Talmud Tips

For the week ending 22 February 2014 / 22 Adar I 5774

Succah 20 - 26

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“May I be atonement for Rabbi Chiya and his sons….”

Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said these words as an introduction to a statement he made regarding the Torah greatness of Rabbi Chiya and his sons. From Rashi’s commentary it seems that although literally he was saying that his own suffering should serve as atonement for them, his main intent was to show them honor. Rashi also explains that this expression of honor is one that a person should use when one mentions his father or Rabbi after they pass from this world. This ruling is cited in the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 240:9 and 242:28 as the halacha for the first 12 months.

  • Succah 20a

“People involved in a mitzvah are exempt from the mitzvah of Succah.”

This teaching in the mishna on our daf is explained in the gemara as an example of a well-known rule that “One who is involved in a mitzvah is exempt from a different mitzvah.” Rav Huna derives this rule from the mitzvah of saying the “Shma”. The verse states that “Shma” is a mitzvah to do when “going in your way” – but not while in the middle of going in a way commanded by G-d — i.e. a different mitzvah.

Rashi writes that the mishna is speaking about people who are, for example, travelling to learn Torah, visit their Rabbi or redeem captives — and they are exempt from the mitzvah of Succah even while they are encamped during their travel. Tosefot seems amazed by this exemption, since why can’t they fulfill both mitzvot at the same time? “Is someone with tzitzit on his garment exempt from other mitzvot?” Tosefot clarifies that a person is exempt from another mitzvah only while actively involved in fulfilling the first mitzvah, but not while passively fulfilling it. And that is the case in our mishna about Succah as well.

  • Succah 25a

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