1) FASTING AND EULOGIES FOR THE DECEASED IN THE MONTH OF NISAN
QUESTIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa that lists days on which one is not allowed to fast. The Beraisa also states that on some of these days one may not deliver a Hesped (eulogy). The Beraisa explains that from Rosh Chodesh Nisan until the eighth of Nisan, the offering of the Korban Tamid was defended successfully from the attempts of the Tzedukim to corrupt it (as the Gemara later explains, and as will be mentioned below). Therefore, it is forbidden to give a Hesped on those days.
The Beraisa continues and says that from the eighth of Nisan until after Pesach, the festival of Shavuos was defended successfully from the attempts of the Tzedukim to corrupt it. Therefore, fasting is prohibited from the eighth of Nisan until after Pesach (see SHITAH MEKUBETZES #4).
The Gemara later says that the Tzedukim claimed that an individual could volunteer and bring the twice-daily Korban Tamid. They learned this from the verse, "One sheep you shall offer in the morning, and the second sheep you shall offer in the evening" (Bamidbar 28:4). Since the verse is said in the singular form, it implies that an individual may offer the Korban Tamid.
The Chachamim defeated the argument of the Tzedukim by citing the verse, "My sacrifice of my bread for my fires... you shall observe" (Bamidbar 28:2). "You shall observe" is said in the plural form, teaching that the Korban Tamid must be brought from the public funds.
RASHI (DH d'Lo l'His'aneh) writes that the joy for this victory over the Tzedukim was greater than the joy for the victory of the Korban ha'Omer being brought on the sixteenth of Nisan, because the Tzedukim possessed "proof" for their argument about the Tamid, but they possessed no proof at all for their opinion about the Omer. Therefore, to commemorate the first victory, even Hesped is forbidden, while the second victory is commemorated only by refraining from fasting.
TOSFOS (DH me'Reish) disagrees with Rashi's text. He asserts that the correct text is that from Rosh Chodesh until the eighth of Nisan one may not fast (implying that Hesped is permitted), while from the eighth of Nisan until after Pesach one also may not give a Hesped.
The Gemara here, both according to the Girsa of Rashi and that of Tosfos, seems to disagree with Maseches Sofrim (21:1). The Mishnah there states, "Why may one not fast in the month of Nisan? -Because on the first of Nisan the Mishkan was erected by the Jewish people in the wilderness, and the twelve princes of the twelve tribes brought their Korbanos, each on his respective day. Each one made a Yom Tov on the day he brought his Korban. Hence, in the future, the Beis ha'Mikdash will also be built in Nisan. Therefore, one does not say Tachanun throughout all the days of Nisan, and one may not fast until Nisan is over."
From the words of Maseches Sofrim we learn that one also may not say a Hesped during Nisan. This is because the law is that on any day on which Tachanun is not said, Tziduk ha'Din is not said at a funeral. Since Tziduk ha'Din is not said at a funeral only on those days in order that one not come to say a Hesped, it is clear that during the days of Nisan one may not say a Hesped. (See BI'UR HA'GRA OC 429:2.)
Accordingly, the Gemara here seems to disagree with the Mishnah in Maseches Sofrim in two points. The Gemara says that Hesped is forbidden only until after Pesach, while the Mishnah in Maseches Sofrim says that Hesped is forbidden throughout Nisan. Also, the Gemara says that the reason for not fasting or saying a Hesped in Nisan is to commemorate the Chachamim's defeat of the Tzedukim, while the Mishnah Maseches Sofrim says that that it is to commemorate the setting up of the Mishkan.
Can the opinions of the Gemara here and the Mishnah in Maseches Sofrim be reconciled?
(a) The MISHNEH L'MELECH (Hilchos Klei ha'Mikdash 6:9) writes that there indeed is a dispute between the Gemara and Maseches Sofrim about why fasting and Hesped are forbidden during Nisan.
(b) The BEIS YOSEF (OC 429:2) answers that it is not clear that Maseches Sofrim maintains that Hesped is forbidden throughout the month of Nisan, since Maseches Sofrim does not state this explicitly. Perhaps Maseches Sofrim maintains only that one may not fast throughout Nisan, but one may say a Hesped. The YAD DAVID (on Tosfos DH me'Reish) also mentions this possibility.
The Yad David adds that since Maseches Sofrim was written after the completion of the Gemara, by that time Megilas Ta'anis (the scroll which lists the days on which fasting is forbidden; see Rashi to Rosh Hashanah 18b, DH Batlah) had already been declared no longer applicable (see Rosh Hashanah 19a). Since the reason given by the Gemara here was no longer applicable, it was necessary for Maseches Sofrim to say that the reason why one may not fast in Nisan nowadays is to commemorate the building of the Mishkan, (D. BLOOM, Y. MONTROSE)
2) HEARING THE COUNTING OF THE OMER FROM THE CHAZAN
OPINIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa which derives from the verse, "And you will count for you" (Vayikra 23:15), that every individual must count the Omer (see RASHI DH la'Kol).
