

1) One immediately noticeable point was that all of the optionality of רצו מתענין רצו אין מתענין was in play during Second Temple times. In this commentary on the Mishna, he does not mention whether it was also in play after the Temple was destroyed, but the implication, which will be borne out, is that it was not in play.

This also means that Rambam could presumably does not define shalom as the Temple being built, for the gemara talks about no shalom + no shmad as being this example of reshut. This is then another Rishon against this explanation of shalom as the Beis HaMikdash, even though that would not necessarily mean that Rambam would hold we should not fast today. (Indeed, it is likely that he holds that we should.)

Where does Rambam get the idea that the fast vs. feast vs. option is based on the built or ruined state of the Temple, if that is not how he renders "shalom"? It would seem to come from a statement later on in the same daf of gemara, in a dispute as to whether Megillat Taanit was nullified:

רבי יוחנן ורבי יהושע בן לוי אמרי לא בטלה מגילת תענית הני הוא דתלינהו רחמנא בבנין בהמ"ק אבל הנך כדקיימי קיימי

Thus, the All-Merciful tied their status as moed to the state of the Beis Hamikdash. However, as Rashi elaborated (as we discussed earlier), this means that it was established as a fast day at the destruction of the first Temple, and established as a moed at the building of the second Temple. And after the destruction, it is not necessarily a moed, but can depend on various states of shalom, gezeira, etc. But those in Megillat Taanit were not initially tied in to the state of the Beit HaMikdash, and so at its destruction we would not be compelled to say they are moed such that fasting would be forbidden on these days.

But this is apparently not how Rambam is taking it. Rather, it would appear that he holds that any permission to eat and not fast -- and thus treat it as a moed -- is based on the state of the Beis HaMikdash. Thus, during the time the Second Temple stood, one could eat. And afterwards, one cannot. We will see this in the Mishneh Torah later, when we get to it.

2) In terms of רצו מתענין רצו אין מתענין, does he think this means the entire global Jewish community, or its majority? Or does he think it refers to the individual? That is, does he subscribe to Ran's parsing, or Ramban's? Well, he writes מי שהיה רוצה מתענה and ומי שלא היה רוצה לא היה מתענה. Thus, it is safe to assume he subscribes to Ran's parsing (which is the correct one). Parsing is not the same as assuming different eras, though, as we shall see.

3) In terms of whether Tisha BeAv is also a reshut, when he stated

"And even though the permission was in their hands not to fast on the 9th month, as we mentioned, they fasted on it, because of the run of many types of mournful things that happened on it, as is explained in Taanit."

Rambam made clear that it is indeed a reshut, and the fact that there were many mournful things affected their decision whether or not to fast, rather than the basic status of reshut vs. chovah.

4) However, there are some major difficulties reading this peirush haRambam into the Mishnah and into the gemara. This is important because if the Rambam is against the gemara -- if he misread the gemara, or if his reading is extremely awkward -- we should rule in accordance with the gemara and against the Rambam (and in line with mefarshim such as Ran and Rashi).

Firstly, he assumes that רצו מתענין רצו אין מתענין is the state throughout the entire Second Temple period. Looking at the gemara, this means that the second Temple period was then no shalom + no gezeirah.

But Rav Pappa sets up a situation where there are three states. What is the case of shalom? And what is the case of no shalom + yes gezeirah?

One could posit that Rambam thinks all three states occurred in Second Temple times. But it is not very convincing. By writing what he wrote, and only what he wrote, that the navi was in effect establishing it as a reshut, rather than claiming he was establishing it as a moed, Rambam is pretty clearly saying that specifically there, during Bayit Sheni, the status was one of reshut.

Instead, by examining what he writes here and comparing with what he writes in Mishneh Torah, I believe the answer is that Rambam defines the three states as follows:

I - shalom -- this is during Messianic times, when it is established once and for all as only a moed. See Mishneh Torah, seif 19, for where Rambam effectively says this. Thus, in stating this, Zechariah was making a prediction for future messianic times.

II - no shalom, but also no gezeira -- this is the Second Temple times. During this time, it was a reshut. See his peirush haMishnayot for this idea.

III - no shalom, and yes gezeira -- this is from the destruction of the Second Temple until the present day, and will be the continuing state until messianic times. This is why Rambam not not mention post-Churban in the peirush haMishnayos about reshus, and why he does not mention the concept of reshus at all in the Mishneh Torah.

It is slightly awkward in how he decides to define post-churban an no shalom + yes gezeira, but in terms of reading Rambam into the gemara, I believe this is the correct approach. (We will see Maggid Mishnah later.)

5) However, this would mean that Rambam is claiming that there was no reshut during post-Churban for such fasts as the 17th of Tammuz. Rather, it is a case of chovah. There are some difficulties with this peshat.

The first difficulty which comes to mind is the gemara in Taanis 11b that אין תענית ציבור בבבל אלא תשעה באב בלבד. We can say, as per Tosafot, that this is because they had lots of rain and no reason to fast for rain. But why is the 17th of Tammuz not a public, required fast day, just like Tisha BeAv. One could presumably come up with a valid reinterpretation of this gemara.

