THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) FOLLOWING ASTROLOGICAL PREDICTIONS
QUESTION: The Tana'im and Amora'im discuss the effects of the Mazalos
(constellations) on human behavior and destiny. The Gemara describes how
certain Tana'im and Amora'im were concerned about the effects of the
This Gemara seems difficult in light of the Gemara in Pesachim (113b). The
Gemara there says that it is forbidden to ask a "Kalda'ei" for advice,
because the verse says "Tamim Tiheyeh Im Hashem Elokecha" -- "You shall be
completely faithful to Hashem your G-d" (Devarim 18:13). Our Gemara
describes a "Kalda'ei" as a gentile astrologer who gazes at the
constellations and predicts future events based on them. Why, then, does our
Gemara describe this discipline as something which is trustworthy, when the
Gemara in Pesachim says that we are not allowed to have any trust or faith
in it at all?
(a) RASHI in Pesachim (ibid.) translates "Kalda'ei" as Ba'alei Ovos, those
who divine with bones and commune with dead people. Everywhere else in Shas,
though, Rashi defines "Kalda'ei" as astrologers. Apparently Rashi maintained
that the Sugya in Pesachim cannot be referring to astrologers, because -- as
our Sugya makes clear -- there is nothing wrong with consulting with
astrologers. (TOSFOS and the RASHBAM there take issue with Rashi's
definition of "Kalda'ei" as Ba'alei Ovos.)
(b) The RAMBAN (in Teshuvos ha'Meyuchasos #243) and the NIMUKEI YOSEF
(Sanhedrin 65b) write that the Gemara in Pesachim is not teaching that there
is an Isur d'Oraisa to consult astrologers. If there was such an Isur
d'Oraisa, the Gemara would have cited as the source the negative commandment
(Devarim 18:10) commanding us not to be involved in any type of divination.
It must be that consulting astrologers is not included in that prohibition.
Rather, there is indeed some veracity to the science of astrological
prediction. Consequently, says the Ramban, if a person is told his
astrological forecast, he must not attempt to defy it because he might
thereby be placing himself in danger. Rather, he should heed the warning and
avoid the situation which his forecast says is dangerous for him.
When the Gemara in Pesachim says that one may not consult with astrologers,
it means that the *Rabanan advise* that one should not look into astrology
in the first place. Instead one should place his trust in Hashem and
acknowledge that his prayers to Hashem can be effective in altering his
fate. The reason why the Tana'im and Amora'im of our Sugya were concerned
over their astrological forecasts was not because they went to *consult*
with astrologers, but because they *happened* to find out about their
forecasts. To defy what they heard in such a manner would require relying on
a miracle to save them, and one may not rely on a miracle.
(c) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 11:8) rules that it is an Isur d'Oraisa
to look into one's astrological horoscope. What, then, does the Rambam do
with our Gemara?
When the Gemara lists each Mazal and its effects on one who was born in it,
that does not tell the person anything about how he should act in the
future, i.e. what day will be a good one and what day will be a bad one. It
is just telling us the facts about what that person's tendency will be.
Apparently, that does not fall into the prohibition against divining.
Similarly, when Rebbi Akiva was concerned for the astrological prediction
that was said about the fate of his daughter, he was merely worried, but he
did not *act* on the prediction of the astrologer.
However, the Rambam writes later (11:16) that anyone who believes that there
is any truth in these predictions is foolish and childish. How, then, could
Rebbi Akiva and the Amora'im be concerned for the predictions of
The Rambam, in his Introduction to Perush ha'Mishnayos, intimates that the
predictions of astrologers contain truth, but they are not *exact* in their
predictions. He may mean that a person's fate, as seen by astrological
prediction, is liable to change based on the performance of good deeds,
exactly as our Sugya concludes. In Hilchos Avodah Zarah, when he writes that
anyone who believes in astrological predictions is foolish, he means that
one must put his faith only in Hashem and acknowledge that Tefilah and
Yir'as Shamayim can entirely change one's fate and therefore it is futile to
put one's trust in the Mazalos, as our Gemara concludes.
When Rebbi Akiva was worried about the prediction of the astrologer, he was
worried for someone else (his daughter), since *she* might not be G-d-
fearing enough to merit having a good future. Similarly, the mother of Rav
Nachman bar Yitzchak was worried for the prediction said about Rav Nachman,
because she was worried that *her son* might not have enough merit to save
him from the fate that the astrologer predicted. About one's self, though, a
person need not fear; let him simply place his trust in Hashem and perform
Mitzvos and the dreaded outcome will not come to pass. (M. Kornfeld)
2) CUTTING GOURDS FOR ONE'S ANIMAL
QUESTION: The Mishnah says that it is permitted to cut gourds on Shabbos in
order to give them to one's animal to eat. Why is it necessary for the
Mishnah to permit cutting gourds? Why should it *not* have been permitted?
