Megillah 22a:18מגילה כ״ב א:יח
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22aכ״ב א

אין מתחילין בפרשה פחות משלשה פסוקים ליקרי תרי מהא ותלתא מהך פשו להו תרי

one may not begin a new paragraph and read fewer than three verses from it. And if you say he should read two verses from this paragraph, i.e., the entire second paragraph, and then three verses from that final paragraph, only two verses will remain from the final paragraph. This is problematic because one may not conclude a reading with fewer than three verses left until the end of a paragraph and because the fourth reader will not have a sufficient number of verses to read.

אמר לו זו לא שמעתי כיוצא בה שמעתי דתנן ביום הראשון בראשית ויהי רקיע ותני עלה בראשית בשנים יהי רקיע באחד

Rava said to him: I have not heard a solution for this problem from my teachers. However, with regard to a similar problem I heard a solution from them, as we learned in a mishna (Ta’anit 26a): On Sunday, the non-priestly watches would read two paragraphs from the Torah: “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1–5) and “Let there be a firmament” (Genesis 1:6–8). And it is taught in that regard that the paragraph “In the beginning” was read by two readers and the paragraph “Let there be a firmament” by one reader.

והוינן בה בשלמא יהי רקיע באחד דתלתא פסוקי הוו אלא בראשית בשנים חמשה פסוקי הוו ותניא הקורא בתורה לא יפחות משלשה פסוקים

And we discussed this ruling and raised difficulties with it: Granted, the paragraph “Let there be a firmament” was read by one reader, as it consists of three verses. But how was the paragraph “In the beginning” read by two? It consists of only five verses, and it was taught in a mishna (23b): One who reads from the Torah should not read fewer than three verses.

ואיתמר עלה רב אמר דולג ושמואל אמר פוסק

And it was stated with regard to that mishna that the amora’im disagreed about how to divide the verses. Rav said: The second reader repeats the last verse that the first reader had recited, so that each of them reads three verses. And Shmuel said: The first reader divides the third verse and reads half of it, and the second reader begins with the second half of that verse, as though each half were its own verse.

רב אמר דולג מאי טעמא לא אמר פוסק קסבר כל פסוקא דלא פסקיה משה אנן לא פסקינן ליה

The Gemara explains the opinions of Rav and Shmuel. Rav said that the second reader repeats the last verse that the first reader recited. What is the reason that he did not state that the first reader divides the third verse, in accordance with the opinion of Shmuel? The Gemara answers: He holds that any verse that Moses did not divide, we may not divide.

ושמואל אמר פסקינן ליה והא אמר רבי חנניא קרא צער גדול היה לי אצל רבי חנינא הגדול ולא התיר לי לפסוק אלא לתינוקות של בית רבן הואיל ולהתלמד עשויין

The Gemara asks: Does Shmuel say that we may divide a verse into two parts? Didn’t Rabbi Ḥananya Kara, the Bible expert, say: I had great distress with Rabbi Ḥanina the Great; there were many times I had to ask his permission to divide a verse, and he permitted me to divide it only for the benefit of schoolchildren, since they need to be taught in this manner, as it is difficult for children to learn long verses all at once? In other cases, however it is prohibited to divide a verse.

התם טעמא מאי משום דלא אפשר הכא נמי לא אפשר

The Gemara answers: There, in the case of schoolchildren, what is the reason that it is permitted to divide a verse? Because it is not possible to teach the children without doing so. Here, too, when a paragraph of five verses must be divided between two readers, it is not possible to divide them without dividing the middle verse.

ושמואל אמר פוסק מאי טעמא לא אמר דולג גזירה משום הנכנסין ומשום היוצאין

The Gemara now examines the opinion of Shmuel. And Shmuel said: The first reader divides the third verse and reads half of it. The Gemara asks: What is the reason that he did not state that the second reader repeats the last verse recited by the first reader, in accordance with the opinion of Rav? The Gemara answers: It is because of a rabbinic decree that was instituted due to those who enter and those who leave the synagogue between the readings. These individuals might erroneously conclude that since the reading they heard consisted of three verses, the reading they missed consisted of only two verses. Therefore, the middle verse is divided into two parts, so that all will realize that no reader recites only two verses.

מיתיבי פרשה של ששה פסוקים קורין אותה בשנים ושל חמשה פסוקים ביחיד קרא ראשון שלשה השני קורא שנים מפרשה זו ואחד מפרשה אחרת ויש אומרים שלשה לפי שאין מתחילין בפרשה פחות משלשה פסוקים

The Gemara raises an objection to the opinions of Rav and Shmuel from the following baraita: Two people may read a paragraph of six verses, but a paragraph of five verses may be read only by a single reader. If the first one read three verses, the second one reads the remaining two verses from this paragraph and then one verse from another, i.e., the following, paragraph. And some say that it does not suffice to read one verse from the next paragraph; rather, he must read three verses, as one may not begin a new paragraph and read fewer than three verses from it.