The second difficulty is Rashi's diyuk into the Mishna. The Mishna stated:

דף יח, א משנה על ששה חדשים השלוחין יוצאין על ניסן מפני הפסח על אב מפני התענית על אלול מפני ר"ה על תשרי מפני תקנת המועדות על כסליו מפני חנוכה ועל אדר מפני הפורים וכשהיה בהמ"ק קיים יוצאין אף על אייר מפני פסח קטן

and Rashi takes note of the words וכשהיה בהמ"ק קיים יוצאין אף על אייר מפני פסח קטן. This shows that the Mishna was written after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. And so everything in the first part of the Mishna was sent out post-destruction. But post-destruction, when Rambam holds it is a chovah to fast, why shouldn't they send out messengers for the 17th of Tammuz?

And to echo the Ran, it does not make sense to say that even when fasting was a chovah, they did not send out messengers, merely because initially, during Bayis Sheini, it was a reshus.

Perhaps we can suggest that the way the Mishnah is structured it that the first portion gives a list of the intersection of Binyan Bayis and Churban, and thus only lists things which were both during the Bayis as well as after. And the purpose of the last portion is to add something which was only during the Binyan Bayis. Still, it does seem quite awkward to omit these.

The third difficulty is Rav Pappa's statement why they opted to fast on Tisha BeAv despite its status as reshut:

אמר רב פפא שאני ט' באב הואיל והוכפלו בו צרות
דאמר מר בט' באב חרב הבית בראשונה ובשניה ונלכדה ביתר ונחרשה העיר

The thing is that Rav Pappa says והוכפלו בו צרות. Most literally, this would mean "doubled." And indeed, Tosafot (on the daf) appears to make that diyuk -- that it is not only the four events, but also that the identical tzarah happened twice. And that would be the destruction of the second Temple.

But another issue is that of the items helpfully listed by the gemara, two of the four happened at the destruction of the second Temple. That is:

חרב הבית בראשונה ובשניה -- one is the destruction of the first Temple and the other is the destruction of the second
ונלכדה ביתר -- this was second Temple
ונחרשה העיר -- the razing of the walls of Jerusalem happened in the first Temple.

That is how many explain it. But Rambam himself in Mishneh Torah explains this as referring to the destruction of the second Temple:
ובו ביום המוכן לפורענות, חרש טורנוסרופוס הרשע ממלכי אדום את ההיכל ואת סביביו, לקיים "ציון שדה תיחרש" א

And an additional one, mentioned in Taanit but somehow not here (and Rambam knows about, as he makes reference to Taanis in this regard):

נגזר על אבותינו שלא יכנסו לארץ -- which was in the midbar at the sin of the spies, well before the first Temple stood.

But for Rambam, this has to be a reason that people during second Temple times, before its destruction, decided universally to fast. This is answerable extremely awkwardly, in that one can just focus on the two of the five -- the destruction of the Temple and the decree in the midbar that they would not enter the last. Still, it is awkward within the flow of the gemara, and would read better if all the events listed caused them to decide to fast. But that could only be true if the reshus existed post-churban.

Perhaps this is why Rambam in peirush haMishnayos diverges from the language of the statement of Rav Pappa and from the reasons listed in the gemara. Ramban states מפני תכיפת מיני האבל שאירעו בו כמו שיתבאר בתענית. Why does Rambam write מפני תכיפת מיני האבל שאירעו בו rather than Rav Pappa's language of הואיל והוכפלו בו צרות?

Also, while Rambam says תכיפת מיני האבל, perhaps we should substitute a ק to make it תקיפת מיני האבל, which is a point Tosafot makes about the severity of the events that occurred.

I would conclude that Rambam's peshat is sustainable, but is on quite shaky ground. I would prefer Rashi and Ran's peshat -- and even Ramban's peshat! -- over this.

6) However, the peshat I gave in Rambam above is not at all how Maggid Mishnah, Don Vidal of Tolosa, explains it. Rather, he either equates Rambam with Ramban, or else reads it as a post-Talmudic acceptance of the reshus as a chovah, mitaam minhag.

Maggid Mishnah writes what is pictured to the right. One of the most important points here is the text he quotes. Specifically, he leads off with ונהגו כל ישראל וכו, on the topic of the four fasts. But in the text above, we do not have such a text. Furthermore, see the word at the bottom of the image, ובשלשה, and know that this is giving you the preface of his commentary on the next page, where it is the beginning of the dibbur hamatchil which reads ובשלשה עשר וכו, and is going on Taanis Esther. This is the girsological issue I mentioned briefly earlier.

