Blog Yomi – Moed Katan #11

Looking at the big picture of where we’re holding thus far on דף יא עמוד ב regarding work that is permitted on חול המועד and relating that to work that one may do while in אבילות (mourning), the משׁנה בּרורה clarifies that the five categories are:

  1. דבר האבוד – something that would incur monetary loss if deferred
  2. צריך רבּים – public works that are in the common interest, welfare or safety
  3. צריך מועד – those things done for the need of the holiday itself
  4. מעשׂה הדיוט – projects done by a non-artisan (amateur work)
  5. אכילת פּועל – for the necessity of feeding oneself

The בּרייתא is now going to discuss categories of workers who may have others carry out their tasks or responsibilities to others while they are in אבילות. As background, here are the three classes of workers who may designate others to do the work they obligated themselves to on their behalf:

a) אֲרִיסִין – sharecroppers, who work the land of another for a set percentage of the crop’s yield

b) חֲכִירִין – tenant farmers, who are charged a fixed rental amount for use of the land (as Rashi explains, if the land produces in excess of the anticipated yield, the tenant keeps the excess produce; if it produces the anticipated amount of crops the owner keeps it all; but if it produces less than what had been projected the owner takes the loss)

c) קַּבְּלָנִין – salaried workers who are paid a set amount irrespective of the yield of produce

הָאֲרִיסִין וְהַחֲכִירִין וְהַקַּבְּלָנִין — הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ יַעֲשׂוּ אֲחֵרִים בִּשְׁבִילָן. הַחַמָּרִין הַגַּמָּלִין וְהַסַּפָּנִין — הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ לֹא יַעֲשׂוּ, וְאִם הָיוּ מוּחְכָּרִין אוֹ מוּשְׂכָּרִין אֵצֶל אֲחֵרִים — הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ יַעֲשׂוּ. שְׂכִיר יוֹם אֲפִילּוּ בְּעִיר אַחֶרֶת — לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה. הָיְתָה מְלֶאכֶת אֲחֵרִים בְּיָדוֹ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבְּקִיבּוֹלֶת — לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה

Tenant farmers, who farm others’ land in exchange for a certain percentage of the crop, and leasers, who work the land in exchange for a fixed amount of the crop, and contractors, who work the land in exchange for a set amount of money, are included among those for whom others may perform their labor when they are in mourning. In contrast, donkey drivers, camel drivers, and sailors are those for whom others may not perform their work during their mourning periods. However, if they or their animals were leased or hired out to others, then they may perform work, because they were hired personally and cannot be replaced without loss. A day laborer, even if he is in a different city where his mourning status is not public knowledge, may not perform his work. If a commission for others was his responsibility, even if it was by contract and he was paid not by the day but upon its completion, he may not perform that labor.

I’d like to devote a little space here to what the Gemara discusses in the middle of דף יב עמוד א, and that is the general principle of what we sometimes refer in the vernacular to as “our old friend Morris”, more properly known as מראת עין – the decision to avoid an action because of how it might appear to other who are viewing. One of the examples given is the following:

מְקַבְּלִין קִיבּוֹלֶת בַּמּוֹעֵד לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ לְאַחַר הַמּוֹעֵד, וּבִלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא יִמְדּוֹד וְשֶׁלֹּא יִשְׁקוֹל וְשֶׁלֹּא יִמְנֶה כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהוּא עוֹשֶׂה בַּחוֹל. One may contract with a non-Jew on Chol HaMoed to do work after the Yom Tov, provided that he does not measure, weigh, or count, in order to plan the work, in the same manner as he would on an ordinary weekday. And the reason for that prohibition is that if someone else saw the contractor measuring on Chol HaMoed, he might misinterpret that as work being done on the מּוֹעֵד.

Another overarching principle of interest is “אָדָם חָשׁוּב שָׁאנֵי”, and that is important people or role models sense that they are being watched more closely. They will therefore hold themselves to a different (meaning higher or more rigorous) standard, and treat these decisions about the propriety of appearances more stringently than what they would advise the rest of us to do regarding self-imposed restrictions. This will be elaborated further on דף יב עמוד ב.

The Gemara now goes into discussion about the permissibility of breeding animals during חול המועד if the female is in heat and to defer the opportunity would result in דבר האבוד, the opportunity cost of the female not being impregnated.

The Mishnah that follows discusses expediencies that are allowed so that one does not incur a loss associated with the winemaking process.

וְכֵן מִי שֶׁהָיָה יֵינוֹ בְּתוֹךְ הַבּוֹר וְאֵירְעוֹ אֵבֶל אוֹ אוֹנֶס אוֹ שֶׁהִטְעוּהוּ — זוֹלֵף וְגוֹמֵר וְגָף כְּדַרְכּוֹ, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי יוֹסֵי. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר: עוֹשֶׂה לוֹ לִימּוּדִים בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁלֹּא יַחְמִיץ.

