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Steinsaltz

One is asleep but not fully asleep, awake but not fully awake. This means that if they call him he will answer, but he cannot give a coherent reason. And when we remind him of something that just happened he remembers it.

Rav Kahana said that Rav said: An individual who took a fast upon himself is prohibited to engage in the wearing of shoes on the day of his fast. The reason is that we are concerned that perhaps he took a communal fast upon himself, and wearing shoes is prohibited on communal fast days. The Gemara asks: How should one act, to avoid this problem? Rabba bar Rav Sheila said: Let him recite this formula: Tomorrow I shall be before You in the observance of an individual fast.

The Gemara relates: The Sages said to Rav Sheshet, who was blind: We see Sages who wear their shoes and go to the study house on a communal fast day. This shows that there is no need to be concerned about this prohibition. Rav Sheshet became angry and said to them: Perhaps they even ate, if you saw them treating the fast lightly.

The Gemara further relates: Abaye and Rava would enter the synagogue while wearing sandals on the leather [apanta] of their shoes, i.e., they would wear their shoes upside down. Mareimar and Mar Zutra would switch the right shoe for the left and the left for the right. By contrast, the Sages of the school of Rav Ashi would go out wearing shoes in their usual manner. They hold in accordance with that which Shmuel said: The only completely stringent communal fast in Babylonia is the Ninth of Av alone. Therefore, in Babylonia there is no need to be concerned that one might have taken a communal fast upon himself.

The Gemara discusses another topic related to fasts. Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: A person may borrow his fast and repay, i.e., if one is unable to fast on the specific day he intended to fast, he may annul his fast for that day and fast on another day instead. Rav Yehuda related: When I said this halakha before Shmuel, he said to me: And did he take a vow upon himself, which would mean that it is not possible for him not to repay it? He took upon himself to cause himself discomfort on that day. If he is able, he must cause himself discomfort; if he is unable, he does not need to cause himself discomfort, in which case he need not repay the fast.

Some say a different version of this discussion. Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: One may borrow his fast and repay. When I said this halakha before Shmuel, he said to me: This is obvious. Let it be considered only a vow; even so, is he not required to repay a vow on the next day or on another day? Since a commitment to fast is a type of vow, he is obligated to repay it at some point in time.

The Gemara relates: Rav Yehoshua, son of Rav Idi, happened to visit the house of Rav Asi. They prepared a third-born calf, whose meat is high quality, for him. They said to him: Let the Master taste something. He said to them: I am sitting in the observance of a fast and may not eat. They said to him: And let the Master borrow and repay the fast. Doesn’t the Master hold in accordance with this halakha that Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: A person may borrow his fast and repay? Rav Yehoshua, son of Rav Idi, said to them: It is a fast for a dream. He was fasting to rectify the negative effects of a bad dream he had experienced the night before.

The Gemara explains the relevance of this last comment. And Rabba bar Meḥasseya said that Rav Ḥama bar Gurya said that Rav said: A fast is effective to neutralize a bad dream like fire is effective for burning chaff. Rav Ḥisda said: The fast is effective specifically on that day that one dreamed. And Rav Yosef said: And one suffering from a bad dream is permitted to fast even on Shabbat. The Gemara asks: What is the remedy for one who has denigrated Shabbat by fasting? Let him sit in observance of another fast, on another day, to atone for his fast on Shabbat.

MISHNA: If these three regular fasts have passed and they have not been answered with rain, the court decrees three other fasts upon the community. These are severe fasts, in which one may eat and drink only while it is still day, before the beginning of the night of the fast, and on the day of the fast itself they are prohibited to engage in the performance of work, in bathing, in smearing with oil, in wearing shoes, and in marital relations; and they lock the bathhouses so that no one should come to bathe on that day.

If these three fasts have passed and they still have not been answered, the court decrees on them another seven fasts, which are a total of thirteen fasts, upon the community, not including the first three fasts observed by individuals. These seven fast days are more severe than the first ones, as on these days, in addition to all the earlier stringencies, they sound the alarm, as will be explained in the Gemara, and they lock the stores. Although shops must remained closed most of the time on these days, on Monday they open them a little at nightfall to allow people to purchase food for breaking their fast, and on Thursday they are permitted to open the stores all day in deference to Shabbat, so that people may purchase food for the sacred day.

If these fasts have passed and they have not been answered the court does not decree additional fasts, but the entire community observes the customs of mourning. They decrease their engagement in business transactions, in building and planting, in betrothals and marriages, and in greetings between each person and his fellow, like people who have been rebuked by God. The individuals, i.e., Torah scholars, resume fasting every Monday and Thursday until the month of Nisan ends. After this date they no longer pray for rain, since if Nisan has ended and rains subsequently fall, they are a sign of a curse, as it is stated: “Is not the wheat harvest today? I will call to the Lord that He may send thunder and rain, and you will know and see that your wickedness is great” (I Samuel 12:17). The wheat harvest is around the time of Shavuot, well after Nisan.

GEMARA: The Gemara discusses the activities that are prohibited on a communal fast day: Granted, all of the other actions are prohibited, as they provide pleasure, namely, bathing, smearing, and marital relations. However, working is a cause of suffering. Why was it decreed that one must refrain from working? Rav Ḥisda said that Rav Yirmeya bar Abba said as that the verse states: “Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders” (Joel 1:14), this indicates that a fast day is like a day of assembly. Just as on a day of assembly, i.e., a Festival, it is prohibited to engage in working, so too, on a fast it is prohibited to engage in working.

The Gemara asks: If so, one could say: Just as on a day of assembly it is prohibited to work from the previous evening, so too, on a fast it should be prohibited to work from the evening. Rabbi Zeira said: This was explained to me by Rabbi Yirmeya bar Abba himself: The verse states: “Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders,” indicating that a fast is similar to a gathering of elders: Just as the gathering of elders is performed by day, so too, the time for a fast is also by day. The Gemara asks: But if so, one can say that the fast should begin from noon. Rav Sheisha, son of Rav Idi, said: This supports the opinion of Rav Huna, who said: The public gathering on fast days occurs in the hours of the morning.

The Gemara asks: How do they act on a fast day? Abaye said: From the morning until the middle of the day they examine the affairs of the town by checking if there are any deficiencies or corruptions in the city, moral or otherwise, and attempt to fix them, as these problems may have been the cause of the Divine punishment. From this point forward, for a quarter of the day they read a portion from the Torah and a portion from the Prophets [haftara]. From this point forward, they pray and petition for mercy, as it is stated: “And they stood up in their place and they read in the book of the Torah of the Lord their God a fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and prostrated themselves before the Lord their God” (Nehemiah 9:3).

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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