3) "MUCHAN L'ADAM MUCHAN L'KELAVIM"
(a) RASHI here says that a person cannot eat a gourd with first *cooking*
it. As a result, gourds are fit for man to eat, but they are not fit for him
on Shabbos. Therefore, they are considered "Muchan l'Adam" (fit for man)
which makes them unfit for animals.
According to this explanation, Rebbi Shimon and Rebbi Yehudah dispute this
point, and it is Rebbi Shimon who permits cutting gourds. Rebbi Yehudah
prohibits it because he maintains that something which is fit for man is
considered unfit for animals.
(b) The RITVA also explains that cutting gourds for one's animal is the
subject of a dispute between Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Shimon whether
something which is fit for man is fit for animals or not. The Ritva
explains, though, that before Shabbos, the gourds were *soft* and thus
suitable to be eaten by man, but on Shabbos they *became hard* and unfit for
man. Since they are not fit for man now, we do not permit them even for
animals (see next Insight).
(c) RABEINU TAM in Chulin (14a) explains that the Mishnah is referring to
gourds that were cut from the ground on Shabbos. Once again, Rebbi Yehudah
prohibits them and Rebbi Shimon permits them. Even Rebbi Shimon normally
prohibits items that were cut from the ground on Shabbos (because a person
had no intention whatsoever to use those items on Shabbos, Beitzah 24b and
Rashi there), nevertheless Rebbi Shimon permits gourds that were cut from
the ground on Shabbos, when the person had in mind to use the gourds
whenever they would become detached.
(Although the Rabanan prohibited using fruits that were detached from their
source on Shabbos -- "Peros ha'Noshrin," Beitzah 3a -- this prohibition
applies only to fruits which can be picked and eaten right away. It does not
apply to gourds, which must be cooked before they can be eaten.)
(d) TOSFOS and RASHI in Beitzah (2a) explain that the Mishnah is merely
teaching that cutting gourds for animals is not considered creating a new
food item (according to Rav Huna on 155a) or making a food item easier for
an animal to eat (according to Rav Yehudah on 155a). (Even though cutting
gourds is *not related* to the case of cutting a Neveilah for one's animal
on Shabbos, nevertheless it was placed in this Mishnah since this Mishnah
discusses cutting things.)
According to this explanation, both Rebbi Shimon and Rebbi Yehudah agree
that one may cut gourds for one's animal on Shabbos.
OPINIONS: The Mishnah explains that Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Shimon argue
about feeding an animal which died on Shabbos to a dog. According to the
Gemara, they argue whether or not something that was fit for man at the
beginning of Shabbos is considered fit for dogs as well.
Rebbi Yehudah says that something which was fit for man is considered
Muktzah for animals. When do we apply this prohibition? It is obvious that
bread, for example, which is fit for man, may be handled in order to give it
to animals, and it is not considered Muktzah with regard to giving it to
(a) RASHI explains that any item that will be fit for man to eat *after*
Shabbos but is not fit for man to eat on Shabbos is considered Muktzah with
regard to giving it to animals, since it cannot be used for man at the
present. However, if it can be eaten on Shabbos by man and is not Muktzah
for him, it may be moved for either man or animal. For this reason, a live
chicken or cow or similar animal which will not be eaten on Shabbos (because
it cannot be slaughtered on Shabbos) but will be slaughtered the next day,
is Muktzah. It may not even be given to dogs, alive or dead, according to
Rebbi Yehudah (see previous Insight).
(b) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR (142b) and the RITVA explain that something which is
or will be fit to be eaten by man -- even if it cannot be eaten on Shabbos
(for example, it needs to be cooked) -- is *not* considered Muktzah with
regard to giving it to animals. Only if it became *unfit* for man at some
point during Shabbos does it become Muktzah with regard to giving it to
animals, because it is considered Nolad, since before Shabbos it was fit
even for man and on Shabbos it became unfit for him. Even though it is still
fit for dogs, it is considered to be a new entity which came into existence
on Shabbos, and is Muktzah for both man and animals. (According to Rashi,
this may not be considered "Muchan l'Adam...," but rather simply "Nolad,"
see Rashi 29a DH Achlan.)