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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Ta'aniyot - Chapter Two, Ta'aniyot - Chapter Three, Ta'aniyot - Chapter Four

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Ta'aniyot - Chapter Two

1

We should fast and sound the trumpets in the [following] situations of communal distress:1 because of the distress that the enemies of the Jews cause the Jews, because of [the passage of] an armed [force], because of a plague, because of a wild animal [on a rampage], because of various species of locusts,2 because of the black blight and the yellow blight, because of falling buildings,3 because of an epidemic, because of [the loss of our source of] sustenance, and because of rain [or a lack of it].4

א

אֵלוּ הֵן הַצָּרוֹת שֶׁל צִבּוּר שֶׁמִּתְעַנִּין וּמַתְרִיעִין עֲלֵיהֶם. עַל הֲצָרַת שׂוֹנְאֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. וְעַל הַחֶרֶב. וְעַל הַדֶּבֶר. וְעַל חַיָּה רָעָה. וְעַל הָאַרְבֶּה. וְעַל הֶחָסִיל. וְעַל הַשִּׁדָּפוֹן. וְעַל הַיֵּרָקוֹן. וְעַל הַמַּפּלֶת. וְעַל הֶחֳלָאִים. וְעַל הַמְּזוֹנוֹת. וְעַל הַמָּטָר:

2

A city afflicted by any of these difficulties should fast and sound the trumpets until the difficulty passes.5 The inhabitants of the surrounding area should fast,6 but should not sound the trumpets. They should, however, ask for mercy on [their brethren's] behalf. We do not cry out [to God] or sound the trumpets on the Sabbath, as was explained,7 except in the case of distress over [the loss of our source of] sustenance. In this instance, we cry out [to God] even on the Sabbath,8 but we do not sound the trumpets for this reason on the Sabbath.

ב

כָּל עִיר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ צָרָה מִכָּל אֵלּוּ. אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר מִתְעַנָּה וּמַתְרַעַת עַד שֶׁתַּעֲבֹר הַצָּרָה. וְכָל סְבִיבוֹתֶיהָ מִתְעַנּוֹת וְלֹא מַתְרִיעוֹת אֲבָל מְבַקְּשִׁים עֲלֵיהֶם רַחֲמִים. וּבְכָל מָקוֹם אֵין צוֹעֲקִין וְלֹא מַתְרִיעִין בְּשַׁבָּת כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ. חוּץ מִצָּרַת הַמְּזוֹנוֹת שֶׁצּוֹעֲקִין עָלֶיהָ אֲפִלּוּ בְּשַׁבָּת. אֲבָל אֵין מַתְרִיעִין עָלֶיהָ בַּחֲצוֹצְרוֹת בְּשַׁבָּת:

3

What is meant by "the distress that the enemies of the Jews cause the Jews"? When gentiles come to wage war against the Jews, to impose a tax upon them,9 to take land away from them, or to pass a decree [restricting the observance of our faith,]10 even concerning merely a slight mitzvah, we should fast and sound the trumpets until [God shows] mercy.

All the surrounding cities should fast, but they should not sound the trumpets unless they are doing so to gather the people together to come to their aid.11

ג

עַל הֲצָרַת שׂוֹנְאֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְיִשְׂרָאֵל כֵּיצַד. עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁבָּאוּ לַעֲרֹךְ מִלְחָמָה עִם יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ לִטּל מֵהֶם מַס אוֹ לִקַּח מִיָּדָם אֶרֶץ אוֹ לִגְזֹר עֲלֵיהֶם גְּזֵרָה אֲפִלּוּ בְּמִצְוָה קַלָּה הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מִתְעַנִּין וּמַתְרִיעִין עַד שֶׁיְּרֻחֲמוּ. וְכָל הֶעָרִים שֶׁסְּבִיבוֹתֵיהֶם מִתְעַנִּין אֲבָל אֵין מַתְרִיעִין אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן תָּקְעוּ לְהִתְקַבֵּץ לְעֶזְרָתָן:

4

What is meant by "[the passage of] an armed [force]"? This applies even to an armed [force] that has peaceful intentions. For example, gentiles were waging war against other gentiles and they passed a Jewish settlement.12 Although they are not at war with the Jews, this is still considered a time of distress13 for which we should fast, as [implied by the blessing, Leviticus 26:6] "A sword will not pass through your land." From this, it can be understood14 that seeing war is itself a sign of distress.

ד

עַל הַחֶרֶב כֵּיצַד. אֲפִלּוּ חֶרֶב שֶׁל שָׁלוֹם כְּגוֹן שֶׁעָרְכוּ מִלְחָמָה עַכּוּ''ם עִם עַכּוּ''ם וְעָבְרוּ בִּמְקוֹם יִשְׂרָאֵל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין בֵּינֵיהֶם וּבֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל מִלְחָמָה הֲרֵי זוֹ צָרָה וּמִתְעַנִּין עָלֶיהָ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כו ו) "וְחֶרֶב לֹא תַעֲבֹר בְּאַרְצְכֶם" מִכְּלַל שֶׁרְאִיַּת הַמִּלְחָמָה צָרָה:

5

"Because of plague." What constitutes a plague? When three people die on three consecutive days15 in a city that has 500 male inhabitants,16 this is considered to be a plague. If [this many people] die on one day or on four days, it is not considered a plague.

If a city has 1000 male inhabitants and six people die on three consecutive days, it is considered to be a plague. If [this many people] die on one day or on four days, it is not considered a plague. Similarly, this ratio should be followed [with regard to all cities, regardless of their size].

Women, children, and older men who no longer work are not included in the census in this context.17

ה

וְעַל הַדֶּבֶר. אֵי זוֹ הִיא דֶּבֶר עִיר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת רַגְלִי וְיָצְאוּ מִמֶּנָּה שְׁלֹשָׁה מֵתִים בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים זֶה אַחַר זֶה הֲרֵי זֶה דֶּבֶר. יָצְאוּ בְּיוֹם אֶחָד אוֹ בְּאַרְבָּעָה יָמִים אֵין זֶה דֶּבֶר. הָיוּ בָּהּ אֶלֶף וְיָצְאוּ מִמֶּנָּה שִׁשָּׁה מֵתִים בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים זֶה אַחַר זֶה דֶּבֶר. יָצְאוּ בְּיוֹם אֶחָד אוֹ בְּאַרְבָּעָה אֵין זֶה דֶּבֶר. וְכֵן לְפִי חֶשְׁבּוֹן זֶה. וְאֵין הַנָּשִׁים וְהַקְּטַנִּים וְהַזְּקֵנִים שֶׁשָּׁבְתוּ מִמְּלָאכָה בִּכְלַל מִנְיַן אַנְשֵׁי הַמְּדִינָה לְעִנְיָן זֶה:

6

If there is a plague in Eretz Yisrael, [the Jews in] the diaspora should fast on [its inhabitants'] behalf.18 If there was a plague in one country and caravans frequently travel from it to another country, they should both fast,19 even if they are distant from each other.20

ו

הָיָה דֶּבֶר בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִתְעַנִּין שְׁאָר גָּלֻיּוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲלֵיהֶן. הָיָה דֶּבֶר בַּמְּדִינָה וְשַׁיָּרוֹת הוֹלְכוֹת וּבָאוֹת מִמֶּנָּה לִמְדִינָה אַחֶרֶת שְׁתֵּיהֶן מִתְעַנּוֹת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן רְחוֹקוֹת זוֹ מִזּוֹ:

7

We do not fast because of a wild animal unless it is on a rampage.21 What is implied? If it is seen in a city during the day, it is on a rampage.22 Should it be seen in a field during the day, encounter two men and not flee from them, it is on a rampage.23 If the field was close to a swamp, and it saw two men and pursued them, it is on a rampage; if it did not pursue them, it is not on a rampage.24

If it was in a swamp, even if it pursued them, it is not considered to be on a rampage25 unless it slew both of them and ate [only] one.26 If, however, it ate both of them in a swamp, it is not considered to be on a rampage, for this is its place, and it slew them because it was hungry, not because it was on a rampage.27

ז

אֵין מִתְעַנִּין עַל חַיָּה רָעָה אֶלָּא בִּזְמַן שֶׁהִיא מְשֻׁלַּחַת. כֵּיצַד. נִרְאֲתָה בָּעִיר בַּיּוֹם הֲרֵי זוֹ מְשֻׁלַּחַת. נִרְאֲתָה בַּשָּׂדֶה בַּיּוֹם אִם רָאֲתָה שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי אָדָם וְלֹא בָּרְחָה מִפְּנֵיהֶם הֲרֵי זוֹ מְשֻׁלַּחַת. וְאִם הָיָה שָׂדֶה הַסְּמוּכָה לָאֲגַם וְרָאֲתָה שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי אָדָם וְרָדְפָה אַחֲרֵיהֶם הֲרֵי זוֹ מְשֻׁלַּחַת. לֹא רָדְפָה אַחֲרֵיהֶם אֵינָהּ מְשֻׁלַּחַת. וְאִם הָיָה בָּאֲגַם אֲפִלּוּ רָדְפָה אַחֲרֵיהֶם אֵינָהּ מְשֻׁלַּחַת אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן טָרְפָה שְׁנֵיהֶם וְאָכְלָה אֶחָד מֵהֶן. אֲבָל אִם אָכְלָה שְׁנֵיהֶם בָּאֲגַם אֵינָהּ מְשֻׁלַּחַת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁזֶּה הוּא מְקוֹמָהּ וּמִפְּנֵי הָרְעָבוֹן טָרְפָה לֹא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא מְשֻׁלַּחַת:

8

When houses are constructed in deserts or in other abandoned areas,28 since this is a natural place for bands of wild animals, [it is only when] an animal climbs to the top of a roof and takes a baby from a cradle that it is considered to be "on a rampage." Otherwise, it is not considered to be "on a rampage." [The fault lies rather] with these people who endangered their lives and came to a place where wild animals live.

ח

בָּתִּים הַבְּנוּיִים בְּמִדְבָּרוֹת וּבָאֲרָצוֹת הַנְשַׁמּוֹת הוֹאִיל וְהֵן מְקוֹם גְּדוּדֵי חַיָּה. אִם עָלְתָה לַגַּג וְנָטְלָה תִּינוֹק מֵעֲרִיסָה הֲרֵי זוֹ מְשֻׁלַּחַת. וְאִם לֹא הִגִּיעָה לְמִדָּה זוֹ אֵינָהּ מְשֻׁלַּחַת. שֶׁאֵלּוּ בְּנֵי אָדָם הֵם שֶׁסִּכְּנוּ בְּעַצְמָם וּבָאוּ לִמְקוֹם הַחַיּוֹת:

9

When there is a rampage of swarming animals29 - e.g., snakes or scorpions - or swarming birds that cause injury,30 we do not fast or sound the trumpets because of them. We do, however, call out [to God] without trumpet blasts. Needless to say, [this applies to swarms of] hornets, mosquitoes, and the like.

ט

שְׁאָר מִינֵי רֶמֶשׂ הָאָרֶץ וְרֶמֶשׂ הָעוֹף שֶׁשֻּׁלְּחוּ וְהִזִּיקוּ. כְּגוֹן שִׁלּוּחַ נְחָשִׁים וְעַקְרַבִּים וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר צְרָעִין וְיַתּוּשִׁין וְהַדּוֹמֶה לָהֶן אֵין מִתְעַנִּין עֲלֵיהֶם וְלֹא מַתְרִיעִין אֲבָל זוֹעֲקִין בְּלֹא תְּרוּעָה:

10

"Because of various species of locusts." Even if only one fleet31 is seen in all of Eretz Yisrael, [the entire country] should fast and sound the trumpets because of them.32 [The same applies if] even the slightest amount of govai appear.33 For chagav,34 however, we do not fast or sound the trumpets; nevertheless, we do call out [to God] without sounding the trumpets.

