FASTING UNTIL NIGHTFALL
[When one accepts a fast upon himself, it must be completed; if not, his fast is invalidated.]
Rav Chisda rules that one, who eats on a fast day before nightfall is not regarded as fasting.
The Gemora cites a Mishna (15b) which rules that the people of the Mishmar (group of kohanim and levi’im who served in the Beis Hamikdosh for one week at a time) would fast but would not complete the fast. It would seem from the Mishna that this is considered fasting even though it was not completed.
The Gemora explains that this was not a genuine fast, they fasted for part of the day only to afflict themselves.
The Gemora questions Rav Chisda’s ruling from a statement that Rabbi Elozar the son of Rabbi Tzadok said: I was of the sons of Sna’av from the tribe of Binyamin. One time Tisha B’av occurred on Shabbos and it was pushed off to Sunday. We fasted but did not complete the fast because it was our Yom Tov. [Rashi explains that the lottery for bringing the wood offering for that family was on the Tenth of Av during the days of Ezra, and it was a Yom Tov for them forever. It is evident that it is considered a valid fast even though it was not completed.]
The Gemora answers that this was not meant to be a genuine fast; it was only undertaken to afflict them somewhat.
The Gemora relates that Rabbi Yochanan would occasionally declare that he is accepting to fast until he reaches his house. [This again challenges Rav Chisda’s teaching that it is not regarded as a fast unless it is completed.]
The Gemora explains that this was not a genuine fast; he did this in order to avoid eating at the house of the Nasi. (12a)
NIGHT PRECEDING THE FAST
[The Gemora discusses the issue of ‘accepting the fast’ prior to the fast itself.]
Shmuel rules that one must accept to fast prior to commencing the fast in order for it to be regarded as a valid fast.
Rabbah bar Shila said: If one fasts (without accepting it on the previous day), he is compared to a bellows that is filled with air (for he has abstained from eating, but he has not accomplished anything).
There is a dispute in the Gemora if one accepts the fast by Minchah time on the previous day (Rav) or during the Minchah prayer (Shmuel).
Rav Yosef said: The view of Shmuel appears the more reasonable, since it is written in Megillas Taanis (the Scroll of Fasts which recorded the miracles that occurred on certain days): However (although it is a festive day that one may not fast), any man who has been subject to a fast previous to this (i.e., he had accepted upon himself a series of ten or twenty fasts) should prohibit (and fast, for the fats were accepted before the holidays). Does this not refer to an acceptance made (again) during (the Minchah) prayer (on the day before)?
The Gemora answers: No; this only denotes that he is prohibited (to break his series of fasts because of his previous undertaking).
Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Shimon the son of Rebbe differ on this: One reads ‘yeisar’ — he should prohibit himself (through another acceptance), and the other reads: yei’a’ser’ — he is prohibited (from breaking his fast).
The Gemora explains: The one who reads ‘yeisar’ justifies his view in the way we have just stated (that he must accept the fast again through the Minchah prayer), but the one who reads, yeaser, what does this mean?
The Gemora answers: It has been taught in Megillas Taanis: Any man who is subject to a fast previous to this holiday is prohibited. How is this to be understood? If a man undertook to fast on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the year and any of the festive days enumerated in Megillas Taanis happens to fall on those days, then if his vow was made previous to our decree his vow overrides our decree, but if our decree was made before his vow then our decree overrides his vow.
Rebbe maintains that after one accepts to fast on the following day, he is permitted to eat until daybreak. Rabbi Eliezer bar Shimon holds that he may eat until the rooster crows.
Abaye qualifies the previous ruling and maintains that one is permitted to eat throughout the night only if he didn’t complete his meal from the night before; however if the table was removed after the meal, he is forbidden to eat during the night.
An alternative version is cited that Rava qualifies the ruling and states that one is forbidden to eat during the night if he went to sleep even if he wakes up before daybreak; however if he remained awake or was merely dozing, he is permitted to eat during the night. (12a – 12b)
LEATHER SHOES ON A PUBLIC FAST DAY IN BAVEL
Rav Kahana said in the name of Rav that one who accepts a fast upon himself is prohibited from wearing leather shoes since we are concerned that he accepted upon himself the stringencies of a public fast.
The Mishna ruled that on a public fast day of the second or third series, one is forbidden from wearing leather shoes. Shmuel said that only Tisha B’Av in Bavel is the equivalent of a public fast day with all of the stringencies similar to a public fast for rain in Eretz Yisroel. Other public fasts in Bavel did not have these stringencies and one would be permitted to wear leather shoes. Abaye and Rava would wear leather shoes without soles on a public fast day. Mereimar and Mar Zutra would switch the right shoe to the left and the left shoe to the right. These Amoraim agreed with Shmuel that there is no prohibition against wearing leather shoes in Bavel on a public fast day but they accepted upon themselves token stringencies to resemble the public fasts in Eretz Yisroel and that is why they wore their shoes in an unusual manner. (12b)
BORROW ONE’S FAST
Rav Yehuda says in the name of Rav that one is permitted to eat on the day that he accepted to fast and repay his obligation by fasting on a different day.
Shmuel disagrees and holds that since it was only voluntary, if he is unable to fast on the designated day, there is no reason to fast on another day.