Our text, taken from Mechon Mamre, where they go by the majority of Yemenite manuscripts, reads:

ד וארבעת ימי הצומות האלו--הרי הן מפורשין בקבלה, "צום הרביעי וצום החמישי וצום השביעי וצום העשירי" (זכריה ח,יט): צום הרביעי--זה שבעה עשר בתמוז, שהוא בחודש הרביעי; וצום החמישי--זה תשעה באב, שהוא בחודש החמישי; וצום השביעי--זה שלושה בתשרי, שהוא בחודש השביעי; וצום העשירי--זה עשרה בטבת, שהוא בחודש העשירי

ה ונהגו כל ישראל בזמנים אלו, להתענות בשלושה עשר באדר, זכר לתענית שנתענו בימי המן, שנאמר "דברי הצומות, וזעקתם" (אסתר ט,לא.

As we have it, the words ונהגו כל ישראל בזמנים אלו להתענות have absolutely nothing to do with the four fast. Zemanim Eilu do not mean "these times" of the year. Rather, it is the equivalent of bizman hazeh, in our days. The point is that the gemara makes absolutely no mention of Taanis Esther, but in our days people have adopted this Taanis.

In contrast, Maggid Mishnah has an extra vav on בשלשה, such that he has ובשלשה. His text thus reads:

ונהגו כל ישראל בזמנים אלו להתענות ובשלושה עשר באדר

Thus, this would appear to mean "and all of Israel is accustomed to fast during these times {=the four fasts} as well as on the 13th of Adar."

A slightly more awkward alternative would be "and all of Israel is accustomed to fast nowadays {during these fasts}, as well as on the 13th of Adar."

In terms of the meaning of the term בזמנים אלו, Rambam uses it two other times in Mishnah Torah, and I believe in both cases it means bizman hazeh. See here and here. If so, we would be forced into the more awkward alternative.

However, once we remove the extra vav, in accordance with the majority of Yemenite manuscripts, it becomes clear that the topic was never the four fasts.

Having processed the dibbur hamatchil, we can now turn to the content of the commentary. It would seem that besides being misled by an inaccurate manuscript, Maggid Mishnah did not have before him the Rambam's peirush haMishnayos. He perhaps explains it as parallel to Ramban's commentary in Toras HaAdam (but perhaps not).

To translate: "And all of Israel is accustomed, etc.": Rabbenu {Rambam} hangs our matter on custom {minhag}, in accordance with what is explained in the gemara there {in Rosh HaShanah 18b}, that in the time that there is peace, which is when the Temple is built, it will be for joy and happiness. Where there is no peace and there is no known decree on all of Israel, if they want they fast and if they want they do not fast. Except for the fast of Tisha BeAv, since the tzaros were doubled. And now, all have the custom to fast, just as Rabbenu has written, and so behold it is an obligation {chovah} upon all of Israel until the building of the Temple."

Thus, Maggid Mishnah states that this is in accordance with what is written in the gemara. There are two ways of reading him.

First, he could be saying that this is in accordance with the gemara, in that based on the rules there, it is entirely reshus. But nowadays, people accepted it as minhag, and that transforms it into chovah. This is the same way that Maariv was defined as a reshus by the gemara in its conclusion, yet widespread acceptance and practice has transformed it into a chovah.

Second, he could be saying that this is in accordance with the gemara, in that nowadays it is based on רצו, and if we take רצו as Ramban did, then the universal custom establishes a רצו מתענין such that it is a chovah.

If the former, then he is only off on two counts -- he states that Ramban would treat the time of the Bayis Sheni as shalom, when we see in perush haMishnayos that he did not; and secondly, that Rambam does not actually ascribe the four fasts to minhag -- that is a faulty girsa. (Indeed, our peshat was that Rambam held it was chovah after the mikdash because it was no shalom + yes gezeira.)

If the latter, then he would be off on more counts. For Ramban would hold that רצו מתענין is a function of the consensus of the global majority, and that is where minhag would tie in, while Rambam explicitly defines the רצו as the act of an individual; and Rambam also only defines the period in which it is subject to this optionality as during Second Temple times.

We will assume that he meant the former peshat in the Rambam, patterned after Maariv. I believe that one can ask about the applicability of this to this particular case of fasts -- and perhaps I will elaborate in a subsequent post. But it does not really matter, because as we have seen, that is not what Rambam really said.

Although perhaps we could construct an explanation of the Rambam in line with what Maggid Mishnah says. Thus, Rambam says in his perush haMishnayot that the individual reshut was during the second Temple, but perhaps we could claim (more than somewhat awkwardly, IMHO) that he meant the second Temple and onwards. And furthermore, when speaking about Tisha BeAv and the multiple events that occurred there, such that they universally decided to fast, we could even suggest that he was talking about after the churban haBayit (even though he never mentioned it). This would then resolve many of the difficulties presented above. This status of reshut would then continue indefinitely, and is no longer in force purely because of minhag which overrode the status of reshut, even though Rambam never mentioned that. And since it is patterned after Maariv, as an entirely post-Talmudic restriction, we do not need to say Ramban's peshat in ratzu, which we saw was extremely difficult to say, and furthermore goes against Rambam's definition of reshut as on an indvidual level. We would have to say this bizman hazeh even though Rambam does not explicitly say it is because of minhag (because that is not the correct girsa in the Rambam), and even though we could potentially ask Ran's question. This is possible to construct, but I am not convinced that it accurately portrays Rambam's position.

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