י

עַל הָאַרְבֶּה וְעַל הֶחָסִיל אֲפִלּוּ לֹא נִרְאֶה מֵהֶן אֶלָּא כָּנָף אֶחָד בְּכָל אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִתְעַנִּין וּמַתְרִיעִין עֲלֵיהֶן. וְעַל הַגּוֹבַאי בְּכָל שֶׁהוּא. אֲבָל עַל הֶחָגָב אֵין מִתְעַנִּין עָלָיו וְלֹא מַתְרִיעִין אֶלָּא זוֹעֲקִין בִּלְבַד:

11

"Because of the black blight and the yellow blight."35 As soon as these affect the crops, even if they affect only a small amount of grain,36 [an area the size of] the opening of an oven,37 a fast is called and the trumpets are sounded.

יא

עַל הַשִּׁדָּפוֹן וְעַל הַיֵּרָקוֹן מִשֶּׁיַּתְחִיל בַּתְּבוּאָה. וַאֲפִלּוּ לֹא הִתְחִיל אֶלָּא מִמָּקוֹם קָטָן כִּמְלֹא פִּי תַּנּוּר גּוֹזְרִין עָלָיו תַּעֲנִית וּמַתְרִיעִין:

12

What is meant by "because of falling buildings"? When many38 strong walls that are not located on the banks of a river39 begin to fall in a city,40 this is a difficulty [that warrants] fasting and the sounding of the trumpets.

Similarly, we should fast and sound the trumpets because of earthquakes and strong winds that destroy buildings and kill people.

יב

עַל הַמַּפּלֶת כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁרָבְתָה בָּעִיר מַפּלֶת כְּתָלִים בְּרִיאִים שֶׁאֵינָן עוֹמְדִים בְּצַד הַנָּהָר הֲרֵי זוֹ צָרָה וּמִתְעַנִּין וּמַתְרִיעִין עָלֶיהָ. וְכֵן עַל הָרַעַשׁ וְעַל הָרוּחוֹת שֶׁהֵן מַפִּילִין אֶת הַבִּנְיָן וְהוֹרְגִין מִתְעַנִּין וּמַתְרִיעִין עֲלֵיהֶן:

13

What is meant by "because of an epidemic"? When one illness - e.g., a throat infection41 or polio42 - affects many people in a city and people die because of this illness,43 this is considered to be a matter of communal distress. A fast is called and the trumpets are sounded.

Similarly, if running sores44 affect the majority of the community, it is considered like boils, and they should fast and sound the trumpets. For a dry itch [which affects the entire community], we merely cry out [to God].

יג

עַל הֶחֳלָיִים כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁיָּרַד חלִי אֶחָד לַאֲנָשִׁים הַרְבֵּה בְּאוֹתָהּ הָעִיר כְּגוֹן אַסְכָּרָה אוֹ חַרְחוּר וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן וְהָיוּ מֵתִים בְּאוֹתוֹ הַחלִי הֲרֵי זוֹ צָרַת צִבּוּר וְגוֹזְרִין לָהּ תַּעֲנִית וּמַתְרִיעִין. וְכֵן חִכּוּךְ לַח הֲרֵי הוּא כִּשְׁחִין פּוֹרֵחַ. וְאִם פָּשַׁט בְּרֹב הַצִּבּוּר מִתְעַנִּין וּמַתְרִיעִין עָלָיו. אֲבָל חִכּוּךְ יָבֵשׁ צוֹעֲקִים עָלָיו בִּלְבַד:

14

What is meant by "because of [the loss of our source of] sustenance"? That the price of the articles on which the livelihood of most of the inhabitants of a city depend - e.g., linen goods in Babylon and wine and oil in Eretz Yisrael - has fallen, and the trade in these articles has decreased to the extent that a merchant must offer them for sale at only 60% of their real value in order to be able to find a purchaser. This is considered a communal distress [that warrants] us to raise a clamor45 and cry out to God,46 even on the Sabbath.47

יד

עַל הַמְּזוֹנוֹת כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁהוּזְלוּ דְּבָרִים שֶׁל סְחוֹרָה שֶׁרֹב חַיֵּי אַנְשֵׁי אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר מֵהֶן. כְּגוֹן כְּלֵי פִּשְׁתָּן בְּבָבֶל וְיַיִן וְשֶׁמֶן בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְנִתְמַעֵט הַמַּשָּׂא וְהַמַּתָּן עַד שֶׁיִּצְטָרֵךְ הַתַּגָּר לִמְכֹּר שְׁוִה עֲשָׂרָה בְּשִׁשָּׁה וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִמָּצֵא לוֹקֵחַ. הֲרֵי זוֹ צָרַת צִבּוּר וּמַתְרִיעִין עָלֶיהָ וְזוֹעֲקִין עָלֶיהָ בְּשַׁבָּת:

15

What is meant by "because of rain"? When the rainfall is so abundant that it causes difficulty, prayers should be recited. There is no greater difficulty than this, that homes should fall and become the graves [of their inhabitants].48

In Eretz Yisrael, we do not pray [for the cessation of the rains] when there is an abundant rainfall. It is a mountainous land, and its houses are made of stone.49 An abundance of rain is of benefit,50 and we should not fast to cause a benefit to pass.

טו

עַל הַמָּטָר כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁרַבּוּ עֲלֵיהֶן גְּשָׁמִים עַד שֶׁיָּצֵרוּ לָהֶן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מִתְפַּלְּלִין עֲלֵיהֶן. שֶׁאֵין לְךָ צָרָה יְתֵרָה מִזּוֹ שֶׁהַבָּתִּים נוֹפְלִין וְנִמְצְאוּ בָּתֵּיהֶן קִבְרֵיהֶן. וּבְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵין מִתְפַּלְּלִין עַל רֹב הַגְּשָׁמִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא אֶרֶץ הָרִים וּבָתֵּיהֶם בְּנוּיִים בַּאֲבָנִים וְרֹב הַגְּשָׁמִים טוֹבָה לָהֶן וְאֵין מִתְעַנִּין לְהַעֲבִיר הַטּוֹבָה:

16

If, after grain has already sprouted, the rains cease51 and the produce begins to dry, the people should fast and cry out [to God] until rain descends or the produce dries out entirely.52

Similarly, if the Pesach season, which is the time when the trees flower in Eretz Yisrael, arrives and there is no rainfall,53 the people should fast and cry out [to God] until rain that is fit for trees descends or until the season passes.

טז

תְּבוּאָה שֶׁצָּמְחָה וְנִמְנַע הַמָּטָר וְהִתְחִילוּ צְמָחִין לִיבַשׁ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מִתְעַנִּין וְזוֹעֲקִין עַד שֶׁיֵּרְדוּ גְּשָׁמִים אוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּיבְשׁוּ הַצְּמָחִים. וְכֵן אִם הִגִּיעַ זְמַן הַפֶּסַח אוֹ קָרוֹב לוֹ בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהוּא זְמַן פְּרִיחַת הָאִילָנוֹת שָׁם וְלֹא יָרְדוּ גְּשָׁמִים הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מִתְעַנִּין וְזוֹעֲקִין עַד שֶׁיֵּרְדוּ גְּשָׁמִים הָרְאוּיִין לְאִילָנוֹת אוֹ עַד שֶׁיַּעֲבֹר זְמַנָּם:

17

Similarly, if the festival of Sukkot54 arrived and a sufficient amount of rain had not descended to fill the storage vats, the irrigation ditches, and the caverns, the people should fast until sufficient rain descends for the storage vats.

If the people have no water to drink, they should fast for rain at all times whenever there is no water to drink, even in the summer.55

יז

וְכֵן אִם הִגִּיעַ זְמַן חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת וְלֹא יָרְדוּ גְּשָׁמִים הַרְבֵּה כְּדֵי לְמַלְּאוֹת מֵהֶם הַבּוֹרוֹת הַשִּׁיחִין וְהַמְּעָרוֹת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מִתְעַנִּין עַד שֶׁיֵּרֵד גֶּשֶׁם הָרָאוּי לְבוֹרוֹת. וְאִם אֵין לָהֶם מַיִם לִשְׁתּוֹת מִתְעַנִּים עַל הַגְּשָׁמִים בְּכָל עֵת שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה לָהֶם מַיִם לִשְׁתּוֹת וַאֲפִלּוּ בִּימוֹת הַחַמָּה:

18

When the rains ceased for more than forty days in the rainy season, it is a drought, and the people should fast and cry out [to God] until the rains descend or until the rainy season passes.

יח

פָּסְקוּ הַגְּשָׁמִים בֵּין גֶּשֶׁם לְגֶשֶׁם אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם בִּימוֹת הַגְּשָׁמִים הֲרֵי זוֹ מַכַּת בַּצֹּרֶת וּמִתְעַנִּים וְזוֹעֲקִים עַד שֶׁיֵּרְדוּ הַגְּשָׁמִים אוֹ עַד שֶׁיַּעֲבֹר זְמַנָּם:

Footnotes
1.

Having explained the nature of the obligations to fast and sound the trumpets in the previous chapter, the Rambam devotes this chapter to explaining the various situations in which these obligations apply.

It must be noted that the advances of civilization have cushioned us against many of these natural disasters and it is not common for us to fast because of these situations. Nevertheless, the obligation for a community to fast in such times of distress applies even in the present age and in the diaspora. Thus, both the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch devote an entire chapter (576) to the discussion of fasts of this nature. Nevertheless, in the present era, even in times of genuine communal distress, it is infrequent for the Rabbis to declare a communal fast, because our physical stamina is not as great as that of the previous generations.

2.

Both Hebrew terms arbeh and chasil refer to species of locusts. The exact names of the species intended is a source of debate.

3.

And because of earthquakes or hurricanes strong enough to cause buildings to topple.

4.

The lack of rain is the most common and the most widely discussed of all the phenomena mentioned. Nevertheless, it is precisely for that reason that it is discussed last. All the other phenomena are discussed briefly in this chapter, while the fasts concerning rain are discussed in several halachot in this chapter and in the following two chapters in their entirety.

5.

From Chapter 1, Halachah 5, it appears that the the intent is not to fast on consecutive days until the difficulty passes, but rather to fast on the Mondays and Thursdays in this period. Nevertheless, in times of great distress, the Rabbis occasionally ordained consecutive fasts.

6.

Only the people in the immediate vicinity of the distressed area are obligated to fast. Were we to be obligated to fast for difficulties in distant places, we would be constantly fasting, for there are, ל"ע, a multitude of difficulties throughout the world (Kessef Mishneh). Although this ruling is generally followed, there are times when public fasts are called when Jews in distant lands are in profound distress. In particular, this applies with regard to the Jews in Eretz Yisrael. (See Halachah 6.)

7.

Chapter 1, Halachah 6. See also Hilchot Shabbat 2:24.

8.

In that halachah, it is mentioned that we also cry out to God in prayer on the Sabbath on behalf of people whose lives are in immediate danger - e.g., a besieged city or a ship in danger of sinking.

9.

This refers to an unfair tax imposed on the Jews alone, and not a tax on all the inhabitants of the country.

10.

Here too, mortal danger is involved. As the Rambam writes in Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 5:3, we are obligated to sacrifice our lives if gentiles pass a decree forbidding the observance of even a seemingly slight mitzvah (Kinat Eliyahu).

11.

For the latter purpose, this is permitted even on the Sabbath, as stated in Chapter 1, Halachah 6.

12.

This also refers to Jewish settlements in the diaspora.

13.

Although the Rambam proves his point through Biblical exegesis, anyone who reads the chronicles of the rampages of "friendly" armies through the various periods of Jewish history will realize how the passage of any armed forces can constitute communal distress for our people.

14.

I.e., since the lack of passage of an armed force is considered a blessing, it can be assumed that the passage of an armed force is the opposite.

15.

The Lechem Mishneh associates this ruling with the concept of chazakah, i.e., once a phenomenon is repeated three times, it can be presumed to recur.

16.

In one of his responsa, the Rambam writes that the numbers mentioned in this halachah also include gentiles. If a city is smitten by a plague, it will spread among all its inhabitants, whether Jew or gentile. This concept is quoted as halachah by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 576:3).

17.

