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They taught that one may sacrifice the Festival peace-offering on the first Festival day but not on all seven days, as recorded in the baraita on this amud below, only in a case where he did not finish. However, if he finished, he may go back and sacrifice. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the term: Finish, in this context? If we say it means that he finished sacrificing all of his offerings, what is he going back to sacrifice? Rather, it means that if the day did not end and he still has offerings left over, he may not return to sacrifice those on other Festival days. However, if the day ended and he had not finished sacrificing his offerings, he may go back and sacrifice them. This shows that Rabbi Yoḥanan concedes that in these circumstances it is permitted to sacrifice Festival peace-offerings during the remaining days of the Festival. MISHNA: With regard to one who did not celebrate by bringing the Festival peace-offering on the first day of the festival of Sukkot, he may celebrate and bring it during the entire remaining days of the pilgrimage Festival, and even on the final day of the Festival, i.e., on the Eighth Day of Assembly. If the pilgrimage Festival passed and one did not celebrate by bringing the Festival peace-offering, he is not obligated to pay restitution for it. Even if he consecrated an animal for this purpose and it was lost, once the Festival is over he has no obligation to replace it, as he has missed the opportunity for performing this mitzva. And about this it is stated: “That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered” (Ecclesiastes 1:15). Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya says: Who is the crooked that cannot be made straight? This verse is referring to one who engaged in intercourse with a woman forbidden to him and fathered a mamzer with her. This individual is unable to rectify his sin, because the status of the illegitimate child is permanent. And if you say that it is referring to one who steals or robs, although he is crooked he can return what he stole and in this manner his sin will be rectified. Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai says: One calls crooked only someone who was initially straight and subsequently became crooked. And who is this? This is a Torah scholar who leaves his Torah study. Here is an example of something straight that became crooked. GEMARA: The mishna taught that if one did not bring his Festival peace-offering on the first day of the festival of Sukkot, he may bring it even on the Eighth Day of Assembly, despite the fact that it is a separate Festival. The Gemara asks: From where are these matters derived? Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yishmael that this halakha is derived by means of a verbal analogy. It is stated: “Assembly” (Deuteronomy 16:8), with regard to the seventh day of Passover, and it is stated: “Assembly” (Leviticus 23:36), with regard to the eighth day of the festival of Sukkot. Just as there, with regard to Passover, the day of assembly, i.e., the seventh day of Passover, is available for redress, as it is certainly part of the Festival, so too here, in the case of Sukkot, the Eighth Day of Assembly is available for redress. The Gemara adds that the term assembly in each of these contexts is free for this verbal analogy, i.e., it is superfluous in both contexts. As, if it is not free the verbal analogy can be refuted, because each context in which the term appears contains features that do not apply to the other one. What can one say about the seventh day of Passover? That it is not distinct from the days preceding it with regard to the Festival offerings and the prohibition against eating leavened bread. Can you say the same with regard to the eighth day of the festival of Sukkot, which is distinct from the days preceding it, i.e., that the Eighth Day of Assembly does not involve the same mitzvot as the festival of Sukkot? However, this is not so [la’ei], as the term assembly is certainly free. Now, what is the meaning of: “assembly [atzeret]”? It means that one is stopped [atzur], i.e., prohibited, from performing labor. But isn’t it already written: “You shall not perform labor” (Deuteronomy 16:8)? Why then do I need this term atzeret that the Merciful One writes? Rather, learn from here that it is free for the verbal analogy. The Gemara comments: And a tanna cites proof from here, as it is taught in a baraita with regard to a verse that deals with the festival of Sukkot: “And you shall keep it a feast to the Lord seven days” (Leviticus 23:41). One might have thought that one may continue to celebrate by bringing the Festival peace-offering all seven days of the Festival. Therefore, the verse states: “It,” which teaches: It, i.e., the first day of the Festival, you shall celebrate with these offerings, and you may not celebrate all seven days. If so, why is “seven” stated? For redress, i.e., if one failed to bring an offering on the first day he may do so all seven days. And from where is it derived that if one did not celebrate by bringing the Festival peace-offering on the first day of the festival of Sukkot that he may continue to celebrate throughout the pilgrimage Festival and even on the last festival day of Sukkot, which is the Eighth Day of Assembly? The verse states: “You shall keep it in the seventh month” (Leviticus 23:41), which indicates that one may bring the Festival offerings even after the seven days of the Festival. If the verse said only: “In the seventh month,” one might have thought that one may continue to celebrate by bringing the offering at any time during the rest of the entire month. Therefore, the verse states: “It,” indicating that you celebrate it, i.e., any of the Festival days, and you may not celebrate outside of these days. § The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the concept of redress mentioned in the baraita? The Gemara answers that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The other days are redress for the first day. If one did not bring the Festival offering on the first day, he may still do so on the remaining days of the Festival. And Rabbi Oshaya said: The days are redress for one another. Each day can be considered the main day of obligation, i.e., if one did not bring the offering on the first available day he may do so on the remaining days. The Gemara asks: What is the practical difference between these two explanations? Rabbi Zeira said: The practical difference between them is in a case of one who was lame on the first day of the Festival and was healed on the second day. Rabbi Yoḥanan said that the other days are redress for the first day; since he was not fit, i.e., was not qualified to sacrifice his offerings on the first day, he is not fit to do so even on the second, as the second day is redress for the first. The second day is not for those who were completely exempt on the first, but for those who were obligated to sacrifice but neglected to do so. And Rabbi Oshaya said that the days are redress for one another. Consequently, even though he was not fit to bring the offering on the first day, he is fit to do so on the second. Since a separate obligation applies on each day, even if one was unfit to bring the offering on the first day he must do so when he becomes fit. The Gemara asks: And did Rabbi Yoḥanan actually say this? Rabbi Yoḥanan was involved in a dispute with regard to a nazirite. A nazirite who becomes ritually impure as a result of contact with a corpse must undergo a seven-day process of ritual purification, after which he must bring a set of offerings and restart counting the days of his nazirite period. Usually, a nazirite may bring one set of offerings even for many occurrences of ritual impurity. However, if he came into contact with a corpse for a second time on the eighth day after he first became ritually impure he must bring two sets of offerings, as the second impurity occurred at a time when he could have begun counting the days of his nazirite vow again. The amora’im dispute the details of this halakha. The Gemara continues. Didn’t Ḥizkiya say that if a nazirite became ritually impure on the eighth day itself, he brings a second set of offerings? However, if he became ritually impure on the previous night he does not bring an additional set of offerings, because he could not have brought the offering at night. Although seven complete days have passed, as he did not yet have the opportunity to bring the offering, it is as though his seven days were not yet complete. Consequently, he may still bring one set of offerings for the two instances of ritual impurity. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Even if the nazirite became ritually impure on the night on which the eighth day begins, he also brings a second set of offerings. Rabbi Yoḥanan maintains that this nazirite is effectively ready to begin counting the days of his vow again, as only the technicality that one may not bring offerings at night prevents him from doing so. This shows that according to the opinion of Rabbi Yoḥanan, even when one is incapable of sacrificing his offerings, his obligation remains intact. So too, in the case of a lame person, his obligation to bring the Festival offering applies in theory even on the first day, which means that he should be able to bring the offerings at a later date during the Festival. Rabbi Yirmeya said: The case of one who cannot bring an offering due to ritual impurity is different. He is not completely disqualified, as there is redress for ritual purity. This can be demonstrated from the halakha of the second Pesaḥ. Just as one who is ritually impure and may not sacrifice the Paschal offering has the opportunity to redress the situation by means of the second Pesaḥ, so too, anyone who cannot bring an offering due to impurity may redress this at a later date. Rav Pappa strongly objects to this reasoning: This works out well according to the one who said that the second Pesaḥ
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is redress for the first Paschal offering. According to this opinion, it is clear that ritual impurity does not nullify one’s obligation. However, according to the one who said that the second Pesaḥ is a separate pilgrimage Festival, established for those who were unable to sacrifice the Paschal offering at the proper time, what is there to say? In that case, Rav Yirmeya’s answer does not apply, and therefore it remains unclear that Rabbi Yoḥanan holds that one who is not obligated in the Festival offerings on the first day is exempt during the remaining days. Rather, Rav Pappa said: Rabbi Yoḥanan holds that night is not considered part of a date whose time has not yet arrived. Although one may not sacrifice offerings at night, the date itself has arrived and his period of impurity is complete, which is why any further impurity requires a second set of offerings. Consequently, Rabbi Yoḥanan’s opinion with regard to a lame person does not contradict his ruling concerning a nazirite. The Gemara asks: And did Rabbi Yoḥanan actually say this, that night is not considered part of a date whose time has not yet arrived? But didn’t Rabbi Yoḥanan say: A zav at the end of his seven-day purification process who saw that he experienced one emission at night and then two in the day brings additional offerings for the second impurity? Had he experienced the emissions before he became ritually pure, he would have been required to bring only one set of offerings. However, once his purification is complete he must bring a separate set. In this case, the first emission occurred before he was able to sacrifice the offerings for his initial period of impurity. Nevertheless, as the two subsequent sightings occurred during the day, and they alone would suffice to confer upon him the status of a zav, they combine with the one from the previous night and he is required to bring new offerings. However, if he saw two emissions at night and one in the day, he does not bring additional offerings, because at night he could not yet sacrifice the offerings owed due to his current status, and without those two new sightings he would not become a zav again. And if it enters your mind that Rabbi Yoḥanan holds that night is not considered a date whose time has not yet arrived, then even in the case where he saw two emissions at night and one in the day he should have to bring another set of offerings. He already reached the date of sacrificing the previous offerings before these new emissions occurred. This indicates that Rabbi Yoḥanan holds that night is considered part of a date whose time has not yet arrived. The Gemara answers: When Rabbi Yoḥanan said this statement, he spoke according to the one who says that night is considered part of a date whose time has not yet arrived. However, he himself maintains that even if a zav saw all three emissions at night he must bring another offering. The Gemara asks: If he spoke only according to the one who says that opinion, it is obvious that no new offerings are required; what novel idea did Rabbi Yoḥanan intend to express? The Gemara answers: Nevertheless, it was necessary for him to teach the case of a zav who saw two in the day and one at night. The Gemara elaborates: It was necessary for Rabbi Yoḥanan to say this, lest it enter your mind to say in the manner of the strong objection of Rav Sheisha, son of Rav Idi (see Keritot 8a), who holds that there is no reason to distinguish between a zav seeing one or two emissions at night. Therefore, Rabbi Yoḥanan teaches us that the halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rav Yosef, that the first sighting confers merely the status of ritual impurity of one who has a seminal emission, and he is not yet classified as a zav. Consequently, there is a difference between one who experienced one emission at night and one who experienced two. § The mishna taught that if the pilgrimage Festival passed and one did not celebrate it by sacrificing a Festival peace-offering, he is not obligated to pay restitution for it. And about this it is stated: “That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered” (Ecclesiastes 1:15). The Sage bar Hei Hei said to Hillel that if this is the correct interpretation of the verse, this term: “Be numbered [lehimanot]” is apparently inappropriate. It should have said: Be filled. Rather, this verse is referring to one whose friends reached a consensus [manuhu] with regard to a matter of a mitzva and he was not part of their consensus, and therefore he missed his opportunity to join them in the performance of the mitzva. This explanation is also taught in a baraita. The meaning of the verse “That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered” is as follows: “That which is crooked cannot be made straight” is referring to one who omitted the recitation of the morning Shema or the recitation of the evening Shema, or who omitted the morning prayer or the evening prayer. “And that which is wanting cannot be numbered” is referring to one whose friends reached a consensus with regard to a matter of a mitzva and he was not part of their consensus. The Gemara records another discussion between bar Hei Hei and Hillel. Bar Hei Hei said to Hillel: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between he who serves God and he who does not serve Him” (Malachi 3:18). There are two redundancies here: “The righteous” is the same as “he who serves God,” and “the wicked” is the same as “he who does not serve Him.” Hillel said to him: The one “who serves Him” and the one “who does not serve Him” are both referring to completely righteous people. But the verse is hinting at a distinction between them, as one who reviews his studies one hundred times is not comparable to one who reviews his studies one hundred and one times. Bar Hei Hei said to him: And due to one extra time that he did not review, the verse calls him a person “who does not serve Him”? He said to him: Yes. Go and learn from the market of donkey drivers. One can hire a driver to travel up to ten parasangs for one dinar. However, he will travel eleven parasangs only for two dinars. This shows that any departure beyond the norm is considered a significant difference. The Gemara relates that Elijah the Prophet said to bar Hei Hei, and some say that he said this to Rabbi Elazar: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction [oni]” (Isaiah 48:10)? This teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, sought after all good character traits to impart them to the Jewish people, and He found only poverty [aniyut] capable of preventing them from sin. Shmuel said, and some say it was Rav Yosef: This explains the folk saying that people say: Poverty is good for the Jewish people like a red bridle [barza] for a white horse. Just as a red bridle accentuates the white color of the horse, so the challenge of poverty draws out the purity of the Jewish people. § The mishna taught that Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya says: Who is the crooked that cannot be made straight? This verse is referring to one who engaged in intercourse with a woman forbidden to him and fathered a mamzer with her. The Gemara infers from the mishna: If he fathers a child, yes, this verse applies, as he cannot remedy the situation; if he does not father a child, no, the verse does not apply, as he can make amends. The Gemara asks: Isn’t it taught in a baraita that Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya says: If a person steals it is possible that he might return his stolen property and be made straight; if a person robs from another it is possible that he might return his robbed property and be made straight. However, one who has sexual relations with a married woman with her consent and thereby renders her forbidden to her husband is banished from the world and passes away. There is no way for him to rectify the situation and achieve atonement, because a married woman who willingly has sexual relations with another man is permanently forbidden to her husband. Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai says: Someone who wants to examine an animal for blemishes to bring it as an offering does not say: Inspect the camel, or: Inspect the pig, as these are inherently disqualified for the altar. Rather, he says: Inspect the lamb. Similarly, the term: “Crooked,” applies only to one who was previously straight. And who is this? This is a Torah scholar who leaves his Torah study. Rabbi Yehuda ben Lakish said: Any Torah scholar who leaves the Torah, about him the verse says: “As a bird that wanders from her nest, so is a man who wanders from his place” (Proverbs 27:8). And it says: “What unrighteousness have your fathers found in Me, that they are gone far from Me?” (Jeremiah 2:5). This indicates that the punishment is greater for one who was close to God and became distant from Him. In any case, there is a contradiction here, as in the mishna Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya says that the act of one who fathers an illegitimate child is crooked and cannot be straightened, whereas in the baraita he says the same applies to anyone who has forbidden sexual relations, regardless of whether or not he fathers a child. The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. Here, the mishna is dealing with a case where he had forbidden sexual relations with his unmarried sister. Although the intercourse itself is a severe sin, if he does not sire a child it can be rectified through repentance. There, in the baraita, it is referring to a case where he sinned with a married woman, causing irreparable damage to her marriage. And if you wish, say instead: This and that are both referring to a married woman. And it is not difficult. Here, the mishna is dealing
