At three times in the year priests raise their hands to recite the Priestly Benediction four times in a single day, in the morning prayer, in the additional prayer, in the afternoon prayer, and in the evening in the closing of the gates, i.e., the ne’ila prayer. And these are the three times: During communal fasts held due to lack of rain, on which the closing prayer is recited; and during non-priestly watches [ma’amadot], when the Israelite members of the guard parallel to the priestly watch come and read the act of Creation from the Torah, as explained below; and on Yom Kippur.


בִּשְׁלשָׁה פְרָקִים בַּשָּׁנָה כֹּהֲנִים נוֹשְׂאִין אֶת כַּפֵּיהֶן אַרְבַּע פְּעָמִים בַּיּוֹם, בַּשַּׁחֲרִית, בַּמּוּסָף וּבַמִּנְחָה וּבִנְעִילַת שְׁעָרִים, בַּתַּעֲנִיּוֹת וּבַמַּעֲמָדוֹת וּבְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים:


These are the non-priestly watches: Since it is stated: “Command the children of Israel and say to them: My offering of food, which is presented to Me made by a fire, of a sweet savor to Me, you shall guard the sacrifice to Me in its due season” (Numbers 28:2), this verse teaches that the daily offering was a communal obligation that applied to every member of the Jewish people. The mishna asks: But how can a person’s offering be sacrificed when he is not standing next to it? The mishna explains: Since it is impossible for the entire nation to be present in Jerusalem when the daily offering is brought, the early prophets, Samuel and David, instituted the division of the priests into twenty-four priestly watches, each of which served for approximately one week, twice per year. For each and every priestly watch there was a corresponding non-priestly watch in Jerusalem of priests, Levites, and Israelites who would stand by the communal offerings for that day to represent the community. When the time arrived for the members of a certain priestly watch to ascend, the priests and Levites of that watch would ascend to Jerusalem to perform the Temple service. And as for the Israelites assigned to that priestly watch, some of them went up to Jerusalem, while the rest of them assembled in their towns and read the act of Creation.


אֵלּוּ הֵן מַעֲמָדוֹת, לְפִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר כח), צַו אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אֶת קָרְבָּנִי לַחְמִי, וְכִי הֵיאַךְ קָרְבָּנוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם קָרֵב, וְהוּא אֵינוֹ עוֹמֵד עַל גַּבָּיו, הִתְקִינוּ נְבִיאִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבַּע מִשְׁמָרוֹת. עַל כָּל מִשְׁמָר וּמִשְׁמָר הָיָה מַעֲמָד בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם שֶׁל כֹּהֲנִים, שֶׁל לְוִיִּם, וְשֶׁל יִשְׂרְאֵלִים. הִגִּיעַ זְמַן הַמִּשְׁמָר לַעֲלוֹת, כֹּהֲנִים וּלְוִיִּם עוֹלִים לִירוּשָׁלַיִם, וְיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁבְּאוֹתוֹ מִשְׁמָר מִתְכַּנְּסִין לְעָרֵיהֶן וְקוֹרְאִין בְּמַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית:


And the members of the non-priestly watch, who represented the entire community that week, would fast four days a week, from Monday until Thursday. And they would not fast on Shabbat eve, in deference to Shabbat, as they did not wish to start Shabbat while fasting. And they did not fast on Sunday, so as not to go from rest and delight immediately to exertion and fasting, and run the risk that they might die as a result of the abrupt change. Which portions of the Torah would the members of the non-priestly watch read on each day? On Sunday they would read the portions starting with: “In the beginning” and “Let there be a firmament” (Genesis 1:1–8). On Monday they would read: “Let there be a firmament” and “Let the waters be gathered” (Genesis 1:9–13). On Tuesday they would read: “Let the waters be gathered” and “Let there be lights” (Genesis 1:14–19). On Wednesday: “Let there be lights” and “Let the waters swarm” (Genesis 1:20–23). On Thursday: “Let the waters swarm” and “Let the earth bring forth” (Genesis 1:24–31). On Friday: “Let the earth bring forth” and “And the heaven and the earth were finished” (Genesis 2:1–3). A long passage, consisting of six verses or more, is read by two people, and a short passage is read by one, as one cannot read fewer than three verses from the Torah together. They read from the Torah in the morning prayer and in the additional prayer. In the afternoon prayer the members of the non-priestly watch enter the synagogue and read the daily portion by heart, just as one recites Shema every day. On Shabbat eve at the afternoon prayer, they would not enter the synagogue for the communal Torah readings, in deference to Shabbat.


