Shiur 02/23/16 – Beitzah 5b

Beitzah 5b,

1- We studied the text of the Kesef Mishna regarding the opposing opinions of the Rambam and the Ra’avad regarding a 2nd Beis Din overturning a prior Beis Din’s Takanah – an enactment by a Beis Din based on a particular reason.

Now years later the reason is no longer valid:  All agree that the enactment – Takanah/Gezeira- does not simply disappear on its own. Another competent Beis Din needs to convene and take a vote to revoke the Takanah.

The question is whether the second Beis Din needs to be greater in “intelligence and count” גדול בחכמה ובמנין – than the original Beis Din that enacted the Takanah to begin with with.

The Rambam’s opinion is that it needs to surpass the previous Beis Din whereas the Ra’avad disagrees and rules that any Beis Din can reverse a previous ruling if the original reason and cause of the Takanah is no longer applicable.

See previous Shiur where the students of Reb Eliezer make him aware of a Takanah that was reversed by Reb Yochanon ben Zakai. 

The Ra’avad’s point is that surely Reb Yochanon ben Zakai was not greater than the originators of this particular Takanah. And yet he did reverse his predecessor’s proving his point that when the reason no longer exists any Beis Din can rescind it.

2- Interestingly, the Kesef Mishna attempts to defend the Rambam’s position by saying “and who says that Reb Yochanon ben Zakai was not greater than the Beis Din that originally enacted this Takanah?”

He then goes into a lengthy historical themed argument based on the Gemara that Hillel had eighty students. The greatest was Reb Yonason ben Uziel and Reb Yochanon ben Zakai being the “smallest”!

So Reb Yochanon ben Zakai was indeed “smaller”… So is the Ra’avad correct?

But, he says, that  Reb Yochanon ben Zakai was also well versed in all areas of knowledge including the “conversations of demons…” etc.

So perhaps his knowledge in comparison to his colleagues was ‘small’ in areas not of Torah.

The fact is that from all 80 students of Hillel it was Reb Yochanon ben Zakai who succeeded Hilled as Nasi!

3- We discussed the Takanahs that had a set time limit on inception. Such as “do not drink the water from this well until Pesach”.

Pesach passes – do we need an Beis Din to recind this Takanah or is it self expired.

Rashi elsewhere is Shas seems to say that we do, whereas Tosfos in our Mesechta is in the opinion that we do not.

4- In passing we mentioned the connection of our Gemora to the religious Zionist Mizrachi movement. 

One of their basic points (as opposed to all others in the Chareidi camp) was that the Beis Hamikdosh can be built even before the coming of Moshiach. They based this belief on a Yerushalmi of which the first part is quoted in our Gemara.

The words of the Yerushalmi: Said Reb Acha “this means that the Temple will be rebuilt before the kingship of the house of David.”

See here from the Satmar site:

zionist fui

The Zionists, however, have found one source that seems to say that the Temple will be built before Moshiach. The Torah says that the fruits from the fourth year in the life of a fruit-bearing tree must be eaten in Jerusalem. But if the owner wishes, he may transfer the holiness of the fruits onto money, bring the money to Jerusalem, buy food and eat it there.

The Rabbis enacted that within a one-day radius of Jerusalem, the fruits themselves and not their monetary equivalent must be brought, so as to beautify the streets of Jerusalem with fruit.

Google Maps2

When the Temple was destroyed and Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Romans, there was no longer any need to beautify it, so the Rabbis suspended their decree and allowed the redemption of the fruits with money. However, they stipulated that whenever the Temple would be rebuilt, the decree would automatically come back into force (Mishnah Maaser Sheini 5:2). The Talmud Yerushalmi says, “This means that the Temple will be rebuilt before the kingship of the house of David.”

5- We spoke where the Rebbe mentions another Yerushalmi  that was also used as a basis for the outlook of religious Zionism.

The Rebbe points out that surely the Rambam was well aware of this Yerushalmi and yet he rules that Moshiach will come prior to the building of the Beis Hamikdosh’.

See here. Footnote 51,  3rd paragraph.





Shiur 02/16/16 Beitzah 5A

Beitzah 5a

1- We continue concerning the situation after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash.

Being no longer concerned about wreaking havoc in the performance of rituals in the Beis Hamikdosh, witnesses were now accepted all day. Rosh Hashana was still occasionally observed 2 days but only because of ‘doubt’,  not by Takana or edict.

On the 30th day of Elul people would observe the day as a ‘potential’ Rosh Hashana because perhaps witnesses may yet come forth. They would wait until the end of the day. If no one came to testify then the next day would be Rosh Hashana by default.

