Wednesday, February 26, 2014

hilchos chag b'chag -- chovas hatzibur

Rambam in Tefilah 13:8 writes:

  מפסיקין למועדות, וליום הכיפורים, וקוראין בעניין המועד, לא בסדר השבת. ומשה רבנו תיקן להן לישראל, שיהיו קוראין בכל מועד, עניינו; ושואלין ודורשין בעניינו של יום, בכל מועד ומועד. ומה הן קורין: בפסח, בפרשת המועדות שבתורת כוהנים. וכבר נהגו העם, לקרות ביום טוב ראשון "משכו" (שמות יב,כא), ומפטירין בפסח גלגל; וביום טוב שני, "שור או כשב" (ויקרא כב,כז), ומפטירין בפסח יאשייהו. בשלישי, "קדש לי" (שמות יג,ב); ברביעי, "אם כסף תלווה" (שמות כב,כד); בחמישי, "פסול לך" (שמות לד,א); בשישי, "ויעשו בני ישראל את הפסח, במועדו" (במדבר ט,ב). ביום טוב אחרון, ב"ויהי, בשלח" (שמות יג,יז) עד סוף השירה, ומפטירין "וידבר דויד" (שמואל ב כב,א); ובשמיני, "כל הבכור" (דברים טו,יט), ומפטירין "עוד היום, בנוב לעמוד" (ישעיהו י,לב).
The Rambam continues and goes through the leining on the other Yamim Tovim as well.

Why would the Rambam stick the din that you have to learn the halachos of Yom Tov on Yom Tov in the middle of his discussion of what parsha you read on each chag? 
Off the cuff I would have said that the Rambam is teaching you that hearing the krias hatorah is itself a kiyum of learning hilchos chag b’chag.  The M.B. in O.C. 529 in the Sha’ar haTziyun writes that this is in fact how some Achronim learn the Rambam, and they use this as a justification for why people don’t have a seder to learn hilchos hachag on the chag itself – why bother when you can just listen to krias hatorah? 

Where did the Rambam get this idea from?  The gemara (Meg 4b) quotes R’ Yehoshua ben Levi’s that when Purim falls on Shabbos one has to be “sho’el v’doresh” in the inyana d’yoma.  Rashi explains: the turgemon (the person responsible for translating pesukim into Aramaic during krias hatorah) would stand up and expound on the megillah.  Asks the gemara, what is R’ Yehoshua ben Levi telling us – we already know there is a chiyuv on every chag to study hilchos hachag on the chag? 

 ואמר רבי יהושע בן לוי פורים שחל להיות בשבת שואלין ודורשין בענינו של יום מאי אריא פורים אפילו י"ט נמי דתניא משה תיקן להם לישראל שיהו שואלין ודורשין בענינו של יום הלכות פסח בפסח הלכות עצרת בעצרת והלכות חג בחג

Whatever the answer is, the question seems to compare apples and oranges.  The turgemon's job was to explain pesukim as part and parcel of the krias hatorah.  Where Purim falls on Shabbos and the megillah cannot be read, he did his job anyway, expounding on the text, just without a formal kriah.  What does that have to do with learning hilchos hachag?  QED, that kriah is itself a kiyum of learning hilchos hachag.  The turgemon’s job was one of talmud torah.

It's a nice idea, but only as a hava amina, because l'halacha the M.B. paskens that these Achronim are wrong and in his view even the Rambam is not mashma that way.  Hadra kushya l’ducta: why does the Rambam mix in learning hilchos hachag with krias hatorah if they are unrelated?  And how do you learn the gemara?

The Yalkut on last week’s parsha of Vayakhel writes that just as Moshe gathered Bnei Yisrael to teach them about Shabbos, so too on each Shabbos we should gather to learn hilchos Shabbos (not a bad idea...). Continues the Yalkut, not only does this law apply to Shabbos, but it applies to every Yom Tov as well.  It seems from this Yalkut that the learning of hilchos hachag is not just an obligation on the individual, but must be done in a gathering; it's a chovas hatzibur.
Were the chiyuv to study hilchos hachag b'chag just a din in talmud torah, a mandated curriculum for specific times of year, then what difference would it make if the study was done privately or in a public forum?  It must be that it's not talmud torah per se that is the goal here, but rather the learning of hilchos hachag b'chag is part and parcel of how we as a tzibur commemorate our Yamim Tovim.   

Returning to the sugya in Megillah, the turgemon’s darshening of the megillah in a public forum is not just a din in kriah, not just another form of talmud torah (which is what krias hatorah on shabbos is) -- it was also a means of demarcating the day as special.  The fact that we have special parshiyos  on the Yamim Tovim themselves serves the same purpose as well (see Shiurim l'Zecher Aba Mari from the Rav). 

Maybe this is what the Rambam is trying to teach us by mixing these two halachos together.  Just as krias hatorah is a chiyuv on the tzibur (see Rambam in Milchamos at the beginning of Megillah), so too, the chiyuv of learning hilchos hachag is an obligation on the tzibur as well.  They both together serve as a means of defining the keduas hayom and enhancing its commemoration.


  1. Very good. But maybe you can say the "toras hachatas" vort. Kria for shabas and yom tov is fulfill the chiuv since we can't bring it. But what goes with the kria is the halachos; the chiuv and the dinim of that choice. So it could be you need both.

    1. ain hachi nami, I don't disagree -- you can say both and it still works out.