[Translation by Binyamin S Silver]
are obligated in rejoicing, and those that cannot hear nor speak and a mentally handicapped individual and a minor are exempt even from rejoicing, since (due to the fact) that they are exempt from all Mitzvos mentioned in the Torah.
(Question) What is different about Ri’iyah (being seen in the Temple on the 3 holidays of Succos, Pesach and Shavuous) that makes (some) exempt while with regards to rejoicing some are obligated? With regards to Ri’iyah, it is derived from (a Biblical comparison of the use of the root-word) “Ri’iyah, Ri’iyah” (used in two different places). From (the passage discussing the obligation to) gather (at the end of every seven years to hear the Torah read from the King) it is written, “Gather the nation, the men, and the women and the children”, and it is written, “When all Israel comes to appear (Lei-Ra-os from the root of ri’iyah/being seen)”. Over there (in the first-quoted passage) what is the purpose (of gathering)? (In answer we bring another part of the verse), “in order to hear and in order to learn”. And it is taught in a Braisa, “in order to hear”, (this comes to) exclude someone who can speak but cannot hear, and, “in order to learn”, (comes to) exclude someone who can hear but cannot speak.
(Question) Do you mean to say (imply) that someone who can’t speak shouldn’t learn? But weren’t there these two mute (children) that were in the town of Rebbi (who were) the sons of the daughter of Rabbi Yochanan ben (son of) Gudgida and some say they were the sons of the sister of Rabbi Yochanan, that on any occasion that Rebbi would go up to the study hall, they would go up (also) and sit in front of him, and nod their heads and move their lips? (meaning to imply that the inability to speak is not in practice a hindrance from being able to learn). (Whereupon) Rebbi begged mercy (from G-d) on them and they were healed and it was found that they had learned Law (Mishnah), Sifra, Sifri, and all of Sha”s (the 6 orders of Talmud).
Mar Zutra says, read the words (”in order that they learn l’ma’an yil’midoo” as if they were written) l’ma’an yi’la-may-doo (in order that they teach). Rav Ashi replied, of course it is “in order that they teach”, for if you would think it meant “in order to learn”, and since they cannot speak, they cannot hear, and since they cannot hear, and so they cannot learn (i.e. that both faculties are needed in order to fully learn properly). However, from “in order that they hear” teaches that (second part). Rather, it must be, “in order that they teach l’ma’an yi’la-may-doo”.
Rabbi Tanchum says a deaf person in one ear is exempt from Ri’iyah (and brings a scriptural support for his claim) as it says, “Bi’uz-nayhem (in their ears, pl.)” and we require both ears. (Rabbi Tanchun is challenged) in their ears (refers to) all of Israel (hearing the king, not to each person needing two functioning ears). (This is challenged by another phrase which can serve as the source for the need of all of Israel hearing together) from (the statement of) “mee-neged kol Yisroel (in front of all of Israel)”. (However) if you use the statement, “mee-neged kol Yisroel (in front of all of Israel)”, I would think that even though (someone) cannot hear and that is why the Torah wrote, “Bi’uz-nayhem (in their ears, pl.)” to direct those that can hear! But that is learned from , “in order to hear”!
Rabbi Tanchum says, someone who is lame in one leg is exempt from Ri’iyah, as it says in a verse, “Regalim (legs/times)”, and he needs (is lacking) 2 legs (i.e. he only has one working leg). This excludes someone with an artificial leg/foot. (Couldn’t) this be derived from “pe’amim”? As it is taught in a Braisa, “Pe’amim, (and) pe’amim refers only to legs/feet, and (this is supported by another) saying (in Scripture), “feet shall trample, the feet of the popper, the (pa’amay) feet of the needy”, and it (also) says (in another scriptural verse) “how beautiful are your feet (pa’ama’ich) in shoes, the daughter of Nidiv”.
Rava expounded: What is (the meaning) of the verse “how beautiful are your feet in shoes, the daughter of Nidiv”? (His interpretation is as follows) How beautiful are the feet/legs of Israel (the Jewish People) during the time of their ascension for the holiday. (What is the meaning of the next part of the verse) “the daughter of Nidiv”? The daughter of Avraham (Abraham) our forefather, who is called Nidiv, as it says (in a scriptural verse) “The princes (Nidivay) of people gather, the nation of the G-d of Avraham”.
The G-d of Avraham?! Not the G-d of Yitzchak (Isaac) and Yaakov (Jacob)?!
(The verse states only) The G-d of Avraham (as he) was the first convert.
Rav Kahana said, Rav Nasson ben (son of) Minyumi expounded in the name of Rabbi Tanchum: What is the meaning of the verse, “and the pit was empty, there was no water in it”? Shouldn’t it be implied from “and the pit was empty” that there was no water in it? (Shouldn’t I know this on my own?!) Rather, (the meaning of the verse is as follows), there was no water in it (the pit), but there were snakes and scorpions in it.
