1) AGADAH: THE GREAT FUNERAL IN TIMES TO COME
QUESTION: The Gemara gives an example of how the Targum Yonasan in Nevi'im reveals explanations of verses that otherwise would be inexplicable. The verse in Zecharyah (12:1) says, "On that day, the mourning will be great in Yerushalayim, like the mourning of Hadadrimon at the valley of Megidon." This verse is perplexing, as there was no funeral for Hadadrimon in Megidon.
The Targum Yonasan explains that the verse means, "On that day, the mourning will be great in Yerushalayim, like [the two great funerals combined,] the mourning of [Achav bar Omri, who was killed by] Hadadrimon [ben Tavrimon in Ramos Gil'ad, and like the mourning of Yoshiyah bar Amon, who was killed by Pharaoh Chagira] in the valley of Megido."
Why does the verse compare the great mourning in times to come specifically to the mourning at these two funerals?
ANSWER: To answer this question, it is necessary to first examine for whom this great funeral will be held in the times of Mashi'ach.
The Gemara in Sukah (52a) records an argument about this funeral. One opinion says that the funeral will be for Mashi'ach ben Yosef, while another opinion says that it will be for the Yetzer ha'Ra which will be killed at that time. The Gemara there explains that in the future Hash-m will slaughter the Yetzer ha'Ra, and the Tzadikim and the Resha'im will cry. The Tzadikim will cry because they will see the huge mountain that stood before them in their service of Hash-m. The Resha'im will cry because they will see that they failed to conquer such a small thread which stood in their way. (See Insights to Sukah 52:1
The VILNA GA'ON (in KOL ELIYAHU) explains that this is what the Targum Yonasan means. The Targum follows the opinion that says that the great funeral in the future will be for the Yetzer ha'Ra. Normally, if the deceased was a Tzadik, only the Tzadikim cry at the funeral. If the deceased was a Rasha, only the Resha'im cry. At the funeral of the Yetzer ha'Ra, however, both groups will cry, as the Gemara in Sukah says. Thus, it will be like the funeral of Achav, the great Rasha, at which all of the Resha'im cried, and like the funeral of Yoshiyah, the great Tzadik, at which all of the Tzadikim cried.
2) "BITUL TORAH" FOR THE SAKE OF READING THE MEGILAH
QUESTIONS: The Gemara derives from the words, "Every family and family (Mishpachah u'Mishpachah)" (Esther 9:28), that the families of the Kohanim and Leviyim stop their Avodah, and the Yisraelim stop their Ma'amados, in order to come and hear the reading of the Megilah. The Beraisa says that the Talmidim of the Yeshiva of Rebbi would stop learning Torah to come and hear the Megilah.
Why does the Gemara consider leaving one's Torah study to hear the reading of the Megilah "Bitul Torah"? Reading the Megilah also constitutes learning Torah! (RASHASH and others)
Moreover, the Halachah is that the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah does not override any Mitzvah which is incumbent upon the person himself to perform, such as the Mitzvah of Lulav (Moed Katan 9a), as one of the primary purposes of learning Torah is to fulfill the Mitzvos. Why, then, did the Talmidim of the Yeshiva of Rebbi need a source to permit them to stop learning in order to read the Megilah? Since the Mitzvah d'Rabanan to read the Megilah is incumbent upon each person, obviously one is permitted to stop learning in order to fulfill the Mitzvah.
ANSWER: The Gemara says that the students stopped learning Torah in order "to come to read the Megilah." Why does the Gemara add the words "to come"? The Gemara should say simply that they stopped learning in order "to read the Megilah."
The RASHBA and RAN (5a) rule that the fulfillment of the principle of "b'Rov Am Hadras Melech" ("in the multitude of the nation is the glory of the king") when reading the Megilah overrides the Mitzvos of Talmud Torah and Avodah. Accordingly, even though there were hundreds of students in his Beis Midrash of Rebbi, Rebbi interrupted the learning to bring them to the synagogue to hear the Megilah so that there would be an even larger gathering of people.
