Michael Levi Rodkinson.

New edition of the Babylonian Talmud. Original text edited, corrected, formulated, and translated into English (Volume 9) online

. (page 7 of 18)
Online LibraryMichael Levi RodkinsonNew edition of the Babylonian Talmud. Original text edited, corrected, formulated, and translated into English (Volume 9) → online text (page 7 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ishment of exile, and be banished to a place where the water is
bad. What is meant by *' bad water" ? It is permissible to
say that it has reference to the vices of that place, as it is writ-
ten [Ps. xvi. 35] : " And they will mingle with the nations and
will learn their doings." Some think that it is to be taken lit-
erally. Others, however, think that it refers to hard labor.

MiSHNA K, Hillel and Shammai received from them.
Hillel said : '' Be a disciple of Aaron, love peace, pursue
peace, love all men too, and bring them nigh unto the

Tosephtha — Aboth of R. Nathan.

*'' Love peace.'* How so ? One should love to see peace in
Israel and peace everywhere, as Aaron loved peace, about whom
it is written [Mai. ii. 6] : ** The love of truth was in his mouth,
and falsehood was not found on his lips; in peace and equity
he walked with me, and many did he turn away from iniquity."
When Aaron went on the highway and met a wicked man, he
bade him peace in the customary form of salutation. The result
was that that man reformed. For when he was about to com-
mit a sin, he remembered that Aaron the high-priest saluted
him, and would say: " Woe, if I sin, how will I dare to raise
my eyes and look Aaron in the face, who was so friendly to
me?" and thus he is prevented from sin.

Likewise, when two men quarrelled with each other (and it
came to the ears of Aaron), he went to one of them and said:
" My son, see what thy neighbor does. He beats his breast,
tears his clothes and cries, saying: ' Woe is me! How will I
dare to lift up my eyes to look my neighbor in the face ? I am

* Chapter XII. of the original.



ashamed of myself, for it is I who wronged him.* " Thus Aaron
allayed the bitterness of that man's feeling. Then Aaron went
to the other man and addressed him in the same style, and like-
wise pacified his heart. When those two men met, they no
longer eyed one another as enemies, but embraced and kissed
each other, as friends do. Because of Aaron's peace-making,
it is written about him [Numb. xx. 29] : *' They wept for Aaron
thirty days."

The passages about the mourning of Moses and Aaron are
differently written. About Aaron it is written '* even ail the
house of Israel," which includes also women; about Moses,
however, it is written only, ** and the children of Israel," which
excludes women. To explain this, there are different opinions.
Some say because Moses, who was a true judge and judged justly
without favoritism, used to rebuke the sinner and say to him :
Thou hast sinned in so and so. Aaron, however, when judg-
ing them, judged them truly, but at the same time he did not
rebuke them, even when the sinners were males, much less when
they were females. And, secondly, many thousands were named
Aaron, after the high-priest. For were it not for Aaron they
would not have been brought to the world at all, as Aaron's
special efforts were directed toward making peace between man
and wife, so that if, after that, a child was born to them they
named him after their peace-maker.

According to others, the reason why even all the house of
Israel wept is because they had seen Moses our master sitting
and weeping, and who then would not weep ? And they also
saw Elazar and Pinechas, who were high-priests, weeping, and
who would not weep with them ?

Then Moses desired to die the same deatft that Aaron died.
Why so ? Because it was said that Moses raw his bier decked
out with great pomp and many divisions of angels lamenting
over him. And although Moses never expressed that wish, but
only thought so in his heart, the Holy One, blessed be He,
granted him his desire, as it is written [Deut. xxxii. 50]: " And
die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto
thy people; as Aaron thy brother died on Mount Hor." From
this is to be inferred that Moses had a desire to die the death of

At the time (when Moses was about to die), God said to the
angel of death: " Go and bring unto me the soul of Moses."
Coming to Moses, he demanded his soul. But Moses censured


the angel of death. He said to him: " Thou art not entitled t^o
be where I am, and thou art asking of me my soul ? " and Moses
drove him away with degradation. At length the Lord said
unto Moses: " Moses, Moses, thou hast lived long enough in
this world, as thy share in the world to come has awaited thee
ever since creation," as it is written [Ex. xxxiii. 21]: " And the
Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand
upon the rock." Thereupon the Lord Himself took the soul of
Moses and placed it under His throne, as it is written [I Sam.
XXV. 29] : " Yet will the soul of my Lord be bound in the bond
of life." And He took his soul with a kiss, as it is >fritten
[Deut. xxxiv. 5] : " Through the mouth of God." ^

[Not merely the soul of Moses is placed under His throne,
but all the souls of the righteous, as it is written: ** Yet will the
soul of my Lord be bound in the bond of life." Should one
assume that the souls of the wicked are also hidden there, there-
fore it is written [I Sam. xxv. 29] : " And the soul of thy ene-
mies will he hurl away, as out of the middle of the sling."