וְאַנְשֵׁי הַמַּעֲמָד הָיוּ מִתְעַנִּין אַרְבָּעָה יָמִים בַּשָּׁבוּעַ, מִיּוֹם שֵׁנִי וְעַד יוֹם חֲמִישִׁי. וְלֹא הָיוּ מִתְעַנִּין עֶרֶב שַׁבָּת, מִפְּנֵי כְבוֹד הַשַּׁבָּת. וְלֹא בְאֶחָד בַּשַּׁבָּת, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֵצְאוּ מִמְּנוּחָה וָעֹנֶג לִיגִיעָה וְתַעֲנִית וְיָמוּתוּ. בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן, בְּרֵאשִׁית, וִיְהִי רָקִיעַ. בַּשֵּׁנִי, יְהִי רָקִיעַ, וְיִקָּווּ הַמַּיִם. בַּשְּׁלִישִׁי, יִקָּווּ הַמַּיִם, וִיְהִי מְאֹרֹת. בָּרְבִיעִי, יְהִי מְאֹרֹת, וְיִשְׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם. בַּחֲמִישִׁי, יִשְׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם, וְתּוֹצֵא הָאָרֶץ. בַּשִּׁשִּׁי, תּוֹצֵא הָאָרֶץ, וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם. פָּרָשָׁה גְדוֹלָה, קוֹרִין אוֹתָהּ בִּשְׁנַיִם, וְהַקְּטַנָּה בְּיָחִיד, בַּשַּׁחֲרִית וּבַמּוּסָף. וּבַמִּנְחָה נִכְנָסִין וְקוֹרִין עַל פִּיהֶן, כְּקוֹרִין אֶת שְׁמַע. עֶרֶב שַׁבָּת בַּמִּנְחָה לֹא הָיוּ נִכְנָסִין, מִפְּנֵי כְבוֹד הַשַּׁבָּת:


The mishna states a principle: On any day that has the recitation of hallel, but on which the additional offering was not sacrificed, e.g., Hanukkah, there is no reading of the Torah by the non-priestly watch in the morning prayer. On days that have both hallel and an additional offering, such as Festivals, the non-priestly watch would also not read from the Torah at the closing prayer. When a wood offering was brought, as explained below, there was no non-priestly watch in the afternoon prayer. This is the statement of Rabbi Akiva. Ben Azzai said to Rabbi Akiva that this is how Rabbi Yehoshua would teach this halakha: On days when an additional offering was sacrificed, there was no non-priestly watch in the afternoon prayer. When a wood offering was brought, there was no non-priestly watch in the closing prayer. Upon hearing this, Rabbi Akiva retracted his ruling and began to teach in accordance with the opinion of ben Azzai.


כָּל יוֹם שֶׁיֶּשׁ בּוֹ הַלֵּל, אֵין בּוֹ מַעֲמָד בַּשַּׁחֲרִית. קָרְבַּן מוּסָף, אֵין בּוֹ בַנְּעִילָה. קָרְבַּן עֵצִים, אֵין בּוֹ בַמִּנְחָה, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא. אָמַר לוֹ בֶן עַזַּאי, כָּךְ הָיָה רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ שׁוֹנֶה, קָרְבַּן מוּסָף, אֵין בּוֹ בַמִּנְחָה. קָרְבַּן עֵצִים, אֵין בּוֹ בַנְּעִילָה. חָזַר רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא לִהְיוֹת שׁוֹנֶה כְבֶן עַזַּאי:


The mishna details the times for the wood offering of priests and the people. These were private holidays specific to certain families, on which their members would volunteer a wood offering for the altar. There were nine such days and families: On the first of Nisan, the descendants of Araḥ ben Yehuda; on the twentieth of Tammuz, the descendants of David ben Yehuda; on the fifth of Av, the descendants of Parosh ben Yehuda; on the seventh of Av, the descendants of Jonadab ben Rechab; on the tenth of Av, the descendants of Sena’a ben Binyamin; on the fifteenth of Av, the descendants of Zattu ben Yehuda. And included with this group of Zattu ben Yehuda’s descendants were other priests; and Levites; and anyone who erred with regard to his tribe, i.e., Israelites who did not know which tribe they were from, and the descendants of those who deceived the authorities with a pestle; and the descendants of those who packed dried figs. These last groups and their descriptions are explained in the Gemara. The mishna resumes its list. On the twentieth of Av, the descendants of Paḥat Moav ben Yehuda; on the twentieth of Elul, the descendants of Adin ben Yehuda; on the first of Tevet, the descendants of Parosh returned to bring wood for a second time; likewise on the first of Tevet, there was no non-priestly watch, as it is Hanukkah, on which hallel is recited, and it is the New Moon, on which an additional offering is sacrificed, and there was also a wood offering.