This answers both questions. The element of Bitul Torah involved with the Mitzvah of reading the Megilah is the time that it takes to walk to the synagogue (and wait for the Tzibur to begin reading). During that time the people are not able to learn as well as they learn in the Beis Midrash (ARUCH HA'SHULCHAN OC 687:8). This also explains why the Gemara teaches that one may stop learning Torah to fulfill this Mitzvah. It is not necessary to teach that the Mitzvah of reading the Megilah overrides Talmud Torah, because every Mitzvah which is incumbent upon the individual overrides Talmud Torah. Rather, the Gemara must teach that one may stop learning Torah even to go to the synagogue to be part of a larger gathering for the reading of the Megilah. (Y. SHAW)
3) HALACHAH: THE MITZVAH OF MEGILAH OVERRIDES OTHER MITZVOS
OPINIONS: The Gemara teaches that even though the Mitzvah of reading the Megilah is more important than Avodah and Talmud Torah and overrides those Mitzvos, it does not override the Mitzvah of burying a Mes Mitzvah. Burying a Mes Mitzvah overrides the Mitzvos of Avodah, Talmud Torah, and Megilah.
The Rishonim discuss the extent to which the Mitzvah of Megilah overrides other Mitzvos. (See Chart.)
(a) Perhaps when the Gemara says that the Mitzvah of Megilah overrides the Avodah, it means that the Avodah is merely delayed; the Megilah is read first and then the Kohanim and Leviyim return to perform the Avodah.
What is the Halachah in a case in which the end of the day is approaching, and if one takes the time to read the Megilah he will be left with no time to perform the Avodah? Does the reading of the Megilah override the Avodah in such a case?
1. The RAN rules that Mikra Megilah does not override Avodah, because Avodah is a Mitzvah d'Oraisa and it overrides a Mitzvah d'Rabanan like Megilah. This also seems to be the opinion of TOSFOS (DH Mevatlin), who writes that only when the Avodah will be done afterwards may the Megilah be read first.
2. The PISKEI TOSFOS in Erchin (#19) writes that even if reading the Megilah will require that the Avodah of that day be cancelled entirely, the reading of the Megilah still comes first. This is also the conclusion of the VILNA GA'ON and TAZ (OC 687:2). They cite proof from the fact that the Gemara compares overriding the Avodah in order to read the Megilah with overriding Talmud Torah in order to read the Megilah. The moments of Talmud Torah that were pushed off are irretrievable.
(b) The Gemara says that burying a Mes Mitzvah overrides Mikra Megilah. Does this mean that burying the Mes Mitzvah merely delays the reading of the Megilah, or does it mean that it overrides the reading of the Megilah entirely?
1. The MIZRACHI (cited by the BEIS YOSEF) says that Mikra Megilah comes first, because the Mes Mitzvah can be buried after Mikra Megilah (even the next day). There is no other time, however, to make up the reading of Megilah once Purim has passed.
2. However, the VILNA GA'ON, TAZ, and MAGEN AVRAHAM rule that the Mes Mitzvah still takes precedence, even when the Mitzvah of Megilah will be pushed off entirely. Their ruling is consistent with their opinion (see above) that the Gemara here discusses pushing off a Mitzvah entirely and not just delaying it in order to perform another Mitzvah.
(c) When the Gemara says that a Mes Mitzvah overrides Mikra Megilah, does it mean that only a Mes Mitzvah overrides Mikra Megilah, or that every Mes in need of burial also overrides Mikra Megilah?
1. The SHILTEI GIBORIM and the RAMBAN (in TORAS HA'ADAM) rule that only a Mes Mitzvah overrides Megilah. The burial of any other Mes does not override the Megilah. Rather, the Megilah is read first and then the Mes is buried.
2. The REMA rules that the burial of any Mes (that needs more people to assist with the burial) overrides Mikra Megilah.
HALACHAH: The MISHNAH BERURAH writes that in a case in which the burial of an ordinary Mes will require that the Mitzvah of Megilah be pushed off entirely, the Megilah is read and the burial is deferred to the next day. Since some Poskim maintain that a Mes Mitzvah itself does not override Megilah altogether while others maintain that it does, the burial of a Mes overrides Megilah entirely only in the case of a Mes Mitzvah. When the case involves merely delaying Mikra Megilah to a later time, even the burial of an ordinary Mes pushes off Mikra Megilah to a later time.
There are two exceptions to this Halachah. First, the VILNA GA'ON rules that even an ordinary Mes is exactly like a Mes Mitzvah when the burial already started before the time of Mikra Megilah arrived. In such a situation, the burial continues and pushes off Mikra Megilah. Second, the DARCHEI MOSHE writes that the burial of a Talmid Chacham always preempts Mikra Megilah, because the Kavod ha'Torah of even a single person is more important than Avodah and Megilah.