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Shabbos 139


OPINIONS: The Gemara relates that the people of Bashkar sent three questions to Levi (who passed away before the questions reached him). The third question was what to do with the body of someone who died on Yom Tov. Rav Menashya responded that neither a Jew nor a gentile may be involved with the body on either day of Yom Tov. The Gemara concludes that Rav Menashya was being strict with the people of Bashkar because they were not Bnei Torah and he feared that they might be too lenient if he told them the letter of the law. In truth, though, the Halachah is that on the first day of Yom Tov, a gentile may be bury the body and on the second day of Yom Tov, even a Jew may take care of the needs of the Mes.

TOSFOS (139b, DH Yom Tov Sheni) relates that the Jews of the town of Melun (France) buried a Mes on the second day of Yom Tov. When Rabeinu Tam heard about it, he reprimanded them and sent to them the following message: "The people of Bashkar were not Bnei Torah -- are the people of Melun Bnei Torah?!"

Why exactly did Rabeinu Tam object to the conduct of the people of Melun? Were they acting contrary to the Halachah with regard to burying a Mes on the second day of Yom Tov?

There are two different explanations concerning what was incorrect about the conduct of the people of Melun, and for each explanation, there are various opinions why Rabeinu Tam objected.

[1] According to some, Rabeinu Tam objected to having *Jews* bury the dead on the second day of Yom Tov, for the one of the following reasons:

(a) TOSFOS here explains that in Beitzah (6a), Ravina concludes that even though it was initially permitted for Jews to bury a Mes on the second day of Yom Tov, nowadays it is prohibited because the gentiles might see the Jews doing Melachah for the Mes and they will force the Jews to do Melachah for them, too, on Yom Tov. Even though this concern does not exist today in most places, since the Jews are not so oppressed by the gentiles, the Halachah remains the same.

(b) TOSFOS in Beitzah (6a) and other Rishonim write that Ravina's reasoning still applies today. Even though we are not oppressed by our gentile neighbors, we are still concerned that the officials of the king or governing body will see Jews doing Melachah for a Mes on Yom Tov and they will draft the Jews to do Melachah on Yom Tov. This is the reason why Rabeinu Tam objected to the Jews of Melun burying a Mes on the second day of Yom Tov.

(c) RASHI in our Gemara says that it is only permitted to bury a Mes if the body had been waiting for at least a day (that is, it died the day before Yom Tov Sheni). The people of Melun were burying a Mes that died on that day. Rabeinu Tam ruled like his grandfather, Rashi, that it is not permitted to bury a Mes on Yom Tov if it died on that day. (This is also the ruling of the Ohr Zarua.)

(d) Rabeinu Tam was upset that the Jews of Melun buried the Mes *themselves* and did not commission gentiles to do it. Since it was possible to have gentiles do the work for them, they should not have buried the Mes themselves. This is the ruling of the SH'EILTOS.

(e) Rabeinu Tam may have been of the opinion that today we should be stringent not to permit Jews to bury a Mes on the second day of Yom Tov because we are like the people of Bashkar and are not considered to be Bnei Torah (HAGAHOS MAIMONI, Hilchos Yom Tov 1:70). However, we are permitted to ask *gentiles* to bury the Mes for us even though Rebbi Menashya did not permit the people of Bashkar to do so, because the people of Bashkar were even less of Bnei Torah than we.

[2] The RAMBAN (Teshuvos ha'Ramban, cited in Orchos Chaim, Hilchos Yom Tov 25) and TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ (Beitzah 6a) explain that Rabeinu Tam was not upset that Jews buried the Mes on the second day of Yom Tov. Rather, he objected because a *large crowd* of the people of Melun were involved in the funeral, and he ruled that only the exact number of people necessary for burying the Mes may go out to the burial. The reasoning for this is:
(a) We do not permit the involvment of a large crowd, since that would make the event public and well-known. If the event becomes public, we are afraid that people will be lax in their observance of Yom Tov Sheni, since we are not considered Bnei Torah (Tosfos, Beitzah).

(b) The RAMBAN (Toras ha'Adam, end of Inyan ha'Hotza'ah) explains that the Rabanan only permitted the bare minimum of Melachah necessary to bury a Mes on Yom Tov Sheni. Since it is not necessary for a large crowd to go out with the Mes, it is prohibited. (The Ramban points out that we find this type of enactment with regard to desecrating the Shabbos in order to give testimony for Edus ha'Chodesh, see Rosh Hashanah 21b.).

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 526:27) follows this last opinion (2:b) and maintains that it is only permitted to do what is necessary but not more than what is necessary. The REMA (OC 526:4), though, rules that it is not permitted for Jews to bury a Mes if it is possible to get gentiles to do the work for us (like opinion 1:d).


QUESTION: The Gemara says that spreading a cloth cover over half of a vessel is permitted, but spreading a cover over the entire vessel is prohibited. Why, then, is it permitted then to cover a pot or container on Shabbos? The Mishnah (126b) states that one may cover vessels on Shabbos!


(a) TOSFOS (Beitzah 33a) explains that our Gemara is referring to a very wide vessel, and when its cover is placed on top it looks like an Ohel is being made.

(b) The RA'AVAD, as cited by the RASHBA and RITVA, answers that the only reason it is prohibited to spread the cloth cover on the vessel is because it looks like a Meshameres (a strainer), since that is the normal manner that people do their straining during the week. Covering half of the vessel does not look like a Meshameres is being made, because that is not the way people do their straining. Covering a pot with a solid cover is permitted.

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