and it appears to me thatthis not literal cancellation, but that thegroom and bride would be pained by hisabsence
or a mitzvah in which he ispersonally obligated, like the KorbanPesach or other sacrifices, which are notrelevant these days. According to this,such a mourner may not attend acircumcision or pidyon haben, for every mitzvah meal is joyous.
18 Sivan is Monday
Operation Markolet (also known as
, the night of thebridges) was the Haganah's last andlargest operation against Arabs andthe ruling British forces. Themission's goal was to destroy elevenbridges linking Israel to surroundingcountries
Lebanon, Syria, Jordanand Egypt. Facing increasing threatsfrom the Arab population, theHaganah took these steps to disrupttheir enemies' transportation and todiscourage Arab armies frominvolvement in the conflict.
Months in advance, Haganahintelligence agents surveyed theirtargets. Masquerading as touristsand nature observers, they photographed and examined thebridges, determining how they wouldattack and make their escape. Whenthe night of the operation came, theHaganah also organized a largenumber of smaller operations toconfuse British forces and divertattention from their primary mission.
The mission was, for the most part,accomplished. Nine of the bridgeswere successfully laid with explosivesand destroyed. The two bridges of Nahal Akhziv in Lebanon remained,because the Haganah forces therewere discovered; the group sufferedfourteen casualties and five injuries.
The mission's impact was feltquickly. In addition to stemming theinfluence of surrounding Arabcountries in the conflict, theHaganah's actions dealt a heavy blowto the ruling British forces. Thedestruction cost the Britishfinancially, and severely damagedtheir reputation as a powerful andcontrolling force in the region. Torestore some sense of control, theBritish responded heavily a few dayslater, with curfews and extensivepolice and military operations in Jewish neighborhoods. Known as
(BlackShabbat), British forces arrestedsome 2,700 members of Jewishforces, including Haganah leaders,and discovered many arms caches.From that point on, the Haganahbegan to minimize their anti-Britishoperations, but Operation Markoletwas still seen largely as a success.
Rabbi Yechiel Michel HaLevi Epsteinwas born in 1829 to a family of wealthy army contractors who serviced the
Czar’s army, in Belarus. He married the
sister of Rabbi Naftali Tzvi YehudaBerlin, the Netziv.Rabbi Epstein was the rav of Novozypkov and then Novardok, from1854 until his passing. He was well-respected by both chasidim andmitnagdim, and figures as diverse asRav Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor, RavYehoshua Leib Diskin and the Tzchernobyler Rebbe wrote haskamot(letters of approbation) for his works.Rabbi Epstein wrote prolifically; hiswritings include derashot, commentary to Talmud Yerushalmi, commentary tothe Haggadah, teshuvot and his mostfamous work, the Aruch haShulchan.In the Aruch haShulchan, RabbiEpstein reverse-engineered theShulchan Aruch, tracing each halachahback to its earliest sources. Three smallmanuscript sections are missing, but itcovers the entire breadth of theShulchan Aruch. In addition, his Aruch
haShulchan he’Atid dealt with laws for
the time of the Beit haMikdash.Rabbi Epstein dealt with meta-halachictopics, such as the role of Kabbalah inthe development of Jewish law, in hiswritings. He also addressed the issues of a new age: matters of evolvingcommunity structures, newtechnologies, the strife between Mussarand anti-Mussar advocates and thetension between Zionists and anti-Zionists.Rabbi Epstein passed away in 1908, buthis legacy looms large; his AruchhaShulchan is a fundamental text forstudying halachah. Also, his son, RabbiBaruch haLevi Epstein, authored severalpopular works, including the BaruchsheAmar (on the siddur) and the Torah Temimah.
We have already quoted the language of
, which states that [amourner] may attend a meal which is for thesake of heaven. The Jerusalem Talmudstates that if the gathering is for a mitzvah orto sanctify the month then he may attend. The simple meaning of these statements isthat they were referring to a mourner who iswithin the thirty days of mourning forrelatives other than parents, or a mournerwho is within the twelve months of mourningfor a parent, but any meal would beforbidden for a mourner within thirty days of the passing of a parent. All of this can beseen within the Raavad, cited in the Tur. They challenged this, first because accordingto these sources, meals surrounding mitzvothave greater allowance [for mourners toattend] than do meals that are halachically optional. The difficulty with this lies in thefact that our Talmud leaves us with theopposite impression, that there is greaterroom for leniency in allowing mourners toattend social meals, which are definitely halachically optional meals! The Rosh answered this question in the
name of the Ra’avad: "The permission [for a
mourner to attend a meal that was made] forthe sake of heaven was in reference to[making a wedding] for orphans or paupers,in a situation where the mourner's absencewould prevent the event from occurring.However, when a mourner is invited to thewedding of a wealthy person, for his ownhonour, the mourner may not enter. Whenthe Jerusalem Talmud stated that where thegathering is for a mitzvah or to sanctify themonth it is permissible, that meant amitzvah meal such as eating the KorbanPesach or eating other sacrifices orsecondary tithes, or other events that requirethis person specifically. [He may attend]despite the fact that these occur in a group,and there is feasting and joy. And even inthese cases, they permitted a mourner toattend only after thirty days of mourning fora parent."According to him, a mitzvah meal is moreforbidden than an optional meal, becausethere is joy in the mitzvah. They permittedattending a meal for a mitzvah only for one of the following two cases: A marrage of orphans where he is involved in marryingthem off and the marriage would be cancelled
This Week inIsraeli History
18 Sivan 1946Operation Markolet
Rabbi Ezra Goldschmiedt
Torah in Translation
A Mourner at aMitzvah Meal?
R’ Yechiel Michel Epstein
Aruch haShulchan Yoreh Deah 391:4-5Translated by Adam Frieberg
Biography: Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein
R’ Mordechai Torczyner
Visit us at www.torontotorah.com