1) PERSONAL CONDUCT DURING TIMES OF FAMINE
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that marital relations are prohibited during times of famine, as derived from the conduct of Yosef during the famine in Mitzrayim.
If marital relations are prohibited during a time of famine, how was Yocheved conceived? Yocheved was born to Levi when the family of Yakov descended from Eretz Yisrael to Mitzrayim (as Rashi points out in Bereishis 46:26), which was two years into the famine. (TOSFOS)
(a) TOSFOS answers that the Gemara's statement is not law, but preferable behavior. Refraining from marital relations during times of famine is "Midas Chasidus" and is not obligatory. (According to the CHIDA in EIN ZOCHER (Erech "Asur"), Tosfos understands that the word "Asur" in the Gemara means only Midas Chasidus. According to the MAHARSHA here, Tosfos means that only for Yosef the prohibition of marital relations was Midas Chasidus, because he did not yet have a daughter and thus had not yet fulfilled the Mitzvah of Piryah v'Rivyah.) Levi and his wife did not practice this Midas Chasidus. (The RA'AVAD writes in Sha'ar ha'Kedushah that before the Torah was given, the Avos and their children did not observe practices of Midas Chasidus, but only the actual Mitzvos.)
The OR HA'CHAIM (Bereishis 41:50) questions this approach. The verse explicitly refers to Levi as "Ish Chasidecha" (Devarim 33:8), implying that he did conduct himself with Midas Chasidus.
(b) The DA'AS ZEKENIM (Bereishis 41:50) quotes RABEINU YEHUDAH HE'CHASID who explains that marital relations are prohibited only when one knows, from a Navi's prophecy, that the famine will continue. Yosef was aware of the prophecy that was expressed in the dream of Pharaoh, and thus he knew that the famine would continue. Levi did not know the prophecy, and therefore he was permitted to engage in marital relations.
Apparently, Rabeinu Yehudah he'Chasid understands that the reason for the prohibition is to preserve the limited resources available during times of famine. Accordingly, the prohibition applies only if the child will be born during the famine and necessitate the consumption (either by him or by his mother) of more food.
(c) The MIZRACHI and the OR HA'CHAIM answer that the prohibition against marital relations during times of famine does not apply to a couple which has no children, as the Gemara here says. The reason presumably is because their obligation to fulfill the Mitzvah of Piryah v'Rivyah overrides the prohibition against marital relations during times of famine. Although Levi had boys, he had no girls, and thus he had not yet fulfilled the Mitzvah of Piryah v'Rivyah.
However, Yosef also had no daughters. Why, then, did Yosef refrain from marital relations while Levi did not? (See OR HA'CHAIM.)
The DA'AS ZEKENIM, who also gives this answer, explains why Yosef acted differently from Levi even though they both had only boys. Yosef maintained that one fulfills the Mitzvah of Piryah v'Rivyah with two male children. Levi, on the other hand, maintained that one fulfills the Mitzvah only when he has at least one boy and one girl (both of these opinions are discussed in Yevamos 62a). Therefore, Levi maintained that he was included in the category of those who are permitted to engage in marital relations during a famine, while Yosef maintained that he was not included in that category.
(d) The RITVA here, as well as the CHIZKUNI and OR HA'CHAIM in Parshas Vayigash, suggest that the reason why Levi did not refrain from marital relations during the famine was because the famine did not affect his family, which had plenty of food. Only the natives around them suffered, and there was no obligation to join in their suffering in this respect. (Although Levi knew that Yosef -- if he was still alive -- was in Mitzrayim and may have been suffering from the famine, he assumed that since Yosef was not married the rest of the family was not required to refrain from marital relations because of one member's plight.) Yosef, however, did not know that his father and brothers had food and he thought that they were suffering from the famine. Therefore, he joined them in their suffering and refrained from marital relations.
Perhaps we may suggest that even if Yosef was confident that his family had food because of the great merit of Yakov Avinu (after all, if he merited to have food himself, then certainly his father Yakov merited the same), he still separated from his wife because the Egyptians around him were suffering. Why, then, did Levi not separate from his wife out of concern for the suffering of his Canaanite neighbors? The MIZRACHI (beginning of Parshas Vayeshev) explains that when, many years earlier, Yosef reported to his father that his brothers were eating Ever Min ha'Chai (limbs from a live animal), he reported only his interpretation of their act. They were actually eating meat from an animal that had been slaughtered properly but was still kicking. An animal in such a state is permitted for a Jew to eat but is prohibited as Ever Min ha'Chai for a Ben Noach. The brothers maintained that they had the status of Jews, and therefore the animal was permissible to them. Yosef, however, maintained that they were considered Bnei Noach since the Torah had not yet been given, and thus they were forbidden to eat the animal.
Accordingly, Levi followed his own reasoning when he did not separate from his wife. He maintained that since he had the status of a Jew, he did not have to share in the suffering of the Canaanite natives around him. Yosef, on the other hand, maintained that the sons of Yakov were considered Bnei Noach. Therefore, he maintained that he was required to be concerned for the feelings of his fellow Bnei Noach (just as Noach did during the Flood; see Rashi to Bereishis 7:7). That is why Yosef separated from his wife while Levi did not. (M. KORNFELD)
2) THE DEFINITION OF A "TA'ANIS SHA'OS"
OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses whether a "Ta'anis Sha'os" is considered an actual Ta'anis and, if it is, whether or not one recites Aneinu (the prayer said on a Ta'anis) in the Shemoneh Esreh. What exactly is a Ta'anis Sha'os?
(a) RASHI understands that a Ta'anis Sha'os is simply a Ta'anis which one did not formally accept upon himself the previous day (one fasted without declaring, on the day before, a formal Kabalah to do so).
Why, though, is such a Ta'anis called a "Ta'anis Sha'os"? In what way is this Ta'anis related to "Sha'os" ("hours")?
Moreover, why does the Gemara say that when one continues to fast throughout the night which follows a Ta'anis ("Lan b'Ta'aniso"), it is not called a Ta'anis Sha'os because "he was not Mekabel it." By definition, every Ta'anis that one was not Mekabel is a Ta'anis Sha'os! Why should this type of fast without a Kabalah not be considered a Ta'anis Sha'os?
According to Rashi, the logic for why a Ta'anis which one did not accept upon himself the day before is called a "Ta'anis Sha'os" is as follows. Since one did not accept the Ta'anis the day before (but only after the arrival of nightfall), that day of fasting is not a full day of Ta'anis. It lasts only a certain number of "hours" and not a complete day, since it starts at the time he accepted it and continues until the end of the same day. In contrast, when one accepts the Ta'anis the day before, the entire day -- and not just a certain number of hours in the day -- is viewed as a "day of fasting" and not just "hours of fasting."
Even though one who accepts a Ta'anis before nightfall is permitted to eat at night and his fast does not begin until daybreak, the night is still considered part of the fast. (Rashi in Shabbos (24a) writes explicitly that one who accepts a Ta'anis the day before should recite Aneinu at night, even though he still eats and drinks at that time.) If one accepts the Ta'anis after the night begins, the entire day cannot be considered a "day of fasting" because the day itself began before he accepted the Ta'anis.
The Gemara says that when one continues to fast throughout the night after a Ta'anis ("Lan b'Ta'aniso"), this is not considered a Ta'anis Sha'os. This is because the person not only failed to accept the Ta'anis upon himself the day before, but he never accepted it upon himself at all. Only after he fasted did he express his desire to say Aneinu for his "retroactive" fast, but by then it was too late to convert his act of fasting into a formal Ta'anis.
(b) The ROSH maintains that both a Ta'anis and a Ta'anis Sha'os are the same with regard to one's acceptance (Kabalah) of the fast. One must accept upon himself the fast the day before in order for it to be considered a valid Ta'anis. The difference between the two types of fasts is that for a Ta'anis Sha'os, one accepts to fast only a certain number of hours during the day (as the term "Ta'anis Sha'os" implies). An ordinary Ta'anis is when one accepts to fast the entire day.
In the case in which the person did not accept the Ta'anis the day before but only on the day that he started to fast (albeit before the fast began), it is not considered even a Ta'anis Sha'os.
3) RECITING "ANEINU" AFTER FASTING THROUGH THE NIGHT
QUESTION: Rav Huna says that if one fasted during the day and continued to fast through the next night, he does not recite Aneinu in his Shemoneh Esreh the next day.
Why would one have thought that he should recite Aneinu on the day after his fast? RASHI (DH l'Machar) explains that one might have thought that he should say Aneinu in order to fulfill the obligation to recite Aneinu for his act of fasting of the night before. Rav Huna teaches that there is no obligation to recite Aneinu for his nighttime fast because he did not accept upon himself to fast during the night.
Why does Rashi explain that Rav Huna means that Aneinu is said retroactively for the fast of the previous night? The person presumably has not stopped fasting, and thus he should recite Aneinu during the day for the fast that he is still observing.
ANSWER: The Gemara (12a) states that the Ta'anis is considered a Ta'anis Sha'os only when one eats nothing until the end of the day. Accordingly, when one continues to fast throughout the night after a fast, he cannot say Aneinu the following day because he is going to eat before the end of the day. The night's fast does not qualify as a valid Ta'anis on which one may say Aneinu.
For this reason, the ROSH says that Rav Huna does not refer to a case in which one fasts for a single day and wants to say Aneinu on the following day before he eats. Rather, he refers to a case in which one decides, on the morning after a Ta'anis, to fast for two full consecutive days. He wants to say Aneinu after the first night and not eat again until nightfall. (KORBAN NESANEL 1:10:5)
Rashi does not accept that explanation because the Gemara uses the words "Lan b'Ta'aniso," which imply that the person had no intention to fast a second day but merely to fast during the night following his one-day fast. Therefore, Rashi explains that the prayer of Aneinu which one wants to recite during the day after his nighttime fast is for the fast that he already observed (the previous night) and not for the fast that he is observing at the time that he recites Shemoneh Esreh during the day. When the Gemara later (12a) says that one must fast until sundown, it refers to a case in which one started his fast at sunrise. Rashi understands that just as a fast from sunrise to sunset constitutes a valid Ta'anis, so, too, a fast from sunset to sunrise constitutes a valid Ta'anis. For this reason, Rashi says that one might have thought that he may recite Aneinu because of the fast of the preceding night which had a status of a Ta'anis Sha'os. In contrast, there was no reason for the Gemara to presume that one should recite Aneinu when he fasts for a short while on the next day, because he is going to eat before sundown and thus that day does not have the status of a Ta'anis. (M. KORNFELD)