תשעה באב ושלוש התעניות
3) Rabbi Hai (ben Sherira) Gaon, 939-1038, Pumbedita, Babylon as recorded in Sefer Ha-Eshkol by Rabbi Avraham Av Beit Din (Ravad II), 1085-1158, Provence, France
ספר האשכול (אלבק) הלכות תשעה באב דף רטו עמוד א
ובתשובה לגאון [רבינו האי גאון] ז”ל, צומות האמורים בפסוק זה כה אמר ה’ צום הרביעי וצום החמישי וצום השביעי וצום העשירי כולן בטלו חוץ מת”ב דקאמרי’ אין שמד ואין שלום והוא בזמן הזה רצו מתענין <רצו אין מתענין>. ומקשי’ אי הכי ת”ב נמי, שני ת”ב הואיל והוכפלו בו צרות. מיכן שת”ב בלבד הוא דאיתיה [חובה] ואותן האחרים רצו מתענין [רצו אין מתענין].
The answer of the Gaon [Rabbeinu Hai Gaon], may his memory be for a blessing, is that the fasts spoken about in the verse Thus said the LORD of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, all are cancelled save for the 9th of Av, as it is said, in times when there are neither persecution nor shalom so in these times people may fast or not, as they see fit. And the position is challenged, If that is so, then the 9th of Av also! This is different, for on the 9th of Av many misfortunes occurred. From here we learn that only on the 9th of Av it is mandatory; on the other days, people may fast or not, as they see fit.
Background: Geonim (Hebrew: גאונים) were the presidents of the two great rabbinical colleges of Suraand Pumbedita, in Babylonia, and were the generally accepted spiritual leaders of the Jewish community world wide in the early medieval era. Geonim is the plural of גאון (Gaon), which means “pride” or “splendour” in Biblical Hebrew and since the 1800s “genius” as in modern Hebrew. As a title of a Babylonian college president it meant something like “His Excellency.” The Geonim played a prominent and decisive role in the transmission and teaching of Torah and Jewish law. They taught Talmud and decided on issues on which no ruling had been rendered during the period of the Talmud.
The period of the Geonim began in 589 after the period of the Sevora’im, and ended in 1038. There were two major Geonic academies, one in Sura and the other in Pumbedita. Hai ben Sherira, better known as Hai Gaon, was a medieval Jewish theologian, rabbi and scholar who served as Gaon of the Talmudic academy of Pumbedita during the early 11th century. He was born in 939 and died on March 28, 1038.
The record of his ruling is found here in Sefer Ha-Eshkol, a halakhic compendium written by Ravad II in the 12th century.
4) Rashi; Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak
רש”י מסכת ראש השנה דף יח עמוד ב
שיש שלום – שאין יד הגויים תקיפה על ישראל.
Tractate Rosh Hashanah 18b
When there is shalom is when the non-Jews do not have dominion over Israel
Background: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki, (Hebrew: רבי שלמה יצחקי), better known by the acronym Rashi(Hebrew: רש”י), (1040 1105), was a rabbi from France, famed as the author of the first comprehensive commentaries on the Talmud, Torah and Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). Acclaimed for his ability to present the basic meaning of the text in a concise yet lucid fashion, Rashi appeals to both learned scholars and beginning students, and his works remain a centerpiece of contemporary Jewish study. His commentaries, which appear in all printed editions of the Talmud and most printed editions of the Torah are an indispensable aid to both casual and serious students of =”Judaism”>Judaism‘s primary texts.
5) Ritva; Rabbi Yom Tov Asevilli
חידושי הריטב”א מסכת ראש השנה דף יח עמוד ב
. . . בזמן שיש שלום כלומר שישראל שרויין על אדמתם ובית המקדש קיים יהיו לששון ולשמחה, ואם אין שלום שביהמ”ק חרב ויש שמד על ישראל דאיכא תרתי לגריעותא שיהו צום גמור מגזירת נביאים הראשונים, ואם אין שלום וגם אין שמד יהיה הדבר תלוי ברצון ישראל רצו ב”ד מתענין לא רצו אין מתענין כלל
The time of shalom is when Israel is dwelling in their land and the temple is standing, these will be a time for joy and gladness. If there is no shalom, meaning that the Temple is destroyed and Israel is persecuted, there are two diminutions and there should be a complete fast as decreed by the early prophets. If there is not shalom, and there is not persecution, the thing is dependent on the desire of Israel. If the Bet Din (Jewish court) desires, there should be a fast. If the Bet Din does not desire, there should be no fast at all.
Background: Yom Tov Asevilli (1250-1330), who is commonly known to scholars of Judaism as the Ritva(an acronym of his Hebrew name), was a medieval rabbi and Halakhist famous for his commentary on the Talmud. The name “Asevilli” (sometimes pronounced “Ishbili”) is a Hebrew rendering of the Arabic Isbili, meaning “from Seville”. His commentary on the Talmud is extremely concise and as such is one of the most frequently referred to Talmudic works until today.
6) Nahmanides; Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman
תורת האדם שער האבל – ענין אבלות ישנה ד”ה (שם) קרי
. . . ועכשיו כבר רצו ונהגו להתענות בהם וקבלום עליהם, לפיכך אסור ליחיד לפרוץ גדרן, וכל שכן בדורות הללו שהרי בעונותינו שרבו יש שמד בישראל ואין שלום, הילכך חייבין הכל להתענות מדברי קבלה ותקנת נביאים.
Torat Ha-Adam, The Gate of Mourning “old mourning”
. . . And now they have already shown their disposition to fast and they have accepted it upon themselves. Therefore it is forbidden for an individual to break through our fence, even more so in these generations when due to our multitudinous sins, there is persecution upon Israel and there is no shalom. Therefore everyone is required to fast due to the received tradition and to the decree of the prophets.
Nahmanides (1194 1270) was a Catalan rabbi, philosopher, physician, Kabbalist and biblical commentator. “Nahmanides ” is the common name for Moshe ben Nahman Gerondi; the name is a Greek translation of the Hebrew “Ben Nahman”, meaning “Son of Nahman”. He is also commonly known as Ramban (רמב”ן) the acronym of his Hebrew name and title, Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman (רבי משה בן נחמן).
7) Shulhan Arukh
שולחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן תקמט:א
חייבים להתענות בתשעה באב ובי”ז בתמוז ובג’ בתשרי ובעשרה בטבת, מפני דברים הרעים שאירעו בהם.
שולחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן תקנ:א
הכל חייבים להתענות ארבע צומות הללו ואסור לפרוץ גדר
Oreh Hayyim 549:1
It is required to fast on the 9th of Av, the 17th of Tammuz, the 3rd of Tishrei, and the 10th of Tevet, because of the bad things that happened on these days.
Oreh Hayyim 550:1
Everyone is required to observe these four fasts and it is forbidden to break the fence.
Background: The Shulhan Arukh (Hebrew: ערוך שולחן, literally: “Set Table“) i
s a codification, or written manual, of halakha (Jewish law), composed by Rabbi Yosef Karo in the 16th century. Together with its commentaries, it is considered the most authoritative compilation of halakhasince the Talmud.
How does Ritva’s definition of “shalom” differ from that of Rashi?
If there is neither “shalom” nor persecution, who decides if we fast? Does Ritva agree with Hai Gaon?
Should there be a difference made between 9 B’av and the other minor fasts?
Again, do you think we are living in a period of “shalom” today?
Are we “allowed” to disagree with the Shulhan Arukh and rely on an earlier source?