Today’s section we read about whether a minyan is required for the reading of the Megillah.
According to Rav when the Megillah is read in the proper time, on the fourteenth or fifteenth, it is an individual obligation and can be read even by an individual. We don’t require a minyan to publicize the miracle. But if it is read on one of the earlier days, then it cannot be read without a minyan.
Asi says that a minyan should always be sought after. Rashi notes that it is never prohibited for an individual to read the Megillah. R. Asi just holds that it one should seek a minyan.
The Talmud notes that such a case actually occurred and Rav sought a minyan, in accordance with R. Asi’s opinion.
The Talmud now cites another statement by Rav which they (at first) interpret as contradicting the previous statement. Rav said that if Purim falls on Shabbat, “Friday is the proper time.” This does not make sense because if Purim falls on Shabbat, Shabbat is the proper time.
Therefore, the Talmud corrects the statement to read that the “alternative” time is like the proper time—just as proper time can be read by an individual, so too the alternative time can be read by an individual. This contradicts what Rav said above.
The Talmud rejects that reading of Rav’s second statement. Rav still maintains that reading the Megillah on an alternative day requires a minyan. When he said that “Friday is the proper time” he was ruling against the opinion of Rabbi that we saw in last week’s daf. When Purim falls on Shabbat Rav says that the Megillah is read on Friday, not moved up to Thursday as Rabbi held.
Today’s section is a mishnah. My commentary is taken from Mishnah Yomit.
This mishnah continues to deal with the topic of the various days upon which the Megillah might be read.
Section one: A large town is one that is considered wealthy enough to support ten men who do not work but rather sit in the synagogue or study house and study all day. Put another way, a large town is one that can support a small leisurely class. In Greece and Rome this meant philosophers and in Israel this meant rabbis. Anything smaller is considered a village and moves the reading of the Megillah up to the day of the gathering, Monday or Thursday.
Section two: There are other holidays and semi-holidays during the year that are not observed on the day upon which they fall if they fall on Shabbat. The reading of the Megillah is the only holiday that is moved up—all the rest are postponed. The Talmud provides a midrashic explanation for this. Esther 9:27 states, “the Jews accepted upon themselves and their descendants and all those who might join them, that these days should not pass without observing them as it is written and in their time, year after year.” My translation is intentionally slightly awkward so that we can note the midrash. The words “should not pass” are understood by the rabbis to mean that one cannot observe Purim after the fourteenth/fifteenth of Adar has already passed.
Section three: I will briefly explain these holidays here. The bringing of the wood for the priests occurred nine times a year. Certain families would bring wood to the Temple to be used on the altar. This was discussed in Taanit 4:5. It would not be done on Shabbat. The hagigah is a sacrifice brought on Yom Tov, the first day of the festival. If Yom Tov falls on Shabbat it is postponed until the next day. The “assembling of the people” or “Hakhel” in Hebrew occurs during the sabbatical year on Sukkot, when they would gather all the people together to read the Torah. This would not be done on Shabbat.
Section four: On both the fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar, one is not allowed to fast or to mourn, because these are the two days of Purim. However, even though the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth are also days on which one might read the Megillah, it is still permitted to mourn or fast on those days. The mishnah says that it is also permitted to give gifts to the poor on those days. Giving gifts to the poor is one of the central obligations of Purim. Some commentators explain the mishnah to mean that one who gives gifts to the poor on one of these days has fulfilled his obligation. However, others say that the mishnah means that one is exempt from giving gifts to the poor on these days.
Section five: Rabbi Judah points out that the system of moving the reading up to the 11th-13th was done only when it made realistic sense—at a time when Mondays and Thursdays were the days of gathering. It seems quite certain that by Rabbi Judah’s time this system of gathering on Monday and Thursday was already defunct and hence everyone would read at the proper time.
The Talmud explains that “ten men of leisure” refers to ten men who are in the synagogue. Rashi explains that these are ten men that are paid to always be in the synagogue to ensure that there is a minyan. I am not sure if this reflects reality in Talmudic times or in Rashi’s time. My hunch is neither.
I explained this in my commentary to the Mishnah yesterday. Esther 9:27 states, “the Jews accepted upon themselves and their descendants and all those who might join them, that these days should not pass without observing them as it is written and in their time, year after year.” The words “should not pass” are understood by R. Abba in the name of Shmuel to mean that one cannot observe Purim after the fourteenth/fifteenth of Adar has already passed.
The Talmud now cites another statement by the same amoraim. A “year” consists of twelve months and not 365 days. One ramification of this might be that if a person says, “I will not drink wine for a year” he may not drink until the same date on the next calendar year. He need not wait a full 365 days. This is derived from Exodus 12:2 which is read as implying that a year is reckoned by its months, not days.
Today’s section deals with the celebrations and events the Mishnah said are pushed back and not forward.
The Talmud explains that we do not move Tisha B’av up (if it falls on Shabbat) because we do not want to hasten the approach of our commemoration of the time when Jews were punished with the destruction of the Temple.
The festival sacrifice and special assembly of people on Sukkot also are postponed if they fall on Shabbat, because one cannot fulfill these mitzvoth before their time has even arrived.
A short baraita teaches that the festival sacrifice is postponed. This is what we learned above. However, the baraita also says that “the period of the festival sacrifice is postponed.” This is less clear and there are three amoraic interpretations which follow.
Oshaya interprets the line to refer to the burnt offering of appearance. This is the whole burnt offering that one brings to the Temple when one comes on a festival. It is in addition to the hagigah, the festival sacrifice. The festival sacrifice itself is offered on the Festival day (Yom Tov) but not on Shabbat. In contrast, the burnt offering of appearance is offered only during Hol Hamoed. It cannot be offered on Yom Tov. The difference is that the festival sacrifice can be eaten. Since one can prepare food on Yom Tov, one can also prepare edible sacrifices. The whole burnt offering cannot be eaten. Therefore, it cannot be offered even on Yom Tov.
The above halakhah follows the opinion of Bet Shammai. “Offerings of wellbeing” refers to the hagigah, the festival sacrifice. According to Bet Shammai, this sacrifice may be offered on Yom Tov, but we do not perform the laying on of the hands on Yom Tov, because leaning on an animal is considered to be using the animal which is prohibited. Bet Shammai does not allow burnt offerings to be sacrificed at all, for the reasons we learned above.
But Bet Hillel allows burnt offerings and offerings of wellbeing, as well as laying on of the hands to be performed on Yom Tov (but not on Shabbat). For more information see Mishnah Betzah 2:4 and Hagigah 2:3 (both available through Mishnah Yomit).
Rava offers a different interpretation for the baraita. He connects it to Mishnah Hagigah 1:6 which teaches that if one does not bring the festival sacrifice on the first day, he may bring it for the rest of the festival. But if the festival passes and he has not yet brought it, he cannot bring it after the festival has been completed.
Ashi says that the baraita from above refers to Hagigah 2:4. In that mishnah we learn that if Shavuot falls on Shabbat, Bet Hillel agrees that the festival sacrifice and the burnt offering of appearance can be brought the next day, even though Shavuot is only one day. Therefore, this baraita teaches that the festival sacrifice may be postponed even on Shavuot which is only one day.