Since these two days would both be observed because of doubt, not a Takana, they are two separate entities and not a Yoma Arichtah.

2- The issue is how the previous Takana of not accepting witnesses after Mincha was rescinded.

The Gemara states that a Takana enacted by Beis Din may be rescinded only by annulment of Beis Din (“Davar she’b’Minyan Tzarich Minyan Acher l’Hatiro”). Without the annulment, the enactment will not be canceled even when the cause for the enactment is no longer extant.

So the problem is that when this Takana was rescinded by Reb Yochanan Ben Zakai he only rescinded the practice of not accepting witnesses after Mincha,  but he did not rescind the prohibition of the egg born on the first day Rosh Hashana.

3- In general, the above rule needs clarification as to when does this principle apply, and to what extent does it apply?

The example the Gemara uses is from the Takana concerning Kerem Revai.

Fruit that grows in the fourth year, following the three years of Orlah, is called Reva’i. The Torah refers to these fruits as Kodesh .  They must be brought to Yerushalayim and eaten there while one is in a state of purity.

Harvesting Orla – tools of the trade

Alternatively, one may be Podeh (redeem) the fruits for money, in which case the money equal to their value gains the status of the original fruits of Reva’i. This money likewise must be brought to Yerushalayim and spent there to purchase food which must be eaten while one is in a state of purity.

A  Takana was enacted that all fruits of farms within a day’s walk from Yerushalayim cannot be redeemed. The reason was to ‘beautify the markets of Yerushalayim’ by having  bountiful produce displayed in the markets. Obviously, after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh with goyim controlling the city there would be no need to bring the fruit into Yerushalayim.

Rebbi Eliezer lived many years after the destruction of the Beis ha’Mikdash.  To avoid the bother of hauling his fruit to Yerushalayim he wanted to renounce (mafkir) his ownership of his fruit in favor of the poor and they would bring it to Yerushalayim to eat.

His students told him that hefker is not needed to avoid bringing the fruit to Yerushalayim.

Why? Because ‘your fellow friends have already gathered and ruled that it is not necessary to bring the actual produce to Yerushalayim after the churban’.

The fact that they mentioned “your fellow friends have already gathered and ruled” shows that the removal of the reason alone for the enactment of a Takana is insufficient to have it rescinded.

A Beis Din would need to convene and rule to rescind it.

4- We began to read the opinions of the Rambam and the Ra’avad on this. Interesting Kesef Mishna next week bl”n.




Shiur 02/09/16 – Beitzah 5a

Beitzah 4b-5a.

1- Now we turn to the topic of two days Rosh Hashanah.

Unlike all other Yomim Tovim, Rosh Hashana was occasionally observed as a two day Yom Tov not because of any doubt as to when the first day of Tishrei is.

Rather an enactment knowing full well that the first day of this Yom Tov was the 30th day of Elul and Rosh Hashanah is the following day! Nevertheless, despite it being not a ‘day of holiness’ it was observed.

Thus the two day Rosh Hashanah is considered as one long day.

Such an occurrence happened when the witnesses came to testify about seeing the new moon after the afternoon Korban Tamid. To accept their testimony would cause havoc in the Beis Hamikdosh.


[We discussed this ‘havoc’ stated in our Gemare of the Leviyim singing a non-Rosh Hashanah song and the famous question of Tosfos that why not the say a greater issue of not bringing the Rosh Hashanah Musaf.]


As a result, Beis Din would not accept their testimony until the following day. By doing that it followed that the time until the witnesses arrived (and of course following it)  the day was deemed a ‘yom chol’. And yet it was declared that it be declared a Yom Tov.

In such a scenario two days were observed as Yom Tov. The first, the 30th of Elul and the second 1st of Tishrei. [Unlike what we have today that the two days of Rosh Hashana are the 1st and 2nd day of Tishrei.]

So if in Yerushalayim two days were observed not because of doubt but as a ‘vadai’ then people living far away also observed two day of Rosh Hashana not only based on doubt but as a ‘vadai’.  Thus our Rosh Hashanah is a “Yoma Arichtah’.

2- We spoke as to why we have two days Rosh Chodesh. If we follow the calendar we know that the first day of the new month is on the second day of Rosh Chodesh. So what’s the purpose of the first day ‘Rosh’ Chodesh?

See here one answer quoted by the Chido.

Briefly- a new moon appears every 29 and 1/2 days.

In reality, should the new moon appear in the middle of the 30th day we should split the 30th day in half and allocate the first half to the previous month and the second to the next month. But that is obviously not practical.

