ANSWERS TO REVIEW QUESTIONS
prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem
Previous dafTa'anis 20
TA'ANIS 20 (15 Elul) - dedicated by Yechiel Wachtel l'Iluy Nishmas his
father, Reb Shimon Eliezer ben Reb Yechiel Wachtel (who passed away on 15
(a) The gist of Nakdimon's prayers was - that Hashem should take into
account the fact that he had not acted on his own behalf, but in honor of
Hashem, so that water should be available to those who went to Yerushalayim
(b) Hashem answered Nakdimon's prayers, and even more rain fell than was
needed to fill the twelve water-wells. The aristocrat reacted to that
however - by arguing that the rainfall had come after nightfall, too late to
let Nakdimon off the hook from paying his debt.
(c) After Nakdimon returned to the Beis Hamikdash to pray a second time, the
clouds dispersed and the sun appeared. The aristocrat then said that - had
the clouds not dispersed, allowing the sun's rays to shine, he would have
forced Nakdimon to pay.
(d) Even though his real name was Buni - he was nevertheless called
'Nakdimon' because the sun shone on his account (and 'Nakdimon' is an
acronym of 'Nikderah Chamah [Ba'avuro]').
(a) The sun also stood still for two other Tzadikim (besides Nakdimon ben
Gurion). We know that the sun stood still for Yehoshua from the Pasuk in
Yehoshua "va'Yidom ha'Shamesh, ve'Yarei'ach Amad" (whilst he chased the
fleeing kings whom he had defeated). We learn from the 'Gezeirah-Shavah'
*"Acheil* Teis Pachdecha" (Devarim) "Acheil Gadelcha" (Yehoshua) (or from
"Acheil *Teis* Pachdecha" "be'Yom *Teis* Hashem es ha'Emori" [Yehoshua],
according to Rebbi Shmuel bar Nachmeini) - that it also stood still for
(b) Rebbi Yochanan learns the same thing from the Pasuk in Devarim "Asher
Yishme'un Shim'acha, ve'Ragzu ve'Chalu Mipanecha" - which refers to Moshe,
and indicates that he did something that caused the nations of the world to
(a) Rav draws a major distinction between the Pasuk in Amos (quoted in our
Mishnah) "ve'Himtarti al Ir Achas, ve'Al Achas Lo Amtir" and the Pasuk in
Eichah "Haysah Yerushalayim le'Nidah Beinehem" - inasmuch as, whereas the
former is a curse (as we explained in our Mishnah), the latter is a
Berachah, because it contains the promising news that Yerushalayim will once
again regain her former status, like a Nidah becomes permitted once again to
(b) Rav's Derashah from the Pasuk in Eichah is quoted by Rav Yehudah.
According to Rav Yehudah (himself), the following Pesukim all contain a
Berachah. He Darshens from the Pasuk ...
1. ... "Haysah *ke*'Almanah" - "ke'Almanah", 've'Lo Almanah Mamash',
because, as we just explained, Yerushalayim will be returned to its former
(c) Bil'am compared Yisrael to a cedar-tree. Rebbi Shmuel bar Nachmeini Amar
Rebbi Yonasan learns from the Pasuk in Mishlei "Ne'emanim Pitz'ei Oheiv
ve'Ne'etaros Neshikos Sonei" - that the curses of the Navi Achyah ha'Shiloni
(the author of the Pasuk in Melachim - who loved us) are more beneficial to
us than the blessings of Bil'am ha'Rasha (who hated us).
2. ... "ve'Gam Ani Nasati Eschem Nivzim u'Shefalim" - that our captors will
consider us too insignificant to appoint us tax-collectors or officers in
their army (a real Berachah).
3. ... (again in the name of Rav) "ve'Hikah Hashem es Yisrael Ka'asher Yanud
ha'Kaneh ba'Mayim" - that the bamboo in the water does not succumb to the
strongest winds. It bends with the wind and then, when the wind has passed,
it straightens itself once more (see also 4a.).
(d) Besides 'heaped up' - Ne'etaros also means turned over (from the word
'Asar' - a pitch-fork) (from what appears to be a blessing, into a curse -
(a) Rebbi Shmuel bar Nachmeini Amar Rebbi Yonasan connects the Pasuk in
Mishlei with (the previous Derashah from) the Pasuk in Melachim (said by
Achyah ha'Shiloni) by pointing out the differences between a bamboo-cane and
a cedar. As opposed to a bamboo, a cedar does not grow next to water, and
when it is cut down it does not re-grow. The third (physical) difference
that distinguishes the bamboo from the cedar is - the fact that it has many
Rebbi Yonasan says that a cedar does not grow next to water, in spite of the
Pasuk, which specifically writes "ka'Arazim *Alei Mayim* - because it was
not Bil'am who said "Alei Mayim" but an angel. (Indeed, this is the case
with all the phrases in this particular Berachah, which Bil'am meant as a
curse. For example, he meant to say "ki'Nechalim" - which sometimes dry up -
but the angel added "Nitayu", as the Pasuk in Ki Seitzei testifies "va'Yahafoch
Hashem Lecha es ha'Kelalah li'Verachah").
(b) It enjoys the additional (spiritual) advantage - that the Sofrim would
use it to make quills to write Sifrei-Torah, Nevi'im and Kesuvim (though it
is no longer customary to do so).
(c) The bamboo is not blown down by the wind like the cedar is - because it
sways before the wind, rather than standing straight before it (to be broken
by it), like the cedar does (teaching us that if one knows how to bend
before a superior force, one is able to survive).
