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Steinsaltz

is not from among them. The Sages said to Rava: Master, you are not subject to His hiding of the face, as your prayers are heard, and you are not subject to: “And they shall be devoured,” as the authorities take nothing from you. He said to them: Do you know how many gifts I send in private to the house of King Shapur? Although it might seem that the monarchy does not take anything from me, in actuality I am forced to give many bribes. Even so, the Sages looked upon Rava with suspicion. In the meantime, messengers from the house of King Shapur sent for him and imprisoned him to extort more money from him. Rava said: This is as it is taught in a baraita that Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: Wherever the Sages looked upon someone, it resulted in either death or poverty.

With regard to the verse: “And I will hide my face in that day” (Deuteronomy 31:18), Rava said that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said: Even though I hid my face from them and My Divine Presence is not revealed, nevertheless: “I speak with him in a dream” (Numbers 12:6). Rav Yosef said: His hand is outstretched, guarding over us, as it is stated: “And I have covered you in the shadow of my hand” (Isaiah 51:16).

The Gemara relates: Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya was standing in the house of the Caesar. A certain heretic, who was also present, gestured to him, indicating that his was the nation whose Master, God, turned His face away from it. Rabbi Yehoshua gestured to him that His hand is outstretched over us in protection. The Caesar said to Rabbi Yehoshua: What did he gesture to you, and how did you respond? He replied: He indicated that mine is the nation whose Master turned His face from it, and I gestured to him that His hand is outstretched over us.

The members of the Caesar’s household said to that heretic: What did you gesture to him? He said to them: I gestured that his is the nation whose Master has turned His face from it. They asked: And what did he gesture to you? He said to them: I don’t know; I did not understand. They said: How can a man who does not know what others gesture to him dare to gesture in the presence of the king? They took him out and killed him.

The Gemara relates: When Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya was dying, the Sages said to him: What will become of us, from the threat of the heretics, when there is no scholar like you who can refute them? He said to them that the verse states: “Is wisdom no more in Teiman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom vanished?” (Jeremiah 49:7). He explained: Since counsel has perished from the prudent, from the Jewish people, the wisdom of the nations of the world has vanished as well, and there will be no superior scholars among them.

And if you wish, say instead that the same idea can be derived from here: “And he said: Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go corresponding to you” (Genesis 33:12). Just as the Jewish people rise and fall, so too, the nations of the world simultaneously rise and fall, and they will never have an advantage.

The Gemara relates that Rabbi Ila was ascending the stairs in the house of Rabba bar Sheila, a children’s teacher. He heard a child who was reading a verse out loud: “For, lo, He Who forms the mountains, and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his speech” (Amos 4:13). Rabbi Ila said: With regard to a servant whose master declares to him what is his proper speech, is there a remedy for him? The Gemara asks. What is the meaning of the phrase: “What is his speech”? Rav said: Even frivolous speech that is between a man and his wife before engaging in relations is declared to a person at the time of death, and he will have to account for it.

The Gemara asks: Is that so? Is it prohibited for a man to speak in this manner with his wife? Wasn’t Rav Kahana lying beneath Rav’s bed, and he heard Rav chatting and laughing with his wife, and performing his needs, i.e., having relations with her. Rav Kahana said out loud: The mouth of Rav is like one who has never eaten a cooked dish, i.e., his behavior is lustful. Rav said to him: Kahana, leave, as this is not proper conduct. This shows that Rav himself engaged in frivolous talk before relations.

The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. Here, where this type of speech is permitted, it is referring to a situation where he must appease his wife before relations, and therefore this speech is appropriate. However, this statement, that it is prohibited, is referring to a situation where he doesn’t need to appease her. In these circumstances, it is prohibited to engage in excessively lighthearted chatter with one’s wife.

The verse states: “But if you will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret [bemistarim] for your pride” (Jeremiah 13:17). Rav Shmuel bar Inya said in the name of Rav: The Holy One, Blessed be He, has a place where He cries, and its name is Mistarim. What is the meaning of “for your pride”? Rav Shmuel bar Yitzḥak said: God cries due to the pride of the Jewish people, which was taken from them and given to the gentile nations. Rav Shmuel bar Naḥmani said: He cries due to the pride of the kingdom of Heaven, which was removed from the world.

The Gemara asks: But is there crying before the Holy One, Blessed be He? Didn’t Rav Pappa say: There is no sadness before the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it is stated: “Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and gladness are in His place” (I Chronicles 16:27)? The Gemara responds: This is not difficult. This statement, that God cries, is referring to the innermost chambers, where He can cry in secret, whereas this statement, that He does not cry, is referring to the outer chambers.

The Gemara asks: And doesn’t God cry in the outer chambers? Isn’t it written: “And on that day the Lord, the God of hosts, called to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth” (Isaiah 22:12)? The Gemara responds: The destruction of the Temple is different, as even the angels of peace cried, as it is stated: “Behold, their valiant ones cry without; the angels of peace weep bitterly” (Isaiah 33:7).

The verse continues: “And my eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive” (Jeremiah 13:17). Rabbi Elazar said: Why these three references to tears in the verse? One is for the First Temple; one is for the Second Temple; and one is for the Jewish people who were exiled from their place. And there are those who say: The last one is for the unavoidable dereliction of the study of Torah in the wake of the exile.

The Gemara asks: Granted, according to the one who said that the last tear is for the Jewish people who were exiled, this is as it is written: “Because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive.” However, according to the one who said that this tear is for the dereliction of the study of Torah, what is the meaning of: “Because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive”? The Gemara answers: Since the Jewish people were exiled from their place, there is no greater involuntary dereliction of the study of Torah than that which was caused by this.

The Sages taught that there are three types of people for whom the Holy One, Blessed be He, cries every day: For one who is able to engage in Torah study and does not engage in it; and for one who is unable to engage in Torah study and nevertheless he endeavors and engages in it; and for a leader who lords over the community.

The Gemara relates: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was holding the book of Lamentations and was reading from it. When he reached the verse: “He has cast down from heaven to earth the beauty of Israel” (Lamentations 2:1), in his distress the book fell from his hand. He said: From a high roof to a deep pit, i.e., it is terrible to tumble from the sky to the ground.

§ The Gemara relates: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi and Rabbi Ḥiyya were walking along the road. When they arrived at a certain city, they said: Is there a Torah scholar here whom we can go and greet? The people of the city said: There is a Torah scholar here but he is blind. Rabbi Ḥiyya said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: You sit here; do not demean your dignified status as Nasi to visit someone beneath your stature. I will go and greet him.

Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi grabbed him and went with him anyway, and together they greeted the blind scholar. When they were leaving him, he said to them: You greeted one who is seen and does not see; may you be worthy to greet the One Who sees and is not seen. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to Rabbi Ḥiyya: Now, if I had listened to you and not gone to greet him, you would have prevented me from receiving this blessing.

They said to the blind scholar: From whom did you hear that we are worthy of this blessing? He said to them: I heard it from the instruction of Rabbi Ya’akov, as Rabbi Ya’akov of the village of Ḥitiyya would greet his teacher every day. When Rabbi Ya’akov grew elderly, his teacher said to him: Do not despair, my Master, that my Master is unable to make the effort to greet me. It is better that you should not visit me.

Rabbi Ya’akov said to him: Is it a minor matter, that which is written about the Sages: “That he should still live always, that he should not see the pit. For he sees that wise men die” (Psalms 49:10–11)? In this regard an a fortiori reference applies: Just as one who sees Sages in their death will live, all the more so one who sees them in their lifetime. From here the blind scholar learned the importance of greeting Torah scholars, which is why he blessed the Sages who came to greet him.

The Gemara relates: Rav Idi, father of Rabbi Ya’akov bar Idi, would regularly travel three months on the road to reach the study hall and as he would immediately travel back again to arrive home for the festival of Sukkot, he spent only one day in the school of Rav. And the Sages would disparagingly call him: A student of Torah for one day. He was offended and read the following verse about himself: “I am as one that is a laughingstock to his neighbor, a man who calls upon God, and He answers him” (Job 12:4). Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: Please do not punish the Sages, i.e., do not take offense and be harsh with them, as this will cause them to be punished by God.

Rabbi Yoḥanan left Rav Idi and went to the study hall and taught: “Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways” (Isaiah 58:2). But is it possible that only during the day they seek Him and at night they do not seek Him? What is the meaning of daily? Rather, this verse comes to say to you that with regard to anyone who engages in Torah study even one day a year, the verse ascribes him credit as though he engaged in Torah study the entire year.

And the same applies to the attribute of punishment, as it is written: “After the number of the days in which you spied out the land, even forty days, for every day a year, shall you bear your iniquities” (Numbers 14:34). But did they sin for forty years? Didn’t they sin for only forty days? Rather, this comes to say to you that anyone who transgresses a sin even one day a year, the verse ascribes him liability as though he transgressed the entire year.

§ The mishna taught: Who is a minor who is exempt from the mitzva of appearance in the Temple? Any child who is unable to ride on his father’s shoulders and ascend from Jerusalem to the Temple Mount. Rabbi Zeira strongly objects to this:

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)
אדם סלומון
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