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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 100a

permitted us the raven, nor forbidden us the dove.'1  Whenever a [suspected] trefa2  of the family Benjamin was brought before Raba, if he saw a reason for permitting it, he would remark to them, 'See, I permit you the raven:' if there were grounds for forbidding it, he would observe, 'See, I forbid you the dove'.3  R. Papa forgot himself and exclaimed, 'O these Rabbis.'4  Thereupon he kept a fast.

Levi b. Samuel and R. Huna b. Hiyya were repairing the mantles of the Scrolls of R. Judah's college. On coming to the Scroll of Esther, they remarked, 'O, this Scroll of Esther does not require a mantle.'5  Thereupon he reproved them, 'This too savours of irreverence.'6  R. Nahman said: [An epikoros is] one who calls his teacher by name,7  for R. Johanan said: Why was Gehazi punished? Because he called his master by name, as it is written, And Gehazi said, My lord, O King, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.8

R. Jeremiah sat before R. Zera and declared: The Holy One, blessed be He, will bring forth a stream from the Holy of Holies, at the side of which shall be all kinds of delicious fruits, as it is written, And by the river upon that bank thereof on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit, according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.9  Whereupon a certain10  old man said to him, 'Well spoken! and R. Johanan taught likewise.' R. Jeremiah said to R. Zera: Such an attitude savours of irreverence.11  He replied: But he merely supported you! But if you have heard of something [which may be dubbed irreverent] it is this: R. Johanan was sitting and teaching: The Holy One, blessed be He, will bring jewels and precious stones, each thirty cubits long, and thirty cubits high, and make an engraving in them, ten by twenty cubits, and set them up as the gates of Jerusalem, for it is written, And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles.12  A certain disciple derided him saying, 'We do not find a jewel even as large as a dove's egg, yet such huge ones are to exist!' Some time later he took a sea journey and saw the ministering angels cutting precious stones and pearls. He said unto them: 'For what are these?' They replied: 'The Holy One, blessed be He, will set them up as the gates of Jerusalem.' On his return, he found R. Johanan sitting and teaching. He said to him: 'Expound, O Master, and it is indeed fitting for you to expound, for even as you did say, so did I myself see.' 'Wretch!' he exclaimed, 'had you not seen, you would not have believed! You deride the words of the Sages!' He set his eyes upon him, and he turned in to a heap of bones.13

An objection was raised: And I will make you go Komamiyuth [upright].14  R. Meir said: it means [with a height of] two hundred cubits, twice the height of Adam.15  R. Judah said: A hundred cubits, corresponding to the [length of the Temple] and its walls, as it is written, That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, fashioned after the similitude of the Temple!16  — R. Johanan referred only to the ventilation windows.17

What is meant by and the leaf thereof li-terufah18  [for medicine]?19  R. Isaac b. Abudimi and R. Hisda differ therein: One maintained, to unlock the upper mouth;20  the other, to unseal the lower mouth.21  it has been said likewise.22  Hezekiah said: To free the mouth of the dumb; Bar Kappara said: To open the mouth23  of barren women. R. Johanan said: Literally for a medicine. What does this mean? — R. Samuel b. Nahmani said: To give a comely countenance to scholars.24

R. Judah, son of R. Simeon, expounded: He who emaciates25  his face for the sake of the study of the Torah in this world,26  the Holy One, blessed be He, will make his lustre shine in the next, as it is written, His countenance shall be as the Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.27  R. Tanhum b. R. Hanilai said: He who starves himself for the sake of the study of the Torah in this world, the Holy One, blessed be He, will fully satisfy him in the next, as it is written, They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.28  When R. Dimi came,29  he said: The Holy One, blessed be He, will give every righteous man His full Hand30  [of reward], for it is written, Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.31  Abaye demurred: But is it possible to say thus: is it not written, Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span?32  — He replied, Why are you not found familiar with the aggadah?33  For it was said in the West, [i.e., Palestine] in the name of Raba b. Mari: The Holy One, blessed be He, will give to every righteous man three hundred ten worlds, as it is written, That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance [yesh]34  and I will fill their treasures:35  now the numerical value of yesh is 310.36

It has been taught, R. Meir said: in the measure which one measures, so will there be [measured out] to him, as it is written, in measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt contend with it.37  R. Judah said: But can we say thus: if one gives a handful [of charity] to a poor man in this world, shall the Holy One, blessed be He, give him His hand full in the next? Surely it is written, and meted out heaven with the span? — [He replied:] Do you not admit this? [Now consider:] Which measure is greater? That of goodness [i.e., reward] or of punishment?

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. in spite of all their discussions, they cannot go beyond what is written in the Torah.
  2. V. Glos.
  3. To shew them that in practice the Rabbis did decide whether a thing was permitted or not.
  4. Contemptuously.
  5. Being of the opinion that its sanctity was of a lower grade, so that it would not defile one's hands through contact with it. The defilement of the hands by Holy Scriptures was one of the Eighteen Decrees adopted in the year 65. V. Shab. 14a.
  6. Rashi explains, because they took it upon themselves, without consulting him. Maharsha says because they spoke slightingly of its sanctity.
  7. Which was regarded as irreverent.
  8. II Kings VIII, 5.
  9. Ezek. XLVII, 12.
  10. [Wherever the Talmud speaks of 'a certain old man', Elijah is thought by some to be meant. V. Tosaf. Hul. 6a.]
  11. Perhaps he thought it an insinuation of plagiarism. Rashi renders it as a question: 'Would such an attitude savour of irreverence?'
  12. Isa. LIV, 12.
  13. V. B. B. 75a.
  14. Lev. XXVI, 13.
  15. Deriving [H] from [H], one's stature. That is, the people will gain in stature to twice the height of Adam. According to tradition, Adam's height was one hundred cubits (Hag. 12a).
  16. Psalms CXLIV, 12. The complete length of the Temple, including the porch, the chamber behind the main Hall, and the thickness of the intervening walls, was 100 cubits (Rashi); cf. B.B. (Sonc. ed.) p. 301. How then could such tall people pass through an aperture only 20 cubits high?
  17. These would be ten by twenty: but the gates themselves would be much taller.
  18. [H].
  19. V. supra.
  20. I.e., to make the dumb speak, a play on the word [H].
  21. I.e., to make the barren womb bear child; cf. n. 3.
  22. 'Likewise' is absent from the version in Men. 98a, where this is repeated. The context justifies its retention.
  23. A euphemism for 'womb'.
  24. Lit., 'to the possessors of mouths', those who toil with their mouths; v. supra 99b.
  25. Lit., 'blackens'.
  26. I.e., who undergoes privation and want.
  27. Cant. V, 15.
  28. Ps. XXXVI, 9.
  29. V. p. 390, n. 1.
  30. Lit., 'pack, 'load'
  31. Ps. LXVIII, 20.
  32. Isa. XL, 12. How then can man receive such a great reward?
  33. V. Glos.
  34. [H].
  35. Prov. VIII, 21.
  36. Thus man's receptive capacity will be enormously increased — that too is the probable meaning of this statement.
  37. Isa. XXVII, 8, I.e., in the same measure that sin spreads, so it is punished, and conversely, the same holds good of righteousness — the conception of 'measure for measure'.
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Sanhedrin 100b

    Surely the measure of reward is greater than that of punishment, for with respect to the measure of goodness it is written, And he commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, And rained down manna upon them to eat;1  whilst of the measure of punishment it is written, And the windows of heaven were opened.2  Yet, in respect of the measure even of punishment it is written, And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me, for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched: and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.3  But if one puts his fingers into the fire in this world, it is immediately burnt!4  — But just as the Holy One, blessed be He, gives the wicked the strength to receive punishment, so does he give the righteous the capacity to receive reward.5

R. AKIBA SAID: ALSO HE WHO READS UNCANONICAL BOOKS etc. A Tanna taught: [This means], the books of the Sadducees.6   R. Joseph said: it is also forbidden to read the book of Ben Sira.

    Abaye said to him: Why so? Shall we say because there is written therein, 'Do not strip the skin [of a fish] even from its ear, lest thou spoil it, but roast it [all, the fish with the skin] in the fire, and eat therewith two [twisted] loaves'?7  Now, if [you object to it in] its literal sense, the Torah too states, Thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof.8  Whilst in a metaphorical sense, this teaches good taste,9  that one should not cohabit unnaturally. But if you take exception to the passage:10  'A daughter is a vain treasure to her father: through anxiety on her account, he cannot sleep at night. As a minor, lest she be seduced; in her majority, lest she play the harlot; as an adult, lest she be not married;11  if she marries, lest she bear no children; if she grows old, lest she engage in witchcraft!' But the Rabbis have said the same: The world cannot exist without males and females; happy is he whose children are males, and woe to him whose children are females. Again if because of the following: 'Let not anxiety enter thy heart, for it has slain many a person!' But Solomon said likewise, Anxiety in the heart of man yashhenna [maketh it stoop].12  R. Ammi and R. Assi [differ in its interpretation]: one rendered it, 'let him banish it from his mind,' the other, 'let him relate it to others.'13  And if because it contains, 'Withhold the multitude from thy house, and bring not every one into thy house!' But Rabbi said the same, for it has been taught, Rabbi said: One should never have a multitude of friends in his house, for it is written, A man that hath many friends bringeth evil upon himself.14  But because there is written therein, 'A thin-bearded man is very wise: a thick-bearded one is a fool: he who blows away [the froth] from off his glass [of liquor] is not thirsty; he who says, with what shall I eat my bread? — take the bread away from him;15  he whose beard is parted will be defeated by none.'16

R. Joseph said: [Yet] we may expound to them17  the good things it contains.18  E.g., 'a good woman is a precious gift, who shall be given to the God-fearing man. An evil woman is a plague to her husband: how shall he mend matters? Let him banish [i.e., divorce] her from his house: so shall he be healed of his plague. Happy the man whose wife is beautiful; the number of his days is doubled. Avert thine eyes from a charming woman, lest thou be caught in her snare. Turn not in to her husband to drink19  wine with him, for many have been slain by the countenance of a beautiful woman, and numerous are those slain by her, and many are the blows sustained by itinerant peddlers.20  Those who seduce to adultery are as the spark that kindles the ember. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit.21  Restrain the multitude from entering into thine house, and bring not everyone thereinto. Let there be many to inquire after thy well-being, yet reveal thy secret to but one in a thousand. Guard the openings of thy mouth from her who lieth in thy bosom. Fret not over to-morrow's trouble, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth,22  and peradventure to-morrow he is no more: thus he shall be found grieving over a world that is not his.'23

All the days of the poor24  are evil.25  Ben Sira said: His nights too. The lowest roof is his roof, and on the highest mountain is his vineyard. The rain of [other] roofs [drip] on to his, whilst the earth of his vineyard is [borne] on [to other] vineyards.26

(Mnemonic: Zera, Raba, Mesharsheya, Hanina, Tobiah, Jannai, Easily suited, Johanan, Merahem, Joshua Mekazer.)27

R. Zera said in Rab's name: What is meant by, All the days of the afflicted are evil? This refers to the students28  of the Talmud; But he that is of a merry heart hath a continuous feast: this refers to students of the Mishnah.29  Raba reversed the interpretation.30  And this is what R. Mesharsheya said in Raba's name: What is meant by, whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith?31  This refers to the students of the Mishnah; But he that cleaveth wood shall be warmed thereby,32  — this refers to students of the Talmud. R. Hanina said: All the days of the afflicted are evil alludes to one who has a bad wife; whilst but he that is of a merry heart hath a continuous feast, — to him who possesses a good wife. R. Jannai said: All the days of the afflicted are evil refers to one who is over-fastidious;33  but he that is of a merry heart hath a continuous feast, — to a person who is easily suited. R. Johanan said: All the days of the afflicted are evil refers to the compassionate; but he that is of a merry heart hath a continuous feast, to the cruel. R. Joshua b. Levi said: All the days of the afflicted are evil refers to him

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Ps. LXXVIII, 23f.
  2. Gen. VII, 11; 'doors' implies a greater opening than 'windows': I.e., God metes out reward more fully than punishment.
  3. Isa. LXVI, 24.
  4. How then can the bodies of the dead go on burning for ever in the next?
  5. I.e., in both cases they are endowed with abnormal receptiveness.
  6. This probably refers to the works of the Judeo-Christians, i.e., the New Testament. There were no Sadducees after the destruction of the Temple, and so 'Sadducees' is probably a censor's emendation for sectarians or Gentiles (Herford, Christianity in the Talmud, p. 333.) [MS.M. reads, Minim.]
  7. I.e., fish is fit for consumption even if baked or roasted with its skin, and therefore it is wasteful to remove it.
  8. Deut. XX, 19, i.e., one must not wantonly destroy what is fit for use.
  9. Lit., 'way of the earth.'
  10. Ben Sira XLIII, 9-10.
  11. V. p. 517 top. The reference is to the three stages: [H], [H], [H], minority, majority, and ripeness.
  12. [H]; Prov. XII, 25.
  13. One connects it with [H], to discard from one's mind, the other with [H], to converse: but on either interpretation, the sentiment is the same as Ben Sira's.
  14. Prov. XVIII, 24.
  15. Because he is certainly not hungry — otherwise he would not waste time in considering with what to eat it.
  16. I.e., he is extremely cunning, the parting of his beard being due to incessant stroking whilst brooding over his schemes. — All this is nonsense, and hence R. Joseph's objection to reading it.
  17. I.e., to the masses, in the public lectures.
  18. [Yad Ramah records a reading confirmed by many MSS. [H] 'Had not the Rabbis hidden this book, we should have expounded them etc.', implying that Ben Sira was hitherto included in the canon; v. J.Q.R., 1891, 686 and 700.]
  19. Lit., 'to dilute'.
  20. These, trading on a petty scale, generally transacted their business with the women-folk, which led to jealousy on the part of their husbands and assaults on the peddlers.
  21. A quotation from Jer. V, 27
  22. Prov. XXVII, 1.
  23. [Ben Sira XXX, 21; XXVI, 1-4; IX, 8-9; XI, 29-34; VI, 6.]
  24. E.V. 'afflicted'.
  25. Prov. XV, 15.
  26. Being poor, he cannot afford a tall building. At the same time, when purchasing a vineyard, he must take one at the top of a mountain, where land is cheaper than in the valley; so that in a storm the earth of his field is carried away to enrich the low-lying lands — thus, whatever happens, he is the loser.
  27. V. p. 387, n. 8.
  28. Lit., 'masters'.
  29. The Talmud, owing to its complexity and difficulty, due to its intricate discussions, is a source of distress to its students; whereas the Mishnah, which is plain and straightforward, brings pleasure to those who study it.
  30. A student of the Talmud may give a definite decision, but not a student of the Mishnah, which is regarded as incomplete without the Talmud. Hence the former sees the fruit of his labours, whereas the latter derives no practical benefit from his studies.
  31. Eccl. X, 9.
  32. Ibid. E.V. translates 'shall be endangered'; for the present rendering of [H] cf. [H] in 1 Kings I, 4.
  33. So that he is worried by the smallest thing which is not exactly to his liking.
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