The Gemora presents an alternative version regarding Shmuel’s opinion on this issue. Shmuel agreed with Rav and stated that this is obviously the correct halacha. The person made a vow to fast and if he could not fulfill it on the designated day, he must fulfill it on a different day. (12b)
FASTING FOR A DREAM
There is one personal fast that must take place on a specific day – a Tta’anit halomT. A fast that is the result of a disturbing dream must be done immediately after the dream takes place. This rule is so severe that Rav Yosef teaches that someone who is disturbed by their dream must fast even on Shabbos, concluding that he will have to fast a second time as repentance for having “desecrated” the holiness of Shabbos by fasting. (Courtesy of the Aleph Society)
MORE DECREED FASTS
The Mishna continues to discuss the process of conducting public fasts in the situation when there is a drought. If after the first series of public fasts, it did not begin to rain; Beis Din declares another three public fasts. The fasts begin at sunset and they are forbidden to perform work. They are not allowed to wash and anoint themselves. They are prohibited from wearing leather shoes and engaging in marital relations. The bathhouses would be closed as well.
If these fasts passed and it still did not rain, Beis din would declare a series of seven fasts, which would be a total of thirteen decreed fasts. On these seven fasts, there was a stringency that they would cry out and they would close the stores. On Monday, the stores would open towards evening in order for the people to purchase food to eat after the fast. On Thursday, the stores would be opened the entire day in order for people to prepare for Shabbos.
If they wouldn’t be answered with rain after these fasts, the Mishna rules that they should conduct less business. They should not become involved with building, planting, marrying or greeting their friends. They should conduct their lives as if they were condemned by Hashem. The pious people would fast until the end of Nissan. The Mishna concludes that it would be regarded as a curse if rain would descend after Nissan. (12b)
SCHEDULE OF THE FAST
The Gemora explains that the reason the Rabbis established that they are not permitted to work on these fasts is based on a Scriptural verse comparing public fasts to festivals.
Rav Huna explains that since on a public fast, they gather in the morning to pray, the prohibition against working commences then.
Abaye provides the particulars of the schedule of a public fast day. In the morning, they would analyze the business practices of the people in the city. During the first portion of the afternoon, they would read from the Torah and the Haftorah (a portion from Isaiah). The remainder of the day, they would pray to Hashem for mercy. The Gemora cites a scriptural verse proving that the praying and reading from the Torah should be in the latter part of the day and not in the morning. (12b – 13a)
INSIGHTS TO THE DAF
BRIS MILAH ON TISHA B’AV THAT WAS POSTPONED
Rabbi Elazar ben Rabbi Tzadok said: I was of the sons of Sna’av from the tribe of Binyamin. One time Tisha B’av occurred on Shabbos and it was pushed off to Sunday. We fasted but did not complete the fast because it was our Yom Tov. Rashi explains that the lottery for bringing the wood offering for that family was on the Tenth of Av during the days of Ezra, and it was a Yom Tov for them forever. It is evident that it is considered a valid fast even though it was not completed. The Gemora answers that this was not meant to be a genuine fast; it was only undertaken to afflict them somewhat.
The Tur (O”C 559) writes that one year Tisha B’av fell on Shabbos and it was pushed of to Sunday. Rabbeinu Ya’avetz was a Ba’al Bris and he davened Mincha early in the afternoon. He washed and did not complete his fast because it was a Yom Tov for him – and his source was the case of Rav Elazar bar Tzadok.
The Chasam Sofer (O”C 157) writes that the Yom Tov for the bringing of the wood was established before Tisha B’av and therefore takes precedence over Tisha B’av; however a bris milah where the obligation came about after the establishment of Tisha B’av does not take precedence and therefore they would be required to complete the fast.
The Chasam Sofer concludes that the proof is actually from Rabbi Elozar ben Rabbi Tzadok who was a kohen. He was a son-in-law of Sna’av as Tosfos in Eruvin (41) explains. It emerges that Tisha B’av should have taken precedence over his Yom Tov and nevertheless he did not conclude his fast. This was the proof of Rabbeinu Ya’avetz.
NO DISTRESS ON SHABBOS
The Gemara states that a fast is good for a dream, and the fast should occur on the day of the dream, even if that day occurs on Shabbos. If one does fast on Shabbos for a dream, he should fast again on a different day because he afflicted himself on Shabbos. Rashi explains that the reason one can fast for a dream on Shabbos is because it relieves his pain. The Rishonim write that nonetheless, one should fast as atonement for having fasted on Shabbos, because although he had pleasure in fasting on Shabbos to relieve his pain, it is preferable to delight properly in the Shabbos than to fast on Shabbos. This being the case, one should contemplate the beautiful gift of Shabbos that HaShem bestowed upon His Chosen Nation, and one should certainly not intentionally cause himself or others distress on Shabbos. It is specifically for this reason that we recite in Bircas HaMzaon on Shabbos the prayer velo sehei tzarah veyagon vanacha beyom menuchaseinu, may it be Hashem’s will that there be no distress, grief, or lament on this Day of our contentment.
L’zecher Nishmas HaRav Raphael Dov ben HaRav Yosef Yechezkel Marcus O”H