Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna, by D. A. Sola and M. J. Raphall, , at sacred-texts.com
§ 1. What is the order of the [seven last] fast-days? The ark containing the rolls of the law is to be brought in an open place of the city; ashes of burnt [substances] are to be strewed on the heads of the [נשיא] prince, and of the chief of the tribunal of justice, and other persons shall also put ashes on their heads; the eldest among them shall then address them in heart-moving terms: "My brethren, consider that it is not written in respect to [the repentance of] the Ninevites, that God regarded their having wrapped themselves in sackcloth, and considered their fast-days, but that 'God saw their acts, and that they had turned from their evil ways' (Jonah iii. 10), and the tradition of the prophets also is, 'Tear your hearts, and not your garments' (Joel ii. 13)."
§ 2. When they have stood up to pray, they shall place at the reading-desk to minister an old experienced person, who has children, and whose house or family is free [from transgression], so that his mind may be entirely devoted to his prayer: he shall say twenty-four blessings, namely, the eighteen blessings of the daily prayer [Amidah], to which he shall add six more.
§ 3. Which are as follows:—texts of זכרונות and שופרות 1 [the Psalms cxx., cxxi., cxxx., and cii.), "In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he answered me," &c., "I raise my eyes unto the hills," &c., "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord," &c., "A prayer for the afflicted when he is overwhelmed," &c. R. Jehudah says it was not necessary to mention the זכרונות and שופרות, but the following passages instead are to he read, "When there is famine in the land, when there is pestilence in the land," &c. (1 Kings viii. 37), and, "The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth," &c. (Jer. xiv.), the concluding blessing is then added to each.
§ 4: To the first blessing 2 he shall say [in addition], "May he who answered Abraham on Mount Moriah answer you, and listen to your [petition and] cry on this day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, Redeemer of Israel!" To the second he shall say, "May he who answered our ancestors on the Red Sea answer you, and listen favourably this day to your cry. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who rememberest all things forgotten [by man]!" To the third he shall say, "May he who answered Joshua in Gilgal answer you, and listen [favourably] this day to your cry. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who deignest to listen to the sound of the shophar!" To the fourth he shall say, "May he who answered Samuel in Mizpah answer you, and listen [favourably] to your cry on this day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hearkenest to [our] cry!" To the fifth he shall say, "May he who answered Elijah on Mount Carmel answer you, and listen [favourably] to your cry on this day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hearkenest to prayer!" To the sixth he shall say, "May he who answered Jonah in the entrails of the fish answer you, and listen [favourably] to your cry on this day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who answerest in the time of distress!" To the seventh 3 he shall say, "May he who answered David, and his son Solomon, in Jerusalem answer you, and listen [favourably] to your cry on this day. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hast compassion on the earth!"
§ 5. It happened in the times of R. Halaphta and R. Hanina, son of Teradion, that a minister advanced to the reading-desk and finished the whole of the blessing without any [of the congregation] answering thereupon, "Amen:" 4 [a minister called], "Sound, O priests! sound!" [the minister who said the prayers continued], "May he who answered our father Abraham on Mount Moriah answer you, and listen [favourably] to your prayer this day:" [a minister called] "Sound an alarm, sons of Aaron! sound an alarm!" [the minister
who said the prayers continued], "May he who answered our ancestors on the Red Sea answer you, and listen [favourably] to your cry this day." When the sages were informed of this, they said, "This was not our custom, except at the eastern door [of the Temple], and on the Temple-mountain [Mount Moriah]."
§ 6. On the three first fasts, the priests who had the weekly watch of the Temple 5 fasted, but not the whole day; and the ministering priests did not fast at all. On the second three fasts, the priests on the weekly duty fasted the whole day; and the ministering priests fasted, but not the whole day. But on the last seven, both classes of priests fasted the whole day. Such is the opinion of R. Joshua; but the sages say, "The three first fasts were not kept by any of the said priests: on the second three, the priests who had the weekly duty used to fast, but not the whole day; and the officiating priests did not fast at all. On the last seven, the priests on the weekly duty fasted the whole day; and the officiating priests fasted, but not the whole day."
