Blog Yomi – Moed Katan #10

We’re up to דף יא עמוד א, and our final Mishnah heading into the home stretch of פּרק ראשׁון, as we continue with things that are permissible to engage in on חול המועד, and those activities which are not permitted.

עוֹשִׂין מַעֲקֶה לַגַּג וְלַמִּרְפֶּסֶת מַעֲשֵׂה הֶדְיוֹט, אֲבָל לֹא מַעֲשֵׂה אוּמָּן. שָׁפִין אֶת הַסְּדָקִין וּמַעֲגִילִין אוֹתָן בַּמַּעֲגִילָה, בַּיָּד וּבָרֶגֶל אֲבָל לֹא בְּמַחְלָצַיִם. One may construct a railing for a roof or a balcony if it is done in a nonprofessional manner, as the work of a layman, but not if it is done skillfully, as the work of a craftsman. One may plaster the cracks in an oven and roll over them with a roller, a wooden tool used to smooth out clay, with a hand or a foot, but not with a presser, a tool that is specially designed for this task.

The Gemara will elaborate on the latter point in a moment, but mention of the מִּרְפֶּסֶת reminded me of how much it became a focal point in Israel during the pandemic in 2020, when people would network from their balconies. Such was the case in this example of a neighborhood “Pesach Block Party”.

The constraints on carpentry permissible on חול המועד continues:

הַצִּיר וְהַצִּינּוֹר וְהַקּוֹרָה וְהַמַּנְעוּל וְהַמַּפְתֵּחַ שֶׁנִּשְׁבְּרוּ — מְתַקְּנָן בַּמּוֹעֵד, וּבִלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא יִתְכַּוֵּין לַעֲשׂוֹת מְלַאכְתּוֹ בַּמּוֹעֵד. With regard to the hinge of a door, and the cylinder of the hinge, and the cross beam that holds the door, and a lock and a key that broke, one may fix them on the intermediate days of a Festival as these items are essential for the Festival and their repair cannot be delayed. This is permitted, provided that he does not intend ahead of time to do his labor on the Festival and delay it until that time.

Do you have an outdoor oven with cracks you’d like to repair on חול המועד? Not so fast:

שָׁפִין אֶת הַסְּדָקִין וּמַעֲגִילִין אוֹתָן בַּמַּעֲגִילָה. הַשְׁתָּא בְּמַעֲגִילָה אָמְרַתְּ שְׁרֵי — בַּיָּד וּבָרֶגֶל מִיבַּעְיָא? הָכִי קָאָמַר: שָׁפִין אֶת הַסְּדָקִין וּמַעֲגִילִין אוֹתָן כְּעֵין מַעֲגִילָה, בַּיָּד וּבָרֶגֶל, אֲבָל לֹא בְּמַחְלָצַיִם. One may plaster the cracks in an oven and roll over them with a roller, with a hand or a foot, but not with a presser. The Gemara asks: Now that you said that it is permitted to roll over the cracks with a roller, is it necessary to say that one may plaster the cracks with a hand or a foot? The Gemara answers that this is what the mishna is saying: One may plaster the cracks in an oven and roll over them as if with a roller, meaning with a hand or a foot, but not with a presser, which is a craftsman’s tool made especially for this.

So as you watch this video, envision doing it all with your hands and feet as tools instead of with a professional tool.

Next comes a comparison of two משׁניות that are apparently contradictory, rendering conflicting opinions about what kind of tool use is permitted during חול המועד relative the amount of sound they make, and therefore calling attention to the fact that work is being done. Three potential answers are given for the conflicting opinions:

  1. The distinction is between allowing use on חול המועד of carpenter’s tools that are essentially inaudible (כָּאן בִּדְנַגָּרֵי) as opposed to the blacksmith’s hammer which makes quite a racket (כָּאן בִּדְנַפָּחֵי). And in case you forgot (or never knew) how much of a loud banging sound the blacksmith’s hammer makes, have a look and listen:

2. A second and somewhat simpler answer as to the discrepancy between whether work that generates loud sounds was permitted on חול המועד or note is to differentiate the differences in opinion not by the distinction between tools used, but simply that we’re talking about two different time periods, one before the decree of Yochanan the כּהן גדול put a noise ban into effect, and one afterward:

רַב פָּפָּא אָמַר: כָּאן — קוֹדֶם גְּזֵירָה, כָּאן — לְאַחַר גְּזֵירָה. Rav Pappa said: Here in the Mishnah where noise generating tools were permitted during Chol HaMoed is referring to the period before the decree whereas there in the other Mishnah is referring to the period after the decree.