For the better understanding of this, let us think of who
puts a stone in his sling: although he hurls it from one place to
another, he knows not where it will finally land. So are the
souls of the wicked : they are wandering and hovering in the
world without rest.

After the death of Moses the Lord again commanded the
angel of death to bring Him the soul of Moses. He went to
the place where he used to be found when alive, but did not
find him. He then went to the ocean, and asked whether
Moses was there. It answered: Since the day when the Israel-
ites passed through me, I have not seen him. He went to the
mountains and hills, and put to them the same question, and
they said : Since the day when the Israelites received the Law
from Mount Sinai, we have not seen him. So he went to the
nether world and place of perdition, and asked them the same
question, and they said: We have heard of his name, but have
never seen him. Finally, he inquired of the angels, and they
said: " God (alone) understandeth her way, and he knoweth
her place " [Job, xxviii. 23]. The Lord preserved him for a life
in the world to come, and no creature knows where he is, as it
is written [Job, xxviii. 20-22]: " But wisdom ... a report
of her." At the same time Joshua was sitting and grieving

*nB in Hebrew means *' mouth," and the Talmud takes it literally.



because he did not know where his master was, till the Holy
One, blessed be He, said to him: Joshua, do not grieve. My
servant Moses is dead.]

" Pursue peace.'' How so ? One shall be a pursuer of peace
in Israel among all kinds of people. If a man remains in his
place silent, he cannot be a pursuer of peace. But what shall he
do ? He should leave his place in search of peace, as it is written
[ibid.]: "Seek peace, and pursue it." Which means, seek it
in thy place, and if thou canst not find it, pursue it in another.

The Holy One, blessed be He, also made peace in heaven,
ki that He did not name ten angels Gabriel, Michael, Uriel, or
Raphael, as, for instance, many people bear the same name;
otherwise, when He would summon one of them, they would
all respond, and be jealous of one another. Therefore He gave
each one a separate name. When He summons one, only that one
comes, and He sends him wherever He desires. They reverence
and respect one another, and are meeker than human beings, for
when they begin to sing the praises of the Lord, one says to
another: " Begin thou, as thou art greater than I am"; and
the other says: " Thou art greater than I am, and therefore
begin thou." With human beings, however, it is the reverse.
Every one says: " I am greater than thou art." Some say that
not individual angels, but divisions of angels, say to each other:
" Begin ye, ye are greater than we are," as it is written [Is. vi.
3]: " And one called unto the other and said."

" Love all men too.'' That is to say, that one should love all
men, and not hate them; for so we find with the men of the
"generation of the division," because they loved each other,
the Lord was reluctant to destroy them, but only scattered them
to all four corners of the world. The men of Sodom, however,
because they hated each other, were annihilated by the Lord,
both in this and the world to come, as it is written [Gen. xiii.
13]: ** But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before
the Lord exceedingly." " And sinners " implies that they were
guilty of illegal unions; "before the Lord" implies that they
were guilty of desecration of the Holy name; "and exceed-
ingly," that they sinned wilfully.

''And bring them nigh unto the Law.'' How so? One
should try to uplift* people and bring them under the wings of

* The Hebrew term for this is " Mekapeah," derived from " K'apah," high
fBectioroth, 45^^).



the Shekhina, as our father Abraham did; and not only/Abra«
ham, but also Sarah, as it is written [Gen. xii. 5] : " And Abram^
took Sarah his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their sub-
stance that they had acquired, and the persons that thcymade*
in Charan." Is it possible ? Even all mankind combined could
not create even a small insect. We must, therefore, say tha^
the Lord considered the people that they brought under the
wings of the Shekhina as if they had made them.

