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Megillat Taanit - The Scroll of Fasting

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Chapter Summary

Megillat Taanit originated among the sages of the Second Temple era and is the earliest known Pharisaic document to have survived. The Scroll is a list of 35 dates drawn up in Aramaic and arranged in calendar order. Its goal is to keep the Jews from fasting on 'days on which miracles had been performed for Israel'. On days commemorating important events, in the opinion of the compiler of the Scroll, it was forbidden not only to fast, but even to eulogize the deceased. The dates listed are, in the main, those of joyous events of various kinds that befell the Jewish people during the Second Temple era. The Scroll is aimed at preserving their memory and turning them into minor festive days. A commentary in Hebrew was later added to the Scroll, known in scholarly literature as the 'Scholion' that elaborates on the events intimated in the Scroll.

Keywords: fasting; Hebrew commentary; Israel; joyous events; Megillat Taanit; Pharisaic document; Scholion; Second Temple era sages



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