3. And lastly, the disparity may reflect the differences in opinion between רַבִּי יוֹסֵי and רַבִּי יִצְחָק:

רַב אָשֵׁי אָמַר: הָא — רַבִּי יְהוּדָה, הָא — רַבִּי יוֹסֵי. דְּאָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק בַּר אַבְדִּימִי: מַאן תַּנָּא שִׁינּוּי בַּמּוֹעֵד בְּדָבָר הָאָבֵד — דְּלָא כְּרַבִּי יוֹסֵי. Rav Ashi said: That Mishnah, which prohibits this labor, was taught in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda; while this Mishnah was taught in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yosei. As Rabbi Yitzḥak bar Avdimi said: Who is the tanna who taught that all labor performed on Chol HaMoed must be done with a שִׁנוּי (in an altered manner), even with regard to a matter that incurs monetary loss if timely action is not taken? It is not in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yosei, as Rabbi Yosei permits doing labor that will prevent financial loss even when it is done in the usual manner.

We finish out the פּרק with what, on the surface, appears to be relatively esoteric culinary and gastrointestinal advice:

אָמַר רַב: אֲמַר לִי אַדָּא צַיָּידָא, כְּווֹרָא סָמוּךְ לְמִיסְרְחֵיהּ מְעַלֵּי. וְאָמַר רַב, אֲמַר לִי אַדָּא צַיָּידָא: כְּווֹרָא, טַוְויָיא בַּאֲחוּהּ, אַסּוֹקֵיהּ בַּאֲבוּהּ, מֵיכְלֵי[הּ] בִּבְרֵיהּ, מִשְׁתֵּי עֲלֵיהּ אֲבוּהּ. Rav said: Adda the fisherman told me that a fish that has sat for some time and is close to spoiling is at its best. And Rav also said: Adda the fisherman told me: With regard to a fish, broil it with its brother, i.e., with salt, which, like fish, also comes from the sea; place it in its father, i.e., in water; and eat it with its son, i.e., with fish brine which comes from it; and drink after it its father, i.e., water.

The Transformative Daf digs a bit deeper. In entry #11 Rabbi Daniel Friedman notes that the Ben Ish Chai interprets Rav’s four dicta involving fish as parables about our relationship with Torah:

  1. Fish is best just prior to spoiling is Rav’s way of weighing in on the Gemara’s debate (at the end of Horayos) about who is the ideal Torah leader. Is it better to be sharp and insightful, or to be more seasoned and measured. Rav maintains that is the latter. Rabbi Friedman opines that in today’s social media world, thought leaders are expected to respond with an opinion spontaneously and concisely. Better to weight one’s opinion, says Rav, rather being pressured to respond quickly or impetuously.
  2. One begins by learning from a spiritual “father”, but the broiling – the intensive study – happens with the “brother” (and in my instance, intensive study facilitated by my brother-in-law). Even when one has reached the teaching stage, Rabbi Friedman notes, he still needs a mentor.
  3. Rav’s third teaching is that one must review one’s learning thoroughly before moving on (which in essences is the purpose of this blog). Rav Chanoch Beghard in Shiurim B’Haggados Chazal explains that fish, cress, and milk refer to different aspects of Torah learning. Fish represents elements of Torah with clear halachic determination; cress to sharp and intensive “pilpulic” analysis; and milk is an illusion to sweet and practice teachings.
  4. The last of Rav’s teachings is the progression involved in Torah learning: water represents baseline understanding; beer is the acquired taste of intensity and depth; and wine represents the time it takes for development to the level of a connoisseur.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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2 Responses to Blog Yomi – Moed Katan #10

  1. doctuhdon says:

    The video clips are very helpful

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