As one cannot divide his life with his neighbor in this world,
so he cannot divide with him his deserved reward in the world
to come, as it is written [Eccl. iv. i]: " And, behold, there are
the tears of the oppressed, and they have no comforter; and
from the hand of their oppressors they suffer violence, and they
have no comforter." Why is it written " and they have no com-
forter " twice ? To infer that, although there are men who eat
(plentily), drink, and are successful with their sons and daugh-
ters in this world, they may have nothing in the world to come,
and they will have no comforter there. In this world, whe«
something is stolen from one, or a death occurs in one's family,
his son, brother, and other relatives come and console him, but
this cannot be done in the world to come, as it is written [ibid.,
ibid. 8] : " Yea, he hath neither son nor brother."

The same is the case with one who has begotten an' illegiti-
mate son ; for the latter may say to him: " Scoundrel, thou haj^
lost thyself as well as me." For the bastard may have a thir^
for knowledge, and therefore desire to study the Law in Jerusa-
lem together with the other disciplesf but cannot do so because,
being a bastard, he is prohibited from entering Jerusalem. It
happened once that a bastard was not allowed to pass Ashdad,
as it is written [Zech. ix. 6] : " And bastards shall dwell in Ask-
dad, and I will cut off the pride oi the Philistines."

MisHNA L. He also used to say : " A name made
great is a name destroyed ; he v;ho increases not, de-
creases ; and he who will not learn from his masters is
not worthy to live ; and he who uses his knowledge as a
tiara perishes."

MisHNA M, He also used to say : " If I do not look

* According to the interpretation of the Talmud, but Leeser translates " obuined."


to myself, who will do so? But if I look only to myself,
what am I ? And if not now, when ^'*

Tosephtha—Aboth of R. Nathan,

' * He used to say : ' If I do not look to myself, who will do sot***
(That is), if I cannot reach any reward while I am alive, who can
reach it for me after my death ?

" And if not now, when ? " (That is), if I can do nothing for
myself while I am alive, who can do it for me after my death ?
So also said Ecclesiastes [ix. 4]: ** For a living dog fareth better
than a dead lion." By " a living dog " is meant a wicked per-
son who exists in this world, and " than a dead lion " refers to
all the righteous, who are highly received in the world to come,
including even the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The
living dog, that is, a wicked man who is still alive, fareth better
— is accepted by the Holy One, blessed be He, when he repents
and becomes virtuous and receives a share in the world to come,
while a dead lion cannot add aught to his good deeds after he is
dead. The same used to say: " If thou wilt come to my house,**
etc. (See Section Moed, Vol. VII. ; Succah, pp. 83, 84.)

It happened that Hillel the First, while on a journey, met
men carrying wheat. He inquired how much was a saah, and
was told two dinars. Afterward he met others, who gave him
the price of the same as three dinars. He said: " Did not the
first men say it was only two dinars ? " They rejoined : *' Thou
foolish Babylonian, dost thou not know that the reward is ac-
cording to the trouble ? " (They came from a farther distance.)
But he said : " Is that your answer to my civil question ?**
Finally he succeeded in making them gentle and accommodating.

He also used to say four things in the Babylonian dialect:

" A name made great is a name destroyed,'* It means, a man
shall not desire to have his name proclaimed to the government,
k>r the reason stated above, p. .45.

** And he who does not desire to learn from his masters,** It
was said that it happened to an inhabitant of Beth Ramah who
adopted the customs of the pious, and Rabban Johanan b. Zak-
kai sent one of his disciples to examine him. He found him
occupied in heating oil on a range and then pouring it into
peeled grain. On being questioned what he was doing, he
answered, I am careful with the heave-offering, to eat it in its


purity, just as if I were a high-priest. Then he asked again: Is
this range clean or unclean? He rejoined: Do we then find
anywhere in the Torah that a range can be unclean ? An oven
only is mentioned, as it is written [Lev. xi. 33]: " Whatsoever
is in it shall be unclean." Then the disciple again rejoined:
The law of the oven applies also to the range, as it is written
[ibid., ibid. 35] : " An oven or range shall be broken down, they
are unclean." The same added: If such was thy habit, thou
hast never in thy life eaten clean heave-offerings.

*' He who increases not, decreases.'' How so? If one has
learned one, two, or even three treatises, and has not added
anything thereto, he will finally forget even that.

''And he who serves himself with the tiara perishes. ' ' Any
one that uses the name of the Lord, as it is written, which is
prohibited, has no share in the world to come.

MisHNA N. Shammai was in the habit of saying :
** Fix a time for study ; promise little, and do much ;
receive every one with friendly countenance."

