Thursday, August 11, 2022

When Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi expressed his opinion in the Talmud and it was not accepted by others, what was his rationale? He addressed the situation which we face this year with the calendar date of the ninth of Av, which falls on a Shabbat.

Since we do not fast on Shabbat, he declared that that cancels out Tisha B’Av that year. I think he wanted to say that in such an event a cancellation would offer a breather year with a challenge to the community to be creative in discovering other ways to acknowledge the tragedies associated with this date.

Alas, even though he was the leader of the people at that time his radical suggestion was rejected by the others.This led to the minhag that we are familiar with that of nidche (pushed off) — whereby the ninth of Av is observed this year on the 10th of Av.

I have thought that in this modern period of Jewish history beginning in 1948 with the establishment of medinat Yisrael, we might review the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi in order to consider a cancellation as a great opportunity to create new and meaningful observances.

Twice before in our history, there have been occasions when the halacha was changed due to the circumstances of the day.

The first was at the dedication of the Beit Hamikdash HAMIKDASH when King Shlomo called for a 14-day celebration which, in effect, eliminated the fast of Yom Kippur that year. The joy of the occasion celebrated by the entire mass of the Jewish people was enough to cause this one year cancellation.

The second case was recorded in Megillat Esther, when Esther told the people to fast for three days before she went to the king. Those three days occurred during the month of Nissan and, in effect, canceled the Seder feast. The severity of the occasion caused a cancellation of major proportions.

This year instead of the usual hard boiled egg meal prior to Tisha B’av, we can eat a third Shabbat meal as large as the seudah that King Shlomo had, with meat and wine. But yet, those people who study Pirkei Avot will cancel it on this Shabbat prior to the 10th of Av.

I’m just wondering how it would feel to not fast this year on Tisha B’Av! What would it take for us to follow the lead of Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi …

Rabbi Simcha Green
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