(R. Nachman bar Yitzchak): Not everyone merits light, and not everyone merits joy;
Tzadikim merit light, and Yesharim (the straight of heart) merit joy.
MISHNAH: THE ORDER OF THE FAST DAY
The order of the fast day is that they would place the Aron in the streets, and put ashes on it.
They would also put ashes on the head of the Nasi and the Av Beis Din, and then everyone would put ashes on their own heads.
The eldest present would deliver a moving speech about how Ninveh was saved not through fasting, but through sincere repentance.
They would then be led in prayer by someone old, practiced, having children, and poor, so that he can pray with a full heart.
He would say twenty-four Berachos; the usual eighteen, plus an additional six (as discussed).
He would conclude the Berachos by respectively blessing Hash-m for having answered Avraham at Har ha'Moriah, the Bnei Yisrael at the Yam Suf, Yehoshua at Gilgal. Shmuel at Mitzpah, Eliyahu at Har ha'Carmel, Yonah in the fish, and David and Shlomo.
There was a case when the people did not respond with "Amen"; instead, there was a call to blow Shofar.
The Chachamim responded that the custom was to do that only in Shaar ha'Mizrach and Har ha'Bayis.
MISHNAH: THE MISHMAROS AND THE BATEI AVOS
For the first three fasts, the men of the Mishmar would fast but not all day, and the men of the Beis Av would not fast at all.
For the second three fasts, the men of the Mishmar would fast all day, and the men of the Beis Av would fast but not all day.
For the last seven fasts, they would both fast all day.
For the first three fasts, neither group would fast at all.
For the second three fasts, the men of the Mishmar would fast but not all day, and the men of the Beis Av would not fast at all.
For the last seven fasts, the men of the Mishmar would fast all day, and the men of the Beis Av would fast but not all day.
The men of the Mishmar may drink wine by night but not by day; the men of the Beis Av may not drink wine at all.
Both groups are forbidden to have haircuts or wash clothes, except on Thursday because of Shabbos.
MISHNAH: MEGILAS TA'ANIS
Any day mentioned in Megilas Ta'anis as being forbidden for eulogies is likewise forbidden on the preceding day, but not on the following day.
(R. Yosi): It is forbidden on both the preceding and following day.
Any day mentioned in Megilas Ta'anis as being forbidden for fasting is permitted on both the preceding and following day.
(R. Yosi): It is forbidden on the preceding day, but not on the following day.
MISHNAH: FASTS CONFLICTING WITH FESTIVALS
We do not decree an initial series of fasts beginning on Thursday, as it will drive food-prices up; instead, the first series of three fasts runs Monday-Thursday-Monday, and the second runs Thursday-Monday-Thursday.
(R. Yosi): Just as the first series cannot begin on a Monday, the same is true for the second and third series.
(Raban Gamliel): Fasts are not decreed upon the community on Rosh Chodesh, Chanukah or Purim; but if a series of fasts had already begun, it is not stopped.
(R. Meir): Even though the fasts are not stopped, R. Gamliel agrees that one does not fast all day.
The same applies to Tish'ah b'Av that fell on Erev Shabbos.
THE ARON HA'KODESH DURING THE FASTS
The Mishnah said that the Aron is placed on the street, presumably even on the first fasts.
Question: A Beraisa states otherwise:
For the first two sets of fasts, everyone would gather in Shul to pray.
For the last set of seven fasts, the Aron would be taken into the street, and dust was placed on it and on people's heads.
(R. Nosson): They would use ashes.
Answer: The Mishnah is only referring to the last set of fasts.
The Mishnah said that first ashes were placed on the heads of the Nasi and the Av Beis Din, and then everyone would place ashes on their own heads.
Question: The order should be the reverse, as we find in a Beraisa:
(Rebbi): With great things, we begin with the greatest, as we find that Moshe spoke to Aharon before his sons.
With matters of punishment, we begin with the lowliest, as we find that first the snake was cursed, then Chavah, then Adam.
Answer: This is a matter of greatness for them; we are telling them that they are sufficiently great to pray on behalf of the community.
Question: Why do the Nasi and the Av Beis Din have other people place the ashes on their heads?
Answer: Someone who shames himself does not compare to someone who is shamed by others.
Question: Where are the ashes placed?
Answer: On the place of the Tefillin, as the Pasuk speaks of replacing the Efer, ashes, with the Pe'er - Tefillin.