1) AGADAH: "BUT I AM STILL THE KING!"
QUESTION: The Gemara describes Yehoyakim's initial response to Yirmeyahu's prophecy of the destruction of Yerushalayim. When the king's attendant read to him, "Alas -- she (the city) sits in isolation" (Eichah 1:1), he responded, "But I will still be king!" When the attendant read, "She weeps bitterly in the night" (Eichah 1:2), the king responded again, "But I will still be king!" The king responded the same way to the next two verses which were read to him.
When the fifth verse was read to him, "Her enemies have become her leaders" (Eichah 1:5) -- which clearly states that the king would be deposed -- Yehoyakim reacted angrily and tore apart the scroll. He cut out the names of Hash-m and threw them into a fire.
Yehoyakim's response to the verses of the prophecy is difficult to understand. The king did not become upset when he heard that the entire city would be destroyed. Only when he heard that his kingship would be challenged did he become upset. Apparently, he did not care what would happen to everyone else, as long as he would remain the king. If the entire city would be destroyed, however, what consolation would his kingship provide him? "There is no king without a nation." (See BEN YEHOYADA.)
ANSWER: RAV YONASAN EIBESHITZ (in YA'AROS DEVASH 1:13) offers an original explanation. In response to every prophecy about the punishment which the people would suffer, Yehoyakim said that he was not worried. He was not worried because he knew that a prophecy that foretells a bad occurrence can be revoked (through Teshuvah), as the RAMBAM writes (in his Introduction to the Mishnah, based on Bereishis Rabah).
However, when Yehoyakim heard, "Her enemies have become her leaders," he became upset because that prophecy foretold a good occurrence -- from the perspective of the nations that would rule. A prophecy that foretells good is never revoked (Rambam, ibid.).
2) ADDING TO A PRE-EXISTING KERI'AH
QUESTION: The Beraisa quotes Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah who states that one who hears of the passing of several of his close relatives -- including his parent (or parents) -- must tear two separate Keri'os: one for his parent (or parents) and one for his other relatives. Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah explains that two Keri'os are necessary because "one may not add to a Keri'ah made for a parent."
The Gemara asks, "What is the reason [for Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah's ruling that one must tear two Keri'os]?" The Gemara answers in the name of Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak, "Because additional Keri'os may not be added to them (to the Keri'os made for one's parents)."
Why does the Gemara ask "what is the reason" for Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah's requirement that two separate Keri'os be made? The Beraisa itself gives the reason ("one may not add to a Keri'ah made for a parent")! (TOSFOS cites Rishonim who delete these words from the Beraisa because of this question.) Moreover, if the Gemara asks its question simply because it does not understand what the Beraisa means, then how does the answer of Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak clarify the meaning of the Beraisa?
(a) RASHI explains that when Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak answers that two Keri'os must be made "because additional Keri'os may not be added to them (to the Keri'os made for one's parents)," he means that doing so is inappropriate because it shows a lack of respect for one's parents. Hence, the Gemara's question was why Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah says that one may not add to the Keri'ah for a parent, and it answers that doing so is disrespectful.
Rashi apparently understands that the answer of the Gemara here is similar to the answer of the Gemara in Shabbos (21a). The Gemara in Shabbos says that one is not permitted to light the Shabbos candles with certain types of oil, even if he adds olive oil to the prohibited type of oil. The Gemara asks why one may not light with those oils, and it answers, "Because one may not light with them." This means that it is inappropriate to light with such oils.
REBBI AKIVA EIGER there (in GILYON HA'SHAS) points out that Rashi in Vayikra (21:18) explains a verse that makes a similar statement. The verse says, "Any man... who has a blemish may not offer a Korban" (v. 17), and then it gives the reason, "Because any man who has a blemish may not offer a Korban" (v. 18). Rashi there explains that the verse means that it is inappropriate for a person with a blemish to offer a Korban. Similarly, this is the meaning of the Gemara in Shabbos and the Gemara here. It is not proper respect to add to the tear made for one's parent. (The GILYON HA'SHAS in Shabbos refers to the Gemara here as an example of this style of expression.)
