For the week ending 16 August 2014 / 20 Av 5774

Mo'ed Katan 2 - 8

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Watering fields on Chol Hamoed and in Shmitah year
  • Weeding or watering on Shabbat – which category of violation
  • Plowing in regard to kilayim and Shmitah
  • Agricultural labors in Shmitah forbidden by Torah or rabbinic law
  • How much before Shmitah year must such labors cease
  • Different sources of water in regard to irrigating field
  • Digging water channels and clearing debris from them and from public cisterns
  • Marking graves to warn against spiritual contamination
  • The status of fields with lost or plowed graves
  • When investigation of kilayim growth is made and what is done to offenders
  • Watering trees and sprinkling gardens
  • Trapping and killing rodents in orchards or grain fields
  • Closing gaps in walls of fields and courtyards
  • Dealing with the metzora (leper) on Chol Hamoed
  • Whose company is more important to the metzora
  • Requirements for a kohen ruling on status of metzora
  • Conflict between mourning dead and celebrating holiday
  • What may be done in regard to burial and preparations
  • Reasons for ban on marrying on Chol Hamoed

Double Trouble

  • Mo’ed Katan 2b

Can a person be held responsible for two simultaneous violations?

Should one prune a tree on Shabbat in order to make use of its branches, states Rabbi Cahana, he is guilty of two violations. By detaching any growth from its source he has performed one of the 39 categories of creative labor prohibited on Shabbat. In addition, his removing surplus branches will make the tree grow better so he is also guilty of promoting agricultural growth akin to planting.

In regard to Shabbat itself, when the punishment for willful violation is capital punishment, the only application of this "double trouble" is the need to bring two sins offerings as sacrifices if he did this pruning as an involuntary desecration of Shabbat. But if he did this voluntarily on Yom Tov or in the Shmitah year, he will be liable for two sets of lashes.

This seems to run counter to the rule which is often found in the Talmud that one cannot be held responsible for two violations committed simultaneously and only the severer punishment is applied.

Tosefot solves the problem by pointing out that this rule applies only when the punishments are of a different scale, such as a penalty of death and a penalty of lashes. In a case where the penalties are of the same level such as lashes for doing the above-mentioned pruning on a holiday or during the Shmitah year, this rule does not apply because we view the two penalties of lashes as a single unit.

An example of this cited by Tosefot is the ruling by the Sage Abaye (Pesachim 24a) that one can be guilty of four violations — and punished by four sets of lashes — for consuming a particular insect which is forbidden by the Torah under four different categories.

What the Sages Say

"One should not marry on Chol Hamoed because one should focus on the joy of the holiday alone and not mix it with another sort of joy."

  • Rabbi Elazar quoting Rabbi Chanina - in explanation of the Mishneh (Mo’ed Katan 8b)

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