The Maggid Mishneh notes that the Mishnah (Ta'anit 3:1) uses the expression רגלי for inhabitants. From Exodus 12:37, "600,000 men on foot (רגלי) aside from children," we know that the term refers to adult males able to perform military service (i.e., below the age of sixty). The commentaries explain that elderly men, children, and women are considered to have a weaker constitution than adult males. Hence, it is only when a significant number of adult males die that one may be sure that the deaths can be attributed to a plague. (See also the Jerusalem Talmud, Ta'anit 3:5.)

18.

Ta'anit 21b explains the rationale for this halachah: "If a Matron (Eretz Yisrael) is stricken, is it not likely that the maid-servant (the diaspora) will be stricken." The welfare of the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael is a matter of concern for all Jews.

The Ramah (Orach Chayim 576:2) states that this applies only when the plague has affected Eretz Yisrael in its entirety.

19.

The Magen Avraham 576:2 states that it is not customary at present to fast because of a plague. The nature of our physical constitutions has changed, and, were the inhabitants of a city afflicted by a plague to fast, it is more likely that they would succumb to it. Similarly, if caravans frequently travel from one city to another, there is the danger of infection. Therefore, even people in the distant city should not fast (Mishnah Berurah 576:10).

20.

As mentioned in Halachah 2, in such an instance the surrounding cities should fast as long as there is no danger of infection (ibid.).

21.

We have translate the word משלחת in this manner so that its intent will be easily understood. It is, however, worthy to mention the interpretation of Rashi, Ta'anit 22a, who interprets the word as "sent from Heaven," i.e., a minister of Divine retribution. (See also the gloss of the Ra'avad to Halachah 9.) This implies that the animal is not acting according to its natural pattern and is therefore more dangerous than normal.

22.

A wild animal would not ordinarily enter a populated area during the daytime.

23.

Although wild animals occasionally wander through fields, their tendency is to flee when they encounter humans.

24.

As the Rambam mentions, it is common to find wild animals in a swamp. Therefore, the fact that they do not flee when discovered close to a swamp is not considered extraordinary. If, however, the animal pursues them, this is considered a departure from the norm and a sign that it was "sent from Heaven."

25.

It is not out of the ordinary for a wild animal to pursue intruders to its natural home.

26.

The fact that the animal ate only one of the men is a clear indication that it was motivated by reasons other than natural hunger when it slew the men.

27.

The Mishnah Berurah 576:23 states that a deep forest is governed by the same laws as a swamp.

28.

Ta'anit 22a mentions this teaching in connection with hunters' huts.

29.

Reptiles as opposed to mammals.

30.

The Ra'avad protests, stating that if these animals kill humans, that is a sign that they were chosen as "messengers of God," and fasting should be instituted because of them. Although the Maggid Mishneh does not accept this ruling, the Kessef Mishneh takes note of the term "that cause injury," and explains that the Rambam himself would accept the Ra'avad's view when it has been demonstrated that these animals have deadly intentions. In his Beit Yosef and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 576:7), Rav Yosef Karo quotes and even extends this interpretation.

31.

Our translation of kanaf is taken from Rav Kapach, whose interpretation is based on the Arabic term used by the Rambam for that word in the Guide to the Perplexed, Vol. 1, Chapter 43. In his commentary, he also sheds light on the tendencies of the various insects mentioned by the Rambam. Others interpret kanaf as referring to a single locust.

32.

Locusts multiply speedily. If one fleet is seen, we can assume that soon there will be swarms of them that will cover the entire countryside.

33.

Govai is also a species of locusts. They are more dangerous than the others

34.

Chagav is also a species of locusts; they are smaller than the others and do not pose a serious danger to the crops. At present, we are unfamiliar with the exact names of all the various species of locusts. Therefore, it is customary to fast and sound the trumpets whenever any locusts are sighted (Ra'avad, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 576:9).

35.

We have followed the translation of "The Living Torah" (Deuteronomy 28:22), for it appears appropriate in the immediate context. Both these terms appear to refer to agricultural afflictions that affect crops and spread from field to field. Others, however, render either or both of these terms as damage to crops from a searing hot wind or burning sun.

36.

As mentioned, the fear is that the contagion will spread from field to field. For this reason, the entire region in which the blight is found is required to fast (Ramah, Orach Chayim 576:8).

37.

I.e., a portion of the field the size of the opening of an oven. Our translation is based on the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Ta'anit 3:5). The Maggid Mishneh and others offer a different explanation, "the amount of grain necessary to bake enough bread to fill the mouth of an oven."

38.

The Mishnah Berurah 576:11 quotes the Ritba as explaining that this refers to the walls of three homes.

39.

If, however, the houses are located on a river bank, the fact that the walls fall can be attributed to the erosion of their foundations by the water.

40.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Ta'anit 3:4), the Rambam writes that this refers to walls that fall without any apparent reason.

41.

The Hebrew אסכרה is related to the root סוכר, which means "close." It refers to a throat infection which forces a person to keep his mouth closed (Ramah, Orach Chayim 576:5).

42.

Our translation, admittedly somewhat of an extension, is based on the commentary of Rav Sa'adiah Gaon on Deuteronomy 28:22. Rashi describes it as a disease that causes a person to run a very high fever and to constantly thirst for water; perhaps typhoid.

43.

The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 576) questions why the Rambam does not mention that the situation warrants a fast only when three people die in three days, as he did with regard to plague (Halachah 5). He concludes that there is a more severe element to these epidemics than plague, and even if fewer than three people die each day, a communal fast should be held. The Ramah (Orach Chayim 576:5) quotes this as halachah.

The Lechem Mishneh explains the difference between the two as follows: Plague refers to an instance when death hits the city before there is an outbreak of illness. In contrast, the epidemic mentioned in this halachah refers to an instance where both illness and death are manifest in the city.

44.

Literally, "a moist itch" - i.e., a skin inflammation that is aggravating and produces lymph secretions. Bava Kama 80b states that we cry out to God for relief from this ailment, even on the Sabbath. The Lechem Mishneh questions why the Rambam does not quote this concept.

45.

Although we have translated מתריעים as "sound the trumpets" throughout the text, we have altered our translation in this halachah, because in Halachah 2, the Rambam explicitly states that we call out to God on the Sabbath because of the loss of our source of sustenance, but we may not sound the trumpets. The word מתריעים is used as a quote from Bava Batra 91a.

46.

Significantly, Bava Batra (ibid.) does not mention fasting for this reason. Accordingly, the Ritba (Ta'anit 19b) states that this is not cause for a public fast. The ruling of most authorities (see Mishnah Berurah 576:29) is that a communal fast should be called.

47.

As mentioned in Halachah 2, this and the instances when people's lives are in immediate danger are the only times when such prayers are offered on the Sabbath.

48.

Ta'anit 22b mentions this with regard to Babylon, which is a valley and whose homes are not built with sturdy foundations.

Note the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch, who quote the Rambam's statements (Orach Chayim 576:11), but also mention (577:1) a less extreme instance of abundant rainfall, in which the rains prevent the land from being tilled properly.

49.

Hence, abundant rainfall does not pose a danger.

50.

For there are few rivers, and the winter rains are the primary source of water throughout the entire year.

51.

This and the following two halachot, in contrast to the fasts for lack of rain mentioned in Chapter 3, describe a situation in which rain has already begun to descend and then ceases. To a certain degree, since crops have already sprouted, this situation is more distressing than if the rains had never descended at all. These three halachot are quoted without emendation in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 575:8).

52.

At which point, there would be no purpose in continuing the fast.

53.

At this time, more water is necessary to allow the trees to produce fruit.

54.

This and the previous halachah apply only in Eretz Yisrael where the rains are seasonal in this manner. In other countries, different principles apply.

Most texts of the Jerusalem Talmud (Ta'anit 3:2) which is the direct source for this halachah, state Atzeret (Shavuot), rather than Sukkot. The Rambam's choice of this version of the text can be explained in that it is very unlikely for rain to descend in the summer (the season of Shavuot) in Eretz Yisrael. In contrast, it is possible for rain to descend on Sukkot, although this is slightly earlier than usual. Thus the Rambam chose the version that is closer to the prevailing circumstances.

55.

The Ritba states that, in such circumstances, one should call out for Divine mercy, even on the Sabbath.

Ta'aniyot - Chapter Three

1

[We should adhere to the following procedure when] no rain at all has descended from the beginning of the rainy season onward: If the seventeenth of Marcheshvan arrives and no rains have descended, the Torah scholars should begin to fast, [starting on] a Monday [and continuing on] the [following] Thursday, and the [following] Monday. All students [of the Torah] are fit to accept these [fasts] upon themselves.

א

הֲרֵי שֶׁלֹּא יָרְדוּ לָהֶם גְּשָׁמִים כָּל עִקָּר מִתְּחִלַּת יְמוֹת הַגְּשָׁמִים. אִם הִגִּיעַ שִׁבְעָה עָשָׂר בְּמַרְחֶשְׁוָן וְלֹא יָרְדוּ גְּשָׁמִים מַתְחִילִין תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים בִּלְבַד לְהִתְעַנּוֹת שֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי וְשֵׁנִי. וְכָל הַתַּלְמִידִים רְאוּיִין לְכָךְ:

[We should adhere to the following procedure when] no rain at all has descended from the beginning of the rainy season onward: - Ta'anit 6a relates that the rainy season in Eretz Yisrael begins in the month of Marcheshvan. The third of the month is considered to be the earliest time rain can be expected to descend.

In other lands, such fasts should be held when, ע"ל, they are necessary according to the local needs and climate (Halachah 10; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 575:9).

If the seventeenth of Marcheshvan arrives and no rains have descended - The rains have already been delayed. To hasten the manifestation of Divine blessing

the Torah scholars should begin to fast - and repent. Nevertheless, the situation is not serious enough to alarm the people at large.

[starting on] a Monday - i.e., the Monday closest to the seventeenth of Marcheshvan, for, as explained in Chapter 1, Halachah 5, a series of communal fasts should always begin on a Monday.

[and continuing on] the [following] Thursday, and the [following] Monday. - These fasts begin at dawn; work, anointing oneself, wearing shoes, and sexual relations are permitted.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 575:1) emphasizes that these fasts are considered individual fasts and not communal fasts.

All students [of the Torah] are fit to accept these [fasts] upon themselves. - At certain times, ordinary students are advised to refrain from accepting stringencies intended for the Torah sages, lest they appear overly proud. In this instance, however, Ta'anit 10b suggests that all students of the Torah accept these fasts if possible.

2

If Rosh Chodesh Kislev arrives without the rains having descended, the court should decree three communal fasts, [starting on] a Monday, [and continuing on] the [following] Thursday, and the [following] Monday. It is permitted to eat and drink at night. The men serving in the [weekly] priestly watch should not fast with them because they are involved in the Temple service.

On these days, the entire people should enter the synagogue, pray, cry out [to God], and make supplications as is customary on all fasts.

ב

הִגִּיעַ רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ כִּסְלֵו וְלֹא יָרְדוּ גְּשָׁמִים בֵּית דִּין גּוֹזְרִין שָׁלֹשׁ תַּעֲנִיּוֹת עַל הַצִּבּוּר שֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי וְשֵׁנִי. וּמֻתָּרִין בָּהֶן לֶאֱכל וְלִשְׁתּוֹת בַּלַּיְלָה. וְאַנְשֵׁי מִשְׁמָר אֵין מִתְעַנִּין עִמָּהֶן מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן עֲסוּקִין בַּעֲבוֹדָה. וְכָל הָעָם נִכְנָסִים לְבָתֵּי כְּנֵסִיּוֹת וּמִתְפַּלְּלִין וְזוֹעֲקִין וּמִתְחַנְּנִין כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁעוֹשִׂין בְּכָל הַתַּעֲנִיּוֹת:

If Rosh Chodesh Kislev arrives without the rains having descended - The drought is considered serious enough to warrant that

the court should decree three communal fasts, [starting on] a Monday - If, however, Rosh Chodesh Kislev itself falls on a Monday, the fast is not held until the Monday of the following week.

