Talmud Tips

For the week ending 15 March 2014 / 13 Adar II 5774

Succah 41 - 47

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“At first, the lulav was taken (for the mitzvah) in the Mikdash for seven days, and in the Medina for one day. After the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai decreed that the lulav be taken for seven days also in the Medina, in memory of the Mikdash.”

The first mishna on our daf commences with this teaching, and Rabbi Yochanan in the gemara derives the concept of doing something as a “zecher laMikdash” — in memory of the Mikdash — from a verse in the prophecy of Yirmiyahu (30:17). What exact places are meant by “Mikdash” and “Medina”? One opinion is that Mikdash is the Beit Hamikdash, whereas Medina is Jerusalem and other places outside the actual Beit Hamikdash (Rashi). Another opinion is that Mikdash refers to all of Jerusalem, while Medina refers to outside of Jerusalem (Rambam). The definition of these two terms may have implications as to whether one is fulfilling a Torah mitzvah or a rabbinical one in the place one is located after the first day of Succot.

  • Succah 41a

“This was the minhag of the people of Jerusalem: A person would go out from his home in the morning with his lulav in his hand; he would go to the synagogue with his lulav in his hand; he would say Shema and pray with his lulav in his hand; he would read from the Sefer Torah and say the priestly blessing after putting his lulav on the ground; he would go to visit the sick and to comfort mourners with his lulav in his hand; he would enter the Beit Midrash study hall and send his lulav with his son…”

Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok taught this on our daf as being the practice of the “people of Jerusalem”. Due to the special dearness they had for the mitzvah of lulav they held the lulav throughout the day whenever possible. Only when they needed to use their hands to open and roll the Sefer Torah, or lift their hands for the birkat kohanim blessing did they put the lulav down temporarily. Also, when they entered the Beit Midrash to learn Torah they handed it to someone else since they feared they might accidently drop the lulav due to their total immersion in Torah study (Rashi). We find in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 652:1 in the Rema and the Mishnah Berurah fascinating rulings as to “if and how” this constant lulav-carrying applies to us nowadays.

  • Succah 41b

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