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    • Narratives of the Talmud ‫הועתק והוכנס לאינטרנט‬ ‫ע״י חיים תשס״ט‬A collection of the narratives recounted in the Babylonian and Yerushalmi Talmud and tosefta Written by R. Moshe Basri translated by R. Avraham Stern Volume 2 ZerayimPeah, Demai, Kilayim, Sheviyit, Terumot, Maaserot, Maaser Shaini, Chalah, Orlah, Bikurim Published by Haktav Institute Jerusalem 5755-1995
    • ‫כל הזכויות שמורות‬ © ,‫יוצא לאור בסיוע המשרד לעגעי דתות‬ .‫אגף ארגונים ומוסדות תורה, המחלקה לישיבות‬tyk^v insncucefa^zoyh. KeseARch /nd che pubhcyvnon / / ZffDftof 01/vnuscRipcs ,And piynced WORKS •flA/ V Jp.o.b. 6040, jeKus/deo% i s y d ‫ " ״‬n w . ‫ ; ד‬nro **‫זיעוזץר 1טת! יממ‬ 1 Vc^. ,DWM ,60»0 ‫מ.ד‬ Fax. ‫279פקס. 713498־2־‬
    • ‫ספר זה יצא לאור‬ ‫ע״י הנדיב היקר‬ ‫מר מ א י ד •ונגר״ז ודעיתו יצ״ו‬ ‫לעי״נ‬ ‫אביו הרב יצחק בן הרב א ש ד אנשיל‬ ‫הלו• •ונגר״ז זצ״ל‬ ‫ולעי״נ‬ ‫אמו ל א ה בת ר׳ שמעון‬ ‫ולעי״נ‬ ‫האדמו״ר מלעלוב‬ ‫הרב מ ש ה מ ר ד ם‬‫בן הרב שמעון נתן גטע בידרמן זצ״ל‬‫יהי רצון שזכות התורה וזבות ספר קדוש זה יגן עליו‬ ‫ועל כל משפחתו היקרה ובכל אשר יפנה ישכיל‬ ‫ויצליח ברוחניות ובגשמיות‬
    • This book is published with the aid of our friends Mr. and Mrs. Meir Jungreiz in memory of his father, R. Yitzchak, son of Rabbi Asher Anshel HaLevi Jungreiz, and his mother, Leah, daughter of R. Shimon, of blessed memory, and in memory of Rabbi Moshe Mordechai son of Rabbi Shimon Natan Notah Biderman, of blessed memoryMay the merit of the Torah and of this work guard over them andtheir precious family, and may they succeed in all their endeavors in both the spiritual and physical realms.
    • Introduction I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to Hashem forenabling me to complete the second volume of the series,"Narratives of the Talmud," and for meriting me to witnessthe second publication of the first volume of this series It hasalready been published in various languages, and widelyacclaimed as a great asset to the dissemination of our Jewishheritage. Although the format of this series has already been outlinedin the introduction to the first volume, we will add a fewpoints of particular relevance to this second volume: This book is based on ancient commentaries which haveonly recently been republished. They cast new light on thevarious tales and episodes of the Yerushalmi Talmud. Hence,even those familiar with books such as Meam Loez will findnew insights in this work. It should be noted that great care has been taken to base thiswork on the most accurate versions of the TalmudYerushalmi. Our rendition of the text is based on the classiccommentators of the ages, such as the fifteenth century workof the renowned Spanish exile, R. Shlomo son of Rav YosefSirilio, as well as the commentary of R. Yafe Ashkenazi andof the Vilna Gaon. The commentary of Rabbi Yitzchak IsaacKrassilszkov, which was written in the early part of thiscentury behind the Iron Curtain, is yet another example of thevariety of sources we have drawn from in our attempt topresent a reliable presentation of the text.
    • iv Introduction A l l the narratives in this volume were taken solely from theTalmud Yerushalmi and Tosefta. Even though priority wasgiven to the classic version of the Yerushalmi of R. Sirilio, wehave frequently offered a variety of interpretations, when theyseemed of particular interest. Apart from the main headings toeach chapter, we saw the need to add sub-headings in order tobetter convey the essential lesson of each tale. There arevarious prints of the Talmud Yerushalmi, each one dividingthe text into halachot differently. We have followed the formatof the Vilna edition, and have omitted all page references,since there is no standard edition of the Yerushalmi Talmud. It should be emphasized that the stories recorded in thisbook are not mere fantasy ‫ -־‬they are the words of our holyRabbis, who weighed every statement, and whose words arelike fiery coals. Moral lessons can be derived from everynarrative, and careful study of the text will undoubtedlyinspire the student to serve G-d with more devotion. In our generation we have witnessed the publication of amassive amount of literature depicting the greatness, holinessand supernatural powers of the great rabbis and righteouspeople of former years. Unfortunately, the stories and miraclesrecorded in many of these books are often exaggerated andsimply untrue. Hence, it becomes difficult to differentiatebetween fact and fiction. Worse of all, false accounts grosslydistort the true character of the righteous individuals aboutwhom they are about. There are those who will argue that even if a story is untrue,it still has what to teach us. However, this is a ridiculousargument, for G-d is Truth and His Torah is Truth. Hence, amisrepresentation of facts regarding a holy mans life must
    • Introduction vultimately detract from divine service. Moreover, falsenarratives cause us to lose respect of our sages of yore. Forinstance, after one reads only a few accounts of spectacularmiracles that supposedly occured to righteous individuals ofrecent generations, the Torahs account of how Jacob split theJordan River with his stick or reached great distances withmiraculous speed no longer seems impressive. Elijah theProphet appearing to an individual becomes almost amundane event, for almost every modern-day tyadik ispurported to have had such a revelation. This idea was illustrated most poignantly in a story I heardrecently. A certain rabbi wrote a letter to a colleague,prefixing his friends name with numerous titles and extensivepraises. When the colleague received the letter, he protested tothe sender for having written such gross exaggerations — afterall, he was a G-d-fearing individual, but not the greatest saintwho had ever walked the earth! The sender of the letterapologized, but explained that had he omitted the list ofpraises, people would have concluded that he does not regardthe rabbi as even being Jewish! For these reasons, great energy was devoted to obtain themost reliable versions of the original text, and to accuratelytranslate it into English. It should be clarified that my intention is not, Heavenforbid, to disqualify those books which bring home ethicalteachings through elevating fictional stories, for they do infact bring people closer to the fear of Heaven and divineservice. R. Nachman expressly states that such stories areconstructive and serve a very important purpose. I only meanto warn the reader of the danger of reading books which
    • vi Introductioncontain distortions about a particular sages experiences. Suchbooks can cause people to mimic the lifestyle of a particularsage -- which has been falsely portrayed ‫ ־־‬and then imaginethat they have reached the highest levels of spiritual purity,when in fact that have not even began scraping the surface ofwhat the Creator requires of them. I wish to express my deep gratitude to all those whocontributed to the publication of this work. I give specialthanks to my good friend, Rabbi Aharon Weckselstein, whosegreat efforts and many comments were of great help, and tothe especially to R. Shimon Weinstock and R. Josef Bashrian,for their devoted work. May they all be blessed. I extend my deepest gratitude to my father and mentor,Rabbi Ezra Basri, to whom I owe all my achievements. He hasenabled me to devote my life to the study of the Talmud in thestudy hall of the Keter Shoshanim Yeshiva, which he foundedin the holy city of Jerusalem. May HaShem help him tocontinue his sacred work and grant him much health andhappiness. May he merit to publish many more importantreligious works, and thereby spread the light of the Torah tothe four comers of the earth. May we all merit to learn, teach, practice, and lovinglyuphold all the words of our holy Torah. May the merit of theSages of the Mishnah and Talmud stand in our stead and thatof our children, so that neither we nor our descendants everdepart from the teachings of the Torah. May we foreveradhere to the words of G‫־‬ds holy Torah, as it says in scripture,"When you walk it will lead you, when you lie down it willguard you, and when you arise it will talk with you. Through
    • Introduction viithe Torah your days will be increased, and years of life will beadded to you. Length of days is in its right hand; in its lefthand are riches and honor. May the Lord grant strength to Hispeople; may the Lord bestow on His people wellbeing." Moshe Basri
    • TALMUD YERUSHALMI THE ORDER OF ZERAYIM Contents Tractate PeahChap. Hal. Aggadatah pg. 1 1 1. A Fifth of Ones Income to Charity 1 2. King Monbaz 2 3. Honoring Ones Parents 4 Damah Son of Natina * The Extent to Which One Must Honor His Parents * How Rabbi Yishmael Honored His Mother * Merits Depend on Fate* Rabbi Zeira * Earning the Garden of Eden by Making His Father Work * The Son Who Refused to Sustain His Father 4. The Fiery Myrtle Branch 9 5. The Mezzuzah 10 6. The Effects of Lashon HaRah 10 Joseph and His Brothers * The Importance of Shalom * Covert LashonHarah David and Samuel * The Coals of the Broom Brush 2 4 7. The Transmission From Mt. Sinai 18 3 7(8) 8. Miracles of the Pilgrimage 19 9 9. Visiting the Sick 20 10. The Will 21 f 4 1 11. Separation of Pe ah 22 Because of Danger * The Custom in Beit-Nimer 7 1 12. The Obligation to Leave Shikhchah 24 No Shikhchah [Law of Forgotten Produce] on Olives * Halachah During Work
    • ContentsChap. Hal. Aggadatah pg. 3 13. The Land of Milk and Honey 25 The Weight of the OVlot * The Shrunken Peach * The Thick Carob * The Decline of the Generations * The Orbelian Seah * Cinnamon - the Food of Goats * Honey [Sap] and Milk * The Grape Cluster that Vanished * The Radishes which were Brought to Rebbi at the End of the Sabbatical Year * A Nest at the Top of the Turnip * Mustard Pods in the Branches of a Fig Tree* Only 300 Times as Much * The Honey which Overflowed * Inferior Honey * The Luscious Cabbage 1 14. The Law of Leket and Trusting the Poor 31 Income for the Entire Year * Penny and Penny Laid Up Will Be Many * Gamliel the Barber 4 15. Allotments to the Poor 33 16. Administrator over the Community. 34 Prevention of Slander * The Importance of the , Community Administrator* Rejoicing Over One s Disgrace * Even if it Entails Being Disgraced 6 17. Giving Charity with Evil Designs 37 18. Leaving Jerusalem 37 19. Charity According to What He Was Used To 38 Hillel the Elder and the Poor Man * The Wonder-Cure for the Impoverished Wealthy Man Who Loathed to Eat 20. A Special Sabbath Garment 39 8 21. Gratitude -- to Swindlers 40 Dilemma of the Poor: "Silver or Gold Vessels?" * The Man Who Died from Famine with a Bag Full of Coins * A Large Donation to a Regular Meat-Eater 22. Giving Discretely 42 Not Benefitting from Charity * Giving A l l He Received to Others * Rabbi Chaninas Encounter with the Ruler of Evil Spirits * He Considers the Poor
    • ContentsChap. Hal. Aggadatah pg. 23. A Years Sustenance At the Beginning ofthe Year 44 24. Murdered by Nechemiah 44 25. Nachum Ish Gam Zu Repents 44 26. The Blind Mans Blessing 45 27. Charity For Torah-Laborers or for Building a Synagogue 46 Tosefta Peah 3 13 1. The Forgotten Sheaf- The Unintended Good Deed 47 Tractate Demai 1 3 1. Being Careful with Untithed Produced 49 Tithing Meat and Fish * Not Like Rabbi Pinchas ben Yairs Donkey 2. Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair 51 The Deposit * A Meeting of Mice * Finding the Lost Jewel * A Guarantor for Tithing They Will Pass Through the River on Foot * Saving the Pious Mans Daugther 3. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, Protects the Rigtheous from Erring 54 Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa and the Table Leg * Rabbi Tarfons Bread Falls Down 2 1 4. The Kashrut of Raisins 55 3 2 5. Stealing a Chip of Wood 55 36. The Sages Weigh Their Words 56 4 1 7 . The Wise Know How to Question 57 8. Tithing Secretly, So as Not to Put to Shame 57 9. Religious Work Is Serious Labor 58
    • ContentsChap. Hal. Aggadatah pg Tosefta Demai 1. Laying Down the Law in Israel 59 Tractate Kilayim 1. Cross-Fertilization of Plants 60 A Mistaken Lesson * Rabbi Hillels Notebook * Rabbi Hillels Notebook *The Students Who Forbade GraftingChap. Hal. Aggadatah pg 6 2. Mating Different Types of Animals 63 3. like the Saplings of Your Vines 64 2 3 4. Avoiding the Semblance of Wrongdoing 65 5. They Had Plenty of Answers 66 4 2 6. A Practical Ruling 68 A Sabbath Partition and a Kilayim Partition 6 3 This Is Forbidden and That Is Permitted 9 1 7. Kilayim of Clothing: Shaatnez 69 Burning the Garment * A Shroud for the Dead * A Safeguard to Shaatnez * Avoiding the Semblance of Wrong-doing * Remove Your Garments and Hand Them Over * The Apron Which Was Shaatnez Follow Your Rabbi 3 8. Our Holy Rabbi 73 The Last Will of Rabbi Yehuda the Prince * Preparations for the Resurrection of the Dead * Rebbis Demise * "His Tender Mercies Are over All His Works" * Elijah the Prophet Assumes the Appearance of Rabbi Chiyya and Cures Rebbi * Rabbi Chiyya and Rabbi Yishmael, Son of Yosi 9. Rabbi Chiyya the Great 82 Fasting to See His Face * The Difference between Learning and Teaching* The Burial of Rabbi Hunna in the Cave of Rabbi * King Solomons Scribes 10. "There is None that Can Deliver Out of My Hand" 84 King Solomons Scribes * Rabbi Reuvens Two Sons
    • ContentsChap. Hal. Aggadatah pg 11. Death and Burial in the Land of Israel 85 Dying in Ones Mothers Arms * Rabbi Meirs Last Will * The Well of Miriam* "And His Land Shall Atone for His People" Tractate Sheviit 4 2 1. Transgression of the Law 88 Working in the Seventh Year * Transgress Rather than Die * Jew Until the End 2. Not to Exalt Oneself with the Crown of the Torah 91 3 3. May the Blessing of the L-rd Be Upon You 92 7 4. They Cherish Her Very Dust 93 6 1 5. A Students Ruling 94 6. The Student Who Ruled in His Rabbis Presence 95 7. The Cohen Who Left the Land 96 8. The Purity of Ashkelon 97 9. The Land of Israel and Its Borders 98 The Ultimatums of Joshua, Son of Nun * The Fear of Leaving * Question and Answer* From Babylonia to Babylonia * Signing the Legal Permission 3 10. Retracting from Ones Permission 101 4 11. The Onion which Was in Mourning 102 12. Meat in Place of Vegetables 103 8 5 13. A Sword upon the Loners 104 9 1 14. Rebbis Maidservant 106 15. Keeping Out of Arguments 107 16. Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai Cleanses Tiberias 109 2 17. The Kings Advisor and the Deer 111 4 18. Disposal of Shemittah Produce 112 The Way I Saw My Rabbis Act * Humble in Ruling * Rendering Ownerless without Losses 6 19. Happy Is the One Who Gave Birth to Him 114 20. Elijah the Prophet and His Student, Rabbi YehoshuaSon of Levi 116 f 21. Between Challah and Shevi it 117 10 4 22. Keeping to Ones Word 118
    • ContentsChap. Hal. Aggadatah pg. Tractate Terumot 3 1. The Danger of Poison 119 Foods Which Have Been Nibbled At and Uncovered Liquids * Ask the Rabbi * No Calamities in This House * The Snake and Its Taste * The Poor Man Who Saved the Householder * The Pious Man Who Was Forced to Eat on Yom Kippur * Misplaced Trust *Look After Your Health * The Snakes Habits * G-d Guards Those Who Live with Simple Faith 2. The Butcher Gets His Punishment 130 3. The Danger of Repulsive Food 130 4. The Dog and the Snake -- Two Tales of Faithful Guards 131 5. Honoring the Dog 132 (10) 6. Is This the Teaching of the Pious? 132 7. Saving Lives 134 Prepared to Sacrifice His Life * The Rescue of Rabbi Zeirah Son of Channina 8. Everything Depends on the Heart, and the Heart Depends on the Pouch 135 9. The Demon Who Saved the Sages of Tiberias 137 9 Tractate Ma aserot [Tithing] 2 2 1. Pure and Scrupulous 143 3 1 2 . The Difference between Earlier and Later Generations 144 2 3. Rabbi Elazar Son of Rabbi Shimon 145 Love of Rebuke 4 The Cup and the Belly 4. Reverting from Scripture to Talmud 147 4 2 5. In Honor of the Sabbath 149 5 3(7) 6. The Gem Under the Pottery Shard 150
    • ContentsChap. Hal. Aggadatah pg. Tracte Maaser Sheini (The Second Tithe) 1 1. Redemption of the Tithes 151 3 Exemption from the Fifth 6 2. Various Symbols 156 3. The Interpretation of Dreams 157 The Interpretations of Rabbi Yosi, Son of Chalafta * The Interpretations of Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi The Miser and His Recompense * The Scoffer and His Recompense * The Fulfillment of a Dream Depends on Its Interpretation Rabbi Akivas Interpretations 1 4. Clarification of Mishnayot 163 2 5. Hidden Passages 164 3 6. Tithes for the Priests 166 Tithes for Those Engaged in Torah Study * Priests Who Refrained from Accepting Levitical Tithes * Priests Who Refrained from Accepting Levitical Tithes * With Whom to Make Business Deals Rabbi Akivas Trick 5 7. Merits -‫ ־‬Only for Others 171 Tosefta Maaser Sheini (Second Tithe) 3 17 1. Redeeming in the Proper Manner 172 5 10 2. Rabbi Eliezers Vineyard 173 Tractate Challa 1. Ten Religious Acts Performed with Bread 174 Tractate Orlah 1. The Uprooting of Kilayim 175
    • ContentsChap. Hal. Aggadatah pg. Tractate Bikurim 1 5 l.TheStrapIsUntiedandtheRestrictionlsRemoved 175 2 2 2. Behold, I Am Like Ben-Azai 177 3 1 3. The Bringing of Bikkurim (the First-Fruits) 178 3 4. "You Shall Arise Before the Hoary-Head" 184 They Watched the Back of Moses * The Torah Does Not Arise in Front of Its Son* Cleaving to the Torah and Its Scholars * There Is No Sitting before Mount Sinai* A Long Life Must Be Justified * Rise to a Higher Sanctity, But Do Not Descend 5. Ordination and Authority 188 Forgiveness of Sins * Gods of Silver * Ordination to Judge * The Bread Is Not to the Wise
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 1 TALMUD YERUSHALMI T H E ORDER O F Z E R A Y I M T R A C T A T E PEAH Chapter I:Halacha 1 1. A Fifth of Ones Income to Charity It has been taught: "These are the precepts which have noprescribed measure: Leaving the corner of a field [for thepoor], the first-fruit offering, the pilgrimage [to the HolyTemple], acts of kindness, and Torah study/ [Regarding actsof kindness,] this is only true of acts of kindness which areperformed with ones body. Kind deeds which are performedwith ones money, however, do indeed have a measurement, asRabbi Shimon ben Lakish said in the name of Rabbi Yosi sonof Channina: "In Usha, it was decreed [by the Sages] that aperson set aside no more than one-fifth of his assets for theperformance of mitzvot." An incident occurred in which Rabbi Yeshbav gave awayeverything he owned to the poor. [When he heard of thisincident,] Rabbi Gamliel sent him a message: "Have they notsaid: *No more than one-fifth of a persons assets should be setaside for the performance of mitzvot" But did not Rabbi Gamliel live before [the decree was madein] Usha? [If so, how could he have said, "Have they notsaid..."? Surely he lived during the period that the Sanhedrin
    • 2 Aggadatah[the Supreme Rabbinic Court] was situated in Yavne, before itwas exiled to Usha. Thus, how could he cite a later edictenacted in Usha!] Rabbi Yosi bar Bon said in the name of Rabbi Levi: "This[law not to exceed a fifth of ones assets when giving charity]was always the accepted law. However, [over the years] it wasforgotten. [Then came] the second generation, the TorahSages of the Usha Sanhedrin, and confirmed the opinion of theprevious generation. This teaches us that any law which a Beit Din [RabbinicCourt] deliberates over carefully will continue to be observedin accordance with how it was transmitted to Moses on Mt.Sinai. 2. King Monbaz King Monbaz repleted his and his forefatherstreasure-house granaries during years of drought. [He gaveaway all their contents to the poor. Although the Sages ofUsha decreed that a person should not use more than one-fifthof his assets for the fulfillment of mitzvot lest he becomeimpoverished, this concern is not relevant where kings areconcerned. Furthermore, in situations where a Jews life isendangered, there is no limit to how much of ones money onemay give away.] His brothers and his fathers household converged aroundhim and demanded of him, "Your forefathers gatheredtreasures, adding to the treasures they and their forefathers hadgathered. You, however, have repleted your treasure-housesand that of your forefathers!" "On the contrary!" he answered them. "My forefathersstored [their treasures] beneath, while I have stored themabove. My forefathers stored them in the earth, but I have
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 3 stored them in the heavens, as it says, Truth will spring out of the earth, and righteousness will look down from heaven (Psalms 85:12). "My forefathers gathered treasures which do not give forth fruit, while I gathered treasures which do give forth fruit, as it says, Say of the righteous, that it wil be well with him, for they shall eat the fruit of their actions (Isaiah 3:10). "My forefathers stored [their treasures] in a place which canbe reached by [human] hands, while I stored them in a placebeyond the reach of [human] hands, as it says, Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your Throne (Psalms 89:15) [from which we see that charity is stored underneath the HolyThrone]. "My forefathers gathered currency, while I have gatheredsouls, as the verse says, The fruit of the righteous is a tree oflife... (Proverbs 11:30). [That is, the fruit of charity is the Treeof Life, which gives forth fruit and eternal reward. In addition,charity acquires souls, and sustaining a single Jewish soul istantamount to sustaining an entire world.] "My forefathers stored [their treasures] away for others, butI have stored it away for myself, as it says, You shall certainlyreturn the pledge to him when the sun goes down...and it willbe counted as righteousness to you before the L‫־‬rd(Deuteronomy 24:13). "My forefathers stored [their treasures] for This World, butI have stored [my treasure] for the Next World, as it says, Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousnessdelivers from death (Proverbs 10:2). Obviously, the versecannot mean to say that [a person who gives charity] willactually not die! Rather, it must mean that such an individualwill not suffer death in the Next World."
    • 4 Aggadatah 3. Honoring Ones Parents Damah Son of Natina The fulfillment of the following precepts entitles one to enjoy the fruit of his efforts in This World, and eternal reward in the Next: Honoring ones father and mother.... They asked Rabbi Eliezer, "To what extent must a personhonor his father and mother?" "Why do you ask me?" he replied. "Go and ask Dama benNatina!" Dama ben Natina was the Chairman of the City Council.Once, his mother became temporarily insane and beganhitting him on the face in the presence of the members of theCouncil. As she prepared to strike him in the face with hersandal, it fell from her hand. He [picked it up and] gave it toher in order that she should not suffer discomfort. Rabbi Chezkiah said, "There was a certain gentile fromAshkelon, who was Chairman of the City Council. He wouldnever sit on a particular stone that his father used to sit on.After his fathers death, he worshiped that stone as an idol." It has been taught: Once, it happened that the jasper stonefrom the High Priests breatplate, which represents the Tribeof Benjamin, was lost. People began asking, "Who owns sucha precious stone?" Some answered, "Dama ben Netina hasone." A group of Sages went to him, [negotiated the price of thestone with him,] and they agreed on 100 dinars. He went upthe stairs to bring the stone to them, but discovered that hisfather was sleeping. Some say that his father held the key tothe safe in his hand, while others say that his fathers legs were
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 5dangling over the box, making it impossible for him to move itwithout waking him. Returning down the stairs to them, he said, " I could notbring it to you." Because he did not want to benefit from hisaction, he did not tell them the reason why he could not bringthem the stone. The Sages said to each other, "Perhaps he wants moremoney?" They raised the price to 200 dinars, then to 1000, buthe refused to bring the stone. As soon as his father awoke,however, he brought the stone to them at once. They offeredhim the 1000 dinars, but he refused to accept the money. "Do you think I would exchange my fathers honor formoney? I refuse to derive benefit from my fathers honor!" heinsisted. How did the Holy One, blessed be He, reward him? Rabbi Yosi bar Bon said, "That same night, his cow gavebirth to a Red Heifer [the extremely rare element essential incertain spiritual purifications in the Temple]. The JewishPeople purchased the animal from him, paying him its weightin gold. Rabbi Shabtai said: "It says, The Almighty, He is excellentin power...and in greatness of justice (Job 37:23) -‫ ־‬G-d doesnot withhold the reward [even] of gentiles, when they fulfillTorah precepts." The Extent to Which One Must Honor His Parents Once, Rabbi Tarfons mother went to take a walk in hercourtyard during Shabbat. One of the laces of her sandalripped, but because [it is prohibited to do so on] Shabbat, shecould not tie it together. For the same reason, they could notbring her another shoe.
    • 6 Aggadatah Rabbi Tarfon went and placed each of his hands under oneof her feet. She walked on them all the way to her bed. Once, he became ill, and the Torah Sages came to visit him.His mother said to them, "Pray for my son, Tarfon! He honorsme so much more than necessary!" They asked her, "What does he do for you?" She told themthe incident described above. "Even i f he does this, and continues to do this a thousandmore times, he has still not reached even half the measure ofhonor the Torah demands a son to have for his parents!" theysaid to her. How Rabbi Yishmael Honored His Mother Rabbi Yishmaels mother came to the Sages andcomplained about her son, "Rebuke my son Yishmael forfailing to honor me!" As she spoke, the faces of the Sages present turned yellowfrom embarrassment. "Is it possible that Rabbi Yishmael doesnot honor his mother?" they said to each other. "What does he do to you," they asked her. She said, "When he comes out of the Study Hall, I alwaysask him to let me wash his feet and drink the water. But healways refuses!" The Sages said to Rabbi Yishmael, "Since this is her desire,then this is how you must honor her." Merits Depend on Fate Rabbi Manna said, "How right those millers are when theysay, A persons merits depend on his fate." [I.e., even theamount of flour produced from a persons wheat depends onhis fate. This is cited in reference to the previos episodes
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 7relating to Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Yishmaers behaviortowards their mothers] Rabbi Tarfons mother was encouragedto demand the maximum honor from her son, whereas RabbiYishmaels mother was encouraged to continue loweringherself to her wise son. Rabbi Zeira Rabbi Zeira used to exclaim with much sorrow, " I f only Iwould have a father and mother to honor, so that I might earna portion in the Next World!" However, when he heard that the Sages said about RabbiTarfon, "He has still not reached even half the measure ofhonor the Torah demands," and that, at the same time, theyordered Rabbi Yishmael to concede to his mothers startlingdemands, he said, "Thank G‫־‬d that I do not have a father or amother! I would not be capable of doing what either RabbiTarfon or Rabbi Yishmael did!" Rabbi Avin said: " I am exempt from the obligation to honorones parents." They say that when his father died, he was still in hismothers womb, and as soon as he was born, his mother died.Earning the Garden of Eden by Making His Father Work It has been taught: One person earns a portion in Gehinomby feeding his father the finest fowl, while another earns GanEden by making his father work at the grinding wheel. How does one earn a portion in Gehinom by feeding hisfather fine fowl? There was a certain man who used to feed hisfather fattened hens. Once, his father asked him, "My son,from where did you get these [hens]?"
    • 8 Aggadatah "Old man, old man!" his son answered him, "just eat and bequiet! When dogs eat, they stay quiet!" Such a person earns a portion in Gehinom even though heserves his father the best foods, for he reveals his ill feeling atserving him such expensive meals. And how does one earn a portion in Gan Eden by makinghis father work at the grinding wheel? There once was a manwho earned a living by grinding grains. One day, his very oldfather received a summons which in effect conscripted him forwork at one of the Kings mills. The son said to his father, "Father, you grind instead of me,here at home, and I will replace you at the Kings mill. If thereis degradation to suffer, I prefer to suffer it in your place. Andif there are beatings to undergo, I will experience them in yourplace." Such a person earns a potion in Gan Eden by making hisfather work the grinding wheel. The Son Who Refused to Sustain His Father Rabbi Yonatan and Rabbi Yanai were sitting when a mancame and kissed Rabbi Yonatans feet. "What kind deed have you done for him?" Rabbi Yanaiasked him. He answered, "Once, he came to me and complained thathis son refused to provide him sustenance. I said to him, Goand accuse him in a loud voice in the synagogue whenservices are concluded. At that time, people are milling aboutthe entrance on their way out. Embarrassing his son in publicwould surely have the desired effect. Ever since I gave himthis advice, he honors me greatly." "Why did you not coerce the son to support his father byadministering lashes to him?" asked Rabbi Yanai.
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 9 Rabbi Yonatan responded, "Do you mean to say that aRabbinic Court may resort to coersion in such a case?" "Do you mean to say that you have not heard the report thatit is indeed permitted to use coersion in such a case? Rabbi Yonatan retracted, and established the report whichRabbi Yanai spoke of the accepted law. Rabbi Yaakov bar Acha said in the name of Rabbi Shmuelbar Nachman, who said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: " A sonmay be coerced to provide sustenance for his father." Rabbi Yosi said, " I f only everything else I have learned wasas clear to me as this law: that a son may be coerced to supporthis father." 4. The Fiery Myrtle Branch Rabbi Shmuel bar Rav Yitzchak used to dance in front ofnewlywed brides, singing their praises while holding a longmyrtle branch. [Others say that he would juggle with threemyrtle branches in order to entertain them.] Rabbi Zeira would see him and conceal himself from him."Look how that old man humiliates us Torah scholars with hislightheaded antics!" Rabbi Zeira would say. On the day Rabbi Shmuel died, there was thunder andlightning for three hours. [This signified the degree of sorrowfelt by everyone over Rabbi Shmuels death.] A HeavenlyVoice pronounced: "Rabbi Shmuel bar Rav Yitzchak, the onewho performed so many kind deeds, has died!" When the burial procession began to make its way to thecemetery, a heavenly fire descended, separating the crowdfrom Rabbi Shmuels body. [This phenomenon only occurredfor one or two righteous individuals of each generation. It wasa sign that the congregation was not worthy enough to evenapproach his body.] The fire took on the shape of a myrtlebranch.
    • 10 Aggadatah People began saying to each other, "Look at that old man!The merit of the myrtle branch with which he danced hasendured!" 5.The Mezzuzah The King of Persia, Artabon, once sent RabbeinuHaKadosh a magnificent precious stone of great value. Hesaid to him, "Send me back an object of equal value/ Rabbeinu HaKadosh sent him back a mezzuzah. The King said to him, "What! I sent you a priceless gift, andin return, you send me an object worth one single prutahl" Rabbeinu HaKadosh answered, "[On the contrary!] Ourcombined wealth does not equal the worth of that mezzuzah.Furthermore, you sent me an object which itself must beguarded, whereas I sent you something which will guard you,even while you sleep. As the verse says, When you walk, itwill lead you; when you lie down, it will keep you... (Proverbs6:22)." Immediately after [Artabon received this last message], ademon entered into the body of his only daughter andcaused her to become very i l l . A l l the doctors attempted tocure her, but to no avail. However, when Artabon placed themezzuzah Rabbeinu HaKadosh had sent him on the entranceto his daughters room, the demon fled instantly. Then,Rabbeinu HaKadosh decided to keep the precious stone. 6. The Effects of Lashon HaRah Joseph and His Brothers Concerning Joseph and his brothers, the verse says, "Josephreported their wicked deeds to their father" (Genesis 37:2).
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 11Now, what exactly did Joseph tell his father? Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehudah, and Rabbi Shimon offervarying interpretatios: Rabbi Meir says: "[Joseph told his father] that they weresuspected of having eaten a limb from a live animal." Rabbi Yehudah says: "That the sons of Rachel and Leahtreated the sons of the servants [Zilpah and Bilhah]disrespectfully, calling them slaves." Rabbi Shimon says: "That they were looking lustfully at thelocal women." Rabbi Yehudah ben Pazi said: "Sheol and destruction arebefore the L‫־‬rd; how much more, then, the hearts of thechildren of men (Proverbs 15:11)." [The punishment for onestransgressions are measured on a heavenly scale. Just as thereare large and small weights, so, too, ones transgressions aremeasured according to large and small weights. Manspunishment is always proportional to his sin.] Joseph said that his brothers were suspected of having eatena limb from a live animal. In return, the Holy One, blessed beHe, said: "Is that so? I will prove to him that even in theirlowest state [when they sold Joseph], they still slaughtered ananimal prior to eating its meat, as it says, and [they] killed akid of the goats and dipped the coat in the blood (Genesis37:31)." Joseph said that his brothers were treating the sons of theservants as i f they were slaves. In return, the verse says,"Joseph was sold for a servant" (Psalms 105:17)." Joseph said that his brothers were looking lustfully at thelocal women. In return, the bear enticed him, as the verse says,"...after these things, his masters wife cast her eyes uponJoseph" (Genesis 39:7). [Potiphars wife is being comparedhere to a bear, trembling as it waits to spring on its prey.]
    • 12 Aggadatah The Importance of Shalom Rabbi Channina said: "Come and see how harmful is avaklashon harah [indirect tale-bearing] - G-d [even] saw fit toalter a verse in the Torah [to avoid it] for the sake of makingpeace between Avraham and Sarah. "The verse says, Sarah laughed within herself, thinking,"After having become aged, will I now becomerejuvenated...and my master [Avraham] is old?!" (Genesis18:12). However, when G-d spoke to Avraham, He omittedSarahs thought concerning his age: G‫ ־‬d said to Avraham,"Why did Sarah laugh, thinking How will I give birth ~ / amold?!"" {Ibid., 18:13)." Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel said: "Come and see howharmful avak lashon harah is - wise men made up imaginarystatements in order to make peace between Joseph and hisbrothers. "The verse says, They urgently sent word to Joseph, saying"Your father commanded before he died, You shall say toJoseph: Forgive, I pray to you now, the trespass of yourbrothers and their sin, because they did evil to you. And now,we pray to you, forgive the trespass of the servants of the G-dof your father"" (Genesis 50:16-17). However, there is nomention of this report in any other verse. [Therefore, we mustassume that Josephs brothers made this statement inYaakovs name, out of fear that he would take revenge againstthem after their fathers death.]" Covert Lashon Harah A group of flax merchants was once conscripted to work forone of the Kings work details. One of the merchants, whose
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 13name was Bar Chovetz, did not appear at the appointedlocation, but his absence was not noticed. When themerchants later realized that Bar Chovetz was missing, theybecame angry with him. They wanted to report his absence tothe sentries, but no one was willing to do so explicitly.Instead, they decided to suggest his absence to the sentriessurrepticiously. "What are we eating today?" one of them asked. "Chuvtzin" [cheese, or according to others, lentils] anotherone answered. One of the sentries heard them, and was immediatelyreminded of Bar Chovetz. "Go and get Bar Chovetz !‫ יי‬hedemanded. Rabbi Yochanan commented, "This is a covert form oflashon harah" Hypocrisy and Lashon Harah The rich and influential citizens of Tzipori wereconscripted to one of the Kings work details. One of them,whose name was Yochanan, did not appear at the appointedlocation, but his absence was not noticed. Later, the group ofwealthy citizens realized that Yochanan had not come withthem, and they became angry with him. One of them said in aloud, sorrowful voice: "Are we not going to visit Yochanantoday?" When one of the sentries heard this, he said, "BringYochanan at once!" Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: "This is a hypocritical formof lashon harah, for he pretended to be concerned aboutYochanan when, in truth, his only intention was to cause himharm."