[and continuing on] the [following] Thursday, and the [following] Monday. - As mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 5, when necessary the court ordains a series of three fasts to evoke Divine favor.

It is permitted to eat and drink at night - until dawn, or until one goes to sleep. (See Chapter 1, Halachah 8.)

The men serving in the [weekly] priestly watch - See Hilchot Klei Hamikdash 3:9, which states that the prophet Samuel and King David ordained 24 priestly watches, which rotated in the Temple service. Each week, a different watch would serve.

should not fast with them, because they are involved in the Temple service. - This leniency includes even the members of the families who are not obligated to serve in the Temple on that day, for many sacrifices may be brought unexpectedly and they may be called to assist in the service. Were they to be fasting, they would not be able to perform this service properly (Ta'anit 2:6).

On these days, the entire people should enter the synagogue, pray, cry out [to God] - i.e., the prayer Anenu is recited in the Shemoneh Esreh, and other supplicatory prayers are recited.

and make supplications as is customary on all fasts. - The trumpets, however, are not sounded.

3

If these [fasts] pass without [their prayers] being answered, the court should decree an additional three communal fasts. On these fasts, we eat and drink while it is still day [on the day before the fast], as on the fast of Yom Kippur.

The men serving in the [weekly] priestly watch should fast for part of the day, but should not complete the fast. The men of the beit av - those individuals who are involved in the Temple service that day - should not fast at all.

On a fast for which we are required to cease eating while it is still day, once a person has ceased eating and decided not to eat any more, he may not change his mind and eat, even though there is still time during the day.

ג

עָבְרוּ אֵלּוּ וְלֹא נַעֲנוּ בֵּית דִּין גּוֹזְרִין שָׁלֹשׁ תַּעֲנִיּוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת עַל הַצִּבּוּר שֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי וְשֵׁנִי. וּבְשָׁלֹשׁ אֵלּוּ אוֹכְלִין וְשׁוֹתִין מִבְּעוֹד יוֹם כְּמוֹ שֶׁעוֹשִׂין בְּצוֹם כִּפּוּר. וְאַנְשֵׁי מִשְׁמָר מִתְעַנִּין מִקְצָת הַיּוֹם וְלֹא מַשְׁלִימִין. וְאַנְשֵׁי בֵּית אָב וְהֵם הָעוֹסְקִין בַּעֲבוֹדָה בְּאוֹתוֹ הַיּוֹם לֹא יִהְיוּ מִתְעַנִּים כָּל עִקָּר. וְכָל תַּעֲנִית שֶׁאוֹכְלִין בָּהּ מִבְּעוֹד יוֹם אִם אָכַל וּפָסַק וְגָמַר שֶׁלֹּא לֶאֱכל אֵינוֹ חוֹזֵר וְאוֹכֵל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ שְׁהוּת בַּיּוֹם:

If these [fasts] pass without [their prayers] being answered - By choosing this wording (quoted from Ta'anit 1:6), the Rambam teaches us a lesson in the service of God. It could have said, "If these fasts pass without rain having descended." The Rambam and the Mishnah, however, want to emphasize that the ultimate reason why rain descends or does not descend is not dependent on natural factors, but rather on God's mercies.

the court should decree an additional three communal fasts - of a more severe nature.

There are some texts of the Mishneh Torah that read "[starting on] a Monday, [and continuing on] the [following] Thursday, and the [following] Monday," and other texts read "[starting on] Thursday, [and continuing on] the [following] Monday, and the [following] Thursday."

The difference between these two versions depends on the difference of opinion mentioned in the commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 5, concerning the question: Should the second series of fasts begin on a Thursday or not?

On these fasts, we eat and drink while it is still day [on the day before the fast], as on the fast of Yom Kippur. - I.e., as on Yom Kippur, we are forbidden to eat and drink after sunset. The Magen Avraham 575:2, however, explains that unlike Yom Kippur (Hilchot Sh'vitat Esor 1:6), there is no obligation to begin the fast before sunset.

The men serving in the [weekly] priestly watch should fast for part of the day - because these fasts are more severe and also because, at the beginning of the day, it was less likely that they be called to assist in the Temple service

but should not complete the fast - lest they become weak and be unable to serve in the Temple when called.

The men of the beit av - those individuals who are involved in the Temple service that day - should not fast at all - for the above reason.

On a fast for which we are required to cease eating while it is still day, once a person has ceased eating - concluded his meal

and decided not to eat any more - for this is considered as if he accepted the fast upon himself

he may not change his mind and eat, even though there is still time during the day. - The Ramban and the Maggid Mishneh differ with the Rambam on this point and maintain that as long as one has not made an explicit statement to the fact that one has accepted the fast, one is allowed to change one's mind and eat. The rationale for their ruling is that, as explained above, on these fasts, in contrast to Yom Kippur, there is no obligation to begin the fast before sunset.

With regard to the laws of Tish'ah B'Av - and from there we can extrapolate to the instance at hand - the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 553:1) accepts the Ramban's ruling. The Mishneh Berurah 553:2, however, states that a mental resolve to accept the fast is also sufficient to cause one to be forbidden to eat further.

4

On these three fasts, all people are forbidden to perform work during the day, but they are permitted during the [previous] night. It is forbidden for a person to wash his entire body in hot water, but one may wash one's face, hands, and feet. For this reason, the bathhouses are closed.

It is forbidden to anoint oneself. One may, however, do so to remove filth. Sexual relations are forbidden, as is wearing shoes in a city. One may, however, wear shoes on a journey. We pray in the synagogues, cry out [to God], and make supplications as is customary on all fasts.

ד

בְּשָׁלֹשׁ תַּעֲנִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ כָּל הָעָם אֲסוּרִין בַּעֲשִׂיַּת מְלָאכָה בַּיּוֹם וּמֻתָּרִין בַּלַּיְלָה. וַאֲסוּרִין בִּרְחִיצַת כָּל הַגּוּף בְּחַמִּין אֲבָל פָּנָיו יָדָיו וְרַגְלָיו מֻתָּר. לְפִיכָךְ נוֹעֲלִין אֶת הַמֶּרְחֲצָאוֹת. וַאֲסוּרִין בְּסִיכָה. וְאִם לְהַעֲבִיר אֶת הַזֻּהֲמָה מֻתָּר. וַאֲסוּרִין בְּתַשְׁמִישׁ הַמִּטָּה. וּבִנְעִילַת הַסַּנְדָּל בָּעִיר אֲבָל בַּדֶּרֶךְ מֻתָּר לִנְעל. וּמִתְפַּלְּלִין בְּבָתֵּי כְּנֵסִיּוֹת וְזוֹעֲקִין וּמִתְחַנְּנִין כִּשְׁאָר תַּעֲנִיּוֹת:

On these three fasts, all people are forbidden - As the Rambam mentions in Chapter 1, Halachah 4, all the fasts mentioned in this text are Rabbinic in origin. The only fast mentioned in the Torah is Yom Kippur. Accordingly, when the Sages instituted communal fasts, they used Yom Kippur as a paradigm. Therefore, just as it is forbidden to perform work, wash, anoint oneself, engage in sexual relations, or wear shoes on that holy day, these activities were also forbidden on other fast days.

Nevertheless, on fast days other than Yom Kippur, certain leniencies were instituted, and these restrictions were not enforced to the same degree as on Yom Kippur.

to perform work during the day - Ta'anit 12b brings support for this concept from the exegesis of Joel 2:15: "Sanctify the fast day; call an assembly, and collect the elders." The word for "assembly," עצרה, resembles the Biblical name for the holiday of Shavuot, עצרת. Just as it is forbidden to work on Shavuot, so too, it is forbidden to work on a fast day.

but they are permitted during the [previous] night. - Ta'anit, ibid., continues using exegesis to show that, in contrast to Shavuot, working on the night of a fast day is permitted.

It is forbidden for a person to wash his entire body in hot water - but one may wash one's body with cold water (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 575:3).

but one may wash one's face, hands, and feet - even in hot water (loc. cit.).

For this reason, the bathhouses are closed - to ensure that this prohibition is observed.

It is forbidden to anoint oneself - for the sake of pleasure.

One may, however, do so to remove filth - or for medicinal reasons (Mishnah Berurah 575:7).

Sexual relations are forbidden - This applies even on the night of a woman's ritual immersion (Mishnah Berurah 575:8).

as is wearing shoes in a city. One may, however, wear shoes on a journey - for making a journey without proper shoes is extremely uncomfortable.

We pray in the synagogues - As opposed to the following sequence of fasts, whose prayer services are held in the streets of the city, as explained in Chapter 4.

cry out [to God], and make supplications as is customary on all fasts. - The trumpets, however, are not sounded.

5

If these [fasts] pass without [their prayers] being answered, the court decrees another seven communal fasts, [beginning on the next] Monday, [and continuing as follows]: Thursday, Monday, Thursday, Monday, Thursday, and Monday.

It is only on these seven fasts1 that pregnant and nursing women2 are required to fast. [On the other fast days,] although they are not obligated to fast,3 they should not indulge in delicacies. Instead, they should eat only what is necessary to maintain their babies.

ה

עָבְרוּ אֵלּוּ וְלֹא נַעֲנוּ בֵּית דִּין גּוֹזְרִין שֶׁבַע תַּעֲנִיּוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת עַל הַצִּבּוּר שֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי וְשֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי וְשֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי וְשֵׁנִי. וּבְאֵלּוּ הַשֶּׁבַע בִּלְבַד עֵבָּרוֹת וּמֵינִיקוֹת מִתְעַנּוֹת אֲבָל בִּשְׁאָר הַתַּעֲנִיּוֹת אֵין עֵבָּרוֹת וּמֵינִיקוֹת מִתְעַנּוֹת. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָן מִתְעַנּוֹת אֵין מְעַנְּגוֹת עַצְמָן בְּתַפְנוּקִים אֶלָּא אוֹכְלוֹת וְשׁוֹתוֹת כְּדֵי קִיּוּם הַוָּלָד:

6

On these seven fasts the men serving in the [weekly] priestly watch should fast for the entire day. The men of the beit av should fast for a portion of the day, but should not complete their fast.4 All the prohibitions in force during the second set of fasts are also in force during these last seven fasts.5

ו

וּבְשֶׁבַע תַּעֲנִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ אַנְשֵׁי מִשְׁמָר מִתְעַנִּין וּמַשְׁלִימִין. וְאַנְשֵׁי בֵּית אָב מִתְעַנִּין מִקְצָת הַיּוֹם וְלֹא מַשְׁלִימִין. וְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁהוּא אָסוּר בְּשָׁלֹשׁ אֶמְצָעִיּוֹת אָסוּר בְּאֵלּוּ הַשֶּׁבַע הָאַחֲרוֹנוֹת:

7

There are additional dimensions [of severity] to these [fasts]: it is on these alone that we sound the trumpets, pray in the street of the city, call on an elder to admonish the people [and motivate] them to repent from their [evil] ways, add six blessings in the morning and afternoon prayers - thus, we recite twenty-four blessings, and close the stores.

On Mondays, the doors of the stores are left slightly ajar towards evening and they may be opened [for business]. On Thursdays, [the stores] may be opened the entire day [to allow people to purchase food] in honor of the Sabbath. If a store has two entrances, one entrance should be opened and the other closed. If the store has a display area in front of it, it may be opened in the normal manner on a Thursday without concern [for the above restriction].

