CHAPTER I.1. When do we remember in prayer the heavy rain?" Rabbi Eleazar said, "from the first holiday of the feast (of tabernacles)," Rabbi Joshua said "from the last holiday of the feast." To him said Rabbi Joshua, "when the rain is no mark of blessing in the feast, why should one remember it?" Said Rabbi Eleazar to him, "even I did not say to ask for it, but to remember the blowing of the wind, and the descent of the rain in its season." He replied to him, "if so, one can remember it always."
2. We ask for rain only near to the season of rains. Rabbi Judah said, 1 "he who passes last before the ark on the last holiday of the feast of tabernacles remembers it; the first does not remember it. On the first holiday of the passover the first remembers it, the last does not remember it." How long do we ask for rain? Rabbi Judah said, "till the pass-over be ended." Rabbi Meier said, "till Nisan depart, 2 as is said, 3 'And He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.'"
3. On the third day of Marchesvan 4 we ask for the rain. Rabban Gamaliel said, "on the seventh, fifteen days after the
feast, that the last Israelite returning home from the feast may reach the river Euphrates."
4. If the seventeenth day of Marchesvan arrive, and the rain does not come down?" "Men of eminence begin to fast for three days. They may eat and drink by night. And they may work, and wash, and anoint themselves, and put on their sandals, and use their couches."
5. "If the first day of the month Chislev 1 arrive, and the rain does not come down?" "The tribunal proclaims three fast-days 2 for the congregation. Persons may, however, eat and drink by night. And they may work, and wash, and anoint themselves, and put on their sandals, and use their couches."
6. "If these days pass over, and there be no answer?" "The tribunal proclaims three other fast-days for the congregation. Persons may, however, eat and drink while it is still day. But they are forbidden work, and washing, and anointing, and putting on sandals, and the use of the couch. And the baths are locked up." "If these days pass over, and there be no answer?" "The tribunal proclaims for them seven more; these are altogether thirteen fast-days for the congregation." "And what are these fast-days more than the first six?" "Because during them men blow with the trumpets and lock up their shops." On Monday they can half open them at dark. But on Thursday they may open them for honour to the approaching Sabbath.
7. "If these days pass over, and there be no answer?" "People diminish business, building, planting, betrothals and marriages, and salutations of peace between man and his friend, as children of men ashamed before OMNIPRESENCE." The men of eminence have again recourse to fasting, till Nisan be ended. If Nisan be ended, and the rain comes down, it is a mark of cursing, as is said, 3 "Is it not wheat harvest to-day?" etc.
Footnotes158:1 i.e. The Chazan that prays Musaph.
158:2 Nisan corresponded partly to March and April.
158:3 Joel ii. 23.
158:4 Marchesvan corresponded partly to October and November.
159:1 Part of November and part of December.
159:2 The fast-days of strict Pharisees were Mondays and Thursdays, because on a Thursday Moses went up to Mount Sinai, and returned on a Monday with the second Tables of the Law.
159:3 1 Sam. xii. 17.
CHAPTER II.1. "What is the order of the fast-days?" "Men draw out the ark containing the rolls of the Law to the public street of the city, and they put burnt ashes on the top of the ark, and on the head of the prince, and on the head of the president of the tribunal, and every one takes and puts ashes on his own head." The most aged of them says before them touching words, "Brethren, it is not said for the men of Nineveh, 'And God saw their sackcloth and their fasting,' 1 but 'God saw their works, that they returned from their evil way.' And in the tradition (of the prophet) he says 2 'Rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God.'"
2. When they stood in prayer, they placed before the ark an aged man and full of experience, one who had children and an unblemished house, that his heart be not distracted in prayer, and he says before them twenty-four blessings, the usual eighteen for every day, and he adds to them six more.
3 These are they, "remembrances," 3 and "blowing of the trumpets," 3 "In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me," 4 "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills," 5 "out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord," 6 "A prayer of the afflicted when he is overwhelmed." 7 Rabbi Judah says, "it was not necessary to say the 'remembrances,' and 'the trumpets,' but he said instead of them, 'If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence,'" 8 etc. "The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth." 9 And he said their closing benediction.