(b) The RA'AVAD (cited by the ROSH 3:71) and the RITVA explain that the Gemara's question is that the Beraisa explains only the reason for why one may not add a Keri'ah for other relatives to the Keri'ah for one's parent (the reason is because it is disrespectful to the deceased parent). This reason, however, does not explain why one may not do the opposite and lengthen the Keri'ah made for a relative in order to tear Keri'ah for a parent. Since he is not adding to a Keri'ah for a parent, his act is not disrespectful and should be permitted. The Gemara answers that "they (the Keri'os for parents) may not be added to [other Keri'os]," which means that it is improper to make the Keri'ah for one's parent a secondary addition ("Tosefes") to a pre-existing Keri'ah. A Keri'ah for a parent should not be an addition to another Keri'ah, but it should be comprised of an independent tear and it should precede other tears. This also appears to be the intention of RASHI on the Rif.
(in TORAS HA'ADAM
) understands the Gemara's question in a similar manner, but he understands the Gemara's answer slightly differently. The Gemara says that not only is it improper for the Keri'ah for a parent to be secondary to the Keri'ah for another relative, but one does not even fulfill the obligation of Keri'ah for one's parents at all if he adds to a pre-existing tear. When one tears Keri'ah for a parent he must tear the stitching at the top of the garment (i.e. the neckline) and not just tear below the stitching (as one does for other relatives; see Insights to Moed Katan 22:2
The Acharonim disagree about the Ramban's intention. The BACH, cited by the SHACH (YD 340:35), explains that the Ramban means that since the Keri'ah for the other relatives does not rupture the stitching, by adding to such a Keri'ah one fails to make the proper Keri'ah for a parent. However, the Ramban would agree that if one happened to tear through the stitching when he made the Keri'ah for the relatives, he may add to that Keri'ah when he tears for his parents.
The SHACH (340:36) disagrees with the Bach's understanding of the Ramban. The requirement that one tear through the stitching for one's parent indicates that the Keri'ah for a parent must be a significant act of tearing, an act which takes considerable effort and totally destroys the garment. Certainly, merely adding to a pre-existing tear does not qualify as a significant act of tearing, even if the pre-existing tear went through the stitching. The addition to the pre-existing tear is a small act which requires little effort, and it does not suffice as a proper Keri'ah for one's parents.
(c) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Avel 8:9-10) seems to understand the Gemara differently. He explains that the Gemara's question is why is adding to a pre-existing tear made for one's parent an unacceptable way to tear Keri'ah for other relatives. The Rambam asserts that such an addition does not detract from their honor.
The Gemara answers that Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah actually means the opposite: one is permitted to add to the Keri'ah made for his parents, but he is not permitted to tear Keri'ah for his parents by adding to a pre-existing tear which he made for another relative (for the reasons mentioned in (b) above). The Gemara concludes that one is prohibited only from adding to a tear made for another relative as Keri'ah for a parent, but not vice versa.
3) KERI'AH FOR MULTIPLE DEATHS
QUESTION: The Beraisa records a dispute between the Tana Kama and Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah with regard to making two Keri'os for two different sets of relatives who died.
The Tana Kama makes two statements. He states that if one tore Keri'ah for his father and then heard that his son died, he may add to the first tear but he may not sew up the part of the tear he made for his father. Similarly, if one tore Keri'ah for his son and then heard that his father died, he may add to the first tear but he may not sew up the part of the tear he made for his father (that is, the lower part). In his second statement, the Tana Kama says that if a person hears (at one time) that a parent and another relative died, a single tear suffices for both.
Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah disagrees and says that one must make two separate Keri'os, one for his parent and another for his other relatives, "because one may not add to the Keri'ah made for his parents." One may not extend a pre-existing Keri'ah that he made for his parents in order to tear Keri'ah for a different relative. Rather, he must tear an entirely new Keri'ah.
The Gemara later, however, cites a Beraisa which states that if a person tears Keri'ah for one relative and then hears about the death of another relative within seven days (or, according to another opinion, within thirty days), he may not add to the Keri'ah he made for the first relative (rather, he must make a separate, new Keri'ah). If he hears about the second death after seven (or thirty) days, however, he may add to the first Keri'ah. The Gemara points out that even if the first relative who died was a parent, he is permitted to add to the Keri'ah after seven days.
The Beraisa contradicts the statement of Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah. Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah says that one may not add a second Keri'ah to a pre-existing Keri'ah when he hears of multiple deaths (of a parent and other relatives) at the same time, because it is improper to add to a Keri'ah made for a parent. The Beraisa, however, states that one may add to the Keri'ah after seven days, regardless of which relative he tore for first; even if the first Keri'ah was for a parent, he may add to it for the death of another relative. This contradicts the Halachah (which follows the view of Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah).
Moreover, why does Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah need a reason for why one may not add to the tear he made for another relative (but rather he must make a separate tear for his parents)? The case under discussion is one in which a person learns of both deaths at once (the death of his father or mother, and the death of his other relative), and he makes two tears, one after the other. Accordingly, the second tear is made immediately after the first, on the same day. The Beraisa later teaches that one may not add to a tear for any relative within seven (or thirty) days after it is made. This is the reason why one may not add to the tear he made for another relative; it is unrelated to the concern of disrespectfulness towards one's parent.
(a) RASHI on the Rif explains that when Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah says, "because one may not add to the Keri'ah made for his parents," his intention is not to give a reason for why one may not add to the Keri'ah within the first seven days; there is no need for an additional reason in that case. Rather, he refers to the first statement of the Tana Kama (in the beginning of the Beraisa): one who tears Keri'ah for his father may add to that Keri'ah afterwards for his son. That part of the Beraisa refers to a case in which the Avel hears about his son's passing after seven days have passed from the time he became an Avel for his father. Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah argues specifically in that case and says that one may add to a pre-existing tear only when the first tear was made for relatives other than a parent, and the second tear is needed for other relatives other than a parent. When the first or second Keri'ah is for a parent, though, one may not add to the first Keri'ah even after seven days.
This explanation does not seem to be consistent with the words of Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah. His words, as recorded in the Beraisa, clearly seem to be a continuation of his earlier statement and they explain why an Avel tears two separate Keri'os if he hears of two deaths simultaneously. The RAMBAN (in TORAS HA'ADAM) suggests that since the Halachah is that after seven days one may not add the Keri'ah for a parent to another Keri'ah or add the Keri'ah for another relative to the Keri'ah for a parent, it is logical to assume that when one hears of many deaths at one time he should give the Keri'ah for his parent more prominence and make two Keri'os. Since he must make two Keri'os, he may not merely add to an earlier Keri'ah.
According to Rashi, why does the Gemara later say that one is permitted to add to the Keri'ah made for a parent after seven (or thirty) days?
Perhaps the Gemara there follows the opinion of the Tana Kama, whose opinion is not accepted as the Halachah (RITVA). Alternatively, perhaps the Gemara means that when one wants to add a tear for his mother after he has torn for his father, he does not need to make a separate tear. It does not refer to one who wants to add a tear for a different relative to a tear for a parent.
The RAMBAM (Hilchos Avel 8:10) seems to have a similar understanding of the Beraisa. However, he maintains that one is permitted to add to a Keri'ah made for a parent when he hears about another death after seven days. One is not permitted to do the opposite -- to add to the Keri'ah made for another relative in order to tear for his parent.
According to this approach, the statement of the Gemara later that one is permitted to add to a parent's Keri'ah after seven days clearly does not contradict the Gemara's ruling that the Halachah follows Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah (because he agrees with that detail).
(b) The RITVA and the RA'AVAD (cited by the TOSFOS HA'ROSH) explain that the statement of Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah in the first Beraisa is entirely unrelated to the second Beraisa (which discusses making a second tear within seven days or after seven days).
The first Beraisa teaches that if a person needs to tear Keri'ah for two different deaths (the death of his father or mother, and the death of his other relative) which he heard about "Toch Kedei Dibur" of each other, he may tear a single Keri'ah for both deaths. This is because "the first Keri'ah is not designated entirely for the first death" (Ritva), and thus he may add to it for the second death. If he hears about the second death after "Toch Kedei Dibur," then he may not add to the first Keri'ah because it was designated for the first death. However, if he hears about the second death after seven days, he may add to the first Keri'ah (as the second Beraisa says).
When Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah says that one may not add to the Keri'ah made for a parent, he refers to adding a Keri'ah for the news of the death of a relative which he hears within "Toch Kedei Dibur" of hearing of the death of his parent. In such a case, Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah prohibits one from adding to the first Keri'ah. (This is the case in which he argues with the Tana Kama.)
Rebbi Yehudah agrees with the Tana Kama that when one hears about the second death after "Toch Kedei Dibur" but within seven days of hearing about the first, he may not add to the first Keri'ah. However, he may add to it when he hears about the second death after seven days (he may even add to a relative's Keri'ah in order to tear for a parent, and vice versa).
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 340:22-23) rules that when one hears of the death of a parent and another relative at one time, he must tear twice. (One does not need to tear separate Keri'os for the deaths of both parents, but rather he may tear one Keri'ah for both of them.) He must tear for the parent first (in accordance with the logic proposed by the Ra'avad and Ritva in (b) above) and afterwards for the other relative.
If one hears of one death and within seven days he hears of a second death, he may not add to the first Keri'ah, but he must tear a separate Keri'ah for the second death. If he hears about the second death after seven days have passed from the first death, he may add to the first Keri'ah. However, if the second death is that of a parent, he may not add to a tear made for another relative, as Rebbi Yehudah ben Beseirah states. The Shulchan Aruch rules like the Rambam that if one tears first for a parent, and more than seven days later he hears about the death of another relative, he may add to the first Keri'ah when he tears for the other relative.
3) MAY AN AVEL BE FED ON AN UPRIGHT BED?
QUESTION: The Mishnah (24b) states that one must feed the Avel's meal to him on an upright bed. The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which adds that if the Avel feels very comfortable with the person who is feeding him, he may feed the Avel on an upturned bed.
Why does the Mishnah limit the meal to an upright bed if there are occasions on which the meal may be served on upturned bed?
Moreover, who exactly does the Mishnah require to sit on the upright bed? Since the Avel himself is required to sit on an upturned bed (as described on 27a), the Mishnah must be referring to those who feed the Avel, as Rashi says on the Mishnah. Why, though, does the Mishnah need to teach that the visitors sit on an upright bed? Why would one have thought that the visitors may not sit on an upright bed? It would have been more appropriate for the Mishnah to teach that if the Avel is very comfortable with the visitor, then the visitor must sit on an upturned bed. What is the Mishnah's intention?
(a) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Avel 11:3, and in the KAPACH edition of Perush ha'Mishnayos) and the RITVA in the name of the RA'AVAD write that the Mishnah here continues the topic it discussed until now -- the practice of Aveilus during Chol ha'Mo'ed. The Mishnah teaches that during Chol ha'Mo'ed even an Avel himself sits on an upright bed. The Beraisa adds that during the rest of the year, when the Avel sits on an upturned bed, the visitors sometimes sit on an upturned bed and sometimes on a regular bed, depending on their relationship with the Avel (or the Avel's emotional state, see NIMUKEI YOSEF). This also seems to be the intention of the MAHARITZ GE'AS cited by the ROSH.
(b) Other Rishonim explain that the Mishnah refers to Aveilus at any time of the year. The Mishnah teaches that not only do the visitors sit on an upright bed, but even the Avel sits on an upright bed (in a case of a visitor with whom the Avel is not so close). The Avel sits on an upright bed because it is not respectful for the Avel to sit low down while those who serve him and eat with him sit higher up.
(c) The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos, Mahadura Kama, cited by KAPACH) writes that the Mishnah refers to the visitor when it says that the meal is eaten on an upright bed. Originally, the poor people who came to visit the Avel would sit on the ground (or on an upturned bed), and the wealthy people would sit on the upright bed (similar situations are described on 27a). To prevent the poor people from suffering embarrassment, the Chachamim enacted that all of the visitors should sit on an upright bed, even the poor people (unless the Avel feels very friendly with the visitor, in which case the visitor sits on an upturned bed).