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This is a Tosfos from Megilah 5b which is talking about lessening the different type of work(s) of simcha on Purim. However, I'm a bit troubled on understanding the last 6 words. What does Tosfos mean? Does he mean that Building is the best business to go into?

ממעטין במשא ומתן. פי' של שמחה דומיא דבנין ונטיעה דבסמוך אבל שאר בנינים שרו ואין לך משא ומתן גדול מזה:‏

  • Tosfos is saying that there isn't any greater business than "other building",The question is what is the "other building " referring to. – sam Mar 4 at 19:34
  • @Sam “Other building” as opposed to binyan shel simcha – Joel K Mar 4 at 19:48
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My understanding of this is as follows:

The Talmud here is citing a Mishnah in Ta'anit (12b) which discusses the progression of fasts when there is a lack of rain:

עברו אלו ולא נענו ממעטין במשא ומתן בבנין ובנטיעה באירוסין ובנישואין ובשאילת שלום בין אדם לחבירו כבני אדם הנזופין למקום

IF THESE PASSED AND THERE WAS [STILL] NO ANSWER TO THEIR PRAYERS THEN BUSINESS IS RESTRICTED AS ALSO IS BUILDING, PLANTING, BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE; AND MEN GREET ONE ANOTHER AS PEOPLE LABOURING UNDER DIVINE DISPLEASURE. (Soncino translation; capitals in original)

In its interpretation of the Mishnah, the Talmud there (14b) cites a Beraita to define the parameters of the ban on business and planting:

תנא בבנין בנין של שמחה נטיעה נטיעה של שמחה אי זהו בנין של שמחה זה הבונה בית חתנות לבנו אי זו היא נטיעה של שמחה זה הנוטע אבוורנקי של מלכים

It has been taught: By BUILDING [is to be understood] building for joyous purposes, and by PLANTING planting for joyous purposes. What is ‘building’ for joyous purposes? — Building a house for the marriage-feast of one's own son. What is ‘planting’ for joyous purposes? When one erects a royal banqueting hall. (Soncino translation)

Tosafot back in Megillah picks up on the fact that though the Mishnah forbids business, building, and planting, the Beraita only defines the parameters for building and planting. The Beraita does not tell us anything about the parameters of the ban on business.

To this, Tosafot begins by asserting that the ban on business mirrors the ban on building and planting, meaning that only "joyous" business is forbidden just as only joyous building and joyous planting is forbidden. Tosafot then seeks to prove this assertion. The proof is that if in fact all business was forbidden (and not just joyous business) then building itself would be forbidden, because building is the paradigmatic example of business (אין משא ומתן גדולה מזה). But since the Beraita explicitly stated that only joyous building is forbidden, all other building is perforce permitted. Since all other building is necessarily business it is thus demonstrable that regular business is permitted (as long as it is not joyous).

Tosafot is not giving us advice about what line of business to go into; Tosafot is simply trying to prove that regular business is permitted even when the Mishnah states simply that business is forbidden.

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Tosfos on Megillah 5b ד"ה ממעטין במשא ומתן seems to be saying we forbid only building which is of simcha.
As translated by dafyomi.co.il:

פי' של שמחה דומיא דבנין ונטיעה דבסמוך

[We diminished business] of Simchah, just like the building and planting below.

Tosfos then continues:

אבל שאר בנינים שרו ואין לך משא ומתן גדול מזה

Other building is permitted, as there is no business greater than this.

I don't think this Tosfos phrasing of "there is no business greater than this" should be read in a "Wow! Building is great!" type of endorsement language.

I think that line should be read as: can't build a marriage canopy, but CAN build other things because "there is no business greater than this" ie there's nothing that smacks more of being just regular business as usual than this.

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