1) SMELLING A MYRTLE BRANCH THAT WAS CUT BY A NOCHRI ON YOM TOV
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that a Nochri cut a myrtle branch on the second day of Yom Tov and gave it to Jews. Ravina permitted the Jews to smell the myrtle branch immediately after the end of Yom Tov.
Why did Ravina require the Jews to wait until after Yom Tov to benefit from the myrtle branch? He should have permitted them to smell the branch even on Yom Tov. The Gemara in Sukah (37b) says that although one is forbidden to smell an Esrog that is attached to a tree on Shabbos (lest he forget that it is Shabbos and pick it), one is permitted to smell a myrtle branch on a bush on Shabbos. There is no fear that he will inadvertently cut off the myrtle branch on Shabbos because it is much more difficult to break off a branch than it is to pick a fruit.
Since one is permitted to smell the myrtle branch while it is attached, one certainly should be permitted to smell it when it is detached. Why, then, did Ravina prohibit smelling the myrtle branch on Yom Tov?
(a) The RASHBA explains that myrtle branches are customarily tied to the Chupah of a Chasan (see RASHI, DH Bnei Genana). When the Nochri cut the branch off of the tree, he enabled it to be brought to the Chupah. The Jews thereby would have enjoyed a benefit from the Nochri's Melachah on Yom Tov. When Ravina ruled that they may benefit from the branch only after Yom Tov, he meant that they may bring it to the Chupah and use it there only after Yom Tov.
(b) The RA'AVAD explains that the Gemara in Sukah permits one to smell a myrtle branch that is attached because there is no fear that he will commit a transgression with it; he will not be tempted to pick it because it is difficult to detach. However, once it has been cut off, there is reason to fear that one will commit a transgression with it, such as moving it, which is forbidden because it is Muktzah (since it was attached to the ground at the onset of Shabbos). Therefore, a Jew may not smell a myrtle branch that was picked by a Nochri on Yom Tov because of the fear that he might move it. That is the reason why Ravina did not permit the myrtle to be used (even to be smelled) on Yom Tov.
(c) The RITVA explains that it does not matter whether or not one benefits from the act of Melachah performed by a Nochri on Yom Tov. Once a Melachah was done with an object on Yom Tov (such as the myrtle branch that was picked on Yom Tov), the Rabanan decreed that it is forbidden solely because the Melachah was done for the sake of a Jew, even though the Jew does not gain any benefit from that Melachah (since he could have smelled the myrtle branch before it was picked). The basis for this decree is the fear that if he were permitted to use the object, a Jew might mistakenly assume that he is permitted to ask a Nochri to do a Melachah for him on Yom Tov.
(d) RABEINU CHANANEL in Sukah has a different text in the Gemara there. His text reads that one is permitted to smell an Esrog on Yom Tov, because it is not used for its smell as much as a myrtle branch. A myrtle branch is prohibited to smell on Yom Tov, lest one pick it. According to that text, Ravina's ruling is simple to understand. Since it was forbidden to smell the myrtle branch while it was attached, one indeed benefits from the Nochri's Melachah when he cuts off the branch, because now it is permitted to smell the detached branch. In order to prevent benefiting from the Nochri's Melachah, Ravina prohibited the myrtle branch until after Yom Tov.
2) WAITING "BI'CHEDEI SHE'YA'ASU" AFTER THE SECOND DAY OF YOM TOV
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that a Nochri cut a myrtle branch on the second day of Yom Tov and gave it to Jews. Ravina permitted the Jews to benefit from the smell of the myrtle branch immediately after the end of Yom Tov (see previous Insight).
The Gemara in Beitzah (24b) rules that when a Melachah is done by a Nochri on Yom Tov or Shabbos, a Jew must wait some time after the departure of Yom Tov or Shabbos in order to benefit from that Melachah ("bi'Chedei she'Ya'asu"). Why, then, did Ravina permit them to smell the myrtle branch immediately after Yom Tov, and not require them to wait "bi'Chedei she'Ya'asu"?
(a) RASHI (39b, end of DH Lo Teima Lehu) writes that since it was Yom Tov Sheni, which is only Yom Tov mid'Rabanan due to a doubt, the Rabanan were lenient and did not require them to wait "bi'Chedei she'Ya'asu" after the end of Yom Tov.
(b) According to the text of the RIF and other Rishonim, the Gemara says that the myrtle was picked "on Yom Tov" and does not say specifically that it was picked "on Yom Tov Sheni." This implies that Ravina issued his ruling even in a case where the Melachah was done on the first day of Yom Tov, and he permitted them to benefit from the Melachah immediately after nightfall. Why did he not require them to wait "bi'Chedei she'Ya'asu"?