And similarly, with regard to one whose wine was already in the collection pit beside the wine press and needed to be removed lest it sour, and mourning for some close relative or some other unavoidable accident befell him, or his workers misled him, promising to come but failing to do so, during חול המועד he may draw off the wine and complete the process, and then plug each barrel of wine in its usual manner; this is the statement of Rabbi Yosei. Rabbi Yehuda says: He should construct a wooden panel to cover the collection pit so that the wine will not sour.

For those who aren’t familiar with all of the steps associated with winemaking, it is quite the “geshichta”, or a very involved process to get it right. Some of the steps involve fairly tight windows of fermentation so that the wine doesn’t turn into vinegar prematurely. Of course once stored properly, time and aging then become a virtue.

There are many YouTube videos online that demonstrate the steps involved in this process. Interestingly, while perusing them I came across this clip of an ancient wine press in Bat Ayin. Once can see the mosaic floor used for the grape stomping part of the process that is the early phase, and various portals used. The narrator speculates that the purity of this process, and the mikvah adjacent to it presumably used to keep the vessels involved pure, suggests that the wine made there was used for the בּית המקדשׁ.

The Gemara proceeds to discuss that just like the sealing of barrels on חול המועד to prevent loss is permitted in the olive making and wine making processes, so too is it permitted in the crafting of beer:

דְּאָמַר אַבָּיֵי, אֲמַרָה לִי אֵם: בַּר שֵׁית סָאוֵי וּשְׁיִיעַ, מִבַּר תַּמְנֵי וְלָא שְׁיִיעַ – as Abaye said: My (foster) mother told me: It is better to have a barrel of six se’a that is sealed than a barrel of eight se’a that is not sealed, as in the end more beer will remain in the smaller sealed barrel than in the larger unsealed one. As the ArtScroll explains, the contents of a sealed container become stronger and more concentrated, so that they can be diluted with a large measure of water. The contents of an unsealed container, however loses its strength and can only be diluted with small quantities of water. Sealing of the barrel on חול המועד is therefore permitted as to not lose the extra net volume of beer that can be generated.

Of note, at the 21:20 mark of the Daf video above, Rabbi Stern points out that “אַבָּיֵי” is an acronym that stands for אַשֶׁר בּֽן יְרוּחָם יָתוֹם – who in you shows compassion for orphans. Hence the ArtScroll’s comment when citing Abaye above, that his mother died while giving birth to him, and that whenever he quotes his mother he is referring to his nursemaid (the nanny who raised him).

The Gemara brings additional examples of work that is permitted or prohibited on חול המועד, with the caveat that many of these categories have to be learned on an individual cases and can’t be inferred from seemingly analogous cases.

דְּאָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל: זוֹפְתִין כּוּזְתָּא וְאֵין זוֹפְתִין חָבִיתָא. רַב דִּימִי מִנְּהַרְדְּעָא אָמַר: זוֹפְתִין חָבִיתָא וְאֵין זוֹפְתִין כּוּזְתָּא. מָר חָיֵישׁ לִפְסֵידָא, וּמָר חָיֵישׁ לְטִירְחָא. For instance, Shmuel said: One may seal a jug with pitch, but one may not seal a barrel with pitch on Chol HaMoed. Rav Dimi from Neharde’a said: One may seal a barrel with pitch, but one may not seal a small jug with pitch. Their reasoning is as follows: This Sage, i.e., Rav Dimi, was more concerned about possible financial loss, and so he permitted sealing the larger vessel, for which the potential for loss is great, but not the smaller one. And this Sage, i.e., Shmuel was concerned about unnecessary exertion on the Festival, and therefore he permitted sealing the smaller vessel, which requires less effort.

These aren’t mere smear tactics; proper sealing of barrels is essential to prevent penetration of oxygen that would result in irreparable loss of the functionality of its contents. So you can’t learn out the permissibility of sealing a small cup as derived from the permissibility of sealing a large barrel. Even though the concept seems similar, the Gemara notes that small cups may be sealed only because they don’t involve טרחה יתירה (excessive effort) . Sealing large barrels do involve טרחה יתירה, however doing so would be permitted because otherwise it would be דבר האבוּד since not sealing the barrel on Chol HaMoed would otherwise result in souring of its contents over the subsequent Yom Tov.

There is much more to digest on דף יב עמוד ב , but we’ve already covered considerable ground so I’ll leave the rest to Rabbi Stern’s video above.

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 #11

  1. Ruthi says:

    Thank you for the enhancing videos! So interesting- brings the learning “to life“ (or maybe that talk about wine- making processes & barrels makes me think “l’chaim!” to you!!)

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