(d) It is specifically the *south*-wind that blows down the cedar - because
it is the most powerful of all the winds.
(a) In an unusually jovial mood, Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Shimon was riding his
donkey by the river-bank one day feeling quite pleased with himself, when he
came across a very ugly man. What he had done that day that caused him to
feel so jovial (and so proud) - was to learn a lot of Torah.
(b) Besides not returning the man's greeting - he said to him 'Empty man, is
everybody in your town as ugly as you'? (see Agados Maharsha).
(c) The man responded - by telling Rebbi Elazar to lodge his complaint with
the One who created him.
(d) When Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Shimon dismounted and begged him for
forgiveness - the man was willing to forgive Rebbi Elazar, but only on
condition that he first went to lodge his complaint, as he had originally
(a) The man followed Rebbi Elazar into town. When he discovered that the man
whom the townspeople were calling 'Rebbe', was none other than the one who
had insulted him - he declared that there should not be many like him in
(b) The people begged him to forgive Rebbi Elazar, because he was an
extremely learned man - to which he acceded, on condition that he would not
repeat what he had done.
(c) Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Shimon subsequently Darshened - that one should be
soft (supple) like a bamboo, and not hard like a cedar (by which he might
have meant that one should be humble like a bamboo (which bends) and not
proud like a cedar (which stands straight), like he had been; or he might
have been meant that one should be quick to forgive, and not hard and
unyielding like the man whom he insulted.
(d) That is why the bamboo merited to be used as a quill to write with it
Sifrei-Torah, Tefilin and Mezuzos.
(a) We learned in our Mishnah that a town whose walls collapsed in the wind
must fast and blow the Shofar. But that is only if the walls are strong and
not due to collapse, but not if they are weak or due to collapse. Having
mentioned 'weak', 'due to collapse' might mean due to its height. It might
also mean - 'built on the banks of a river', where they are more vulnerable
(because the water tends to weaken their foundations).
(b) Rav and Shmuel were very particular not to pass under 'a weak wall in
Neherda'a that was not due to fall'. Even though it was a weak wall, they
referred to it as 'not due to fall' - because it had remained standing for
so long (it was almost as if it had a Chazakah that it would not fall).
(c) On one occasion, Rav was not afraid to walk next to it - because he and
Shmuel were in the company of Rav Ada bar Ahavah, who was such a Tzadik
that, as long as he was there, they knew that the wall was certain not to
(a) Rav Huna once had some wine stored in a weak house that was due to fall.
To enable him to remove the wine without the house collapsing on him, he
fetched Rav Ada bar Ahavah, and discussed a Sugya with him until he had
removed the entire stock. No sooner had Rav Ada bar Ahavah left the house,
than it collapsed.
(b) Rav Ada's anger was based on his interpretation of the Pasuk in
va'Yishlach "Katonti mi'Kol ha'Chasadim u'mi'Kol ha'Emes" - which he
interpreted to mean that (even) Ya'akov Avinu's merits diminished on account
of all the kindnesses (incorporating all the miracles) that Hashem had
performed with him. He was therefore angry because he was afraid that he
would certainly have lost some of his merits, because of the miracle that
had just been performed because of him.
(c) When they asked Rav Ada bar Ahavah what he had done to merit such long
life, he replied with a list of seven points: He said that he had never been
cross with his family, walked in front of people who knew more Torah than he
did - or thought words of Torah in dirty alleyways.
(d) He never walked four Amos without Torah and without Tefilin (except in
dirty alleyways), or slept in the Beis-Hamedrash no matter what. The next
two things that he did, belonged to Mitzvos between man and man - he never
rejoiced over another Jew's downfall and he never called a fellow Jew by a
derogatory nickname by which others called him ('ba'Hachinaso'). Others had
the text 'ba'Chanichaso' (meaning a family nickname - even if it was not
(a) When Rava asked (his grand-Talmid) Rafram bar Papa to tell him about the
good deeds of Rav Huna (this cannot possibly be referring to Rav Huna, the
disciple of Rav, who lived some four generations before Rafram) he replied
that he could only re-call things that he had done later in life.
1. On every cloudy day - Rav Huna would ride around the town where he lived
in a golden wagon, and demolish all the weak (and dangerous) walls. If the
owner could not afford to re-build it, he would pay for it out of his own
(b) He did that - to encourage them to continue to bring their wares to
market to sell in honor of Shabbos. Alternatively, he knew that other people
down the river would find them, and put them to good use.
2. Every Friday - he would buy all the left-over vegetables from the
vegetable-gardeners and throw them into the river.
(c) He did not give the vegetables that he had bought ...
1. ... to the poor - because then they would rely on *him* for their
vegetables, and what would they do on a week when there were no leftovers,
and they would discover that until it was too late?
(d) He would place a bottle of water behind the door for anyone to take -
either for people who were thirsty to drink, or for people to wash their
hands before eating, to avoid being harmed by Shivsa, the demon who attacks
anyone who eats without washing his hands.
2. ... to the animals - because, in his opinion, one is not permitted to
give food that is fit for humans to animals (because it is downgrading human
(a) The final good deed of Rav Huna was the only one that Rava claimed he
could not emulate - whenever he ate bread, he would open his door wide and
invite anyone who wished to come and join him.
(b) The reason that Rava was unable to emulate Rav Huna in this was -
because of the many poor people in Mechuza (his home town - see Agados
Maharsha) who would take up his offer, causing him to go bankrupt.