זְמַן עֲצֵי כֹהֲנִים וְהָעָם, תִּשְׁעָה. בְּאֶחָד בְּנִיסָן, בְּנֵי אָרַח בֶּן יְהוּדָה. בְּעֶשְׂרִים בְּתַמּוּז, בְּנֵי דָוִד בֶּן יְהוּדָה. בַּחֲמִשָּׁה בְאָב, בְּנֵי פַרְעֹשׁ בֶּן יְהוּדָה. בְּשִׁבְעָה בוֹ, בְּנֵי יוֹנָדָב בֶּן רֵכָב. בַּעֲשָׂרָה בוֹ, בְּנֵי סְנָאָה בֶן בִּנְיָמִין. בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר בּוֹ, בְּנֵי זַתּוּא בֶן יְהוּדָה, וְעִמָּהֶם כֹּהֲנִים וּלְוִיִּם וְכָל מִי שֶׁטָּעָה בְשִׁבְטוֹ, וּבְנֵי גוֹנְבֵי עֱלִי בְּנֵי קוֹצְעֵי קְצִיעוֹת. בְּעֶשְׂרִים בּוֹ, בְּנֵי פַחַת מוֹאָב בֶּן יְהוּדָה. בְּעֶשְׂרִים בֶּאֱלוּל, בְּנֵי עָדִין בֶּן יְהוּדָה. בְּאֶחָד בְּטֵבֵת שָׁבוּ בְנֵי פַרְעֹשׁ שְׁנִיָּה. בְּאֶחָד בְּטֵבֵת לֹא הָיָה בוֹ מַעֲמָד, שֶׁהָיָה בוֹ הַלֵּל וְקָרְבַּן מוּסָף וְקָרְבַּן עֵצִים:


The mishna discusses the five major communal fast days. Five calamitous matters occurred to our forefathers on the seventeenth of Tammuz, and five other disasters happened on the Ninth of Av. On the seventeenth of Tammuz the tablets were broken by Moses when he saw that the Jews had made the golden calf; the daily offering was nullified by the Roman authorities and was never sacrificed again; the city walls of Jerusalem were breached; the general Apostemos publicly burned a Torah scroll; and Manasseh placed an idol in the Sanctuary. On the Ninth of Av it was decreed upon our ancestors that they would all die in the wilderness and not enter Eretz Yisrael; and the Temple was destroyed the first time, in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, and the second time, by the Romans; and Beitar was captured; and the city of Jerusalem was plowed, as a sign that it would never be rebuilt. Not only does one fast on the Ninth of Av, but from when the month of Av begins, one decreases acts of rejoicing.


חֲמִשָּׁה דְבָרִים אֵרְעוּ אֶת אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בְּשִׁבְעָה עָשָׂר בְּתַמּוּז וַחֲמִשָּׁה בְּתִשְׁעָה בְאָב. בְּשִׁבְעָה עָשָׂר בְּתַמּוּז נִשְׁתַּבְּרוּ הַלּוּחוֹת, וּבָטַל הַתָּמִיד, וְהֻבְקְעָה הָעִיר, וְשָׂרַף אַפּוֹסְטֹמוֹס אֶת הַתּוֹרָה, וְהֶעֱמִיד צֶלֶם בַּהֵיכָל. בְּתִשְׁעָה בְאָב נִגְזַר עַל אֲבוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁלֹּא יִכָּנְסוּ לָאָרֶץ, וְחָרַב הַבַּיִת בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה וּבַשְּׁנִיָּה, וְנִלְכְּדָה בֵיתָר, וְנֶחְרְשָׁה הָעִיר. מִשֶּׁנִּכְנַס אָב, מְמַעֲטִין בְּשִׂמְחָה:


During the week in which the Ninth of Av occurs, it is prohibited to cut one’s hair and to launder clothes, but if the Ninth of Av occurs on a Friday, on Thursday these actions are permitted in deference to Shabbat. On the eve of the Ninth of Av a person may not eat two cooked dishes in one meal. Furthermore, one may neither eat meat nor drink wine. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: One must adjust and decrease the amount he eats. Rabbi Yehuda obligates one to overturn the bed and sleep on the floor like one in a state of mourning, but the Rabbis did not agree with him. The mishna cites a passage that concludes its discussion of the month of Av, as well as the entire tractate of Ta’anit, on a positive note.