ז

וִיתֵרוֹת אֵלּוּ. שֶׁבָּהֶן בִּלְבַד מַתְרִיעִין וּמִתְפַּלְּלִין בִּרְחוֹב הָעִיר. וּמוֹרִידִין זָקֵן לְהוֹכִיחַ לָעָם כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּשׁוּבוּ מִדַּרְכָּם. וּמוֹסִיפִין שֵׁשׁ בְּרָכוֹת בִּתְפִלַּת שַׁחֲרִית וּבִתְפִלַּת מִנְחָה וְנִמְצְאוּ מִתְפַּלְּלִין כ''ד בְּרָכוֹת. וְנוֹעֲלִין אֶת הַחֲנֻיּוֹת. וּבַשֵּׁנִי מַטִּין לְעֵת עֶרֶב וּפוֹתְחִין אֶת הַחֲנֻיּוֹת. אֲבָל בַּחֲמִישִׁי פּוֹתְחִין כָּל הַיּוֹם מִפְּנֵי כְּבוֹד הַשַּׁבָּת. וְאִם יֵשׁ לַחֲנוּת שְׁנֵי פְּתָחִים פּוֹתֵחַ אֶחָד וְנוֹעֵל אֶחָד וְאִם יֵשׁ לַחֲנוּת אִצְטַבָּה פּוֹתֵחַ כְּדַרְכּוֹ בַּחֲמִישִׁי וְאֵינוֹ חוֹשֵׁשׁ:

There are additional dimensions [of severity] to these [fasts] - The first four points mentioned in this halachah are described at length in Chapter 4.

it is on these alone that we sound the trumpets - as required in a time of distress (Chapter 1, Halachah 1). In Chapter 4, Halachot 14-17, the manner in which the trumpets are sounded is explained.

pray in the street of the city - See Chapter 4, Halachah 1

call on an elder to admonish the people [and motivate] them to repent from their [evil] ways - See Chapter 4, Halachah 2

add six blessings in the morning - See Chapter 4, Halachot 7-14

and afternoon prayers - Although the Talmud does not mention that these six blessings were added in both prayer services, were this not to be the case, it would have been proper to state that they were added only in the morning service (Maggid Mishneh).

thus, we recite twenty-four blessings - More precisely 25. The Rambam is quoting the Mishnah (Ta'anit 2:2), which refers to the era before the nineteenth blessing was added to the daily Shemoneh Esreh. (See Hilchot Tefillah 2:1.)

and close the stores - with the leniencies to be mentioned. The stores are closed to intensify the people's consciousness of the fast (Rashi, Ta'anit 14b).

On Mondays, the doors of the stores - From the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 575:4), the Ramah, and other commentaries, it appears that the leniencies mentioned here refer only to stores that sell food, but not those that carry other merchandise.

are left slightly ajar towards evening - but they should not be opened completely

and they may be opened [for business] - to allow people to purchase food for the evening meal. There are, however, certain restrictions; for example, the products in the store may not be taken out to the store's display area (Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Ta'anit 1:6).

On Thursdays, [the stores] may be opened the entire day [to allow people to purchase food] in honor of the Sabbath. - The following restriction should be adhered to:

If a store has two entrances, one entrance should be opened and the other closed. - From the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (loc. cit.), it appears that this restriction applies on Mondays as well as on Thursdays.

If the store has a display area - a bench for the storekeeper and/or customers to sit and a place for merchandise to be placed

in front of it, it may be opened in the normal manner on a Thursday without concern [for the above restriction]. - Rashi, Ta'anit 14b, explains that the display area prevents the entrances to the store from being seen. Hence, there is no difficulty in leaving them both open.

8

If these [fasts] pass without [their prayers] being answered, we should minimize our commercial activity, construction projects associated with joy - e.g., those involving decorative patterns on the ceilings and walls, plantings associated with joy - e.g., that of myrtle trees, and the erection of tents.

We also minimize betrothals and marriages, unless one has not fulfilled the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying. Whoever has fulfilled this mitzvah is forbidden to engage in sexual relations in a year of famine.

We also reduce the exchange of greetings, and the Torah sages should not exchange greetings at all. Rather, [they should conduct themselves as people] who have been rebuffed and ostracized by God. When a common person greets them, they may return the greeting in a weak and concerned tone.

ח

עָבְרוּ אֵלּוּ וְלֹא נַעֲנוּ. מְמַעֲטִין בְּמַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן וּבְבִנְיָן שֶׁל שִׂמְחָה כְּגוֹן צִיּוּר וְכִיּוּר. וּבִנְטִיעָה שֶׁל שִׂמְחָה כְּגוֹן מִינֵי הֲדַס וּמִינֵי אֲהָלִים. וּמְמַעֲטִין בְּאֵרוּסִין וְנִשּׂוּאִין אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן לֹא קִיֵּם מִצְוַת פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה. וְכָל מִי שֶׁקִּיֵּם מִצְוַת פְּרִיָּה וּרְבִיָּה אָסוּר לוֹ לְשַׁמֵּשׁ מִטָּתוֹ בִּשְׁנֵי רְעָבוֹן. וּמְמַעֲטִין בִּשְׁאֵלַת שָׁלוֹם בֵּין אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ. ותַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים לֹא יִשְׁאֲלוּ שָׁלוֹם אֶלָּא כִּנְזוּפִין וּכִמְנֻדִּין לַמָּקוֹם. וְעַם הָאָרֶץ שֶׁנָּתַן לָהֶם שָׁלוֹם מַחְזִירִין לוֹ בְּשָׂפָה רָפָה וְכֹבֶד רֹאשׁ:

If these [fasts] pass without [their prayers] being answered - no other communal fasts are ordained, as explained in the following halachah. The fact that no other fasts are called does not mean that the community may return to their ordinary pattern of conduct. Quite the contrary: the period is regarded as one of Divine disfavor. Hence,

we should minimize our commercial activity - The restrictions that follow were instituted to reduce joy. In contrast, this restriction appears to include all commercial activity, even that which is not directed associated with happiness (Lechem Mishneh). Seemingly, the intent is that since the time is not favorable, it is unwise to invest money and effort in commercial endeavors (Kinat Eliyahu).

There are, however, authorities who maintain that here also, the restriction involves only commercial activity associated with joy - e.g., preparing for a child's wedding or purchasing valuable articles, but ordinary business activities are permitted (Mishnah Berurah 575:18).

construction projects associated with joy - e.g., those involving decorative patterns on the ceilings and walls - In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Ta'anit 1:7), the Rambam states that this refers to ornate buildings erected by the wealthy. There is, however, no restriction on ordinary building projects necessary for one's everyday purposes.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 575:7) describes the prohibition as applying to "buildings of joy." The Mishnah Berurah 575:18 (based on the Tur) explains that this refers to all buildings that are unnecessary and are constructed for beauty and comfort.

plantings - In this instance, the differences between Hebrew and English have caused our translation to be non-literal. In Hebrew, the word נטיעה refers to both planting trees and setting up tents.

associated with joy - e.g., that of myrtle trees - In his Commentary on the Mishnah (ibid.), the Rambam explains that this refers to spice and flower gardens planted for pleasure. One may, however, plant orchards for the purpose of growing fruit. There are no restrictions on such activity.

and the erection of tents. - This also refers to tents set up for festive purposes; there is no restriction against pitching tents for ordinary purposes.

We also minimize betrothals and marriages - The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 575) interprets this to mean that a person who has fulfilled the mitzvah of fathering children should not become betrothed or marry at all.

unless one has not fulfilled the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying. - This involves fathering a son and a daughter. (See Hilchot Ishut 15:4.)

Whoever has fulfilled this mitzvah is forbidden to engage in sexual relations in a year of famine. - Ta'anit 11a derives this concept from Genesis 41:50, which states that Joseph's children were born before the famine. One can infer that during the famine he did not engage in relations.

This restriction was instituted because it is proper to reduce our indulgence in pleasure in a time of communal distress.

We also reduce the exchange of greetings, and the Torah sages should not exchange greetings at all. - Needless to say, frivolity and jests are also forbidden.

Rather, [they should conduct themselves as people] who have been rebuffed and ostracized by God. - A person under a ban of ostracism is forbidden to greet others or to return greetings. Hence the above prohibition.

Ta'anit 14b states that it is proper to cover one's head with a cloak as mourners do. Nevertheless, neither the Rambam nor the Shulchan Aruch quotes this obligation (perhaps because even mourners did not generally observe this custom after the Talmudic era).

When a common person greets them, they may return the greeting - lest the person become offended (Rashi, Ta'anit 14b); but when doing so, they should respond

in a weak and concerned tone - so that he will appreciate that the greeting was not in place.

9

The Torah scholars alone continue to fast, [beginning on the next] Monday, [and continuing on the following] Thursday and Monday [in this manner] until the month of Nisan - as determined in relation to the spring season - passes. This is not, however, required of the community. No more than these thirteen communal fasts are decreed because of a lack of rainfall.

When these individuals fast until Nisan passes, they are allowed to eat at night and are allowed to perform work, to wash, to anoint themselves, to engage in sexual relations, and to wear shoes as on other fast days. They do not fast on Rashei Chodashim, nor on Purim.

After the month of Nisan, as determined in relation to the spring season, passes - i.e., when the sun enters the sign of the bull - they should cease fasting. Since no rain has descended from the beginning of the year, rain in this season would be a sign of a curse.

ט

תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים חוֹזְרִין לְבַדָּם וּמִתְעַנִּים שֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי וְשֵׁנִי עַד שֶׁיֵּצֵא נִיסָן שֶׁל תְּקוּפָה אֲבָל לֹא הַצִּבּוּר. שֶׁאֵין גּוֹזְרִין עַל הַצִּבּוּר בִּשְׁבִיל גְּשָׁמִים שֶׁלֹּא יָרְדוּ יֶתֶר מִשְּׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה תַּעֲנִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ. וּכְשֶׁמִּתְעַנִּין הַיְחִידִים עַד שֶׁיָּצָא נִיסָן מֻתָּרִין לֶאֱכל בַּלַּיְלָה וּמֻתָּרִין בַּעֲשִׂיַּת מְלָאכָה וּבִרְחִיצָה וּבְסִיכָה וְתַשְׁמִישׁ הַמִּטָּה וּנְעִילַת הַסַּנְדָּל כִּשְׁאָר כָּל הַתַּעֲנִיּוֹת. וּמַפְסִיקִין לְרָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים וּפוּרִים. יָצָא נִיסָן שֶׁל תְּקוּפָה וְהוּא כְּשֶׁהִגִּיעַ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לִתְחִלַּת מַזַּל שׁוֹר אֵין מִתְעַנִּים. שֶׁאֵין הַגְּשָׁמִים בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה אֶלָּא סִימַן קְלָלָה הוֹאִיל וְלֹא יָרְדוּ כָּל עִקָּר מִתְּחִלַּת הַשָּׁנָה:

The Torah scholars alone continue to fast - The commentaries do not mention whether it is preferable that all the students of the Torah join in these fasts, as was stated in Halachah 1. One might presume, however, that they should. Indeed, the entire community should have been required to observe these fasts, and it is only because the Rabbis thought that this would be too difficult for them that they were released from this obligation.

[beginning on the next] Monday, [and continuing on the following] Thursday and Monday - As mentioned in the commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 5, and in Halachah 3 of this chapter, there are opinions that maintain that if a cycle of fasts ends on Monday - as does the cycle of the seven communal fasts - the next cycle of fasts may be started on the Thursday of that week. Other opinions - and these are followed by the standard published text of the Mishneh Torah - maintain that all cycles of fasts begin on Monday. Hence, if a cycle of fasts ends on Monday, the next cycle begins on the following Monday.

This difference of opinion involves much more than one day, for these fasts are decreed in series of three. Thus, according to the opinion followed by the standard texts, the scholars would fast three days in every two weeks for the duration of the period. The other view, in contrast, would require them to fast on every Monday and Thursday.

[in this manner] until the month of Nisan - Ta'anit 1:7 states that these fasts should continue "until Nisan passes." In the Jerusalem Talmud's explanation of this Mishnah, it is explained that this refers to Nisan

as determined in relation to the spring season - which always begins in the month of Nisan. In Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh 9:3, the Rambam defines the beginning of spring as the time the sun enters the zodiac constellation of the goat. This is the beginning of April according to the secular calendar.

passes. This is not, however, required of the community. No more than these thirteen communal fasts are decreed because of a lack of rainfall. - Ta'anit 14b considered thirteen fasts as the maximum a community should be required to undertake for this reason. More fasts would be considered an excessive burden. (Significantly, according to Kabbalah, the number thirteen is identified with God's attributes of mercy.)

As mentioned in the commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 4, this limit applies only regarding fasts decreed because of a lack of rain. When communal fasts are decreed because of other distressing circumstances, we should continue fasting until our prayers are answered.

When these individuals fast until Nisan passes, they are allowed to eat at night - i.e., the fast begins at dawn. See Chapter 1, Halachah 8.

and are allowed to perform work, to wash, to anoint themselves, to engage in sexual relations, and to wear shoes as on other fast days. - These restrictions apply only on Yom Kippur, Tish'ah B'Av, and the latter ten fasts decreed because of a lack of rain.

They do not fast on Rashei Chodashim, nor on Purim. - As mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 9, an individual should not fast on these days. Although many individuals may participate in these fasts, they are still deemed individual - and not communal - fasts.

After the month of Nisan, as determined in relation to the spring season, passes - i.e. - one month after the spring season begins

when the sun enters the sign - i.e., the zodiac constellation

of the bull - This is at the beginning of the secular month of May.

they should cease fasting. Since no rain has descended from the beginning of the year, rain in this season would be a sign of a curse. - Since the land has already become parched, the rain will be of no benefit. For God to display His beneficence at such a time, after the time had passed when the rain could have helped, is a further sign of Divine disfavor (Rav Ovadiah of Bertinoro).

10

Where does the above apply? In Eretz Yisrael and in similar lands.6 In contrast, in places where the rainy season begins before or after the seventeenth of Marcheshvan,7 when the time [for the rains] arrives and no rain descends, individuals should [begin a series of three] fasts, [starting on] Monday [and continuing on the following] Thursday and Monday. They should not fast on Rashei Chodashim, Chanukah, or Purim.8

Afterwards, they should wait approximately seven days.9 If rain does not descend, the court should decree thirteen communal fasts, according to the order described above.10

י

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכָל הַדּוֹמֶה לָהּ. אֲבָל מְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁעוֹנַת הַגְּשָׁמִים שֶׁלָּהֶן קֹדֶם י''ז בְּמַרְחֶשְׁוָן אוֹ אַחַר זְמַן זֶה כְּשֶׁיַּגִּיעַ זְמַנָּם וְלֹא יָרְדוּ גְּשָׁמִים יְחִידִים מִתְעַנִּים שֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי וְשֵׁנִי. וּמַפְסִיקִין בְּרָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים וּבַחֲנֻכָּה וּבְפוּרִים. וְשׁוֹהִין אַחֲרֵי כֵן כְּמוֹ שִׁבְעָה יָמִים. אִם לֹא יָרְדוּ גְּשָׁמִים בֵּית דִּין גּוֹזְרִין עַל הַצִּבּוּר שְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה תַּעֲנִיּוֹת עַל הַסֵּדֶר שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ:

11

[The following laws apply to] all the communal fasts decreed in the diaspora: It is permitted to eat during the night,11 and they are governed by the same laws as other fasts.12 A communal fast resembling Yom Kippur is decreed only in Eretz Yisrael,13 and only because of [a lack of] rain.14 This refers to the latter ten fasts - i.e., the middle series of three fasts and the final series of seven fasts.

יא

כָּל תַּעֲנִיּוֹת שֶׁגּוֹזְרִין הַצִּבּוּר בְּחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ אוֹכְלִים בָּהֶם בַּלַּיְלָה וְדִינֵיהֶם כְּדִין שְׁאָר הַתַּעֲנִיּוֹת. שֶׁאֵין גּוֹזְרִין עַל הַצִּבּוּר תַּעֲנִית כְּגוֹן צוֹם כִּפּוּר אֶלָּא בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּלְבַד וּבִגְלַל הַמָּטָר. וּבְאוֹתָן עֶשֶׂר תַּעֲנִיּוֹת שֶׁהֵן שָׁלֹשׁ אֶמְצָעִיּוֹת וְשֶׁבַע אַחֲרוֹנוֹת:

Footnotes
1.

The Rambam, based on his interpretation of Ta'anit 14a, does not consider the nature of the situation during the first two sets of fasts serious enough to warrant that these women fast. During these seven fasts, in contrast, the drought has become a real danger. Hence, they are also required to fast.

This ruling is not accepted by many other authorities. Most follow Rashi's interpretation of the passage, which requires these women to fast during the second set of three fasts only. The rationale for that ruling is that he feels that the drought has already become serious enough to warrant their fasting during the second set of three fasts. In principle, these women should also fast during the final seven fasts, but the Rabbis felt that such a long period of fasting would be too taxing for them. Hence, they restricted their fasts to the second set alone. This is the ruling quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 575:5).

2.

The same applies to other individuals who are ill and would suffer from the fast.

3.

It is significant to mention the statement of the Ramah (Orach Chayim, ibid.), "It is forbidden for them to be stringent with themselves and fast."

4.

Because of the severity of the situation, the leniencies that applied in the previous sets of fasts were withdrawn, and the men of the priestly watch who were not required to serve in the Temple that day were required to complete the fast. Even those who were required to serve in the Temple on that day (the men of the beit av) were obligated to fast for a portion of the day.

5.

Nevertheless, with the exception of the factors mentioned in the following halachah, these fasts are also not more severe. Hence, the leniencies with regard to work, washing, anointing oneself, and wearing shoes mentioned in the previous halachah also apply.

6.

As mentioned, in Eretz Yisrael, the rainy season should begin at the start of Marcheshvan.

7.

The Mishnah Berurah 575:24 states that this applies even if a country's rainy season begins after Shavuot. Note also Hilchot Tefillah 2:16-17, in which the Rambam discusses the question of requesting rain in lands other than Eretz Yisrael. This question is particularly relevant in regard to countries in the southern hemisphere.

8.

For individual fasts should not be held on these days.

9.

This is approximately the time between the conclusion of the three fasts begun on the seventeenth of Cheshvan, and the beginning of the second series of fasts after Rosh Chodesh Kislev. (See Kessef Mishneh.)

10.

As explained in the following halachah, there are, however, certain differences in the severity of the fasts.

11.

Until dawn. See Chapter 1, Halachah 8.

12.

See Halachah 9. Thus, there are no prohibitions against work, washing, anointing oneself, sexual relations, and wearing shoes on these fasts.

13.

Ta'anit 11b states, "There is no communal fast in Babylon other than Tish'ah B'Av" - i.e., in Babylon, there is no fast as severe as Yom Kippur, with the exception of Tish'ah B'Av. Significantly, Tosafot (loc. cit.) and Rashi (Pesachim 54b) explain that this refers to the land of Babylon, where rains were always plentiful and there was never a need for fasts.

The Rambam - and other commentaries and authorities, including the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 575:10) - explain that the law which applies to Babylon, applies to the entire diaspora. It is not that there can be no need for a communal fast of this nature, but rather that, outside of Eretz Yisrael, the Jewish court lacks the authority to declare such a fast. (See the Jerusalem Talmud, Ta'anit 2:1.)

The Ramban explains that the reason for the lack of authority is that there is no Nasi in the diaspora, and the declaration of a communal fast would require his approval. The Rashba states that the lack of authority stems from the lack of judges who have received the semichah (ordination) extending back in a chain to Moses. (See Hilchot Sanhedrin, Chapter 4.) According to these opinions, even in Eretz Yisrael today it is impossible to ordain communal fasts of this nature. Note the gloss of the Birkei Yosef on the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 575), where this concept is discussed and a rationale is given for fasting in Eretz Yisrael today.

(Homiletically, it can be explained that the unity necessary to establish a community is possible only in Eretz Yisrael. In contrast, in the diaspora our greater involvement with material affairs prevents the establishment of true oneness among our people.)

14.

Thus, such severe fasts are not ordained for any of the other difficulties mentioned in the second chapter. Although the Ramban differs with the Rambam on this point, the Rambam's view is accepted as halachah.

Ta'aniyot - Chapter Four

1

On each and every day of the final seven fasts for lack of rain, we pray in the [following] manner. The ark is taken out to the street of the city, and all the people gather together, while dressed in sackcloth.

Ashes are placed on the ark and on the Torah scroll to heighten the grief and humble [the people's] hearts. One of the people should take some ashes and place them on the head of the Nasi and on the head of the chief justice, so that they will be ashamed and repent. [The ashes] are placed on the place where one puts on tefillin. Everyone else should take ashes and place them on his [own] head.

א

בְכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם מִשֶּׁבַע תַּעֲנִיּוֹת הָאַחֲרוֹנוֹת שֶׁל מָטָר מִתְפַּלְּלִין עַל סֵדֶר זֶה. מוֹצִיאִין אֶת הַתֵּבָה לִרְחוֹבָהּ שֶׁל עִיר וְכָל הָעָם מִתְקַבְּצִים וּמִתְכַּסִּים בְּשַׂקִּים. וְנוֹתְנִין אֵפֶר מַקְלֶה עַל גַּבֵּי הַתֵּבָה וְעַל גַּבֵּי סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה כְּדֵי לְהַגְדִּיל אֶת הַבְּכִיָּה וּלְהַכְנִיעַ לִבָּם. וְאֶחָד מִן הָעָם נוֹטֵל מִן הָאֵפֶר וְנוֹתֵן בְּרֹאשׁ הַנָּשִׂיא וּבְרֹאשׁ אַב בֵּית דִּין בְּמָקוֹם הֲנָחַת תְּפִלִּין כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּכָּלְמוּ וְיָשׁוּבוּ. וְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד נוֹטֵל וְנוֹתֵן בְּרֹאשׁוֹ:

2

Afterwards, one of the wise elders [of the community] stands before them while they are sitting. If there is no wise elder, a man of wisdom should be chosen. If there is no man of wisdom, a man of stature should be chosen.

He should speak words of rebuke to them, telling them: "Brethren, it is not sackcloth and fasting that will have an effect, but rather repentance and good deeds. This is evident from [the story of] Nineveh. It is not stated with regard to the people of Nineveh, 'And God saw their sackcloth and their fasting,' but rather, 'And God saw their deeds' [Jonah 3:10]. Similarly, in the words of the prophetic tradition, it is written, 'Rend your hearts and not your garments' [Joel 2:13]." He should continue in this vein according to his ability until they are humbled and turn [to God] in complete repentance.

ב

וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַעֲמִידִין בֵּינֵיהֶן זָקֵן חָכָם וְהֵן יוֹשְׁבִין. לֹא הָיָה שָׁם זָקֵן חָכָם מַעֲמִידִין חָכָם. לֹא הָיָה שָׁם לֹא זָקֵן וְלֹא חָכָם מַעֲמִידִין אָדָם שֶׁל צוּרָה. וְאוֹמֵר לִפְנֵיהֶם דִּבְרֵי כִּבּוּשִׁין. אַחֵינוּ לֹא שַׂק וְלֹא תַּעֲנִית גּוֹרְמִין אֶלָּא תְּשׁוּבָה וּמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים. שֶׁכֵּן מָצִינוּ בְּנִינְוֵה שֶׁלֹּא נֶאֱמַר בְּאַנְשֵׁי נִינְוֵה וַיַּרְא הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת שַׂקָּם וְאֶת תַּעֲנִיתָם אֶלָּא (יונה ג י) "וַיַּרְא הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם". וּבְקַבָּלָה הוּא אוֹמֵר (יואל ב יג) "קִרְעוּ לְבַבְכֶם וְאַל בִּגְדֵיכֶם". וּמוֹסִיף בְּעִנְיָנוֹת אֵלּוּ כְּפִי כֹּחוֹ עַד שֶׁיַּכְנִיעַ לִבָּם וְיָשׁוּבוּ תְּשׁוּבָה גְּמוּרָה:

3

After this person has completed his words of rebuke, the community stands up to pray. They should choose a person suitable to serve as a leader of prayer on such fast days.1 If the person who spoke the words of rebuke is suitable to [lead the congregation in] prayer, he should.2 If not, another person should be chosen.