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with a rape, in which case it is not prohibited for the woman to return to her husband. There, it is referring to a woman who had relations willfully, and therefore she is forbidden to her husband. And if you wish, say that this and that are both dealing with a rape, and it is still not difficult. Here, where the transgression cannot be rectified, it is referring to one who raped the wife of a priest, as it is forbidden for a priest to have relations with his wife once she has intercourse with any other man, even unwillingly. There, it is referring to one who raped the wife of an Israelite, in which case there is no prohibition against her returning to her husband. Since the Gemara mentioned a Torah scholar who abandons the study of Torah, it cites a relevant verse: “Neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in due to the adversary” (Zechariah 8:10). Rav said: Once a person leaves the study of halakha, i.e., Mishna and Gemara, even for the study of the Torah itself, he will no longer have peace. The verses of the Torah are often obscure and it is difficult to learn halakha directly from them without the aid of the interpretations of the Talmud. And Shmuel said: This is referring to one who leaves the study of Talmud to learn Mishna. Whereas the reasoning of the Talmud is relatively clear, the Mishna cites legal rulings without explaining their reasoning. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The verse applies even to one who leaves the study of one Talmud for the other Talmud, i.e., who leaves off his study of the Jerusalem Talmud to begin the Babylonian Talmud, as he will encounter difficulties with the new style of learning. MISHNA: Incidental to the Festival peace-offering, the mishna describes the nature of various areas of Torah study. The halakhot of the dissolution of vows, when one requests from a Sage to dissolve them, fly in the air and have nothing to support them, as these halakhot are not mentioned explicitly in the Torah. There is only a slight allusion to the dissolution of vows in the Torah, which is taught by the Sages as part of the oral tradition. The halakhot of Shabbat, Festival peace-offerings, and misuse of consecrated property are like mountains suspended by a hair, as they have little written about them in the Torah, and yet the details of their halakhot are numerous. The details of monetary law, sacrificial rites, ritual purity and impurity, and the halakhot of those with whom relations are forbidden all have something to support them, i.e., there is ample basis in the Torah for these halakhot, and these are the essential parts of Torah. GEMARA: It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer said: The halakhot of the dissolution of vows have something to support them, as it is stated: “When a man shall clearly utter a vow” (Leviticus 27:2), and: “When either man or woman shall clearly utter a vow” (Numbers 6:2), i.e., the words “clearly utter” appear twice. One clear utterance is for prohibition, i.e., when one states his intention to accept the vow, and one clear utterance is for dissolution, when he provides the Sage with a reason why the vow should no longer apply. This is an allusion in the Torah to the annulment of vows. Rabbi Yehoshua likewise says: These halakhot have something to support them, as it is stated: “Wherefore I swore in My wrath” (Psalms 95:11), meaning: In my wrath I swore, and I retracted. This is the basis for the dissolution of vows, in which the one who uttered the vow tells the Sage that he regrets it, as he did so in a moment of anger. Rabbi Yitzḥak says: These halakhot have something to support them, as it is stated: “Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it” (Exodus 35:5). This verse indicates that as long as one retains the same desire to fulfill the vow, he must continue to fulfill it, but if he regrets taking the vow he may arrange for it to be dissolved. Ḥananya, son of Rabbi Yehoshua’s brother, also says: They have something to support them, as it is stated: “I have sworn, and have fulfilled it, to observe your righteous ordinances” (Psalms 119:106). This verse indicates that certain oaths need not be fulfilled, i.e., those that have been dissolved. Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: If I had been there, sitting with those Sages, I would have said to them: My source is better than yours, as it is stated: “He shall not nullify his word” (Numbers 30:3), from which it may be inferred: He himself cannot nullify his word; however, others, i.e., a Sage, may nullify it for him by dissolving his vow. Rava said: For all of the suggested sources for the dissolution of vows there is a possible refutation, except for that of Shmuel, for which there is no refutation. Rava elaborates. As, if it is derived from the statement of Rabbi Eliezer, perhaps the phrase: “Clearly utter” should be understood in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, who said an alternative interpretation in the name of Rabbi Tarfon. As it is taught in a baraita with regard to two people who are arguing whether or not someone who passed before them is a nazirite, each of them declaring that if he is correct he himself will become a nazirite, Rabbi Yehuda says in the name of Rabbi Tarfon: Actually, neither of them is a nazirite, as naziriteship is effected only by means of a clear utterance and neither party is certain they will be a nazirite at the time of their utterance. He derives this halakha from this phrase: “Clearly utter.” Similarly, if it is derived from the statement of Rabbi Yehoshua, perhaps this is what the verse is saying: In my wrath I swore and I do not take it back, despite the fact that it was stated in a moment of anger. If it is derived from the statement of Rabbi Yitzḥak, perhaps the phrase “a willing heart” comes to exclude the statement of Shmuel, as Shmuel said: If one decided in his heart but did not verbalize a vow, it is insufficient, as he must verbally express it. And therefore this phrase teaches us that even though he did not verbally express the vow he is still obligated to fulfill it. Finally, if it is derived from the statement of Rabbi Ḥananya, son of Rabbi Yehoshua’s brother, perhaps the phrase “and fulfilled it” should be explained in accordance with the opinion of Rav Giddel, who said that Rav said a different interpretation of this verse. As Rav Giddel said that Rav said: From where is it derived that although one is already obligated to fulfill all mitzvot one may take an oath to fulfill a mitzva, and this is not considered an oath taken in vain? As it is stated: “I have sworn, and have fulfilled it, to observe Your righteous ordinances” (Psalms 119:106). Rav concludes. However, for Shmuel’s source there is no refutation. Rava said, and some say it was Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak who said: This explains the folk saying that people say: One spicy pepper is better than a basketful of squash, as the single pepper has more flavor than all the squash combined. § The mishna stated that the halakhot of Shabbat are like mountains suspended by a hair. The Gemara asks: But the halakhot of Shabbat are written, i.e., the prohibition against performing labor is explicit in the Torah. The Gemara answers: No, it is necessary to say this in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Abba. As Rabbi Abba said: One who digs a hole on Shabbat only because he needs its dirt and not for the hole itself is exempt from liability for that act, as this is not the labor of digging prohibited on Shabbat by Torah law. The Gemara asks: In accordance with whose opinion did Rabbi Abba issue this ruling? It is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Shimon, who said: One who performs on Shabbat a labor that is not necessary for its own sake, i.e., he performs the labor for a purpose other than the direct result of the action, is exempt from liability for it. The Gemara offers an alternative possibility. This ruling can be explained even if you say that Rabbi Abba holds in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, that one is liable for a labor that is not necessary for its own sake. There, in other cases, Rabbi Yehuda deems one liable because his purpose is creative. Here, where one is digging the hole for the dirt, the purpose is destructive, as the action damages the ground. Therefore, Rabbi Yehuda concedes that in this case he is exempt. The Gemara returns to the mishna. What then does the mishna mean by the phrase: Like mountains suspended by a hair?
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The Gemara answers: The Torah prohibited only planned, creative labor on Shabbat. An act of labor that is not intended, or whose result is unintended, or whose consequence is destructive, is not included in this category. Therefore, one who performs labor in this manner is exempt. And limitation of the prohibition against creative labor is not written anywhere in the Torah with regard to the laws of Shabbat. Admittedly, this principle is written in connection with the Tabernacle, and there is an established exegetical link between the building of the Tabernacle and Shabbat. Nevertheless, as this fundamental principle concerning the halakhot of Shabbat does not appear explicitly, it is compared to mountains suspended by a hair. § The mishna taught that the halakhot of Festival peace-offerings are like mountains suspended by a hair. The Gemara asks: But they are written in the Torah. The Gemara answers: No, it is necessary to say this in accordance with that which Rav Pappa said to Abaye: From where is it derived that this verse: “And you shall celebrate it as a Festival [veḥagotem] to the Lord” (Leviticus 23:41), is referring to an animal offering? Perhaps the Merciful One is simply saying: Celebrate a Festival. Abaye responded: However, if that is so, consider that it is written: “Let My people go, that they may hold a feast [veyaḥogu] to Me in the wilderness” (Exodus 5:1). So too, the meaning of this verse is that they will merely celebrate a Festival, and not bring an offering. And if you would say that is indeed so, that this means that they should celebrate a Festival, but isn’t it written: “And Moses said: You must also give into our hand sacrifices and burnt-offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God” (Exodus 10:25)? This shows that the command is referring to offerings. The Gemara raises a difficulty. But perhaps this is what the Merciful One said: Slaughter animals so that you can eat, drink, and celebrate a Festival before Me, but no offerings are necessary. The Gemara answers: This cannot enter your mind, as it is written: “The fat of My Festival feast [ḥagi] shall not remain all night until the morning” (Exodus 23:18). And if it enters your mind to say that it is referring to a regular Festival feast and not an offering, does a Festival feast have forbidden fats? The Gemara asks: But perhaps this is what the Merciful One states in the Torah: The fats of gift offerings that are brought during a Festival may not remain all night. If so, the phrase “My Festival feast” is not referring to a type of offering at all, but to a particular time. The Gemara answers: However, if that is so, this verse indicates that it is only those fats that are brought during a Festival that may not remain overnight. It may be inferred from here that fats which are brought throughout the year may remain all night. But it is written about burnt-offerings: “On its firewood upon the altar all night into the morning” (Leviticus 6:2). This shows that burnt-offerings must burn upon the altar all night. The Gemara further asks: Perhaps if this halakha was derived from that verse, I would say that verse serves as the source of a positive mitzva. Therefore, the Merciful One writes this verse: “Shall not remain all night,” as a prohibition as well. The Gemara responds. With regard to the prohibition against leaving over an offering on a Festival, another verse was written: “Neither shall any of the flesh, which you sacrifice the first day at evening, remain all night until the morning” (Deuteronomy 16:4). The Gemara asks: But perhaps the verse: “Shall not remain all night” comes to teach that one who does so violates two prohibitions and a positive mitzva. Rather, the Gemara rejects this explanation in favor of the claim that the source for a Festival peace-offering comes from a verbal analogy between the term “wilderness” stated here and the term: “wilderness” stated elsewhere. It is written here: “They shall make an offering to Me in the wilderness” (Exodus 5:1), and it is written there: “Did you bring to Me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the wilderness, house of Israel?” (Amos 5:25). Just as there it is referring to actual animal offerings, so too here, it is referring to animal offerings, not merely the celebration of a Festival. The Gemara asks: And in light of this verbal analogy, in what way is this halakha like mountains suspended by a hair? The Gemara answers: The textual evidence is not that strong, as generally one does not derive Torah matters from texts of the tradition, i.e., Prophets and Writings. Since the prophets were not permitted to introduce new halakhot, as the Torah is the only authoritative source in that regard, this verbal analogy does not carry the same weight as a halakha derived from the Torah itself. § The mishna taught that the details of the halakhot of misuse of consecrated property are like mountains suspended by a hair. The Gemara asks: But they are written in the Torah (Leviticus 5:14–16). Rami bar Ḥama said: This statement is necessary only for that which we learned in a mishna (Me’ila 20a): With regard to an agent who performs his agency, e.g., when a homeowner sends someone to buy an object with consecrated money and the agent does as he was instructed, the homeowner has misused consecrated property and must bring an offering for the actions of the agent performed on his behalf. However, if the agent did not perform his agency, but in some way acted on his own account, the agent has misused consecrated property, and he is the one obligated to bring the offering. The Gemara explains: And when he performed his agency, why is the owner considered to have misused consecrated property? And is it possible that this one sins and that one is rendered liable? Since this halakha is counterintuitive, it is not apparent from the verses. This is what the mishna was referring to when it said that these halakhot are like mountains suspended by a hair. Rava said: And what is the logical difficulty with this halakha? Perhaps the transgression of misuse of consecrated property is different, as it is derived through a verbal analogy from the parallel term “sin” (Leviticus 5:6) and “sin” (Numbers 18:9), from the case of teruma: Just as there, with regard to teruma, the legal status of a person’s agent is like that of himself, and therefore the agent may separate teruma on behalf of the owner of the produce, so too here, with regard to misuse of consecrated property, the legal status of a person’s agent is like that of himself, which means that when the agent properly performs his agency the owner is liable. Rather, Rava said: The mishna’s statement with regard to mountains is necessary only for that which is taught in a baraita: If, after he sent an agent to use a consecrated object, the homeowner remembered that it was a consecrated item and the agent did not remember, the agent has misused consecrated property despite the fact that he was merely performing his agency. This is because one is liable for the misuse of consecrated property only if he acted unwittingly. In this instance, what did the poor agent do? He simply performed his agency on behalf of the owner, and yet because the owner remembered about the consecrated object, the agent is liable. This is what the mishna is referring to when it says that these halakhot are like mountains suspended by a hair. Rav Ashi said: And what is the logical difficulty with this halakha? Perhaps this is just as it is with regard to one who spends consecrated money for non-sacred purposes. Although this individual did not know that the money was consecrated, he is nevertheless obligated to bring an offering. Here too, once the owner canceled the agency upon realizing the money was consecrated, the agent unwittingly misused consecrated property, and therefore he is liable. Rather, Rav Ashi said: The mishna is necessary only for that which we learned in a mishna (Me’ila 19b): If one picked up a consecrated stone or beam, he has not misused consecrated property merely by this action. However, if he gave it to another, he has misused consecrated property and the other person has not misused consecrated property. The Gemara analyzes this case: Since he picked it up, what difference is there to me if he keeps it, and what difference is there to me if he gives it to another? What is the basis for the distinction between the two cases? Rather, this is the case the mishna is referring to when it says that these halakhot are like mountains suspended by a hair. The Gemara raises a difficulty. What is the logical difficulty with this halakha? Perhaps it should be explained in accordance with the opinion of Shmuel, as Shmuel said: Here, this mishna is not referring to an ordinary person who picked up a consecrated stone for himself.
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Rather, we are dealing with the treasurer of the Temple, to whom the consecrated building stones were transferred for safekeeping. The reason for the exemption is that anywhere that the stone is resting, it is considered to be resting within his domain. Consequently, he is not liable for picking up the stone or beam, as he is permitted to carry it. However, he does not have permission to give it to someone else, and therefore when he hands it over to someone else he has misused consecrated property. If so, this halakha is also perfectly logical and should not be considered like mountains suspended by a hair. Rather, the comparison of these halakhot to mountains suspended by a hair is based on the latter clause of that same mishna: If he built the stone into his house, he has not misused consecrated property until he dwells under it an amount of time that is worth a peruta. Since he has changed the stone by incorporating it into his house, what difference is there to me if he dwelt there, and what difference is there to me if he did not dwell there? Apparently, this is the halakha considered like mountains suspended by a hair. The Gemara rejects this claim. And what is the logical difficulty with this halakha? Perhaps it is stated in accordance with the opinion of Rav. As Rav said: This mishna is referring to a case where he placed the stone over a window, but he did not make any adjustment to the stone itself. If he dwelt in the house, yes, he has misused consecrated property, as he derived benefit from it. If he did not dwell in it, no, he has not misused consecrated property, as he gained no benefit from the stone. Rather, the reason is actually in accordance with the aforementioned opinion of Rava, who holds that the innovative element of this halakha involves a case where the homeowner remembered, which caused the agent to misuse consecrated property. And with regard to that which posed a difficulty for you, i.e., that the halakha here should be just as it is with regard to one who spends consecrated money for non-sacred purposes, the two cases are not identical. There, in the case that Rava mentioned, the agent knew that he also had consecrated coins and therefore he should have examined carefully whether this money was consecrated. Here, did the agent know that there was a possibility that the money was consecrated? This is why this halakha is like mountains suspended by a hair. § The mishna explained that those matters that are like mountains suspended by a hair have little written about them in the Torah, and yet the details of their halakhot are numerous. A Sage taught in the Tosefta: The halakhot of leprosy and the halakhot of ritual impurity imparted by tents in which a corpse lies have little in the Torah and their halakhot are numerous. The Gemara asks: With regard to leprosy, is there little about their halakhot in the Torah? Leprosy is something about which there are numerous details stated in the Torah (see Leviticus, chapters 13–14). Rav Pappa said that this is what the mishna is saying: Leprosy has numerous details in the Torah but relatively few halakhot. In contrast, the case of ritual impurity imparted by tents has little in the Torah but numerous halakhot. The Gemara asks: And what is the practical difference whether there are numerous or few references to a particular halakha in the Torah? The Gemara answers: If you are uncertain about a matter with regard to the halakhot of leprosy, delve into the verses, as it is treated extensively there. And if you are uncertain about a matter with regard to the halakhot of the ritual impurity imparted by tents, delve into the Mishna, as these halakhot are not sufficiently explicated in the Torah. § The mishna taught that monetary law is one of those matters that have something to support them in the Torah. The Gemara asks: Monetary laws are written in the Torah; why does the mishna merely say it has something to support it? The Gemara answers: This is necessary only according to the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. The Gemara elaborates. As it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: “But if any harm follow, then you shall give life for life” (Exodus 21:23). This verse is referring to a payment of money. Do you say money, or perhaps it is solely an actual life that is demanded? The term giving is stated below: “You shall give life for life,” and giving is stated above, in the previous verse: “And he shall give as the judges determine” (Exodus 21:22). Just as there, the giving is in the form of money, so too here, it is referring to a payment of money. Although this halakha is not explicit in the Torah, the verses lend support to it. § The mishna stated that the halakhot of sacrificial rites have something to support them. The Gemara asks: Sacrificial rites are written explicitly in the Torah. The Gemara answers: It is necessary to state that sacrificial rites have merely something to support them only with regard to the rite of carrying the blood to the altar. As it is taught in a baraita: “And Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall offer the blood” (Leviticus 1:5); this is referring to collecting the blood, which is the stage before carrying the blood to the altar. And the Merciful One expressed collecting the blood in the language of carrying, i.e., by means of the term offer. As it is written: “And the priest shall offer the whole, and make it smoke upon the altar” (Leviticus 1:13). And the Master said that this term, “offer,” is not referring to sacrificing on the altar, as that is expressed by the phrase: “Make it smoke upon the altar.” Rather, this is referring to carrying the limbs to the ramp next to the altar, from where it is placed on the altar itself. Evidently, the Torah is referring to collecting the blood with the same terminology it used when referring to carrying. That is to say that carrying should not be excluded from the category of collecting. In other words, all the halakhot that pertain to collecting the blood of offerings, e.g., that it must be performed by a priest with his right hand, apply equally to carrying the blood. § The mishna further taught that the halakhot of ritual purity have something to support them. The Gemara again asks: But ritual purity is written explicitly in the Torah. The Gemara answers: The observation that the halakhot of ritual purity merely have something to support them is necessary only for the minimum measure of a ritual bath, which is not written explicitly in the Torah. As it is taught in a baraita: “And he shall bathe his flesh in water” (Leviticus 14:9). This means in the water of a ritual bath. And it is stated: “And he shall wash all his flesh in water” (Leviticus 15:16), which indicates that it must contain water in which his whole body can enter. And how much water is this? One cubit by one cubit with a height of three cubits. And the Sages estimated that the measure for ritual bath water is forty se’a. § The mishna stated that the halakhot of ritual impurity also have something to support them. Once again the Gemara asks: Ritual impurity is written explicitly in the Torah. The Gemara answers: This is necessary only with regard to the size of a lentil-bulk from a creeping animal, which is not written. As it is taught in a baraita with regard to a verse that deals with creeping animals: “Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be impure” (Leviticus 11:31). One might have thought that only someone who touches an entire, whole creeping animal becomes ritually impure. The verse states: “And upon whatever any of them falls, when they are dead, it shall be impure” (Leviticus 11:32). “Of them” indicates that this halakha applies even if one comes into contact with a part of them. One might have thought that even some of them suffices to impart impurity. The verse states: “Them,” i.e., all of them. This conclusion apparently contradicts the first ruling. How can this apparent contradiction be resolved? One does not become impure until he touches some of it that is like the whole, i.e., a significant amount. And the Sages estimated this measure as the size of a lentil-bulk. The reason is that in its early stages, the ḥomet, the smallest of these creeping animals, is the size of a lentil-bulk. Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Yehuda, says: The size of a lentil-bulk is that of a lizard’s tail, which is considered a part that is like the whole. The tail of a lizard can be cut off easily, and as it continues to twitch even after it has been cut off, it has the appearance of life. Consequently, it is fitting to label it as a part that is like the whole. § The mishna further taught that the halakhot of those with whom relations are forbidden have something to support them. The Gemara asks: The halakhot of those with whom relations are forbidden are written explicitly in the Torah. The Gemara answers: This is necessary only