ואם איתא למאן דאמר דולג נדלוג ולמאן דאמר פוסק נפסוק

And if it is so, if it is permissible to do as Rav and Shmuel suggested, according to the one who said that the second reader repeats a verse that the previous reader recited, i.e., Rav, let him repeat the verse in this case as well. And according to the one who said that the second reader divides the verse, i.e., Shmuel, let him divide the verse in this case as well.

שאני התם דאפשר בהכי

The Gemara answers: There, in the case of the baraita, it is different, as it is possible to solve the problem in this manner by reading additional verses. On the New Moon, however, the next paragraph deals with an entirely different subject, and consequently it cannot be included in the Torah reading. Therefore, Rav and Shmuel presented alternate solutions.

אמר רבי תנחום אמר ריב"ל הלכה כיש אומרים ואמר רבי תנחום אמר ריב"ל כשם שאין מתחילין בפרשה פחות מג' פסוקים כך אין משיירין בפרשה פחות משלשה פסוקים

With regard to the dispute cited in the baraita, Rabbi Tanḥum said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: The halakha is in accordance with the opinion introduced by the phrase: Some say, which maintains that at least three verses must be read from the next paragraph. And furthermore, Rabbi Tanḥum said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Just as one may not begin a new paragraph and read fewer than three verses from it, so too, one may not leave fewer than three verses before the end of a paragraph at the conclusion of a reading.

פשיטא השתא ומה אתחלתא דקא מקיל תנא קמא מחמירי יש אומרים שיור דמחמיר ת"ק לא כ"ש דמחמירי יש אומרים

The Gemara challenges this statement: This is obvious. Now, if with regard to the beginning of a paragraph, where the first tanna is lenient and holds that it is sufficient to read one verse from the next paragraph, the opinion introduced with the phrase: Some say, is stringent, then with regard to leaving verses at the end of a paragraph, where even the first tanna is stringent and holds that one may not conclude a reading with fewer than three verses remaining until the end of a paragraph, is it not all the more so obvious that the opinion introduced with: Some say, is stringent?

מהו דתימא נכנסין שכיחי יוצאין לא שכיחי דמנחי ספר תורה ונפקי קמ"ל

The Gemara answers: Lest you say: Entering in the middle of the Torah reading is common, and therefore one should not conclude a reading after having read fewer than three verses of a paragraph, but leaving in the middle of the Torah reading, whereby one abandons a Torah scroll and leaves, is not common, and therefore one may conclude a reading with fewer than three verses left in the paragraph, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi teaches us that the second opinion cited in the mishna is also concerned that people may leave in the middle of the Torah reading, and consequently one may not conclude a reading with fewer than three verses left in the paragraph.

ות"ק מ"ש שיורי דלא משום יוצאין אתחולי נמי גזירה משום הנכנסין אמרי מאן דעייל שיולי שייל

The Gemara asks: And according to the first tanna, what is different about leaving fewer than three verses at the end of a paragraph, which is not permitted due to concern about those who leave the synagogue in the middle of the Torah reading? In the case of beginning a paragraph without reading at least three verses, he should also hold that there is a rabbinic decree due to those who enter, lest the latecomer think that the previous reader read fewer than three verses. The Gemara responds: Say in answer to this question that one who enters in the middle of the Torah reading asks how the Torah was read until then, and those present will explain to him that the reader started in the previous paragraph. Therefore, he will not erroneously think that the reader recited fewer than three verses.

שלח ליה רבה בריה דרבא לרב יוסף הלכתא מאי שלח ליה הלכתא דולג ואמצעי דולגן:

Rabba, son of Rava, sent a messenger to ask Rav Yosef: What is the halakha with regard to dividing a small Torah portion? Rav Yosef sent him the following answer: The halakha is that one repeats a verse, in accordance with the opinion of Rav, and it is the middle reader who repeats it, and not the last reader, so that it will not be necessary to leave fewer than three verses until the end of the paragraph.

זה הכלל כל שיש בו מוסף וכו': איבעיא להו תענית צבור בכמה ראש חדש ומועד דאיכא קרבן מוסף ארבעה אבל הכא דליכא קרבן מוסף לא או דלמא הכא נמי איכא מוסף תפלה

§ We learned in the mishna: This is the principle: Any day on which there is an additional offering sacrificed in the Temple and that is not a Festival, four people read from the Torah. A dilemma was raised before the Sages: On a public fast, how many people read from the Torah? Does the mishna mean to say that only on the New Moon and the intermediate days of a Festival, when there is an additional offering, four people read; but here, on a public fast day, when there is no additional offering, no, only three people read? Or perhaps here, too, there is an additional prayer, as on public fast days the prayer: Aneinu, is inserted into the Amida prayer, and so too an additional reader is called to read from the Torah.

