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his eye on his cup, i.e., is habitually drunk, all the prohibitions of those with whom relations are forbidden seem to him like level [mishor] ground. He is unaware of the pitfalls of sin and continues walking along a twisted and dangerous path. And one said: Whoever casts his eye on his cup, the whole world seems to him like level [mishor] ground. Not only is such a person unconcerned by forbidden sexual relations, but all other prohibitions, e.g., monetary prohibitions, also seem permitted in his eyes.

§ The Gemara explains another verse in Proverbs: “If there is care in a man’s heart, let him quash it [yashḥena]” (Proverbs 12:25). Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi dispute the verse’s meaning. One said: He should forcefully push it [yasḥena] out of his mind. One who worries should banish his concerns from his thoughts. And one said: It means he should tell [yesiḥena] others his concerns, which will lower his anxiety.

§ Another verse states: “And dust shall be the serpent’s food” (Isaiah 65:25). Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi dispute the verse’s meaning. One said: Even if the serpent eats all the delicacies in the world, they will still taste like dust. And one said: Even if it eats all the delicacies in the world, its mind is unsettled until it also eats some dust.

With regard to the same topic, it was taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yosei said: Come and see that the attribute of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is different than the attribute of flesh and blood. The attribute of flesh and blood is that one who seeks to provoke another harasses him in all aspects of his life, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, does not act in this way. He cursed the serpent and what happened? When the serpent goes up to the roof its food is with it, and when it comes down its food is with it. Consequently, the curse that it suffers does not ruin its life but rather benefits it.

Similarly, He cursed Canaan that he should be the servant of servants, but he benefits somewhat from this. He eats what his master eats, and drinks what his master drinks, and does not worry like a free man does. He cursed the woman and everyone pursues her to marry her. He cursed the land after the sin of Adam and Eve, yet everyone is sustained from it. Even when God is angry, He does not punish His creations severely.

The Gemara cites more verses that pertain to the same issue. Rav and Shmuel disagree with regard to the following verse: “We remember the fish which we ate in Egypt for nothing” (Numbers 11:5). One said: The verse is referring literally to fish. And one said: The verse is referring to incestuous relations that the Torah had not yet forbidden. The people cried once the Torah prohibited certain relatives to them. The Gemara explains: The one who said that the verse is referring to fish bases him explanation on the verse, as it is written “which we ate.” This means what they actually ate. And the one who said that the verse is referring to forbidden sexual relations also bases his explanation on the verse, as it is written “for nothing.” Certainly, the people did not actually eat fish for free.

The Gemara asks: And according to the one who said that it is referring to forbidden relations, but isn’t it written “which we ate”? The Gemara answers: The Torah employed a euphemistic expression. Eating is used as a euphemism for sexual relations, as it is written: “So is the way of an adulterous woman; she eats, and wipes her mouth, and says I have done no wickedness” (Proverbs 30:20). And according to the one who said it is referring to fish, what is the meaning of the phrase “for nothing”? The people brought the fish from the river, which was ownerless property, since the Egyptians obviously would not have given them free food. The Master said: When the Jews drew water from the river, the Holy One, Blessed be He, prepared little fish for them in the water. They swam into their jugs.

The Gemara comments: Granted, according to the one who said that they cried over actual fish but were not promiscuous in having forbidden relations in Egypt, this is what is written to praise the Jewish people: “A garden enclosed is my sister the bride; a locked fountain, a sealed spring” (Song of Songs 4:12). This figurative language teaches that Jewish women are chaste. However, according to the one who said the Jewish people cried over forbidden sexual relations, what does the phrase “a sealed spring” mean? The Gemara answers: It means that they were not promiscuous with those relatives who were already forbidden to them. In Egypt, the Jewish people observed the laws of forbidden sexual relations that are included in the seven Noahide commandments. In the desert, they cried over the additional prohibitions imposed when the Torah was given.

The Gemara asks further: Granted, according to the one who said that they cried over the new prohibitions of forbidden sexual relations, this is as it is written: “And Moses heard the people weeping for their families” (Numbers 11:10). They cried with regard to the issue of their families, because now it became prohibited for them to cohabit with them. But according to the one who says that they cried over fish what does “weeping for their families” mean? The Gemara answers: Both this and that happened. They cried about the laws of forbidden sexual relations, and they also cried because they no longer had the fish of Egypt.

The Gemara returns to the same verse: It states: “We remember…the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic” (Numbers 11:5). Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi debate the verse’s meaning. One said: They tasted the flavor of all types of food in the manna, but they cried because they could not taste the tastes of these five foods that they mentioned. And one said: They tasted the flavor of all types of food, as well as their textures. The sensation was so strong that it seemed to them like they were eating those very foods. However, with the foods they listed, the people tasted only their flavor but not their texture.

With regard to the manna, the Torah further states: “And it was white [lavan] like coriander seed; and its flavor was like wafers made of honey” (Exodus 16:31). The Gemara questions this, since coriander is brown, not white. Rabbi Asi said: The manna was round like coriander seed but white like a pearl. This was also taught in a baraita: Coriander [gad] is so named because it is similar to flax seeds on their stalks, which are bound [agud] in a bundle.

Others say: It was called coriander [gad] because it is similar to a tale [haggada], which draws a person’s heart toward it, just like water, which is essential for life, draws one. It was taught in another baraita: Why is it called gad? Because it told [maggid] the Jewish people the answer to issues of uncertainty, such as the paternity of a baby. If a woman remarries within two months after her divorce or the death of her husband and gives birth seven months after her remarriage, it is unclear if the baby gestated for seven months and is the son of the second husband or for nine months and is the son of the first husband. The manna would tell them if the baby was born after nine months and belongs to the first husband, or if the baby was born after seven months and belongs to the second husband. Since the manna was collected by each family based on the number of its biological members, the manna established the baby’s paternity.

The manna was called white because it whitened Israel’s sins. The people feared that if they sinned the manna would not continue to fall. Consequently, they devoted themselves to introspection and repentance.

Similarly, it was taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yosei says: Just like the prophet would tell the Jewish people what was in the holes and what was in the cracks of their souls, highlighting the sins of the people, so too, the manna clarified for Israel what was in the holes and what was in the cracks. How so? If two people came before Moses for a judgment, one saying: You stole my slave, and the other one saying: I did not steal him, rather you sold him to me, Moses would say to them: In the morning there will be a judgment. How was the matter resolved? If on the following day the slave found his omer of manna in his first master’s house, it would be clear that he was stolen, because the manna still came to the first owner. And if on the following day he found his omer of manna in his second master’s house, it would be clear that he had been sold.

Similarly, if a man and a woman came to Moses for a judgment, he saying: She sinned against me, and therefore I may divorce her and am not obligated to pay her divorce settlement, and she saying: He sinned against me and therefore I am entitled to the full settlement from the marriage contract, Moses would say to them: In the morning there will be a judgment. The following day, if her omer of manna was found in her husband’s house, it would be clear that she sinned against him. The fact that her nourishment was given to his household signifies the fact that he has respected her appropriately and is worthy of nourishing her. If her omer of manna was found in her father’s house, it would be clear that he sinned against her. Her nourishment has not been given to his household, signifying that he has been disrespectful to her and is not worthy of nourishing her.

§ The Gemara continues to discuss the manna: It is written: “And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it” (Numbers 11:9). And it is written: “And the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day” (Exodus 16:4). And it is written: “The people went about and gathered it” (Numbers 11:8). How can these texts be reconciled? For the righteous, the manna fell at the opening of their homes. They expended no effort at all. The average people went out of the camp and gathered what fell there. The wicked had to go about farther to gather.

With regard to the manna, it is written “bread” (Exodus 16:4); and it is written “cakes” (Numbers 11:8); and it is also written “and ground it in mills,” (Numbers 11:8), implying that it was neither bread nor a cake. How can these texts be reconciled? For the righteous, it fell as baked bread; for average people, it fell as unbaked cakes; for the wicked it came in an unprocessed form and consequently they ground it in a mill.

The verse states: “Or beat it in a mortar” (Numbers 11:8). Rabbi Yehuda said that Rav said, and some say it was Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina: This teaches that women’s perfumes fell for the Jewish people with the manna because they are an item that is beaten in a mortar. The verse continues: “And cooked it in a pot” (Numbers 11:8). Rabbi Ḥama said: This teaches that cooking spices fell for the Jewish people with the manna.

§ With regard to donations for the Tabernacle, the verse states: “And they brought yet to him free-will offerings every morning” (Exodus 36:3). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of “every morning”? Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: They brought donations from that which fell every morning with the manna. This teaches that pearls and precious stones fell for the Israelites with the manna. It states: “And the rulers [nesi’im] brought the onyx [shoham] stones” (Exodus 35:27). A tanna taught that the word nesi’im means actual clouds brought them. As it states: “As clouds [nesi’im] and wind without rain so is he that boasts himself of a false gift” (Proverbs 25:14). We learn from this that the precious stones fell from the clouds with the manna.

It was also said with regard to the manna: “And its taste was as the taste of a cake [shad] baked with oil [hashamen]” (Numbers 11:8). Rabbi Abbahu said: Shad means breast. Just as a baby tastes different flavors from the breast, since the taste of the milk changes somewhat depending on what foods his mother eats, so too with the manna, every time that the Jewish people ate the manna, they found in it many different flavors, based on their preferences. There are those who say that the word is written as shed and means literally a demon. How so? Just as a demon changes into different forms and colors, so too, the manna changed into different flavors.

The verse states: “And Moses said: This shall be, when the Lord will give you in the evening meat to eat, and in the morning bread to the full” (Exodus 16:8). A tanna taught in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa: The meat that the Jewish people asked for inappropriately, since they had the manna and did not need meat, was given to them inappropriately, in a way that was unpleasant; they were punished afterward (Rabbeinu Elyakim).

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
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