THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Moed Katan, 25
MOED KATAN 24, 25 - anonymously dedicated by an Ohev Torah and Marbitz Torah
in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.
1) AGADAH: STANDING RAV HUNA'S COFFIN UPRIGHT
QUESTION: The Gemara describes how Rav Chaga brought Rav Huna's coffin into
the burial cave in which Rebbi Chiya and his sons, Yehudah and Chizkiyah,
were buried. When Chizkiyah arose to make room for Rav Huna, a terrifying
pillar of fire appeared. Rav Chaga, in his fright, erected the coffin of Rav
Huna in an upright position and fled the burial cave. The Gemara then says
that "the reason why he was not punished was because he stood up the coffin
of Rav Huna in an upright position."
What does the Gemara mean? Why is that the reason why Rav Chaga was not
punished? To the contrary -- he should have been punished for placing Rav
Huna's coffin in such a disrespectful position (an upright position is
disrespectful to the deceased, as the Gemara says in Bava Basra 101b)!
(a) From the words of RASHI here and in KSAV YAD, it seems that Rav Chaga
stood up Rav Huna's coffin in front of him so that the pillar of fire would
not harm him. However, that seems disrespectful -- to protect himself with
Rav Huna's coffin! Why, then, did it serve to protect him?
The BEN YEHOYADA says that Rav Chaga was not attempting to use Rav Huna's
coffin as a shield against the pillar of fire. Rather, Rav Chaga did not
want to gaze at the pillar of fire, because doing so would have been
disrespectful (since the pillar of fire represented the Kavod Hashem, see
Chagigah 16a). Had he looked at the pillar of fire, then he would have been
punished. Therefore, standing up Rav Huna's coffin was done not out of
self-protection, but out of honor for Hashem and for the deceased.
(b) RAV NISAN ZAKS in his notes to PERUSH RABEINU GERSHOM ME'OR HA'GOLAH
explains that Rav Chaga was not attempting to protect himself from the fire.
Rather, he was protecting the coffin of Rav Huna from the fire by standing
it up straight. This is what Rashi means when he says that "he stood up the
coffin before the pillar of fire so that *it should not harm him*,"
referring to Rav Huna.
(c) RABEINU CHANANEL has a slightly different Girsa. According to his Girsa,
the Gemara says that "the reason why the *members of the household of the
Reish Galusa* (d'Vei Reish Galusa) were not punished was because he stood up
the coffin of Rav Huna in an upright position." This is also the Girsa of
RABEINU TAM in SEFER HA'YASHAR (#513) and PERUSH RABEINU SHLOMO BEN HA'YASOM
and other Rishonim. The DIKDUKEI SOFRIM in his Hagahos says that he has no
idea what the Gemara means according to this Girsa.
It appears that according to this Girsa, the Gemara is saying as follows.
The disgrace shown to Rav Huna in his burial, by being interred vertically,
served as an atonement not only for him but also for his descendants who
were the family of the Reish Galusa (as Tosfos points out, that Rabeinu
Chananel holds this Rav Huna was Rav Huna the Reish Galusa). If so, the
Gemara is very clear.
2) THE DANGER OF THE TIGRIS RIVER
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that when Rava came to the Tigris River, he
asked Rav Avin to say some words of pray so that he should be saved from the
water. What exactly was Rava afraid of?
(a) The YA'AVETZ says that the Girsa of the Gemara should be "when the
Tigris came" instead of "when he came to the Tigris" ("Ki Havah Asa Diglas"
instead of "Ki Hava Asa *l*'Diglas"). It means that when the Tigris
overflowed and threatened to drown Rava's city, Rava asked Rav Avin to pray.
This is indeed the Girsa of RASHI KSAV YAD, and the way he explains the
Gemara in his second explanation.
(b) The PERUSH RABEINU GERSHOM ME'OR HA'GOLAH explains that when Rava came
to the Tigris he was afraid because "the waters were frightful." This is
also the explanation of RASHI KSAV YAD in his first explanation. (See
Berachos 59b, "the waters of the Tigris are Chadin v'Kalin"; see also RASHI
to Bereishis 2:14.) This is also the explanation of the ARUCH (Erech Os).
Rava was going to cross the river, and he feared that something would happen
to the ferry because the waters were so rough.