ג

וְאַחַר שֶׁגּוֹמֵר זֶה דִּבְרֵי כִּבּוּשִׁין עוֹמְדִין בִּתְפִלָּה וּמַעֲמִידִין שְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר הָרָאוּי לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּתַעֲנִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ. וְאִם הָיָה אוֹתוֹ שֶׁאוֹמֵר דִּבְרֵי הַכִּבּוּשִׁין רָאוּי לְהִתְפַּלֵּל מִתְפַּלֵּל וְאִם לָאו מוֹרִידִין אַחֵר:

4

Who is fit to [lead the congregation in] prayer on these fasts? A person who leads the prayers frequently and who frequently reads the Torah, the Prophets, and the Sacred Writings. He should have children, but lack means and have work in the field.

None of his children, nor any member of his household, nor any of his relatives who are dependent upon him, should be transgressors; rather, his house should be empty of sin; nor should any unfavorable report have been made concerning him during his childhood.

He should be humble, appreciated by the community, and have a voice that is appealing and sweet. If he possesses all these virtues and is also an elder, this is most desirable. [Nevertheless, even when he] is not an elder, since he does possess these virtues, he is fit to [lead the congregation in] prayer.

ד

וְאֵי זֶה הוּא הָרָאוּי לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּתַעֲנִיּוֹת אֵלּוּ. אִישׁ שֶׁהוּא רָגִיל בִּתְפִלָּה. וְרָגִיל לִקְרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה נְבִיאִים וּכְתוּבִים. וּמְטוּפָּל וְאֵין לוֹ. וְיֵשׁ לוֹ יְגִיעָה בַּשָּׂדֶה. וְלֹא יִהְיֶה בְּבָנָיו וּבִבְנֵי בֵּיתוֹ וְכָל קְרוֹבָיו הַנִּלְוִים עָלָיו בַּעַל עֲבֵרָה. אֶלָּא יִהְיֶה בֵּיתוֹ רֵיקָן מִן הָעֲבֵרוֹת. וְלֹא יָצָא עָלָיו שֵׁם רַע בְּיַלְדוּתוֹ. שְׁפַל בֶּרֶךְ. וּמְרֻצֶּה לָעָם. וְיֵשׁ לוֹ נְעִימָה וְקוֹלוֹ עָרֵב. וְאִם הָיָה זָקֵן עִם כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת הָאֵלּוּ הֲרֵי זֶה מְפֹאָר. וְאִם אֵינוֹ זָקֵן הוֹאִיל וְיֵשׁ בּוֹ כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת הָאֵלּוּ יִתְפַּלֵּל:

5

The chazan should begin and recite the Shemoneh Esreh [in the usual fashion]3 until the blessing Go'el Yisrael.4 He then recites Zichronot5 and Shofarot6 that relate to the difficulty [facing the people].7 He should also recite the psalms, "I called to God in my distress and He answered me" (Psalm 120), "I lift up my eyes to the mountains" (Psalm 121), "Out of the depths, I called to You, O God" (Psalm 130), "A prayer of the afflicted, when he becomes faint" (Psalm 102).

ה

וּשְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר מַתְחִיל וּמִתְפַּלֵּל עַד בִּרְכַּת גּוֹאֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְאוֹמֵר זִכְרוֹנוֹת וְשׁוֹפָרוֹת מֵעֵין הַצָּרָה. וְאוֹמֵר (תהילים קכ א) "אֶל ה' בַּצָּרָתָה לִּי קָרָאתִי וַיַּעֲנֵנִי". (תהילים קכא א) "אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי אֶל הֶהָרִים" וְגוֹ'. (תהילים קל א) "מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ ה'". (תהילים קב א) "תְּפִלָּה לְעָנִי כִי יַעֲטֹף" וְגוֹ':

6

[In this blessing,] he recites supplicatory prayers according to his ability.8 He says, "Please, behold our affliction and wage our battle; speed our redemption."9 He then recites supplications and states at the conclusion of these supplications, "He who answered Abraham our patriarch at Mount Moriah,10 will answer you and will hear the sound of your outcry on this day. Blessed are You, God, Redeemer of Israel."

ו

וְאוֹמֵר דִּבְרֵי תַּחֲנוּנִים כְּפִי כֹּחוֹ. וְאוֹמֵר רְאֵה נָא בְעָנְיֵנוּ וְרִיבָה רִיבֵנוּ וּמַהֵר לְגָאֳלֵנוּ. וּמִתְחַנֵּן וְאוֹמֵר בְּסוֹף תַּחֲנוּנָיו מִי שֶׁעָנָה אֶת אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ בְּהַר הַמּוֹרִיָּה הוּא יַעֲנֶה אֶתְכֶם וְיִשְׁמַע קוֹל צַעֲקַתְכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' גּוֹאֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל:

7

He then begins to add six blessings; these are added one after the other. In each of them, he recites supplicatory prayers which include pleas [for mercy] and verses11 from the Prophets and the Holy Writings with which he is familiar.12 He concludes each of these blessings with the concluding phrases mentioned below.

ז

וּמַתְחִיל לְהוֹסִיף שֵׁשׁ בְּרָכוֹת שֶׁהוּא מוֹסִיף זוֹ אַחַר זוֹ. וּמִתְחַנֵּן בְּכָל אַחַת מֵהֶן בְּדִבְרֵי תַּחֲנוּנִים וּפְסוּקִים מִדִּבְרֵי קַבָּלָה וּמִכִּתְבֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ כְּפִי שֶׁהוּא רָגִיל וְחוֹתֵם בְּכָל אַחַת מֵהֶן בַּחֲתִימוֹת אֵלּוּ:

8

For the first of these blessings, he concludes: "He who answered Moses and our ancestors at the Red Sea13 will answer you and will hear the sound of your outcry on this day. Blessed are You God, who remembers the forgotten."14

ח

בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה הוּא חוֹתֵם מִי שֶׁעָנָה אֶת משֶׁה וַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ עַל יַם סוּף הוּא יַעֲנֶה אֶתְכֶם וְיִשְׁמַע קוֹל צַעֲקַתְכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' זוֹכֵר הַנִּשְׁכָּחוֹת:

9

For the second of these blessings, he concludes: "He who answered Joshua at Gilgal15 will answer you and will hear the sound of your outcry on this day. Blessed are You, God, who hears the sounding [of the trumpets]."16

ט

בַּשְּׁנִיָּה הוּא חוֹתֵם מִי שֶׁעָנָה אֶת יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בַּגִּלְגָּל הוּא יַעֲנֶה אֶתְכֶם וְיִשְׁמַע קוֹל צַעֲקַתְכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּרוּעָה:

10

For the third of these blessings, he concludes: "He who answered Samuel at Mitzpeh17 will answer you and will hear the sound of your outcry on this day. Blessed are You, God, who hears an outcry."18

י

בַּשְּׁלִישִׁית הוּא חוֹתֵם מִי שֶׁעָנָה אֶת שְׁמוּאֵל בַּמִּצְפָּה הוּא יַעֲנֶה אֶתְכֶם וְיִשְׁמַע קוֹל צַעֲקַתְכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' שׁוֹמֵעַ צְעָקָה:

11

For the fourth of these blessings, he concludes: "He who answered Elijah at Mount Carmel19 will answer you and will hear the sound of your outcry on this day. Blessed are You, God, who hears prayer."20

יא

בָּרְבִיעִית הוּא חוֹתֵם מִי שֶׁעָנָה אֶת אֵלִיָּהוּ בְּהַר הַכַּרְמֶל הוּא יַעֲנֶה אֶתְכֶם וְיִשְׁמַע קוֹל צַעֲקַתְכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה:

12

For the fifth of these blessings, he concludes: "He who answered Jonah in the belly of the fish21 will answer you and will hear the sound of your outcry on this day. Blessed are You, God, who answers in a time of distress."22

יב

בַּחֲמִישִׁית הוּא חוֹתֵם מִי שֶׁעָנָה אֶת יוֹנָה בִּמְעֵי הַדָּגָה הוּא יַעֲנֶה אֶתְכֶם וְיִשְׁמַע קוֹל צַעֲקַתְכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' הָעוֹנֶה בְּעֵת צָרָה:

13

For the sixth of these blessings, he concludes: "He who answered David and Solomon, his son, in Jerusalem23 will answer you and will hear the sound of your outcry on this day. Blessed are You God, who has mercy on the land."24

The people all answer Amen after each of these blessings25 in the same manner as Amen is recited after all blessings.26

יג

בַּשִּׁשִּׁית הוּא חוֹתֵם מִי שֶׁעָנָה אֶת דָּוִד וּשְׁלֹמֹה בְּנוֹ בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם הוּא יַעֲנֶה אֶתְכֶם וְיִשְׁמַע קוֹל צַעֲקַתְכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' הַמְרַחֵם עַל הָאָרֶץ. וְכָל הָעָם עוֹנִין אָמֵן אַחַר כָּל בְּרָכָה וּבְרָכָה כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁעוֹנִין אַחַר כָּל הַבְּרָכוֹת:

14

For the seventh of these blessings, he begins, "Heal us, O God, and we will be healed," and concludes the Shemoneh Esreh in its usual order. The trumpets are sounded. This is the order of prayer [on these fasts] in all places.

יד

בַּשְּׁבִיעִית אוֹמֵר רְפָאֵנוּ ה' וְנֵרָפֵא וְכוּ'. וְגוֹמֵר הַתְּפִלָּה עַל הַסֵּדֶר וְתוֹקְעִין בַּחֲצוֹצְרוֹת. וְכַסֵּדֶר הַזֶּה עוֹשִׂין בְּכָל מָקוֹם:

15

When [the people] would pray according to this order in Jerusalem, they would gather on the Temple Mount, before the eastern gate, and pray in this manner. When the chazan reached the passage, "He who answered Abraham,..." he would say, "Blessed are You God, our Lord, the Lord of Israel, for all eternity. Blessed are You God, Redeemer of Israel." They would respond to him, "Blessed be His name and the glory of His kingdom for ever and ever."

The attendant to the synagogue would tell those who blow [the trumpets]: "Sound a teki'ah, priests. Sound a teki'ah." The person reciting the prayers then repeats, "He who answered Abraham our patriarch at Mount Moriah, will answer you and will hear the sound of your outcry on this day." Afterwards, the priests [blow the trumpets,] sounding a teki'ah, a series of teru'ot, and a teki'ah.

טו

כְּשֶׁהָיוּ מִתְפַּלְּלִין עַל הַסֵּדֶר הַזֶּה בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם הָיוּ מִתְכַּנְּסִין לְהַר הַבַּיִת כְּנֶגֶד שַׁעַר הַמִּזְרָח וּמִתְפַּלְּלִין כַּסֵּדֶר הַזֶּה. וּכְשֶׁמַּגִּיעַ שְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר לוֹמַר מִי שֶׁעָנָה אֶת אַבְרָהָם אוֹמֵר בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֱלֹהַי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִן הָעוֹלָם וְעַד הָעוֹלָם בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' גּוֹאֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְהֵן עוֹנִין אַחֲרָיו בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד. וְחַזָּן הַכְּנֶסֶת אוֹמֵר לַתּוֹקְעִים תִּקְעוּ בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן תִּקְעוּ. וְחוֹזֵר הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל וְאוֹמֵר מִי שֶׁעָנָה אֶת אַבְרָהָם בְּהַר הַמּוֹרִיָּה הוּא יַעֲנֶה אֶתְכֶם וְיִשְׁמַע קוֹל צַעֲקַתְכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ תּוֹקְעִין הַכֹּהֲנִים וּמְרִיעִין וְתוֹקְעִין:

16

Similarly, in the second of these blessings, which is the first of the six [blessings] that are added, the chazan concludes the blessing, "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, the Lord of Israel, for all eternity. Blessed are You, God, who remembers the forgotten." [The people] would respond to him, "Blessed be His name and the glory of His kingdom for ever and ever."

The attendant to the synagogue would tell those who blow [the trumpets]: "Sound a teru'ah, sons of Aaron.27 Sound a teru'ah."28 The person reciting the prayers then repeats, "He who answered Moses and our ancestors at the Red Sea, will answer you and will hear the sound of your outcry on this day." Afterwards, the priests [blow the trumpets,] sounding a series of teru'ot, a teki'ah, and a series of teru'ot.