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with regard to his daughter born from the woman he raped, which is not written explicitly in the Torah. It is forbidden for this man to have sexual relations with this daughter, despite the fact that she is not the daughter of his wife, as he did not marry her mother. As Rava said: Rabbi Yitzḥak bar Avdimi said to me that this halakha is derived by means of a verbal analogy between the term they [hena], an unusual form of this word, written in one context, and the same term, they, written elsewhere. As it is written: “The nakedness of a woman and her daughter…you shall not take…they [hena] are near kinswomen; it is lewdness” (Leviticus 18:17). And it is written: “The nakedness of your son’s daughter, or of your daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness you shall not uncover; for they [hena] are your own nakedness” (Leviticus 18:10). This indicates that every daughter, even from the rape of a woman who is not one’s wife, is forbidden, just like one’s daughter from his wife. Furthermore, the punishment for this transgression is derived from a verbal analogy between: “It is lewdness [zima]” (Leviticus 18:17), which is written with regard to a woman and her daughter, and the same term “lewdness” that appears elsewhere, as it is stated: “And if a man take with his wife also her mother, it is lewdness [zima]: They shall be burnt with fire, both he and they” (Leviticus 20:14). § The mishna taught: These [hen hen] are the essential parts of the Torah. The Gemara asks: These, the topics mentioned in the mishna, which are not written explicitly but for which there is ample basis in the Torah, yes, they are the essential parts of Torah, whereas those other categories listed in the mishna that are written explicitly, no, they are not essential? Rather, one must say that both these and those [hen vehen] are the essential parts of the Torah. Every part of the Torah is essential, whether or not it is written explicitly. We shall return to you, [chapter of] “All of obligated…” MISHNA: One may not expound the topic of forbidden sexual relations before three or more individuals; nor may one expound the act of Creation and the secrets of the beginning of the world before two or more individuals; nor may one expound by oneself the Design of the Divine Chariot, a mystical teaching with regard to the ways God conducts the world, unless he is wise and understands most matters on his own. The mishna continues in the same vein: Whoever looks at four matters, it would have been better for him had he never entered the world: Anyone who reflects upon what is above the firmament and what is below the earth, what was before Creation, and what will be after the end of the world. And anyone who has no concern for the honor of his Maker, who inquires into and deals with matters not permitted to him, deserves to have never come to the world. GEMARA: The Gemara poses a question: You said in the first clause of the mishna: Nor may one expound the Design of the Divine Chariot by oneself, which indicates that the topic may not be learned at all, and yet you subsequently said: Unless he is wise and understands most things on his own, which indicates that an individual is permitted to study the Design of the Divine Chariot. The Gemara explains: This is what the mishna is saying: One may not expound the topic of forbidden sexual relations before three students, nor the act of Creation before two, nor may one teach the Divine Chariot to one, unless that student was wise and understands on his own. § The Gemara continues to clarify the mishna, which reads: One may not expound the topic of forbidden sexual relations before three individuals. What is the reason for this? If we say it is because it is written: “None of you [ish, ish] shall approach any near of kin to uncover their nakedness” (Leviticus 18:6). Ish, ish, literally means: Man, man. It is understood as an allusion to the number of students permitted to study the topic. This is as it is explained immediately: “Man, man” equals two; “any near of kin to him” is one; and the Merciful One states: “You shall not approach to uncover their nakedness,” which indicates that one may not expound the halakhot of forbidden sexual relations in the presence of three individuals. They ask: If that is so, then what of this verse: “Any man [ish, ish] who curses his God” (Leviticus 24:15), or “Any man [ish, ish] who gives of his seed to the Molekh” (Leviticus 20:2), which is a form of idol worship? In both cases the double expression implies the number two. So too there, will you say that it is prohibited to teach these halakhot before two individuals? The Gemara answers: Rather, those instances of the double expression: Man, man, are required for him, the tanna, in order to include gentiles, who are commanded with regard to blessing, a euphemism for cursing, God, and with regard to idol worship just as Jews are commanded. But if so, this mention of “man, man” in the case of forbidden relations is also required for him to include gentiles, who are commanded with regard to forbidden sexual relations, as Jews are. Rather, the Gemara rejects the previous explanation, and suggests that the prohibition against teaching three is derived from the following verse stated with regard to forbidden sexual relations: “And you shall observe My charge” (Leviticus 18:30), which is explained as follows: “And you shall observe [ushmartem],” in the plural, indicates at least two; “My charge” is one; and the Merciful One states at the conclusion of this verse: “That you do not perform any of these abominable customs” (Leviticus 18:30), indicating that this topic may not be taught to three. The Gemara asks: However, if that is so, then what of that which is written: “And you shall observe the Shabbat” (Exodus 31:14), and “And you shall observe the festival of matzot” (Exodus 12:17), and “And you shall observe the charge of the sacred things” (Numbers 18:5); so too, will you say that none of these subjects may be taught to three? Rather, Rav Ashi said: These scriptural allusions are all unacceptable. What is the meaning of: One may not expound the topic of forbidden sexual relations before three? It means: One may not expound the concealed laws of forbidden sexual relations before three. The prohibition against teaching before three applies to halakhot of forbidden sexual relations that are not explicitly stated in the Torah but are derived by expounding the verses or through analogy. What is the reason? It is due not to a biblical allusion, but rather it is based on logical reasoning: When two students sit before their teacher, one of them is typically involved in a discussion of halakha with his teacher, while the other lends his ear to listen to the teaching. However, if there are three students, one of them is involved in a discussion with his teacher while the other two are engaged in a discussion with one another, and they do not know what their teacher is saying, and may come to render permitted a forbidden relation by following their own reasoning rather than the explanation provided by their teacher. The Gemara raises a difficulty: If so, the entire Torah should likewise be taught only to two individuals, to prevent similar errors. The Gemara answers: The halakha of forbidden sexual relations is different, for the Master said: Robbery and forbidden sexual relations are sins that one’s soul covets and lusts after. Therefore, we are concerned that one who has not properly studied these matters with his teacher will rule leniently for himself. The Gemara asks: If so, robbery should also not be taught to more than two, for this very reason. The Gemara responds: There is a difference between the lust for forbidden sexual relations and the lust for robbery. In the case of those with whom relations are forbidden, his evil inclination is strong whether or not the objects of desire are before him. With regard to robbery, however, if the object presents a direct temptation before him his inclination is strong, but when it is not before him his inclination is not strong, and we are therefore less concerned. § It is taught in the mishna: “Nor the act of Creation before two.” The Gemara poses a question: From where are these matters derived? The Gemara explains: As the Sages taught that the verse states: “For ask now of the days past, which were before you” (Deuteronomy 4:32); since this verse is stated in the singular, it teaches that an individual may ask questions with regard to Creation, i.e., “the days past,” but two may not ask, which indicates that one may teach such matters to only one student. One might have thought that a person may ask questions with regard to matters preceding the creation of the world. Therefore, the continuation of the verse states: “Since the day that God created man upon the earth,” but not earlier. One might have thought that a person may not ask questions with regard to matters that occurred during the six days of Creation before the creation of man. Therefore, the verse states: “For ask now of the days past, which were before you,” indicating that one may inquire about the days preceding the creation of man. One might have thought that a person may ask questions with regard to what is above, what is below, what was before, and what is after the world. Therefore, the same verse states: “From one end of the heavens to the other” (Deuteronomy 4:32), which is explained as follows: With regard to that which is from one end of the heavens to the other, within the boundaries of the world, you may ask, but you may not ask what is above, what is below, what was before, or what is after.
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The Gemara poses a question: Now that it is derived from the phrase “from one end of the heavens to the other,” why do I need the phrase “since the day that God created man upon the earth”? The Gemara answers that this phrase teaches us something else, according to Rabbi Elazar. As Rabbi Elazar said: The height of Adam the first man reached from the ground to the skies, as it is stated: “Since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from one end of the heavens” (Deuteronomy 4:32). When he sinned, the Holy One, Blessed be He, placed His hand upon him and diminished him, as it is stated: “You fashioned me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me” (Psalms 139:5). Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: The size of Adam the first man was from one end of the world to the other, as it is stated: “Since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from one end of the heavens to the other,” which indicates that he spanned the entire length of the world. Once he sinned, the Holy One, Blessed be He, placed His hand upon him and diminished him, as it states: “And laid Your hand upon me.” The Gemara asks: If so, the two parts of the verse contradict each other, since one indicates that his height reached the heavens while the other says it reached the end of the earth. The Gemara answers: Both this and that are one, the same, measure. § The Gemara continues to discuss Creation: Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: Ten things were created on the first day of Creation, and they are as follows: Heaven and earth; tohu and vohu, i.e., unformed and void; light and darkness; wind and water; the length of day and the length of night. All of these are derived from the Torah: Heaven and earth, as it is written: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Tohu and vohu, as it is written: “And the earth was unformed and void [tohu vavohu]” (Genesis 1:2). Light and darkness; darkness, as it is written: “And darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2); light, as it is written: “And God said: Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). Wind and water, as it is written: “And the wind of God hovered over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). The length of day and the length of night, as it is written: “And there was evening, and there was morning, one day” (Genesis 1:5). It was taught in the Tosefta: Tohu is a green line that encompasses the entire world, and from which darkness emerges, as it is stated: “He made darkness His hiding place round about Him” (Psalms 18:12), indicating that a line of darkness surrounds the world. Vohu; these are damp stones submerged in the depths, from which water emerges, as it is stated: “And He shall stretch over it the line of tohu and stones of vohu” (Isaiah 34:11), which demonstrates that tohu is a line and that vohu is referring to stones. The Gemara poses a question: And was light created on the first day? But isn’t it written: “And God set them in the firmament of the heaven” (Genesis 1:17), and it is also written: “And there was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day” (Genesis 1:19), indicating that light was created on the fourth day. The Gemara answers: This should be understood in accordance with Rabbi Elazar, as Rabbi Elazar said: The light that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created on the first day was not that of the sun but a different kind of light, through which man could observe from one end of the world to the other. But when the Holy One, Blessed be He, looked upon the generation of the Flood and the generation of the Dispersion and saw that their ways were corrupt and that they might misuse this light for evil, He arose and concealed it from them, as it is stated: “And from the wicked their light is withheld” (Job 38:15). And for whom did He conceal it? For the righteous people in the future, as it is stated: “And God saw the light, that it was good” (Genesis 1:4), and “good” is referring to none other than the righteous, as it is stated: “Say of the righteous that it shall be good for them, for they shall eat the fruit of their actions” (Isaiah 3:10). When the light saw that it had been concealed for the righteous, it rejoiced, as it is stated: “The light for the righteous shall rejoice” (Proverbs 13:9). The Gemara comments: This is like a dispute between tanna’im: The light that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created on the first day was so profound that man could observe through it from one end of the world to the other; this is the statement of Rabbi Ya’akov. And the Rabbis say: This light is the very same as the lights created on the first day, but they were not suspended in their designated places in the firmament until the fourth day. § Rav Zutra bar Tuvya said that Rav said: The world was created through ten attributes: Through wisdom, through understanding, through knowledge, through strength, through rebuke, through might, through righteousness, through justice, through kindness, and through mercy. Scriptural proof is provided for this statement as follows: It was created through wisdom and through understanding, as it is written: “The Lord founded earth with wisdom, and established the heavens with understanding” (Proverbs 3:19); through knowledge, as it is written: “With His knowledge the depths were broken up” (Proverbs 3:20); through strength and through might, as it is written: “Who by Your strength sets fast the mountains, who is girded about with might” (Psalms 65:7); through rebuke, as it is written: “The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at His rebuke” (Job 26:11); through righteousness and justice, as it is written: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne” (Psalms 89:15); through kindness and mercy, as it is written: “Remember Your mercies, O Lord, and Your kindnesses, for they are from times of old” (Psalms 25:6). And Rav Yehuda said that Rav said, with regard to the same matter: When the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the world, it continued to expand like two balls of a warp, whose cord lengthens as they unravel, until the Holy One, Blessed be He, rebuked it and made it stand still, as it is stated: “The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at His rebuke” (Job 26:11). And this is the same as that which Reish Lakish said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “I am the Almighty God [El Shaddai]” (Genesis 17:1)? It means: I am He Who said to the world “enough [dai],” instructing it to stop expanding. Similarly, Reish Lakish said: When the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the sea, it continued to expand until the Holy One, Blessed be He, rebuked it and made it dry, as it is stated: “He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and desiccates all the rivers” (Nahum 1:4). § Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel dispute the order of Creation, as the Sages taught: Beit Shammai say: The heavens were created first and afterward the earth was created, as it is stated: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), which indicates that heaven came first. And Beit Hillel say: The earth was created first, and heaven after it, as it is stated: “On the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven” (Genesis 2:4). Beit Hillel said to Beit Shammai: According to your words, does a person build a second floor and build the first floor of the house afterward? As it is stated: “It is He Who builds His upper chambers in the heaven, and has founded His vault upon the earth” (Amos 9:6), indicating that the upper floor, heaven, was built above the earth. Beit Shammai said to Beit Hillel: According to your words, does a person make a stool for his feet, and make a seat afterward? As it is stated: “So said the Lord: The heavens are My seat, and the earth My footstool” (Isaiah 66:1). But the Rabbis say: Both this and that were created as one, for it is stated: “Indeed, My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand up together” (Isaiah 48:13), implying that they were created as one. The Gemara asks: And the others, Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel, what, in their opinion, is the meaning of “together”? The Gemara responds: It means that they do not separate from each other. In other words, the term “together” is referring not to the moment of their creation but to the manner of their positioning. The Gemara comments: In any case, the verses contradict each other, as heaven is sometimes mentioned first, while on other occasions earth is listed beforehand. Reish Lakish said: When they were created, He first created the heavens and afterward created the earth, but when He spread them out and fixed them in their places, He spread out the earth and afterward He spread out the heavens. Incidental to the above, the Gemara asks: What is the meaning and source of the word “heaven” [shamayim]? Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: It is an acronym, shesham mayim, meaning: That water is there. It was taught in a baraita: Shamayim means esh umayim, fire and water, which teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, brought them both and combined them together, and made the firmament from them. § The Gemara relates: Rabbi Yishmael asked Rabbi Akiva a question when they were walking along the way. He said to him: You who served Naḥum of Gam Zu for twenty-two years, who would expound and learn that every appearance of the word et in the Torah is meant to teach something, what would he expound from the phrase: “The heaven and the earth” [et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz] (Genesis 1:1)? He said to him: These words should be expounded as follows: Had it stated: In the beginning God created hashamayim veha’aretz, i.e., the heaven and the earth, without the word et, I would have said: Shamayim is the name of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and the same goes for aretz, and the verse would sound as if it meant that God, whose name is Shamayim and Aretz, created the world. Since it states “et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz,” it is clear that these are created objects and that shamayim means the actual heaven and aretz is the actual earth. It is for this reason that the word et is necessary.
