Today’s section contains additional statements of R. Yitzchak.
R. Yitzchak’s statement here is in a similar pattern to the earlier statement. He expresses a tight correlation between effort and reward. With effort, reward is guaranteed. Without effort, reward is impossible.
The anonymous commenter limits R. Yitzchak’s statement. First of all, when it comes to business luck is involved. People work hard and don’t succeed, and people don’t work so hard and nevertheless are successful.
And even when it comes to Torah, some people are blessed with great memory and others are not. It is not something someone can toil for. The gift of good memory is in the hands of heaven.
R. Yitzchak uses a midrash on Psalms 37 and Psalms 10 to sadly point out that the wicked do often triumph and are not even judged for their wickedness.
In this section R. Yohanan quotes a series of verses that proves the opposite. One should contend with evildoers. Verses that seem to imply that one should not contend with them really mean that one should not be envious of them. So this section contradicts the words of R. Yitzchak above.
There are three answers to the contradiction.
1) One can contend with wicked when it comes to religious matters, but one should not contend with the wicked when it comes to one’s own affairs.
2) One who is totally righteous is strong enough to contend with the wicked. But not one who is not totally righteous is not strong enough to contend with the wicked.
3) When fortune is favoring a wicked man, one should not contend with him. But under normal conditions, this is not inadvisable.
This is a description of the great size and wealth of Rome, which is interestingly enough called “Greek Italy.”
Today’s section begins with a new mishnah. My commentary is taken from Mishnah Yomit. When Jews adjust the lunar calendar to keep it in sync with the solar calendar, they add a second month of Adar, the month during which Purim falls. The rabbis hold that Purim should be observed during the second Adar. Today because our calendar is fixed this is quite simple. Ahead of time we know which year will have a second Adar. In mishnaic and talmudic times this was more difficult because the calendar had not yet been fixed. Our mishnah addresses this problem.
Section one: If they read the Megillah during the first Adar and then the court decided to add a month to the year, they must read it again during the second Adar.
Section two: The only difference with regard to Purim between the first month of Adar and the second is that the Megillah is read and gifts are given to the poor during the second month and not during the first month. However, when it comes to the prohibition of fasting and mourning, it is forbidden to fast on the fourteenth and fifteenth of both months.
It is unclear from our mishnah whether the other two obligations for Purim, giving portions of food to friends and having a festive meal, are done both times or not. It seems to me that it would make little sense for these customs to be performed during the first Adar at a time when the Megillah is not being read.
The Mishnah had stated that when a second month of Adar is added to the year, all of the mitzvoth of Purim are observed in both months except for the reading of the Megillah and the giving of gifts to the poor. This would seem to imply that the special portions of the Torah that precede Purim (parshat shekalim, zakhor, parah, and hahodesh) can be read during Adar I.
The Talmud begins an extended discussion of which Tanna is the author of the Mishnah. The Talmud cites a baraita with three opinions. According to both the first opinion and R. Shimon b. Gamaliel if they read the Megillah in the first Adar and then an extra month is added, they must read the Megillah again. According to R. Eliezer son of R. Yose if they read it in the first month, they have performed the mitzvah and they need not go back and read again in the second month.
R. Papa now clarifies the specific points of dispute and outlines each tanna’s opinion:
1) First Tanna: All mitzvoth may be performed in Adar I except for the Megillah. The special Torah reading portions should be read in Adar II but if they were read in Adar I, he has fulfilled his obligation.
2) R. Eliezer son of R. Yose: All mitzvoth may be performed in Adar I.
3) R. Shimon b. Gamaliel held that all mitzvot, even the special portions, must be performed in Adar II.
The Mishnah held that Adar I and Adar II were equivalent except for the Megillah and gifts to the poor. This does not accord with anyone in the baraita (or so it seems). The first opinion holds that only the Megillah needs to be done in Adar II, not the gifts to the poor. The second opinion holds that even the Megillah may be read in Adar I and need not be read again in Adar II.
Finally, R. Shimon b. Gamaliel holds that the special Torah portions must also be read in Adar II, whereas the Mishnah seemed to hold that they could be read in Adar I.
The second resolution is to emend the Mishnah itself such that it is dealing only with mitzvoth performed on Purim itself. The Mishnah does not express an opinion on when the special portions are read. Therefore, it could accord with R. Shimon b. Gamaliel who says that they are read on Adar II.
The halakhah is that all of the mitzvoth, even the special portions, must be observed in Adar II.
The question is—which is the real Adar? R. Eliezer holds that the real Adar is the one that follows the month of Shevat, as it does in all years. Therefore, if one keeps the mitzvoth of Purim in Adar I, he has fulfilled his obligation. R. Shimon b. Gamaliel holds that the real Adar is the one that immediately precedes the month of Nisan. Therefore, we keep the mitzvoth of Purim in Adar II.
R. Eliezer, who holds that Purim is observed in Adar I makes sense for there is a principle that one should never pass up an opportunity to perform a mitzvah. But why would R. Shimon b. Gamaliel hold that Purim is delayed until Adar II.
R. Tabi says that R. Shimon b. Gamaliel wanted the redemption of Purim to be close to the redemption of Pesah. Therefore, they should be observed in adjacent months.
R. Elazar derives R. Shimon b. Gamaliel’s rule from the word “the second.” The simple reading of this word is that there was a second letter about Purim. But R. Elazar creates a midrash understanding it as referring to the “second month of Adar.”
The Talmud then notes that we need both phrases, “In every year” and “second.” If we only had “in every year” I would have known that Adar needs to be next to a month that it is next to every other year. But I would not have known if this month was Shevat or Nisan. And it had only written “second” I might have thought that it should be read in both months.
How does R. Eliezer son of R. Yose understand the word “second”? He understands it closer to its literal meaning. There were two letters. The first letter was addressed only to the people of Shushan, trying to convince them to observe Purim. The second letter was addressed to Jews elsewhere in the world. Next week’s daf will continue to deal with this second letter.