טז

וְכֵן בַּבְּרָכָה הַשְּׁנִיָּה לָזוֹ שֶׁהִיא רִאשׁוֹנָה מִן הַשֵּׁשׁ שֶׁמּוֹסִיף חוֹתֵם בָּהּ בָּרוּךְ ה' אֱלֹהִים אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִן הָעוֹלָם וְעַד הָעוֹלָם בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' זוֹכֵר הַנִּשְׁכָּחוֹת. וְהֵן עוֹנִין בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד. וְחַזַּן הַכְּנֶסֶת אוֹמֵר לָהֶן הָרִיעוּ בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן הָרִיעוּ. וְחוֹזֵר שְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר וְאוֹמֵר מִי שֶׁעָנָה אֶת משֶׁה וַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ עַל יַם סוּף הוּא יַעֲנֶה אֶתְכֶם וְיִשְׁמַע קוֹל צַעֲקַתְכֶם בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה. וְאַחַר כָּךְ מְרִיעִין וְתוֹקְעִין וּמְרִיעִין:

17

Similarly for each [of these] blessings: for one, he announces "Sound a teki'ah," and for the other, he announces "Sound a teru'ah," until all seven blessings are concluded. Thus, at times, the priests blow a series, teki'ah, teru'ah, teki'ah, and at times, they blow a series, teru'ah, teki'ah, teru'ah.29 Seven series are blown.

This order is followed only on the Temple Mount. When they blow teki'ot and teru'ot there, they sound the trumpets and the shofar together, as explained.30

יז

וְכֵן עַל כָּל בְּרָכָה וּבְרָכָה בְּאַחַת אוֹמֵר תִּקְעוּ וּבְאַחַת אוֹמֵר הָרִיעוּ עַד שֶׁיִּגְמֹר כָּל שֶׁבַע הַבְּרָכוֹת. וְנִמְצְאוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים פַּעַם תּוֹקְעִין וּמְרִיעִין וְתוֹקְעִין. וּפַעַם מְרִיעִין וְתוֹקְעִין וּמְרִיעִין שֶׁבַע פְּעָמִים. וְאֵין עוֹשִׂים הַסֵּדֶר זֶה אֶלָּא בְּהַר הַבַּיִת בִּלְבַד. וּכְשֶׁהֵן תּוֹקְעִין וּמְרִיעִין שָׁם תּוֹקְעִין בַּחֲצוֹצְרוֹת וּבְשׁוֹפָר כְּאֶחָד כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ:

18

In all places31 where these seven fasts are decreed, all the people go out to the cemetery after praying and weep and offer supplications, as if to say, "Unless you return from your [sinful] ways, you are like these deceased people."32

In each of the communal fast days that are decreed because of distressing circumstances,33 the Ne'ilah service34 is recited in all places.

יח

שֶׁבַע תַּעֲנִיּוֹת הָאֵלּוּ כָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁגּוֹזְרִין אוֹתָם שָׁם אַחַר שֶׁמִּתְפַּלְּלִין יוֹצְאִין כָּל הָעָם לְבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת וּבוֹכִין וּמִתְחַנְּנִים שָׁם. כְּלוֹמַר הֲרֵי אַתֶּם מֵתִים כְּאֵלּוּ אִם לֹא תָּשׁוּבוּ מִדַּרְכֵיכֶם. וּבְכָל תַּעֲנִית מִתַּעֲנִיּוֹת הַצָּרוֹת שֶׁגּוֹזְרִין עַל הַצִּבּוּר מִתְפַּלְּלִין תְּפִלַּת נְעִילָה בְּכָל מָקוֹם:

19

When the rains descend [in response to] their [prayers] - to what extent is it necessary for them to descend in order for the community to cease fasting?35 When they descend a handbreadth into parched earth, two handbreadths into ordinary earth, and three handbreadths into cultivated earth.36

יט

יָרְדוּ לָהֶם גְּשָׁמִים עַד מָתַי יִהְיוּ יוֹרְדִין וְיִפְסְקוּ הַצִּבּוּר מִן הַתַּעֲנִית. מִשֶּׁיֵּרְדוּ בְּעֹמֶק הָאָרֶץ הַחֲרֵבָה טֶפַח. וּבַבֵּינוֹנִית טְפָחַיִם. וּבַעֲבוּדָה עַד שֶׁיֵּרְדוּ בְּעֹמֶק שְׁלֹשָׁה טְפָחִים:

Footnotes
1.

A chazan is not considered a mere functionary. Rather, since he is the leader of prayer, it is hoped that he will motivate all the members of the community to sincere prayer. Moreover, his personal merits can influence the standing of the community as a whole and cause their prayers to be acceptable more readily.

2.

Since he is the wisest and most distinguished member of the community, it would be appropriate for him to lead the prayers.

3.

The Tur (Orach Chayim 579) maintains that changes are made in the previous blessing, S'lach lanu, as well. To the usual text of that blessing, we add the confessional prayers recited on Yom Kippur.

4.

Go'el Yisrael, "the Redeemer of Israel," is the seventh blessing of the Shemoneh Esreh. Instead of reciting that blessing in its usual manner, the following additions should be made.

The Maggid Mishneh notes that the Rambam apparently had a different version of the Mishnah, Ta'anit 2:3. According to the version of the Mishnah in common use at present, the six passages mentioned above form the body of the six blessings added on these fasts. In contrast, according to the simple interpretation of the Rambam's text, all these passages should be added in the blessing Go'el Yisrael. Significantly, almost all other authorities follow the former view.

5.

Verses recalling God's remembrance of the Jewish people. (See Hilchot Shofar 3:8-9.)

6.

Verses recalling the unique influence of the shofar. (See Hilchot Shofar, ibid.)

7.

I.e., the chazan does not recite the same verses that are recited in the Rosh HaShanah prayers, but different verses, more appropriate to the present circumstances.

8.

I.e., according to the Rambam, there is no set text for these prayers, and their text is chosen by the chazan.

9.

This is the text of the blessing Go'el Yisrael that is recited every day.

10.

I.e., at the binding of Isaac. The Jerusalem Talmud (Ta'anit 2:4) questions the nature of this reference. The intention surely is not that Abraham prayed to God to spare Isaac, for he was totally willing to sacrifice him to fulfill God's will. Instead, this refers to a short prayer that Abraham recited after God told him not to sacrifice his son. In this prayer, he implored God to remember the merit of his act and come to the assistance of his descendants whenever they would be in distress. God "answered Abraham" and acquiesced.

11.

I.e., according to the Rambam, there is no set text for the main body of these six blessings. Instead, it must be chosen by the chazan. The conclusions for each of these blessings are listed in the halachot that follow.

12.

As mentioned above, for this reason it is necessary that the chazan be familiar with the entire Bible.

13.

There they prayed to be saved from their Egyptian pursuers. (See Exodus 14:15 and Rashi's commentary.)

14.

Rashi, Ta'anit 15a, explains that this conclusion is appropriate because after the many years of exile in Egypt, the Jews despaired of being redeemed and considered themselves to have been forgotten by God.

This differs from the conclusion of the Zichronot blessing on Rosh HaShanah, which is "...who remembers the covenant." Significantly, even the Tur (Orach Chayim 579) and the authorities who differ with the Rambam and maintain that the six passages mentioned in Halachah 5 form the body of these six blessings agree with the Rambam concerning the conclusion of this blessing.

See also Rashi (Ta'anit 15a), who explains the connection between each of the blessings and the correspondent passage of these six.

15.

This refers to Joshua's prayers that he be able to conquer Jericho. That city fell after the people encircled it blowing the shofar. Joshua's prayer is mentioned as Gilgal because that was the site of the encampment of the Jewish people at that time. (See Joshua, Chapter 5.)

16.

This is the conclusion of the Shofarot blessing on Rosh HaShanah, according to the Rambam. The Tur has a different text in both places. See note 14.

17.

This refers to Samuel's prayer that the Jews be rescued from the Philistines. (See I Samuel 7:8-10.)

18.

The verses cited in the previous note speak of Samuel "crying out to God."

19.

This refers to Elijah's confrontation with the prophets of Baal. Elijah prayed to God to accept his offering. Afterwards, he also prayed on Mount Carmel for rain. (See I Kings, Chapter 18.)

20.

Despite the use of this conclusion for one of the blessings of the daily Shemoneh Esreh, it is also employed here.

21.

After fleeing from the fulfillment of the mission which God had assigned him, Jonah was thrown to the sea and swallowed by a large fish. Out of the fish's belly, he called out in prayer to God. (See Jonah, Chapter 2.)

22.

Jonah began his prayer, "I cried out to God in my distress and He heard me."

23.

Rashi, Ta'anit 15a, explains that this refers to David's prayer, II Samuel 21:1, after the land suffered a famine for three successive years. Solomon's prayer refers to the prayer he uttered at the dedication of the Temple, I Kings 8:22-53, in which he beseeched God to hear the prayers of the Jews in their time of need.

24.

Although King David and King Solomon preceded Elijah and Jonah chronologically, the prayers of the former are chosen as the subject for this concluding blessing, because the intent of their prayers resembles that of the people praying in these communal fasts, that God have mercy on His people and on His holy land in a time of distress (Tosafot, Ta'anit 16b).

25.

The Rambam emphasizes this point, because when these blessings are recited in the Temple, the people respond in a different manner, as explained in Halachah 15.

26.

See Hilchot Berachot 1:13-14.

27.

"Sons of Aaron" is analogous to "priests."

28.

The repetition of the phrase "Sound a teru'ah," implies that a series teru'ah, teki'ah, teru'ah is sounded.

29.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam on this point, explaining that when the announcement "Sound a teki'ah" was made, only a teki'ah was sounded. Conversely, when the announcement "Sound a teru'ah" was made, only a teru'ah was sounded. The B'nei Binyamin (based on his text of the Tosefta, Ta'anit 1:10) mentions a third opinion, that for all seven times, they blew a series teki'ah, teru'ah, teki'ah.

30.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 4. Only in the Temple is the shofar sounded together with the trumpets. Outside the Temple, only the trumpets - or according to the Maggid Mishneh, either the trumpets or the shofar - is sounded.

31.

I.e., throughout Eretz Yisrael and also in the diaspora, not only on the Temple Mount as in the previous halachot.

32.

This emphasizes the theme expressed several times in this text, that distress and relief from it are dependent on our virtuous conduct or lack thereof.

Significantly, Ta'anit 16a gives two rationales for this custom: the one quoted by the Rambam, and a second one, "so that the dead will intercede on our behalf." That passage continues, "What is the difference between these two opinions? A non-Jewish cemetery."

Rashi explains that in a non-Jewish cemetery, there is no concept of the dead interceding on our behalf. Nevertheless, even such a place is sufficient to communicate the message "Unless you return...." In light of this, the Lechem Mishneh mentions that if there is no Jewish cemetery available, the community may go to a non-Jewish cemetery. Significantly, the Ramah (Orach Chayim 579:3) quotes this as halachah. (Note, however, the Mishnah Berurah 579:4.)

33.

This includes all the thirteen fasts declared because of rain and all communal fasts decreed because of the distressing circumstances mentioned in Chapter 2. As the Rambam explicitly states (Hilchot Nesiat Kapayim 14:2), Ne'ilah is not recited on commemorative fasts such as Tish'ah B'Av or the Seventeenth of Tammuz. It is, however, recited on Yom Kippur.

34.

The word Ne'ilah means "closing." It refers to "the closing of the gates of heaven for the setting sun" (Hilchot Tefillah 1:7). This service is added just before sunset. Thus, on communal fasts, four services are recited.

The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 4:1) states that this extra prayer service was added because "All those who increase their prayers are answered."

35.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 16.

36.

In all three instances, a similar amount of rain is required. Parched earth does not allow the water to penetrate easily. Conversely, cultivated earth is broken up and thus allows for greater penetration.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in the one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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