4. For the first additional prayer he said, "He who answered Abraham our father on Mount Moriah, He shall answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, the Redeemer of Israel." For the second he said, "He who answered our fathers by the Red
sea, He will answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who rememberest those forgotten by man." For the third he said, "He who answered Joshua in Gilgal, He will answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who hearest the blowing of the trumpet." For the fourth he said, "He who answered Samuel in Mizpah, He will answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who hearest the cry of distress." For the fifth he said, "He who answered Elijah on Mount Carmel, He will answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who hearest prayer." For the sixth he said, "He who answered Jonah from the fish's belly, He will answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who art ever answering prayer in the time of need." For the seventh he said, "He who answered David and Solomon his son in Jerusalem, He will answer you, and will hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who hast pity on the earth."
5. It happened in the days of Rabbi Chelpatha and R. Chanania, son of Teradion, that a minister passed before the ark, and finished the whole blessing, and the congregation did not answer after him, Amen. One cried out, "Let the priests blow the trumpets;" they blew. (The minister prayed), "May He who answered Abraham our Father on Mount Moriah answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day." (One cried out), "Let the sons of Aaron blow an alarm;" they blew an alarm. (The minister prayed), "May He who answered our fathers by the Red Sea, answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day." And when the matter came before the Sages they said it was not customary to do so, save in the Eastern gate and on the Mountain of the House.
6. These are the first three fasts. The priests of the weekly Watch of the Temple fasted, but not completely. And the priests of their "Father's House" 1 did not fast at all.
[paragraph continues] In the second three fasts the men of the Watch fasted completely. And the men of their "Father's House" fasted, but not completely. "In the seven last fasts both of them fasted completely." The words of Rabbi Joshua. But the Sages say, "in the three first fasts neither one nor other fasted at all. In the second three fasts the priests of the Watch fasted, but not completely. And the priests of their 'Father's House' did not fast at all. In the seven last fasts the priests of the Watch fasted completely, and the priests of their Father's House' fasted, but not completely."
7. The men of the Watch are allowed to drink wine by night, but not by day, and the men who inherit the patrimony of their fathers 1 may not drink it neither by day nor night. The men of the Watch and the Delegates 2 are not allowed to shave, nor wash, except on Thursdays for the honour of the approaching Sabbath.
8. That which is written in "The Roll of Fasting," 3 "not to mourn" on certain days—the day before them it is not allowed—the day after them it is allowed to mourn. Rabbi José said, "both before and after the day it is not allowed." But when it is written, "not to fast," both the day before and the day after the fast, it is allowed to fast. Rabbi José said, "before the fast it is not allowed—after the fast it is allowed."
9. The rulers must not proclaim fasts for the congregation to begin on Thursday, so as not to raise the market. But the three first fasts are Monday, Thursday, and Monday. And the three second, Thursday, Monday, and Thursday. Rabbi José said, "as the first fasts are not to begin on Thursday, so likewise the second and the last are not to begin on that day."
10. "The rulers must not proclaim fasting for the congregation on the feast of New Moon, and on the feasts of Dedication,
and Purim; but if they have already begun, they need not cease." The words of Rabbi Gamaliel. Said R. Meier, "even though Rabbi Gamaliel said they need not cease, he admits that the congregation do not fast the whole day; and so also on the ninth of Ab, the fast for the burning of the temple, if it happen on the eve of the Sabbath."
Footnotes160:1 Jonah iii. 10.
160:2 Joel ii. 13.
160:3 Prayers for the New Year.
160:4 Psalm cxx. i.
160:5 Psalm cxxi. i.
160:6 Psalm cxxx.
160:7 Psalm cii.
160:8 1 Kings viii. 37.
160:9 Jer. xiv. i.
161:1 Some understand the priests ministering in their course, others explain this expression by Deut. xviii. 8. The priests were divided into twenty-four p. 162 Watches. Each Watch ministered for a week in the Temple. These Watches were again subdivided into seven "Father's Houses," and each "Father's House" officiated for a day in the Temple. A dispensation from fasting was granted to the priests on duty, that they might not be weak hi the service of the Sanctuary.
162:1 This means the officiating priests.
162:2 The delegates were the representatives of the congregation, who attended at the public sacrifices, and prayed on their behalf.
162:3 This was a book written in Chaldee, as is proved by the quotations from it.
CHAPTER III.1. The order of these fasts is said only for the first rains. But if the sprouts wither, men blow an alarm off-hand. And if the rains cease between rain and rain forty days, men blow an alarm off-hand. Because it is a sign of famine.