So in a full month, when the moon appears in the middle of the 30th day we declare Rosh Chodesh to be the following day (the 31st) but still observe the 30th as Rosh Chodesh because the actual reappearance occurred on the 3oth day.

3- The Gemara says that after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh  Raban Yochanan ben Zakai’s reinstated the practice that witnesses who come to testify about the sighting of the new moon are accepted by Beis Din all day long, even after the time of Minchah.

The only time two days of Rosh Hashanah were observed now that the original enactment is no longer in effect is when the doubt which day is really the first of the month.

4- We spoke about the practice in Eretz Yisroel after the establishment of the calendar by Hllel II concerning Rosh Hashanah. We find that some Rishonim say that only one day was kept!



Shiur 02/02/16 – Beitzah 5b

Beitzah 5b.

1- Interesting Gemara giving one a glimpse into the life of Jews outside Eretz Yisroel after the Churban prior to the establishment and acceptance of a universal ‘Luach’ – calendar.

Here are the dates of our topic:

The calendar was established approximately(according to most opinions) in the year 4100 .

Our Gemara refers to an argument that occurred in Bavel 100 years or so before the acceptance of the calendar when it was common to observe two days of Yom Tov.

Living in Bavel meant that on a typical Rosh Chodesh one was unaware as to what day was established as Rosh Chodesh in Eretz Yisroel. Was it on the 30th day of the previous month or the 31st? Thus all observed two days of Yom Tov.

Remember the key: Historically all who lived far away from Yerusholayim observed two days of Yom Tov. Just as we, today, observe two day despite us following the calendar.


The question is if  these two days were originally observed because it was so enacted by the Beis Din (Takana) to keep two days (as one) or it was rather an ad-hoc Minhag by default due to the uncertainty (safek) of when Rosh Chodesh was established in Yerusholayim.

Is there a practical difference? Yes!

For example, if prior to the Luach being established, a town had astronomers with the knowledge to mathematically calculate when the new moon could be seen and therefore conclude when the Beis Din in Yerushalayim ‘sanctified’ Rosh Chodesh.

This particular town still needed to keep two days Yom Tov of course. But the second day was really a non Yom Tov according to their calculation and therefore Havdala needed to be made at the end of day one! 

Here is the logic:

If the two-day-Yom-Tov was a Takana by Beis Din then such calculations are cast aside. Regardless of the mathematics one must keep two days with no Havdala between them.  More so – both days are considered as one long Yom Tov day. 

On the other hand if the reason a two-day-Yom-Tov was practiced was only because that is what frum people do when in doubt (safek) ….. they go lechumra [without an edict from Beis Din] and in order to be certain that Matzah is eaten on Pesach proper they ate Matzah on both of the two days…

– so if Beis Din never ruled to keep two days, if they are not in doubt, such as an occurrence of a definitive calculation, the two-day-Yom-Tov practice is redundant and one day is kept as real Yom Tov and the second just observed as Yom Tov and as a consequence Havdala must to be made between the two days.

2- Reb Zeira offers proof to the opinion that all Jews in exile keep two day as a result of a non reversible Takana.

The fact is that today that we have an established calendar and thus we all are ‘groise chachomin’ and accomplished astronomers…. as to when Rosh Chodesh is.

So why do we keep two days? Obviously it is because a strict two day Yom Tov Takana was enacted [way back in history when Jews moved away from Yerusholayim to a distance of more than 15 days of travel]  and cannot be changed even when we accepted to follow the mathematical calendar.

jerusalem to baghdad

Therefore even before the establishment of the calendar one must keep two days (as one) as part of the Takana even if one knows when the real Rosh Chodesh is.

3- Abaye on the other hand brings proof from a Mishna, RH 2,1, that it was never a Takona. Two days were kept only as a sofek.


Originally [they had no need to send out messengers to inform the people of the new moon, rather,] they used to light a series of torches [which, when sighted, was a sign of the new moon] but when the heretics [Kusim]  perverted [justice and tried to mislead the people by lighting their own torches] they enacted that messengers should go forth [to announce the new moon].

Had the Kusim stopped causing this problem and the torches would be seen all the way into Bovel then it would have reverted back to keeping only one day. This is proof that there never was a Takana two keep two days. It was only kept as a sofek.

If, according to Abaye,  no Takana was ever enacted, and it all was because of a sofek which can be reversed once the situation changes, so why today, when we follow the calendar do we keep two days?

The Gemore explains that it is because ‘Minhag Avoiseihem’ for a reason that we will learn next week.

4- We mentioned two Seforim that were written as an encyclopedia enumerating what Mitzvah is min Hatorah or mid’Derabonon.

Here they are: