Along the same lines, Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, prays? As it is stated: “I will bring them to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in the house of My prayer” (Isaiah 56:7). The verse does not say the house of their prayer, but rather, “the house of My prayer”; from here we see that the Holy One, Blessed be He, prays. The Gemara asks: What does God pray? To whom does God pray? Rav Zutra bar Tovia said that Rav said:
God says: May it be My will that My mercy will overcome My anger towards Israel for their transgressions,
and may My mercy prevail over My other attributes through which Israel is punished,
and may I conduct myself toward My children, Israel, with the attribute of mercy,
and may I enter before them beyond the letter of the law. Similarly, it was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha, the High Priest, said: Once, on Yom Kippur, I entered the innermost sanctum, the Holy of Holies, to offer incense, and in a vision I saw Akatriel Ya, the Lord of Hosts, one of the names of God expressing His ultimate authority, seated upon a high and exalted throne (see Isaiah 6).
And He said to me: Yishmael, My son, bless Me.
I said to Him the prayer that God prays: “May it be Your will that Your mercy overcome Your anger,
and may Your mercy prevail over Your other attributes,
and may You act toward Your children with the attribute of mercy,
and may You enter before them beyond the letter of the law.”
The Holy One, Blessed be He, nodded His head and accepted the blessing. This event teaches us that you should not take the blessing of an ordinary person lightly. If God asked for and accepted a man’s blessing, all the more so that a man must value the blessing of another man. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei: From where is it derived that one must not placate a person while he is in the throes of his anger, rather he should mollify him after he has calmed down? As it is written, when following the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses requested that the Divine Presence rest upon Israel as it had previously, God said to him: “My face will go, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). Rabbi Yoḥanan explained: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses: Wait until My face of wrath will pass and I will grant your request. One must wait for a person’s anger to pass as well. The Gemara asks: And is there anger before the Holy One, Blessed be He? Can we speak of God using terms like anger? The Gemara answers: Yes, as it was taught in a baraita, God becomes angry, as it is stated: “God vindicates the righteous, God is furious every day” (Psalms 7:12). How much time does His anger last? God’s anger lasts a moment. And how long is a moment? One fifty-eight thousand, eight hundred and eighty-eighth of an hour, that is a moment. The Gemara adds: And no creature can precisely determine that moment when God becomes angry, except for Balaam the wicked, about whom it is written: “He who knows the knowledge of the Most High” (Numbers 24:16). This should not be understood to mean that Balaam was a full-fledged prophet. Now, clearly, Balaam did not know the mind of his animal; and he did know the mind of the Most High? If he could not understand the rebuke of his donkey, he was certainly unable to understand the mind of the Most High. Rather, this verse from Numbers teaches that Balaam was able to precisely determine the hour that the Holy One, Blessed be He, is angry. At that moment, Balaam would utter his curse and, through God’s anger, it would be fulfilled. And that is what the prophet said to Israel: “My nation, remember what Balak king of Moab advised, and how Balaam, son of Beor, responded; from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord” (Micah 6:5). What is meant by the statement: “So that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord”? Rabbi Elazar said that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel: Know how many acts of kindness I performed on your behalf, that I did not become angry during the days of Balaam the wicked, for had I become angry, there would have been no remnant or survivor remaining among the enemies of Israel, a euphemism for Israel itself. Instead, God restrained His anger and Balaam’s curse went unfulfilled. And that is what Balaam said to Balak: “How can I curse whom God has not cursed? And how can I condemn whom God has not condemned?” (Numbers 23:8). This verse teaches that all those days, God was not angry. And how long does His anger last? God’s anger lasts a moment. And how long is a moment? Rabbi Avin, and some say Rabbi Avina, said: A moment lasts as long as it takes to say it [rega]. From where do we derive that God is only angry for a moment? As it is stated: “His anger is but for a moment, His favor, for a lifetime” (Psalms 30:6). And if you wish, say instead, from here, as it is stated: “Hide yourself for a brief moment, until the anger passes” (Isaiah 26:20), meaning that God’s anger passes in a mere moment. The Gemara asks: When is the Holy One, Blessed be He, angry? Abaye said: God’s anger is revealed through animals. During the first three hours of the day, when the sun whitens the crest of the rooster and it stands on one leg. When it appears that its life has left him and he suddenly turns white, that is when God is angry. The Gemara asks: The rooster also stands that way every hour. What kind of sign is this? The Gemara answers: The difference is that every other hour when the rooster stands in that way, there are red streaks in his crest. But when God is angry, there are no red streaks in his crest. The Gemara relates: A certain heretic who was in Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s neighborhood would upset him by incessantly challenging the legitimacy of verses. One day, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi took a rooster and placed it between the legs of the bed upon which he sat and looked at it. He thought: When the moment of God’s anger arrives, I will curse him and be rid of him. When the moment of God’s anger arrived, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi slept. When he woke up, he said to himself: Conclude from the fact that I nodded off that it is not proper conduct to do so, to curse people, even if they are wicked. “His mercy is over all His creations” (Psalms 145:9) is written even with regard to sinners. Moreover, it is inappropriate to cause the punishment of another, as it is written: “Punishment, even for the righteous, is not good” (Proverbs 17:26), even for a righteous person, it is improper to punish another. Explaining the cause of God’s anger, it is taught in the name of Rabbi Meir: When the sun rises and the kings of the East and the West place their crowns on their heads and bow down to the sun, the Holy One, Blessed be He, immediately grows angry. Since this occurs in the early hours every day, God becomes angry at His world at that moment every day. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei: A single regret or pang of guilt in one’s heart is preferable to many lashes administered by others that cause only physical pain, as it is stated: “And she chases her lovers, but she does not overtake them; she seeks them, but she will not find them; and she will say ‘I will go and return to my first husband; for it was better for me then than now’” (Hosea 2:9). Remorse is more effective than any externally imposed punishment listed in the verses that follow (Hosea 2:11–19). And Reish Lakish said that in the Bible, it seems that such remorse is preferable to one hundred lashes, as it is stated: “A rebuke enters deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred lashes to a fool” (Proverbs 17:10). And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei regarding Moses’ request that the Divine Presence rest upon Israel as it once had: Moses requested three things from the Holy One, Blessed be He, at that time, all of which were granted him. He requested that the Divine Presence rest upon Israel and not leave, and He granted it to him, as it is stated: “For how can it be known that I have found grace in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not in that You go with us, so that we are distinguished, I and Your people, from all the people that are on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:16). The request: Is it not in that You go with us, refers to the resting of the Divine Presence upon Israel. Moses requested that the Divine Presence not rest upon the nations of the world, and He granted it to him, as it is stated: “So that we are distinguished, I and Your people, from all the people on the face of the earth” (Exodus 33:16). Lastly, Moses requested that the ways in which God conducts the world be revealed to him, and He granted it to him, as it is stated: “Show me Your ways and I will know You” (Exodus 33:13).
Moses said before God: Master of the Universe. Why is it that the righteous prosper, the righteous suffer, the wicked prosper, the wicked suffer?
God said to him: Moses, the righteous person who prospers is a righteous person, the son of a righteous person, who is rewarded for the actions of his ancestors. The righteous person who suffers is a righteous person, the son of a wicked person, who is punished for the transgressions of his ancestors. The wicked person who prospers is a wicked person, the son of a righteous person, who is rewarded for the actions of his ancestors. The wicked person who suffers is a wicked person, the son of a wicked person, who is punished for the transgressions of his ancestors. The Gemara expands upon these righteous and wicked individuals: The Master said: The righteous person who prospers is a righteous person, the son of a righteous person. The righteous person who suffers is a righteous person, the son of a wicked person. The Gemara asks: Is it so that one is always punished for his ancestors’ transgressions? Isn’t it written: “He visits iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 34:7). And it is written elsewhere: “Fathers shall not die for their children, and children shall not be put to death for the fathers; every man shall die for his own transgression” (Deuteronomy 24:16). And the Gemara raises a contradiction between the two verses. The Gemara resolves the contradiction: This is not difficult. This verse from Exodus, which states that God punishes descendants for the transgressions of their ancestors, refers to a case where they adopt the actions of their ancestors as their own. While this verse from Deuteronomy, which states that descendants are not punished for the actions of their ancestors, refers to a case where they do not adopt the actions of their ancestors as their own, as it is stated: “I visit iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the third and fourth generations of my enemies” (Exodus 20:5). A righteous person is clearly not punished for the transgressions of his ancestors. Rather, it must be that God said to Moses as follows:
The righteous person who prospers is a completely righteous person whose actions are entirely good and whose reward is entirely good both in this world and in the World-to-Come.
The righteous person who suffers is one who is not a completely righteous person. Because he does have some transgressions, he is punished in this world so that he will receive a complete reward in the World-to-Come.
The wicked person who prospers is one who is not a completely wicked person. God rewards him in this world for the good deeds that he performed, so that he will receive a complete punishment in the World-to-Come.
Finally, the wicked person who suffers is a completely wicked person. Since he performed absolutely no mitzvot and deserves no reward, he receives only punishment both in this world and in the World-to-Come (Maharsha). Rabbi Yoḥanan’s opinion, that God granted Moses all three of his requests, disagrees with that of Rabbi Meir, as Rabbi Meir said: Two of Moses’ requests were granted to him, and one was not granted to him. God granted him that the Divine Presence would rest upon Israel and not leave, and that the Divine Presence would not rest upon the nations of the world, but God did not reveal to Moses the ways in which He conducts the world. As it is said: “And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious” (Exodus 33:19); in His mercy, God bestows His grace upon every person, even though he is not worthy. Similarly, God says: “And I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy,” even though he is not worthy. According to Rabbi Meir, the way in which God conducts the world and bestows grace and mercy was not revealed even to Moses. The Gemara continues to cite the Sages’ explanation of verses that require clarification on the same topic. With regard to God’s statement to Moses, “And He said: ‘You cannot see My face, for man shall not see Me and live’” (Exodus 33:20), it was taught in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses as follows: When I wanted to show you My glory at the burning bush, you did not want to see it, as it is stated: “And Moses concealed his face, fearing to gaze upon God” (Exodus 3:6). But now that you want to see My glory, as you said: “Show me Your glory,” I do not want to show it to you. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa interprets Moses’ initial refusal to look upon God’s glory negatively, as he rebuffed God’s desire to be close to him. This disagrees with that which Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said, as Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: Specifically as a reward for three acts of humility in averting his glance at the burning bush, Moses was privileged to experience three great revelations: Because “Moses concealed his face, fearing to gaze upon God” (Exodus 3:6), he was privileged to have his countenance [kelaster] glow.
Because he “feared,” he was privileged that “they feared to approach him” (Exodus 34:30).
Because he did not “gaze,” he was privileged to “behold the likeness of the Lord” (Numbers 12:8). What did Moses see? It is said: “And I will remove My hand, and you will see My back, but My face you will not see” (Exodus 33:23). Rav Ḥana bar Bizna said in the name of Rabbi Shimon Ḥasida, the expression: “And you will see My back,” should be understood as follows: This teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, Who, as mentioned above, wears phylacteries, showed him the knot of the phylacteries of His head, which is worn on the back of the head. On this subject, Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei: Every statement to a person or to a nation that emerged from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed be He, with a promise of good, even if it was conditional, He did not renege on it. Ultimately, every promise made by God will be fulfilled. From where do we derive that all of God’s promises are fulfilled? We know this from Moses our teacher, as God promised and said: “Leave Me alone; I will destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make from you a nation mightier and greater than they” (Deuteronomy 9:14). Even though Moses prayed to have the decree repealed, and it was nullified, the promise was fulfilled and Moses’ descendants became a nation mightier and greater than the 600,000 Israelites in the desert. As it is stated with regard to the Levites: “The sons of Moses: Gershom and Eliezer…and the sons of Eliezer were Reḥaviya the chief. And Eliezer had no other sons; and the sons of Reḥaviya were very many” (I Chronicles 23:15–17). And Rav Yosef taught in a baraita: “Many” means more than 600,000. This is learned through a verbal analogy between the words many and many. It is written here with regard to Reḥaviya’s sons: “Were very many.” And it is written there with regard to the Israelites in Egypt: “And the children of Israel became numerous and multiplied and were very many, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them” (Exodus 1:7). Just as when the children of Israel were in Egypt, very many meant that there were 600,000 of them, so too the descendants of Reḥaviya were 600,000.
Until now, the Gemara has cited statements made by Rabbi Yoḥanan in the name of the tanna, Rabbi Yosei. Now, the Gemara begins to cite what Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: From the day that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the world there was no person who called him “Lord” until Abraham came and called him Lord. As it is stated: “And he said, ‘My Lord, God, by what shall I know that I will inherit it?’” (Genesis 15:8). The Gemara cites another statement extolling that virtue of Abraham is mentioned, as Rav said: Even Daniel’s prayers were only answered on account of Abraham, as it is stated: “And now listen, God, to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication; and cause Your face to shine upon Your desolate Temple, for the sake of the Lord” (Daniel 9:17). The verse should have said: And cause Your face to shine upon Your desolate Temple, for Your sake, as Daniel was addressing the Lord. Rather, this verse contains an allusion that the prayer should be accepted for the sake of Abraham, who called You, Lord. Daniel utilized that name of God in order to evoke Abraham’s virtue and enhance his prayer. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: From where is it derived that one must not placate a person while the person in the throes of his anger? As it is stated: “My face will go, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: From the day the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the world, no one thanked the Holy One, Blessed be He, until Leah came and thanked Him, as it is stated: “And she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and she said, ‘This time I will give thanks to God,’ and thus he was called Judah” (Genesis 29:35). Tangential to the mention of Leah’s son, Judah, and the reason for his name, the Gemara explains the sources for other names, including Reuben. Rabbi Elazar said: Reuben’s name should be considered a prophecy by Leah, as Leah said: See [re’u] the difference between my son [beni] and the son of my father-in-law, Esau, son of Isaac. Even though Esau knowingly sold his birthright to his brother Jacob, as it is written: “And he sold his birthright to Jacob” (Genesis 25:33), nonetheless, behold what is written about him: “And Esau hated Jacob” (Genesis 27:41). Esau was not only angry over Isaac’s blessing, but he was angry about another matter as well, as it is written: “And he said, ‘Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me twice? He took my birthright, and behold, now he has taken my blessing’” (Genesis 27:36). Despite having sold his birthright, he refused to relinquish it. While my son, Reuben, even though Joseph took his birthright from him by force, as it is written: “And the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, for he was the firstborn; but, since he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, son of Israel” (I Chronicles 5:1). Nevertheless, he was not jealous of him, as it is written when Joseph’s brothers sought to kill him: “And Reuben heard and he saved him from their hands, saying ‘Let us not take his life’” (Genesis 37:21). Continuing on the topic of names, the Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the name Ruth? Rabbi Yoḥanan said: That she had the privilege that David, who inundated the Holy One, Blessed be He, with songs and praises, would descend from her. The name Ruth [Rut] is etymologically similar in Hebrew to the word inundate [riva]. Regarding the basic assumption that these homiletic interpretations of names are allusions to one’s future, the Gemara asks: From where do we derive that the name affects one’s life? Rabbi Eliezer said that the verse says: “Go, see the works of the Lord, who has made desolations [shamot] upon the earth” (Psalms 46:9). Do not read the word as shamot, rather as shemot, names. The names given to people are, therefore, “the works of the Lord upon the earth.” And Rabbi Yoḥanan said other aggadic statements in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: The existence of wayward children in a person’s home is more troublesome than the war of Gog and Magog, the ultimate war, the climax of the travails of Messianic times. As it is stated: “A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son, Absalom” (Psalms 3:1). And it is written thereafter: “Lord, how numerous are my enemies, many have risen against me” (Psalms 3:2). While concerning the war of Gog and Magog, which is alluded to in the second chapter of Psalms, it is written: “Why are the nations in an uproar? And why do the peoples speak for naught? The kings of the earth stand up and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed…He that sits in heaven laughs, the Lord mocks them” (Psalms 2:1–4). Yet in this chapter describing the war of Gog and Magog “how numerous are my enemies” is not written, as it is not as difficult as raising a wayward son like Absalom. Regarding the opening phrase of the psalm, which serves as its title, the Gemara wonders: It is said: “A Psalm of David, when fleeing his son, Absalom.” A Psalm of David? It should have said: A lament of David. Rabbi Shimon ben Avishalom said a parable: To what is this similar? It is similar to a person about whom a promissory note was issued stating that he must repay a debt to the lender. Before he repaid it, he was despondent, worried how he will manage to repay the debt. After he repaid it, he was glad. So too was the case with David. When the Holy One, Blessed be He, told him, through Natan the prophet, after the incident with Bathsheba, “Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your house” (II Samuel 12:11), David was despondent. He said: Perhaps it will be a slave or a mamzer who will rise up in my house, a person of such lowly status, who will have no pity on me. But once David saw that Absalom was the one through whom the prophecy was to be fulfilled, he rejoiced, as he was certain that Absalom would show him mercy. That is why David said a psalm, not a lament, thanking God for punishing him in the least severe manner possible. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: One is permitted to provoke the wicked in this world. Though the ways of the wicked prosper, one is still permitted to provoke them and need not fear (Maharsha), as it is stated: “Those who abandon the Torah will praise wickedness, and the keepers of the Torah will fight them” (Proverbs 28:4). That statement was also taught in a baraita, as Rabbi Dostai, son of Rabbi Matun, says: One is permitted to provoke the wicked in this world, as it is stated: “Those who abandon the Torah will praise wickedness, and the keepers of the Torah will fight them.” And if someone whispered to you, saying, on the contrary, isn’t it also written: “Do not compete with evil-doers, and do not envy the unjust” (Psalms 37:1), meaning that one should avoid provoking the wicked, say to him: Only one whose heart strikes him with pangs of conscience over sins that he committed says this. Rather, the true meaning of the verse is: Do not compete with evil-doers, to be like the evil-doers, and do not envy the unjust to be like the unjust. The Gemara cites proof from another verse. And it says: “One shall not envy the unjust, but be in fear of the Lord all the day” (Proverbs 23:17). In this context, to envy means to seek to emulate the unjust. From these verses in Psalms and Proverbs, it would seem that one is encouraged to provoke the wicked. The Gemara asks: Is this so? Didn’t Rabbi Yitzḥak say: If you see a wicked person upon whom the hour is smiling, do not provoke him. As long as he is enjoying good fortune, there is no point in confronting him. As it is stated: “His ways prosper at all times; Your judgments are far beyond him; as for his adversaries, he snorts at them” (Psalms 10:5). The verse teaches us that the ways of the wicked will always succeed. And not only that, but he emerges victorious in judgment, as it is stated: “Your judgments are far beyond him,” meaning that even when he is brought to justice, it does not affect him. And not only that, but he witnesses his enemies’ downfall, as it is stated: “As for all his adversaries, he snorts at them.” To resolve this contradiction with regard to whether or not one may provoke the wicked, the Gemara offers several explanations: This is not difficult, as it can be understood that this, which says that one may not provoke the wicked, is referring to his personal matters, while that, which says that it is a mitzva to confront them, is referring to matters of Heaven. And if you wish, say instead that this, which says not to confront the wicked and that, which says to confront the wicked, are both referring to matters of Heaven, and, nevertheless, it is not difficult. This, which says that one may not provoke the wicked, is referring to a wicked person upon whom the hour is smiling, who is enjoying good fortune. While that, which says that it is a mitzva to confront them, is referring to a wicked person upon whom the hour is not smiling. And if you wish, say instead that this, which says not to confront and that, which says to confront, are both referring to a wicked person upon whom the hour is smiling, but the question of whether one is permitted to confront him depends on who is confronting him. This, which says that it is a mitzva to confront them, is referring to a completely righteous person, while this, which says that one may not confront the wicked, is referring to one who is not completely righteous, as Rav Huna said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Why do You look on those who deal treacherously and hold Your peace? When the wicked swallows the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13). This verse is difficult to understand. Do the wicked swallow the righteous? Isn’t it written: “The wicked looks to the righteous and seeks to kill him; the Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor allow him to be condemned when he is judged” (Psalms 37:32–33), and it is written: “No mischief shall befall the righteous” (Proverbs 12:21)? Rather, in light of these verses, the verse: “The wicked swallows the man more righteous than he” means: The man who is more righteous than he, but not completely righteous, he swallows. The completely righteous he does not swallow. And if you wish, say: In general, the wicked cannot swallow the righteous, but when the hour is smiling upon him, it is different. When the wicked are enjoying good fortune, even the righteous can be harmed (Birkat Hashem). And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: Setting a fixed place for prayer is so important that one who sets a fixed place for his prayer, his enemies fall beneath him, as it is said: “And I will appoint a place for My nation, Israel, and I will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place.” Through setting aside a place for prayer, they will merit to “be disturbed no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them anymore, as in the beginning” (II Samuel 7:10). This verse, cited by the Gemara, leads to an additional point. Rav Huna raised a contradiction: In the book of Samuel, in this verse it is written: “To afflict them,” while in the parallel verse in I Chronicles (17:9) it is written: “To destroy them.” The Gemara resolves this contradiction: The enemies of Israel intend first to afflict them, and, ultimately, to destroy them entirely. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: Service of Torah is greater than its study, i.e., serving a Torah scholar and spending time in his company is greater than learning Torah from him. Torah study is one component of a Torah life, but one who serves a Torah scholar learns about every aspect of life from his actions. This is derived from the verse that speaks in praise of Elisha, as it is stated: “Here is Elisha son of Shafat, who poured water over Elijah’s hands” (II Kings 3:11). The verse does not say that he learned from Elijah, rather that he poured water, which teaches that the service of Torah represented by Elisha pouring water over Elijah’s hands is greater than its study. As a prelude to another of the statements by Rabbi Yoḥanan in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai, the Gemara relates the following incident. Rabbi Yitzḥak said to Rav Naḥman: Why did the Master not come to the synagogue to pray? Rav Naḥman said to him: I was weak and unable to come. Rabbi Yitzḥak said to him: Let the Master gather ten individuals, a prayer quorum, at your home and pray. Rav Naḥman said to him: It is difficult for me to impose upon the members of the community to come to my home to pray with me (Sefer Mitzvot Gadol). Rabbi Yitzḥak suggested another option: The Master should tell the congregation to send a messenger when the congregation is praying to come and inform the Master so you may pray at the same time. Rav Naḥman saw that Rabbi Yitzḥak was struggling to find a way for him to engage in communal prayer. He asked: What is the reason for all this fuss? Rabbi Yitzḥak said to him: As Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: