chapter  8
16 Pages

THE BAVLI INTERPRETS THE MOURNER

The mourner, the leper and the banned person

The Mishnah in the third chapter of tractate Mo‘ed Qatan lists those individuals who, contrary to the general rule, may shave or have their hair cut during the intermediate days of a festival (Passover or Sukkot). The feature which ties all of the exceptional cases together is the fact that they were unable to attend to such grooming before the festival began. Thus, someone who returns from abroad or is released from prison immediately before the festival is permitted to shave during the festival’s intermediate period. So too is someone who was released from a rabbinic ban or emerged from his period of “leprous” impurity (for want of better terms, I will use “leper” and “leprosy” throughout this chapter despite the fact that this is probably a misidentification of the condition (Milgrom 1991: 816-18)). Though a mourner whose mourning came to an end with the advent of the festival would seem to fall into the same category, the mourner is not mentioned in the Mishnah’s list.