The Talmud cites a baraita as a difficulty upon Rav. The baraita seems to imply that if he doesn’t cut the tzitzit before he hangs them on the garment they are forever invalid. This would refute Rav who says that they may be cut after they have already been put on the garment.
The Talmud responds on Rav’s behalf by reinterpreting the baraita. The tzitzit are invalid only until they are cut. But they may indeed be cut even after they have been placed on the garment.
These amoraim, among them Shmuel, hold that if he puts the threads on the garment before they are cut, they are forever invalid. Cutting them doesn’t count as “making tzitzit.”
This section continues to discuss the case of a person putting tzitzit onto the corners of his garment and only then cutting them so that there are 8 single strings and not 4 doubled strings.
This is a restatement of the end of yesterday’s section. To refresh our memories, if someone ties tzitzit to a garment but does not yet cut the ends, Shmuel holds that they are invalid even if he cuts them afterwards.
The Talmud now brings two sources as difficulties upon Rav, who holds that cutting the tzitzit or cutting the vines/branches from the ground does count as their making.
The first is from a baraita that directly teaches that if he first inserts the tzitzit into the garment and then cuts the threads, the tzitzit are invalid.
The second difficulty is from the mishnah concerning sukkah. The halakhah in this mishnah is based on a midrash on the words, “You shall make.” One must “make” a sukkah and not turn something already made into a sukkah. This notion is then connected to the mishnah which disqualifies a case where one trained a vine, gourd or ivy over a sukkah and covered it also with valid skhakh. If the vine was still attached to the ground it is invalid because it is attached to the ground, not because of a midrash on “you shall make.” Therefore, the Talmud concludes, such a sukkah is invalid even if he first trained the vine over the sukkah and then cut the vine from the ground. This is invalid because cutting something from the ground is not a sufficient act to be considered “making” a sukkah.
This is a refutation of Rav’s opinion.
Rav could answer this difficulty by saying that in this case he didn’t really cut the vines from the tree, he just pulled them out of the tree. This is enough to make the skhakh technically valid because
it is detached but it will look like it’s still attached to the tree and therefore it is invalid.But if he had really cut them from the tree, the skhakh, according to Rav would be valid for “their cutting is their making.”
Unfortunately for Rav, the above solves only the second difficulty against him. The first difficulty, from the baraita concerning the tzitzit, remains a difficulty for it explicitly states that if he put the tzitzit on the garment first and then cut the ends, it is invalid. Rav does not offer a resolution to this difficulty.
Today’s section continues to discuss the topic of whether “their cutting is their making.” Here it is connected to the hadas, the myrtle, one of the four species used in the lulav.
The Talmud attempts to draw a correlation between Rav and Shmuel’s dispute over whether “their cutting is their making” with regard to the skhakh and a dispute found in a tannaitic source concerning the hadas. This hadas branch had berries on it. These berries invalidate the hadas. According to R. Shimon b. Yehozadak, if he plucked the berries off the hadas is still invalid. The other sages say that it is valid.
Do they [then] not dispute this principle? That the one who declared it valid is of the opinion that with regard to the Sukkah we say that ‘their cutting is their making’, and [therefore] with regard to lulav we also say that their plucking is their making; while the one who declares it invalid is of the opinion that with regard to the Sukkah we do not say that ‘their cutting is their making, and [therefore] with regard to lulav also we do not say that their plucking is their making?
The Talmud now tries to correlate the two disputes. At first we suppose that all sages hold that the lulav must be tied together. This is the “making” of a lulav. Plucking off the hadas berries after it is bound would then be turning an invalid, already made lulav into a valid one.
When it comes to the sukkah we have a midrash that states that one cannot make the sukkah from that which is already made. We learned this midrash in the above section. However, not all sages agree. Some sages say that cutting the skhakh is considered making the skhakh and the same would be true for plucking the berries from the already bound lulav. This would be the opinion of the sages. While other sages hold that cutting the skhakh is not sufficient to be considered making the sukkah, and so too plucking the berries is not making the lulav. This would be R. Shimon b. Yehozadak.
The Talmud now rejects the above explanation of the baraita and offers an alternative. Both R. Shimon b. Yehozadak and the sages agree that when it comes to the sukkah cutting the skhakh is not considered to be making a sukkah. Therefore one could not simply cut attached skhakh that has already been placed on the sukkah. The question is whether one applies the principles of sukkah to lulav. According to R. Shimon b. Yehozadak one does and therefore plucking is not making a lulav. According to the other sages, we do not derive the laws of lulav from the sukkah and therefore there is no requirement to make the lulav. One can pick the berries off after it has already been tied.
The final interpretation of the dispute between R. Shimon b. Yehozadak and the sages connects their dispute with the question of whether one must bundle the lulav together. R. Judah says that just as the bundle of hyssop used in the ritual in which the Israelites put blood on their doorposts had to be bundled together, so too the lulav which also uses the word “take” must be bundled together. R. Shimon b. Yehozadak agrees—a lulav must be bundled together. If he takes the berries off after it has been bundled, this is a violation of the principle that one must make a lulav and not have one already made (i.e. bundled) then become valid.
The other rabbis say that the lulav does not need to be bundled. Therefore, there is no concept of “making a lulav.” One can remove the berries at any time.
The Talmud now cites a baraita that doesn’t accord with either R. Judah or the sages. The baraita says that it is a mitzvah to bind the lulav’s components together but if one does not, it is still valid. This does not accord with either R. Judah who would seem to hold that if one doesn’t bind the lulav together it is not valid or with the sages who hold that the lulav need not be bound together.
The answer is that the baraita follows the rabbis who hold that even if it is not bound it is valid. Nevertheless, one should bind the lulav’s components for that makes them look nicer. The principle that one should make mitzvoth look more aesthetically pleasing is derived from the verse, “This is my God and I will adorn Him.”