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Treatise VIII. Fasting Chapter II, The Talmud

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The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, [1878] 1. "What is the order of the fast-days?" "Men draw out the ark containing the rolls of the Law to the public street of the city, and they put burnt ashes on the top of the ark, and on the head of the prince, and on the head of the president of the tribunal, and every one takes and puts ashes on his own head." The most aged of them says before them touching words, "Brethren, it is not said for the men of Nineveh, 'And God saw their sackcloth and their fasting,' 1 but 'God saw their works, that they returned from their evil way.' And in the tradition (of the prophet) he says 2 'Rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God.'" 2. When they stood in prayer, they placed before the ark an aged man and full of experience, one who had children and an unblemished house, that his heart be not distracted in prayer, and he says before them twenty-four blessings, the usual eighteen for every day, and he adds to them six more. 3 These are they, "remembrances," 3 and "blowing of the trumpets," 3 "In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me," 4 "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills," 5 "out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord," 6 "A prayer of the afflicted when he is overwhelmed." 7 Rabbi Judah says, "it was not necessary to say the 'remembrances,' and 'the trumpets,' but he said instead of them, 'If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence,'" 8 etc. "The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth." 9 And he said their closing benediction. 4. For the first additional prayer he said, "He who answered Abraham our father on Mount Moriah, He shall answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, the Redeemer of Israel." For the second he said, "He who answered our fathers by the Red sea, He will answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who rememberest those forgotten by man." For the third he said, "He who answered Joshua in Gilgal, He will answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who hearest the blowing of the trumpet." For the fourth he said, "He who answered Samuel in Mizpah, He will answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who hearest the cry of distress." For the fifth he said, "He who answered Elijah on Mount Carmel, He will answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who hearest prayer." For the sixth he said, "He who answered Jonah from the fish's belly, He will answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who art ever answering prayer in the time of need." For the seventh he said, "He who answered David and Solomon his son in Jerusalem, He will answer you, and will hear the voice of your cry this day. Blessed be Thou, Lord, who hast pity on the earth." 5. It happened in the days of Rabbi Chelpatha and R. Chanania, son of Teradion, that a minister passed before the ark, and finished the whole blessing, and the congregation did not answer after him, Amen. One cried out, "Let the priests blow the trumpets;" they blew. (The minister prayed), "May He who answered Abraham our Father on Mount Moriah answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day." (One cried out), "Let the sons of Aaron blow an alarm;" they blew an alarm. (The minister prayed), "May He who answered our fathers by the Red Sea, answer you, and hear the voice of your cry this day." And when the matter came before the Sages they said it was not customary to do so, save in the Eastern gate and on the Mountain of the House. 6. These are the first three fasts. The priests of the weekly Watch of the Temple fasted, but not completely. And the priests of their "Father's House" 1 did not fast at all. [paragraph continues] In the second three fasts the men of the Watch fasted completely. And the men of their "Father's House" fasted, but not completely. "In the seven last fasts both of them fasted completely." The words of Rabbi Joshua. But the Sages say, "in the three first fasts neither one nor other fasted at all. In the second three fasts the priests of the Watch fasted, but not completely. And the priests of their 'Father's House' did not fast at all. In the seven last fasts the priests of the Watch fasted completely, and the priests of their Father's House' fasted, but not completely." 7. The men of the Watch are allowed to drink wine by night, but not by day, and the men who inherit the patrimony of their fathers 1 may not drink it neither by day nor night. The men of the Watch and the Delegates 2 are not allowed to shave, nor wash, except on Thursdays for the honour of the approaching Sabbath. 8. That which is written in "The Roll of Fasting," 3 "not to mourn" on certain days—the day before them it is not allowed—the day after them it is allowed to mourn. Rabbi José said, "both before and after the day it is not allowed." But when it is written, "not to fast," both the day before and the day after the fast, it is allowed to fast. Rabbi José said, "before the fast it is not allowed—after the fast it is allowed." 9. The rulers must not proclaim fasts for the congregation to begin on Thursday, so as not to raise the market. But the three first fasts are Monday, Thursday, and Monday. And the three second, Thursday, Monday, and Thursday. Rabbi José said, "as the first fasts are not to begin on Thursday, so likewise the second and the last are not to begin on that day." 10. "The rulers must not proclaim fasting for the congregation on the feast of New Moon, and on the feasts of Dedication, and Purim; but if they have already begun, they need not cease." The words of Rabbi Gamaliel. Said R. Meier, "even though Rabbi Gamaliel said they need not cease, he admits that the congregation do not fast the whole day; and so also on the ninth of Ab, the fast for the burning of the temple, if it happen on the eve of the Sabbath." 160:1 Jonah iii. 10. 160:2 Joel ii. 13. 160:3 Prayers for the New Year. 160:4 Psalm cxx. i. 160:5 Psalm cxxi. i. 160:6 Psalm cxxx. 160:7 Psalm cii. 160:8 1 Kings viii. 37. 160:9 Jer. xiv. i. 161:1 Some understand the priests ministering in their course, others explain this expression by Deut. xviii. 8. The priests were divided into twenty-four Watches. Each Watch ministered for a week in the Temple. These Watches were again subdivided into seven "Father's Houses," and each "Father's House" officiated for a day in the Temple. A dispensation from fasting was granted to the priests on duty, that they might not be weak hi the service of the Sanctuary. 162:1 This means the officiating priests. 162:2 The delegates were the representatives of the congregation, who attended at the public sacrifices, and prayed on their behalf. 162:3 This was a book written in Chaldee, as is proved by the quotations from it.

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1 Ahmed M = "Nineveh is an ancient Mesopotamian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire."
2 Ahmed M = "It was the largest city in the world for some fifty years until, after a bitter period of civil war in Assyria itself, it was sacked by an unusual coalition of former subject peoples. "
3 Ahmed M = "Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq."