VERDICTS AND THEIR REVOCATION
Whether a decree on an individual can be revoked is a dispute between Tana'im:
If two people fall sick, or stand to be executed, and one is saved;
(R. Meir): He was saved because his prayer was answered; it was answered because he concentrated.
(R. Eliezer): He had not yet had his verdict, the other had.
(R. Yitzchak): Crying out in prayer is beneficial whether before or after the verdict.
Question: Can a verdict on a community really be torn up? We see otherwise:
One Pasuk instructs atonement, the other says that it won't help;
Surely the reconciliation is that one is referring to before a verdict, the other to after?
Answer: Both refer to after a verdict;
In one, the verdict was accompanied by an oath, so it cannot be torn up.
(R. Shmuel bar Ami citing R. Yonasan): Proof of this is the Pasuk of an oath that Eli's household shall never receive atonement with Korbanos.
(Rava): However, they can receive atonement through Torah.
(Abayey): They can receive atonement through Torah and acts of kindness.
Rava was descended from Eli's household; he studied Torah and lived 40 years.
Abayey was descended from Eli's household; he studied Torah, practiced kindness and lived 60 years.
There was a family in Jerusalem whose members died at 18.
R. Yochanan ben Zakai suggested that they were Eli's descendants, and told them to study Torah.
They did so and survived; they were afterwards called "R. Yochanan's family."
Question (R. Shmuel bar Inya citing Rav): How do we know that a verdict on a community is not sealed?
Question: We see in a Pasuk that it is sealed!?
Answer: Rather, how do we know that even after being sealed, it can be torn up?
Answer: As the Pasuk states that Hash-m is available whenever we call Him.
Question: Another Pasuk states that He is only available at certain times?
Answer: That refers to an individual.
Question: When is He available to an individual?
Answer (Rabah bar Avuha): During the ten days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kipur;
Question: Why was there a ten-day delay before Hash-m struck Naval?
Answer (R. Yehudah citing Rav): Matching the ten meals that he gave to David's servants.
Alternate answer (R. Nachman citing Raba bar Avuha): These were the ten days until Yom Kipur which Hash-m allowed for his repentance.
THE JUDGMENT OF MAN
Question: The Mishnah stated that all the world pass before Hash-m like Bnei Maron - what are they?
Alternate answer (Resh Lakish): The single-file ascent of Beis Maron.
Alternate answer (R. Yehudah citing Shmuel): The soldiers of the house of David.
(Rabah bar bar Chana citing R. Yochanan): They are all scanned with a single glance.
(R. Nachman bar Yitzchak): This is also seen from the Pasuk speaking of "The One who formed all their hearts together";
It can't mean that He made them all united, as we see otherwise;
It must mean that the One Who formed them sees all their hearts at once.
MISHNAH: THE MESSENGERS OF ROSH CHODESH
For six of the months Beis Din send out messengers to inform people of the date of Rosh Chodesh:
For Nisan, because of Pesach;
For Av, because of Tishah b'Av;
For Elul, because of Rosh Hashanah;
For Tishrei, because of the festivals;
For Kislev, because of Chanukah;
For Adar, because of Purim.
When the Beis ha'Mikdash was standing, they would also be sent out for Iyar, because of Pesach Sheni.
WHY THERE WERE NO MESSENGERS FOR OTHER MONTHS
Question: Why not send out messengers for Tamuz and Teves also (because of their fasts):
(R. Chana bar Bizna citing R. Shimon Chasida): We derive from a Pasuk that on the four fasts, in times of peace (i.e. a Beis ha'Mikdash and the Jews are not oppressed) it is forbidden to fast on them; otherwise, they are fasts.
Answer (R. Papa): The correct inference from Pasuk is as follows:
In times of peace, it is forbidden to fast on these days;
If there are decrees against the Jews, these days are fast;
If there are no decrees but there is not peace either, fasting is optional.
Hence, since the fasts are optional, messengers are not sent for Rosh Chodesh.
Question: If so, then messengers should not be sent out for Av because of Tishah b'Av either?
Answer (R. Papa): Tishah b'Av is different because of its multiple tragedies:
On Tishah b'Av, the first and second Batei Mikdash were destroyed, Betar was captured, and Jerusalem was razed to the ground.
THE FOUR FASTS OF SORROW
(R. Shimon): There are four Drashos of R. Akiva with which I differ, and this is one:
"The fast of the fourth" is the ninth of Tamuz, when Jerusalem was split.
It is so called because it is in the fourth month.
"The fast of the fifth" is Tishah b'Av, when the Beis ha'Mikdash was burnt.
It is so called because it is in the fifth month.
"The fast of the seventh" is the third of Tishrei, when Gedalyah ben Achikam was killed by Yishmael ben Netanyah.
This teaches us that the death of the righteous is as significant as the burning of the Beis ha'Mikdash.
It is so called because it is in the seventh month.
"The fast of the tenth" is the tenth of Teves, when the King of Bavel laid siege to Jerusalem.
It is so called because it is in the tenth month.
Question: Since this was the chronologically first event, why is it not listed first?
Answer: As it is more important to list the months in the correct order.
(R. Shimon): I disagree; "The fast of the tenth" is the fifth of Teves, when news of the attack on Jerusalem reached the Diaspora.
My explanation is better in that the fasts are listed in the chronological order of the events that they mark.
R. Akiva considers only the order of months.
I also consider the order of events.
(Rav & R. Chanina): Megilas Taanis (the festive days when one may not fast) is annulled.
These days are like those in the Pasuk which are only forbidden for fasting in times of a Beis ha'Mikdash, otherwise they are fasts.
(R. Yochanan & R. Yehoshua ben Levi): Megilas Taanis is not annulled.
It is only those in the Pasuk with which the festivity is contingent on a Beis ha'Mikdash.
Question (R. Kahana): We see that festive days are still forbidden for fasts (in contradiction to Rav and R. Chanina):
A fast was decreed in Lod on Chanukah.
R. Eliezer bathed himself and R. Yehoshua took a haircut.
They rebuked others for fasting on Chanukah.
Answer (R. Yosef): Chanukah is different because it is a mitzvah.
Question (Abayey): But if festive days are annulled, it would no longer be a mitzvah!?
Answer (R. Yosef): Rather, Chanukah is different because it has become popularized and universally adopted.
Question (R. Acha bar Huna): We see that Megilas Taanis was not annulled:
Yavan decreed that the Jews may not mention the Name of Hash-m.
When the Chashmona'im were victorious, they decreed that people should even write the Name of Hash-m in their legal documents.
People would write, "In year such-and-such to Yochanan, Kohen Gadol to Hash-m."
The Chachamim were concerned that after people had paid their debts, they would throw the documents away.
On the third of Tishrei, they revoked the decree to write Hash-m's Name in documents, and made that day a festival.
If Megilas Taanis was annulled, how could they make a new such festive day?
Answer: This day was only made into a festival for when the Beis ha'Mikdash is standing.