BaHaB -- A Time For Teshuvoh
Hallel, new clothes, mitzvos, and seudas. The yomim
tovim overflow with simcha. Here lies an
opportunity for tremendous ascent in one's spiritual
At the same time, inherent in every possibility for growth
lies an equally great chance of moving in the reverse
direction. Little does one suspect that a droshoh can
be fertile ground for transgression, if men and women
congregate there together. Our Sages established BaHaB (an
acronym for Beis, Hei, Beis [i.e. Monday, Thursday,
Monday] the days that this minhag encompasses) three
days of teshuvoh and tefillah after yom tov,
in case one stumbled in the course of his exuberance
(Tosafos, Kiddushin 81a; Tur 492).
As its name implies, chol hamoed includes aspects of
weekday and festival. Because of its dual nature, chol
hamoed can easily give rise to numerous errors. Our Sages
foresaw this possibility, and instituted three days of
teshuvoh after the chag (Elya Rabba 492,3).
In addition to the possibility of spiritual malady, the time
after the yomim tovim is predisposed to physical
ailments. Both Pesach and Succos come at times of the year
when the weather undergoes radical change. The sudden highs
and lows in temperature can easily result in ill health. Our
Sages set up these days of teshuvoh in order to help
deter the possibility of illness (Levush 492,1).
Along with the change in weather comes a shift from the rainy
season to the dry season, and vice versa. A smooth transition
from one season to the next is vital, since an overabundance
or lack of rains could severely damage agricultural output.
Our Sages established three days of teshuvoh to insure
that the crops would indeed be plentiful (Mordechai,
Taanis 629 and other Rishonim).
Moshe Rabbeinu ascended Har Sinai to receive the second set
of luchos on a Thursday, and returned with them forty
days later on a Monday. Hashem's decision to give Moshe these
luchos clearly implied that the Jewish people were
forgiven for the cheit ho'eigel. As a result Monday
and Thursday became days of repentance and Divine favor for
the Jewish people (Tosafos Bava Kamo 82a).
The establishment of BaHaB initially involved fasting,
and recitation of Selichos and Ovinu Malkeinu.
The minhag was patterned after the three- day
BaHaB fasts that the gemara describes for times
of drought (Taanis 10a). Today most people do not
fast, nonetheless BaHaB remain days of teshuvoh
and tefillah (Response Mishneh Halachos 3,15).
Observed properly, BaHaB can be a source of
brochoh for the entire year. (Sephardim generally do
not keep BaHaB).
In general, we should fulfill a mitzvah as soon as it becomes
possible to do so (Pesochim 4a). According to the
first three reasons, it is preferable to observe BaHaB
as soon as possible after the yomim tovim. Since our
Sages originally established BaHaB as days of fasting,
and we do not fast in Nisan or Tishrei, we observe
BaHaB at the beginning of Iyar and Cheshvan.
The fourth reason for BaHaB relates to the shift in
the seasons, which does not always take place immediately at
the beginning of Cheshvan. Therefore the date for starting
BaHaB should occur later. Some poskim in fact
rule that BaHaB should not begin until after the
seventeenth of Cheshvan, the date set by our Sages for
beginning to fast during a drought season (Maharil,
Ra'avyah, and Mahari Viele as cited in Taz
In practice we accept the first reason for BaHaB as
the primary one. Therefore we do not wait to begin BaHaB
(Ramo, Mogen Avraham, Mishneh Berurah 492).
Even according to the first reason, we do not necessarily
observe BaHaB during the first Monday- Thursday-Monday
in Cheshvan and Iyar. BaHaB must be preceded by a
mi shebeirach after the Shabbos morning Torah reading.
Unlike all other fast days, for which the exact date is
already known to everyone, BaHaB falls on different
dates each year. Thus it must be announced (Tosafos Yom-
Tov, Taanis 2,9).
The Chazan recites the mi shebeirach after krias
HaTorah after Ashrei while holding the sefer
Torah, in order to be mevorech the congregation
with the merit of the Torah (Levush).