    • 14 Aggadatah David and Samuel Rabbi Abbah bar Kahana said: "Every Jew in Davidsgeneration was righteous, and it was only because of theslanderers amongst them that Jews died when they went tobattle. The verse says, My soul is among lions, and I lie downamong those who are on fire, the sons of men, whose teeth arespears and arrows, and whose tongues are sharp swords(Psalms 57:5-6). My soul is among lions refers to Abner andAmsah, who were lions in the study of Torah; I lie downamong those who are on fire refers to Doeg and Achitofel,who yearned for lashon harah; whose teeth are spears andarrows refers to Keyila, as the verse says, Will the men ofKeyila deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down, asYour servant has heard? (I Samuel 23:11); their tongues,sharp swords refers to the Zifim, as the verse says, A maskilof David, when the Zifim came and said to Saul, "Does notDavid hide himself with us?" (Psalms 54:2)." At that time [because of the tale-bearing], David said to theHoly One, blessed be He, "Master of the Universe! What isYour Holy Presence doing on the earth? Withdraw Your HolyPresence from their midst!" This is the meaning of the verse,"Be exalted, O G-d, above the heavens; let Your glory beabove all the earth" {Ibid., 57:6). [By removing His Presencefrom their midst, they would cease to enjoy prosperity andgood fortune. This, in turn, would induce them to examinetheir deeds and realize their mistakes.] In contrast, Ahabsgeneration, who were idol worshippers, did not lose a singleman in combat, because there was not a single tale-beareramongst them. This is what Obadiah said to Elijah: "My lord, was it nottold, what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord,
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 15how I hid a hundred men of the Lords prophets, fifty in acave, and fed them with bread and water?" ( I Kings 18:13). I fhe fed them bread, which is difficult to find in times offamine, then why mention giving them water? Thus, from thequestion, we may infer that it was more difficult for him tobring them water than bread. [Because in order to findsufficient water, he found it necessary to ask numerous peoplefor directions. He feared that word of his deeds would reachAhab.] Elijah announced to the people on Mt. Carmel: " I , above,remain a prophet of the Lord" (Ibid., 18:22). Although all thepeople who were gathered there were aware of the existenceof the other prophets, they did not reveal it to the King. [Theydid not inform the King Ahab that Obadiah was hiding G-dsprophets in caves, despite the fact that i f the King had foundout, he would have held them responsible for withholding thisvaluable piece of information from him. By Elijahsannouncement that he was the only remaining prophet, theyinferred that the King was not to know of the existence of theothers.] Why is lashon harah called tlitayi ["the third" in Aramaic]?Because it murders three people: The tale-bearer, the onewho believes the rumor, and the subject of the rumor. In the days of Saul, four were killed: Doeg, who was thetale-bearer, Saul, who believed the rumor, Achimelech, thesubject of the rumor, and Abner. Why did Abner die? Different answers were suggested byRabbi Yehoshuah ben Levi, Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, andthe Sages: Rabbi Yehoshuah ben Levi said [Abner was killed] becausehe made jest of the young mens blood, as the verse says,"Abner said to Yoav, Let the young men rise up and playbefore us; and Yoav said, Let them rise up" (I Samuel 2:14).
    • 16 Aggadatah Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said [he was killed] because hementioned his own name prior to Davids, as the verse says,"And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying,Whose is the Land? Make your covenant with me, and behold,my hand shall be with you, to bring all Israel to you" {Ibid.,3:12). He wrote to him, "From Abner to David." The Sages say [Abner was killed] because he did not allowSaul to make peace with David, as the verse says, "Now, myfather, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the factthat I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you, knowand see that there is neither evil nor transgression in my hand,and that I have not sinned against you. Yet you lie in wait totake my soul" ( I Samuel 24:11). Yet Abner said to Saul, "Youwant to forgive him because of the corner of robe he broughtyou? [You are wrong to do so, for] it merely ripped on somethorns, [and David only found it. Now, he uses it as proof thathe could have killed you i f he wished.] But when Sauls group encamped on Givat HaChachilah inthe Desert of Zif, they all fell asleep. David then came andtook the spear and the water sack. Saul then said to Abner,"Now what will you answer, Abner? Regarding the corner ofrobe, you claimed it ripped on some thorns. Did the thornsalso take away the spear and the water sack?" And there are some who say [he was killed] because it waswithin his capacity to convince Saul not to murder the priestsof Nov, but he refrained from doing so. The Coals of the Broom Brush "Sharpened arrows of the mighty, with coals of the broomplant" (Psalms 120:4): A l l [other] weapons strike at closerange, but lashon harah strikes even from afar. When all othercoals become extinguished from the outside, they are also
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 17extinguished on the inside. When coals of the broom plantbecome extinguished on the outside, however, they are not yetextinguished on the inside. They tell that, once, a certain individual left broom plantcoals smouldering during the Festival of Sukot. When hecame back during the Passover Festival, he found that theyhad still not gone out! [The same is true of lashon harah -even though one may mollify another individual, the angerremains smouldering in his heart.] Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachman said: "In the future, they will 4say to the Snake, Why does your tongue dangle out of yourmouth when you walk? It will answer: My tongue has causedme to lick the dirt! I told Eve to eat the fruit from the Tree ofKnowledge. [They will ask it,] What benefit do you derivefrom biting [prey] and leaving it behind? The lion kills hisprey and eats it, and the wolf kills his prey and eats it. But you,how do you benefit [from killing it and leaving it behind]? Itwill answer them, " I f the serpent bites and cannot be charmed,then there is no advantage in a charmer" (Ecclesiastes 10:11)— I f it were not that there is a Heavenly decree that commandsme, "Bite!", I would not bite! [They will ask it,] Why is it thatwhen you bite one limb, all the other limbs in the body feel[the pain]? It will answer them, Why do you ask me? Askthose who have the power of speech! Their tongue says[lashon harah] here and slays someone in Rome; it sayssomething in Rome, and it slays in Syria. [They will ask it,]Why is it that you are often located amongst the fences? Itwill answer them, Because I breached the fence of theworld."
    • 18 Aggadatah Chapter II:Halacha 4 7. The Transmission From Mt. Sinai It has been taught: One who sows his field with one type ofseed leaves only one comer of his field for the poor, even if heseparates the crop into two heaps. If he sows the field with twotypes of seeds and gathers the crops into one heap, then heleaves one corner of his field for the poor. However, i f hegathers the crops into two heaps, then he leaves two corners. Once an incident occurred in which Shimon, from KfarHaMitzpah, sowed his field with two types of seeds. He cameto ask Rabban Gamliel [who lived during the years when theSecond Temple still stood] what to do. They went to theLishkat HaGazit [where the Sanhedrin was situated] andasked [whether Shimon should leave one or two corners of hisfield for the poor]. Nachum the Scribe said, " I have been taught by RabbiMeYashah, who heard it from his father, who in turn heard itfrom the Pairs of Sages [Hillel and Shamai, Shemaya andAvtalion, and the Sages preceding them, until the GreatAssembly of Sages], who heard it from the prophets, that thislaw is part of the Oral Tradition which Moses taught on Mt.Sinai: I f he sows the field with two types of seeds and gathersthe crops into one heap, then he leaves one corner of his fieldfor the poor. However, i f he gathers the crops into two heaps,then he leaves two corners." Rabbi Zeira said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: " I f youhear a certain law and fail to fathom the reasoning behind it,dont disregard it as being unfounded. There are many lawswhose logic we cannot understand, but that does not disprove
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 19their authenticity ,since they were handed down from Mosesand are recorded in the Mishnayot." Rabbi Avin exclaimed, "Indeed, you are right! Were it notfor Nachum the Scribe, who transmitted the traditionconcerning two typesof seed in one field, we would neverhave known it through any form ofexegesis. Now, it must beadhered to, even though we do not fathom the underlyinglogic!" Chapter III:Halacha 7 (8) 8. Miracles of the Pilgrimage " For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders, nor will any man desire your property when you go up to appear before the Lord your G-d three times during the year (Exodus34:24). This teaches that your cow will pasture in an open field, yet no beast will harm it; your chickens will go pecking in the refuse, yet no rat will harm them." There was an incident where a certain individual forgot totake a mound of crops into the barn before he departed on thePilgrimage. The crops were left lying in an open field. Whenhe returned home, he found a ring of lions surrounding theharvest, protecting it from thieves. In another incident, a man went on the Pilgrimage andaccidentally left the door to his hen-roost open. When hereturned, he found slain cats in front of the hen-roost door. Another person went on the Pilgrimage and accidentallyleft the door to his house unlocked. When he returned, hefound a Snake coiled on the metal rings of the door, preventingtheives from entering.
    • 20 Aggadatah Rabbi Pinchas told the following incident: There were twowealthy brothers who lived in Ashkelon. They had gentileneighbors who plotted against them: "Soon, the Jews will ,leave for Jerusalem. Then, we will take all their possessions ! ‫י‬ When the two brothers left for Jerusalem, the Holy One,blessed be He, brought angelic beings to their home who tookon their appearance. They walked in and out of the house, justas the two brothers were accustomed to do. Upon their return from Jerusalem, the brothers sent theirgentile neighbors presents which they purchased during theirtrip. "Where were you?" the non-Jews demanded from thebrothers. "Why, in Jerusalem!" they declared. "Who did you leave to look after your house/ they asked. "We did not leave anyone!" "Blessed is the G-d of the Jews!" they exclaimed. "Theydid not abandon Him, and He did not abandon them!"Halacha 9 9. Visiting the Sick It has been taught in a beraita: As long as the disease wasnot serious from its onset, the custom is that closeacquaintances come to visit the sick person immediately,while more distant acquaintances come after three days. [Thedelay is meant to prevent the one suffering the disease frombeing officially considered "an ill person," since it is believedthat being regarded as such would have a negative effect onhim. There is not such a danger of this occurring as a result ofthe visits of close acquaintances, however, since there isnothing unusual about their visits. They are accustomed to
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 21come to the sick persons home, even when he is healthy.]However, i f the disease was serious from its onset, everyonecomes to visit immediately. Rabbi Hunah, Rabbi Pinchas and Rabbi Chizkiyahu went tovisit Rabbi Assey three days after he became i l l . He said tothem, "Do you mean to say that you wanted to apply theberaita to mel [Why, you are my students! You are notconsidered distant acquaintances!]" 10. The Will Rabbi Gurions sister specified in her will that Rabbi Gurionbe the inheritor of all her possessions. It was written in herwill that she left him all her possessions "from today untilafter death." Later, her [other,] older brother appeased her andconvinced her to change her will and make him her soleinheritor. The case was later brought to Rabbi Ami. [The brothersasked him to determine who should inherit their dead sisterspossessions.] He said: " A person who is critically i l l maychange his mind [and modify the conditions of his will. Thus,her elder brother is the rightful heir]." Rabbi Zeira said: "Did Rabbi Yochanan not agree that i fthe words from today are written in the will, a person who isdeathly ill cannot change his mind?" Rabbi Avahu came and said in the name of RabbiYochanan: "[In this situation,] one may not change his mind."Rabbi Eilah came and said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan:"[In this situation,] one may not change his mind." Rabbi Ami then remembered the law and reversed thedecision, [and Rabbi Gurion was declared the rightful heir].
    • 22 Aggadatah Chapter IV:Halacha 1 11. Separation of Peah Because of Danger Peah [the corner of ones field] is given only from cropswhich grow in the ground, as the verse says, "Do not pick theunripened grape clusters in your vineyards; [also,] do not pickup individual [fallen grapes] in your vineyards. [All of theabove] must be left for the poor and the stranger; I am G‫־‬dyour Lord" (Leviticus 19:10). Leave it for them, and they willgather it. However,peah left on grapevines which grow alongthe dalit tree, as well as on palm trees, should be gathered anddistributed to the poor by the owner of the field, because of thedanger. [There is a concern that in their haste to gather thefruits left on the tree, the poor will fall off the dalit, which hasvery weak branches, or off the palm tree, which is of greatheight.] Rabbi Shimon says: "The same law applies to trees ofsoft-shelled nuts, which are extremely slippery." Rabbi Chananyah said in the name of Reish Lakish: "Therewas an incident where five brothers died on five soft-shellednut trees." The Custom in Beit-Nimer It has been taught in the name of Rabbi Shimon: "There are 4five reasons why they said, One should not distribute the peahoneself]; rather, it must be left at the end of his field: in orderto prevent the field-owner from robbing the poor, in order toprevent the poor from sitting idle, in order to leave no roomfor swindlers, in order to avoid suspicion, and [of course,]
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 23because the Torah said, Do not harvest the corner of yourfield." How would the field-owners rob the poor? By waiting untilno poor person was around, and then telling his own poorrelative, "Come and help yourself to the peah!" Howwould the field-owners cause the poor to sit idle? They wouldsit by the field all day long and say, "Now he is going toseparate peah, now he is going to separate peah." Therequirement to leave peah from the corner of his field,however, affords the poor the opportunity to gather peah inother fields, and to return later to this field. What is an example of a swindler? A land-owner who says," I have already separated peah," after he has already selectedthe best crops for himself, leaving those of inferior qualitybehind for the poor. What is meant by avoiding suspicion? That people shouldnot walk by and say, "Look! He has harvested his entire fieldand refrained from leaving peah for the poor!" And because the Torah said, "Do not harvest the corner ofyour field." In Beit-Nimer, they used to stretch out a cord one hundredamah long along the length of the field while harvesting thecrops. They would gather crops until the end of the cord,leaving over the last 14 amah for peah. It has been taught that Abba Shaul said: "They [the peopleof Beit-Nemer] are talked about favorably and they are talkedabout unfavorably. "They talked about them unfavorably because they gaveonly one percent of their crop to peah, although the Sagesdecreed that one should not give less than one-sixtieth of hiscrop to peah. [On the other hand,] they talked about them favorablybecause they would leave peah in each row of crops. [In this
    • 24 Aggadatahway, the poor were not made to wait until the entire fieldwould be harvested before taking their share. Instead, aftereach row was harvested, they could take their portion.Furthermore, they were also spoken of favorably because theyfulfilled a mitzvah with each row they harvested.] Chapter VIIHalacha 1 12. The Obligation to Leave ShikhchahNo Shikhchah [Law of Forgotten Produce] on Olives "When you reap your grain harvest and forget a sheaf in the field, you must not go back to collect it. It must be left for the foreigner, orphan and widow, so that G-d, your Lord, will bless you, no matter what you do" (Numbers 24:19). It has been taught that Rabbi Yosi said: "There is noobligation to leave shikhchah while gathering olives." Rabbi Shimon ben Yakum said, "Rabbi Yosi only said thisin earlier years, when olives were not to be found. They werescarce because Adrianus the Wicked came and destroyed theentire Land. Now that olives are plentiful, however, one isobligated to leave shikhchah when gathering them/ Halachah During Work Rabbi Oshaya said: "While I was stamping olives withRabbi Chiya the Great, he said to me, Any olive which youcan reach for and take is not subject to the law of shikhchah.[Since they were pressing olives, he told him the laws ofshikhchah in regards to olives, namely, that i f one notices the
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 25olives on the tree when he can still stretch his arm and reachthem, they are not considered shikhchah."Halachah 3 13. The Land of Milk and Honey The Weight of the OVlot Rabbi Chiya said, "It once happened that an oVlot [a clusterof "small" grapes] in Tzipori weighed seven litres [327grams]! The Shrunken Peach Rabbi Abahu, Rabbi Yosi ben Chanina and Rabbi Shimonben Lakish were passing by a vineyard together with theirdonkeys drivers. The share-cropper brought them a peach,from which they all feasted and yet could still not finish! Thepeach was estimated to be the size of the standard cooking-potused in the village of Chananya, which holds a volume ofabout 70 kilograms of barley! Days later, they passed the same place and were presentedwith peaches which were so small that two or three could befitted into one hand. They said to the owner, "We want[peaches] from the original [tree]". He replied, "Thesepeaches were taken from that [same] tree." On this they cited the verse (Psalms 107:34), "[He turns] thefruitful land to barrenness on account of the evil of itsinhabitants" [that is, the fruits of the land have shrunken dueto the evil deeds of mankind]. After the destruction of theTemple, we could still sometimes find fruits as big as when
    • 26 Aggadatahthe Temple still stood. Afterwards, however, they shrunk, dueto the peoples evil deeds. The Thick Carob Rabbi Chanina said, "When I went up from [Babylon to theLand of Israel], I took my belt, [attached it] to the belts of myson and my donkey driver in order to surround thecircumference of the trunk of a carob tree, [but the threetogether] were not long enough. I felled a carob tree and filledmy entire hand with honey [sap]." The Decline of the Generations Rabbi Yochanan said, " A certain little red berry [sifsoofwhich we ate in our youth was superior to the peaches of ourold age." During his life, the world underwent a change[causing fruits to shrink]. The Orbelian Seah Rabbi Chiya ben Abba said, "[In Temple times whensacrifices were still being offered,] one Orbelian [name of avillage] seah [around 70 kilogrames of wheat] would yield oneseah of pollen [fine flour], one of first-flour, one of cibarium[coarse flour], one of bran flour, one of coarse bran and oneseah of wheat husks. But nowadays, the same amount will noteven yield one seah of all the above types combined!"
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 27 Cinnamon - the Food of Goats Rabbi Chuna said in the name of Rabbi Amin: "Cinnamonwas the food of goats, and Israel grew it [that it was found ingreat plenty and grown as goat fodder]." Rabbi Chuna said [more] in the name of Rabbi Amin: "Theyear-old lambs used for the daily sacrifices [in Temple times]were so large, that i f one placed them on the back of a camel,their legs would reach the ground [due to their great size]." Honey [Sap] and Milk Rabbi Chuna [said] in the name of Rabbi Iddi: "Someoneonce tied a goat to a fig-tree and [on his return] discovered amixture of honey and milk flowing. [That is, the she-goat wasso full of milk and the figs with honey that the liquid flowed ofits own accord.]" The Grape Cluster that Vanished Rebbi said to Rabbi Pedat, "Could you show me a bunch ofgrapes from your vineyard?" [He had heard that in RabbiPedats vineyard there were particulary large clusters ofgrapes.] Rabbi Pedat agreed [to show him]. He went to showhim and from a distance, Rebbi imagined he was looking at anox. He asked Rabbi Pedat, "Wont this ox devour yourvineyard?" He answered, "What you imagine to be an ox is really abunch of grapes!" On this, Rebbi cited the verse (Song of Songs 1:12): "TheKing [G-d] has already turned away [His countenance], yet
    • 28 Aggadatahmy nard is still emitting its odor/ [Even after the destructionof the Temple, when G-ds Presence has been removed, yet,we are still blessed with such oderous, luscious produce.] Immediately afterwards, they searched for [the bunch ofgrapes], but could no longer find it. [When Rebbi made thatstatement, the bunch of grapes was instantly swallowed up bythe ground and vanished.]The Radishes which were Brought to Rebbi at the End of the Sabbatical Year Rebbi was brought two radishes which had been plantedbetween Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and they amountedto an entire camel-load! Rebbi said to those who broughtthem, "Surely these are forbidden! Werent they grown in theshemittah [sabbatical] year [and are hence forbidden]? They answered him, "They were planted at the terminationof the New Year [Rosh Hashana, after the Shemittah, andhave simply grown very quickly]." That year Rebbi allowed vegetables straight after theShemittah [as they could be assumed to have grownafterwards, owing to this Divine blessing]. They asked him, what is the meaning of the verse (Joel1:17): "The seed shrivels under their clods...?" He answered them, "In place of collecting honey [frombeehives or trees], we collect rotted matter." A person once had a row of fig trees: He came and foundthem surrounded by a wall of honey!
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 29 A Nest at the Top of the Turnip Someone once sowed his field with turnips. He would cutoff their tops and sell [the congealed juices, there would be somuch]! A fox once made its den on top of the turnips! Mustard Pods in the Branches of a Fig Tree It once happened in the [village of] Sichin that they tookone of three twigs which had broken off a mustard stalk andmade of it a matting to cover a potters booth. They found thatthis one twig contained [around 3 1/2 kilograms] of mustard! Rabbi Shimon ben Chalafta said, " I had a mustard stalk inmy field [which thickened so much] that I would climb up it[to gather the upper leaves], just as one climbs a fig tree!" Only 300 Times as Much Once someone sowed a seah of peas, and it produced 300times as much. People said to him, "The Holy One, blessed byHe, has begun to bestow blessing on you." He replied, "Goaway! A harmful dew has already descended [on the peas.Due to your begrudging me, you have evoked the evil eye]!Had it not been for this dew, the peas would have yieldeddouble [what they did]!"
    • 30 Aggadatah The Honey which Overflowed Rabbi Shimon ben Chalafta said: "Rabbi Yehuda once toldhis son in Sichinin, Go and bring me dried figs from thebarrel. He went [lit. went up], stretched out his hand, andfound [the barrel] full of honey. He said to his father, Daddy, itis honey! His father replied, Stick your hand into the barrel.You will be able to take out the "dried figs."" Rabbi Yosi once told his son in Tzipori, "Go upstairs andbring me dried figs from the attic." [The boy] went upstairsand found the attic flooded with honey. Inferior Honey Rabbi Chananya used to sell bees honey. He also had aninferior type of honey [not bees honey]. One time some donkey drivers came to him. Withoutrealizing his mistake, he sold them the inferior honey. Days later, the drivers passed again, and he told them, " Idont want to cheat you. You should know that the honeywhich I gave you was of an inferior type." They answered,"Why, thats just the type we want. It is ideal for our work!" Rabbi Chananya put aside his profits and built the StudyHall of Tzepori [from the money]. [Even though they had toldhim that he had not overcharged them, he still did not want tobenefit personally from the proceeds, lest he had cheated themin the slightest, or, because he did not want to derive benefitfrom money miraculously earned. For this reason, hecontributed the profits towards building a Beit Ha Midrash].
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 31 The Luscious Cabbage Rabbi Elazar ben Rabbi Shimon went to a certain place.They brought him a well-ripened, juicy cabbage. He said tothem, "You have added lots of juice [to this vegetable]." They protested, "We didnt add anything. These are all itsnatural juices!" Chapter VIII:Halacha 1 14. The Law of Leket and Trusting the Poor You shall not gather the gleaning of your harvest. (Leviticus 19:9) The reference is to the odd one or two ears of corn, which fall during the harvest. (Rashi) Income for the Entire Year At what stage is anyone entitled to take the leket [poormans gleaning] for himself? Only once the last group of[poor] gleaners [lit." removers"] have completed their round.Rabbi Yochanan explained: "Why are they called removers?The answer is that they come after everyone else [and removeall that was left over]" It was taught Abba Shaul would call them meshushot [lit."gropers," as opposed to nemushot - "removers." Thisimplied that they were old, weak people using walking-stickswho seemingly groped their way along. Once they hadfinished their rounds, anything remaining would be free for allto take.]
    • 32 Aggadatah Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri would follow these aged poorgleaners around, and that would provide him with his yearlyincome. Penny and Penny Laid Up Will Be Many They [poor people] are believed [if they claim certainproduce, such as wheat, to be exempt from tithing, on thegrounds that] it is leket [poor-mans gleanings], shikhchah[forgotten sheaves], peah [the corner of the field designatedfor the poor, provided that their claim is plausible, since thesegifts are indeed then] in season. [We believe them even if theyare ignorant people not known for their honesty.]...They arebelieved only about something which people are accustomedto give in this manner [i.e., only if it is in the form in which itis ordinarily given]. What is the maximum amount [about which they can bebelieved]? Rabbi Channina said: "The amount that couldfeasibly be gathered in a day. [Then we will only believe thatthey gathered it from the leket, shikhchah or peah left in thefields for the poor, which are consequently free from theobligation of tithing and taking terumah.] We have learned: Rebbi once believed a group of fivebrothers who had jointly gathered five kurim [1058.4kilograms] of wheat. But how could they possibly havemanaged to gather so much? The answer is that i f one gathersa little from one place and a little from another one, soon hehas a whole kur ["Penny and penny laid up will be many."]. Gamliel the Barber We have learned: The poor are believed regarding rawvegatables [when they claim they recieved it for the
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 33poor-mans tithe]. However, they are not believed with regardto cooked vegetables [because people normally tithe theirproduce before cooking, not afterwards]. However,concerning small amounts of vegetables, the poor are believedto say that they received them in a cooked state, since a personwho forgot to tithe before cooking will subsequently tithe. [The following story illustrates this point]: Ignorantmembers of Assis household cooked vegetables and forgot totithe them. Gamliel the Barber [who was a local Torahscholar] went and tithed their food from the remains in his pot. Chapter XV:Halacha 4 15. Allotments to the Poor The poor person must be given a minimum of half a kab ofwheat or a kab of barley. [If someone has alotted thepoor-mans tithe in his granary awaiting distribution and manyneedy people present themselves, then the minimum given toeach poor person is the amount one eats in two meals, or, inthe case of a dish eaten with bread, the amount of that disheaten together with bread in two average meals. This is basedon the Scriptural verse: "They shall eat in your gates and besatisfied," which instructs us to give the needy enough food tosatiate them. We have learned [the following list of the minimumamounts alloted to a poor person at the granary]: Rice - 1/4 of a kab Spices 1/8 of a litra
    • 34 Aggadatah Vegetable — one litra Carobs 3 kabim Wine 1/2 ‫־‬ of a log Oil 1/4 of a log Nuts 10 nuts Peaches 5 peaches Pomegranates •- 2 pomegranates Citron (Etrog) ‫ -־‬one citron Chikiyah asked his father, "What are these measurementsbased upon?" He answered, "The castle rests on a little pebble." [Just as acastle can depend on a single stone as its foundation, so, too,can five peaches be the basis of a whole persons diet, givinghim an appetite to eat properly, or acting as a dessert to makehim feel content. Our Sages estimated the above measures tobe respectable amounts.]" Rabbi Chananya was sitting before Rabbi Eyla andwhatever reason Rabbi Eyla would suggest for the abovemeasures, he would dispute it. Rabbi Eyla said, "Rather than refuting me, you ought toembellish my suggestions. [If you would do that, we wouldcome up with valid explanations, since a person succeeds inwhat he really wants to achieve.] 16. Administrator over the Community. Prevention of Slander Rabbi Yosi said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: "Oneshould not appoint two brothers as administrators [ofcommunity funds, so that people should not suspect them ofmisappropriating public funds and more, since we have a law
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 35that the judges in a law suit mustnt be related, theadministration of communal money is considered equivalentto a law suit.] Rabbi Yosi dismissed one of the two brothers [from his jobas administrator, even though he was well-suited to the job].Rabbi Yosi came and explained: "Not that [the person Idismissed] had perpetrated any crime, but simply because wehave a principal that two brothers cannot be placed as jointadministrators [over community funds.]" The Importance of the Community Administrator Rabbi Yosi entered the town of Kafir. He wanted to appointcertain members of the community as chief administrators,but no one was prepared to accept the position. Therefore, he said to them: "Ben Bivoi is in charge of thewicks [of the Menorah in the Temple, ensuring that they burnlonger in the long winter nights and shorter in the shortsummer nights. Since the same amount of oil was alwaysplaced in the lamps of the Menorah, the wicks thus had to beadjusted. The mishnah in Tractate Shekalim lists the variousappointments in the Temple, such as Mordechai and othergreat leaders. Amongst them it also lists Ben Bivoi as being incharge of the wicks. Rabbi Yosi continued:] I f one who wasappointed in charge of the Temple wicks was deemed worthyof being listed together with the generations great leaders, youwhom I wish to appoint over matters pertaining to life anddeath, how much more so!" When Rabbi Chagai would appoint chief administrators, hewould make them hold a Torah Scroll [in order that theyshould appreciate their function and realize that all positionsof authority stem from the Torah, as it is written: "Through
    • 36 AggadatahMe, kings rule...through Me princes rule and nobles judgerighteously" (Proverbs 8:15-16).] Rejoicing Over Ones Disgrace Rabbi Elazar was in charge of communal affairs. [One day]he came home and enquired [of his family], "What is thelatest? [What is the good deed of the day?]" They answered, " A group of beggars came. They ate anddrank and prayed for you/ He said back to them, "But I do not gain anything [out ofthat good deed]." On another occasion he again came home and asked, "Whatis the latest [good deed] ?‫יי‬ They replied, "Another group of beggars came, who ate anddrank and disgraced you/ To this he replied, "Now I havegained something, [for even though the guests repayed evil forgood, I have succeeded in taking it happily in my stride]." Even if it Entails Being Disgraced People wanted to appoint Rabbi Akiva as chiefadministrator. He told them, " I l l ask my family what theythink." They followed him and heard him saying, "Even i f it entailsbeing disgraced, even i f it entails being put to shame!"
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 37Halacha 7 17. Giving Charity with Evil Designs We have learned: Anyone who has 200 zuz [sufficientmoney to live on for a year] may not take leket, shikhchah, orpeah [the various gleanings left for the poor in the field], noris he entitled to the poor mans tithe. However, i f he has onedinar [the smallest amount] short of 200 zuz, then he mayaccept even 1000 zuz [any amount], provided it is given tohim all at once. Rebbi once had a student who had 200 zuz minus one dinar.Every third year, Rebbi would give him the poor mans tithe.[The law is that every third and sixth year of the 7-yearshemittah cycle, a tenth of ones produce must be given to thepoor.] The other students got jealous [of this young man, so onone occasion,] they gave him the missing dinar as charity [tomake his income come to 200 zuz, just so that he should notbe entitled to the poor-mans tithe. Rebbi remarked: "[The charity which these Rabbinicalstudents have given him] is pure hypocrisy." He made a signalto his students and they then took their fellow student to arestaurant and made him spend a 1/4 of a dinar, [therebyleaving him with less than 200 zuz]. Rebbi then gave him thepoor-mans tithe [as he had previously been accustomed todo]. 18. Leaving Jerusalem There was a certain family in Jerusalem by the name ofAntbila, descendants of the famous Arnan, the Jebbusite. On
    • 38 Aggadatahone occasion, the Sages allotted them 600 golden dinarim, sothat they should not be forced to leave Jerusalem. [Life inJerusalem was hard and prices were high, owing to the influxof pilgrims from all parts of the country. The Antbila familywanted to move out of Jerusalem and find a cheaper place tolive, but they were prevented from doing so.] For they wouldexplain: "It says (Deuteronomy 26:12): Within your gates,they shall be satisfied. This tells us that even in Jerusalem [theneeds of its inhabitants must be catered for]."19. Charity According to What He Was Used To Hillel the Elder and the Poor Man Hillel the Elder once gave a horse to a poor man from awealthy background [even though the poor man only neededthe horse] for recreation. In addition, he gave the man aservant to wait on him. There is another such story recorded: Every day theinhabitants of the Galilee gave an old man a whole litra ofpoultry. But surely that is not enough [to feed a whole familyand servants? The Torah says that one must make sure that thepoor are satiated]] The answer is that this man had nodependents to feed. [This amount was for him alone, and forone person, it is indeed a collossal amount.]The Wonder-Cure for the Impoverished Wealthy Man Who Loathed to Eat It has been taught [concerning a person who becomesimpoverished and wishes to receive the poor-mans dues] thathe is not forced to sell his house or his utensils.
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 39 Moreover, we have learned that if, until now, he was usinggolden vessels, we give him silver ones instead; if he has beenusing silver ones, they are exchanged for copper ones; andcopper vessels get replaced by glass ones. [In other words, wecompel him to sell his expensive vessels and use cheaperones, before allowing him to receive the poor-mans dues. Rabbi Manna commented, "[But] vessels which he uses todrink out of, and even articles made of silver or gold [andclothing, do not need to be replaced by cheaper ones. Onlyfurniture, tools and the like.]" A member of the royal family became impoverished. Theystarted serving him food in earthenware vessels. He ate andvomited, [he was so revolted by the inferior quality of theeating-vessels]. The doctor told him, "Surely all the food you eat isoriginally cooked in earthenware pots, [so why are you sofastidious]?!" Thereupon, the man began eating directly from theearthenware pot. 20. A Special Sabbath Garment If, because of the Sabbath, you "retrain" your foot from pursuing your normal business on my Holy Day, if you call the Sabbath a delight, the Holy Day of the honorable L‫־‬rd, and honor it, not doing your own activities.... (Isaiah 58:13) "And honor it" teaches us that your Sabbath garment must be different from the weekday one. (Sabbath 113a) Rabbi Chanina said: " A person must have two outergarments - one for the Sabbath and one for the weekday." What is his reason?
    • 40 Aggadatah In Ruth 3:3 it says: "You shall wash and anoint yourself,and place your garments upon you." Was she naked then?Rather, we are referring here to her Sabbath garments. When Rabbi Simlai expounded the above dictum in public,his friends started crying openly. They said to him, "Rabbi!We own only one set of garments, which we wear both on theSabbath and in the middle of the week." Rabbi Simlai replied,"In spite of that, you must show some difference in yourapparel, [such as lowering your garment. Rich people hadlong, flowing garments, since they didnt need to fear theirclothing getting dirty on the ground. These poor people shoulddo the same, and this would not be considered arrogance,since they would be doing it solely in honor of the Sabbath]. 21. Gratitude - to Swindlers Dilemma of the Poor: "Silver or Gold Vessels?" We have learned that anyone who owns 50 zuz and carriesout business transactions with the money, is not entitled to thepoor-mans tithe. Anyone who should not be taking, but does,eventually will need to come to others for his livelihood. Aperson who is entitled to take, but resists, will receive themerit of sustaining others [as his property will be blessed inhis lifetime]. In reference to this, Jeremiah says: "Blessed isthe man who trusts in G-d - the L‫־‬d will indeed become hisstronghold" (Jeremiah 17:7). One who pretends to be blind or lame or swollen fromfamine [in order to arouse public pity] will not part from thisworld till his ruse comes true!