The RASHBA and RITVA answer that perhaps Ravina thought that the act of smelling is different, and less severe, than a normal form of benefit from a Melachah. Since Ravina merely permitted the branch to be smelled, he thought that there was no need to wait "bi'Chedei she'Ya'asu."
(c) The RASHBA suggests another answer. Perhaps Ravina simply disagreed with the Halachah of "bi'Chedei she'Ya'asu." (We do not rule like Ravina.)
3) HALACHAH: RECITING "SHEHECHEYANU" ON A NEW VEGETABLE
OPINIONS: Rav Yehudah said that he recited the blessing "Shehecheyanu" on a new gourd. What is the Halachah? Do we recite Shehecheyanu on new vegetables?
(a) The REMA cites the MAHARI VEIL and the MAHARSHAL (OC 225:6) who rule that one does not recite Shehecheyanu on new vegetables because vegetables "remain on the ground all year." There are two different explanations for what this means.
1. The PERISHAH explains that some vegetables actually stay on their stems or vines from year to year. When the new produce grows (shortly after Pesach), the old produce is still on the vine. Even though not all vegetables are perennial, since some vegetables are perennial the Rabanan decreed that we do not recite Shehecheyanu on any new vegetable.
2. The MAGEN AVRAHAM writes that vegetables that "remain on the ground all year" refer to vegetables that are stored from year to year. Since last year's vegetables are stored, they are still in use when the new ones are harvested. As a result, one does not have as much pleasure from the new vegetables. Therefore, the Rabanan decreed that we not recite Shehecheyanu on any vegetables (even ones that are not stored away). Even though there are some types of fruit that are also stored, most fruits are not. Therefore, the Rabanan upheld the requirement to recite Shehecheyanu on every new fruit.
(b) The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 225:18), however, points out that for cucumbers, carrots, radishes and the like one does recite Shehecheyanu. He understands that when the Rema says that no blessing of Shehecheyanu is recited on "Yerek," he refers only to green, leafy vegetables. For vegetables that grow on little trees and bushes (as fruits grow) one does recite Shehecheyanu. That is why Rav Yehudah recited Shehecheyanu for a new gourd.
4) RECITING A BLESSING OVER WINE ON YOM KIPPUR
QUESTIONS: The Gemara initially assumes that the blessing of "Shehecheyanu" at the arrival of Yom Tov must be recited over a cup of wine. The Gemara asks how Shehecheyanu can be recited on Yom Kippur, when it is forbidden to drink wine?
The Gemara suggests that one may give the cup of wine to a child to drink. RASHI (DH Lisvei li'Yenuka) explains that it is a disgrace to the cup of wine to recite the blessing "Borei Pri ha'Gafen" over it and not benefit from the wine. Therefore, one should give the wine to a child to drink. This is permissible because one is allowed to recite a blessing for a child for the sake of Chinuch, to teach him to perform the Mitzvos.
Rashi's words are difficult to understand.
(a) What does Rashi mean when he says that it is a disgrace to the cup of wine to recite a blessing over it and not to drink it? He should say simply that it is a Berachah l'Vatalah to recite a blessing over the wine and not to drink it. (This is the way the RITVA explains the Gemara.)
(b) Why does Rashi say that one is permitted to recite the blessing for a child and give him the wine because of Chinuch? This child obviously has not reached the age of Chinuch, because a child who has reached the age of Chinuch is also required to refrain from food and drink on Yom Kippur. If, on the other hand, the child has not yet reached the age of Chinuch, then one is not permitted to recite a blessing for him. (YA'AVETZ)
(a) Rashi apparently understands that for a Kos Shel Berachah, one is permitted to recite the blessing "Borei Pri ha'Gafen" even though he will not drink the wine. That blessing refers not only to the wine inside the cup, but it is said to show honor to the blessings of Kidush and Havdalah. That is, one honors the blessings of Kidush and Havdalah when he holds a cup of wine and recites "Borei Pri ha'Gafen" as part of the procedure of Kidush or Havdalah. It is not necessary to drink the wine afterwards for the blessing of "Borei Pri ha'Gafen" to become purposeful. It is not a Berachah l'Vatalah because it is part of Kidush or Havdalah and gives honor to those blessings.
(b) The RITVA answers that it is obvious that the child the Gemara mentions has not reached the age of Chinuch of fasting on Yom Kippur. However, the child has reached the age at which he starts saying blessings for himself. A child reaches this age before he reaches the age at which he starts fasting on Yom Kippur.