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Steinsaltz

and one who had been ostracized and the Sages released him from his decree of ostracism; and similarly, one who had vowed not to launder his clothes and he requested from a Sage to dissolve his vow and was released from it on the intermediate days of a Festival.

Hand towels; and barbers’ towels, which are used to cover a person having a haircut; and body-drying towels, all of which get quickly soiled, may be laundered on the intermediate days of a Festival. Zavim, men suffering from an impure venereal emission; zavot, women who experience a flow of menstrual-type blood on three consecutive days during a time of the month when they do not expect to experience menstrual bleeding; menstruating women; women who have just given birth; and all others who leave a state of ritual impurity for a state of ritual purity on the intermediate days of the Festival, these people are all permitted to launder their clothes in order to purify themselves. But all other people are prohibited from laundering during the intermediate days of the Festival.

GEMARA: The Gemara asks: What is the reason that all other people are prohibited from performing these actions during the intermediate days? Why are these actions not included in the category of actions that are permitted in deference to the Festival?

The Gemara answers: As we learned in a mishna (Taanit 15b): Both the members of the priestly watch whose week it is to serve in the Temple and the members of the non-priestly watch who accompanied the members of the watch to Jerusalem are prohibited from cutting their hair or laundering their clothes during that week. But on the Thursday of that week they are permitted to do so in deference to Shabbat.

And Rabba bar bar Ḥana said in the name of Rabbi Elazar: What is the reason that the members of the priestly and non-priestly watch are prohibited from cutting their hair and laundering their clothes? It is in order that they not enter their watch when they are untidy. If it were permitted for them to cut their hair and launder their clothes during the week of their watch, they would leave their haircuts and laundry until the middle of that week and begin their service in a disorderly state. Here, too, ordinary people are prohibited from cutting their hair or laundering their clothes on the intermediate days of a Festival, in order that they complete all necessary preparations beforehand and not enter the Festival when they are untidy.

Rabbi Zeira asks: If one lost an item on the eve of a Festival and he was busy searching for it and had no time to cut his hair or launder his clothes before the Festival commenced, can one say that since he was a victim of circumstances beyond his control, which prevented from taking care of these matters prior to the Festival, he is permitted to cut his hair and launder his clothes on the intermediate days of the Festival? Or perhaps since it is not clearly evident to others that he failed to cut his hair or launder his clothes due to unavoidable circumstances, he is not permitted to perform these actions during the Festival week.

Abaye said, in answer to this question, that there is a principle of the Sages that applies here. They prohibited the baking of decorated Syrian cakes for Passover, lest people tarry in their preparation of these elaborate cakes and the cakes become leavened. When Baitos ben Zunen, wished to prepare the cakes in a way that would not lead to a violation of any prohibition, the Sages nevertheless prohibited it. They explained that were they to permit him to do so, others would say: All the decorated Syrian cakes are forbidden, but the Syrian cakes of Baitos are permitted? This teaches that the Sages do not permit exceptions when the reason for leniency is not clearly evident, like in the case of one who was busy looking for a lost item.

Rabbi Zeira retorted: And according to your reasoning, that which Rabbi Asi said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Anyone who has only one shirt is permitted to launder it on the intermediate days of a Festival, there too, one should apply the principle that others will say: All the decorated Syrian cakes are forbidden but the Syrian cakes of Baitos are permitted. There, too, it is not clearly evident that the reason for leniency is that one has only one shirt.

The Gemara rejects this argument: Wasn’t it already said about this that Mar, son of Rav Ashi, said: His belt is proof for him, as when he launders his only shirt he will have to wear his outer garment tied with his belt so that his body is not exposed, and everyone will understand that he has no other shirt to wear.

Rav Ashi taught a different version of this passage, as follows: Rabbi Zeira asks: With regard to a craftsman who lost an item on the eve of a Festival and was busy searching for it, what is the halakha? Is it permitted for him to launder his clothes and cut his hair on the intermediate days of the Festival because he had been unable to do so before the Festival? The Gemara explains the two sides of the question: Can one say that since he is a craftsman, it is clearly evident why he did not launder his clothes and cut his hair before the Festival, as many people would have come to his place of work and seen that he was busy looking for his lost article? Or perhaps since the special circumstances are not as clearly evident as in those cases in the mishna, it is not permitted for him to cut his hair or launder his clothes during the intermediate days of the Festival. The dilemma shall stand unresolved.

