THE NATURE OF A TORAH SCHOLAR
(Rava): If a young Torah scholar is hot-tempered, it is the Torah which boils within him, as we see from a Pasuk which refers to the Torah as fire.
(R. Ashi): Any Torah scholar who is not as hard as iron is not a true Torah scholar, as a Pasuk refers to the Torah as a hammer smashing rocks.
(R. Aba): We derive this instead from a Pasuk speaking of the Avneha which are iron - it is not read as Avneha (stones) but Boneha, builders.
(Ravina): Even so, they should conduct themselves softly, as the Torah tells us to avoid anger.
Three people asked for things inappropriately; two were answered appropriately, and one was answered inappropriately:
Eliezer said that he would pick the first girl to give him water - it could have been someone lame or blind, but it turned out to be Rivkah.
Shaul promised wealth and his daughter to whoever would kill Goliath - it might have been a slave or mamzer, but it turned out to be David.
Yiftach said that he would bring as a Korban whatever would come out of his house first - it might have been something Tamei, and it turned out to be his daughter.
The prophet bemoans that he did not go to have his oath annuled.
A Pasuk speaks of that which Hash-m "did not command, did not speak of, and did not think of."
"Did not command" refers to the son of Misha king of Moav, who was brought as a Korban
"Did not speak of" refers to Yiftach.
"Did not think of" refers to bringing Yitzchak as a Korban.
(R. Birchiya): The Jewish People also asked for something inappropriately, and were answered appropriately.
They asked that Hash-m should be as the rain for them, and Hash-m said that since rain is not always desirable, He will be as dew instead.
They also asked that they be as a seal on Hash-m's heart and arm; He said that since these are not always visible, they shall be on His palms instead.
ASKING FOR RAIN
The Mishnah said that we only ask for rain close to the time of rain.
Assuming that asking for rain and mentioning it are the same thing, who does this follow?
(Rava): It follows R. Yehoshua, who said that we mention the rain from when the Lulav is put away.
(Abaye): Even R. Eliezer could agree to this; asking for rain is different from mentioning it.
In some versions, this is phrased as a question that it can only follow R. Yehoshua, and an answer that it could even follow R. Eliezer.
WHEN TO STOP ASKING FOR RAIN
R. Yehudah said that on the first day of Pesach, the Shali'ach Tzibur of Shacharis mentions rain, but not that of Musaf.
Question: We see otherwise in a Beraisa:
(R. Yehudah): We ask for rain until Pesach has passed.
(R. Meir): We ask for it until the end of Nisan.
Answer (R. Chisda): Mentioning it stops on the first day of Pesach, but asking for it continues.
Objection (Ulla): That is problematic - if we mention rain at times when we cannot ask for it, we should certainly mention it at times when we can!
Alternate answer (Ulla): It is a dispute between Tannaim as to R. Yehudah's opinion; each holds consistently regarding mentioning it and asking for it.
Alternate answer (R. Yosef): When R. Yehudah said that we ask for rain until Pesach has passed, he meant until the Shali'ach Tzibur of Shacharis on the first day has concluded.
Question (Abaye): Surely we do not say the Amidah which contains requests on Yom Tov!
Answer (R. Yosef): The person delivering the Derashah mentioned the request.
Question: But it would be inappropraiate to ask for it at this time!
Ulla's answer must therefore be the correct one.
Alternate answer (Rabah): "Until Pesach has passed" means until the time for slaughtering the Korban Pesach has passed (midday on the fourteenth):
Just as he begins by mentioning rain (on the last day of Sukos) and not asking for it (until the next day), so too he concludes by mentioning rain (until Musaf of the first day of Pesach) and not asking for it (which ended on the previous morning).
Question (Abaye): At the beginning, it makes sense to mention it without asking for it, as mentioning it sets the tone for the future request; but what purpose would it serve at the end?
Ulla's answer must therefore be the correct one.
WHEN TO BEGIN MENTIONING RAIN
(R. Asi, citing R. Yochanan): The Halachah follows R. Yehudah (that on the last day of Sukos, the Shali'ach Tzibur for Musaf mentions rain, but not that of Shacharis).
Question (R. Zeira): We see that we begin asking for rain at a later time:
(Mishnah): We begin asking for rain on the third of Cheshvan.
(R. Gamliel): We begin on the seventh.
(R. Elazar): The Halachah follows R. Gamliel.
Answer (R Asi): You cannot ask a question from R. Gamliel's view to R. Yochanan's view.
Alternate answer: R. Yochanan was speaking about mentioning it, while R. Gamliel was speaking about asking for it.
Question: Surely R. Yochanan said that mentioning rain follows when we ask for it?
Answer: That referred to stopping them both at the same time.
Question: R. Yochanan said that they also begin together!?
New answer: R. Gamliel was referring to Bavel (who still have produce in the fields until the end of Tishrei), while R. Yochanan was referring to Eretz Yisrael.
Question: Just as Bavel has produce in the fields, Eretz Yisrael has pilgrims from Yom Tov, so they should also begin asking for rain later?
Answer: R. Yochanan was referring to periods when there is no Beis ha'Mikdash.
Alternate answer: We can now also resolve the original difficulty by saying that R. Gamliel was referring to Eretz Yisrael at the time of the Beis ha'Mikdash, and R. Yochanan was referring to it when there was no Beis ha'Mikdash.
ASKING FOR RAIN NOWADAYS
Question: When should we, who have two days of Safek Yom Tov, begin asking for rain?
Answer (Rav): We mention it on the seventh day of Sukos at Musaf, then we do not mention it again until the Musaf of the eighth day.
Question (Shmuel): After mentioning it on the seventh day at Musaf, thereby showing it to be Yom Tov, how can we then revoke that by not mentioning it at Minchah?
Answer (Shmuel): We mention it at Musaf and Minchah on the seventh day, then we do not mention it again until Musaf of the eighth day.
(Rava and R. Sheshes): Once we have started mentioning it, we do not stop.
Rav also came around to this view, as he said that one counts twenty-one days from Rosh Hashanah until the seventh day of Sukos and then begins to mention it, and once one has started, one doesn't stop.
The Halachah is that once we have started mentioning it, we do not stop.