In ta’anis (1:5-7) the Mishnayos discuss how and when to fast for rain in a drought, for example:

הִגִּיעַ רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ כִּסְלֵו וְלֹא יָרְדוּ גְשָׁמִים, בֵּית דִּין גּוֹזְרִין שָׁלשׁ תַּעֲנִיוֹת עַל הַצִּבּוּר.: עָבְרוּ אֵלּוּ וְלֹא נַעֲנוּ, בֵּית דִּין גּוֹזְרִין שָׁלשׁ תַּעֲנִיּוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת עַל הַצִּבּוּר.

If kislev comes, and rain hasn’t fallen, beis din declares 3 fasts (Monday, Thursday, Monday) on the nation... If those pass and weren’t answered (with rain) beis din declares another 3 fasts on the nation...

How did beis din know when enough time had passed for it to be considered unanswered? Was there a set amount of time that they waited, or did each beis din decide for itself when enough time had passed?


2 Answers 2


Read it carefully and also read Mishna 2:9.

They declare batches of Monday-Thursday-Monday fasts.

If it rains, then they immediately stop the Monday-Thursday-Monday fasting and do the "thanksgiving ceremony" described in Mishna 3:9.

If, after the current Monday-Thursday-Monday batch it hasn't rained, then they immediately declare the next batch of Monday-Thursday-Monday fasts. (See Mishna 2:9 for the dispute as to whether we start the next batch as Monday-Thursday-Monday or sooner as Thursday-Monday-Thursday.)

Mishna 2:9:

אֵין גּוֹזְרִין תַּעֲנִית עַל הַצִּבּוּר בַּתְּחִלָּה בַּחֲמִישִׁי, שֶׁלֹּא לְהַפְקִיעַ הַשְּׁעָרִים, אֶלָּא שָׁלשׁ תַּעֲנִיּוֹת הָרִאשׁוֹנוֹת שֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי וְשֵׁנִי, וְשָׁלשׁ שְׁנִיּוֹת חֲמִישִׁי שֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאֵין הָרִאשׁוֹנוֹת בַּחֲמִישִׁי, כָּךְ לֹא שְׁנִיּוֹת וְלֹא אַחֲרוֹנוֹת. ‏

  • It might be that they wait two weeks (until after the Monday of the second week) [for example] and start that Thursday according to the tana Kama, or that Monday according to rabbi yosei.
    – Lo ani
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 14:48
  • 1
    @Loani - no way - if they are starting on a Thursday then it's immediate, as you'll discover if you learn the Mishna properly. Otherwise, they wouldn't start on a Thursday. Regarding starting on a Monday I can understand that it may take time for Bet Din to decide... but it doesn't seem so from the Mishna. Also, you run out of time if you wait so long - as you'll discover in the following Mishnayot. (You only have about 4 months for all the fasts mentioned. that's 16 weeks, unless it's a leap year.) Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 8:21
  • Shcoemann why can’t it mean that they start the following Thursday? The machlokes could be whether they can wait only 1-1/2 weeks to the next Thursday, or must wait 2 weeks to the second Monday. As for running out of time: if we go by a 2 week wait period, we have 1-1/2 weeks fast+ 2 weeks wait+ 1-1/2 weeks fast+ 2 weeks wait+ 3-1/2 weeks fast (kehati says explicitly that the last 7 fasts were in a row)= 10-1/2 weeks, leaving more than a month extra.
    – Lo ani
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 8:31

Tosafot Yom Tov Ta'anit 2:9

ובאמת שאין הכרע מדברי המשנה והפוסקים שיש הפסק ביניהם דהא לא תנן אלא עברו אלו ולא נענו דמשמע מיד שעברו ולא נענו גוזרים כו'. אלא דסברא הוא דמסתמא ממתינין קצת ומצפין לתשועה.

In truth, there is no way of telling from the Mishnah or the poskim that there would be a break between them [the two sets of three fasts], as all that is taught is, "If these fast days passed without answer", which implies that immediately following the fast days, if they were not answered, they would decree [further fasts]. However, it seems logical that they would wait a little and hope for salvation [before declaring further fasts].

  • This probably just means they'd wait a few hours into Tuesday before declaring Thursday's fast. There is no reason to think that the sequence of Monday-Thursday was interrupted.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 11:33
  • @DoubleAA I don't think that that is what he's saying. He's trying to explain Beit Yosef on OC 572: לא בא להתיר להתענו' בתעניו' שניו' ואחרונות ה' וב' וה' דמאחר שיש הפסק זמן בין תעניו' אלו לאלו אין העולם זוכרים שהוא בשביל התעני' ושיוך ביה טעמא דהפקע' שערים
    – Joel K
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 12:01

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