Blog Yomi – Moed Katan #14

We’re on דף יד עמוּד ב, and in the middle of addressing how the laws of חול המוֹעד are mitigated based on their interface with three categories of individuals who are in altered states: 1) אבילוּת or mourning, 2) מנוּדה or excommunication, and 3) מצורע or leprosy. As we shall see, these three categories of individuals involve considerations which can’t be inferred form one category to the other two. Speaking of altered states, Rabbi Stern’s blog is coming to you live from ארץ ישׂראל in the midst of some interesting weather in ירוּשׁלים.

מְצוֹרָע, מַהוּ שֶׁיַּנְהִיג צָרַעְתּוֹ בָּרֶגֶל? אָמַר אַבָּיֵי, תָּא שְׁמַע: וְהַנָּזִיר וְהַמְּצוֹרָע מִטּוּמְאָתוֹ לְטהֳרָתוֹ. הָא בִּימֵי טוּמְאָתוֹ — נָהֵיג.

With regard to a leper, what is the halacha? Must he observe the practices of his leper status, or are they overridden by the mitzva to rejoice during the Festival? Abaye said: Come and hear a proof : And both the נזיר, and the מצורע who transfers from his state of ritual impurity to his new state of purity, may shave on חול המוֹעד. This implies that during the days of his impurity he must observe all of the ordinary practices, even during the Festival.

In fact, although we’ll go through some more details on the next Daf, this is a good spot to streamline some of the information. Take a look at a nice composite chart comparing the אבל, the מנוּדה, and the מצורע here. You’ll see that the Gemara rules stringently in all of the laws pertaining to the אבל. All of the prohibitions and requirements listed here apply to him. The only leniency is that he does not observe אבילוּת during the festival. As you’ll note, there is more variability in the laws as they apply to the מנוּדה and מצורע.

ArtScroll has a nice chart as well (16A1), which can be summarized as follows. The Prohibitions are: haircutting, donning tefillin, greeting others, studying torah, laundering, working, bathing, wearing shoes, marital relations, and sending sacrifices. The Obligations are: wrapping head, rending garment, overturning bed. The אבל is subject to all of the Prohibitions and Obligations. The מנוּדה is forbidden from haircutting and laundering, while permitted to study torah and work, with all other matters are unresolved (תּיקוּ). The מצורע is forbidden from haircutting, laundering, and greeting others, with all other matters unresolved.

If you’d prefer a video version of this, take a look at the gorgeous comparison chart that R’ Eli Stefansky shows at the 8:00 minute mark of his rendering of the Daf today:

Rabbi Stern in his video points out the basis for a considerable number of laws of אבילוּת from this one פּסוּק in יחזקאל which is, in essence, the paradigm for all אבילוּת:

הֵאָנֵ֣ק ׀ דֹּ֗ם מֵתִים֙ אֵ֣בֶל לֹא־תַֽעֲשֶׂ֔ה פְּאֵֽרְךָ֙ חֲב֣וֹשׁ עָלֶ֔יךָ וּנְעָלֶ֖יךָ תָּשִׂ֣ים בְּרַגְלֶ֑יךָ וְלֹ֤א תַעְטֶה֙ עַל־שָׂפָ֔ם וְלֶ֥חֶם אֲנָשִׁ֖ים לֹ֥א תֹאכֵֽל׃

“Moan silently; observe no mourning for the dead: Put on your turban and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover over your upper lip, and do not eat the bread of comforters.”

ArtScroll elaborates on the passage in which this verse appears, noting that יחזקאל was told that his wife would fall victim to a plague. However, he was commanded to refrain from the usual practices of an אביל. In enumerating what these practices are, we learn what אבילוּת entails.

The rest of the פּסוּקים and how they apply to learning the nuances involving מנוּדה and מצורע as well as אבילוּת are covered by Rabbit Stern in today’s Daf video.

Let’s close with entry #15 in The Transformative Daf, titled What [Not] to Say to a Mourner. After citing the פּסוּק in יחזקאל, Rabbi Daniel Friedman says that from the moment one sets foot into the shiva house, ordinary daily etiquette is curtailed. The mourners are not to greet the comforters, and vice-versa. The Gemara in בּרכוֹת (דף ו עמוּד ב) cites רב פפא who teaches that the primary reward one receives for attending a house of mourning is for keeping silent. The שֻׁלְחָן עָרוּך states that the comforters are not permitted to speak until the אבל opens the conversation first. And as soon as the אבל nods his or her head in a manner indicating the that he wishes to dismiss the נחוּמים, they should not remain seated next to the אבל.

Rabbi Friedman concedes that because human beings are social animals, it can be terribly uncomfortable to sit in total silence, waiting for the mourner to speak. If you sense that the אבל is having difficulty expressing himself, you may assist by asking about the departed. Be sensitive and avoid talking about yourself, giving the אבל space to tell you the story of the person you have come to pay tribute to. But if he is not ready to talk, don’t feel compelled to force the issue. The essence of the mitzvah is your presence.

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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