It was taught in a Braisa, there was in incident with Rabbi Yochanan ben (son of) Broka and Rabbi Elazar Chisma, where they went to greet the presence of Rabbi Yehoshua in Piki’in. He said to them, “What novelty was (learned) in the Study hall today?” They replied back, “we are are your students and from your waters we drink (we learn from you, not the other way around)”. He said back, “nonetheless, it is impossible for a study hall to void of novelties (in learning). Whose week was it this week?” “It was the week of Rabbi Elazar ben (son of) Azaria”. “And what subject was under discussion?” They said back “the section (of the Torah) of ‘Hak-hel’ (gathering the nation at the end of every seven years to hear the king read from the Torah). “And what did he (Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria) expound?” “(He expounded on the verse that says) “Gather the nation, the men, the women, and the children”. If the men are coming to learn, and the women are coming (just) to hear, why do the children come? (They come) in order to give reward to those that brought them”. (Rabbi Yehoshua) said (after this dissertation), “a precious pearl was in your hands (this teaching, equal to precious pearls) and you requested (sought) to lose it (withhold) it from me? “And he further expounded (the verses), “The HaShem that spoke to you (singular) today”, and (the verse) “and HaShem that spoke with you (plural) today”. HaShem said to the Jewish people, “you made me a special entity in the world and I make you a special entity in the world”. You made me a special entity in the world, as it is written, “Hear oh Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One”. And I made you a special entity in the world as it says (in a verse),
“And who is like your nation Israel, a singular nation in the world”. And (then) he too (Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria) began to open and explain (a verse), “The words of the wise are like goads and like stuck nails (are those) that are (Asufos) collectors (Torah teachings which were) given from one shepherd (Moshe Rabbeinu/Moses). Why are the words of Torah compared to goads, in order to teach you that just like a goad directs a cow along the field rows, thus bringing life to the world (via the crops produced), so too the words of Torah, direct the student from a path of death to a path of life.
(Inference on the past statement): If (they are) compared to a goad which is a moveable entity, so too Torah is a moveable entity, therefore the Torah teaches us that they are like nails (too). Just like a nail takes away and does not add (space from the original object), so too Torah takes away and does not add?!, therefore the Torah teaches us ‘stuck’ (literally planted), and just like a plant is fruitful and multiplies, so too Torah is fruitful and multiplies (and thus won’t lose). “(Asufos) collectors of (Torah teachings)” refers to the students of wisdom (Torah) who sit in ‘Asufos, Asufos’ rows and are involved in Torah. Some are assigning impurity and some are assigning purity, some are assigning restrictions, and some are assigning allowances, some are discrediting, and some are validating.
(Inference on the verse as a whole): Lest a person say, “how can I study Torah now?”, the verse teaches us that (Torah) was given by one shepherd. One G-d all of it gave it, one supplier said them, from the mouth of The Master of all deeds, blessed be He, as it is written, “And The L-rd spoke all these things”. (All that is required) is that you make your ear like a funnel and get yourself an understanding heart to hear the words of (all the opinions) of those assigning impurity and the words of those assigning purity and the words of those forbidding and the words of those permitting and the words of those discrediting and the words of those validating. This language (caused) Rabbi Yehoshua to say (to make the following statement), “There is no orphaned generation with Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria living in it”. So why didn’t he say this explicitly? Because of an incident that happened, as it was taught in a Braisa, there was an incident with Rabbi Yosi ben Durmaskis who went to greet the presence of Rabbi Elazar in Lud. He said to him, what novelty was there in the study hall today? He replied, We voted and decided that (the nations of) Amon and Moav do tithe the poor tithe in the seventh year. Yosi said back, “stick out your hands and take out your eyes”. He stuck out his hands and took out his eyes. Rabbi Elazar cried and said, “Secrets of HaShem to those that fear Him, and his covenant to those that recognize Him”. He said back, “Go, tell them not to worry about their vote as this is the tradition that I received from Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai who heard it from his Rebbi, and his Rebbi from his Rebbi, (that this was) a law from Moshe from Sinai (the original giving of the Torah). Amon and Moav tithe the poor tithes on the seventh year. What is the reason? Many places were conquered during the exodus from Egypt, which were not re-conquered by those returning from Bavel (Babylonia). (Shouldn’t they keep their original sanctity from the exodus from Egypt? No, because the original sanctity was a temporary sanctity and not a sanctity for ever. And (these lands) were left (unsanctified, i.e. Shmita, the seventh year when all lands in Israel must remain untended) so that the poor can rely on them (for food).
After he calmed down, he said, “may it be Your will that the eyes of Yosi be returned to their place”, and they were returned.
It was taught in a Braisa, who is a mentally handicapped person? Anyone who goes out alone at night, and sleeps in a cemetery and tears his clothes (is called a mentally handicapped person). Rav Huna commented, (this applies) once he has done all of them at one time. Rabbi Yochanan said, even one of them (suffices). How is it possible (that only one instance suffices to get the title of a mentally handicapped individual, and thus be exempt?)
If he did them in a fashion resembling a mentally handicapped individual, even one occurrence (would suffice)?! And if he did not do them in a fashion resembling a mentally handicapped individual, even doing all of them should not (label him). Really, we (are speaking about) where he did them in a fashion resembling a mentally handicapped individual, (and nonetheless we are not labelling him). This sleeping in a cemetery, consider our case as if he did it in order to draw spiritual impurity upon himself. And the one that goes out alone at night, say he is afflicted with Gandrifus (an ailment). And the one who tears his clothes, say he is a (deep) thinker. Since he does all of them, he becomes
like someone who gores an ox, donkey and a camel and has become a muad (known attacker)
Special thanks is needed to be expressed to Hebrewbook.org for the original text of the Talmud, Dafyomi.org for Rabbi Grossman’s Shiurim and OUradio.org/daf for Rabbi Elefant’s Shiurim that helped me understand parts of the text, as well as to mechon-mamre.org for their complete Biblical texts and translations made available to the public. I have done my best to use these sparingly; however there were some words and concepts that I did need their help for. Any mistakes are my own.