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 41 Samuel ran away from his father [possibly because he knewthat his father intended to give charity to people whom heknew to be frauds]. Standing between two huts belonging to the allegedpaupers, he heard them saying: "In which platters shall wedine today? In silver or in golden platters?" He went back home and informed his father, who thenremarked, "We must be grateful to the frauds!" [for were itnot for them, we would be held guilty for each time we wereasked to give charity but refused. Now, however, we canjustify ourselves by saying that we were not sure i f they weredeserving cases.]The Man Who Died from Famine with a Bag Full of Coins Rabbbi Yochanan and Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish went for abath in the hot springs of Tiberias. There they met a poor man. He said to them, "Get your good deed [by giving mecharity]!" They answered him, "We will, on our return." When they returned, they found the begger dead. "Since wedid not merit to help him in his lifetime," they said, "let usattend to him now that he has died." While attending to him [washing him], they found a bag fullof money attached to him. "That is what Rabbi Avahu meant," they remarked, "whenhe quoted Rabbi Elazar as having said, *We must be grateful tothe frauds! For were it not for them, we would be held guiltyfor each time we were required to give charity and refused." A Large Donation to a Regular Meat-Eater Abba ben Abba gave his son Shmuel money to divideamongst the poor. [Shmuel] went out and saw a poor man
    • 42 Aggadataheating meat and drinking wine. He returned and reported it tohis father. His father said to him, "Give the poor man more! He craveswhat he is used to. [He is used to a high standard of living andyou must cater to his needs.]" 22.Giving Discretely Not Benefitting from Charity Rabbi Yaakov ben Iddi and Rabbi Isaac ben Nachman werecharity administrators. They would give a dinar to RabbiChamma, the father of Rabbi Oshiah. [Even though he himselfdeserved it,] he would pass it on to others [who were too shyto accept it or had not received all their needs.] Giving All He Received to Others. Rabbi Zechariah, the son-in-law of Rabbi Levi, wasconstantly being slandered by everyone. People claimed thathe was not righteous and accepted charity. After his death, they investigated and discovered [from hisdiary] that he would always divide out to others all hereceived.Rabbi Chaninas Encounter with the Ruler of Evil Spirits Rabbi Chanina ben Pappa would distribute good deeds atnight. [The Yerushalmi always refers to giving charity as "thegood deed," since it is the most important act we can do.
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 43Rabbi Chanina would distribute charity in the dark of thenight so as not be to spotted and, thereby, causeembarrassment to any poor recipient.] On one occasion, the Ruler of Evil Spirits met him and saidto him, "Surely our Rabbi has taught us: "You shall notinterfere with your fellowmans boundary" (Deuteronomy19:14). [Night is the domain of the spirits and the demons.People have no right to be wandering around at night.] Rabbi Chanina replied, But surely it says in Proverbs(21:14): "Charity given in secrecy perverts anger." [ I amwandering around by night in order to distribute charitydiscretely. That has the strength to overpower the evil spirits,known as "Anger and Wrath". You ought to hide yourselffrom me!] The spirit was subdued by him and fled [in terror]. He Considers the Poor 4 Rabbi Yonah said: " Blessed is he who considers the poor.The L‫־‬rd will deliver him on the day of evil. The verse doesnot read, who gives to the poor. Rather, it reads, *whoconsiders the poor ‫ ־־‬he contemplates how best to fulfill thisgood deed." How did Rabbi Yonah act [when giving charity]? I f hewould see a poor man who had formerly been wealthy [andthus, was too embarrassed to accept even his basic needs], hewould tell him as follows: "My son, since I heard that youhave inherited a sum of money from some indirect source,take what I am offering you and pay me back later." Once the poor man had accepted, he would say to him, "[Incase you do not receive the inheritance and do not manage torepay me, then what I have given you should retroactively beconsidered] as a present."
    • 44 Aggadatah23. A Years Sustenance ‫ ־־‬At the Beginning of the Year. Rabbi Chiya ben Adda said, "Amongst us there were oldmen who would receive charity. However, they would onlyaccept it between the New Year holiday and the Day ofAtonement. After that, they would refuse, claiming, *We havealready received our years quota. [On Rosh Hashanna, it isdecided how much money a person will earn throughout theyear. They would accept charity between Rosh Hashana andYom Kippur in order to give people the additional merit ofhaving supported them in these days of penitence.] 24. Murdered by Nechemiah. Nechemiah from the village of Sichin [in the Galilee] met aJerusalemite. The Jerusalemite said to him, "Give me that henof yours as charity." He answered, "Here is the value of the hen [in money]. Goand buy red meat." [He bought himself red meat with the money, ate it, anddied. This man was not used to red meat, but only to poultry,and the change in his diet caused his death. Nechemiah wasvery upset that his bad advice had caused such a disaster, eventhough he had meant it for the mans good, that he should havea more sumptuous dinner. In his anguish, [Nechemiah]proclaimed, "Come and eulogize the man who was murderedby Nechemiah!" 25. Nachum Ish Gam Zu Repents Nachum Ish Gam Zu was taking a present to his in-laws.[He was known as "Ish Gam Zu," which literally means, "the
    • Zeraim - Tracate Peah 45man of this, too," since, at any calamity, he was alwaysknown to say, "This, too, is for the best."] Someone afflicted with boils met him on the way, and hesaid to him, "Give me some of your wares [as charity]." [Nachum] answered him, "On my return journey [ I willgive you]." When he returned, he found the man dead. Facing the body,Nachum exclained, "The eyes which saw you but did not giveyou should be blinded! The hands which were not stretchedout to give you should be lopped off! The legs which did notrun to give you should be broken! And it was fulfilled. Rabbi Akiva went to visit him. He said to Nachum, "Woe tome, that I behold you in such a state." Nachum answered, "Woe to me, that I do not see you insuch a state." Rabbi Akiva asked, "What, you are cursing me?!" He answered, "You wish to bear suffering withstubborness?!" 26. The Blind Mans Blessing A certain blind man was the Rabbi of the great RabbiHoshaiah. Rabbi Hoshaiah would regularly eat by him. Onone occasion, Rabbi Hoshaiah had guests and hence didnt goto eat by him. In the evening, [Rabbi Hoshaiah] went to the blind rabbiand said to him, "My Master shouldnt be angry with me. I hadguests and did not wish to disgrace my Creators honor [seeingthat hospitality is greater than encountering G‫־‬ds DivinePresence]. That is why I did not eat with you today." [The blind man] answered, "You have pacified one who isvisible but does not have vision. The One Who has vision but
    • 46 Aggadatahis not visible should accept your pacification." He said to him, "Where have you picked up [such a niceform of blessing]?" He answered him, "From Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov: Acertain blind man came to the town of Rabbi Eliezer benYaakov. Rabbi Eliezer sat beneath him, so that people shouldcomment that evidently the blind man was a great man,considering that Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov insisted on sittingbeneath him. [Consequently,] the townsfolk gave the blind man muchfinancial support. He asked them, "How come [What mademe merit so much assistance]?" "Because Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov sits beneath you," theyanswered. [Upon hearing this,] the blind man prayed the following onbehalf of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov: "You, [Rabbi Eliezer benYaakov] bestowed mercy to one who is seen but cannot see.May the One Who Sees but canot be seen acccept yourpacification, and bestow mercy on you."27. Charity ‫ ־־‬For Torah-Laborers or for Building a Synagogue Rabbi Channa ben Chanina and Rabbi Hoshaiah werewalking around the synagogues in Lud. Rabbi Chenna ben Chanina remarked to Rabbi Hoshaiah,"What money my forefathers invested here!" [His companion] retorted, "How many lives yourforefathers invested here! Werent there Torah-laborersaround? [They should have distributed their charity to helpmaintain those who labor in the Torah, rather than buildingbeautiful edifices]."
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah 47 TOSEFTA PEAH Chapter III:Halacha 131. The Forgotten Sheaf -- The Unintended Good Deed. A certain saintly person forgot a sheaf in his field. He said to his son, "Go and offer up an ox, as a burnt-offering and another one as a peace-will offering on my behalf [to demonstrate my joy at being able to fulfill the precept ofShikhchah [the forgotten sheaf]." The son asked his father, "Daddy, why do you rejoice over this precept more than over all other precepts in the Torah?" " A l l other good deeds were Divinely given to us to fulfill atour own volition," his father answered, "whereas this precept comes unexpectedly. Were it not by G-ds Will, the mitzvahwould not have come our way." [Since the mitzvah is to leaveforgotten sheaves behind for the poor, by definition, it canonly come about through our accidental forgetfulness. I f weindeed forget a sheaf, it is a sign of G-ds love for us thatthrough this, he has given us the opportunity of fulfilling yetranother precept and, consequently, demands our gratitude.] [The father] said to him, "It says in the Torah, When youreap your harvest in your field and you forget a sheaf in thefield, you shall not return to take it. Rather, it should be leftfor the stranger, the orphan and the widow, in order that theL-rd, your G-d, should bless you in all the works of yourhands" (Deuteronomy 24:19). The verse has promised him a
    • 48 Aggadatahblessing. Now, i f already a person who had no intention ofdoing a good deed [such as was the case with the shikhchah],is nevertheless deemed worthy, just as though he had gone outof his way to find some good deed to do, then wont it be true,all the more so, that one who searched for a good deed andindeed performs it [will be held meritorious and worthy ofblessing]! "A similar example of this idea is to be found in Leviticus5:17-18. There, it reads: I f a person sins and transgresses oneof G-ds negative commands unwittingly, he is guilty and shallbear his iniquity. He must bring a perfect ram as a sacrifice....Now, surely [again]: I f already a person who had no intentionof sinning but sinned unwittingly is nevertheless considered asinner, how much more so will someone who purposely sinsbe held responsible for his actions!"
    • Zeraim - Tracate Demai 49 T R A C T A T E DEMAI Chapter I:Halachah 3 1. Being Careful with Untithed Produced Tithing Meat and Fish When Rabbi Yochanan would eat even meat or eggs, hewould tithe them [i.e., separate the Priestly and Leviticaldues.] His students questioned him, "Surely, our Rabbi taught us:You shall definitely tithe all the produce of your seed(Deuteronomy 16:22) [which implies that only that whichgrows from the ground, such as the produce of your seeds,must be tithed, not things of animal origin]!" However, Rabbi Yochanan was worried about the juicesabsorbed in the meat and eggs [i.e., lest they were cooked withoil or wine of demai (doubtfully tithed produce). That is whyhe tithed his meat and eggs.] Not Like Rabbi Pinchas ben Yairs Donkey Rabbi Yirmiah sent Rabbi Zeerah a basket of untithed figs.Rabbi Yirmiahs reasoning was that certainly Rabbi Zeerahwould tithe the food before eating it. Rabbi Zeerah, however,reasoned, "Surely Rabbi Yirmiah wouldnt possibly send mesomething untithed!" In the meantime the untithed produce got eaten. The following day, they met. Rabbi Zeerah asked, "Was thebasket you sent me yesterday tithed?"
    • 50 Aggadatah Rabbi Yirmiah answered, " I figured out that Rabbi Zeerahwould never eat anything before tithing it!" To which Rabbi Zeerah replied, "And I figured out thatRabbi Yirmiah would never send me anything before tithingit!" Rabbi Abba ben Zevinah said in the name of Rabbi Zeerah:" I f our ancestors were angels then we are people. I f they werepeople, then we are donkeys." Rabbi Manna said: "At that time, they added the followingcomment, We are not even on the level of Rabbi Pinchas benYairs donkey. [Rabbi Pinchas ben Yairs donkey would sensewhen something was not tithed, and would refuse to eat it.] One night, bandits stole Rabbi Pinchas ben Yairs donkey.They stowed it away for three days and it would not eat amorsel. After three days, they decided to return it to its owner,saying, "Lets send it back to its owner before it dies andsmells up our cave." They released it, and it went and stood by the entrance of itsmasters home and started braying. Rabbi Pinchas ben Yairtold [his household], "Open the door for this pitiful [animal] ‫־־‬it hasnt eaten a morsel during the last three days!" They opened the door and let it in. "Bring it some food toeat," he told them. They brought it barley, but it wouldnt eat. They said to him,"Rabbi, it doesnt want to eat." He said to them, "Is [the barley] corrected?" [They erroneously thought he was asking whether allimpurities had been removed] and answered, "Yes." He said to them, "Did you tithe it?" [The law states thatproduce bought from an uneducated person must be tithed,since it is doubtful whether he tithed it.] They answered, "Surely our Rabbis taught us: Someonewho buys fodder for animals from an uneducated person need
    • Zeraim - Tracate Demai 51not tithe." [Since the odds are that the uneducated personalready tithed, the Rabbi exempted animal-fodder as seedsintended for sewing bought from such a person from tithing.] He answered them, "What should we do for this pitiful[creature] who is over-scrupulous." They tithed it, and the animal ate! 2. Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair The Deposit Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair was living in a certain city in theSouth. Two poor people came there for charity. They hadalmost fifteen kilograms of barley with them, which theydeposited with him. They forgot it there and left. RabbiPinchas by Yair sowed their barley yearly, reaped it andthreshed it. Seven years later, they returned and requested theirdepositback. Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair immediately recognizedthem and told them, "Bring camels and donkeys and come andtake your barley which has increased, and take yourstorehouses!" A Meeting of Mice Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair went to a certain place. There,people came to him and said, "The mice are eating ourproduce." He decreed that the mice should be gathered together. Theyassembled and started whistling. He asked the people, "Do you know what the mice aresaying?"
    • 52 Aggadatah "No," they answered. He told them, "They are saying that your produce is nottithed, and that is why they ate it." "Be our guarantor," they said to him, "that from now on wewill tithe our produce, in order that [the mice] should nolonger eat our grain." So he undertook to be their guarantor, and the mice stoppedeating [the peoples] produce. Finding the Lost Jewel A jewel belonging to the Ishmaelite King fell, and a mouseswallowed it. [The King] came to Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair[and asked him to retrieve it]. [The Rabbi] answered: "Am I a wizard [who can call thevermin together with his charms]?" " I came because of your good reputation," the King toldhim. [ I know that what you decree gets fulfilled.] Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair then decreed that all the miceshould gather together. They obeyed. He noticed one of themice was squealing as it was coming [alternatively: that it haddeveloped a hunched back]. He said: "This is the culprit!" and he decreed that themouse should vomit it out, which it did. A Guarantor for Tithing Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair went to a certain place. The peoplecame to him and said: "Our spring does not supply all ourneeds." "Perhaps you are not tithing your produce properly?" heasked them.
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Demai 53 They said, "Be our guarantor." He vouched for them, and the spring began providing amplewater. They Will Pass Through the River on Foot Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair was going with his disciples to theAcademy. The River Ginai was overflowing its banks[blocking their route]. He said [to the angel appointed over theriver], "Ginai, Ginai, why do you prevent me from reachingthe Academy?" The river split before them, and Rabbi Pinchas ben Yaircrossed. His students asked him, "Can we cross?" [Theyfeared lest the waters would start flowing again in the middleof their crossing and drown them.] He answered, "Anyone who feels confident that he neverdemeaned his fellow-Jew can safely cross over!" Saving the Pious Mans Daugther There was a certain saintly person who would dig pits,trenches and caves for wayfarers [so that they should have aconstant supply of water]. On one occasion, when his daughterwas about to get married, the river swept her away. Everyonewent to the man to comfort him, but he refused to let himselfbe consoled. Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair also came to him andtried to comfort him, but he, too, did not succeed. "This is your saint?!" he demanded of them. [Is he notprepared to come to terms with G-ds justice!] They told Rabbi Pinchas all the mans pious acts and all thathad befallen him. He asked, "Is it possible that one whohonors his Creator with water should be punished throughwater?"
    • 54 Aggadatah At that very moment, a rumor began spreading throughoutthe city that the the pious mans daughter had returned. Somesay that a branch presented itself which she managed to seizeand thereby hauled herself out. Others claim that an angelresembling Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair descended and saved her.3. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, Protects the Rigtheous from Erring Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa and the Table Leg Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa was sitting, partaking of hisSabbath Eve meal. One of the legs of his table cracked anddropped on the floor. He said to those present, "Whats gonewrong over here?" [He understood that this was a sign fromG-d to stop him from eating.] They told him, "We borrowed spices from our neighbor [thewife of an unreliable ignoramous] and didnt tithe it." Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa designated a portion of the food[to be tithed at the termination of the Sabbath], whereupon theleg of the table [miraculously] re-affixed itself in its formerposition. Rabbi Tarfons Bread Falls Down Rabbi Tarfon was sitting at his meal when his breaddropped. They asked him, "Why did it drop?" He answered, " I borrowed a hatchet and used it for rituallypure foods." [Rabbi Tarfon was a priest. He borrowed thehatchet from his neighbor assuming that it was ritually pureand used it to cut food. In actual fact it, the hatchet wasimpure, hence defiling his food. G-d had saved him fromeating the food.]
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Demai 55 4. The Kashrut of Raisins A certain person entered the town of Tiberias carrying atruck- load of raisins. Gamliel the barber asked Rabbi Ba, theson of Kahana, [whether the food was definitely tithed and notfrom the Shemittah Year]. He answered, "The land of Israel does not produce atruck-load of raisins." [But surely Israel produced far morethan one truck- load of raisins.] Rather, this is what Rabbi Baanswered, "There is no one place in the whole Land of Israelwhich produces such big truck-loads of grapes." [Hence thegrapes must have been imported, and consequently, are notsubject to the laws of tithes or shemittah. It is unlikely that thegrapes originated from several places in Israel, so we areentitled to assume they were imported.] 5. Stealing a Chip of Wood Rabbi Elazar was walking along, supported by RabbiShimon bar Kahana. They passed a certain vineyard. RabbiElazar said to Rabbi Shimon, "Bring me a wood chip to use asa toothpick." He then retracted, saying, "Dont bring meanything. I f everyone walking past would take a chip of woodfrom the fence enclosing the vineyard, then there would be nofence left." Rabbi Zeirah was walking along, supported by RabbiChaggai. Someone passed them with a truck-load of wood.Rabbi Zeirah said to Rabbi Chaggai, "Bring me a chip ofwood to use as a toothpick," but then he said, "Dont bring meanything. I f everyone would do what were doing, that manwould not have any wood left." Rabbi Zeirahs motive to refrain from taking the splinter ofwood was not that it is forbidden according to the letter of the
    • 56 Aggadatahlaw. After all, no one would mind i f someone helped himselfto a splinter of wood. Nevertheless, Rabbi Zeirah wanted tobe scrupulous to stress the severity of theft. 6. The Sages Weigh Their Words Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel said, "Rabbi Yosi, the Rebbi,sent me an etrog [citron] and told me, I received this fromCaesaria." ["Rebbi" here was a title given to Rabbi Yosi theson of Chalafta, indicating that he was the greatest in hisgeneration.] Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel commented that from RabbiYosis statement, he deduced three things: that it wasdefinitely untithed; that it was defiled; and that this was theonly etrog which he had received. He deduced that it was definitely untithed since Rabbi Yosihad said that it came from Caesaria, where all the lawsassociated with the Land were applicable before RabbiYehuda the Prince changed the ruling. By "defiled," we mean that the etrog had had watersprinkled on it to make it look fresher. The water made itcapable of contracting defilement [not that it had actuallybeen defiled]. A l l this was deduced from Rabbi Yosis stressing that hehad received the etrog, implying that he had been cautious toensure that no one else had handled it apart from himself, andthat he had ensured its ritual purity. His understanding that this was Rabbi Yosis only etrog wasbased on logic: Had he had an additional etrog, he wouldsurely have used it to tithe the present one, and would not havesent Rabbi Shimon an untithed one, informing him that itcame from Caesaria.
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Demai 57 Chapter IV:Halachah 1 7. The Wise Know How to Question We have learned: If someone buys fruits from a person whocannot be relied on to have tithed them and the buyer hasforgotten to tithe them before the Sabbath, he can ask theunreliable seller [even] on the Sabbath whether it was tithed.[Even an unreliable ignoramous will not let himself lie on theSabbath, due to the awe it inspires.] How should one question [the ignoramous on the Sabbath,in order not to put him in a position where he feels compelledto lie?] Rabbi Yonah is consistent here with his own practice. OnceRabbi Yonah bought wheat from a certain villager. He said tothe villager, " I am not suspecting you of anything, I am simplynervous, since when I bought the wheat from you, I saw ahuge crowd of people standing over you. I was afraid thatthrough the pressure caused by all your customers, you couldhave mistakenly thought you had tithed the produce when inactual fact you did not." The villager owned up to his guilt and said, "Its not worthmy while to be a cheat in matters of tithing. The truth is, Ididnt tithe them!" Chapter VII:Halachah 1 8. Tithing Secretly, So as Not to Put to Shame Rebbi and Rabbi Yosi, son of Yehuda, were guests atsomeones house. Certain people slandered them by warning
    • 58 Aggadatahtheir host that his guests suspected him of not tithing properlyand that he should be on the lookout. He sat down andwatched his guests to see i f they were secretly tithing his food[because they did not trust him to have done it]. They noticed that he was watching them, but in fact, theydid suspect their host of not having separated the tithes. Sowhat did they do? They started throwing the fruits to oneanother, thereby causing bits of fruit to break, which they thendesignated as tithes, and their suspicious host...thought thewhole thing was one big game.Halachah 3 9. Religious Work Is Serious Labor The law states: A man must not plow with his ox by night and hire it out by day; nor may a person work in his own property by night and hire himself out by day; nor may he starve himself or cause himself any self-mortification [when working for others] since all these activities detract from his efficiency when working for his employer. Rabbi Yochanan went to a certain place, where he saw achildrens school teacher dozing off, looking exhausted. Rabbi Yochanan asked, "Why is the teacher so weak?" They answered, "Because he fasts and indulges in self-mortification. The fasting drains his strength." Whereupon Rabbi Yochanan demanded of the teacher,"What you are doing is forbidden! I f a laborer working for hisboss is not allowed to indulge in self-denial, since it detractsfrom his efficiency in his work, then all the more so, wheninvolved in spiritual work [such as a teacher of Torah], onemust do ones utmost to be physically healthy and strong."
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Demai 59 TOSEFTA DEMAI Chapter V:Halachah 26 1. Laying Down the Law in Israel Our Rabbis once assembled in the Cuthean [Samarian]towns by the Jordan River. People brought them vegetables to eat, and Rabbi Akivaimmediately separated all the tithes [including terumah]. [When buying demai -- doubtfully tithed produce — from anuneducated person, the Rabbis obliged us to tithe it again, butexempted us from separating the priestly terumah dues. Sincefor terumah one need only separate a small amount, theRabbis do not suspect the ignoramous of being too mean toseparate it.] Rabbi Gamliel said to Rabbi Akiva, "Akiva! How dare youact contrary to the decision of your fellow rabbis? Whoallowed you to separate the terumahV He answered, "Was I laying down the law in Israel? Imerely tithed my own, personal vegetables." Rabbi Gamliel answered, "Tithing and separating terumahfrom your own vegetables is equivalent to laying down thelaw in Israel, since people will hear of your act and wronglybelieve that it represents the law !‫יי‬ When Rabbi Gamliel visited them, he treated their graincrops, legumes, and demai [all as tevel and demai, and so, didnot separate terumah]. But as for their fruits and vegetables,he regarded them as definitely not tithed, and even separatedterumah [since the Cutheans had the mistaken impression thatonly grain-crops and legumes had to be tithed]. When visiting
    • 60 Aggadatahthem on a later occasion, he noticed that their standards haddeteriorated still further. Consequently, he assumed that theywere no longer tithing or separating terumah from any of theirproduce. T R A C T A T E KILAYIM Chapter I:Halachah 1 1. Cross-Fertilization of Plants A Mistaken Lesson We have learned in the mishnah: Wheat and zoonin [aninferior type of wheat, possibly darnel] are not kilayim(forbidden mixtures) [since they are considered as belongingto the same species, and hence may be cross-fertilized]. Rabbi Yaacov bar Zavdi asked Rabbi Yirmiah, "Is theabove mishnah following the view of Rabbi Yishmael the sonof Yosi? For we have learned: Rabbi Ishmael son of Yosi saidin his father name: I f one has both wine and wine-vinegar, hemay separate the priestly dues from the wine in order toexempt both the wine and the vinegar [since they areconsidered one type], but not vice-versa [since wine-vinegar isinferior to wine]. However, in the event that he did alsoseparate from the vinegar on behalf of the wine, then he has 9fulfilled his obligation post-facto. " "Rebbi, however, held that wine and wine-vinegar areconsidered two distinct types, and that one cannot separateterumah or tithes from one type for the other."
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Kilayim 61 [Now, since wine-vinegar and wine can be compared towheat and zoonin, which are superior and inferior types of thesame commodity, the Tanna of our mishnah equated themconcerning the Laws of kilayim. Surely this shows that heholds like Rabbi Ishmael son of Yosi, who equates wine withwine-vinegar concerning the laws of tithing, as opposed toRebbi, who differentiates between them.] [Rebbi Yirmiya looked with irritation] at Rabbi Yaakov barZavdi, [to say that there was a problem with what he had said]. Rabbi Yaakov asked, "Why do you glare at me? [If thatsthe way you feel,] get a whip and whip me! [How can youreact so sternly. Surely we have learned in Ethics of theFathers (2:5): The pedant should not teach!" He answered, "The argument of Rabbi Yishmael and Rebbiwas limited to laws of tithing. Here we are discussing the lawsof kilayim. In our instance, even Rebbi would concede thatwheat and zoonin are interchangeable!" Rabbi Yonah remarked, "Rabbi Yirmiah was justified inglaring at his disciple. Our predecessors already reconciledour mishnah of kilayim and those of tithes [maasrot]." [RabbiYaakov bar Zavdi ought to have known that. After all, it saysin Ethics of the Fathers 4:12: " A mistake caused by forgettingones studies is considered as a presumptious act of sin."] Rabbi Hillels Notebook "...The broad bean and Nile cow pea, grass pea and redgrass pea, white bean and the laxative bean are not kilayimwith one another" [i.e., it is permissible to sow them together](Kilayim, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1) Rabbi Yosi said in the name of Rabbi Chiyya the son of Va:"The following entry was found in Rabbi Hillel, son of RabbiVollows notebook. [Rabbi Yonah, however, asserted in the
    • 62 Aggadatahname of Rabbi Chiyya, son of Va, that the entry was not foundin Rabbi Hillels notebook, but rather, on the wall of RabbiHillels house.] The note [in the notebook, or on the wall] read as follows:Polio, pishono, gilbono, milvoso, sipporvo, phasulta. [Thesewords are an Aramaic translation of the various legumesmentioned in our aforementioned mishnah.] Now, since the "laxative bean" of our mishnah is translatedinto the Aramaic as phasulta [which is commonly known asthe Egyptian bean], why did our Tanna then call it the"laxative bean"? Rabbi Yonah answered, "Why was it calledlaxative bean? Because it relaxes the heart and acts as alaxative." The Students Who Forbade Grafting The mishnah (Kilayim 1:4) states: "With respect to trees:pears and gallnut peas, quinces and hawthorns are not kilayimwith one another. Apples and wild-apples, peaches andalmonds, jujube and wild jujube, even though they are similarto one another, are kilayim with one another." In the market-place of Sepporis, people were grafting pearswith galnut pears. A certain student noticed and said to them,"These trees are forbidden to you. [You mustnt keep them, onaccount of the prohibition of kilayim^ They went and chopped them down. Then they went andasked the Sages in Yavnah [whether the ruling which thestudent had given them was correct]. The Sages of Yavneh replied, "The student you met wasone of Beit Shammais disciples, [who consider pears andgallnut pears to be two distinct species. However, the law isnot like that. You would not have needed to fell those trees.]" In the vicinity of the village of Ariah, people were graftingapple trees with wild-apple trees. A certain student came
    • Zeraim - Tracate Kilayim 63along and said to them, "What you are doing is forbidden."The villagers went and chopped down the trees. They thenwent and asked the Sages in Yavneh [whether the rulingwhich the student had given them was correct]. The Sages told them, "What that student told you wascorrect."Halachah 6 2. Mating Different Types of Animals Rabbi Yirmiah reported: "Kahana asked Reish Lakish, Mayone make a crossbreed of two types of sea-monsters, [or is theprohibition of producing hybrids limited to land-animals]? "Reish Lakish replied, [The prohibition of crossbreeding islearned from the Scriptural verse, "...the cattle after their kind,and everything that creeps on the earth after its kind" (Genesis1:25)." From the words, "after their kind," we learn theprohibition of crossbreeding.] Since, concerning sea animals,the verse likewise states "...and every living thing which thewaters brought forth abundantly after their kin<? [we learnthat the prohibition against crossbreeding applies to them aswell.]" Rabbi Acha stated, "This is an incorrect report. [It was notRav Kahana who asked Reish Lakish], but rather, a generalstatement in the name of Reish Lakish, that whenever theTorah uses the words after their kind concerning animals,etc., a prohibition of crossbreeding can be deduced." To which Rav Kahana asked, "But surely, concerning fish[and other sea-monsters], the Torah also uses the wordsAccording to their kind, which would imply that one may notcrossbreed fish, [which is an impossible assumption]."
    • 64 Aggadatah Said Rabbi Yosi, son of Boon, "Here, Kahana trapped ReishLakish [with an unanswerable question]." Said Rabbi Yonah, " I can answer the question [and freeReish Lakish]: [Reish Lakish was not suggesting a prohibitionof mating two types of fish. Instead, he was referring to theprohibition of being drawn along by them, i.e., that one maynot bring a cord and attach it to the ear of the white mullet [atype of fish] and to the ear of a green fish in order to let themdraw one along [in a small fishing boat, because this isanalogous to the prohibition of plowing or being pulled alongby an ox and a donkey simultaneously.]" 3. Like the Saplings of Your Vines It is stated in the beraita: "You must not graft olive treeswith a shoot of a palm. [This comes under the heading of]grafting different types of trees." Rabbi Yudan asked, "Surely this varies with the view of 4Rabbi Levi, for he stated, What is the meaning of the verse:"Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of yourhouse; your children, like olive plants around your table"[What is the analogy?] Just as olives cannot be successfullygrafted [with any other tree], so, too, your children will notcontain any admixture of worthless matter. But surely theberaitha implies [that certain grafting can be done with olives,in which case] the admixture of worthless matter to oneschildren is likewise being suggested! "The answer is, that the beraitha is not referring to normalgrafting. Olives are bitter and date palms are sweet. [The twotrees will never really mold into one.] The effect is differentfrom normal grafting — it will merely sweeten the olives." In a similar vein, Rabbi Shimon Beribi would water hispeach tree with cooked wine, in order to sweeten it.
    • Zeraim - Tracate Kilayim 65 Chapter II:Halachah 3 4. Avoiding the Semblance of Wrongdoing It was taught in the mishnah (Kilayim 2:4): " I f a field wasplanted [with vines] and he decided to sow it [with grains orlegumes], he cannot say, 1 will sow and afterwards uproot [the 9vines, in order to prevent kilayim]. Rather, he must uproot[the vines first], and afterwards sow. I f he wants, he can raze[the vines] till less than a handbreadth, sow, and afterwardsuproot, [razing the vine to within a handbreadth, therebystunting regeneration. This entitles a person to delay theuprooting until later.]" We also learned (in the tosefta): "[If, after razing to lessthan a handbreadth and then sowing,] the vines startedsprouting again, [the sprouting vines and grains] may be eatenpost-facto. However, [either the vines or grains] must beimmediately uprooted." The following once occurred: Rabbi Shimon ben Yehudahhad such a vineyard [which he had cut down to less than ahandbreadth, as mentioned above]. He said to hissharecropper: "Go and sow!" [He preferred grains to hisvineyard.] When [the sharecropper] had sown the seeds, the vinesstarted producing shoots again. [Rabbi Shimon] said to [him],"Go and harvest the grain-produce, [since the produce whichhad grown before the vines sprouted again is nowpermissible]." Once he had harvested, the vine tendrils started spreading.He said to the sharecropper, "Go and make a support [of canesaround the vines, as is customary in a vineyard/ implying thatthe vines, too, are permissible, even though they hadsprouted!].
    • 66 Aggadatah Rabbi Zeira asked, "Are we to understand that [only aperson like] Rabbi Shimon ben Yehuda was entitled to havebenefit from the vine in such an instance, since he was certainthat he fully renounced ownership of his vines, but that otherpeople, [even after cutting them down to the size of less than ahandbreadth,] must nevertheless suspect themselves of notwholeheartedly renouncing ownership? [Since onlyfull-hearted renunciation can make the vines permissble, eventhough they subsequently start throwing new shoots, mustothers always suspect themselves of half-hearted renunciation,that perhaps they harbored even subconcious hopes that thevine will start sprouting again, which would cause the newgrowth to be forbidden to them?]" Afterwards he concluded, " I f Rabbi Shimon ben Yehudahwere an exception to the rule, then surely he, too, would haverefrained from the new growth, in order to avoid othersmisinterpreting his actions. [The fact that Rabbi Shimon benYehudah did use the new growth is consequently ample proofthat others may follow suite.]" 5. They Had Plenty of Answers [A certain non-Jew once owned a vineyard which alsocontained vegetables.] A Jew bought the vegetables from thenon-Jew [while the non-Jew retained ownership of the vines.The Jewish buyer wanted to know i f he could let thevegetables continue growing, or whether he was required toharvest them right away, because of the prohibition ofkilayim.] He went and asked Rabbi Yochanan. Rabbi Yochanan told him, "Go, harvest [right away] andsell [the vegetables] for whatever price you can get, [sinceleaving them in the soil any longer would indeed constitute aprohibition of kilayim]"
    • Zeraim - Tracate Kilayim 67 Rabbi Abahu [challenged this ruling] and asked RabbiYochanan, "Surely we have learned in the mishnah, ...andsimilarly, a place of threshing floors in which there arosemany types. [I.e., wherever plant-growth is undesirable, suchas in a granary, we do not obligate him to weed, since it doesnot constitute kilayim. Since in our case the non-Jews vinesare undesirable to the Jew, why do we obligate the Jew touproot his vegetables immediately, on account of theirpresence?]" Rabbi Yochanan answered, "[There on the threshing floor,]everyone can see that the plants are undesirable [since asurface used for threshing must be smooth, whereas in ourinstance, the onlooker might not know that the vines belong tothe non-Jew, and suspect the innocent Jew of purposelygrowing kilayim. Hence, we require that he too uproot hisnewly bought vegetables immediately.]" But surely an alternative answer could have been given [todifferentiate between the threshing floor and our story]: Thereis a view that whenever any passer-by is legally entitled topluck weeds growing in someone elses field without beingguilty of stealing, that is a sign that the weeds, together withthe other plants growing there, are not kilayim. In thoseinstances where weeding or removing plants would constitutetheft, however, then that is a sign that the combination iskilayim. In our case, removing the vines would obviouslyconstitute theft, which indicates that the combination iskilayim. Here, removing the vines would obviously constitutetheft, because they belong to the non-Jew. Hence, this is a sign[according to the aforementioned view] that the vines with thevegetables do constitute kilayim.] According to the above, why did Rabbi Yochanan notanswer: "Here [in our story], there would be a prohibition oftheft, [which is a sign that the laws of kilayim apply], whereas
    • 68 Aggadatahthere by the threshing floor, [plucking the unwanted growth]is not theft. How can you equate a case where there is aproblem of theft with a case where there is no problem oftheft?" [The fact that we did not give this reply would indicatethat we do not accept the above principle.] No! The principle is acceptable! Rabbi Ami tells us:"[Offering one answer is no proof that another answer isoutruled.] The Rabbis had a wealth of answers, [but theypreferred the most original one]. Alternately, as Rabbi Nassaused to say, " A person may have two reasons, but he merelysuggests one of them." [Hence, we have no proof in eitherdirection as to the validity of the above statement.] Chapter IV:Halachah 2 6. A Practical Ruling A Sabbath Partition and a Kilayim Partition Rabbi Yehoshua once went to visit Rabbi Yochanan benNuri in Nanginar. He showed him a certain field, known as"the House of Birassa" [the family who owned it]. The field [which was surrounded by vineyards] hadbreeches over ten amot long [about 20 feet] in its partitionwall. [These large breeches forbid the planting of vines within4 amot [about 8 feet] of the fields opposite those breeches,because of kilayim]. He took sticks and forked reeds, withwhich he closed the breeches, until the gaps were less than 10amot [thus allowing one to plant opposite]. Then he said,"This is it! [Just as this is now a good partition for kilayim],so, it is also for Sabbath domains."
    • Zeraim - Tracate Kilayim 69 Chapter VI:Halacha 3This Is Forbidden and That Is Permitted It happened that Rabbi Yehoshua went to Rabbi Yishmaelin the village of Aziz, and he showed him a grapevine trainedonto part of a fig tree. [Rabbi Yishmael] said to [Rabbi Yehoshua], "May I bringseed under the remainder?" He said to him, "It is permitted." Then he took him from there up to the house of Maginiyahand showed him a grapevine trained onto the stump of asycamore [and on one of the stumps branches. The stump ofthe sycamore had a number of branches coming out from it.] [Rabbi Yehoshua] told him, "It is forbidden [to sow foreignseeds under this branch, on account of the prohibition ofkilayim with the vine], but it is permissible under otherbranches of the tree." Chapter IX:Halachah 1 7. Kilayim of Clothing: Shaatnez Burning the Garment Rabbi Hillel, son of Rabbi Valles, owned a garment whichwas worth 30,000 dinar. He brought it to Rebbi, who found itto contain kilayim [forbidden combinations of linen and wool]and burned it.
    • 70 Aggadatah A Shroud for the Dead Rabbi Mona had a garment which was worth 30,000 dinar.He brought it to Rabbi Chiyya bar Adda. Rabbi Chiyya said to him, "Did you buy this for the dead?[Have you bought me an object which I can only benefit fromafter my death? I found kilayim in it, and I fear there is morekilayim in it which I cannot find]." [He kept the garment and did not sell it further, lest someJew would buy and wear it.] It remained in his custody till theday of his death, when they shrouded him in it. A Safeguard to Shaatnez Rabbi Chaggai said, "When they would bring a garmentfrom the laundry to Rabbi Shmuel, son of Rabbi Yitzchak, hewould employ ten tailors to examine it" [to ensure that thenon-Jewish washerman had not attached any forbidden threadof kilayim to indicate the garments owner. Rabbi Chaggai said, "Rabbi Shmuel, son of RabbiYitzchak, would instruct the members of his household not to[even] place a woolen garment on a linen one, in order toprevent bits of wool clinging onto the linen garment." [Hewanted to make an added measure to guard against ,transgressing the laws of sha atnez.] Avoiding the Semblance of Wrong-doing We learned in the mishnah: "Shirayim and kalach are notkilayim, but they are [still] forbidden, on account of theirappearance." By shirayim, we mean silk. By kalach, we mean a coarse silk from Caesaria.
    • Zeraim - Tracate Kilayim 71 Said Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, " I enquired from allexpert sailors, and they told me that kalach is [what wasknown to experts as] kilchah [a type of woolly substancewhich grows on rocks in the Dead Sea, with a golden hue,very soft. It is known as kalach, and is forbidden to becombined with linen, since it looks like sheep-wool, and wetake all precautions to avoid any semblance of wrongdoing]. Remove Your Garments and Hand Them Over It was taught: We do not make inquiries whether there is adead body [in the Study Hall within 6 feet of someonestudying Torah, which would require him to stop his studies],nor whether someone there is [inadvertantly] wearingshaatnez, [so as not to disturb the study of the Torah]. Rabbi Yosi was once sitting and teaching [his students].There was a dead body near him. Neither those going out northose remaining mentioned a word about it. [Had the deceasedbeen versed in Torah, then all would have been compelled tointerrupt their studies and show him respect. Since he wasuneducated, however, it was sufficient to ensure that therewere other people to attend to him, and public studies did nothave to come to a halt.] Rabbi A m i was once sitting and learning. One of hisstudents remarked to his friend, "You are wearing shaatnez." Rabbi Ami said to him, "Remove your garments and handthem over to him!" [He was annoyed that his student hadunnecessarily disrupted his friend from his studies.] The Apron Which Was Shaatnez Rabbi Yochanan placed an apron on himself [while eating,unconcerned that it was made of shaatnez].
    • 72 Aggadatah But surely it is forbidden on account of the laws of kilayiml [Since he merely wore it] to protect his clothing fromgetting soiled [and was not interested in it as an article ofclothing, his act was permissible]. Said Rabbi Zareykan, "They handed Rabbi Avina a boilinghot egg in a cloth which contained shaatnez, and he refused toaccept it, on account of the mishnaic statement: Garmentsellers may sell in their usual manner, [carrying shaatnezgarments on their shoulders when taking them to be sold tonon-Jews], as long as they do not intend to wear them in thesun [to protect themselves] from the sun, or in the rain [toprotect themselves] from the rain. [Since the cloth wasintended to protect his hands from getting scorched from thehot egg, he compared it to a garment being worn to protectfrom the sun or rain.] Follow Your Rabbi We learned in the mishnah: A winter-boot [containing acloth- lining and a woolen stuffing] does not have anyproblems of kilayim. However, in those localities where theyare known to stitch their boots with a linen thread and the bootalso contains wool, they are forbidden. In this vein, we are told that Rabbi Zeira instructed RabbiAbba, son of Emeina, to tell his tanner not to stitch his sockswith linen, but with leather instead, [since people sometimeswear woolen socks which cling to the linen thread in theshoes]. Rabbi Zeirah, however, concedes that woolen belts may begirded on linen ones, since when he girds his loins, the lowergirdle loosens and slips. They asked Rabbi Elya, "May one stitch shoes with linen?"He answered, "Are you referring to Rabbi Zeirahs ruling,
    • Zeraim - Tracate Kilayim 73which forbade it [and you want to see i f I agree with him]?" Rabbi Elya, however, agrees that one may not wear woolensocks on top of linen ones, since it is impossible to remove theupper socks without first removing the lower ones, [hence, thecombination presents a problem of kilayim. On the otherhand, in the case of shoes stitched with linen worn on woolensocks, he was lenient, since the linen thread does not protudeand will not cling to the woolen socks.] Rav Safras father asked Rabbi Zeirah, "May one placemoney in ones [woolen] turban and tie it closed with a linenthread? Furthermore, may one place money in ones [linen]sheet and tie it with a woolen thread?" He answered, "Does the Rabbi know Rabbi Hunna?" [areyou aware of his being a great man?] Rabbi Hunna held it wasforbidden and Rabbi Avina also held it was forbidden,whereas Shmuel said it was permissible. Similarly, RabbiYaakov, son of Acha, said in the name of Rabbi Geysa that itwas permitted.Halachah 3 8. Our Holy Rabbi The Last Will of Rabbi Yehuda the Prince Shrouds for the dead are not subject to the prohibitions ofkilayim, as it says (Psalms 88:6): " among the dead."Once a preson has died, he is freed of his duty to keep thecommandments. It was taught: Rebbi left three instructions before he passedaway: "Do not remove my widow from my house, do noteulogize me in the cities, and those who looked after me in mylifetime should look after me when I die."
    • 74 Aggadatah "Do not remove my widow from my house" — but surelythat is already found in a mishnah: "[In the case of a widowwho said, I m not willing to leave my late husbands house,the heirs may not say to her: Return to your fathers house andwe will feed you there. Rather, they must feed her andprovide her with suitable lodgings." [Thus, why did Rebbineed to make a special request for something alreadyobligated by the mishnah?] Answered Rabbi Derusai, "In order that people should notsay: It is the Nasis [Princes] official residence, and is pledgedto those who occupy the office [and the widow must leave]."[Rebbi was a descendant of King David, and people were verysensitive to protecting his honor.] Said Rabbi Elazar, son of Yosi, "Similarly we have learned: A woman continues to live in her house [after her husbandsdeath] as though her husband were just [temporarily]overseas. She may use his silver and golden vessels as shewould do when her husband was overseas, and she getssustained as she used to be when her husband was overseas." [Even though it is the sons who receive their fathersinheritance, and not the wife, the children are neverthelessobliged to maintain the widows standards, as required by herketubah [marriage document]. But this is only on thecondition that she is not interfering with another personsdomain. In our case of the Nasi, since her presence wouldpossibly necessitate the new leader to find other lodgings, wewould have thought that we are not required to allow her tostay in her old house. Hence, Rebbi had to request it speciallyin his will.] "Do not eulogize me in the towns" -‫ ־‬in order to avoidargument. [Rebbi died in Sepporis and was transported to BeitShearim, because he feared that the dwellers of Sepphoris
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Kilayim 75would complain that they had been deprived of their mitzvah.Others explain that he did not want to be eulogized in thetowns, so that the villagers shouldnt say, "Arent we deemedworthy to eulogize Rebbi?" Therefore, he didnt want to beeulogized either in the towns or in the villages. A thirdexplanation is that i f they would eulogize him in the towns,then many villagers would come from the neighboringvillages, and there wouldnt be enough space for them. Sincethis would consequently cause arguments, instead, they shouldonly eulogize him in the large towns, where there would bespace for everyone.] "Those who looked after me in my lifetime should lookafter me when I die." Said Rabbi Chananya from Sepphoris:"The reference was to people such as Yosef from Efrat andYosef from Haifa, whose hearses preceded his, and who wereburied before him." [Rebbi was expressing his wish that they should attend tohim by dying at the same time he did, in order to wait on himin the Higher World. In this way, people should not think thatthe reason they were not priviledged people to be engaged inhis burial was because of some slight sin, nor should peopleerroneously think that the whole reason these great men didntdie in Rebbis lifetime was merely because of Rebbis merit,since he needed them to attend to his burial. No! They wererighteous and lived in their own merit, and attended to Rebbiboth in This World and in the Hereafter.] Rabbi Chizkiyah added [several other requests] from Rebbi[from before his death]: "Do not bury me with many garments‫[ ־־‬theyll just cause more worms]; remove my coffins base,[so that my body should be lying directly on the ground, infulfillment of the verse: Tor you are dust, and you shall returnto the dust." [An alternative version of this last request wasthat his coffin should be interred in a burial cave chamber, inorder that his body shouldnt get soaked from the rains.]
    • 76 Aggadatah Some say that Rebbi was buried in one sheet [without anyadditional shrouds, since] in the words of Rebbi, "The way aperson leaves is not the way he returnes." [The clothes one isburied in are not those which he will wear at the Resurrectionof the Dead. Therefore, to be buried in new clothes would be asenseless waste of money.] We have learned in Rabbi Natans name: "The garmentwhich clothes a person on his way to the grave will return withhim. Why? As it says in Job (38:14): It is changed like clayunder the seal; and they stand as a garment [which means:Man, who is the seal of the Creator, will be changed like clayin the potters hands and will arise at the Resurrection in hisoriginal garments] ‫" י‬ Antoninus asked Rebbi, "What is the meaning of the verse,It is changed like clay under the sear?" He answered, "The One Who will bring the generation [i.e.who will revive them], He will clothe them as well [with newclothing at the time of the Resurrection]." Preparations for the Resurrection of the Dead Rabbi Yochanan instructed: "Clothe me in light-bluegarments [when I die], not white, nor black, [but rather,somewhere inbetween the two colors,] so that i f I ariseamongst the righteous [who are clothed in white,] I wont beashamed [since, after all, my clothes wont be black,] and i f Iarise amongst the wicked [who are clothed in black,] it wontlook as though I am giving myself airs, [like a bridegroomdressed in white amongst a group of mourners.]" Rabbi Joshia instructed: "Clothe me in well-ironed, whitegarments."
    • Zeraim - Tracate Kilayim 77 They said to him, "Do you consider yourself better thanyour Rabbi [i.e., Rabbi Yochanan, who feared that he mightnot merit arising together with the righteous]?" He answered them, "What? Should I be ashamed of myactions? [His intention was to arouse his students to the fear ofHeaven.]" Rabbi Yirmiah instructed: "Clothe me in well-ironed, whiteclothes, dress me with my outer garment, place shoes on myfeet and a walking stick in my hand, and place me on my side,so that when the Messiah comes, I will be ready [to arise andwelcome him]." Rebbis Demise The inhabitants of Sepporis [where Rebbi lived during hislast 17 years] declared [just before his death, on account oftheir great anguish], " I f anyone informs us that Rebbi hasdied, we will kill him!" Bar Kapara, his head covered with a mourners turban andhis garments ripped like a mourner, stared in their directionand said, "Mortals and angels seized the Tablets of theCovenant; the angels have prevailed and snatched theTablets." [Righteous mortals desiring Rebbi to remain withthem are metaphorically represented as holding on to theTablets of the Covenant, since Rebbis clarity of the Torahwas like one who had recieved it directly from Sinai. Theangels, for their part, were trying to draw him to the World toCome. They prevailed, and his soul departed.] They said to him, "Has Rebbi died?" He said to them, "You were the ones who said it first! [ Ididnt say it, so your vow is not applicable.]" They rent their garments [as is required when the nationsleader dies], and their cries reached as far as the town of
    • 78 AggadatahGufafta, a distance of three mil [about 2 miles] from Sepporis. Rabbi Nachman said in the name of Rabbi Manna:"Miracles took place on that day. It was the eve of theSabbath. A l l the towns assembled to lament and eulogize him,and they placed him down eigtheen times to be mourned.They then took him from Sepporis [which was on the top of amountain] to Beit Shearim [in the valley] where they buriedhim. The sun [miraculously] did not set till everyone hadmanaged to get back to his own home and fill his barrel withwater for the Sabbath and light the Sabbath candles. As soonas the sun had set [marking the commencement of theSabbath], the cock immediately started crowing, [marking thebreak of day — [the setting of the sun had been supernaturallydelayed for most of the night.] The people worried, Perhapswe profaned the Sabbath! " A heavenly voice was heard, saying: A l l those who werenot lazy in lamenting Rebbis demise are assured of theirsalvation in the World to Come, apart from a certain washer,[who would regularly frequent Rebbi, but was not present atthe funeral orations]. On hearing that, the washer went onto aroof-top, threw himself off in anguish, and died. A HeavenlyVoice came forth and declared: Even the washer [is nowwelcome in the World to Come]." "His Tender Mercies Are over All His Works" Rebbi lived in Sepporis for seventeen years. In connectionwith this, he would cite the verse: "Jacob lived in the land ofEgypt for seventeen years" (Genesis 47:28) and comment,"and Yehuda lived in Sepphoris for seventeen years."Thirteen of those seventeen years he suffered from toothache.[Neverless, due to his great saintliness, he submitted lovinglyto his sufferings and even compared his last years in Sepphoris
    • Zeraim - Tracate Kilayim 79to Jacobs last years in Egypt, in which he lived in blissfultranquility. Said Rabbi Yosi, son of Boon, "Throughout those thirteenyears, no woman died in confinement or had a miscarriagethroughout the Land of Israel, [since the suffering of therighteous protects the generation]." Why did Rebbi have this chronic toothache? Once he waswalking along, when he saw a calf being lead to the slaugther.The animal bowed and said to him: "Rebbi, save me!" [It triedto seek refuge under Rebbis garment.] Rabbi said to the calf, "For that purpose you were created!"[Since Rebbi didnt have pity on the animal, he was punishedwith toothache.] What caused Rebbis final recovery? He saw people killinga nest of mice and said to them, "Leave them alone! It is stated[in Psalms 145:9]: His tender mercies are over all hisworks!" [They said in Heaven, "Since he is merciful to creatures, wewill have mercy on him."]Elyah the Prophet Assumes the Appearance of Rabbi Chiyya and Cures Rebbi Rebbi was very humble. He would say, " I l l do anythinganyone tells me to do, apart from what the elders of Betheiradid for my grandfather [Hillel, the Sage]. They resigned fromtheir office as leaders and appointed him Nasi instead.However, i f Rabbi Hunna, Chief of the Babylonian Jews, willcome up here [to Israel], I will place him above me, becausehe descends from the Tribe of Juda, whereas I only descendfrom Benjamin; Rabbi Hunna is a paternal descendant of Judaand I m only a maternal descendant." [Paternally, Rabbi Judadescended from Benjamin and maternally from Juda, throughShefatya son of Avital, Davids wife.]
    • 80 Aggadatah Once, Rabbi Chiyya the Great visited him and said,"Behold, Rav Hunna is outside!" Rebbis face turned green [from shame, since he thoughtthat he was now expected to appoint Rabbi Hunna as Nasi inhis stead. Rabbi Chiyya then said to him, "His coffin has come."[This wasnt true, since Rabbi Hunna died after Rebbi andRabbi Chiyya and his sons. Rabbi Chiyya only said this torelax his Rebbis anxiety.] Rebbi then said to Rabbi Chiyya, "Go and take a look whois looking for you outside!" Rabbi Chiyya went out, but couldnt see a soul. He realizedthe Rebbi was angry with him [and had politely thrown himout]. For thirty days Rebbi Chiyya did not enter Rebbis house[as though he had been excommunicated]. Said Rabbi Yosi, son of Boon, "Throughout those thirtydays, Rav learned Torah principles from his uncle RabbiChiyya." [Rav descended to Babylonia and became the ChiefRabbi of the entire Diaspora. Most of the Talmud Bavli stemsfrom him.] After thirteen years and thirty days had elapsed [the finalcure of Rebbis toothache was delayed by an extra thirty daysin honor of Rabbi Chiyya] the Prophet Elijah appeared toRebbi, disguised as Rabbi Chiyya, and asked Rebbi how hefelt. He said, "How is my master?" He answered, "One tooth still hurts me." He said, "Show me your tooth." He showed him. Elijah placed his finger on it and it wascured. The following day, Rabbi Chiyya the Great visitedRebbi. He said to him, "How is Rebbi? Whats the latest with histeeth?"
    • Zeraim - Tracate Kilayim 81 Rebbi answered, "From the time you placed your finger onit, it has been cured." He then said, "Woe to you, all confined women in the Landof Israel! Woe to you, pregnant women! [From now on, thesufferings of the righteous Rebbi will no longer be able toprotect and save you with the merit of his sufferings.]" He said to him, "It wasnt I [who placed his finger on yourtooth and cured i t ] . " From that time onwards, [after it was known that Elijah hasassumed the appearance of Rabbi Chiyya in his honor], Rebbiwould treat Rabbi Chiyya with great respect. When RabbiChiyya would enter the academy, Rebbi would say, "LetRabbi Chiyya the Great sit up front." Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi, said to him, "In front of me?" He answered, "Heaven forbid. Rabbi Chiyya in front butRabbi Yishmael son of Yosi right in front." Rabbi Chiyya and Rabbi Yishmael, Son of Yosi Rebbi was singing Rabbi Chiyya the Greats praises toRabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi. Once Rabbi Yishmael sawRabbi Chiyya in the bathhouse, but Rabbi Chiyya [ignoredRabbi Yishmael] and did not show him any signs of respect. Rabbi Yishmael remarked to Rebbi, "Is this the Rabbi Chiyya whom you are [constantly] praising." He answered, "What did he do wrong?" He said, "He saw me in the bathhouse but did not humblehimself with respect." Rebbi then asked Rabbi Chiyya, "Why did you behave thatway?" He answered, "May evil befall me [if I was aware at thattime of Rabbi Yishmaels presence]; I was not even aware thatI was washing myself[ At the time, I was running through the
    • 82 Aggadatahwhole Midrash on Psalms [so as not to forget it, and was even ,oblivious of the fact that I was washing myself.] ‫י‬ From then on, two students were charged [by Rebbi] toaccompany Rabbi Chiyya wherever he went, so that he shouldnot endanger himself [on account of his preoccupation withhis Torah thoughts]. 9. Rabbi Chiyya the Great Fasting to See His Face Rabbi Yosi fasted for eighty days in order to merit seeingthe deceased Rabbi Chiyya the Great. Finally, when he did seehim, Rabbi Yosis limbs trembled and his eyesight dimmed.Now, i f you will contend that Rabbi Yosi was on a low level,[then hear the following story]: A certain weaver came toRabbi Yochanan and told him, " I saw in my dream that theFirmament was falling, and one of your disciples was holdingit in position." Rabbi Yochanan said to him, "Would you recognize him?" He answered, " I f I d see him, I d recognize him." Rabbi Yochanan let all his students pass in front of theweaver, and he picked out Rabbi Yosi. The Difference between Learning and Teaching Rabbi Shimon, son of Lakish, fasted three hundred fasts inorder to merit seeing Rabbi Chiyya the Great [in a dream], buthe didnt appear to him. Rabbi Shimon was very upset as aresult, and said, "Did Rabbi Chiyya then labor in the Torahmore than I did?" They answered him, "He spread Torah in Israel more thanyou. Not only that, but he even went into exile for Torah." He said to them, "But didnt I also go into exile?"
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Kilayim 83 They said to him, "You went into exile in order to learn. Hewent into exile in order to teach."The Burial of Rabbi Hunna in the Cave of Rabbi Chiyya When Rabbi Hunna, Chief of the Babylonian Jews, died,they brought his body to the Land of Israel. They said, "Whereshould we bury him?" They decided, "Lets place him next to Rabbi Chiyya theGreat, since he came from the same country of origin, [i.e.,Babylonia]." They said, "Who wishes to place him there? [Who isprepared to enter the burial vault of Rabbi Chiyya to buryhim?]" Said Rabbi Chaggai, " I l l go in and place him." They said to him, "You are looking for an excuse [to beable to be buried next to them]. You are old and want to go in[to that cave] so that should you pass away while in there, sothat youd be interred there." He said to them, "Tie a cord to my legs, and i f I dont comeout on my own, haul me out." [So they tied a cord to his legs.] He went in and found threepeople debating [whether to admit Rabbi Hunna]. He heard avoice saying, "Yehuda, my son, there has never since beenanyone like you; Chizkiyah, my son, there has never beenanyone like you; Joseph, son of Yisrael, no one has ever sinceexisted who can match you." [Yehuda, son of Rabbi Chiyya, was sitting to his right;Chizkiyoh, his son, was sitting to his left, and behind RabbiChiyya, the righteous Joseph, son of Jacob, the patriach, wassitting. Rabbi Chiyya and his two sons represent the threepatriarchs and so it was not fitting for anyone else to sit
    • 84 Aggadatahbetween them. Behind them was sitting the saintly Josephwho was born to Jacob in his old age, and resembled himclosely.] Rabbi Chaggai raised his eyes and stared at the holy group.He was told, "Turn your face, lower your eyes, [lest you cometo harm]!" He then heard the voice of Rabbi Chiyya the Great saying tohis son, Rabbi Yehuda, "Make room for Rabbi Hunna [to lienext to you. Since he has already arrived, it is not courteous torefuse him]." Rabbi Chaggai, however, refused to place RabbiHunnas coffin between them. He felt it was not respectful tothem. [Instead, he left the coffin in an upright position.] They thereupon said, "Just as [Rabbi Chaggai] would notseparate us [by placing Rabbi Hunna between us], so, too, hisseed will never be separated, [i.e., his posterity will nevercease]." Rabbi Chaggai emerged from the cave. He was aged eightyat the time and was given an additional eighty-year life span.10. "There is None that Can Deliver Out of My Hand" (Deuteronomy 32:39) King Solomons Scribes Rabbi Yonah said in the name of Rabbi Chama, son ofChanina: " A perons feet are responsible for placing himwhere he is destined to die, as it says (I Kings 22:2): The L-rdsaid: "Who shall entice Ahav, so that he may go up and fall atRamot-Gilead?" It does not say, Let him die in his house, butrather, in a specific place." Elichoref and Achiyah were two of Solomons scribes. TheAngel of Death came and stared at them and started gnashingits teeth.
    • Zeraim - Tracate Kilayim 85 [Solomon understood that the Angel of Death was intent ontaking their lives, so he tried to save them.] He said a word [heuttered one of G‫־‬ds ineffable Names] and placed them in ahole. The Angel of Death hauled them out, and then it went andmocked King Solomon [for actually having helped him in hiswork]. Solomon said to him, "An hour ago you were gnashing yourteeth, and now you are jeering?!" He answered, "The All-Merciful told me to take the lives ofElichoref and Achiyah from them when they would be in thathole. I said,** Who will place them in the place from whichIve been sent to take them? G-d put it in your mind to act asyou did, in order that I should be able to fulfill my mission!" Solomon then went there and attended to them, [i.e., buriedthem.] Rabbi Reuvens Two Sons Two of Rabbi Reuven son of Istrubalis sons were studentsof Rebbi. Rebbi saw the Angel of Death glaring at them andgnashing its teeth [since they werent in the place where it wasdecreed that they would die]. Rebbi said, "Lets exile them to the South; perhaps theirexile will atone for them [and save them]." [He sent them there,] but the Angel of Death went there andtook their lives, [since it had been decreed by G-d that theyshould die in the South]. 11. Death and Burial in the Land of Israel Dying in Ones Mothers Arms Ulla would regularly go from Israel to Babylonia [to spreadthe Torah teachings of the Holy Land]. When his time came to
    • 86 Aggadatahdie, he was [in Babylonia]. He started crying, [since he felt hewould have to give up his life in foreign territory]. They said to him, "Why are you crying? Well take yourbody up to the Land of Israel [for burial]." He answered them, "What will I get out of that? I amleaving my gem [i.e., my soul] in a polluted country. Onecannot compare surrendering ones soul in ones mothers arms[in Israel] to leaving it in the arms of a stranger!" Rabbi Meirs Last Will Rabbi Meir was about to pass away in a Roman town inAsia-Minor. He said, "Tell residents of the Land of Israel,Here is your anointed one, [i.e., inform them of my death, sothat they should transport me for burial in the Holy Land]." Even though he knew his wishes would be fulfilled,nevertheless, he requested, "Place my hearse by the seashore[till they come to collect me]." This request was based on the verse: "For he has founded itupon the seas and established it upon the rivers." The Land ofIsrael is surounded by seven seas: the Mediterranean Ocean,the Lake of Tiberias [the Galilee], the Lake of Sibkhay[Meiron], the Dead Sea, the Sea of Hulta, the Lake of Shilyath[Eilat] and the Lake of Paneas in the Northern Galilee.[Consequently, all seashores in the world are consideredsomewhat linked to the shores of the Holy Land. But surelythere is an eighth sea,] namely the Lake of Emesa [Huns]. [Sowhy did we only list seven?] This was only an artificial baymade under the reign of Diocletian [not from the originalCreation],
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Kilayim 87 The Well of Miriam Rabbi Chiyya, son of Abba, said, "Anyone who climbsMount Carmel and notices a sieve-shaped object in the Lakeof Tiberias is beholding the Well of Miriam [whichaccompanied the Jews in the Wilderness and supplied themwith water in Miriams merit]." [It is a round rock with manyholes, like a sieve, and can be viewed from the top of theCarmel]. Rabbi Yochanan said, "Our Rabbis figured out that it isdirectly opposite the middle gate of the ancient synagogue ofSerognin." "And His Land Shall Atone for His People" Rabbi Barkorya and Rabbi Elazar were walking from onecity to another. They saw coffins being brought to Israel fromoverseas [from people who had died outside Israel and wishedto be buried in holy soil]. Rabbi Barkorya said to Rabbi Elazar, "What have thesepeople achieved by that? In reference to them, I cite the verse,You have made my heritage an abomination [by spurning it]in your lifetime, whereas when you entered, you defiled myLand (Jeremiah 2:7) [by arriving only] after your death!" Rabbi Elazar said to him, "When they get to the Land ofIsrael, people take a clod of soil and place it on their coffins,thereby fulfilling the verse: Their Land shall atone for theirpeople [for having died in the Diaspora]."
    • 88 Aggadatah T R A C T A T E SHEVIIT Chapter IV:Halacha 2 1. Transgression of the Law Working in the Seventh Year Originally, when the [Roman] government would force [theJews to pay a fifth of their produce as taxation, and anyone nottilling his soil would get it confiscated], Rabbi Yannai ruledthat they should plow once [in the Sabbatical year, whenworking on the soil is normally forbidden i f it is done toobtain a more copious crop, since it was not considered to beof the utmost necessity]. A certain apostate was working in the shemittah year, [andothers started following his bad example]. Rabbi Yannainoticed them plowing twice over. He said to them, "Onaccount of that persecutor, Satto, you were allowed to plowonce. But who allowed you to plow over, a second time?!‫יי‬ Alternatively: After the persecution was over, RabbiYannai passed and saw them plowing the first time over. Hesaid to them, "My intention was never to remove prohibitions;it was only to alleviate your suffering. At the time of thepolitical persecutions, I allowed you to work in your fields sothat your enemies should not torment you. Now that thedecree has been annulled, however, you have no permission toplow in the Sabbatical Year." Another version: Once, during a period of politicalpersecutions, a certain apostate passed by [Jewish fields] inthe Sabbatical year and saw them gathering and stacking theirproduce. He said, "You are deviating from the Torah. Sincewhen have you been allowed to plow and stack your produce?It seems that you have totally forsaken your Torah!" [The
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Shevi it, 89apostate intended merely to cause them anguish, to snicker atthem.] Said Rabbi Yaakov, son of Zavdi, " I asked Rabbi Abahu,Surely Rabbi Zeirah and Rabbi Yochanan both said in thename of Rabbi Yannai, and Rabbi Yirmiah and RabbiYochanban in the name of Rabbi Shimeon, son ofYehotzadak: They noted and passed a law in the upperchamber of the house of Nitza that i f a gentile forces a Jew atthe peril of his life to transgress any law in the Torah, apartfrom idol worship, incest, or blod shed, he should transgressrather than forfeit his life, as it says in Scriptures: "You shalllive with them" (Leviticus 18:15). " When does this apply? Only in private, but in public, aperson should surrender his life, rather than transgress eventhe most minor prohibition. An example of this is the incidentwith the two brothers, Pappos and Lulyanos, who were givenwater to drink in tinted glasses and refused." [They werecaptured by Turnus at the time of the persecutions and wereordered to drink water in red glasses. Thus, a Jewish onlookerwould think that they drank forbidden wine and take it as anindication that one may renounce ones religion underpressure. Even though their sin would only have been asemblance of wrongdoing, still, they refused and surrenderedtheir lives. I f so, how could Rebbi allow tilling the soil in theshemittah in public during the persucutions?] Rabbi Abahu replied, "[Rabbi Yannai allowed the firstplowing in the shemittah] since the heathens intention in thelaw was not to break their faith, but merely for monetaryinterests, to collect their taxes." [Hence, submitting to theirwishes in these extenuating circumstances is not considered aprofanation of G-ds Name.]
    • 90 Aggadatah Transgress Rather than Die Rabbi Avuna Zeira was seen driving his loaded donkey byrunning behind it on the Sabbath [at the behest of somegovernor, who was using it to transport some load. RabbiAvuna Zeira agreed, [even though what he was doing isforbidden on the Sabbath], since the heathens intentions weremerely for his own interests and not to break the Rabbisfaith]. Rabbi Yonah and Rabbi Yosi permitted baking forUrsicinus [a Roman general in Israel] on the Sabbath, [sincethe generals intentions were merley to have hot bread forhimself and his army, not to break their faith]. Jew -- Until the End Rabbi Abba, son of Zemima, was tailoring clothing at thepremises of a certain gentile in Rome. The gentile broughtRabbi Abba carrion and commanded him, "Eat it!" Rabbi Abba said, " I will NOT eat it." "Eat, or else I will kill you," the heathen demanded. He replied, " I f you wish to kill me, then kill me. I simplywill not eat any meat not slaugthered according to ourrituals." The heathen said, " I am herewith informing you that hadyou eaten, I would have killed you. A Jew must be a properJew; a gentile must be a proper gentile, [i.e., he was merelytrying to test the sincerity of Rabbi Abba]." Said Rabbi Manna, "Had Rabbi Abba, son of Zemima,obeyed the words of the Sages [that one should neversurrender ones life for any law of the Torah which one isbeing coerced to transgress in private, other than the threecardinal crimes], then he would have eaten."
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Sheviit 912. Not to Exalt Oneself with the Crown of the Torah Rabbi Tarfon went down to his field [which was contractedout to others] to eat figs which were lying there to dry, on theunderstanding that he would not have to reciprocate. This wasin accordance with the view of Beit Shammai. [It was theSabbatical year, when all fruits are deemed ownerless byDivine decree. In the view of Beit Shammai, it is evenforbidden to show or accept gratitude for partaking of thefruits, since that is considered to fall under the heading oftrading with shemittah produce. For that reason, Rabbi Tarfondid not inform his tenants that he was entering the fields.] Theguards noticed [and thought he was a thief], and startedbeating him. When he realized the danger he was in, he said to them, "Goand inform Rabbi Tarfons household that they should preparehis funeral shrouds." When they heard that [and stared and recognized him,] theyprostrated themselves and said to him, "Rebbi, forgive us!" He told them, "Let [evil] befall me [if what I l l tell you nowis not true]: I forgave you in advance for each blow whichdescended on me. [I realized that I deserved it for not havingrelied on the ruling of Beit Hillel, who disagreed with BeitShammai]." Rabbi Tarfon followed the stricter view of Beit Shammai intwo matters and endangered his life. The first was the abovestory, and the second was [when he was on a journey andpurposely stopped still and inclined when] reciting the Shema[in accordance with Beit Shammais view. He was confrontedby armed bandits, thereby endangering his life.] Said Rabbi Abahu in the name of Rabbi Channina, son ofGamliel, "Throughout Rabbi Tarfons lifetime, he would
    • 92 Aggadatahafflict himself on account of the above episode and say, "Woeto me that I exalted myself with the crown of the Torah!" [Hewas very rich and could have bribed the guards to leave himalone, rather than stopping them by telling them who he was.]Halachah 3 3. May the Blessing of the L‫־‬rd Be Upon You Rabbi Chinnena, son of Pappa, and Rabbi Shmuel, son ofNachman, passed by someone who was plowing his field inthe shemittah year. Rabbi Shmuel, son of Nachman, said to him, "Keep up thegood work!" [since he realized that the farmer was onlyplowing under coercion of the ruling power and had no wishto transgress the Torah]. [Rabbi Chinnena, however, did not perceive the farmersmotives.] He said to Rabbi Shmuel, "Didnt our Rabbi teach us[the following inference from Tehillim 128:8]: Nor do theywho go by say, "The blessing of the L‫־‬rd be upon you," fromwhich we derive that it is forbidden to bless or encouragefarmers plowing in the Sabbatical year." [Rabbi Channina attributed this biblical exposition to hisrabbi, to show him deference, even though he had never heardit from him.] Rabbi Shmuel answered, "You know how to read, but youdont know how to expound. When the verse says: Nor do theywho go by say..., it is referring to the non-Jewish nations ofthe world, who will go out of the World [and be lost forever].[It is not referring to passers-by. Similarly, when the Psalmistwrites a few verses earlier: The plowers plowed upon myback..., the reference is not to physical plowing, but rather, to
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Sheviit 93the nations of the world who plow and scheme evil plansagainst us]. Nor do they who go by say, "The blessing of theL‫־‬rd be upon you" should therefore be interpreted to meanthat the nations of the world do not say to the Jews, May G-dsblessing be upon you, [i.e., they do not realize that all theprosperity that comes their way is in the merit of the Jewishpeople]. "How does Israel respond? We have blessed you in theName of the L‫־‬rd, implying that not only are you not satisfiedthat all worldly blessings which come your way are in ourmerit, and not only do you not invite us to share in theblessings; you even levy heavy tributes, crop taxes, poll-taxand fines!" [Rabbi Chinnena understood that Rabbi Shmuel wished toindicate that this farmer was merely working to pay off histaxes [which the Rabbis had allowed], and that was why RabbiShmuel had blessed him and even encouraged him, so that heshouldnt become despondent that he had been forced toviolate the shemittah.]Halachah 7 4. They Cherish Her Very Dust Rabbi Yosi, son of Channina, would kiss the rocks[alternatively: coral stones] of Acco. [Others say that hekissed the arched bridge at Acco, which marks the boundaryof the Land of Israel.] He would say, "The Land of Israel ends here." Rabbi Zeira crossed the River Jordan, fully dressed. [Hepreferred to soak his garments, so as not to show disrespect tothe Jordan.]
