THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Hashanah 11
ROSH HASHANAH 11 (2 Av) - dedicated l'Iluy Nishmas Lipa ben Aryeh ha'Kohen
on his Yahrzeit
1) HALACHAH: THE BLESSING FOR BLOSSOMING FRUIT TREES
Rav Yehudah says that when one sees blossoming fruit trees during the month
of Nisan, one recites a special blessing. What conditions are necessary in
order to recite this blessing?
(a) The HILCHOS KETANOS (2:28), cited by the BE'ER HEITEV (OC 226:1), rules
that one recites this blessing only for a tree that bears edible fruit.
(b) Although the Gemara says that one recites the blessing when he sees the
tree during the month of Nisan, the RITVA here writes that it does not mean
specifically Nisan. *Whenever* happens to be the season for trees to
blossom, depending on the climate, when one sees a blossoming fruit tree for
the first time that year, he may recite a Berachah -- such as in Tishrei for
the southern hemisphere. The Acharonim accept this ruling (MACHTZIS
HA'SHEKEL; the BIRKEI YOSEF writes though that based on reasons of
Kabalistic nature one should recite this blessing specifically during the
month of Nisan). Why, then, does the Gemara mention the month of Nisan? It
is possible that the Gemara means that one should not recite the blessing
for the early bloomers, but only in the season when many trees are
Some rule that one may recite the blessing even after the fruit has grown
(VILNA GA'ON 226:2).
(c) The later Acharonim say that one should recite the blessing upon seeing
at least *two* blossoming fruit trees together. This is because the Gemara
says, "When one sees *trees* blossoming," in the plural.
2) THE RISE AND DESCENT OF THE MAZALOS
QUESTION: The Beraisa says that according to Rebbi Yehoshua, the flood
occurred in the month of Iyar, when the constellation of Kimah is "sinking"
or descending (Shoke'a) during the daytime. However, in order to bring the
flood upon the world, Hashem changed its pattern and made it "rise" (Oleh)
during the daytime. According to Rebbi Eliezer, the flood occurred in
Marcheshvan, when Kimah is rising, and thus Kimah was rising as usual and it
was not necessary for Hashem to change its pattern.
Rashi explains that Kimah is the tail of the constellation Tleh (Aries),
which is also the head of Shor (Taurus). The Mazal of the month of Iyar is
the constellation Shor. This means that in Iyar, Shor is in the background
behind the sun (and thus Shor is not visible at night the entire month -
precession not being taken into consideration). Consequently, the
constellation Tleh, which travels ahead of Shor, rises just before the sun
rises (and thus is visible at the end of the night), and travels through the
daytime sky, setting at the western horizon just before sunset. Therefore,
during the entire month of Iyar, Kimah -- which is the tail of Tleh -- is up
in the sky the entire day, until a moment before sunset when it sets (since
it is traveling directly in front of the sun). If so, how can the Beraisa
say that the constellation of Kimah is "Shoke'a" during the day in Iyar,
which implies that it sinks, or sets, during the day. In Iyar, it is rising
during the day!
Similarly, Rashi (near the end of 11b) writes concerning Tleh that in Iyar,
"the entire day it is Shoke'a." How can he write that it is Shoke'a during
the day in the month of Iyar? It is *rising* during the day (at least during
the first half of the day). In fact, not only does Kimah not "sink" during
the day in Iyar, but it *does* "sink" in Marcheshvan. Why does the Gemara
say that according to Rebbi Eliezer Kimah rises during the day!
Rebbi Eliezer says that the flood occurred in the month of Marcheshvan. The
Mazal of Marcheshvan is Akrav (Scorpio), which is six Mazalos away from
Shor, just like Marcheshvan is six months away from Iyar, and at the
opposite point in the sky. This means that in Marcheshvan, Kimah (the tail
of Tleh) will be a little over six Mazalos ahead of the sun (six more
Mazalos than Akrav is Shor, and a bit more is the tail of Tleh).
Accordingly, Kimah is setting by the time the sun rises, because there are
only six Mazalos in the sky at a time, and Kimah is more than six Mazalos
away from the sun. Kimah rises again 12 hours later, or just before the sun
sets. If so, according to Rebbi Eliezer, the Beraisa should say that Kimah
is *Shoke'a* the entire day! Why does it say that Kimah is *Oleh* during the
day according to Rebbi Eliezer, and *Shoke'a* during the day according to
Rebbi Yehoshua? It should say the opposite!