What part of the verse teaches this requirement?
(a) The CHIDUSHIM HA'MEYUCHASIM LA'RASHBA explains that if the Torah would have intended that the Mitzvah of counting the Omer was a Mitzvah incumbent on the community (i.e. the Beis Din) alone, the Torah should have said, "You shall count." The fact that the Torah adds "for you" teaches that each individual is commanded to count.
(b) TOSFOS in Sukah (29b, DH Ba'inan) apparently does not agree that the phrase "for you" is the source for this requirement. Tosfos cites the Gemara in Sukah (41b) which derives from the verse, "And you shall take for you on the first day of Sukos the Lulav and Esrog..." (Vayikra 23:40), that each individual must hold the Lulav. Tosfos explains that since the phrase "you shall take" is written in the plural form, it teaches that everyone must hold the Lulav. Tosfos compares this to the Gemara here which derives that every individual must count the Omer from the fact that the Torah says, "You shall count," in the plural form. Tosfos does not learn this requirement from the phrase "for you."
HALACHAH: In practice, must every individual actually count the Omer himself, or is he able to fulfill his obligation through hearing someone else count the Omer, by way of the concept of "Shome'a k'Oneh" -- the one who listens fulfills his obligation through the utterance of the other person. Can one fulfill the Mitzvah by listening to his friend or the Chazan recite the blessing and the counting of the Omer?
(a) The CHOK YAKOV (OC 489:4) cites the AGUDAH who explains that when the Beraisa says "there is a counting for every individual," it specifically means that one must count himself and cannot fulfill the Mitzvah through listening to someone else.
This also seems to be the view of the SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 489:1) who writes, "There is a Mitzvah on every individual to count for himself," implying that it is not sufficient to listen to the Chazan.
The Chok Yakov writes that according to Tosfos' comparison of the verse of Sefiras ha'Omer with the verse of the Arba'as ha'Minim on Sukos, certainly one cannot fulfill the Mitzvah of Sefiras ha'Omer by listening to someone else. Just as one physically must hold the Lulav himself, one must verbally count the Omer himself. Although the Chok Yakov concedes that one may fulfill his obligation to recite the blessing for the Mitzvah of Sefiras ha'Omer by listening to the blessing of someone else (since "Shome'a k'Oneh" certainly applies to the blessing for a Mitzvah), the counting itself must be done verbally by each person.
(b) The PRI CHADASH (OC 489:1) disagrees with this opinion. He writes that when the Beraisa says that "there is a counting for every individual," it does not mean that one cannot fulfill his Mitzvah to count with the Chazan's counting. Rather, the Beraisa is teaching that the Mitzvah of Sefiras ha'Omer is not one that is incumbent only on Beis Din. (See Tosfos here (DH u'Sefartem) who writes that the Mitzvah of counting fifty years for the Yovel year indeed applies only to Beis Din.)
The Pri Chadash argues that it is not reasonable to say that one does not fulfill the Mitzvah by listening to someone else count the Omer. If one would not fulfill the Mitzvah with another person's count, then the Gemara here would have been teaching the source for the principle of "Shome'a k'Oneh" in all other cases. That is, the Gemara derives from a verse that an individual must count the Omer himself and may not rely on listening to someone else's count. Without the verse, one would have assumed that one may fulfill the Mitzvah by listening to someone else. The fact that a special verse is needed here teaches that for other Mitzvos, one fulfills his obligation by listening to someone else because of the principle of "Shome'a k'Oneh." However, since the Gemara in Sukah (38b) derives the principle of "Shome'a k'Oneh" from a different verse, it is clear that this is not the intent of the Gemara here, and one indeed may fulfill the Mitzvah with the Chazan's count.
The Pri Chadash adds that even though one may fulfill his obligation by listening to someone else count the Omer, it is preferable that each individual to count for himself. The BIRKEI YOSEF seems to agree with the opinion of the Pri Chadash.
The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 489:5) cites these two opinions about whether "Shome'a k'Oneh" applies to the Mitzvah of Sefiras ha'Omer. The Mishnah Berurah concludes that although everyone agrees that "Shome'a k'Oneh" applies to the blessing for the Mitzvah of Sefiras ha'Omer, the custom is that every individual says the blessing and counts the Omer for himself and does not rely on the principle of "Shome'a k'Oneh" to fulfill his obligation by listening to others.
The BI'UR HALACHAH (DH u'Mitzvah) writes that if one did arrange to fulfill the Mitzvah through his friend's counting and had intention to fulfill the Mitzvah in this manner, he should count again without a blessing. (D. BLOOM)