2. If the rains came down for the sprouts, but did not come down for the trees, for the trees, but not for the sprouts, for both these, but not for the wells, pits, and caves, men must blow an alarm for them off-hand.
3. And so also for the city, on which the rain did not come down, as is written," 1 And I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city; one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered." This city fasts and blows an alarm, and all its neighbouring cities fast, but do not blow alarms. R. Akiba said, "they blow alarms, but do not fast."
4. And so for a city, in which there is pestilence, or falling of buildings, that city fasts and blows an alarm, and all the neighbouring cities fast, but do not blow an alarm. Rabbi Akiba said, "they blow alarms, but do not fast." "What is pestilence?" "A city containing five hundred men, and there go forth from it three dead in three days, one after the other; this is pestilence, less than this is not pestilence."
5. For these things men blow an alarm in every place—for the blasting and for the blighting, for the locust and for the caterpillar, and for the evil beast, and for the sword, they blow an alarm over them, because it is a spreading wound.
6. It happened that the elders went down from Jerusalem
to their cities, and proclaimed fasting, because the blasting appeared, as much as would fill an oven, in Askelon. And again they proclaimed a fast, because the wolves devoured two children beyond Jordan: Rabbi José said, "not because they devoured them, but because the wolves were seen."
7. For these things men blow an alarm on the Sabbath—for a city, encompassed by Gentiles, or by a flood, and for a ship tossed in the sea. Rabbi José said, "for help, but not for a cry of distress." Simon the Temanite said, "also for pestilence," but the Sages did not admit it.
8. For all distress—may it not come on the congregation—men sound an alarm, except for too much rain. It happened that they said to Honé Hammeagal, "pray that the rain come down:" he said to them, "go and bring in the passover ovens, that they be not dissolved." He prayed, but the rain did not come down—What did he do? He dug a hole and stood in it, and said before HIM, "Our Lord of the world, thy sons have turned towards me, because I am a son of the House in Thy Presence. I am sworn in Thy great Name, that I move not from hence, till Thou have pity on Thy children." The rain began to drop; he said, "I did not ask it thus, but rains for wells, pits, and caves." The rain began to descend with storm. He said, "I did not ask it thus, but reasonable rain, with blessing and free will." The showers came down as they ought, until all Israel went up from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives on account of the rains. They came and said to him, "as thou hast prayed that the rains should come down, so pray that they may depart." He said to them, "go and see if the Stone of Proclamation 1 be covered." Simon the son of Shatach sent to him word, "if thou wert not Honé, I would excommunicate thee; but what shall I do to thee, since thou prayest before OMNIPRESENCE, and He does thy will, as a son who plays upon his father, and he does his will? and for thee the Scripture says, 'Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.'" 2
9. "If men were fasting, and the rains came down for them before the sun rose?" "They need not complete the day." "If the rains came down after sunrise?" "They must complete it." R. Eliezer said, "before noon they need not complete it, if after noon they must complete it." It happened, that the rulers proclaimed a fast in Lydda, and the rains came down in the forenoon. Said R. Tarpon, "go and eat, and drink, and make holiday." They went and ate and drank, and made holiday, and they came in the evening and read the great Thanksgiving. 1
Footnotes163:1 Amos iv. 7.
164:1 A stone on which lost property was deposited, and publication of it was made, so that its owner might reclaim it.
164:2 Prov. xxiii. 25.
165:1 Psalm cxxxvi.
CHAPTER IV.1. Three times in the year the priests elevate their hands to bless the people, four times .a day—in the morning prayer, in the following prayer, in the evening prayer, and at the locking of the gates. These times are the fast days, on the fasts of the deputies, and on the day of atonement.
2. These are the Delegates, according as is said, "Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, My offering and my bread for my sacrifices made by fire." 2 And how is it possible, that the offering of a man should be sacrificed, and he does not stand by it? Therefore the former prophets decreed four-and-twenty Watches. For every Watch there were Delegates in Jerusalem of priests, Levites, and Israelites. When the time approached (for them) to go up, the priests and Levites went up to Jerusalem, and the Israelites, who belonged to the Watch, gathered in their cities and read in the history of Genesis.