§ 7. The priests on the weekly duty may drink wine at night, but not during the day; 6 the officiating priests may not drink it either by day or night. The priests of the weekly watch, and the standing men 7 are prohibited from shaving their beards, and washing their clothes; but, on Thursday, 8 they are allowed to do so, in honour of the [approaching] Sabbath.
§ 8. Wherever it is mentioned in "The Roll of Fasts," 9 that "no lamentation and mourning is to be made" on certain days, it is also prohibited to do so on the day preceding, but allowed on the day following them; but R. José says, "It is prohibited to do so on the
day preceding, and on the day following; where it is said, that 'no fasts are to be kept thereon,' it is allowed to fast on the day preceding and following days." R. José says, "It is prohibited on the preceding, but allowed on the following day."
§ 9. Public fasts are not to be ordered to commence on a Thursday, in order not to raise the price of victuals in the markets; 10 but the first fasts are to be on Monday, Thursday, and [the following] Monday; but the second three fasts may follow on Thursday, Monday, and [the following] Thursday. R. José says, "Even as the first fasts are not to be commenced on Thursday, so also are the second and last fasts not to commence on that day."
§ 10. Public fasts are not to be ordered to take place on the feast of new moon, nor on that of dedication and of lots [pureem]; but if the fast has been already commenced thereon, it need not be broken. Such is the opinion of Rabbon Gamaliel. R. Meir says, "Although Rabbon Gamaliel has said that the fast need not be broken, he agrees that on these days they are not to fast the whole of the day; and thus is it with the [fast of the] ninth of Ab, when it happens on a Friday." 11
170:1 Texts relating to the kind remembrance of God to his creatures, and those in which the sounding of the shophar is mentioned; the texts of this kind which are read in the מוסף of ראש השנה, are also to be used on this occasion.
171:2 Commencing ראה נא בענינו, which although not the first in the Amidah, is the first in which the interpolations of the additional part are introduced.
171:3 Although but six additional blessings are to be said on these fast-days, yet this is called the seventh, in respect to its being the seventh blessing in which additional matter is introduced; for the first blessing ending גואל ישראל, "Redeemer of Israel," is one of the eighteen blessings of the daily Amidah.
171:4 They answered instead, ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד, "Blessed be the name of the glory of his kingdom for ever and ever," which was the response made in the Temple, where alone the sacred name was pronounced.
172:5 The priests were divided into twenty-four משמרות, each of which ministered a week in the Temple; each משמרה was again subdivided into seven בתי אבות, each בית אב officiating on a day in the week, in their regular turn. The בית אב, being thus the active and officiating priests, have permission to fast on only part of the day, that they may be fit for their holy ministration.
172:6 This does not relate to the fasts; but general regulations are here stated.
172:7 A number of Israelites attended at every public sacrifice, as representatives of the general body of the nation, to pray that the sacrifice offered for the nation might be favourably accepted; they are called אנשי מעמד, standing men, because they stood near the priests during the sacrifice.
172:8 In order to compel their to come to the Temple clean.
172:9 There was a book so called, in which all remarkable days were enumerated. From extracts given in the Mishna, it appears that this book, or roll, was written in Chaldee.
173:10 The price of food would rise considerably in the markets, when the sellers conjectured that the accounts received by the Sanhedrin of the existing and probable future distress of the country, through the want of rain, was so serious, as to induce them to order a general fast so near the Sabbath. Another reason why it should not commence on a Thursday is, that this fear of dearth by the sellers, or the advantage they might take of this circumstance, would be increased by an additional demand for food, as the people would have to provide themselves for the evening of the fast, and for that on the following Sabbath.
173:11 This cannot happen at present, but might formerly, when the Sanhedrin fixed the day of the Feast of New Moon by the evidence of witnesses who had seen it.