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Study and Theory/
Tisha B'Av

Don't Make a Decree With Which the Public Can't Comply

Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin Tractate, 104 (from the Sefer Ha’Aggadah/ Bialik and Rabinetzky)

Listen gentlemen: When the Second Temple was destroyed there were many interpretations in Israel, not to eat meat and not to drink wine. Rabbi Yehoshua attacked them and said:

My sons, why are you not eating meat and not drinking wine?

They said to him: Shall we eat meat that is sacrificed on the altar that has now been destroyed?

And shall we drink wine which anointed the altar which has now been destroyed?

He said to them: If this is the case, do not eat bread, as the grain offerings have been destroyed, you could eat fruit….

Do not eat fruit, because the harvest has been destroyed, you could eat other fruit….

Do not drink water, because anointment with water has been cancelled.

They were silent.

He said to them: My sons, let me tell you: do not mourn at all, it is impossible, the decree has already been decreed; and to mourn too much is impossible, because a decree can only be decreed on the public if the majority of the public can comply with it, and thus said the sages:

Man whitewashes his house with whitewash and a little remains: man makes all that he needs for his meal and leaves a little; and woman makes all her jewellery and leaves a little, saying: “If I forget thee O Jerusalem may my right hand forget its skill, let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,

And anyone who mourns Jerusalem will be rewarded and see its joy, saying “Be joyful with Jerusalem…..all those mourning it should rejoice in its joy”.

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