Talmud Tips

For the week ending 23 August 2014 / 27 Av 5774

Mo’ed Katan 13 - 19

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

“A person who feels an irresistible urge to transgress should dress all in black and go to place where nobody knows him and do as his heart desires and not desecrate the name of Heaven in public.”

This beraita taught by Rabbi Ila’i seems to be giving permission to transgress if certain instructions are followed. Is he really giving permission to sin?

One explanation of Rashi seems to indicate that the person is being instructed on how to transgress in a manner that will not be a Chillul Hashem. However, others maintain that G-d forbid should Rabbi Ila’i be teaching the correct way to sin. Rather, he is telling the person to do degrading and humbling acts that will certainly cause him to have a change a heart and he will not transgress. (Tosefot in the name of Rabbeinu Chananel; Rashi in the name of Rav Hai Gaon)

  • Mo’ed Katan 17a

“A person is suspected by others only for a reason. He either actually did the entire transgression or at least part of the transgression. And if he didn’t actually do the transgression he thought about doing it. Or else he rejoiced when someone else transgressed in that way.”

Rabbi Shmuel ben Atzrobuli taught this on our daf as a lesson in how to avoid being suspected by others as a transgressor. The gemara adds, however, that even if the person did “none of the above” he might still be suspected if there are people who dislike him who spread false rumors about him.

Regarding him being suspect even if he just “thought about doing it” — although others don’t know what he thinks — G-d does know his thoughts of course, and based on them implants suspicion in the minds of others towards this person. (Maharsha)

  • Mo’ed Katan 18b

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