Parashas Vayechi

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When is a Rebuke a Blessing?

Taste of Talmud

At the end of the second chapter of tractate Taanis, there is a difference of opinion amongst the Tanaim as to how to conclude the fast of Tisha Be’Av when it falls out on a Friday.  Rabbi Meir says one does not have to complete the fast.  The Chachamim say the fast must be completed.  There is a difference of opinion amongst the Rishonim how to understand the words of the Chachamim.  Rashi says one must fast until dark.  Raavad says the fast ends at sunset.  While Rabbi Yaakov of Orleans is of the opinion that one can and should eat a little before sunset!  He explains himself by saying that it is prohibited to go into Shabbos in a state of fasting.  The Ritva tells a story where a certain Rabbi Y. ate before sunset on the fast of the tenth day of Teves. The Ritva concurs with the Raavad that it is forbidden to eat until after sunset while the Mordechai concurs with Rashi that one must wait until after dark which is 45 minutes after sunset.  The Mishna Berura decides the Halacha like the Mordecahi.  A reason given for this by Chidushei Anshei Shem is that we do not find a day partially permitted and partially prohibited so we must fast until the end of the day.

 Taste of Halacha

There are four fast days instituted by our Prophets to remember the events leading up to and following the destruction of our Holy Temples.   The Rambam writes that the purpose of these fast days is to awaken our hearts to do Teshuva from any Aveiros which we may have, that are similar, to those that led to the destruction of the Temples.  The Rambam says there is another type of fast day which is instituted by the sages in response to other pending calamities as well.  When we had the Bais Hamikdash there was even a Biblical command to blow the shofar in order to awaken people to repent.  A proper awakening will result in the calamity being averted. However if people do not awaken and do not fast, the Rambam calls this cruelty. Such hardening of the heart has destructive results. It causes people to stick to their old habits and go from bad to worse.  The nicest thing you could do for people is to guide them away from destructive behavior.

Taste of Parasha

In this weeks parasha, Yaakov Avinu blesses his sons.  Yaakov’s remarks to the first three of his sons seem to be more of a rebuke than a blessing! How do these remarks make their way into Yaakov’s blessings to his sons?  The Or Hachayim Hakadosh explains Yaakov was giving them the tools they needed to retain their blessings.  The attributes of hastiness and anger of which he warned them to stay away from are particularly dangerous and cause blessings to be lost.  So what good would his blessings be if they would lose them to due to sin!?  Therefore Yaakov gave them, and all his sons, the best ethical will one could give his children.  He not only gave them a general fountain of blessing, but also highlighted for them those areas which they needed to work on in order to hold onto their blessings.

About tasteofyeshiva

RABBI YAIR FRIEDMAN teaches at The Torah School of Greater Washington, and Yeshiva L' Baalei Batim. He is the owner and director of Camp Gevaldig LLC.
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