Siman Tov Umazel Tov
Since a certain amount of sadness is associated with these
days, we do not recite the mi shebeirach for BaHaB
during a time of simcha. Shabbos Mevorchin (the
Shabbos on which we bless the upcoming new month in shul)
falls into this category, so the mi shebeirach
for BaHaB is pushed off until the following
A bris miloh also constitutes a reason for simcha.
However, since we do not want to push off the mi
shebeirach for BaHaB yet another week in one or
more shuls, the mi shebeirach on the day of a bris
miloh is recited in the afternoon during Mincha (Mogen
At one time, the custom was to read the special haftorah
of Sose Osis on the Shabbos preceding a
chosson's wedding, at his Aufruf. This was
considered to be a simcha equal to that of a bris
miloh, so the mi shebeirach was delayed until the
afternoon. Today this practice is no longer followed.
Although many have the minhag of singing and throwing
candies at a chosson, this is not sufficient reason to
push off the mi shebeirach until Mincha.
Therefore the mi shebeirach is said in the morning
as usual (Igros Moshe 1,106). In most Ashkenazic
communities, no weddings are held after Pesach, in any case,
Should we observe BaHaB on other chagim besides
Pesach and Succos? According to the halochoh which follows
the first reason for BaHaB, there are grounds to
institute BaHaB after other festivals. Nonetheless,
since Shavuos only lasts one day, there is no "official"
BaHaB (Beis Yosef 429). Some exceptionally
righteous people do fast after Shavuos, because of the first
reason (as noted in Chok Yaakov, Bircei Yosef 492, and
many other poskim). Although Chanukah lasts eight
days, it was not established for mishteh and simcha
and people need not take time off from work, so there is
no BaHaB (Levush 492).
Even though Purim is a one day festival, the nature of its
celebration makes a strong case for instituting a
BaHaB. The extreme simcha that accompanies
Purim can be dangerous. The Maseches Sofrim cites a
minhag to fast BaHaB after Purim, in memory of
the three days that Esther fasted (Tur and Shulchan
The days of BaHaB often coincide with Pesach Sheni,
the fourteenth of Iyar. Pesach Sheni afforded a second
opportunity to bring the Korbon Pesach for someone who
was unable to do so on the fourteenth of Nisan, e.g.,
someone who was tomei mes or who was "far away"
from the Beis Hamikdash. Without the Beis
Hamikdosh, Pesach Sheni has no practical observance.
Nonetheless, some small vestiges of the original day
If one of the actual days of BaHaB falls out on Pesach
Sheni, the minhag is not to fast or to say
Selichos. The fast can be made up on the following
Thursday or Monday (Mahrasham 6,33; Luach Eretz
Yisroel). As on other yomim tovim, eulogies are
not said. Therefore one should not plan a hakomas
matzeivoh for Pesach Sheni, since eulogies generally
accompany this ceremony (Response Minchas Yitzchok
Some have a minhag to eat matzoh on Pesach
Sheni, recalling the Korbon Pesach which was eaten
with matzoh (Siddur Beis Yaakov of Rav Yaakov Emden).
Some poskim rule that Tachanun should not be
said on the morning and afternoon of Pesach Sheni
(Sha'arei Teshuvoh 131,19, Kaf HaChaim and
Luach Eretz Yisroel). However since the Jewish people
only offered the Korbon Pesach in the afternoon of the
fourteenth, we recite Tachanun on the thirteenth of
Iyar. Others claim that Tachanun is said on Pesach
Sheni (Mishbetzos Zohov 131,1).
The Korbon Pesach differs from other korbonos because
one can make it up even after the prescribed time has passed.
The Torah recounts the reason for this phenomenon
(Bamidbar 9:6-12). After the Jewish people left
Mitzrayim, those who were disqualified from bringing the
Korbon Pesach on the fourteenth of Nisan complained that it
was not just that they had been denied the chance to bring
the korbon. Their good intentions caused the mitzvah
of Pesach Sheni to be attributed to them. We learn from this
episode that Hashem deals with us according to the desires of
In the merit of properly observing BaHaB and Pesach
Sheni, may we merit to see the fulfillment of our deepest
desire, the final redemption and the rebuilding of the
Beis Hamikdosh speedily in our days, Omen.