Sunday, August 03, 2008

Fasting on the 17th of Tammuz, pt iv

Now that we have covered Rashi and Rabbenu Chananel, and debunked a harmonization of the two that would have Rashi define Shalom as the built Temple, in accordance with Rabbenu Chananel, we turn in this segment to Ran.

In terms of definition of "shalom," we see that Ran gives the same definition of Rashi:

ומקשי' בגמ' וליפקו נמי אתמוז ואטבת דאמר רב חנא בר ביזנא אר"ש חסידא מאי דכתיב צום הרביעי וצום החמישי וצום השביעי וצום העשירי יהיה לבית יהודה לששון ולשמחה קרי להו צום וקרי להו ששון ושמחה אלא לאו הכי קאמר בזמן שיש להם שלום יהיה לששון ולשמחה אין שלום צום אמר רב פפא הכי קאמר בזמן שיש שלום יהיו לששון ולשמחה כלומר שאין העובדי כוכבים תקיפה על ישראל יהיו לששון ולשמחה כלומר שאסורים בהספד ובתענית יש גזירה יש צום אין גזירה ואין שלום רצו מתענין רצו אין מתענין. פירוש וכיון דרשות הוא לא מטרחינן שלוחין עלייהו ומקשי' אי הכי ט"ב נמי אמר רב פפא שאני ט"ב הואיל והוכפלו בו צרות דאמר מר ט"ב חרב הבית בראשונה ובשניה ונלכדה ביתר ונחרשה העיר

What would Ran say we should do nowadays? Well, as established by Rashi, since this is a time of "shalom," namely that there is Jewish sovereignty in Israel, or if we want to be explicit --
שאין העובדי כוכבים תקיפה על ישראל -- it should be prohibited to fast or eulogize on the 17th of Tammuz, for the day is a holiday.

But say we wish to say that it is not a holiday nowadays. That is, let us pretend that the Divrei Yatziv was correct in harmonizing Rashi with Rabbenu Chananel. Or, let us say that we rule in accordance with Rabbenu Chananel and Ramban in their definition of Shalom. (Though in a subsequent segment, I wish to explore whether they really differ, or whether in truth they agree with Rashi / Ran.)

If so, the situation is one of no shalom + no shmad. According to a surface reading of the gemara, this would mean that fasting is optional nowadays. What does Ran have to say?

Though he says basically the same thing in his commentary on the Rif, I will cite here from Chiddushei haRan, because I can link to it, and because he links Rambam together with Ramban at the end.

He writes:
"If they want they fast, and if they want, they do not fast." To explain: Even if they are accustomed to fast, we do not say that we are making it for them into an obligation {chovah}. Rather, it depends upon what they want.

For behold, from the fact that we ask {in the gemara} "and let them {the agents of bet din} go out also for Tammuz and Tevet," it implies that they were accustomed to fast on them, and even so, we conclude that if they want, they do not fast.

And it cannot be said {in response} that since initially it depended upon what they wanted, even though now {=in the time of the Mishna / gemara, where as Ran said, they were accustomed to fast} they accepted it as an obligation, they were not so stringent about it so as to send forth agents upon it. For if it were so that it was an obligation {in the time of the Mishna / gemara}, why not? Rather, it is certainly as we have said.

And according to this, nowadays, these fasts, with the exception of Tisha beAv, it depends upon what they want."
He continues on to explain how the Ramban disagrees, but let us pause here and comment a bit.

One annoying thing about Maariv is the way that the gemara makes clear that it is a reshut, but later on, everyone has found fit to make it a chovah, either because after a person treats it enough times as a chovah, it becomes so, or because people in general have decided to treat it as a chovah.

I have strong reservations about this idea in both theory and practice, and specifically in terms of the fast day, but here is not the place to digress. (Perhaps in a later post.) Furthermore, it would seem that this is not introducing it as a chovah going against the conclusion in the gemara, but reading this dual status into the gemara itself, as we will see in the next segment.

But before progressing -- what Ran is saying here is powerful. He is saying here that the gemara is defining this as reshut with the fact that it is widely accepted to fast in mind. And despite this wide acceptance -- enough for them to think that one should send out for the 17th of Tammuz. And yet, they still will consider it a reshut, as they defined it. And the same should be true nowadays, for nothing has changed.

He does not explain explicitly the nature of this reshus -- is it on the individual level, the communal level, or the level of all of klal Yisrael? However, he does go on to cite the Ramban at length, and I think it is possible to derive that he holds it would be on the individual level, saying "therefore, it is forbidden for an individal to be poretz their geder." But we shall have to wait a bit to encounter that, and analyze that.

For now, though, it would truly seem that according to Ran, nowadays it should be forbidden to fast, for the day has the status of moed. And if you force us to say that it is the middle state, then it would seem to have the status of reshut, even nowadays.

In the next segment, we begin to analyze Ramban.

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