MiSHNA O. Rabban Gamaliel said : *' Make to thyself
a master, and free thyself of doubt, and tithe not much
by estimation."

MiSHNA P. Simeon his son was wont to say: *'A11
the days of my life have been passed among the sages,
and I have never found anything better for a man than
silence ; and the discussion of the law is not of such
import as is the practice thereof. He who talks much,
cannot avoid sin."

MiSHNA Q, He also said: " Three things support the
world — law, truth, and peace — as it is written [Zechariah,
viii. 16]: ' Truth and the judgment of peace, judge ye in
your gates.' "

Tosephtha — Aboth of R. Nathan.

^*' Fix a time for study y' etc. It means, when one has
heard something from a sage in the college, he shall not treat it
as something unessential, but as a standard saying to be studied

* Chapter XIII. of the original.




diligently, and what he learns from the wise he shall teach it to
others, as it is written [Deut. v. i] : " That ye may learn them,
and that ye may observe to do them." And also of Ezra it is
first written [vii. lo] : " For Ezra had directed his heart to in-
qairc in the law of the Lord, and to do it." And immediately
after it is written [ibid.] : " And to teach in Israel statutes and

** Promise little y and do much.'' As such is the custom of the
righteous, who promise little but do much ; the custom of the
wicked, however, is to promise much and do nothing. Whence
do we know that the upright promise little, and do much ?
From Abraham our father, who said to the angels: " Ye will
eat with me a morsel of bread," as it is written [Gen. xviii. 5] :
** And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your heart."
But what did he in reality do ? He prepared for them three
oxen and nine saah of fine meal. And whence do we know that
he baked for them nine measures of fine meal ? From [ibid. 6] :
" And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah and said :
Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal." "Three"
is literal, ** meal " is six, and " fine meal " is nine. And whence
is it derived that he roasted for them three oxen ? From the
following [ibid., ibid. 7]: "And Abraham ran unto the herd,"
etc. "The herd" means one, "a calf" one, "tender" one.
According to others it was four, because the word " good,"
which is added, is also counted as one. " And gave it unto a
young man " [ibid.]. This means Ishmael his son, to accustom
him to religious practice.

Also the Holy One, blessed be He, promised little and did
much, as it is written [ibid. xv. 13, 14]: "And he said unto
Abram, know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a
land which is not theirs, and they will make them serve, and
they will afiflict them four hundred years. And also that nation
whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they
go out with great substance." He promised him with *^ and J,
the numerical value of which is 54, But when the Lord at last
avenged Himself on Israel's enemies. He did so with seventy-
two letters (contained in verse 34, Deut. xxxiv.):* " Or hath a

* There are seventy-five letters in the Hebrew text beginning with the word xn?
and ending with Dv"l)l, the translation of which is "go to take to himself a nation
from the midst of a nation, by proofs, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by
a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors." And in Midrash
it is explained that one word, ''IJ, of three letters is not counted, for it has reference to


god essayed to go to take to himself a nation from the midst of
a nation, by proofs, by signs, and by wonders . . . and by
great terrors."

Whence is it derived that the wicked promise much and do
nothing ? From Ephron, who said to Abraham [Gen. xxiii.
15] : "A piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what
is that between me and thee?" Nevertheless, in the end he
accepted the whole sum of the money, as it is written [ibid.,
ibid. 16]: " And Abraham understood the meaning of Ephron;
and Abraham weighed out to Ephron the silver."

*' Receive every one with friendly countenance.'' How so?
That means, that even if one presents to his neighbor the most
precious things with bad grace, it is accounted to him in Scrip-
ture as if he had given nothing; but if one receives his neighbor
with a friendly countenance, although he give him nothing, it is
accounted to him in Scripture as if he had conferred upon him
great favors.

Tosephtha—Aboth of R. Nathan,

*Rabban Johanan b. Zakkai received from Hillel ahd Sham-
mai. Hillel the First had eighty disciples, thirty of whom were
worthy that the Shekhina rest upon them as on Moses, but their
generation was not deserving of it. Thirty others were worthy
to institute the intercalary years, etc., etc. (Continued in Suc-
cah, pp. 36, 37.)

** He used to say : ' If thou hast accumulated much knowledge ^
do not boast of it, for it is for that that thou wast created.

There are five disciples of Rabbi Johanan b. Zakkai whom
he characterized in the following manner: Eliezer b. Hyrcanus
as " a plastered cistern which loseth not a drop"; Joshua b.
Hananiah as " a threefold cord that cannot quickly be torn
asunder"; Jose the priest as " the most pious in his genera-
tion"; Ishmael b. Hananiah as " a garden-bed in the desert
which absorbs water"; and Elazar b. Arach he named " as a
flowing brook and swelling spring whose waters rise and over-
flow abroad," as it is written [ibid. v. 16] : " So will thy springs
overflow abroad ; and in the open streets will be thy rivulets of
water. ' '

Egypt. Of the many rommentaries upon this difficult and complicated passage this
seems to us to be the best, which is according to Isaiah Berlin (Pick).
* Chapter XIV. of the original.


' * I consider the judgment of R. Elazar b. Arach, ' * etc. Happy
is the disciple who receives from his master such a testimonial of
praise and acknowledgment. When the son of Rabban Johanan
b. Zakkai died, his disciples came to console him. R. Eliezer
entered first, sat down before him, and asked his permission to
say something. The request having been granted, he said:
" Adam the First accepted consolation when his son died. And
whence do we find it so ? It is written [Gen. iv. 25] : * And
Adam knew his wife again ' (* again ' means after this consola-
tion). Thou also shouldst accept consolation." He rejoined:
** Is not my own grief sufficient, that thou must remind me of
that of Adam the First ? "

Next entered R. Joshua, and also asked for permission to
say something, which was granted, who then said: " Job, who
had many sons and daughters, all of whom died in one day, yet
he accepted consolation. As it is written [Job, i. 21]: 'The
Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away ; may the name of the
Lord be blessed.* " He rejoined: " Is not my own grief suffi-
cient, that thou remindest me of that of Job ? "

Next entered R. Jose. He sat down before him and said:
" Be it thy wish that I say something." And being encouraged
by the sage, he continued: "Aaron had two full-grown sons,
and both died on one day, yet he accepted consolation, as it is
written [Lev. x. 3] : * And Aaron held his peace,* which means
that he was consoled. Would it not be right that thou shouldst
do likewise ? '* The sage rejoined: ** Have I not enough of my
own grief ? Why do you remind me of the grief of Aaron ? "

Then entered R. Simeon, and said: "Rabbi, may I be
favored by thee to say a word in thy august presence ? " And
the sage answered: " Proceed." Then the former said: " King
David had a son who died, and he received condolence. It well
becomes thee to persuade thyself into comfort. As to King
David, it is written [II Sam. xii. 2z^] : ' And David comforted
Bathsheba his wife, and he went in unto her, and lay with her;
and she bore a son, and called his name Solomon.* " He re-
joined: " Is not my own grief sufficient, that you all remind me
of the grief of others ? '*

Finally R. Elazar b. Arach entered, and when the master
saw him he said to his servant: " Take a vessel and follow me
to the bath-house; the man who is entering now is a great man,
and I am sure that I could not withstand his arguments." He
entered, sat down before him, and said: " I will entertain thee


by telling a parable: A king had intrusted one of his subjects
with a precious article. The man used to exclaim, weeping:
* Woe is me ! When will I be relieved of this responsibilitj ? '
This, O Rabbi, is thy case. Thy son, who spent his time in
sacred study, departed from the world sinless. What a com-
fort it ought to be to thee that thou hast returned the article in-
trusted to thy care intact ! " Hereupon the sage said : " Elazar,
my son, thou hast consoled me as people should console each
other. * '

When they left him, Elazar said: " I will go to Damsith,
which is a fine place with excellent waters " ; and the other dis-
ciples said: "We will go to Jamnia, where there are many
scholars, and love the study of Law." He that went to Dam-
sith lost a good deal of his authority, but the names of those
who went to Jamnia, the seat of great scholarship, became
legion in learned circles.

Tosephtha — A both of R. Nathan.

*" Thy fellow's honor must be as dear to thee as thine own^
How so ? As one watches over his own honor, so should he
guard the honor of his neighbor, and as one is loath to see his
own honor assailed, he should be so in regard to the honor of
his neighbor.

Another explanation of the above is : When one is possessed
of an hundred thousand, and all is taken away from him, he
should keep his conscience clear even of the value of a small

''Do not allow thyself to be easily angered.'' That is, one
should be as meek as Hillel the Elder, and not as irritable as

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryMichael Levi RodkinsonNew edition of the Babylonian Talmud. Original text edited, corrected, formulated, and translated into English (Volume 9) → online text (page 7 of 18)