§ The mishna taught: One who comes from a country overseas on the intermediate days of a Festival is permitted to cut his hair. The Gemara comments: The mishna is not in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, as it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda says: One who comes from a country overseas on the intermediate days of a Festival must not shave or cut his hair, due to the fact that he left his home without permission.

The Gemara continues to explain the definition and parameters of leaving without permission. Rava said: If one left Eretz Yisrael to travel, all agree that it is prohibited for him to shave during the intermediate days of the Festival because he left on his own initiative, and this is not considered an unavoidable circumstance. If he left for basic sustenance, i.e., due to financial difficulty, all agree that it is permitted for him to shave upon his return because he is regarded as having left due to circumstances beyond his control. They disagree only with regard to the case where he left to earn greater profit, i.e., he had enough to live on in Eretz Yisrael, but he left in order to increase his income. One Sage, Rabbi Yehuda, compares him to one who left to travel, and the other Sage, the Rabbis of the mishna, compare him to one who left for basic sustenance.

The Gemara raises an objection from the following baraita: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: The statement of Rabbi Yehuda seems more reasonable in a case when he left without permission, and the statement of the Rabbis seems more reasonable when one left with permission. The Gemara clarifies: What is meant by without permission? If we say that it means that he left to travel, didn’t you say that in this case all agree that it is prohibited for him to cut his hair upon his return? Rather, say that it means that he left for basic sustenance. But didn’t you say that all agree that it is permitted for him to cut his hair in such a case? Rather, it is obvious that it means that he left in search of greater profit.

Say the latter clause of the baraita as follows: The statement of the Rabbis seems more reasonable in a case when one left with permission. The Gemara clarifies: What is meant by with permission? If we say that he left for basic sustenance, didn’t you say that all agree that it is permitted for him to cut his hair upon his return? Rather, say that it means that he left for greater profit. But didn’t you say in the first clause that the statement of Rabbi Yehuda seems more reasonable in this case? Therefore, according to Rava’s distinctions, there is an internal contradiction within the baraita.

The Gemara resolves the difficulty: This is what Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi is saying: The statement of Rabbi Yehuda seems more reasonable to the Rabbis in the case where one left without permission. And what is meant by without permission? It means a case where one left to travel, as even the Rabbis disagree with Rabbi Yehuda only when one left for greater profit, but when one left to travel they agree with Rabbi Yehuda that it is prohibited for one to shave and cut his hair. And the statement of the Rabbis seems more convincing to Rabbi Yehuda in the case where one left with permission. And what is meant by with permission? It is a case where one left for basic sustenance, as even Rabbi Yehuda disagrees with the Rabbis only when one left for greater profit, but when he left for basic sustenance Rabbi Yehuda concedes to them that it is permitted for him to shave and cut his hair. Therefore, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s intent was not to decide between the opinions of the Rabbis and Rabbi Yehuda but to clarify their dispute.

§ Shmuel said: If a baby was born on a Festival and he has long hair that is bothering him, it is permitted to cut his hair on the intermediate days of the Festival, as there is no greater prison than this, the womb of his mother, due to which his hair could not have been cut prior to the Festival. A precise reading of Shmuel’s statement indicates that if the child was born on the Festival, yes, his hair may be cut. However, if he was born before the Festival, but for some reason his hair was not cut, no, it is not permitted to cut it on the intermediate days of the Festival because there was time to do so before the Festival.

Rav Pineḥas raised an objection from that which is taught in a baraita: All of those about whom the Sages said: It is permitted to shave and cut his hair on the intermediate days of the Festival, it is also permitted to shave and cut his hair during the days of his mourning. But from this it follows that one who is prohibited from shaving and cutting his hair on the intermediate days of a Festival is also prohibited from shaving and cutting his hair during the days of his mourning.

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
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