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1. The Mishnah explains how the public would conduct themselves on the last seven fasts for rain.
2. The Mishnah continues with this description.
3. There is a dispute about blowing the Shofar instead of answering Amen after the special blessings added for the fast day.
4. The Mishnah discusses the laws of the Anshei Mishmar and Anshei Beis Av.
5. The public is never instructed to start fasting on Thursday, but only on Monday (and then Thursday and Monday).
A BIT MORE
1. They would take the Aron (containing the Torah scrolls) out to the main road in the town, and put ashes on the heads of the Nasi and Av Beis Din, with everyone following suit and putting ashes on their own heads. The elder would then inspire them to repent for their sins.
2. A poor, older man with children would then lead them in prayer, which contained the usual Shemoneh Esreh plus six extra blessings specially added for the fast.
3. While this was done in the days of Rebbi Chalafta and Rebbi Chanina ben Teradyon, the Sages said that it is supposed to be done only in the Beis ha'Mikdash, where Amen was not answered. They held that in the days of Rebbi Chalafta they should have first answered Amen and only then blown the Shofar.
4. The Anshei Mishmar are the Kohanim whose family is serving that week in the Beis ha'Mikdash. Each Mishmar had seven Batei Av, and each Beis Av would serve during one day of the week in which the Mishmar was serving in the Beis ha'Mikdash.
5. This is done so that people not rush to the stores to buy large quantities of food on Thursday night (for the end of the fast and for Shabbos). This sudden, large demand for food might artificially inflate the price of food and harm the public welfare.
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