    • 94 Aggadatah Rabbi Chiyya, son of Abba, would roll in the dust in themarket place of Tiberias [out of sheer love of its sublimity]. Rabbi Chiyya the Great would weigh the stones [to knowwhether he had entered the Land. In Israel, the stones areheavier. If the stones were light, he would say, " I have not yetentered the Land of Israel/ Once he found them heavy, hedsay, "Now Ive entered the Land of Israel."] Rabbi Channanya would level out the streets, so that peopleshould not criticize Israels streets. Why did they all go to such extremes? In order to fulfill thewords of the Psalmist, "For our servants hold her stones dear,and cherish her very dust (Psalms 102:15). Chapter VI:Halachah 1 5. A Students Ruling Rebbi was in Acco, [the part of Acco which was conqueredby those who came back from Babylonia, which makes it anintrinsic part of the Land of Israel, liable therefore to all lawsapplicable to the Land and to having challah separated fromthe dough by Torah decree]. Rebbi saw the people there eating bread which had beenmade from finely-sifted flour. He said to them, "Are you, then,soaking your grains?" [This is the only way such fine flourcould be produced, therefore causing him to fear that thegrains had been soaked in water, which would have madethem susceptible to contract uncleanliness. Seeing they wereuneducated, it could be assumed that their vessels wereimpure, which would have defiled the dough and the challah,which is forbidden.]
    • Zeraim - Tracate Sheviit 95 They answered, " A certain student came here and taught usthat egg-liquid does not make a food susceptible touncleanlines. So we boil eggs and soak the grains in the waterin which the eggs were boiled." When the student said egg-liquid, they erroneously thoughtthat he was referring to the water in which the eggs werecooked, whereas in actual fact, he had meant the egg-whites.[The student should have expressed himself clearly so as toavoid error. Egg-white, like pure fruit juice, will not make afood susceptible to contracting uncleanliness, whereas thewater in which the eggs are cooked, will.] Rabbi Yaakov, son of Iddi, said, "From then on theydecreed that no student should pass rulings on legal issues." Rabbi Chiyya, son of Rabbi Chunna, added, " I f a studentpasses a ruling, even i f it is legally accurate, the ruling has novalidity."6. The Student Who Ruled in His Rabbis Presence We have learned: " A student who rules in the presence ofhis Rabbi is deserving of death." Furthermore, we havelearned in the name of Rabbi Eliezer: "The only reason whyNadab and Abihu died, was because they decided a point oflaw in the presence of Moses, their teacher.‫יי‬ It once happened that a certain student decided a religiousmatter in the presence of his rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer, whereuponthe Rabbi said to his wife, Imma Shalom [sister of RabbiGamliel], "This man wont survive the week!" Indeed, before the week was up, he had passed away. Hisstudents said to him, "Rabbi, are you a prophet?" He answered them, " I am neither a prophet, nor the son of aprophet, but I have a tradition: Any student who decides onpoints of law in the presence of his rabbi, is deserving ofdeath."
    • 96 Aggadatah We have learned: "A student is forbidden to rule inreligious matters in the presence of his rabbi within a radius oftwelve mil [about 12 kilometers, or eight miles], the length ofthe encampment of the Jews in the Wilderness. What is thebasis for this? [It is stated in Numbers 33:49]: And theypitched by the River Jordan, from Beit Hayeshimot to AvelHashitim. How far is this? Twelve mil." [Rabba, son of RabbiChanna, said that he saw that the distance between BeitHayeshimot and Avel Hashitim was three parasangs, which istwelve mil. Moses pitched his tent outside the camp, andanyone wishing to know G-ds wishes would go to the Tent ofMeeting, outside the camp, where Moses was residing.] [We see that it is forbidden to rule in the vicinity of onesRabbi, from the fact that the people had to treck to Moses andcouldnt consult local Rabbis.] Rabbi Tanchum, son of Chiyya, was in Chetter[alternatively, Cheffer, a city in the Galilee, about fivekilometers east of Sepphoris, the chief city in the upperGalilee]. They would ask him halachik questions and hewould make decisions. They asked him, "Surely our Rabbi has taught us that adisciple may not rule in halachik matters in the vicinity of hisrabbi, unless he is [at least] twelve kilometers away, like thelength of the encampment of the Children of Israel. Surely,your rabbi, Rabbi Mona, resides in Sepporis?!" He answered them, "Let [evil] befall me, i f I was aware[that my mentor was nearby]!" From then on, he would not make decisions in points oflaw. 7. The Cohen Who Left the Land Rebbi was in Acco. He noticed someone crossing theborders of Acco and leaving the country.
    • Zeraim - Tracate Sheviit 97 He said to him, "Arent you the son of so and so, the Cohen?Wasnt your father a priest?" [The Rabbis forbade priests toleave Israel in Temple times, since they had decreed that theatmosphere and soil of foreign lands defiles, and a priest mustbe extra-meticulous to protect his purity.] The man answered, "My father let himself get carried away[by beauty] and married a woman who was unfitting for him[a divorcee]. They thereby profaned that man." [He wasreferring to himself, that he had been profaned through hisparents illegal union, and was consequently not bound by thepriestly restrictions not to leave the Land of Israel. He spokein the third person out of embarrassment.] 8. The Purity of Ashkelon Rabbi Simmon taught in the name of Rabbi Chilfai: "Rebbiand Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosi, and Ben Hakaparjointly ruled that Ashkelon [is within Israels borders andhence, that its atmosphere does not defile. They based this onthe ruling of Rabbi Pinchas, son of Yair, who had said, "Wewould go down to the Yishmaelite market in Ashkelon, wherethey sell produce. Wed buy wheat and return to our city andimmerse in the ritual-bath [the mikvah] and eat terumah [thepriests share of the crop] in the evening." [From the fact thatthey were prepared to go to Ashkelon, even though they werepriests, it is clear that they considered Ashkelon to be part ofIsrael. The reason they immersed before eating terumah, wasbecause they feared that during their business dealings withthe Arabs, one of the Arabs might have contaminated themthrough contact or through a drop of saliva which may havedribbled onto them from his mouth.] The following day, a majority ruling was issued [by otherrabbis], exempting produce from Ashkelon from being tithed.
    • 98 Aggadatah[This was based on the assumption that Ashkelon was notwithin Israels true boundaries, since Joshua never killed ordrove out its inhabitants, but merely subdued them and forcedthem to pay taxes.] Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosi, did not second themotion [of exempting Ashkelon produce from tithing. Hefigured that Ben Hakapar would likewise abstain. [When hesaw that Ben Hakapar did back the new ruling of exemptingAshkelon], he asked him, "My son, why didnt you questionme as to why I refused to second the motion? I would havetold you my reasons [rather than that you should blindlyfollow them]." "[Even though all my life] I had assumed Ashkelon tocontaminate [like all places outside Israel," said RabbiYishmael,] "nevertheless, [yesterday] I declared it [as part ofthe Holy Land] in all its purity [and thus, permissible forpriests. I was basing myself on the testimony of RabbiPinchas, son of Yair.] Moreover, I contend that it can possiblybe considered by Torah law as having been conquered and anintegral part of Israel [owing to its having been subdued byJoshua and forced to pay taxes. So how possible a day laterthat I resolve the public of their obligation to tithe?]" 9. The Land of Israel and Its Borders The Ultimatums of Joshua, Son of Nun Rabbi Shmuel, the son of Nachmani, said, "Joshuapresented the Canaanites in the Land of Israel with threeultimatums before entering the Land: Those who wish to leaveshould leave; those who wish to make peace with us shouldmake peace; those who wish to wage war should do so. "The Girgasheans evacuated and went to Africa, andbelieved in the Holy One, Blessed be He. Concerning them, it
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Sheviit 99says (II Kings 2:18-33): 1 have taken you to a land like yourland, referring to Africa. The Gibeonites made a peace treaty,as it says (Joshuah 10:1): The inhabitants of Gibeon havemade peace with Israel; thirty-one kings waged war and fell." The Fear of Leaving Rabbi Zeira went to the hot springs of Pechel [near theRiver Jordan, opposite Beit Shean]. He noticed he was sittingbeyond the Babylonian palm trees. [These were trees whichpilgrims from Babylon had planted on the highways leading toJerusalem. Even though these streets were outside theboundaries of the Holy Land, they nevertheless did notcontaminate priests. Rabbi Zeira, who was a cohen, fearedthat he had walked too far and had become defiled, and wouldneed to be sprinkled with the waters of the red heifer on thethird and seventh days of his purification process.] He sent his question to Rabbi Chiyya, son of Abba. RabbiChiyya in turn asked the two sons of Rabbi Evyassar theDaromean, and they told him, "The priests would regularlywork up to where he went [i.e., just beyond the palm trees, andhence, Rabbi Zeira has nothing to fear]. Question and Answer Rabbi Shimon, son of Lakish, asked Rabbi Channina,"Someone who buys land in Amnon or Moab, what does heneed to do?" [That is, do the laws applicable to the Landapply in these areas which Moses conquered from Sichon?] He answered, " A l l I heard from Rabbi Chiyya the Great wasthat from the gardens beyond Ashkelon is outside ourborders."
    • 100 Aggadatah This is hard to understand -- Rabbi Shimon, son of Lakishasked about one area and [Rabbi Channina] answered himabout a totally different area. The reason is that Rabbi Channina would never sayanything which he had not heard expressly from his rabbis. Soas not to leave Reish Lakish empty-handed, he told him someother information instead, [from which Rabbi Shimon wouldbe able to deduce that Rabbi Channina had no traditionconcerning this question. Rabbi Channina was following thepractice of Rabbi Eliezer the Great, who likewise would neverpass a ruling unless he had a clear tradition]. From Babylonia to Babylonia Rabbi Shimon, son of Lakish, went to Batzrah [inBabylonia]. The townsfolk came to him and said, "Present uswith someone who is suited to be a preacher, a judge, a scribe,a sexton, and who will take care of all our needs/ [Theywanted him to send them someone from his mentor, RabbiYochanans academy in Israel, who would be able to manageall the needs of the community.] Rabbi Shimon saw a Babylonian [who seemed to fit theposition]. He told him, " I l l show you a good place [where agood position is available for you] — Batzrah." The [Babylonian] student went to Rabbi Yochanan [to askif he was allowed to leave Israel and move to Batzra]. He replied, "From Babylonia to Babylonia [i.e., since youoriginate from Babylonia, you may return there]." Signing the Legal Permission Rabbi Chuna wanted to grant permission to Yavlona [towork on their fields in the shemittah. This was the district of
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Sheviit 101Gablan, to the north of Israel, where they were notaccustomed to tithe their produce. Hence, Rabbi Chunaassumed that those who came up from Egypt had notconquered the area and that it was not part of the Land ofIsrael.] He went to Rabbi Manna and said to him, "Here is thedocument! Just sign!" [He wanted him to sign that he agreedto his ruling, but Rabba Manna was not prepared to sign.] The following day, Rabbi Chiyya, son of Madya, got up andsaid to Rabbi Manna, "You were quite right in not signing.Your father, Rabbi Yonah, used to say that Antoninus hadgiven Yavlona to Rebbi as a tenancy for two thousand hantz,[which the share-croppers would have to pay yearly, as well askeeping Rebbi supplied with food]/ [These fields belonged to gentile kings, and hence, theywere not subject to the prohibition of "spontaneous growths"of the Sabbatical year (sfichim), nor did the fruits have thesanctity of shemittah produce, even though it was forbidden totill the soil in the Sabbatical year, since it had been conqueredby the Jews under Joshua.] "Therefore, fruits and vegetables of Yavluna neednt betithed, just like Syrian produce; nor are the fruits of theSabbatical year bound by any limitations, like all fieldsbelonging to gentiles. Still, the land must not be tilled."Halacha 3 10. Retracting from Ones Permission Rabbi Abahu came to the town of Arbel and was hosted byAbba, the son of Benjamin. People came along and asked hisopinion concerning certain onions [which had been uprooted
    • 102 Aggadatahin the seventh year and replanted in the eighth and hadcontinued to grow]. They wanted to know i f the onions wereforbidden [because of their shemittah growth]. He ruled inaccordance with Rabbi Zeira ‫ י‬s opinion [that the onion waspermissible i f its eighth year growth exceeded its seventh yeargrowth]. [Rabbi Abahu] noticed that they were relying on him inpractice and said to them, " I only allowed them i f their stemshad been twisted [to prevent additional growth. But if, in spiteof that, they continued to grow in the eighth year against thegrowers wishes, only then will they be permitted, as theeighth year growth will then annul the growth of the seventhyear]." Said Rabbi Yehudah, son of Pazzi, " I know the whole story,from beginning to end. [The true reason why Rabbi Abahuretracted from his permission was because he was not awarethat other opinions differed with Rabbi Zeira.] When he heardthat Rabbi Eyla and Rabbi Ammi argued [and forbade theonions], he retracted from his ruling [as he then realized thatthere was a majority against Rabbi Zeirah, and when there is aminority against a majority, we follow the majority]. 11. The Onion which Was in Mourning It was taught: Originally, vegetables were forbidden[straight after the Sabbatical Year, not only within Israel, buteven] in the towns just beyond the border, [for fear that theycame from within the borders and had grown during theshemittah year]. The Rabbis then decided to allow vegetables[straight after the shemittah] in these border towns, butforbade vegetables to be imported to Israel [till the neweighth-year crop had grown, for fear that it would lead people
    • Zeraim - Tracate Sheviit 103to erroneously eat seventh-year Israeli produce].Subsequently, they allowed one to import vegetables to Israel,but they still required care so as to not buy Israeli-grownvegetables straight after the shemittah year, [till the new cropbecame available]. Rebbi allowed vegetables to be bought straight after theshemittah, apart from porrets [leeks with heads, which takelonger to grow and, therefore, could not be assumed to bepost-shemittah produce]. What did the inhabitants of Sepporis do? They clothedporrets in sackcloth and ashes [as though the porrets were inmourning] and brought them before Rebbi. They said to him, "In what way has this vegetable sinnedmore than all other vegetables?!" He then permitted even these porrets [to be eaten straightafter the shemittah, since they proved that even the porretsgrow rapidly and can be assumed, straight after the shemittah,to be post-shemittah produce]. [In any case, Rebbi held thatstrictly speaking, the criterion for deciding to which year avegetable appertains is when it gets plucked, not when itgrew.] 12. Meat in Place of Vegetables Ulla, son of Yishmael, related in the name of RabbiChannina: "Rebbi and Rabbi Yosi, son of Yehudah went toAcco and were hosted by Rabbi Mona. "They said to him, Prepare us a dish of cooked vegetables.[The underlying reason behind their request was because theSabbatical year [shemittah] had just terminated and Rebbiwanted to do an act to emphasize that, in his view, one couldbuy vegetables without restricitons, as soon as the shemittahwas over].
    • 104 Aggadatah "Rabbi Mona prepared them a meat-dish instead. [Hefeared that the vegetables were still subject to shemittahrestrictions.] "The following day they [again] requested, Make us avegetable dish. "He prepared them chicken. "Rebbi commented, It is clear that our host is from theSchool of Shmuel, [who held that restrictions on vegetables 9continued beyond the termination of the shemittah]. "Rabbi Yosi, son of Yehudah, said to him, He [our host] isnot even from the School of Shmuel. So then why is he sostringent? Because he is one of Rabbi Yehudahs disciples[and has to follow his rabbi]. Rabbi Yehudah said, Vegetablesare forbidden in the border towns of the Land of Israel [andAcco is by the border]. "When Rabbi Mona subsequently visited Rebbi, Rebbireminded him of the whole episode and said to him, Youought to have been lenient like us [and not argue with me,thereby becoming guilty of spreading dissension in Israel]." Chapter VIII:Halacha 513. A Sword upon the Loners, and They Shall Become Fools "Convene and listen, O, Israel." Make many groups and occupy yourselves with the Torah, because the Torah can only be acquired through group-learning. This is in accordance with the statement of Yosi, son of Rabbi Channina, who used to say: "What is the meaning of the verse (Jeremiah 50:36): A sword upon the loners, and they shall become fools? A sword should be
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Sheviit 105 upon the enemies of the Sages, who sit alone studying the Torah [rather than forming groups]. Moreover, they will become fools. [The same word for becoming fools is used in the above verse in Jeremiah and also appears in Numbers 12:11, where Aharon says, For we have done foolishly. Moreover, these loners are sinning, as it says [in the above verse in Numbers]: and we have sinned." Tractate Berachot 63b Yehudah from Hutzey hid himself in a cave for three days,because he wanted to fathom out the following: "Whence didour rabbis derive that the needs of the locals of a town takeprecedence over another town, [i.e., that when a springoriginates in one town and its waters flow on to a secondtown, but there is not sufficient water for both, the law is thatthe members of the town where the spring originates may ,place a damn to ensure all the water for themselves] ? ‫י‬ [After failing to find a source for this law in the Scriptures,]he came before Rabbi Yosi, son of Chalafta, [to pose hisquestion]. Rabbi Yosi, son of Chalafta, said to him, "Where have youbeen?" He answered, " I was hidden away in a cave for three daystrying to figure out the source of the law, as to why the needsof the local town take precedence over the next one/ Rabbi Yosi called Rabbi Vardimas, his son, and said tohim, "Tell him the reason why the needs of the locals of onetown take precedence over another one." He answered, "[It says in Joshuah 21:40]: These citiesshould be, each city, and their open spaces round about...[which is to be interpreted]: Each city should live [to be andto live have almost identical spellings in Hebrew], and onlythen, its open spaces round about [should be catered for]." [R. Yosi] asked [Yehuda], "What caused you [not to knowthis yourself]? Because you didnt learn together with your
    • 106 Aggadatahfriends! [Had you come to the Beit HaMidrash and learnedwith your friends, discussing the finer points of learning withthem, then you would have immediately known the answer toyour question]." Chapter IX:Halacha 1 14. Rebbis Maidservant It was taught: The rue [a vegetable] and the asparagus, thewild asparagus and the chalaglogot need not be tithed, and canbe bought from anyone in the shemittah, [i.e., even from aperson concerning whom we have doubts as to whether headheres to the shemittah laws]. The reason for this leniency isbecause these vegetables are left to grow wild [and can beassumed to be ownerless]. Rabbi Chaggai said, "The Sages were doubtful about threethings: What is the meaning of the word serugin [in themishnah in Megillah it is stated that i f the Megillah was readbserugin, one has fulfilled ones duty]; what is the definitionof chalaglogot [in our mishnah]; [when visiting a dignitary,]should the oldest enter first or the wisest? [They knew that at ascholarly session in the Academy the wisest always takesprecedence, but did not know what the procedure was at asocial visit]. "They decided that there was a need for clarification. "They said, Lets go and inquire by the members of Rebbishousehold. "They went up to ask. Rebbis maidservant came out andsaid to them, File in, according to your ages [letting the eldestgo first].
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Sheviit 107 "They said, Let so-and-so enter first [since he is the oldest],and so-and-so after him. "They started going in, but only little by little. [The wisestSages didnt want to enter directly behind those older thanthem in years, but inferior in knowledge, since they felt itsomewhat demeaning, so they paused a little before entering]. "The maidservant said to them, Why are you enteringserugin, serugin!" [Their first and third questions had nowbeen solved: serugin means with pauses, and in social visits,the eldest enters first]. "A member of Rebbis household was carrying purslaneplants in his garment and they fell from him. She said to him,Rabbi, Rabbi, your chalaglogot have just got scattered! [Theynow knew that chalaglogot referred to the purslane plant]. "She then said to her friend, Bring me matate, and herfriend brought a broom. They now knew an additional thingthat they had not previously known, that when it says in Isaiah14:2: T will sweep it with a matate, it means that G-d willsweep with the Broom of Destruction." [From here we see that they used to express themselves in avery learned, sophisticated Hebrew in Rebbis house.] 15. Keeping Out of Arguments Rabbi Yehudah says: "Sfichim of mustard is permissible inthe shemittah year, since we need not take precautions onaccount of transgressors." [The Torah forbade planting and tending ones produce, butspontaneous growth is permitted by Torah-law. However,when the Rabbis noticed that people would sow their fieldsand pretend that the crop was merely spontaneous growth,they extended the law and forbade spontaneous growth as
    • 108 Aggadatahwell. According to Rabbi Yehudah, mustard was anexception. Since it grows in abundance of its own accord, heheld that there was no danger that people would be tempted toplant it themselves in the shemittah.] The Sages say, however: " A l l spontaneous growth isforbidden, [including mustard]". Rabbi Shimon, son of Lakish, was in Chukok, [a town inIsrael, conquered both under Joshua and subsequently, underEzra]. He noticed that mustard was growing there inabundance, and that the people were tending and eating it.Someone dropped some mustard seeds and didnt even troubleto pick them up. [Mustard seeds are very small, and gatheringthem once they have fallen is very difficult.] He said, " I f anyone brings me mustard [which grewspontaneously in the shemittah], I will rule in accordance withthe ruling of Rabbi Yehudah." [He noticed that due to itsabundant spontaneous growth, it was not valuable to them,and hence, there was no reason to take precautionarymeasures to prevent them sowing it in the shemittah.] Rabbi Abba, son of Zavda, said, "Rabbi Chunya of Chivranruled in the house of Chivran like the above ruling of RabbiYehudah. Rabbi Channina ruled to the Sepphoritesconcerning the mustard growth, as well as concerning eggs,like Rabbi Yehudah." [In our mishnah, Rabbi Yehudah allowed the mustardsafter-growth, as opposed to the Sages, who forbade it. I f anegg gets laid on a Sabbath which is directly followed by aYom Tov, Rabbi Yehudah forbids eating it, even on the YomTov, as opposed to the Sages, who allowed it.] Rabbi Yochanan entered and expounded like the Sages[both on the issue of the mustared and of the eggs]. Rabbi Abba, son of Zemina, said in the name of RabbiYitzchak: "On account of these two halachik disputes, Rabbi
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Sheviit 109Yochanan left Sepporis and went down to Tiberias. He said,Why do you come to me [with your halachik questions], whenyou can ask [Rabbi Channina who is] a greater sage than meand also lives here, [and differs both with regard to themustard and to the eggs]!" Said Rabbi Abba: "The case came before Rabbi Yeissa andhe wanted to rule like Rabbi Yochanan, [who forbade themustard and allowed the eggs]. When he heard that both Ravand Rebbi Channina argued, he retracted [and refused to rulein either direction, not like Rabbi Yochanan, his mentor, norlike the rabbis who disagreed]." 16. Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai Cleanses Tiberias [Note: This story appears here in a summarized form, as related in the Gemara Yerushalmi, ad hoc. For an extended version, see Tractate Shabbat, Story 13.] Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai was hidden in a cave for thirteenyears together with his son, Elazar. They would eat only a veryinferior type of carob. Eventually they got a skin disease. After thirteen years he said, "Shouldnt I go out and take alook at what is going on in the world?" [Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai] went out and sat by theentrance to the cave. He saw a bird-hunter spreading his net. [When a birdapproached, he would hear a heavenly voice.] I f the voicewould say "MERCY," the bird would escape, whereas i f thevoice would say "MURDER," the bird got trapped. He remarked, " I f a bird will not perish without a Divinedecree, all the more so, a mortal." They went out. When he saw that danger had passed,[because the Roman emperor had died and his decree had
    • 110 Aggadatahbeen annulled], he said, "Lets go down and bathe in the hotwaters of the Tiberias." [Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai] said, "We must bestow somefavor [on the generation, for not having revealed our secrethide-out to the ruling power all these years,] as our forefathers 4did (Genesis 33:18): [Jacob] did an act of grace before thecity - he arranged that they should have markets and sellcheaply [making a special market-day, so that the villagerswould come and do commerce with the city residents, therebyenabling prices to be lowered to provide a sustenance foreveryone]." His son said to him, "Tiberias has provided us with so muchgood [they had been relieved and cured by its warmfountains]. Shouldnt we cleanse it in return?" [There weremany places in Tiberias where there was a possibility of deadbodies being buried, and the priests had to constantlycircumvent these places, on account of the doubt]. Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai said, "Let us cleanse Tiberias." He took lupines, removed them from their pods, scatteredthem and uttered G-ds ineffable Name. Wherever a dead bodywas buried, it would rise to the surface of the ground. [Hethereby identified clearly exactly where the dead bodies werelying, so that the priests would now know clearly where theycould or could not walk]. A certain Samaritan was watching him. He said to himself,"Wouldnt it be a good idea i f I went and made a mockery ofthat Jewish Sage?" Taking a dead body, he buried it in a place which RabbiShimon ben Yochai had already purified. Then [this rascal] went to Rabbi Shimon and said to him,"Didnt you already purify that place?" "Yes I did," he answered. He said to him, "There still is a dead body there. [Yourwork is useless.] I l l get it out for you."
    • Zeraim - Tracate Sheviit 111 He said to him, "Haul it up and show it to me." Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai percieved with his supernaturalpowers that the Samaritan had placed it there himself, so hesaid, " I decree on the upper one to sink, and on the lower oneto rise," [i.e., that the Samaritan should sink to the ground anddie, and that the dead body which he hid should rise to thesurface]. And that is exactly what happened. [Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai] passed by the turret of thedyers. He overheard the voice of a schoolteacher [one of thosewho voted together with other rabbis when the decision wasmade to purify Tiberias]. The schoolteacher was saying,"Does this Bar Yochai really claim he has cleansed Tiberias?They say that they found a dead body there!" Rabbi Shimon said to him, "May evil befall me i f I didnthear [from G-d] that Tiberias is going to be purified. Apartfrom that, werent you with us when the vote was passed topurify it? You have torn down the fence of the scholars, [whosaid that after a verdict has been given by court by themajority-rule, no judge may reveal, I acquitted, but my friendsfound him guilty]. Concerning the likes of you, it is stated(Ecclesiastes 10:8): The one who breaches the fence shall bebitten by a snake." [The teacher] immediately turned into a pile of bones!Halacha 2 17. The Kings Advisor and the Deer Rabbi Chama, son of Ukba, said in the name of Rabbi Yosi,son of Chaninna: "[The Sages] estimated that a wild animalwhose native habitat is in the highland will not breed in thelowland, nor will a lowland animal breed in the highland,
    • 112 Aggadatah[since the atmosphere and the vegetation differ]." Diklityanos [the Roman emperor] opppressed the town ofPaminios [in the Galilee, by levying high taxes]. The townsfolk said to him, "Well desert the land [and itwill remain desolate]." His advisor said to him, "Theyre not going to leave, but ifthey do, theyll come back again. I f you want a proof, bringdeer and coat their horns with a silver coating, [so that youwill always be able to identify them], and send them to adistant land. Youll see that eventually theyll all return." He brought deer, coated their horns with silver, and sentthem to Africa. Thirteen years later they returned. [They couldnot adjust to a different climate, even though the conditionsfor them there were as good as in Israel. His advisor impliedthat the same principle applies to people as well.]Halacha 4 18. Disposal of Shemittah Produce The Way I Saw My Rabbis Act [In the shemittah year, the law dictates that whenever aparticular type of vegetable or fruit is depleted in the fields,the householder must then divide up any stock which he ownsbetween his friends, or remove them from his house anddeclare them ownerless.] Chizkiyah commented, "Once he has started a barrel ofpickles, it is considered as being disposed of, [i.e., as long asthe barrel was started before the fields were depleted of theirproduce, he is not subsequently required to disown i t ] . " A case came before Rabbi Yeissa [of a barrel which hadbeen started before the deadline]. He ruled like Chizkiyah andadded, "Not that I personally hold like him, but that is the wayI have seen my Rabbis act."
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Sheviit 113 Humble in Ruling Rabbi Yitzchak, son of Rediffa, had a case brought beforehim [of a person who had unopened barrels of pickles in hispossession when the deadline arrived]. Rabbi Yitzchak, inturn, asked Rabbi Yermiya [if there was any way of salvagingthis mans pickles]. Rabbi Yermiya said to him, "Why are you coming to me?The lions are before you and you ask the foxes!" [I.e., Thereare far greater Sages than me around, so why ask me? Hespoke that way out of modesty]. He went and asked Rabbi Yoshiah. Rabbi Yoshiah said tohim, "Get hold of three friends and render it ownerless in theirpresence." [Being that they are your friends, you can restassured that they wont want to deprive you of your food.Theyll leave it there and youll be able to take possession of itagain.] Rendering Ownerless without Losses Some impetuous Sepphorites [who had no friends due totheir rash behavior, or, alternatively, some Capadocians livingin Sepphoris who were regarded as foreigners by the localsand consequently had no friends] asked Rabbi Ammi, "Sincewe have no friends or people who are interested in ourwelfare, how should we act? [Surely if we declare our produceownerless, the Sepphorites will immediately sieze ourgoods!]" He answered them, "When you can clearly hear peoplesfootsteps [in the middle of the night, when everything is quietand no one is around, when footsteps can clearly be heard],take your produce out of your houses to the market-place and
    • 114 Aggadatahdeclare it ownerless; then take it back again. [Since you aretaking it out of your domain, you do not need three peoplepresent when declaring it ownerless]." Rabbi Chaggai would take out his bottles [of wine and oil]one by one [when declaring them ownerless], so that i f anyoutsider would come to seize that which he had alreadyrenounced, he would have forfeited only one little bottle, andhe could still go and renounce ownership of his other bottlesin another place]. Rabbi Chizkiyah went up to Rabbi Yermiyah and said tohim, "Take ownership of my stone." [He had a stockl ofshemittah fruit in his home, and he wanted to renounceownership in the presence of Rabbi Yermiyah so that RabbiYermiyah would take possession of his whole stock. He knewthat Rabbi Yermiyah would then return it all to him.] Rabbi Yermiyah said to him, "Take these coins [which I mgiving you]. With them, your whole storeroom has beenrented out to me [and now your fruits have automaticallyentered into my possession]." Then he continued, "Well, nowIve gotten rid of all your fruits for you [by taking possessionof your storeroom]. You can go back and take new possessionof them!" [It is as though you removed them from your houseand received them back.] 19. Happy Is the One Who Gave Birth to Him Rabbi Chizkiyah was standing in the market-place ofCaesaria, and he saw someone loaded with forbidden produce.[He] turned his face, so as not to see the man, [since it isforbidden to look at the face of a wicked person]. The man
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Sheviit 115then set his burden down [on account of Rabbi Chizkiyahssilent rebuke], and wouldnt pick it up until all sorts of animalshad trampled on it and ruined it. Why all this fuss? [Surely Rebbi exempted Caesaria fromthe laws of the shemittah, since it was not reconquered whenthe Jews returned under Ezra. Admittedly, Rebbis leniencywas not universally accepted, but surely the mans act was notworthy of such condemnation.] Chizkiyah wanted to assert his authority [so that peopleshould not become lax in religious matters]. Others explain that the person was transporting forbiddenshemittah produce on his donkey. When it fell and he neededto reload his donkey, Rabbi Chizkiyah looked away, so as notto see him and be obliged to help. Yet others explain that the donkey owner wished to unloadhis donkey, [since his donkey was overloaded and sufferingunder the excess burden]. Even though Rabbi Chizkiyahwould have had a double reason to aid the man, firstly to helphim, and secondly, to help releive the suffering donkey,nevertheless, he refrained. Why go so far? If the owner sinned,why is the animal to blame? Rabbi Chizkiyah wanted to stress to all that the producewas forbidden on account of the shemittah produce, and thathe felt the Caesarian Jews were being overly lax in theiradherence to mitzvot. Or, possibly he wished to stress thatCaesaria had to be treated as a part of the Land of Israel, sinceRebbis lenient ruling had not been fully accepted by otherhalachik authorities. Others explain that Rabbi Chizkiyah wanted to make itknown that people shouldnt purchase the mans goods, or thatthey shouldnt learn from his ways. Rabbi Chizkiyahpromulgated this law that the produce of Caesaria wasgoverned by shemittah laws. Moreover, he wished to ensure
    • 116 Aggadatahthat he himself should not be influenced from having seensuch laxity in mitzvot. Rabbi Yaakov, son of Acha, heard the whole story.[Praising Rabbi Chizkiyah], he said, "This mans [Chizkiyahs]mother gave birth to an [ideal] son!" [He congratulated theworthy mother of such a fine son, and wished that all womenwould have such fine offspring.]20. EIyah the Prophet and His Student, Rabbi Yehoshua Son of Levi Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi instructed his student, "Whenyou buy me vegetables, buy only from Sisseras garden."[Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi lived in Lod, which is withinIsraels boundaries. Normally in the shemittah year, he wouldbuy his produce from Gaza, beyond the halachik borders.Now, however, he was passing through Beit Shean,concerning which there was a great halachik dispute:According to Rebbi, it was not governed by the shemittahrestrictions and one could freely buy any vegetables there.This was indeed the prevailing custom of the inhabitants, whowould till their soil in the shemittah. Rabbi Yehoshua son ofLevi argued, however, and hence, insisted on getting hisproduce from gardens which he believed belonged to thebiblical Sissera, which had never been included in theconquest of the Land.] Elijah appeared [to Rabbi Yehoshuas student] and said tohim, "Go and inform your rabbi that this garden does notbelong to the biblical Sissera. It once belonged to a Jew. Anon-Jew [who happened to be called Sissera] came along andmurdered him and seized his garden. I f you yourself wish tobe stringent [and not rely on Rebbis ruling, then you hadbetter not eat from that garden either]. However, you cannot
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Sheviit 117forbid [the fields of Beit Shean] to others, [since the law is inaccordance with Rebbi]." Alt. reading ‫ ־־‬Elijahs message was: "Dont act differentlyfrom your friends. [If you wish to be scrupulous, bescrupulous instead in your good manners: make sure you arenot the odd man out." 21. Between Challah and Sheviit There was a man who profaned the shemittah year laws [byworking his field]. [His wife was kneeding dough, and he saidto her, "Separate challah [the priestly due from ones dough]!" She replied, "That man [using the third person out ofrespect for her husband] transgresses shemittah laws, and yet 9you tell me to separate challah! V Others explain that this worthless fellow would retain andeat shemittah fruits after the time when they should have beenremoved from his domain (see Aggadatah 18). When tellinghis wife to separate challah, she remarked that the wholedough was forbidden in any case, since it was made fromshemittah produce which should have been disposed of. Whyshould he suddenly become scrupulous? After all, shemittah isof biblical origin, as compared to separating challahl He answered her that, to the contrary, challah is of biblicalorigin, while eating fruits which have passed the date whenthey should have been removed is only rabbinical, accordingto Rabbi Gamliel and his associates. [Even when the Templestood and the disposal of the fruits (when supplies were nolonger found in the fields) was of biblical origin, the eating ofthe fruits which had been sinfully retained was possibly notforbidden by the Torah.] Thus, this man was only interested inadhering to what was expressly required by the Torah,whereas he ignored rabbinic edicts, even though we have a
    • 118 Aggadatahdictum that anyone who profanes or transgresses a decree ofthe Sages deserves to die. Chapter X:Halachah 4 22. Keeping to Ones WordAnyone who keeps to his word is regarded favorably by theSages. A man once made a down-payment so that he should besupplied with a certain quantity of salt. Before he actuallyreceived the salt, however, its value rose [the seller nowwished to back out of the deal]. They went to Rav, and hedecided, "The seller must supply him with salt [at least] forthe value of his down-payment. [If he refuses,] then he shouldbe taken to the Beit Din, and they should curse him for hisdishonesty." [The Beit Din would call on G-d to avenge theevil of the one who did not keep to his word, althogh theycould not actually force him to supply the salt.] At any rate, according to Rav, he only needed to supply saltfor the value of the down-payment, but could back out of therest of the deal. Yet surely Rav was known to have said abouthimself, "When I tell the members of my household to givesomeone a present, I never back out." So how could he allowthe salt dealer to back out of the remainder of the supplies?! When ruling for others, [Rav] ruled according to the letterof the law, whereas in his own home, he would go beyond theletter of the law.