ת"ש בראשי חדשים ובחולו של מועד קורין ארבעה הא בתענית צבור ג' אימא רישא בשני ובחמישי ובשבת במנחה קורין ג' הא תענית צבור ארבעה אלא מהא ליכא למישמע מינה

The Gemara attempts to adduce a proof: Come and hear that which we learned in the mishna: On the days of the New Moon and on the intermediate days of a Festival, four people read from the Torah. Doesn’t this indicate that on a public fast, only three people read? The Gemara responds: Say the first clause of the mishna: On Mondays and Thursdays during the morning service and on Shabbat during the afternoon service, three people read from the Torah. Doesn’t this indicate that on a public fast, four people read from the Torah? Rather, it must be concluded that nothing can be derived from this mishna with regard to a public fast day, as the mishna does not mean to indicate the halakha in every possible case.

ת"ש דרב איקלע לבבל בתענית צבור קם קרא בסיפרא פתח בריך חתים ולא בריך נפול כולי עלמא אאנפייהו ורב לא נפל על אפיה

A different proof is now suggested. Come and hear the following incident: Rav once happened to come to Babylonia on a public fast. He stood and read from a Torah scroll. When he began to read, he recited a blessing, but when he concluded, he did not recite a blessing. Everyone else fell on their faces, i.e., bowed down on the floor, during the Taḥanun supplication, as was the custom, but Rav did not fall on his face.

מכדי רב בישראל קרא מאי טעמא חתם ולא בריך לאו משום דבעי למיקרי אחרינא בתריה

The Gemara attempts to clarify the halakha based upon Rav’s conduct. Now, Rav must have read the portion that is designated for an Israelite, as he was neither a priest nor a Levite, and therefore he was the third person to read from the Torah. What, then, is the reason that when he concluded his reading he did not recite a blessing? Was it not because another person was to read after him, and since only the last reader recites a blessing, Rav did not recite a blessing upon completion of his portion? This would indicate that four readers are called to the Torah on public fasts.

לא רב בכהני קרא דהא רב הונא קרי בכהני

The Gemara rejects this proof: No, Rav read the first reading, which is generally designated for priests. He was the leading Torah authority of his generation, and one who holds this position is called to read from the Torah even before a priest, as Rav Huna would read the first reading, which is generally designated for priests, and Rav would do the same.

בשלמא רב הונא קרי בכהני דהא אפילו רב אמי ורב אסי דכהני חשיבי דארעא ישראל מיכף כייפו ליה לרב הונא אלא רב הא איכא שמואל דכהנא הוה ודבר עליה

The Gemara raises a difficulty: Granted, Rav Huna read the portion designated for priests, as even Rav Ami and Rav Asi, who were the most esteemed priests in Eretz Yisrael, were subordinate to Rav Huna, and he was considered the undisputed rabbinic leader of the Jewish people. However, in the case of Rav, there was Shmuel, who was a priest, and Rav had elevated him above himself, showing Shmuel deference in all matters of honor. Consequently, Rav was not the singular leader of his generation and would not have read the first reading in place of a priest.

שמואל נמי מיכף הוה כייף ליה לרב ורב הוא דעבד ליה כבוד וכי עביד ליה בפניו שלא בפניו לא עביד ליה

The Gemara answers: In fact, Shmuel was also subordinate to Rav, as Rav was indeed the leading authority in Babylonia, and it was Rav who showed Shmuel honor of his own volition, in order to appease him for having cursed him. And he did this only when Shmuel was in his presence, but when he was not in his presence, Rav did not do this, and therefore Rav would read first from the Torah when Shmuel was not present.

הכי נמי מסתברא דרב בכהני קרא דאי סלקא דעתך בישראל קרא לפניה מאי טעמא בריך לאחר תקנה

The Gemara comments: So too, it is reasonable to assume that Rav read first from the portion that is generally designated for priests, because if it enters your mind to say that he read third, from the portion designated for an ordinary Israelite, what is the reason he recited a blessing before reading his portion? Only the first reader recites a blessing before reading from the Torah. The Gemara rejects this argument: This incident took place after it was instituted that all those called to read from the Torah recite a blessing.

אי הכי לאחריה נמי לבריך שאני היכא דיתיב רב דמיעל עיילי

The Gemara asks: If so, he should also have recited a blessing after his reading, as the rabbinic enactment requires those who read from the Torah to recite blessings both before and after their reading. The Gemara answers: The reason that the Sages required all the readers to recite blessings both before and after their readings was to prevent misunderstandings on the part of both those who enter the synagogue in the middle of the reading and those who leave early. But it was different where Rav was present, as people would enter the synagogue in the middle of the reading,