(a) RASHI learns that when the Beraisa says that Kimah is Shoke'a in Iyar,
it means that it has already made its appearance in the sky. From the moment
that the Mazal fully appears in the sky, it is considered to be descending
(i.e. it is heading towards the western horizon) until it sets and
completely disappears beneath the horizon. At that point, after it has set,
it is considered to be beginning its ascent (i.e. it is heading towards the
eastern horizon) and is "Oleh." It completes its ascent the moment that it
rises and fully appears in the sky. This also explains why the Beraisa says
that according to Rebbi Eliezer, Kimah is considered to be rising during the
day in the month of Marcheshvan, because by sunrise it has completely
disappeared below the horizon, and therefore it is considered to be "Oleh"
the entire day, as it makes its way up towards the horizon in order to rise
and appear in the sky.
Rashi apparently learns that a Mazal is able to influence the world only
during the time that it is Oleh (that is, when it is beneath the world), and
more specifically, while it is rising over the eastern horizon. After it has
completely risen and it begins to cross the sky, its power wanes. Hence the
only time that the flood could begin was while the Mazal Kimah was rising
and above the world, at which time the floodwaters could pour forth through
the two stars that were removed from it and inundate the world (as Rashi
says, the rain came through the holes that were made when two stars in Kimah
were removed from their places). Therefore, according to Rebbi Yehoshua who
says that the flood occurred in Iyar when Kimah rises before sunrise, the
Mabul could not have occurred because Kimah was already on its way down by
the time that the day began (sunrise). Therefore, Hashem had to change the
pattern of the world and make Kimah rise later than usual, so that in would
rise when it was already day.
According to Rebbi Eliezer, there was a moment at the end of the day, right
before sunset, at which Kimah was in the process of rising, and therefore
the flood could come to the world through Kimah at that time.
(b) TOSFOS, BA'AL HA'ME'OR and others reverse the Girsa, so that according
to Rebbi Eliezer, Kimah is *Shoke'a* during the day (in Marcheshvan), and
according to Rebbi Yehoshua, it is *Oleh* during the day (in Iyar). As such,
the Gemara works out simply, because Kimah is indeed rising in the sky
during the days in Iyar and it is descending beneath the world during the
days in Marcheshvan, as we explained in our question.
The Me'or expresses wonderment at why Rashi found it necessary to change
this Girsa and insist on his own Girsa, which just complicates matters.
Perhaps Rashi was bothered by the wording of the Beraisa in the Gemara.
Tosfos says that Kimah is up during the day in Iyar and it is down during
the day in Marcheshvan. According to that explanation, the words "Shoke'a"
and "Oleh" are inappropriate; it should say instead that Kimah is either
"above" the earth or "below" it.
(c) The ARUCH (Erech Kimah, and as recorded in the addendum of Talmidei
Rashi that is printed at the end of the Maseches, on Daf 35a) had the Girsa
of Tosfos, but did not give the same explanation as Tosfos. Rather, he
explains that the Mazalos of this Sugya have nothing to do with the actual
position of the stars relative to the sun. Rather, these Mazalos are just an
astrological formula which express a method for predicting world events. It
is similar to the seven Mazalos of the hours (Sha'os) as described in the
Gemara in Shabbos (156a), whereby each hour is represented by a different
planet which has power over that hour, and they rotate in cycles of seven on
an hourly basis.
According to this method of astrology, all twelve Mazalos serve during the
daytime, as well as during the nighttime, each one "serving" one hour during
the day and one hour during the night. Each month the night (and day) begins
with a different Mazal. When the Gemara says that a Mazal is "Shoke'a," it
is referring to the Mazal whose turn comes right after midday or after
midnight. A Mazal that is "Oleh" refers to a Mazal whose hour comes during
the first half of the day or night. Therefore, according to Rebbi Eliezer
who says that the flood occurred in Marcheshvan, when Akrav is the leading
Mazal, the hour of Shor (which includes Kimah, the tail of Tleh) comes six
hours later, which is the first hour after midday, and therefore it is said
to be "Shoke'a," because it only comes to power after midday. According to
Rebbi Yehoshua, the flood occurred in Iyar, when the leading Mazal is Shor,
and thus the hour of Kimah occurred when the sun was on the rise, in the
first half of the day, and thus it is said to be "Oleh."