Sample Text: Megillah 24a


"However he may not lead the responsive reading of the Shema"
And even according to Rabbi Judah who permits this with respect to the Scroll of Esther above (19b), in the present case he would nonetheless concede that he may not perform the obligation on behalf of others in a matter related to sanctity, since a minor is subject to two rabbinic obligations, as I explained above with respect to the opinion of the Rabbis who disagree there with Rabbi Judah. However with regards to the Scroll of Esther there is reason to rule more leniently because little children and women were also under the threat "to destroy, to slay, etc." (Esther 3:13). For this reason Rabbi Judah treated him like an adult.

"And he may not pass before the ark"
This is difficult: Why speak only of a minor? Even an adult cannot pass before be the ark unless he has a full beard, as it is taught in a baraita at the end of the first chapter of Hullin (24b): If he has a full beard he is worthy of being appointed the representative of the congregation and to go down before the ark --but not for other purposes.

This difficulty may be resolved by saying that there they are dealing with a public fast-day, as we learn in the Mishnah in Ta'anit (16a) that we appoint only an elder who is familiar with the prayers, and one with much responsibility.

And as to what it teaches there with respect to one who has a full beard being worthy of being appointed the representative of the congregation --that is referring to a permanent a permanent prayer leader. However for a one-time occasion it is sufficient that he reach puberty.

This explanation disagrees with that of Rashi's commentary there, since he explained that they were speaking about the sounding of the shofar, or of an appointment to a position of community leadership, with authority to order lashes or excommunication.

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