שַׁבָּת שֶׁחָל תִּשְׁעָה בְאָב לִהְיוֹת בְּתוֹכָהּ, אָסוּר מִלְּסַפֵּר וּמִלְּכַבֵּס, וּבַחֲמִישִׁי מֻתָּרִין מִפְּנֵי כְבוֹד הַשַּׁבָּת. עֶרֶב תִּשְׁעָה בְאָב לֹא יֹאכַל אָדָם שְׁנֵי תַבְשִׁילִין, לֹא יֹאכַל בָּשָׂר וְלֹא יִשְׁתֶּה יָיִן. רַבָּן שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן גַּמְלִיאֵל אוֹמֵר, יְשַׁנֶּה. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה מְחַיֵּב בִּכְפִיַּת הַמִּטָּה, וְלֹא הוֹדוּ לוֹ חֲכָמִים:


Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: There were no days as joyous for the Jewish people as the fifteenth of Av and as Yom Kippur, as on them the daughters of Jerusalem would go out in white clothes, which each woman borrowed from another. Why were they borrowed? They did this so as not to embarrass one who did not have her own white garments. All the garments that the women borrowed require immersion, as those who previously wore them might have been ritually impure. And the daughters of Jerusalem would go out and dance in the vineyards. And what would they say? Young man, please lift up your eyes and see what you choose for yourself for a wife. Do not set your eyes toward beauty, but set your eyes toward a good family, as the verse states: “Grace is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30), and it further says: “Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:31). And similarly, it says in another verse: “Go forth, daughters of Zion, and gaze upon King Solomon, upon the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, and on the day of the gladness of his heart” (Song of Songs 3:11). This verse is explained as an allusion to special days: “On the day of his wedding”; this is the giving of the Torah through the second set of tablets on Yom Kippur. The name King Solomon in this context, which also means king of peace, is interpreted as a reference to God. “And on the day of the gladness of his heart”; this is the building of the Temple, may it be rebuilt speedily in our days.


אָמַר רַבָּן שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, לֹא הָיוּ יָמִים טוֹבִים לְיִשְׂרָאֵל כַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר בְּאָב וּכְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים, שֶׁבָּהֶן בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם יוֹצְאוֹת בִּכְלֵי לָבָן שְׁאוּלִין, שֶׁלֹּא לְבַיֵּשׁ אֶת מִי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ. כָּל הַכֵּלִים טְעוּנִין טְבִילָה. וּבְנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם יוֹצְאוֹת וְחוֹלוֹת בַּכְּרָמִים. וּמֶה הָיוּ אוֹמְרוֹת, בָּחוּר, שָׂא נָא עֵינֶיךָ וּרְאֵה, מָה אַתָּה בוֹרֵר לָךְ. אַל תִּתֵּן עֵינֶיךָ בַנּוֹי, תֵּן עֵינֶיךָ בַמִּשְׁפָּחָה. שֶׁקֶר הַחֵן וְהֶבֶל הַיֹּפִי, אִשָּׁה יִרְאַת ה' הִיא תִתְהַלָּל (משלי לא). וְאוֹמֵר, תְּנוּ לָהּ מִפְּרִי יָדֶיהָ, וִיהַלְלוּהָ בַשְּׁעָרִים מַעֲשֶׂיהָ. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר, צְאֶינָה וּרְאֶינָה בְּנוֹת צִיּוֹן בַּמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה בָּעֲטָרָה שֶׁעִטְּרָה לּוֹ אִמּוֹ בְּיוֹם חֲתֻנָּתוֹ וּבְיוֹם שִׂמְחַת לִבּוֹ (שיר השירים ג). בְּיוֹם חֲתֻנָּתוֹ, זֶה מַתַּן תּוֹרָה. וּבְיוֹם שִׂמְחַת לִבּוֹ, זֶה בִּנְיַן בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, שֶׁיִּבָּנֶה בִמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ. אָמֵן: