Narratives of the Talmud                     ‫הועתק והוכנס לאינטרנט‬                    www.hebrewbooks.org               ...
‫כל הזכויות שמורות‬                                    ©                     ,‫יוצא לאור בסיוע המשרד לעגעי דתות‬          ...
‫ספר זה יצא לאור‬            ‫ע״י הנדיב היקר‬    ‫מר מ א י ד •ונגר״ז ודעיתו יצ״ו‬                  ‫לעי״נ‬ ‫אביו הרב יצחק ...
This book is published                 with the aid of our friends             Mr. and Mrs. Meir Jungreiz         in memor...
Introduction   I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to Hashem forenabling me to complete the second volume of the series,...
iv                                                 Introduction   A l l the narratives in this volume were taken solely fr...
Introduction                                                  vultimately detract from divine service. Moreover, falsenarr...
vi                                                 Introductioncontain distortions about a particular sages experiences. S...
Introduction                                                 viithe Torah your days will be increased, and years of life w...
TALMUD YERUSHALMI                   THE ORDER OF ZERAYIM                             Contents                         Trac...
ContentsChap.   Hal. Aggadatah                                               pg.         3   13. The Land of Milk and Hone...
ContentsChap.   Hal. Aggadatah                                               pg.             23. A Years Sustenance At the...
ContentsChap.   Hal. Aggadatah                                                pg                          Tosefta Demai   ...
ContentsChap.   Hal. Aggadatah                                                pg             11. Death and Burial in the L...
ContentsChap.   Hal. Aggadatah                                                     pg.                          Tractate T...
ContentsChap.   Hal. Aggadatah                                                   pg.             Tracte Maaser Sheini (The...
ContentsChap.   Hal. Aggadatah                                                  pg.                         Tractate Bikur...
Zeraim - Tracate Peah                                         1          TALMUD YERUSHALMI             T H E ORDER O F Z E...
2                                                    Aggadatah[the Supreme Rabbinic Court] was situated in Yavne, before i...
Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah                                             3 stored them in the heavens, as it says, Truth will s...
4                                                               Aggadatah                3. Honoring Ones Parents         ...
Zeraim - Tracate Peah                                       5dangling over the box, making it impossible for him to move i...
6                                                  Aggadatah   Rabbi Tarfon went and placed each of his hands under oneof ...
Zeraim - Tracate Peah                                      7relating to Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Yishmaers behaviortowards t...
8                                                     Aggadatah   "Old man, old man!" his son answered him, "just eat and ...
Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah                                         9   Rabbi Yonatan responded, "Do you mean to say that aRab...
10                                                  Aggadatah  People began saying to each other, "Look at that old man!Th...
Zeraim - Tracate Peah                                        11Now, what exactly did Joseph tell his father?   Rabbi Meir,...
12                                                 Aggadatah               The Importance of Shalom   Rabbi Channina said:...
Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah                                      13name was Bar Chovetz, did not appear at the appointedlocati...
14                                                  Aggadatah                    David and Samuel   Rabbi Abbah bar Kahana...
Zeraim - Tracate Peah                                       15how I hid a hundred men of the Lords prophets, fifty in acav...
16                                                  Aggadatah   Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said [he was killed] because hemen...
Zeraim - Tracate Peah                                         17extinguished on the inside. When coals of the broom plantb...
18                                                   Aggadatah                         Chapter II:Halacha 4        7. The ...
Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah                                                      19their authenticity ,since they were handed ...
20                                                   Aggadatah   Rabbi Pinchas told the following incident: There were two...
Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah                                       21come to the sick persons home, even when he is healthy.]Ho...
22                                                     Aggadatah                          Chapter IV:Halacha 1            ...
Zeraim - Tracate Peah                                       23because the Torah said, Do not harvest the corner of yourfie...
24                                                              Aggadatahway, the poor were not made to wait until the ent...
Zeraim - Tracate Peah                                        25olives on the tree when he can still stretch his arm and re...
26                                                    Aggadatahthe Temple still stood. Afterwards, however, they shrunk, d...
Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah                                        27             Cinnamon - the Food of Goats   Rabbi Chuna s...
28                                                  Aggadatahmy nard is still emitting its odor/ [Even after the destructi...
Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah                                       29            A Nest at the Top of the Turnip   Someone once...
30                                                     Aggadatah              The Honey which Overflowed   Rabbi Shimon be...
Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah                                                     31                     The Luscious Cabbage   ...
32                                                    Aggadatah   Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri would follow these aged poorglea...
Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah                                       33poor-mans tithe]. However, they are not believed with rega...
34                                                  Aggadatah  Vegetable —            one litra  Carobs                3 k...
Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah                                        35that the judges in a law suit mustnt be related, theadmin...
36                                                 AggadatahMe, kings rule...through Me princes rule and nobles judgeright...
Zeraim - Tracate Peah                                        37Halacha 7          17. Giving Charity with Evil Designs   W...
38                                                     Aggadatahone occasion, the Sages allotted them 600 golden dinarim, ...
Zeraim - Tracate Peah                                                   39   Moreover, we have learned that if, until now,...
40                                                  Aggadatah  In Ruth 3:3 it says: "You shall wash and anoint yourself,an...
Zeraim - Tracate Peah                                      41   Samuel ran away from his father [possibly because he knewt...
42                                                  Aggadataheating meat and drinking wine. He returned and reported it to...
Zeraim ‫ ־‬Tracate Peah                                       43Rabbi Chanina would distribute charity in the dark of then...
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Narratives of the talmud

  1. 1. Narratives of the Talmud ‫הועתק והוכנס לאינטרנט‬ www.hebrewbooks.org ‫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
  2. 2. ‫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־‬
  3. 3. ‫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
  4. 4. 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.
  5. 5. 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.
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. 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
  16. 16. 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
  17. 17. 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
  18. 18. 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
  19. 19. 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
  20. 20. 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."
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. 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.
  23. 23. 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
  24. 24. 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]?"
  25. 25. 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.
  26. 26. 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.
  27. 27. 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).
  28. 28. 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.]
  29. 29. 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
  30. 30. 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."
  31. 31. 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,
  32. 32. 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).
  33. 33. 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
  34. 34. 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."
  35. 35. 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
  36. 36. 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.
  37. 37. 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
  38. 38. 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].
  39. 39. 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,]
  40. 40. 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
  41. 41. 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
  42. 42. 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
  43. 43. 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!"
  44. 44. 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
  45. 45. 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!
  46. 46. 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]!"
  47. 47. 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].
  48. 48. 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.]
  49. 49. 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
  50. 50. 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
  51. 51. 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
  52. 52. 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
  53. 53. 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!"
  54. 54. 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
  55. 55. 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.
  56. 56. 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?
  57. 57. 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!
  58. 58. 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
  59. 59. 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.
  60. 60. 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."

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