‘Three Festivals, Even Out Of Order’
Abaye on our daf discusses whether nedarim and nedavos may be offered on the festival and explains that all agree that they may be brought on Chol HaMoed. The question is whether someone who had to wait for Chol HaMoed violated bal te’acher.
The question relates to the dispute in our Gemara whether bal te’acher – the prohibition against not fulfilling one’s vow before three festivals have passed – applies to vows made only before Pesach. R. Shimon maintains that one only violates bal te’acher if three festivals followed in the order that they are listed in the Torah. The Tanna Kamma disagrees. A practical difference is that according to R. Shimon, sometimes four or five festivals will have to pass before bal te’acher is transgressed.
To The Day, To The Hour
This triggering of a time period is different for different situations. When a person says, “My erech shall be my obligation,” he must donate a specific sum to the treasurer of hekdesh depending on his age (see Vayikra 27:1-7). For example, if he is 20 years old, he must pay 50 shekel, if he is 60 years old, he must pay 15 shekel. The Gemara (Arachin 18b) explains that a person’s age for valuations (arachin) is determined according to his birthday – to the hour.
No Change From One Census To Another
When the Children of Israel were in the desert, they were counted several times at Hashem’s command. The Rishonim note, perplexingly, that the Children of Israel totaled 603,550 in Tishrei after they were forgiven for the sin of the Golden Calf, and, wonder of wonders, in Iyar they still numbered 603,550! Could a half year have passed with no change?
Rashi explains that the census only included people who had turned 20 by Rosh Hashanah. All those who turned 20 from Tishrei to Iyar were not counted. But the Ramban asks: How about all those who passed away from Tishrei to Iyar? How come the number didn’t decrease?
Furthermore, the Ramban argues that Rashi’s explanation about Rosh Hashanah doesn’t make sense because a baraisa in Arachin (18b) indicates that the ages for the census were determined based on actual birthdays. According to the baraisa, the reason we know that a 60-year-old must be 60 years old and one day is because the Torah uses the expression “from 60 years upwards” in regards to the census. If we are talking about someone being 60 and one day, clearly the age is being determined based on his birthday, not on the calendar year.
The Malbim (Bemidbar 1:1) solves the Ramban’s question by stating that the Torah can mean 60 years and one day as of Rosh Hashanah. Thus, there is no proof that the census was based on people’s actual birthdays.
The Malbim adds that Rashi’s explanation about Rosh Hashanah makes sense. Otherwise, how did the census work? It took several days to conduct – how, then, did they count people who turned 20 on the second day of the census? If Rosh Hashanah was a cut-off date, though, this problem didn’t exist.
What about the deceased? After all, it stands to reason that people died from Tishrei to Iyar. The Malbim, however, posits that no one passed away during this period.
About the Author: RABBI YAAKOV KLASS, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. RABBI GERSHON TANNENBAUM, rav of Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights, Boro Park, Brooklyn, is the Director of Igud HaRabbanim – The Rabbinical Alliance of America.
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