Talmud Tips

For the week ending 17 May 2014 / 17 Iyyar 5774

Rosh Hashana 9 - 15

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“Whoever eats and drinks on the ninth is considered by the Torah as having fasted on both the ninth and the tenth day of the month.”

This teaching by Rabbi Chiya bar Rav from Difti in a beraita on our daf is derived from a verse in Vayikra (23:32) that there is a mitzvah to “afflict” oneself on the day before Yom Kippur. However, as Tosefot explains, this cannot mean fasting, since fasting is prohibited on the day before Yom Kippur. He therefore explains it to teach a special mitzvah to eat on the day before Yom Kippur.

Why is this eating called “you will afflict yourselves” – “v’anitem et nafshoteichem” – if it in fact refers to eating? Human “nature” is such that a fast which follows a day of eating and drinking is extra tough on a person, both physically and psychologically. One who eats (especially a large amount – Rashi) before the fast is therefore considered as intensifying and lengthening the fast as if it were two days long – both on the ninth and on the tenth (Shibolei Haleket in the name of Rabbeinu Yeshaya).

  • Rosh Hashana 9 a-b

“A person who goes out during the days of Nissan and sees trees that are blossoming says: ‘Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has made nothing lacking in His world, and created in it goodly creatures and goodly trees to give Mankind pleasure’.”

This special beracha is taught by Rav Yehuda on our daf and is codified in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 226:7. There are various conditions required in order to recite this beracha, and they aretaught in Shulchan Aruch. For example, if one lives in a place where the fruit trees blossom at a different time of year – such as in the southern hemisphere – it is possible to say the beracha during that other month according to most halachic authorities; although according to Kabbalistic teachings it seems that one should recite this beracha only during the month of Nissan.

  • Rosh Hashana 11a

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