THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) HALACHAH: BURYING A "MES" ON THE SECOND DAY OF YOM TOV
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
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.
 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.
 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:
(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.
(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).
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).
(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.).
2) COVERING A POT ON SHABBOS
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
(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.