3. And the Delegates used to fast four days in the week, from the second day till the fifth. But they did not fast on the eve of the Sabbath, for honour to the Sabbath. Nor on the first day, that they should not go forth from repose and enjoyment, to toil, and fasting, and death. On the first day they read in Genesis, 3 "and let there be a firmament." On the second, "let there be a firmament and let the waters be gathered together." On the third day, "let the waters be
gathered together, and let there be lights." On the fourth, "let there be lights, and let the waters bring forth abundantly." On the fifth, "let the waters bring forth abundantly," and "let the earth bring forth." On the sixth, "let the earth bring forth," and "the heavens were finished." Two men read a large portion, but a small portion was read by one. At morning prayer, at the following prayer, at the evening prayer, they went in and read orally (by heart), as they read the "Hear," 1 etc. On the eve of the Sabbath they did not go in to evening prayer for honour to the Sabbath.
4. Every day when there is praise, the Delegates are not at morning prayer. When there is the additional offering at the following prayer, there is not the closing prayer at the locking up of the gates. "When there is the offering of the wood, there is not the evening prayer." The words of Rabbi Akiba. The son of Azai said to him, R. Joshua thus taught it: "when there was an additional offering, the Delegates did not come to evening prayer; when there was the offering of the wood, they did not come to prayer at the locking up of the gates." R. Akiba changed his opinion, and taught as the son of Azai.
5. The times of bringing wood for the altar by priests and people were nine. On the first of Nisan, 2 the children of Arach son of Judah brought it. On the twentieth of Tammuz, 3 the children of David the son of Judah brought it. On the fifth of Ab, 4 the children of Parhush the son of Judah brought it. On the seventh, the children of Jonadab the son of Rechab brought it. On the tenth, the children of Sinah the son of Benjamin brought it. On the fifteenth, the children of Zathva the son of Judah brought it, and with them the priests and Levites and all who were ignorant of their tribe. And the children of Gonebi Eli 5 and the children of Kozhi Kezihoth. On the twentieth, the children of Pachath Moab the son of Judah brought it. On the
twentieth of Elul, 1 the children of Adin the son of Judah brought it. On the first of Tebeth, the children of Parhush returned the second time. On the first of Tebeth, 2 there was no meeting of the Delegates, as there was on it "The Praise," and the additional offering at the following prayer, and the offering of the wood.
6. Five things happened to our fathers on the seventeenth of Tammuz, and five on the ninth of Ab. On the seventeenth of Tammuz the stone tables were broken, and the daily offering ceased, and the city was broken up, and Apostemus 3 burnt the law, and he set up an image in the Temple. On the ninth of Ab it was proclaimed to our fathers, that they should not enter the land, and the House was ruined for the first and second time, and Bither was taken, and the city was ploughed up. On entering Ab we must diminish joy.
7. The week in which the ninth of Ab comes, men are not allowed to clip their hair, or wash their clothes; but on Thursday they are allowed, for honour to the Sabbath. On the eve of the ninth of Ab one must not eat from two dishes, must not eat flesh, and must not drink wine. Rabban Simon the son of Gamaliel said, "one must change the style of living." R. Judah "enjoined to turn over the beds," but the Sages did not approve him.
8. Said Rabban Simon the son of Gamaliel, "there were no holidays in Israel like the fifteenth of Ab, or like the day of atonement. Because in them the daughters of Jerusalem promenaded in white garments borrowed, that no one might be ashamed of her poverty. All these garments must be baptized. And the daughters of Jerusalem promenaded and danced in the vineyards. And what did they say? 'Look here, young man, and see whom you choose; look not for beauty, look for family;' 'Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised;' and it is said 'Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates,' 4 and also it is
said, 'Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown, wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.' 1 The day of his espousals, this is the gift of the Law; and in the day of the gladness of his heart, this is the building of the Sanctuary, and may it be speedily built in our days. Amen."
Footnotes165:2 Numbers xxviii. 2.
165:3 Gen. i. 6, etc.
166:1 Deut. vi. 4, etc.
166:2 Part of March and April.
166:3 Part of June and July.
166:4 Part of July and August.
166:5 i.e. "Thieves of the pestle and dried figs;" because when forbidden by Jeroboam to go up to the Temple with the first-fruits and wood, they deceived the watchers by saying they were only going to press figs.—Jer. Tal.
167:1 Part of August and September.
167:2 Part of December and January.
167:3 Antiochus Epiphanes.
167:4 Prov. xxxi. 30, 31.
168:1 Sol. Song, iii. 11.