Thursday, March 15, 2007

hilchos chag b'chag or thirty days before?

I was listening to a shiur by R’ Hershel Shachter on P’ VaYakhel and he referenced an interesting Yalkut Shimoni at the beginning of VaYakhel (here) which notes that this is the only parsha which begins with Moshe calling a gathering of all the people together. The purpose of the gathering was to publicly teach hilchos shabbos, which served as a lesson for future generations that shabbos should be spent gathered together in the bais medrash learning the inyana d’yoma, hilchos shabbos. This takana is an extension of the takana of Moshe Rabeinu mentioned at the end of Mes. Megillah to study the halachos of each Yom Tov on that respective Yom Tov, .i.e. hilchos pesach b’pesach, hilchos chag b’chag – according to the Midrash, inyanei shabbos should be learned on shabbos as well. (I was wondering if this is the source of the practice of gedolim like the GR"A and R' Tzvi Pesach Frank who would finish Masechet Shabbos each Shabbos).

By coincidence my son is also making a siyum on Mes. Megillah, and IY”H will be speaking about this takanah. Chazal teachesthat it is a mitzvah to study (shoalin v’dorshin) the laws of each Yom Tov thirty days before the chag (Pesachim 6a). The Sha’gas Arye (and others) ask, if there already exists a takanah to study the halachos thirty days before Yom Tov, why is an additional takanah to study the halacha on the day of Y”T itself necessary?

The Ran is medayek in the words shoalin v’dorshin, we ask about the halachos and explain them. Ran writes that this takanah is not an obligation to study halacha, but a direction to poskim and Rabbis as to how to prioritize questions. Within thirty days before a Yom Tov any query that relates to the upcoming holiday takes precedence over other questions and research. The takanah referred to at the end of Mes. Megillah is a separate din that teaches that one should study the laws of Yom Tov on the day of the holiday itself.

The majority of Rishonim (see Biur Halacha, O.C. 429), however, do not learn like the Ran and explain shoalin v’dorshin simply as an obligation to study halachos. According to this reading, the question of overlapping takanos remains. Stay tuned for more...


  1. One is a taqanah of preparation for the holiday, the other adds a dimension of enrichment to the holiday observance/experience itself...

  2. When you say they finished Masechet Shabbat each week, I am assuming you mean the Mishnayot. This is a very popular Sephardic custom that appears in most Edot Mizrah Siddurim - eight chapters of Mishnayot Shabbat are recited at each meal, for a total of 24, allowing for the completion of the Masechet at Seudah Sheleesheet every week.

  3. Actually, I did mean the masechta. I don't recall where I saw this, so i will have to track it down.

  4. kishnevi10:12 PM

    I second what Rabbi Maroof said.
    Studying for the month before is preparing for the chag--knowing how it connects to the physical world. Studying on the chag is sanctifying the chag--knowing how it connects to the spiritual world.

  5. We have the same custom on the Hagim - on every holiday, we read the Mishnayot of that holiday (except Shavuot which has no Masechet dedicated to it). Many read the entire Masechet Sukkah each day of Sukkot, and the same for Pesah.

    Wow! Learning the entire Gemara every week would be time consuming. It is hard to believe they were able to "fit that in" to an otherwise intensely busy learning schedule, unless they were constantly koveya their limmud in Hilchot Shabbat.

  6. i think you are right and have a ramban to prove it... just need time to post it!

  7. Aren't there 2 aspects of shloshim yom kodem hachag. One is to learn the halachos and one is a form of persumei nissa about the yom tov?

  8. What's the makor for that?

  9. 1) ran apparently had rif's girsa which didn't have word 'dorshin'
    2) beit yosef applies 30-days to pesach alone
    see also magen avraham 429:1

  10. Tal Benschar8:37 PM

    Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...
    One is a taqanah of preparation for the holiday, the other adds a dimension of enrichment to the holiday observance/experience itself...

    Rav YD Soloveichik gave a very similar explanation. The learning 30 days prior is a preparation so that one knows the pertinent halakhos.

    Learning on Yom Tov is part of the obligation of Yom Tov. He linked this to the gemara which notes that one possuk states "atzeres la Hashem" while the other possuk states "Atzeres tihyeh lachem."

    There is a machlokes tannaim as to how to resolve the stira. We pasken like the view of. R. Yehoshua that "chatzyo la Hashem chatzyo lachem" -- half the day should be spent in learning and davening, half in eating and drinking.

    In order to make sure that people fulfill "Atzerez la Hashem" Moshe made two takkanos -- that there should be leining on Yom Tov, which is public learning of Torah she be Ksav, and a public derasha, so that there is public learning of Torah she be al Peh. Both are on inyana de yoma.