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Terumot 119 T R A C T A T E TERUMOT (The Priests Share of the Crop) Chapter VIII:Halachah 3 1. The Danger of PoisonFoods Which Have Been Nibbled At and Uncovered Liquids. Three liquids are forbidden when left uncovered: Water,wine and milk. [The Rabbis forbade these liquids i f leftuncovered, because in that time, it was common for a snake orsome other vermin to drink from and poison them.] Otherliquids were permissible, however, [since snakes did not carefor them]. How long would the liquid have had to be left opento become prohibited? Enough time to allow a poisonousreptile to come forth [from someplace nearby and drink]. Figs and grapes in which a hole had been bored must bedisposed of [lest a poisonous reptile had nibbled at them,leaving behind its poison; someone might unwittingly eatfrom them]. If, however, a person did not dispose of them, andin the meantime the figs dried out into edible dried figs andthe grapes became raisins [rather than just rotting], then this isa sign that they are not poisonous and are permissible. The daughter of Rabbi Chiyya the Great would bore holesin figs in order that her fathers associates should not eat them.[Seeing the holes, theyd fear that the figs contained venom.]But surely her act was forbidden? [After all, it says inProverbs 3:27: "Do not withhold good from those to whom itis due"! Besides, perhaps Rabbi Chiyya wanted them also topartake of the fruits?]
    • 120 Aggadatah She did it with [her fathers] full knowledge. [However, hedid not tell her explicitly to do so, in order that he should notbe considered stingy.] But surely, even so, what she did was forbidden! Haventwe learned: " I f someone saw a bird pick at a fig or a mousenibble at a watermelon, the fig and watermelon may not beeaten, [for fear they nibbled at an already existing hole whichhad been made by a snake, and thus would present a hazard tolife? Similarly, i f a person bores a hole in a fruit and thenleaves it unattended, he is taking a risk: perhaps a snake willcome along and leave its venom in the hole which the personmade. I f so, how could Rabbi Chiyya himself eat the fruitsafter his daughter had made holes ‫ ־־‬perhaps they hadsubsequently become poisoned?!] [The answer is that] his daughter guarded them [from thetime she made the hole until they were safely locked away]. Others have another version of the narrative: In RabbiChiyya the Greats locality, they would purposely bore holesin figs, thereby preventing people from partaking of them, forfear that a snake had left its poison in the hole. [However,]Rabbi Chiyyas father would eat these figs, since he knew thatthe holes had been made artificially. The reason he did notfear lest a snake had subsequently nibbled at the alreadyexisting holes was that, after making the holes, the fruits wereguarded from snakes and other venomous reptiles. Yet others explain that Rabbi Chiyya would eat them, sincethey were not forbidden, in his opinion, even though there wasa case of someone who ate and subsequently becamedangerously i l l . Still, Rabbi Chiyya allowed them. [To this,the Talmud finally concludes] that he only ate them when heknew they had been guarded.] Still others explain that in the locality of Rabbi Chiyya theywould purposely puncture the fruits, as a trick, so that it
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Terumot 121shouldnt be noticed i f a snake bit into them. As a result, theycould eat the fruits and assume that all the holes were made bythe owners. Rabbi Chiyya was aware of this practice, but didnot forbid it. On the contrary he would also eat such fruits. Rabbi Yehoshua son of Zidal had boiled wine which hadbeen left unattended in a gentiles home. He asked RabbiYannai son of Yishmael [whether the wine was forbidden, forfear that the gentile had used it as a libation to his heathenworship]. Rabbi Yannai answered, "This is what Reish Lakish said: [ I f the wine has already been] sweetened [through boiling], itno longer becomes forbidden i f left uncovered, nor does itbecome prohibited i f handled by a heathen." Ask the Rabbi Rabbi Yannai son of Yishmael became sick. A group ofscholars went to visit him. [The group consisted of] RabbiZeirah, Rabbi Oshaya, Rabbi Bon son of Kahana and RabbiChannanya. They saw Rabbi Yehoshua son of Zidal sitting inthe room, [and recalling their question concerning cookedwine,] they said, "Here is the halachist with his legal traditionsand here is the one who received the ruling!" [Rabbi Yannaiwas referred to here as "the halachist with the legal traditions"since he had ruled in Reish Lakishs name that cooked wineleft by a gentile was permissible, and Rabbi Yehoshua son ofZeidal had received that ruling when he had left his wineunattended in a gentiles house. The group of scholars werehappy that now they could clarify their doubts on this issue.]They asked Rabbi Yannai exactly what he had ruled. He answered them, "This is what Rabbi Shimon son ofLakish [Reish Lakish] said: I f the wine has sweetened [owing
    • 122 Aggadatahto the cooking process], it is no longer subject to the laws ofuncovered wine or wine left by a heathen." Rabbi Zeirah answered them, "Perhaps Reish Lakish nevermeant this ruling to be followed, since he meant some rulingsseriously and others were mere suggestions." Rabbi Yannai answered, "No! He meant it seriously, andyou should rely on the ruling." When they left [the attic of Rabbi Yannai son of Yishmael],Rabbi Elia met Rabbi Bon son of Kahana and said to him,"You enjoy relating Amoraic traditions, but you should know[that the ruling of Rabbi Yannai is already implicit] in aberaita taught by Rabbi Chiyya: Why is cooked wine,produced by heathens forbidden? Because it was wine tobegin w i t h . " [I.e., the non-Jew made the wine and thenboiled it. From this, we can infer that Jewish-made winewhich was boiled and subsequently handled by a non-Jewwould remain kosher.] No Calamities in This House! Rabbi Ammi had guests. He said to them, "Had my boiledwine not been left uncovered, I would have given it to you todrink." [To this,] Rabbi Bevai replied, "Bring it in, and I l l drinkit!" [He held like Reish Lakish, that uncovered boiled winewas permissible, whereas Rabbi Ammi held like RabbiYochanan, that it was forbidden and dangerous.] Said Rabbi Ammi, "Anyone who wants to die should goand die in his own home!" The Snake and Its Taste Bar Yudanis spiced wine was left uncovered. He went andasked the Rabbis, and they told him it was forbidden. But
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Terumot 123surely Rabbi Yitzchak said in the name of Rabbi Yehoshuason of Levi, "Spiced wine, bitter wine or sweet wine do notbecome prohibited when left uncovered." Our Rabbis of Caesaria answered in the name of RabbiChiyya son of Titus, "Uncovered spiced wine is onlypermitted i f the ratio of ingredients is a third [wine, a thirdpeppers and a third honey, whereas Bar Yudanis concoctiondidnt have the right proportions and possibly wasnt sharpenough to deter the snake from drinking i t ] . " They asked Rabbi Abahu, "How do we rule conceringboiled wine which was subsequently left uncovered?" He answered them, " I f Rabbi Yochanan already had hisdoubts concerning Kareina wine [a naturally sweet wine], allthe more so a normal wine which was merely boiled should beforbidden." He went and asked Rabbi Yitzchak, who answered that itwas forbidden. [In the meantime], Rabbi Abahu recalled thatRabbi Yochanan had expressly forbidden [uncovered boiledwine]. Bar Netozas vat of wine was once left uncovered. He wentand asked Rabbi Abba son of Mamal what was the law, and[Rabbi Abba] answered him, " I f people were going in and outof the room where the wine sat, then it is permissible, [sinceany snake other than an adder will not enter a room whenpeople are around, and adders were not commonly found intheir locality]." The Poor Man Who Saved the Householder Rabbi Yaakov son of Acha reported that Rabbi Ammi hadsaid in the name of Rabbi Elazar: "Even a sleeping person[will deter a snake from approaching and tampering with thewine], and hence, the wine will be permissible."
    • 124 Aggadatah Rabbi Channina and Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi [arguedin regard to whether a sleeping person will deter the snake].One of them ruled that [if the person guarding the wine was]sleeping, the wine was permissible, and the other ruled that itwas prohibited. It was not known who said what; however, inall probability, Rabbi Channina was the lenient opinion, sincewe find that Rabbi Eliezer would always support RabbiChanninas opinion. [Since Rabbi Elazar permitted such wine,it can therefore be supposed that Rabbi Channina would alsoallow it.] Rabbi Yosi related the following story: "There was a certainwoman who loved performing good deeds, whereas herhusband [was mean and] hated them. Once, a certain poorman came to their home, and she served him food. He had justfinished eating, when she noticed that her husband wascoming up the steps. [Fearful of her husbands reaction to hergenerosity], she hid the guest in the attic room. She served her husband his meal, and he ate [part of it] anddozed off. [While he was asleep,] a snake came along and ate[from the remains] of his portion. The poor man observedwhat had occurred [from the attic]. Her husband awoke, gotup, and wanted to continue eating his portion. The fellow inthe attic decided he had to warn the householder not to partakeof the food, even though it entailed revealing himself. So hetold him to refrain from eating it. We see from here that a sleeping person does not deter thesnake. How could Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Channina allow thewine in such circumstances? [The answer is that the snake in our story was not acommon snake.] It was a type which lives in the fields [andisnt acquainted with people or scared of their presence. The
    • Zeraim - Tracate Terumot 125average snake which lives in inhabited areas is fearful even ofa sleeping person. Since the field snake is rare, the Rabbis didnot see the need to pass legislation on its account.] [Now, i f her husband was G-d-fearing, how could heremain married to his wife after finding she had been alonewith this poor man. Why wasnt he suspicions that she mayhave become defiled?] Surely she should have been forbiddenon account of being alone [with the poor man]? [The answer is,] since [the guest] showed no interest in thehusband dying, we do not suspect him of illicit relations, as itsays in Ezekiel (23:37): "They have committed adultery, andblood is on their hands." [Had the poor man been guilty ofadultery, he would not have wanted to save her husband.The Pious Man Who Was Forced to Eat on Yom Kippur A certain saintly person would sneer at the laws concerninguncovered wine. [He would even drink it.] On one occasion, he got a high fever [from poisoned wine].He was seen sitting and lecturing on the Day of Atonementwith a bottle of water in his hand. [He was so dangerously i l lthat he was forced to break this most serious fast.] Misplaced Trust A mans barrel of wine was left uncovered, and he went topour it out on the day preceeding Yom Kippur. Someone saw him and said, "Bring it to me « I l l drink it!" He protested, "But surely its been left uncovered [and youwill be endangering your health]!" "Bring it to me!" he answered. "The One Who commandedus to fast [and to eat a lot on the day before Yom Kippur] willprotect me."
    • 126 Aggadatah He had barely started drinking, when the poison had alreadyspread throughout his whole body. His soul departed and hedied. He ought not to have relied on a miracle to save himselffrom the danger. Look After Your Health Rabbi Zeirah sat down to have his supper [others say hewas measuring wine], and he started dozing. He placed hishand on the measuring flask [of wine] so as to notice i f asnake would attempt to drink. While he was dozing, he sensedthat the lights had gone out. He asked his family to rekindlethe lights. They lit them and found a tiny adder, resembling athread of hair, wound [around the flask]. Rabbi Zeirah said [to the snake], "You wicked one! Had Inot been so heedful, [you would already have made your wayinto the wine]." Said Rabbi Yosi son of Boon, " A l l human sweat ispoisonous, apart from facial sweat." When they asked Rabbi Yonatan [if it was true that facialsweat was not harmful], he answered, "Can I takeresponsibility for your lives?", [thereby implying that he sawa hazard even in facial sweat]. Rabbi Yannai said, "When a person is alive, hell live a lifeof soot [i.e., hell take risks as though his life were worthless],yet when he dies, a gem is lost" [i.e., his family will terriblybewail losing him]. Others interpret it as follows: " I f you partake of uncoveredliquids, what you stand to gain is the mere food-value of whatyouve drunk: a little bit of soot; whereas what you stand tolose is a gem: your own life!" Rabbi Shimon son of Lakish said, "Had you sold yourself tocannibals, you would have demanded an exhorbitant price;
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Terumot 127whereas now [in your daily life], you risk your health forpennies." The Snakes Habits Shmuel said, "What can that wicked one [the snake] do tome?! I only drink hot liquids [and a snake wont drink hotbeverages]." Rabbi Channina said, "This wicked one is very fastidious.He wont even drink hot liquids which have cooled down." The following case came before Rebbi: Someone saw asnake uncover a vessel and replace the lid. Rebbi remarked,"Should we disqualify lids just because of this wicked one?"[I.e., we do not yet have sufficient grounds to legislate thatlids have to be sealed.] Rabbi Manna commented, "The whole story is unlikely. I fit did happen, however, then in that case the liquid would beforbidden, [on account of the venom which the snake mayhave deposited]." We have learned that there are three types of venom: venomwhich sinks to the bottom; venom which floats on top; andvenom which is suspended [in the middle of the liquid. Theyounger the snake, the more poisonous is its venom and themore it will sink.] During Rabbi Yirmiyas lifetime, the tubs of the greatteacher [who would review the studies with the students] wereonce left uncovered. The first group [of students] drank andsurvived; the latter ones died. The reason was that the venomhad sunk to the bottom, [so that only the liquid which thelatter students drank was mixed with poison].
    • 128 Aggadatah There were workers in a field. A jug of water was leftuncovered. The first group drank and survived; the next groupdied from it. The reason was that the venom had sunk to thebottom. We have learned: "Five liquids may be left uncovered: fishoil, brine, vinegar, oil, and honey. Rabbi Shimon forbadeuncovered [honey]. I f the honey has holes bored into it, thenthe Sages concede to Rabbi Shimon." [Rabbi Shimon said, " I saw a snake drink brine in Sidon." They [his fellow rabbis] answered, "It was a crazy snake,and one cant bring proofs from crazies."] Rabbi Channina son of Pappa was holding a flask ofuncovered honey. Before he had the chance to ask [whetherhoney was amongst the liquids from which a snake willdrink], the whole honey disintegrated [due to the venomwhich was mixed with it]. Rav and Shmuel both said, "The ground has receivedpermission to split before it [the snake; therefore it will befound successfully tunnelling through even the most solidground], whereas a vessel was not authorized to split before it,[therefore a snake will not penetrate even the weakest ofvessels with the weakest of lids]. Rabbi Chiyya the Great and Rabbi Shimon son of Rebbiwere sitting in a house of solid marble. They wondered:"Could the snake penetrate [even such an edifice]?" Suddenly, [the snake] appeared! They remarked, "Blessed be the One Who distinguishedbetween [the Rabbis] and their teaching, as it is said, Theground has received permission to split before them, whereasa vessel was not authorized to split before them."
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Terumot 129 G-d Guards Those Who Live with Simple Faith Rabbi Yannai was very scared of the sheffifon [probably atype of adder]. He would place the legs of his bed in fourbuckets of water [to prevent the snake from getting into hisbed]. On one occasion, [while lying in bed,] he stretched outhis hand and discovered the snake by his side. He said,"Remove them [the buckets of water]! [For it says in Psalms 9(116:7): G-d guards the simple [i.e., He guards those who livewith simple faith, taking precautions where possible, but notgoing to ridiculous extremes, and that is why the snake hascome]." Wine in its first stage of fermentation does not come underthe law concerning liquids left uncovered. How long is thisfirst stage? Three days. A snake was once found next to a pit of wine [in its firststage]. The legal case was presented before Rabbi Yehudah,and he permitted the wine to be drunk. As long as a spring of water is flowing, it does not comeunder the law concerning uncovered liquids, [since any poisonwill get washed away]. Rabbi Yishmael son of RabbiYochanan son of Beroka related: "Rabbi Yochanan son ofNuri once visited my father, Rabbi Yochanan ben Beroka, inthe town of Beit Shearim. He showed him a trench in whichthere was about one litre of water, and the rain was drizzlingdown into the trench. He stooped and drank [from the trench]and remarked, In this trench there is no problem with theuncovered water [since the snake doesnt leave its den in therain because it fears getting dirty in the mud]." A man was transporting a load of poisoned cucumbers[others say that it was punctured watermelons poisoned by
    • 130 Aggadatahsnakes,] and was trying to sell them. He fed ten people withhis poisoned merchandise, all of whom died from it. Thepoison then spread [from the cucumbers/watermelons] over tohim, and split him in half. 2. The Butcher Gets His Punishment There was once a certain butcher in Sepphoris, who wouldfeed his Jewish customers treifah meat. On one occasion hedrank [a lot] on the eve of the Day of Atonement [and gotdrunk]. He went up to the roof, fell down and died. The dogsstarted sapping up his blood. People went [on Yom Kippur] and asked Rabbi Channina,"May we remove the dead body [to save it from the dogs, eventhough it is muktseh and normally forbidden to be handled ona festival]?" He replied, "It says in Exodus (22:30): Neither shall you eatany meat that is torn of beasts in the field. You shall cast it tothe dogs. This man deprived the dogs of their due, feeding itto his fellow Jews. Leave the dogs ‫ ־־‬they are eating what isrightfully theirs." 3. The Danger of Repulsive Food There was once a person who hated mutton. On oneoccasion, when he was eating meat, someone passed by andremarked, "Thats mutton!" His food turned over in hisstomach and he died. Some donkey drivers were in an inn. They asked theinnkeepers [for something to eat], saying, "Could you serve uslentils?"
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Terumot 131 They were served with lentils [which they found very tasty],and asked for a second helping, which they were given. [The donkey drivers] then said to the innkeepers, "The firsthelping you served us tasted better than the second/ The inkeepers replied, "We found the backbone of a snakein the first batch. [It could be that that is what enhanced itstaste, but we didnt want to give you another portion from thatpot." The food turned over in their stomachs [as they felt sosickened by the thought that they had eaten such an unclean,loathesome creature] that they died.4. The Dog and the Snake -- Two Tales of Faithful Guards It is stated in Proverbs (16:7): "When a mans ways pleasethe L-rd, He makes even his enemies at peace with him."Rabbi Meir says, "This [his enemies] refers to the dog." RabbiYehoshua son of Levi said, "It referred to the snake." Some shepherds milked [their cows], and a snake camealong and drank from the milk. Their dog was looking on.When they were about to drink [from the milk], the dogstarted barking [to warn them not to drink]. They took nonotice. [When the dog saw that its warning had not beenheeded and that they would endanger their lives,] it drank[from the milk] itself, and died [purposely sacrificing its life tosave them]. [The shepherds buried the dog and erected a monumentover its grave, which is known as the "Monument of the Dog"till this day.] A man prepared ground garlic in his house, and amountain-snake came along and ate from it. A local
    • 132 Aggadatahhouse-snake was looking on. When the members of thehousehold were about to eat it, the local snake startedscattering dust [all over the garlic and on them, to indicate thatthey should not eat it, since it contained the poison of themountain- snake]. They paid no attention. So the house-snakethrew itself into the ground garlic. [Now the nature of a snake is to hate people, so why did thissnake want to exert itself to save them? The answer is, "Whena mans ways please G-d, He makes even his enemies [i.e., thesnake] at peace with him," and even the snake will go out ofits way to save a person from danger.] 5. Honoring the Dog A man invited a sage and placed his dog by the sages side. The sage said to him, "Why do you disgrace me?" " I am merely repaying the dog for its goodness," his hostanswered. "Once some captors came to the city, and one ofthem entered my house and tried to seize my wife. At thatpoint, this dog of mine castrated him. [That is why I feel I oweit gratitude. I can assure you, I didnt have the slightestintention of insulting you; I merely wanted to honor my dog.]" 6. Is This the Teaching of the Pious? We have learned: I f a group of [Jewish] people werewalking along and encountered non-Jews who said to them,"Hand one [of your group] over for us to murder, or else wellmurder the whole lot of you!", [the Jews] must all letthemselves be (massacred), rather than handing over even onefellow Jew. If, however, the gentiles specified that they
    • Zeraim - Tracate Terumot 133wanted a particular person, such as Sheba ben Bichri [whorebelled against King David (as recorded in I I Samuel 20)],they should hand him over, rather than letting themselves bekilled. Rabbi Shimon son of Lakish [Reish LaKish] and RabbiYochanan had variant explanations. Reish Lakish understoodthat only someone who was himself worthy of death, likeSheba ben Bichri [could be surrendered, if he was specified bythe non-Jews], Rabbi Yochanan understood, on the otherhand, that even i f he wasnt liable to the death penalty,[anyone could be handed over to save the others, so long as hewas singled out by the heathens]. Ulla son of Koshar was being sought by the rulers [whowished to execute him]. He fled to Lod, and came to RabbiYehoshua son of Levi [for refuge]. The [Kings] soldiers came and surrounded the city. Theysaid, " I f you dont hand [Ulla] over, well destroy the city!" Rabbi Yehoshua went to him and tried to persuade him tosurrender himself, [telling him, "Isnt it better i f only you getkilled, rather than the entire city, on your account?" The managreed to let himself be handed over,] and so, he wassurrendered. Elijah, of blessed memory, would frequently reveal himselfto Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi. After this incident, he nolonger appeared. Rabbi Yehoshua fasted numerous fasts till[the prophet] reappeared. Elijah asked him, "Why should I appear to a traitor [whosurrenders people to the authorities]?" He answered, "But surely I followed the law [statedexpressly in the beraita, that i f the non-Jews specified aparticular person, he should be surrendered]," "Is this the teaching of the pious?" Elijah answered. [You
    • 134 Aggadatahshouldnt have gotten involved in the whole episode, a saintlyperson like you. Rather, you should have left it to the others,or tried to drag the incident out by attempting to pacify therulers, rather than handing him over immediately. G-d mayyet have had mercy and saved him! 7. Saving Lives Prepared to Sacrifice His Life Rabbi Issei was arrested [under some pretext] in the town ofSafsufa. [He was in great danger.] Rabbi Yochanan said, "Letthe dead man be wrapped in his shroud." [Some explainRabbi Yochanans statement to mean that there was no hopefor Rabbi Issei, and he could start preparing his own shrouds.Others explain that he meant that he should use his ownshroud rather than someone elses, i.e., others should notendanger themselves in their endeavor to save Rabbi Isseifrom his danger.] Reish Lakish said, " I am going to kill or be killed — I willsave him at all costs!" He went and pacified [the kidnappers], and they returnedRabbi Issei. [Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish] said to them, "Cometo our old sage, and he will pray for your welfare." [The kidnappers] came to Rabbi Yochanan, whereupon hetold them, "What you had planned to do to [Rabbi Issei]should befall your whole people!" Not one of them made it even as far as the crossroads by themarket. [They were suddenly stricken by a fatal disease anddropped dead.]
    • Zeraim - Tracate Terumot 135 The Rescue of Rabbi Zeirah Son of Channina Zeirah son of Channina was arrested in the town of Safsufa.Rabbi Ammi and Rabbi Shmuel went there to [try and]appease the rulers [and persuade them to release him]. Zanavia, the Queen, said to them, "Surely your Creatorperforms miracles on your behalf!", and she thereupondemanded a very high ransom. Just then, an Arab wheat trader was passing by, girded witha sword. He said to them, "With this sword, [the famousbandit,] Bar-Netzar, murdered Rabbi Zeirahs brother." [TheQueen thereupon took pity on Rabbi Zeirah for the sufferinghe had already suffered by the loss of his brother, and releasedhim. Thus,] Rabbi Zeirah son of Channina was spared. Alt. version: Zenavia was the head of a gang of bandits andwas mocking Rabbi Ammi and Rabbi Shmuel, saying, "Whyhave you come to save Zeirah? Surely your Creator isaccustomed to perform miracles for you, so why dont youleave it to Him to save your friend?" Just then, an Arabentered and said, "This sword of mine used to belong toBar-Netzar, the head of another gang of bandits. With it, hemurdered your brother, Zenavia!" Zenavia feared for his life,and started figuring out how best to escape, leaving RabbiZeirah alone.8. Everything Depends on the Heart, and the Heart Depends on the Pouch Rabbi Yochanan once lost his wallet and said, "[Today] I l lcurse and ruin all tradesmen, [till I track down the one whofound my wallet but didnt return i t ] ! "
    • 136 Aggadatah He went to the Academy [of the Sages]. Rabbi Shimon sonof Lakish asked him [halachik issues], but he simply didntreply, [because he was preoccupied with the loss of his wallet.Reish Lakish couldnt understand why Rabbi Yochanan wasso oblivious to what was going on.] So, he said to him,"Whats the matter?" [Rabbi Yochanan] replied, " A l l limbs depend on the heart,and the heart depends on the pouch." [Reish Lakish did not understand this reply], and asked himagain, "Whats the matter?" " I lost my wallet," he replied. Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said, "Then what are you doinghere? [Why are you in the Academy? What have you done toretrieve it?]!" He answered, "Ive already cursed the tradesmen [that theyshould lose their profits. Once they feel my curse, theyllreturn it. [Reish Lakish] then said to the Sages, "Show me the place,[where you think it got lost." He went into the street, and they showed him. From adistance, he could see people [bartering with the fellow whofound the wallet]. When Rabbi Yochanan started storming atthem, they answered, "[If the loser of the wallet] is RabbiYochanan, then well have to return half of its contents tohim." He said to them, "By your lives, I l l take the whole lot!", [atwhich point,] he took it all back. [Others explain the episode as follows: People from thevillage, Baalei Keinya robbed Rabbi Yochanan of his money.Others say they were bandits known as Baalei Keinya.] Rabbi Yochanan went to the Talmudic Academy. There,Reish Lakish asked him questions of halachik issues, but[Rabbi Yochanan] did not reply. He asked him again, but he
    • Zeraim - Tracate Terumot 137still didnt reply. So Reish Lakish asked him why he did notrespond. [Rabbi Yochanan] answered him, " A l l limbs depend on theheart, since it is the life-force of the person, and the heartdepends on the pouch." This is a play on words. He meant thatthe heart is as dependant on the money pouch as it is on itsown pouch, which houses the blood. That is why one takes itso much "to heart" when he suffers a great financial loss. "What do you mean?" Reish Lakish asked him. He answered, "Dont you know, havent you heard?" Hethen told him how he had been robbed by the Baalei Keinya. Reish Lakish said, "Show me in which direction theywent." He went out and showed him. When Reish Lakishspotted the robbers from the distance, he yelled at them andthreatened them that hed take vengeance. They said, " I f the money is Rabbi Yochanans, then wellreturn half, i f it is yours, then well return it all." He said to them, "By the life of your heads, I l l take thewhole lot". They got scared of him, because they knew that hehad once been the chief bandit before Rabbi Yochanan had"brought him back to the flock." So they returned all that theyhad taken. 9. The Demon Who Saved the Sages of Tiberias [Shortened Version] Diklut was a swine herdsman. The children of RabbiYehudah, Head [of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem], wouldhit him. Diklut subsequently became King. He went to Banias,[and from there,] he sent letters to the Sages which stated,"You must come to me [at my palace], immediately after thetermination of the Sabbath." He went on to tell his messenger,
    • 138 Aggadatah"Deliver these letters on the eve of the Sabbath at sunset, [sothat they wont have any possibility of making it here in time.When they dont arrive in time, I will have a pretext to killthem." Rabbi Yehudah, the Chief Rabbi, and Rabbi Shmuel son ofNachman were on their way to bathe in the hot springs ofTiberias. Argintin, demon of bathhouses, appeared to them. RabbiYehudah wanted to ban him, but Rabbi Shmuel said, "Leavehim alone! He may be an omen of a miracle." The demon said to them, "What are our Rabbis doing?" They told him what had happened, and he said to them,"Wash yourselves — your Creator will perform miracles foryou." At the termination of the Sabbath, the demon carried themand placed them by the gate of Banias [where the King wasresiding]. The King was then told, "Behold, the Sages are waitingoutside." He said, "They may not behold my face until theybathe." The bathhouse had been stoked for seven days and sevennights [and was sizzling hot]. A certain demon suddenlyappeared and cooled it off with cold water in their presence.The rabbis went in and bathed, and then came and stoodbefore the King. He said to them, "Just because your Creatorperforms miracles for you, does that give you the right todisgrace the King?!" "We disgraced Diklut, the swine herdsman; we neverdisgraced Diklitianus, the King," they protested. He said to them, "Even so, never disgrace even aninsignificant Roman or Persian [since the rulers haveconnections with all their compatriots]."
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Terumot 139[Longer Version, based on other textual readings, midrash and commentators] In his youth, the Roman oppressor, King Diklitianus, whoruled over the Land of Israel, was a swine herdsman nearTiberias known as "Diklut". Whenever he would pass near theAcademy of Chief Rabbi Yehuda [grandson of RabbiYehudah the Nasi, compiler of the Mishnah] in order todisturb the studies, the small children who had been listeningto the lecture would come out and deride, disgrace and hithim. Not long after, "Diklut" rose to greatness and wasappointed to be King in Rome, [and his] dominion reached asfar as the Land of Israel. He left Rome, the city of hissovereignty, and settled in Banias in northern Israel, near thesource of the River Jordan. Diklitianus wanted to take revenge against the Jews for theway they had disgraced him in the past, so he sent a summonsto the Sages of Tiberias, requiring that they leave immediatelyon the termination of the Sabbath to appear before him in themorning of the following day [Sunday]. In order to create apretext for bringing charges against them, he sent thesummons on the previous Thursday evening, but secretlyordered the messenger not to hand over the summons to theSages till just before the commencement of the Sabbath, sothat they would not be able to arrive in time. The messenger came to them on the eve of the Sabbath andhanded the summons to Rabbi Yehudah, the Chief Rabbi, justbefore sunset. Rabbi Shmuel son of Nachman was going towash himself in the hot springs of the Tiberias. He saw theChief Rabbi standing in front of the Great Academy, lookingsick with anguish and worry. "Why is your face so drawn?" he asked him.
    • 140 Aggadatah "Because I received a written summons from the King," heanswered. Rabbi Shmuel then said to him, "Come, lets bathe in honorof the Sabbath. Place your trust in your Creator, that He willperform miracles for us." They went into the water to bathe. A certain demon whichfrequents bathhouses, called Arginiton [or Antigris], appearedand started laughing and dancing before them. Rabbi Yehudah the Chief Rabbi wanted to rebuke it, butRabbi Shmuel son of Nachman said to him, "Rabbi, leave italone! Sometimes it reveals itself to mortals for their sakes, inorder to perform wonders for them." Rabbi Shmuel then said to the demon, "Your Rabbi issuffering, and you are standing around playing and dancing!" "Whats troubling you?" the demon asked. So they told him the whole story. He told them, "Go, eat and drink and enjoy your Sabbath,and I will be at your service [first thing] Sunday morning." So, at the termination of the Sabbath after the conclusion ofthe service [and Havdalah, the demon] took them and placedthem by the gates of the town of Banias. The Kings servantscame before [the King] and told him, "Those [rabbis] arestanding by the gates of the city!" The King commanded them, "Close the gates!" [He wantedto prevent them from coming in time, at all costs, so that hewould have a pretext to punish them.] The demon then took them and lifted them over the citywall and placed them in the middle of the square. The Kingsministers entered and told him that the Jewish sages werestanding in the town square. He said, " I decree that they may not behold my countenanceuntil they have washed themselves!" [This Diklityanus, theformer swine herdsman, once constantly filthy with mud, now
    • Zeraim - Tracate Terumot 141made himself out to be impeccably clean, requiring that theJews wash off their dirt and cleanse themselves beforeappearing before him!] They had no choice. They had to enter the bathhouse whichhad been stoked for the last seven days and seven nights [inorder to scorch them to death]. Others say that he hadinstructed that the bathhouse be heated for the last three days,and that the Sages should go into these boiling waters and thencome to him. [He wanted to repay them measure for measure:since they had derided him for being filthy, he would let themburn to death in the sizzling waters.] A bathhouse demon came and poured cold water into thebath in their presence and cooled it off. Then they washed andcame before the King. He was now forced to accept them asthey stood before him. He said to them, "Because you know that your Creatorconstantly performs miracles for you, it entitles you to dowhatever you like and denigrate the sovereignty without ,fearing the consequences?! ‫י‬ [The Sages understood that he intended to falsely accusethem of denigrating the sovereignty, because he bore a grudgeagainst them for what they did when he was a swineherdsman. They also understood that he would not want tomention that period in his life, however, and so he preferred toaccuse them of having disparaged him once he was already aking.] They said to him, "We disparaged a certain Diklitianus whois a swine herdsman; but we are fully subservient to KingDiklitianus." [I.e., "You were probably informed that wedespised Diklitianus.‫ י‬But that was another Diklitianus, aswine herdsman. Whoever overheard must have mistakenlythought we were talking against the King, but far be it from usto do such a thing!" They expressed themselves in such a
    • 142 Aggadatahmanner so that they were not denying his words, yet impliedthat they knew the cause of his allegation and his hatredtowards them. Furthermore, they implied, it was not fitting forhim to take revenge for what they had done to him when hewas still a swine herdsman, now that he was King. They couldnot explain things to him outright, since they feared thatmentioning his past publicly would only prompt him to accusethem even further of having derided the government bymentioning his past once again, implying that he was not fit tobe King.] He answered them, "Even so.... Always take heed not toscoff either a young Roman [if hes a child of the rulingpower], or even an inferior servant." [Alt. explanation: not toscoff a student or a young army attendant], since they may yetassume sovereignty and avenge their disgrace.] Rabbi Channina expounded: "[At his birth, Esau is 9described as being] like a hairy cloak all over (Genesis25:25), [which can be interpreted to mean:] "Every one [of theRoman people] is fit for the purple [Emperors] cloak." Thatis, any descendant of Esau [the Roman people] can potentiallybecome Emperor of the mighty Roman Empire — and spillinnocent Jewish blood!
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Maaserot 143 T R A C T A T E MA ASEROT [Tithing] Chapter II:Halachah 2 1• Pure and Scrupulous We have learned: Rabbi Yehoshua was once walkingbehind Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai to Brur Chayil [the nameof Rabbi Yochanans hometown. Rabbi Yehoshua, hisdisciple, was following him to learn from him on the way.They passed by certain towns.] The townsfolk brought themfigs to eat. [These figs had been bought from an uneducatedman, and it was doubtful whether he had tithed them. TheRabbis wanted to encourage hospitality, and so allowed gueststo be served with doubtfully tithed produce obtained fromunreliable people.] The other disciples asked Rabbi Yehoshua, "Do we need totithe these fruits?" He answered, " I f we spend the night here, then we have totithe them; but i f not, we neednt do so." [Spending the nightthere would give them the legal status of permanence, whileonly one who was passing through was exempt from tithing.This statement of Rabbi Yehoshua is posed as a question to aprevious statement in the Yerushalmi Talmud, that even i f aguest spends the night in a particular place, he does not losehis legal status of "guest" and is consequently still exemptfrom tithing.] Rabbi Zeirah commented, "Rabbi Yehoshua is particularly 99scrupulous [in the performance of mitzvot]. Rabbi Mannasaid to him, "[But surely, i f that is the law, then those notabiding by it would not be merely unscrupulous]; rather, they
    • 144 Aggadatahwould be fools! No! Rabbi Yehoshua [had differentcircumstances than other people], since he constantly had anentourage surrounding him. [Being a sage who would neverbe left to go anywhere alone, he could find lodgings in anygiven place. Consequently, any town could be considered hishome.] Therefore, he said that spending the night in the placeremoves his status as guest and requires him to tithe; whereasother people without a constant escort [who cannot chooseexactly where they will spend the night on their journeys,]retain their transient status of "guest" and need not tithe [evenif they spend the night in a particular place.] Chapter III:Halachah 12. The Difference between Earlier and Later Generations Rabbi Ulla son of Yishmael said in the name of RabbiElazar: "Rebbi and Rabbi Yosi son of Yehudah would bringtheir baskets of fruits into the house via the back garden.[They did this so that the fruits should not face the front of thehouse and thereby become liable to being tithed, since anyproduce which has not faced the front of the house may bepartaken of as a snack, without having to be tithed.] "Rabbi Yehudah son of Illai saw them and said to them,Look at the difference between you and previousgenerations! Rabbi Akiva would buy three types of fruit for aperutah [about a cent], in order to be able to tithe each typeseparately. [He was very poor, but nevertheless wanted tofulfill the mitzvah of tithing. So he bought three fruits for oneperutah, a little from each type, in order to fulfill the preceptof tithing three times over,] whereas you purposely take your
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Maaserot 145baskets throught the back-garden [to get out of the mitzvah]! [The reason why Rabbi Yosi took them through thebackgarden, although he actually holds that they are likewiseexempt from tithing i f eaten as a snack, even i f taken throughthe yard to be eaten on the roof- tops, was in deference toRebbi, who held that they were totally forbidden unless tithed,once having been in the yard.] A certain old man saw them and said, Would you bewilling to give me [a little bit of your fruits as a present]? " Yes, they answered. "He said to them, "You would not give to your Father inHeaven, but to me you are willing to give!" [Some say it wasthe prophet Elijah, of blessed memory, who came to rebukethem, saying, " I f you are so willing to give me, why do youresort to all sorts of loop-holes in order to get out of tithingyour produce in accordance with the Will of your Father inHeaven!"] Chapter III:Halachah 2 3. Rabbi Elazar Son of Rabbi Shimon Love of Rebuke Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Shimon was eating in themarket. Rabbi Meir observed him and said to him, "What,youre eating in the market-place?!" [Strictly speaking, it is only prohibited to eat bread in themarket, whereas Rabbi Elazar was merely eating fruit.Nevertheless, a sage should not be seen eating anything in the
    • 146 Aggadatahmarket-place, and] Rabbi Elazar immediately [accepted hisrebuke] and stopped eating. Chapter III:Halachah 4 The Cup and the Belly Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Shimon went to hisfather-in-law, Rabbi Yosi son of Lokunia. His father-in-lawpoured him a cup of wine and he drank it; then he poured himanother cup of wine which he also drank. [He drank both cupsof wine in one gulp.] His father-in-law said to him, "Didnt you hear from yourfather [Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai] in how many gulps a cup ofwine is supposed to be drank. [According to the Jewish lawsof etiquette, quaffing a cup of wine in one shot isill-mannered, let alone two in one shot.]" He answered him, "Undiluted wine may be drunk in onegulp. I f diluted with cold water, then [according to the laws ofetiquette] one should drink it in two gulps, while i f temperedwith hot water, then in three gulps. Moreover, the Sages werenot referring to such tasty wine as yours, nor to your smallgoblets or my massive belly!" Rabbi Yehoshua son of Korcha scolded him fiercely, "Youvinegar son of wine, [in your youth your behavior was aspraiseworthy as a good wine, where as now, you havedeteriorated and gone sour like vinegar]!" "Why are you scolding me like that?" he asked him. He answered, "Because you chose to go to Ludkia." [There are two versions: The first version is that the kingappointed Rabbi Elazar to catch thieves and bandits, most of
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Maaserot 147whom were Jewish. After carrying out his orders for sometime, under criticism of the other Sages, he had finally runaway to Ludkia, ashamed of his own actions.] [Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korcha continued criticizing him, towhich] he replied, "[After all,] I was only uprooting uprootedthorns [i.e., I was merely handing over evil people whoalready deserved death]/ [To this,] Rabbi Shimon ben Korcha replied, " [ I f you hadnot engaged in this work in the first place,] you would neverhave had to flee to the other end of the world [to Ludkia]. Youshould have left the weeding of the thorns to the owner of thevineyard [to G-d]." [According to the second version of the story, Rabbi Elazarhad not fled to Ludkia. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korcha criticizedhim, saying that he ought to have fled. When Rabbi Elazarasked Rabbi Yehoshua why he was yelling at him, he replied," [ I l l shout at you] till youll flee [from the Ruling Power] andgo to Ludkia [and stop handing over your brothers to theauthorities]." [To which] Rabbi Elazar replied, " I have only beenuprooting detached thorns, [i.e., evil people, deserving ofdeath]." Rabbi Shimon ben Korcha answered, "Surely you shouldrather go to the other end of the world and let the Owner of thevineyard [G-d] come and destroy His thorns." 4. Reverting from Scripture to Talmud Rabbi Yirmiyah asked Rabbi Zeirah [a question in the lawsof tithing produce]: " I f a tree is growing in a persons gardenbut its branches are overshadowing his front yard, will aperson standing in the garden with a long tool which extendsto the yard be liable to tithe the fruits which he thereby reaps
    • 148 Aggadatahfrom the branches overshadowing the yard?" [Fruit growingin a garden is normally free from tithing i f eaten in smallamounts, as opposed to fruit growing in a front yard.] [When Rabbi Yirmiyah asked this question], Rabbi Abbason of Kahanna and Rabbi Levi were also present. RabbiZeirah was criticizing the lecturers of Aggadah [homiletics],calling their discourses, "Magic tricks!" [He was upset thatthey would interpret scriptural verses to fit the particular ideathey were trying to convey, thereby entrancing the audiencelike wizards.] Rabbi Abba, son of Kahanna, said to him, "Why do youchide them? Ask them [to explain a verse to you and youllsee] that they answer you [accurately]." He said to him, "What is the meaning of the [enigmatic]verse in Psalms (76:11): "For the anger, man willacknowledge You, and You will limit the rest of the anger?" He answered, " "For the anger, man will acknowledge Youmeans that i f a person acknowledges happily the sufferingmeted out to him through G-ds anger in this world, then "You[G-d] will limit the rest of the Anger [and diminish orwithhold punishment for his sins] in the World to Come."[I.e., in reward for a person accepting his suffering gratefullyin this world, returning in penitence and not complainingabout his bad lot, G-d will withhold or diminish whateverpunishment was still due to him in the World to Come.] He [Rabbi Zeirah] then retorted, "[But surely you couldinterpret the verse the opposite way around,] as follows: "Forthe anger, man will acknowledge You ~ in the World to Come- and You will limit the rest of the anger in this world."[I.e., when the righteous, termed "Man" here, see thegreatness of Your anger which You suppress in the NextWorld, thereby withholding punishment in this world, theythank You that You limited and suppressed Your anger attheir behavior.]
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Maaserot 149 Rabbi Levi said, " [ I hold the verse should be interpreted inthe reverse order]: "When Your anger gets kindled against thewicked, the righteous see what You are doing to them, andthey thank Y o u . " [I.e., the righteous see that when Youranger gets kindled and You gird Your sword, You pour outYour wrath on the other nations of the world, but not on theJewish People. According to this interpretation, the ending ofthe verse is not that G‫־‬d limits the remainder of His anger, butrather, that He incites it.] Rabbi Zeirah thereupon exclaimed, "Each one twists theverse in some other direction, leaving us without any clearinterpretation [and without any enlightening information]!Yirmiyah, my son, keep involved in Halachah [rather thanAggadah], such as your question concerning the tithing. [It isbetter for you to be involved in Talmud than to get involved inhomiletical interpretations of scriptural verses.]" Chapter IV:Halachah 2 5. In Honor of the Sabbath Rabbi Chiyya, Rabbi Ammi and Rabbi Yosi were sittingtogether. Someone passed by carrying a basket of figs. "Sell us [some of those lovely figs]," they said to him. He answered them, "My supply of fruits for the Sabbath isnot for sale. [I plucked them from a tree which Ive designatedfor the Sabbath on account of its luscious figs, and I m notprepared to sell them, even for a high price.]"
    • 150 Aggadatah Chapter V:Halachah 3 6. The Gem Under the Pottery Shard A certain woman had yarbuzin seeds [possbily asparagus]which were terumah [priestly dues] in her basket. [Yarbuzin isa vegetable with inedible seeds.] Some of the seeds[inadvertantly] fell down in to the garden and took root. [Thequestion now was whether or not the vegetables growing fromthese inedible seeds were also deemed terumah and, therefore,only permissible to priests who would have to eat them inpurity.] The case was presented before Rabbi Yochanan, and he waslenient. Rabbi Chiyya son of Abba said to him, "Surely your rulingis already to be found in a mishnah? [We already learned:"Even though the original plant is terumah, they [the newgrowths] may be eaten!" Rabbi Yochanan answered,"You Babylonian! [Rabbi Chiyya was from Babylon.] Once Iremoved the pottery shard, you found the gem! And now you 9say, Surely it is already to be found in the mishnah — [Younever would have understood the mishnah, had you not heardmy ruling!]" [Rabbi Yochanan was comparing the scenario toa gem on the sea-bed covered by pottery shards. One has todive deep down to find the gem under the rubble. Similarly,had it not been for his diving deep and immersing himself inthe depths of the Talmud in order to then elucidate the law,Rabbi Chiyya would not have fathomed the gem — the truemeaning of the mishnah he otherwise would definitely havemisinterpreted.]
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Maaser Sherd 151 T R A C T E MAASER SHEINI (The Second Tithe) Chapter IV:Halachah 1 1. Redemption of the Tithes You shall truly tithe all the increase of your seed that the field brings forth, year by year. You shall eat before the L‫־‬rd, your G-d, in the place which He shall choose to place His Name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks; in order that you may learn to fear the L-rd, your G-d always. If the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry it, because the place which the L‫־‬rd, your G-d, shall choose to set His Name there, when the L‫־‬rd, your G-d has blessed you is too far from you; then you shall turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and shall go to the place which the L-rd, your G-d shall choose. You shall bestow that money on all that your heart desires: on oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your soul requires. Then you shall eat there before the L-rd, your G-d, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. (Deuteronomy 14:22-26) And if a man will at all redeem of his tithes, he shall add the fifth part of it to it. (Leviticus 27:31) Rabbi Channanya said: "Rebbi would take the firstcucumbers to ripen [as a present] to King Antoninus [whoadhered to Torah justice and used to learn with Rebbi]. Rebbiwould designate the second tithe towards the stems of eachcucumber, [rather than separating one whole cucumber fromevery ten. He did this because separating from one cucumberfor other ones could be very problematic. Some cucumbers arevery bitter and, according to Rebbi, cannot exempt the sweetercucumbers.] He imagined that he had already cut off the ends,
    • 152 Aggadatah[then redeemed them by estimating their value before theywere cut off from the fruit. I.e., A tenth of a cucumber is worthless once cut off from the cucumber than when still part of thewhole. Thus, when Rebbi redeemed the tithe, he redeemed thevalue of a tenth of an uncut cucumber.] Rabbi Shimon, son of Rebbi, objected to the disrespectfulway the Jews of Southern Israel [would separate the secondtithe. In order to redeem the tithes cheaply, rather thanseparating whole fruits as the tithe, they would cut off littlepieces, which are almost worthless when they are redeemed.] Bar Kappara took them to task. He chopped up fruits intolittle pieces in their presence and demanded of them, "Havethese pieces any use whatsoever? [Are they worth anythingnow that they are cut up? Similarly, it is wrong of you to cutup the tithes, thereby lowering their value, since that istantamount to slighting the mitzvahl]" We have learned: The second tithe should not be redeemedby mere estimation. Rather, where the value is clearly known,it may be redeemed by one person. However, i f the value isnot clear-cut, it must be redeemed by three people. Examplesof unclear values are wine which formed a film, fruit whichhas started rotting, or coins which have become rusty [andhave thereby depreciated in value, now requiring expertevaluation]." Rabbi Nachman, son of Yaakov, would show awicker-work basket of dates to an expert [called Nagari;others explain that he was a manufacturer of wicker-workbaskets and so knew the exact capacity of each basket]. RabbiNachman would rely on Nagaris assessment when redeeminghis fruits.
    • Zeraim - Tracate Maaser Sheni 153 Rabbi Yannai would show a quart of wheat to [someonecalled] Chatunya, [who was a wheat-expert; others says heshowed it to a wheat wholesaler whose prices were below themarket price; according to a third reading, hed show hiswheat to a wheat grinder]. Rabbi Simmon would ask Rabbi Chizkiah to estimate hisfruit, saying, "Estimate according to what the customer pays,[which is more than the price to the retailer]." [Rabbi Simmonfeared that Rabbi Chizkiah did not know the price to theretailer.] Rabbi Chizkiah thereupon said to him, "Rabbi Chilkia saidin the name of Rabbi Simmon: "One may not redeem thesecond tithe by the assessment of fools. [In other words, whenwe learned that on occasion it suffices to consult only oneopinion, that was with the understanding that he is an expertwho knows all the prices. Hence, I can estimate according tothe the retailers price, since I know the prices clearly.]" Rabbi Pinchas showed his fruit to a wheat pounder andasked him to estimate according to the price of the retailer tohis client. The wheat pounder said, "Rabbi Chizkiah said as follows inthe name of Rabbi Simmon: "The second tithe is notredeemed by the assessment of fools." [How is this lower price estimated?] Rabbi Shammai said,"It is equivalent to the price of a wheat dealer at midday on thesummer solstice, [when the heat is so intense] that the clotheswhich the washerman has wrung out dry instantly, even beforebeing hung up to dry. At that time, the wheat dealer will bewilling to sell with a small margin of profit, in order not tohave to remain in the sun for long.] Money is brought to theabove value, and the fruits are redeemed."
    • 154 Aggadatah Rabbi Yirmiyah said, "One may redeem the produceaccording to the low rate which a person is willing to pay onFriday afternoons, shortly before the Sabbath, to the [farmers]wives, who are busy braiding and combing their hair [in honorof the Sabbath. Since they are in a rush, they sell very cheaplyat that time.] Only a person going out of his way [to find abargain will turn up at such an hour to buy from them.]" Rabbi Yadun, son of Guria, said: "[If] Rabbi Yaacov, son ofBon, [would obtain fruit shortly before the commencement ofthe Sabbath and not have enough time left to redeem thesecond tithe onto money,] he would leave the redemption ofthe fruit till just after the termination of the Sabbath, eventhough he knew that, in the meantime, some of the fruit wouldshrivel." [At the termination of the Sabbath the going rate forfruit is also low, since often people dont have their moneyreadily available yet.] Rabbi Manna had oil [which he had previously designatedas the second tithe]. He brought it [from his home in thevillage of Beit Maakeh] to [the town of] Acco. Rabbi Chiyya son of Adda said to him, " I f that oil of yourswhich you brought from Beit Maakeh is still around, now isthe ideal time to redeem it, since the price of oil has droppedto below a sixth [of its usual price]." Exemption from the Fifth [The second tithe of a persons produce had to either beeaten in Jerusalem in purity, or to be redeemed onto moneywhich was to be used to buy food in Jerusalem which was theneaten in purity. I f the owner of the produce was redeeming itonto his own money, then he had to add an additional fifth ofthe principal. However, if someone else redeemed his produce
    • Zeraim - Tracate Maaser Sherd 155onto their money, then the fifth did not need to be added.Thus, people searching for loop-holes to get out of theadditional fifth would purposely give their produce or theirmoney to a second party as a temporary "present," in order torelease the produce from the additional fifth.] Rabbi Yehoshua, son of Korcha, said: "Originally, theywould give their money [to a second party to relieve them ofhaving to add on a fifth, relying on their friends integrity tosubsequently return the money.] "However, [some] people started running off with themoney without returning it. Thus, it was instituted instead thatthe actual produce should be given [to the second party, whowould redeem it onto the owners money, thereby stillexempting it from the additional fifth.] "However, [some] people [without integrity] would take theproduce and consume it themselves, [rather than having thedecency to return it to the original owner]. So, it was fixed thatthe owner should make the second party take possession of theproduce by dint of a small amount [lit., a tenth] of hisimmovable property. [By this mode of acquisition, the secondparty would acquire the produce without it actually beingphysically handed over to him, and hence, the danger of himstealing it was eliminated.]" Rabbi Innya, son of Sissi, went to Rabbi Yonah, who said tohim, "Should I redeem your produce onto this coin?" [lit. sela.He was suggesting that Rabbi Inna should give him a coinwhich he would subsequently return.] "Yes," Rabbi Innya answered. "Moreover, you cansubsequently keep the coin for yourself." Rabbi Yonah redeemed it, and Rabbi Innya accepted thecoin back. Rabbi Yonah commented, " I only returned the coin to himbecause I assessed that he would not have objected had I kept
    • 156 Aggadatahit for myself. [Had I sensed that he had not given me the coinwholeheartedly, I would have felt that the whole procedurewas just a ruse.]" Chapter IV:Halachah 6 2. Various Symbols We learned in the mishnah: I f someone finds a vessel[containing money] with the letter "()"written on it, he canassume the money had been designated for an Offering. I f thevessel [contained fruits] and the letter "T" was written on it,he could assume the contents were someones Tithe. The letter ," D implied D mai [fruit about which there is a suspicion as towhether the tithes have been properly taken]; " U " wouldimply Untithed edibles which are forbidden, pending theseparation of the various dues; "P" would mean Priests shareof the crop. [In the mishnah, the code is of course in Hebrew;we have tried to give an English equivalent.] This code was used in times of religious persecution ‫ ־־‬theywould then write "P" to indicate the priestly share, etc. Rabbi Yosi said: "[One mustnt rely on these codes,] sincethey might just be the initial letters of someones name." [He]added, "Even i f someone found a barrel filled with fruit withthe words "Priestly dues written out in full on it, he mustnevertheless fear that the fruit is not sacred, but that the signhad merely been left on the barrel from the previous yearsuseage, instead." Rabbi Yona and Rabbi Yosi were partners in some barrels.Rabbi Yona passed away [without informing his son which
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Maaser Sheni 157barrels were his. Rabbi Manna, son of Rabbi Yona, wanted todivide up the barrels with Rabbi Yosi in order to takepossession of his inheritance.] Rabbi Manna said to Rabbi Yosi, "Any barrel which has thename "Rabbi Yona inscribed on it is mine, [since Iveinherited it from my late father]." "Last year it would have been a sign that it is yours," RabbiYosi answered. "This year, however, it is mine. [Last year wewere careful to mark every barrel with the name of its owner.However, this year, the barrels got interchanged, but thenames were not removed. Those barrels with your fathersname on them are mine.]" 3. The Interpretation of Dreams The Interpretations of Rabbi Yosi, Son of Chalafta A certain person came to Rabbi Yosi, son of Chalafta, andsaid to him, " I had a dream in which I was told, "Go to KapodKiya, and youll find property belonging to your late father. " Rabbi Yosi said to him, "Did your father ever in his life goto Kapod Kiya?" "No," he answered. He said to him, "Go and count ten beams in your house, andyoull find your fathers property [under the tenth beam]." [InHebrew, Kapod Kiya can be split into two words: kappa anddika.] Kappa in Persian means "beam," and dika in Greekmeans "ten." [Thus, you were being informed in your dreamthat you have money under the tenth beam of the ceiling.] A certain person came before Rabbi Yosi, son of Chalafta,and said to him, " I had a dream in which I was wearing awreath of olive leaves."
    • 158 Aggadatah He said to him, "The portent of the dream is that you willrise to great heights." Some time later, someone else came along and said to him," I had a dream in which I was wearing a wreath of oliveleaves." He said to him, "Its a sign that youll be smitten." The man said to him, "To the other person you forecast thathed rise to great heights, but to me you say Youll besmitten?!" He answered, "The first person had his dream at a timewhen the olive trees are in blossom, [which is a sign ofgrandeur and honor], whereas you dreamt at the harvest time,[when the olives get beaten off the trees and fall to theground]."The Interpretations of Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi A man came before Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi, and saidto him, " I had a dream in which I was watering olive treeswith olive oil." He said to him, "May the persons spirit be blown away,[i.e., may you drop down dead]! This fellow had relations withhis own mother! [A child vis-a-vis his mother is comparableto the olive in relationship to its oil.] A man came to Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi and said tohim, " I saw in my dream that one of my eyes touch the other." He answered, "May that persons spirit be blown away, [i.e.,may you drop down dead]!" He had relations with his sister![Both his eyes and his sisters stem from the same womb andthe same body, hence, the analogy.] A man came to Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi and said tohim, " I saw three eyes in my dream." He replied, "You are a manufacturer of ovens. Two of theeyes you saw were symbolic of your own eyes, and the third
    • Zeraim - Tracate Maaser Sheni 159was the "eye" of the oven. [The opening for the escape of thesmoke, which may be closed to retain the heat, and resemblesan eye]." A man came before Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi and saidto him, " I saw in my dream that I had four ears." He replied, "You fill waterflasks. Two of the ears were yourown, and the other two were the handles [lit., the ears of thevessels]." A man came before Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi and saidto him, " I had a dream in which people were running awayfrom me." He replied, "Because you carry thorns around and everyoneruns away from you [for fear of tripping over them]." A man came before Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi and saidto him, "In my dream, I saw myself carrying a ledger withtwelve pages. [They used to engrave their accounts with aneedle on boards of the ledger or pinax and erase andre-engrave.]" He replied, "The mans robe has twelve patches.[Alt.version: The pack-saddle of your donkey has twelvepatches.]" A man came before Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi and saidto him, "In my dream, I saw myself swallowing a star." He replied, "May that persons spirit be blown away [i.e.,may he drop down dead!] He murdered a fellow Jew!" [A staris symbolic of a Jew] as it says, "A star has stepped forth fromJacob" (Numbers 24:17). A man came before Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi and saidto him, " I had a dream in which many lettuces startedsprouting forth in that mans vineyard. [He was referring to hisown vineyard, but feared to say so expressly.]" He replied, "That mans wine will turn into vinegar, andyoull be dipping lettuce leaves in the vinegar [to season
    • 160 Aggadatah ,them]. ‫[ י‬Others explain that Rabbi Yishmael said that hiswine would turn out so sweet that hed have to immerse bitterlettuce leaves in the wine just to temper its sweet taste.] The Miser and His Recompense A man came before Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi and saidto him, " I had a dream in which I was told, "Your finger isdescending." He replied, "Pay me for the service, and I l l interpret yourdream." [The man refused to pay and left without receiving theinterpretation of his dream. He returned some time later.] He said to [Rabbi Yishmael], " I had a dream in which I wastold, "There will be a swelling in your mouth." Rabbi Yishmael replied, "Pay me for the service, and I l linterpret your dream". [The man again refused to pay and left without hearing theportent of his dream. Some time later, he returned once againto Rabbi Yishmael.] He said to him, " I had a dream in which Iwas told, "Your finger is upright." He replied, "Didnt I tell you [each time you came], Pay mefor the service, and I l l interpret your dream? [In your firstdream,] when you informed me [that your finger wasdescending,] it was an omen that there was a leak in your roof,and that the water was jeopardizing your wheat. [The fingerwas pointing out to you to fix things up, so‫־‬to‫־‬speak.] Whenyou were shown the swelling [in your mouth, it was indicativeof the wheat, which you had planned to eat with your mouth,]becoming inflated [from the rain-water.] [Your latest dream,] in which youve been informed [ofyour upright finger,] means that that wheat has sprouted [andis now totally ruined]."
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Maaser Sheni 161 The Scoffer and His Recompense A certain Samaritan said, " I l l go along and make a mockeryof that old Jewish sage, [i.e., Rabbi Yishmael, son of Yosi,who claims he can interpret dreams. I l l invent a whole dreamand see what interpretation he gives.]" He went to him and said, "In my dream, I saw four cedertrees, four sycamore trees, a bundle of feathers, a hide and acow, and that man [referring to himself] was sitting on all ofthem and excreting." Rabbi Yishmael replied, "May that persons spirit be blownaway, [i.e., may he drop down dead]! You never had any suchdream! [Your intention was to make a mockery of me!] But Iwont let you go empty-handed! The four cedars [in yourdream] mean the four posts of your bed; the four sycamoretrees mean the four legs of your bed; the bundle of feathersmeans the feather bolster at the end of the bed; the hide refersto a hide stuffed with straw [used as a pillow]; the cow refersto the mattress [which is made out of a stuffed cowhide], andthe man sitting on all of them excreting refers to this man,[i.e., you], crouching on the bed neither alive nor dead, [toosick to get out of his bed even to ease himself]." And so it came to be! [The prediction came true, and thefellow thereby received full recompense for his insolence.]The Fulfillment of a Dream Depends on Its Interpretation A woman came before Rabbi Eliezer and said to him, " I hada dream in which the pillar of my house broke." He said toher, "That means you will give birth to a son. [The pillar onwhich the house is supported is a symbol of her womb, whichhouses the embryo and which bursts open at birth.]"
    • 162 Aggadatah She went away and gave birth to a son. Some time later, she was looking for him again. Hisstudents said to her, "He is not here. What do you need himfor?" She answered, " I had a dream in which the pillar of myhouse broke/ They said to her, "It means, that womans [i.e., your]husband will die. [The husband supports the house like apillar]." When Rabbi Eliezer came, they told him the whole story.He said to them, "You have murdered! Why? After all, thefulillment of a dream depends entirely on its interpretation, asit says (Genesis 41:13): *It came to pass just as he hadinterpreted to us." Rabbi Akivas Interpretations A man came before Rabbi Akiva and said to him, " I saw inmy dream that one of my feet had shrunk." Rabbi Akiva explained, "It means that the Pilgrim Festivalwill come around, but you wont have any meat to eat." [InHebrew, the three Festivals are termed "foot-festivals,"because people would come on foot on a pilgrimage to theTemple. Thus, the "shrunken foot" was indicative of thelimited food supply on the festival, and that he wouldnt beable to afford meat.] Another person came to him and said, " I saw in my dreamthat my foot was enlarged." He replied, "The Pilgrim Festival will come around, andyoull have plenty of meat." One of Rabbi Akivas students was sitting before him with avery sullen expression.
    • Zeraim - Tracate Maaser Sheni 163 Rabbi Akiva said to him, "Whats wrong with you?" He answered, " I had a dream in which I was given three badtidings: "You will die in Adar; you will not see Nissan, andyou will not harvest what you sow." To which Rabbi Akiva replied, " A l l three are good tidings!You will be raised through the glory of the Torah [till the dayof your death]; you will not go through trials in life[alt.version: you will not require miracles to save you, sinceyou wont get sick, etc.]; and "you will not harvest what yousow" means that your children will not die in your lifetime,and hence, you will never bury your offspring." [Thisinterpretation is based on a Hebrew pun which cannot beconveyed properly in English.] Chapter V:Halachah 1 4. Clarification of Mishnayot Zuga, the barber, asked Rebbi [Rabbi Yehudah the Nasi,compiler of the mishnayot], "When our mishnayot [in thischapter] discuss the laws of the fruit of a tree in its fourth year,are they referring merely to the product of a vineyard, or toany fruit-bearing tree?" [Rebbi] replied, "Go and ask the great Rabbi Yitzchak,since I clarified all the mishnayot with him." They went and asked him, and [Rabbi Yitzchak] replied,"The first two mishnayot refer to the product of the vineyardonly, while the latter mishnayot refer to all fruit-bearingtrees." Rabbi Zeirah criticized the Sages who lived at the sametime as the great Rabbi Yitzchak for not having clarified all
    • 164 Aggadatahobscure points in the mishnayot with him, [considering thatRabbi Yitzchak was the expert of his generation, havingreceived full training from Rebbi], Chapter V:Halachah 2 5. Hidden Passages Nakai was an attendant in Migdal HaTzabaim [lit., thedyers turret]. Every Friday afternoon, after preparing andlighting his candles, he would go to the Temple [in Jerusalem]to spend the Sabbath there. [Even though some believe that helived over a days journey away, he would make it in no timeat all. On account of his great desire to be near G‫־‬d in HisHoly Temple, Nakais journey would be miraculouslyshortened each time he went.] Others say that Nakai was a barber. Every Friday afternoonhe would go to the Temple to read the weeks reading of theLaw, twice in Hebrew and once in Aramaic [as we arecommanded], and then return home, still arriving in time forthe Sabbath. [Some interpret the text that he was a teacher ofyoung children, and he would teach children the portion of theLaw for that week in the Temple every Friday afternoon andstill be able to return home.] Tartiroi, from the village of Mahalool, would spend everySabbath in the Holy Temple [in Jerusalem, and would make itback home on the Sunday morning with such speed that] healways managed to be the first to harvest his figs.
    • Zeraim - Tracate Maaser Sheni 165 Zephorite women would spend the Sabbath in the HolyTemple [and make it back home with such speed] they alwaysmanaged to harvest their figs before anyone else. Women from Lud would knead their dough, go to the HolyTemple in Jerusalem, pray, and still manage to make it backhome before their dough had risen. A man was in the middle of plowing with his ox, when [thebands of the yoke snapped and] his ox stopped plowing andescaped. He chased after his ox till he found himself inBabylon. The people there asked him, "When did you leave [yourhometown]?" "Today," he answered. They asked, "What route did you take, [because Babylon isnormally considerably more that a days journey by foot fromIsrael]?" "That route," he replied. They asked him, "Show us where it is." He went and tried to retrace his footsteps, but he could nolonger find the route he had taken, because he had comethrough underground passages which were hidden away [afterthe destruction of the Temple, Therefore, it was almostimpossible to find these short-cuts anymore.] They cited theverse (Lamentations 3:9): "He has enclosed my ways withhewn stone; He has made my paths crooked."
    • 166 Aggadatah Chapter V:Halachah 3 6. Tithes for the Priests When Ezra the Scribe decided to return to Israel from theBabylonian exile, the Levites did not want to return, [apartfrom a small number of Levites who were so patriotic, thatwhen Nebuhadnezzar asked them to "Sing to us the song ofZion," they refused, saying, "How can we sing the song of theL-rd on foreign soil," and cut their own thumbs off in protest.]Ezra was so annoyed with those Levites who had no wish toreturn, that he penalized them: From then on, the first tithe[normally allotted to them] should be given to the Priests,instead. [In the days of Rabbi Yehoshua, son of Levi,] thesubject was brought up again, and there were those whowanted to reinstitute the giving of the first tithe to the Levite,once again.] Indeed, we do have a principle that an edict passed by anearlier Beit Din cannot be uprooted by a subsequent Beit Din,unless the latters members are superior to its predecessors,both in learning and in numbers. Nevertheless, i f the originalenactment had never been universally accepted by themajority of the Jewish People, then it may be repealed by asubsequent Beit Din, even i f they do not meet the aboverequirements. At the time of Rabbi Yehoshua, son of Levi, it wascontended that Ezras penalty had not been accepted by thebulk of the people. Moreover, it was suggested that Ezrahimself had never intended his ruling for future generations.There were consequently variant opinions amongst RabbiYehoshuas contemporaries as to whether to endorse the act orto reinstate the Levites with their former rights.]
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Maaser Sheni 167 Those [in favor of reinstating the Levites] said, "Whom canwe call [to the Study Hall to support the motion]? Surely,Rabbi Yehoshua, son of Levi! [Being a Levite himself,] hewill certainly support the Levites cause." He entered and supported the Kohanim [priests], saying,"We find twenty-four instances in the Holy Scriptures wherethe Priests are referred to as Levites. One of them is, "And thepriests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok... (Ezekiel 44:15)." [Zadok was a priest, yet his children are termed "Levites,"indicating that the Priests also fall under the heading of"Levites," since they also stem from the tribe of Levi. Hence,according to the letter of the law, they, too, have a right toaccept the Levitical dues. Thus, Rabbi Yehoshua, rather thansupporting the cause of the Levites to get Ezras act repealed,had in effect strengthened it, by proving that there was noscriptural basis to oppose the edict.] Tithes for Those Engaged in Torah Study Rabbi Yonah gave the Levitical tithes to Rabbi Acha, son ofUlla, not merely because he was a Kohen, but also because hewas engaged in Torah study. What was his basis? Because it says ( I I Chronicles 31:4): "He instructed thepeople who dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of thePriests and the Levites, so that they might adhere firmly to theTorah of the L-rd." [Hezekiahs command implies that theLevitical tithes should be given specifically to those laboringin the study of the Torah and upholding it.]
    • 168 AggadatahPriests Who Refrained from Accepting Levitical Tithes Rabbi Hunna would not accept the tithes, nor would RabbiAcha. [Even though they were Kohanim and entitled to acceptaccording to Ezras decree, and were also Torah scholars,nevertheless, they did not want to benefit from the portion ofthe Levites.] Rabbi Chiyya, son of Abba [a Kohen] decided to emigratefrom Israel, in order to avoid receiving tithes. [Some explainthat people were trying to force him to accept the tithes. Heemigrated to avoid the problem. Others explain that he wasnot managing financially, and emigrated rather than agreeingto accept the Levitical tithes which would have helped himmake ends meet.] A man [a priest] asked Rabbi Shmuel, son of Nachman,who in turn asked Rabbi Yonatan, "May a priest accept thetithes?" He replied, "Accept itl Anything which your tribe [i.e., thetribe of Levi] is entitled to, you are also entitled to accept." With Whom to Make Business Deals Rabbi Yannai instructed his relatives: "When you hire afield for a fixed, annual rental, payable in kind, rent only fromreligious, G-d fearing people," [and not from those Kohanimwho might retain the tithes for themselves, which was notpermissible in Rabbi Yannais view. Others explain that thereason he advised his relatives to rent only from G-d fearingJews was because he felt that in their merit, the field wouldyield a good crop.]
    • Zeraim - Tracate Maaser Sherd 169 Rabbi Akivas Trick Rabbi Bo related the following episode: Rabbi Elazar, son of Azaria, [who was a Kohen] wouldregularly accept the Levitical tithe from a certain mansgarden. Now, that garden had two entrances. One opened ontoa cemetery, [which Kohanim could obviously not use,] andthe other entrance opened onto a ritually clean area. Rabbi Akiva came to the garden owner and told him, "Openthe one entrance [which opens onto the cemetery] and closeoff the other entrance." [He wanted to prevent Rabbi Elazar,son of Azaria, from being able to enter the garden to obtainthe Levitical tithes, because he held the Kohanim were notentitled to take the tithes. So, in order to prevent Rabbi Elazar,a Kohen with a lineage tracing back to Ezra, from getting thetithes, Rabbi Akiva said to the garden-owner, "It says inLeviticus (18:31): "You shall eat it anywhere, you and yourhousehold." The repetition of the word you comes to excludea messenger. I f the priest sends a messenger, rather thancoming to the field in person, then the owner is not obligatedto give. Consequently, should Rabbi Elazar send a non-Kohenon his behalf, you will be perfectly entitled to refuse him.] Rabbi Elazar, son of Azaria, [who was Rabbi Akivasteacher,] heard [what his disciple had done] and said, "Thepenetrating acumen [lit., awl] of Akiva, son of Yosef, has beenhere." [Alt. version: He said, "The whip of Akiva, son ofYosef, [with which he whips and rebukes us] has been here." Whereupon Rabbi Elazar, son of Azaria, returned all thetithes that he had taken! Rabbi Yitzchak, son of Elazar, commented, "The cup mustbe full during the meal." [This was an allegorical way ofsaying that even though Rabbi Akiva was then still apowerless student, nevertheless, he was on the alert to strike
    • 170 Aggadatahwhen the opportunity presented itself, in order to defend theruling of Rabbi Elazars contemporaries, who had decided thatEzras edict was no longer in effect, and hence, that Kohanimwere no longer allowed to accept the Levitical tithe.] [Rabbi Yitzchak commented further], "The woodworm isformed in the wood" [and then consumes i t ] . [I.e., RabbiAkiva, who was Rabbi Elazars student, overpowers his ownteacher.] "Strike while the irons hot" [lit., " A coal which does notburn in its time, will never burn."] [There are severalinterpretations of what he meant by this allegorical statement:That if a student isnt sharp in his youthful days, hell probablynever be sharp in his studies. Thus, Rabbi Akiva was sharp atthe offset of his studies, and his sharpness endured.Alternatively, had Rabbi Akiva let Rabbi Elazar continueeating from that garden, later on he never would have foundan opportunity to stop him.] Another version of Rabbi Yitzchaks statement is that hesaid, "The beam which needs filling, take a splinter from it."[i.e., " I f the beam of a building has a crack, remove a splinterfrom it as a reminder to fix it up." According to this version,he then added, " A coal which does not glow right away, willsubsequently die out." That is to say, i f one does not blow itinto a flame, then the flame will never be rekindled. Similarly,here: as soon as Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria was made tounderstand that he should not accept the tithes, heimmediately returned all the tithes he had ever received,before allowing himself time to change his mind or forget.]
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Maaser Sherd 171 Chapter V:Halachah 5 7. Merits — Only for Others Rav had flax which became wormy. He asked Rabbi Chiyyathe Great, "Is it permissible to slaughter a bird and mix theblood [which drips at the time of the shechitah] with flax seed [to ward off the worms which cannot tolerate the blood ofpoultry, or is one obliged to cover the blood with earth, asspecified in the Torah?]" Rabbi Chiyya answered, "Slaughter it in a faulty way, [thereby rendering it legally unfit for consumption and exemptfrom the laws requiring its blood to be covered]." Now, why did Rabbi Chiyya not advise [Rav] to mutilate [the bird], thereby rendering it treifah! The answer is that Rabbi Chiyya held like Rabbi Meir, whoruled that the blood of a treifah still requires covering aftershechitah. But surely Rabbi Ami said in the name of Rabbi Shimon,son of Lakish: "Since they returned from the exile, their flaxdid not go wormy nor did their wine turn into vinegar. Theyattributed this to the merits of Rabbi Chiyya the Great and hissons." [Surely Rav was Rabbi Chiyyas nephew, so how couldhis merits not have protected his flax?] Rav, however, was modeling himself on the verse in Isaiah(46:12): "Listen to me, you noble-hearted ones, who keepyourselves far from charity." Rabbi Abahu informs us thatRabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish differed as to theinterpretation of this verse. One of them explained it to be saying that all people survivemerely by the Attributes of G-ds Charity and Mercy, whereasthe "noble- hearted" servants of G-d survive in their ownmerit.
    • 172 Aggadatah The other one explained the verse to mean that all goodhappenings and consolations with which mankind is blessedcome in the merit of the "noble-hearted" righteous, whereasthey themselves do not wish to benefit from the reward oftheir merits. For example, Mar Zutra would pray for othersand be answered, whereas when praying for himself, he wouldnot be answered. [Rav held like the second opinion: Even though the entireworld was blessed in his merit, he himself did not want toderive any benefits from the merit of his good deeds.] TOSEFTA MAASER SHEINI (Second Tithe) Chapter III:Halachah 17 1. Redeeming in the Proper Manner Rabbi Shimon, son of Gamliel, Rabbi Yehudah and RabbiYosi were once visiting a certain householder in Keziv. Theysaid, "How can we know whether the householder makes hisproduce legally fit for use by separating the Priestly andLevitical dues properly?" When he noticed their misgivings, he went and brought abag of gold coins [on which he had redeemed his second-tithefruits] to Jerusalem. [If he wants to save himself the trouble oftaking his maaser sheini fruits to Jerusalem each time, he canredeem them onto money and spend the money on food inJerusalem at his leisure.]
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Maaser Sheni 173 They said to him, "Show us how you tithe and redeem yourfruits." " I say as follows," he answered: " "The second tithe in thisproduce should be redeemed onto this coin." They said to him, "Go and eat your money; you have gainedmoney but lost souls!" [One must first separate or designatethe tithe, and only then can he redeem it onto money.Throughout the time that he was redeeming his fruit, thefellow saved the expense of transporting the fruits toJerusalem, but lost Jewish souls by causing himself and hisfamily to eat untithed produce.] Chapter V:Halachah 10 2. Rabbi Eliezers Vineyard Rabbi Eliezer had a vineyard [in its fourth year] next to thevillage of Turi, to the east of Lud. [The village was situatedclose to Jerusalem, towards the West.] He wanted to renouncehis ownership of the field. [This was because the Sages haddecreed that everyone living within a days journey ofJerusalem had to bring the actual second-tithe fruits toJerusalem, rather than redeeming them and bringing themoney, instead. They made this decree so that the markets ofJerusalem should be decorated with fruits. Rabbi Eliezerfound it a hardship to bring the fruits, so he renouncedownership in order that the poor people should glean the fruitsand take them to Jerusalem, eating them there in purity.] His students said to him, "You dont need to renounceownership! Your friends have already taken a vote andrepealed the act." [Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai had repealed
    • 174 Aggadatahthe act after the destruction of the Holy Temple, since therewas no need to decorate the markets of Jerusalem with fruitany more. Hence, even those living in towns bordering onJerusalem were now allowed to redeem their fruit on money,rather than bringing their actual fruit to Jerusalem.] T R A C T A T E CHALLA Chapter I:Halachah 6 1. Ten Religious Acts Performed with Bread A person performs ten religious acts before he will actuallyeat his bread: (1) You shall not plough [with an ox and ass together]. (2) You shall not sow with diverse types of seed. (3) You shall not muzzle an ox when it is threshing. (4) Leket [leaving that which falls during the harvest for thepoor]. (5) Shichchoh [leaving forgotten sheaves for the poor]. (6) Peah [leaving the corner of the field for the poor]. (7) Terumah [giving a fiftieth of the crop to the priest]. (8) "Maaser Rishon" [giving the first tithe to the Levite]. (9) "Maaser Sheini" [separating the second tithe, eaten inJerusalem]. (10) "Challah" [separating the priests share of the dough]. Whenever Rabbi Yitzchak would pick up his bread [tobreak a piece off and say the HaMotzi blessing], he wouldpurposely clasp it with all his ten fingers, saying "Behold, Ihave fulfilled ten precepts!"
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Bikurim 175 T R A C T A T E ORLAH (Fruit in the First Three Years) Chapter III: Halachah 7 1. The Uprooting of Kilayim A certain man sowed his field with barley and turnips [which are) kilayim, a forbidden combination]. Chanin Gufta passed by and uprooted them. The case was brought before Shmuel and he praised Chanin [for his action. An alternate version says that Shmuel fined Chanin. According to this version, the episode took place outside the Land of Israel, where one is not dutibound to uproot the diverse mixture post facto, but is permitted to eat from it. Thus, he should have sought permission from the owners before uprooting the plants.] T R A C T A T E BIKURIM (First Fruits to be Offered) Chapter I: Halachah 51. The Strap Is Untied and the Restriction Is Removed A certain priest married the daughter of proselyte parents.The case was brought before Rabbi Abahu and he ordered [thepriest] to be laid down on a bench [to receive lashes].
    • 176 Aggadatah Rabbi Bevai said to him, "Didnt our teacher teach us thatthe law follows Rabbi Yosi, [who ruled that the daughter of amale and female converts may marry a priest, provided shewas conceived after they both converted to Judaism]?" Rabbi Abahu replied, "But surely the priests decided toguard their dignity [by abstaining from marrying anyonewhose parents were both proselytes], in accordance with theruling of Rabbi Eliezer son of Yaakov. Rabbi Bevai then asked, "Is a mere custom punishable bylashes then?" " I f you feel that way [that he shouldnt receive corporalpunishment]," Rabbi Abahu replied, "then beg him to forgiveme for his embarrassment, and I will discharge him." Once the priest had gotten up again, Rabbi Bevai remarked,"Since the restriction has been removed by our decision not togive him lashes [and will obviously gain publicity], I amlikewise permitted to marry her." [Rabbi Bevai was himself apriest and remarked that now he, too, would be allowed tomarry the daughter of proselytes.] [Others explain that Rabbi Abahu asked Rabbi Bevai, "Puton a public show that you are pacifying me to relent fromgiving him lashes." According to this version, it was thepriest, not Rabbi Bevai, who remarked to Rabbi Abahu thatnow that the restriction had been removed, he could remainwith his wife, since post facto we rule like Rabbi Yosi: Onceone married such a woman, he neednt divorce her. A further version of the story is that when Rabbi Bevaiasked Rabbi Abahu, "Is a mere custom punishable by lashesthen?", he replied that it was, and asked Rabbi Bevai topersuade the priest to divorce his wife. Only then he wouldpardon him and agree to forgo the lashes. The priest arguedthat i f according to the strict letter of the law there was noprohibition, however, then he wanted the Sages to allow himto be lenient and not have to keep the priestly custom.]
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Bikurim 177 Chapter II:Halachah 2 2. Behold, I Am Like Ben-Azai Rabbi Yochanan went to a certain place, where heannounced, " I am the local Ben-Azai !‫יי‬ [Ben-Azai was an ardent student who had fathomed all thedeepest secrets of the Torah. On one occasion he evenremarked, " A l l Jewish scholars appear to me like the husk ofgarlic, apart from...". In subsequent generations, whenscholars would arrive in some town and wished to stress theirefficacy in halachik matters, they would announce, "We arelike Ben-Azai in the market-place of Tiberias," (Ben-Azaishometown). In that way, they would make known that theywere available to accurately answer even the most intricatequestions in the greatest depth, similar to their predecessor,Ben-Azai. When Rav came to Babylon, he also announced, " I am theBen-Azai of Babylon!" A certain sage then came to him withall sorts of questions. Similarly, on one occasion when Abayewas in a cheerful mood, he announced that he was available inPumbedita to answer questions with the same sharpness anddepth as Ben-Azai. Rava likewise once made such a declaration. People thencame along and asked him questions concerning the laws ofthe eruv. In our present story, Rabbi Yochanan was makingthis same declaration about himself, that he was the localBen-Azai.] A certain sage came along and asked to reconcile anapparent contradiction between two mishnayot. RabbiYochanan answered him, explaining how each mishnah wasreferring to a different situation. The sage then proceeded to
    • 178 Aggadatahdisprove Rabbi Yochanan*s answer from an explicit mishnah.Rabbi Yochanan was unable to answer him, and the sageremarked, "The local Ben-Azai has departed !‫יי‬ [Rabbi Yochanan] then went and asked Rabbi Yannai, [histeacher, to answer the question he had been posed]. RabbiYannai explained to him how it had been answered during thediscussions in the Academy.] Chapter III:Halachah 1 3. The Bringing of Bikkurim (the First-Fruits) It shall be, when you come in to the land which the L-rd, your G- d, gives you for an inheritance, and you take possession of it and dwell therein, that you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which you bring from your land that the L-rd, your G-d gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and shall go to the place where the L-rd, your G‫־‬d, will choose to place His Name. You shall go to the priest who will be in those days and say to him, "I profess this day to the L-rd, your G-d, that I have come to the country which the L-rd swore to our fathers to give us." The priest shall take the basket out of your hand, and set it down before the altar of the L-rd, your G-d. Then you shall speak and say before the L-rd, your G-d, "An Aramaean was my father. He went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and became a great, mighty and populous nation there. The Egyptians dealt badly with us and afflicted us, and laid hard bondage upon us. When we cried to the L-rd, G-d of our fathers, the L-rd heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labor and our oppression. And the L-rd brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm and with fearful revelations, with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now, behold, I have brought the first fruits of the land, which You, O L-rd, have given us."
    • Zeraim - Tracate Bikurim 179 You shall set it before the L-rd, your G-d, and worship before the L-rd, your G-d, and you shall rejoice in every good thing which the L-rd, your G-d, has given you and your house ~ you and the Levite and the stranger who is amongst you. (Deuteronomy 26:1-12) Such was the order of the bringing of the first-fruits to theTemple [lit. House] of our G-d (may it be built speedily in ourdays): How would one separate the first-fruits? When a mandescends into his vineyard and sees the first fig which hasbegun to ripen, or the first cluster of grapes that has started toripen, or the first pomegranite that has started to ripen, he tiesreed-grass around it and says, "Behold these are first-fruits." Rabbi Shimon adds, "Nevertheless, he should again declarethem to be first-fruits after they have been plucked from thesoil." [That is to say, as soon as a fig, etc., has startedripening, he would attach some mark of identification to it,such as a string of reed-grass. Once the fruit had fully ripened,he would pluck it and protect it from ritual impurity. Onlydates from a valley would be brought as bikkurim, since thesewere fruits of a superior quality. Other fruits would be broughtspecifically from the highland for the same reason.] How did they take the first fruits up to Jerusalem? A l l thevarious members of the post (maamad) assembled in the townof the leader of that post and lodged for the night in the townsquare. They did not enter the houses. Early in the morning,the leader would say, "Arise and let us go up to Zion, to theHouse of the L-rd, our G-d" (Jerimiah 31:5). [There were twenty-four divisions of priests and Levites forduty in the Holy Temple. The divisions would take turns, eachone on duty for a full week each half-year. Corresponding tothese divisions of priests and Levites, the Israelites were alsodivided into twenty-four groups, who acted as representativesfor their fellow Jews. They stood by and recited prayers during
    • 180 Aggadatahthe sacrificial ceremonies, so that G-d should accept theirworship favorably. When the time came for the bikkurim to be brought, ratherthen each individual going on his own, all the members of theIsraelite division would assemble in the town of their divisionchief, so that they could come in a collective gathering toJerusalem, as it says in Proverbs (14:28): "The glory of theKing is in a multitude of people." The superintendents of thesynagogues would accompany them, spending the night in thestreets rather than entering the houses, for fear of being[ritually] defiled. The chief of the Israelite division would riseearly in the morning and wake up his brethren [saying, "Ariseand let us go up to Zion, to the house of the L-rd, our G-d."] Those living near [Jerusalem] would bring fresh figs andgrapes [as first-fruits], while those who came from far awaywould bring dried figs and raisins, [since these would endurethe long journey]. An ox went before them, its horns overlaidwith gold and a crown of olive leaves on its head. [The ox wasintended as a peace-offering, and the crown of olive leaves onits head was for a number of reasons: Firstly, in order to showthat the bikkurim were brought specifically from the sevenfruits listed in the Torah, being the pride of the Holy Land.(The Torah indicates that amongst the fruit-bearing trees, theolive is the most significant of the seven.) Secondly, becauseit is aesthetically the most beautiful of all the Holy Landsnative trees. Thirdly, because priests and kings would beanointed with the oil of the olive, hence it is only fitting tomake a crown of glory from its foliage.] The flute played before them until they drew near toJerusalem. [The flutist marched at the head of the procession,the sound of his flute resounding all around.] While marchingto Jerusalem, the people would recite the verse (Psalms122:1): " I rejoiced when they said to me, *Let us go to the
    • Ze aim ‫ ־‬Tracate Bikurim 181 House of the L-rd." On arrival in Jerusalem they would say, "Our legs would stand in your gates, O Jerusalem" (Ibid., 122:2). They would march to Jerusalem for two-thirds of the day. In the evening they would halt the procession in order to take precautions that their first-fruit should not get defiled. When they arrived near Jerusalem, they sent messengersbefore them [to announce their arrival]. They then adornedtheir first-fruits [by placing the freshest, most luscious fruitson top: fresh figs would be placed above dry ones, and grapeson top of raisins, to adorn them]. The priestly wardens, the Levitical wardens and the treasurers or the Temple funds wentout to meet them. According to the importance of those whowere coming, they would go forth to meet them. [Every Jew isimportant, and worthy of honor. The meaning here is that thenumber of people who went out to meet the arrivals dependedon the number of the latter.] A l l the craftsmen in Jerusalemstood before them and greeted them saying, "Our brothers,who come from such and such a place, may you have apeaceful stay." The flute would [continue to] be played before them, [evenwithin the streets of Jerusalem], until they reached the TempleMount. When they reached the Temple Mount, even KingAgrippas would take his basket on his shoulder and go in,until he reached the Temple Court. [The law dictates thatupon reaching the Temple Mount, everyone must carry hisown basket of fruits, which he subsequently presents to thefunctioning priest. Thus, even the powerful king had tohumble himself and personally carry his own basket. At thisstage of the procession, they would recite Psalm 150 saying,"Praise the L-rd, praise G-d in his holy place...", till theyreached the Temple Court, where they would recite theconcluding words of the psalm, "The entire soul should praisethe L - rd. Praise the L-rd!"]
    • 182 Aggadatah When the Temple Court was reached, the Levites wouldsing the psalm (30:2): " I will extol You, O G-d, for You haveraised me up and have not made my enemies rejoice over ‫יי‬me. The young pigeons which were hung at the back of thebaskets were for burnt-offerings. [The pilgrims would attachthem as an adornment to the baskets of the first-fruits, but noton top of the fruits, so as not to sully them.] What was in theirhands [either other pigeons not attached to their baskets, orpossibly a reference to their bikkurim], they handed to thepriests. While the basket was still on [the donors] shoulder, hewould recite from Deuteronomy 26 [as quoted in full above]:" I profess this day to the L-rd, your G-d..." until he finishedthe whole passage. Rabbi Yehudah says, "[He would reciteuntil the verse] An Aramaean was my father. [At that point,]he would set the basket down from his shoulder and hold it byits rim. The priest would then place his hand under it andwave it, reading from An Aramaean was my father... until hehad completed the whole passage. He would then place it bythe side of the Altar [to the south of the south-western corner],prostrate himself, and leave. Originally, all those capable of reciting [the passage of thefirst-fruits in Hebrew] would recite it [by themselves], and i fanyone did not know how to recite, they would recite withhim, [i.e., the words of the passage would be recited and thedonor would repeat them]. [However,] those [who wereincapable of reading unaided] refrained from bringing, [fromembarrassment], and so they instituted that all should be madeto repeat, whether they were capable of reciting on their ownor not. The wealthy people used to bring their first-fruits in basketsoverlaid with silver and gold and the poor used to bring them
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Bikurim 183 in wicker baskets of peeled willow branches, [since peeledwillow looks nicer than unpeeled]. Both the baskets and thefirst-fruits were given to the priests. [The priests would keepthe poor peoples baskets together with their first-fruits,whereas the valuable baskets of the rich would be returned.] Rabbi Shimon son of Nanas said, "They would decorate thebaskets of their bikkurim with different types of fruits, notonly with the fruits of the seven species." Rabbi Akiva said,however, "They would only adorn their bikkurim with fruitsof the seven species." It is meritorious to bring the bikkurim in seven baskets, [each species in a different basket]. If they were all brought inone basket, however, the donor had still fulfilled his duty.[Still, i f he did bring them all in one basket, he mustnevertheless keep each species distinctly separate, dividingone type from another with leaves or other things.] Howwould he then position the various species? He would placethe barley at the bottom, then place leaves or whatever as apartition. He would then place the wheat, with something onit, as a separation. Next would come the olives, likewisecovered by a layer of leaves or the like, followed by dates,pomegranites, figs, and finally grapes on top. Each specieswas on top of the lower one and separated by a partition. Thewhole array was surrounded by a bunch of grapes. Rabbi Yehudah said, "They may only be given to a reliableassociate priest, [who can be counted on to eat them only in astate of ritual purity] as a free-gift." [The recipient priest may,however, express his gratitude to his benefactor]. [In contrast,]the Sages maintain that the bikkurim must be given to thepriestly guard, who share them amongst themselves, as theydo with the [other] holy sacr
    • 184 AggadatahTemple court, dangers of defilement by unreliable priestswere eliminated. No priest would feel indebted to anyparticular benefactor, and all the bikkurim would beconsumed in purity and holiness in Jerusalem. "Happy is the nation who is thus favored!"Halachah 3 4. "You Shall Arise Before the Hoary-Head" They Watched the Back of Moses We have learned: " A l l craftsmen should stand up beforethem,[i.e., before those bringing the bikkurim]" But surelywe have also learned that in the verse in Leviticus (19:32):"You shall rise up before the hoary-head and honor the face ofthe old man,‫ יי‬applies only when no financial loss is involved.[So why in the case of the bikkurim are the craftsmen obligedto stand up and interrupt their work?] The answer is that since the opportunity to stand for thismitzvah comes only once a year, we do not allow people tomiss the occasion. Rabbi Yosi son of Bon said in the name of Rabbi Hunna sonof Chiyya, "Come and behold how important are thoseengaged in mitzvot: For a sage, work does not get interrupted,but for those engaged in a mitzvah, it does!" Rabbi Yosi son of Bon said, "When people stand upbecause a dead body is being carried past them, they are notactually standing up in honor of the deceased, but rather, inhonor of those engaged in the mitzvah of taking care of thedeceased/ There is a dispute amongst Amoraim concerning theinterpretation of the following verse (Exodus 33:8): "It came
    • Zeraim - Tracate Maaser Bikurim 185to pass when Moses went out to the tent, that all the peoplerose up and stood, every man at his tent door, and looked afterMoses." One Amora explains that "they looked after him" forpositive reasons, whereas the second Amora explains that theylooked to find fault. The first [Amora], who interprets itpositively, says that their purpose was to watch the saint andtry to emulate him, whereas the Amora who interprets itnegatively, says they were remarking [impudently], "Look athis [thick] legs; look at his [fat] thighs! He feeds off his fellowJews; he drinks from his fellow Jews; everything he has isfrom his fellow Jews." [Thus, according to this opinion, theywould stare at him in order to find fault and speakdisparagingly of him.] The Torah Does Not Arise in Front of Its Son Rabbi Elazar said, "The Torah is not expected to stand up infront of its son." [I.e., the rabbi is not expected to arise in frontof his disciple.] Shmuel said, "One neednt stand up in the presence of anassociate." Rabbi Hilla and Rabbi Yaakov son of Iddi were seated. Justthen, Shmuel son of Bo walked past, whereupon they stood upin his honor. [In response,] he said to them, " I have two criticisms ofwhat you just did. Firstly, I m not an aged scholar, and 4secondly, The Torah is not expected to arise for its son." Cleaving to the Torah and Its Scholars Rabbi Zeirah said, "Rabbi Acha would interrupt his studiesand stand up [for a sage or an aged person, in accordance withthe scriptural verse: You shall stand up for a hoary-head.... In
    • 186 Aggadatahhis opinion, being engaged in religious studies did not grantany exemption from the mitzvah.] He based himself on theberaita in which we learned: Scribes of sacred books, tefillinand mezzuzot should interrupt their work to recite the Shema,but not for the Shmoneh Esrey. "Rabbi Channanya son of Akavya said, however, Just asone stops ones work for the recital of the Shema, so, too, forthe Shmoneh Esrey, putting on tefillin, and for all othermitzvot in the Torah [which cannot get delayed]." Chizkiya, the son of Rabbi Chiyya the Great, [had a verysublime practice]. Whenever he was too exhausted to continuehis religious studies [and felt he required a short break], hewould go and sit at the entrance of the religious academy, inorder to see the scholars and stand up in their honor. There Is No Sitting before Mount Sinai Yehuda, the son of Rabbi Chiyya the Great, would visit hisfather-in-law, Rabbi Yannai, every Friday afternoon andenquire after his welfare. Rabbi Yannai would sit on a raisedplatform, in order to spot his son-in-law from a distance andstand up for him as soon as he came into sight. His disciples said to [Rabbi Yannai], "Surely our Rabbi hastaught us that one does not stand up for a sage i f he is overfour amot [about eight feet] away!" He replied, "In front of a [walking] Mount Sinai, onedoesnt remain seated." [I.e., a man who is so great that he canbe compared to Mount Sinai, on which the Torah was given,warrants one to stand up as soon as one notices him.] On one occasion, [Yehuda was delayed] and didnt turn up[at the usual time]. Whereupon, Rabbi Yannai remarked, "Is itpossible that my son Yehuda should change his normalpractice? He couldnt possibly be sick, since such a saintly
    • Zeraim - Tracate Bikurim 187body would never be afflicted. Rather, our great Yehuda isprobably no longer amongst us!" [Others say that RabbiYannai remarked without thinking, "Turn over the beds!",which is the practice when someone dies. His casual remarkacted like "an error which proceeds from the ruler"(Ecclesiastes 10:5), and Yehuda son of Rabbi Chiyya passedaway.] A Long life Must Be Justified Rabbi Meir would stand up even in honor of an agedignoramus. He explained that there was surely a [profound]justification for the mans prolonged life. Rabbi Channina would strike anyone who did not stand upfor him, and say to the person, "Do you want to profane theTorah?!" Rise to a Higher Sanctity, But Do Not Descend We have learned: "When the Nasi [Chief of the GreatSanhedrin] enters, everyone present must stand. No one isallowed to sit down again until he tells them to be seated. "When the Head of the Beth Din enters, the people muststand up and form lines for him as he walks past. Sets ofdouble rows are formed, and he walks through the rows of hischoice. [However, those not in his vicinity may remainseated.] "When a Torah scholar enters, anyone whom he walks pastmust stand up in his honor until he reaches his seat and sitsdown, [but no lines need be formed]." Rabbi Meir would go regularly to the Talmudical Academy.Crowds of people would watch him and stand up for him,
    • 188 Aggadatah[even at a distance]. When they heard the [above] beraita [thatwhen a Torah scholar passes, only those whom he walks pastneed stand up], they decided to act accordingly. Rabbi Meir got annoyed and went out and said to them, " [ Ihave heard that] One rises to a higher degree of sancity, butdoes not descend!" [These Tannaim and Amoraim were notsearching for their own honor, Heaven forbid; they weremerely anxious to preserve the honor of the Torah, and wishedto imbibe the people with a deep respect for Torah scholars. 5. Ordination and Authority Forgiveness of Sins Rabbi Zeirah was urged to assume rabbinic leadership. Hedid not want to accept the position, however, until he heardthat the beraitha states that " A scholar, a bridegroom, or aNasi who rises to distinction, thereby gains atonement for hissins" -- he accepted the appointment. [From where does the beraitha derive that] a scholar [risingto distinction is forgiven for his sins? It is based on thejuxtaposition of the verses in Leviticus (19:32-33)]: "Youshall rise before the hoary-head and honor the face of theTorah scholar," and the next verse opens with the words:"And if a stranger sojourns with you in your land..." [From thetextual proximity, we learned that] just as a proselyte isforgiven for his sins, so, too, does a scholar who rises todistinction. [The same applies to] a bridegroom, [based on the verse inGenesis (28:9)]: "And Esau went to Ishmael and tookMahalath the daugther of a wife." Now, surelyher name was not Mahalath [Machalat in Hebrew, resembling
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Bikurim 189the word mechilah, which means forgivenness"]. Rather, hertrue name was Basemath [see Genesis 36:10]. She wasnicknamed Mahalath, however, to indicate that at marriage,all sins get pardoned. [That one assuming the position of] Nasi [is forgiven, isbased on the verse in I Samuel (13:1)]: "Saul was reigning atthe age of one year." But surely he wasnt one year old?!Rather, the meaning is that all his sins were forgiven, like ayear old child. Gods of Silver Rabbi Mana belittled those people who had been ordainedfor money [rather than for being qualified for the job]. In connection with this, Rabbi Ami cited the followingverse (Exodus 20:20): "You shall not make for yourselvesgods of silver or gods of gold". Rabbi Oshirah remarked, "The rabbinic garb on thosepeople is like a pack-saddle on a donkey." Rabbi Zeirah was seated together with another scholarwhen one of those who had been ordained for money walkedpast. The other scholar said to Rabbi Zeirah, "Let us appear tobe totally engrossed in our studies, [so that he should think wedidnt notice him], so that we shouldnt have to stand up forhim. [Rabbi Yaakov, from the village of Giboraya, had the job oforally translating and proclaiming the lectures of the Rabbis.[On one occasion, he was supposed to proclaim the lecture ofa certain rabbi who was really an ignoramous, but who hadbeen ordained by the Nasi for money. The "Rabbi" couldntthink of anything to say,] so Yaakov from Giboraya started his
    • 190 Aggadatahown lecture. He proclaimed, "[It says in Habakkuk (2:19-20)]:Woe to him that says to the wood, "Awake," to the dumbstone, "Arise." It can teach?! Does he know how to teach?Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver. Wasnt heappointed with silver? Nor is there any breath at all in it. Ashe is void of knowledge! You wish to appoint someone?Surely it says, But the L-rd is in his Holy sanctuary. RabbiYitzchak son of Elazar is in the synagogue in Shaar Kesarin.[He is a true Torah scholar, who sits in the synagogue, G-dsminiature sanctuary, and takes his studies seriously. Surely heis more worthy of appointment than someone as void of Torahas a dried stick and a mute stone, merely acting as Rabbibecause he is overlaid with silver and gold.]" Ordination to Judge[Note: The reference here is to a special type of ordinationwhich only empowered the rabbi to decide certain types oflaw suits which could only be judged in Israel.] Rabbi Ami asked Rabbi Simmon, "Did you hear that theyare ordaining scholars outside the Land of Israel?" " I heard that they do not ordain scholars outside Israel," heanswered. Rabbi Levi said, "But surely the verse states expressly inEzekiel (36:17): Son of man, when the House of Israel sat intheir own land.... This implies that we should only "sit" — tojudge judicial matters ~ when we dwell in our Land!" Our Rabbis in Caesaria said: "One may only ordain scholarsin the Diaspora [outside Israel] i f they intend returning toIsrael to practice there." Rabbi Yitzchak son of Nachman was in Gaza. Theyordained him, on condition that hed return to Israel to practicethere.
    • Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Bikurim 191 Rabbi Zemina was in Tyre. They ordained him on conditionthat hed return to Israel. Rabbi Yonah was on the list [of those deservingordination]. He refused the title, saying that he did not want tobe ordained before his Rabbi. [His Rabbi was Rabbi Zeirah.As we learned previously, Rabbi Zeirah refused ordination,until he learned the beraita which states that those who rise todistinction gain atonement for their sins. Thus, Rabbi Zeirahfinally accepted ordination, and then subsequently,] ordainedhis disciple, [Rabbi Yonah]. Rabbi Chama said, "Rabbi Yehudah son of Titus was inRome and was ordained, on condition that he would return toIsrael." The Bread Is Not to the Wise Shimon son of Vav lived in Damascus. Athough people ona lesser calibre were ordained, he was not. [The wheel offortune was not in his favor, since he lived in the Diaspora.] In spite of the fact that Shimon son of Vav was a talentedcraftsmen who could cut and polish diamonds and knew alltrades, he nevertheless was so poor that he didnt even have aloaf of bread to eat. Rabbi Yochanan described his state withthe verse in Ecclesiastes (9:11): "Neither do the wise havebread." He said, "Anyone who wants to have an idea of therigtheous acts of the patriarch Abraham should observe thismans [Rabbi Shimons] acts. He will thereby come to anappreciation of his forefathers acts." [In spite of his great acts, Rabbi Shimon son of Vav stillwas not ordained.] Shimon son of Vav was in Damascus. Rabbi Abahu sentsim a letter, in which he enclosed some of the grey hairs [fromhis beard], implying, "You, too, are already going grey and
    • 192 Aggadatahaging. Get up and come to Israel! [There you will be ordainedand be given the opportunity of judging all sorts of judicialmatters.] "Who will remove the dust from your eyes?! Surely RabbiYochanan! Abahu, who is far inferior to you [and used to sit atthe feet of Rabbi Shimon son of Vav when attending RabbiYochanans lectures], has already been ordained, whileShimon, who deserves donning the rabbinic garb, has not yetbeen ordained!"