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Why do I need “and the earth” [et ha’aretz]? To teach that heaven preceded earth in the order of Creation. The next verse states: “And the earth was unformed and void” (Genesis 1:2). The Gemara asks: After all, the Bible began with heaven first; what is different about the second verse? Why does the Bible recount the creation of earth first in the second verse? The Sage of the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: This can be explained by a parable of a flesh-and-blood king who said to his servants: Rise early and come to my entrance. He arose and found women and men waiting for him. Whom does he praise? Those who are unaccustomed to rising early but yet rose early, the women. The same applies to the earth: Since it is a lowly, physical sphere, we would not have expected it to be created together with heaven. Therefore, it is fitting to discuss it at greater length. § It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yosei says: Woe to them, the creations, who see and know not what they see; who stand and know not upon what they stand. He clarifies: Upon what does the earth stand? Upon pillars, as it is stated: “Who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble” (Job 9:6). These pillars are positioned upon water, as it is stated: “To Him Who spread forth the earth over the waters” (Psalms 136:6). These waters stand upon mountains, as it is stated: “The waters stood above the mountains” (Psalms 104:6). The mountains are upon the wind, as it is stated: “For behold He forms the mountains and creates the wind” (Amos 4:13). The wind is upon a storm, as it is stated: “Stormy wind, fulfilling His word” (Psalms 148:8). The storm hangs upon the arm of the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it is stated: “And underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27), which demonstrates that the entire world rests upon the arms of the Holy One, Blessed be He. And the Rabbis say: The earth stands on twelve pillars, as it is stated: “He set the borders of the nations according to the number of the children of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:8). Just as the children of Israel, i.e., the sons of Jacob, are twelve in number, so does the world rest on twelve pillars. And some say: There are seven pillars, as it is stated: “She has hewn out her seven pillars” (Proverbs 9:1). Rabbi Elazar ben Shammua says: The earth rests on one pillar and a righteous person is its name, as it is stated: “But a righteous person is the foundation of the world” (Proverbs 10:25). § Rabbi Yehuda said: There are two firmaments, as it is stated: “Behold, to the Lord your God belongs the heaven and the heaven of heavens” (Deuteronomy 10:14), indicating that there is a heaven above our heaven. Reish Lakish said: There are seven firmaments, and they are as follows: Vilon, Rakia, Sheḥakim, Zevul, Ma’on, Makhon, and Aravot. The Gemara proceeds to explain the role of each firmament: Vilon, curtain, is the firmament that does not contain anything, but enters at morning and departs in the evening, and renews the act of Creation daily, as it is stated: “Who stretches out the heavens as a curtain [Vilon], and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22). Rakia, firmament, is the one in which the sun, moon, stars, and zodiac signs are fixed, as it is stated: “And God set them in the firmament [Rakia] of the heaven” (Genesis 1:17). Sheḥakim, heights, is the one in which mills stand and grind manna for the righteous, as it is stated: “And He commanded the heights [Shehakim] above, and opened the doors of heaven; and He caused manna to rain upon them for food, and gave them of the corn of heaven” (Psalms 78:23–24). Zevul, abode, is the location of the heavenly Jerusalem and the heavenly Temple, and there the heavenly altar is built, and the angel Michael, the great minister, stands and sacrifices an offering upon it, as it is stated: “I have surely built a house of Zevul for You, a place for You to dwell forever” (I Kings 8:13). And from where do we derive that Zevul is called heaven? As it is written: “Look down from heaven and see, from Your holy and glorious abode [Zevul]” (Isaiah 63:15). Ma’on, habitation, is where there are groups of ministering angels who recite song at night and are silent during the day out of respect for Israel, in order not to compete with their songs, as it is stated: “By day the Lord will command His kindness, and in the night His song is with me” (Psalms 42:9), indicating that the song of the angels is with God only at night. With regard to the aforementioned verse, Reish Lakish said: Whoever occupies himself with Torah at night, the Holy One, Blessed be He, extends a thread of kindness over him by day, as it is stated: “By day, the Lord will command His kindness,” and what is the reason that “by day, the Lord will command His kindness”? Because “and in the night His song,” i.e., the song of Torah, “is with me.” And some say that Reish Lakish said: Whoever occupies himself with Torah in this world, which is comparable to night, the Holy One, Blessed be He, extends a thread of kindness over him in the World-to-Come, which is comparable to day, as it is stated: “By day, the Lord will command His kindness, and in the night His song is with me.” With regard to the same matter, Rabbi Levi said: Anyone who pauses from words of Torah to occupy himself with mundane conversation will be fed with the coals of the broom tree, as it is stated: “They pluck saltwort [maluaḥ] with wormwood [alei siaḥ], and the roots of the broom tree [retamim] are their food” (Job 30:4). The exposition is as follows: Those who pluck, i.e., pause, from learning Torah, which was given upon two tablets, luḥot, which sounds similar to maluaḥ, for the purpose of siaḥ, idle chatter, are punished by having to eat coals made from “the roots of the broom tree.” And from where do we derive that Ma’on is called heaven? As it is stated: “Look forth from Your holy Ma’on, from heaven” (Deuteronomy 26:15). Makhon, dwelling place, is where there are storehouses of snow and storehouses of hail, and the upper chamber of harmful dews, and the upper chamber of drops, and the room of tempests and storms, and the cave of mist. And the doors of all these are made of fire. How do we know that there are storehouses for evil things? For it is stated: “The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens” (Deuteronomy 28:12), which indicates the existence of a storehouse that contains the opposite of good. The Gemara asks a question: With regard to these things listed above, are they located in heaven? It is obvious that they are located on the earth. As it is written: “Praise the Lord from the earth, sea monsters and all depths, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind, fulfilling His word” (Psalms 148:7–8). The verse seems to indicate that all these things are found on the earth. Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: David requested mercy with regard to them, that they should not remain in heaven, and He brought them down to earth. He said before Him: Master of the Universe, “You are not a God that has pleasure in wickedness, evil shall not sojourn with You” (Psalms 5:5). In other words, You are righteous, O Lord. Nothing evil should sojourn in Your vicinity. Rather, it is better that they remain close to us. And from where do we derive that this place is called “heaven”? As it is written: “And You shall hear in heaven, the Makhon of Your dwelling” (I Kings 8:39). Aravot, skies, is the firmament that contains righteousness; justice; righteousness, i.e., charity; the treasuries of life; the treasuries of peace; the treasuries of blessing; the souls of the righteous; the spirits and souls that are to be created; and the dew that the Holy One, Blessed be He, will use to revive the dead. The Gemara proves this statement: Righteousness and justice are found in heaven, as it is written: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne” (Psalms 89:15); righteousness, as it is written: “And He donned righteousness as armor” (Isaiah 59:17); the treasuries of life, as it is written: “For with You is the source of life” (Psalms 36:10). And the treasuries of peace are found in heaven, as it is written: “And he called Him the Lord of peace” (Judges 6:24), implying that peace is God’s name and is therefore found close to Him. And the treasuries of blessing, as it is written: “He shall receive a blessing from the Lord” (Psalms 24:5). The souls of the righteous are found in heaven, as it is written: “And the soul of my master shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord, your God” (I Samuel 25:29). Spirits and souls that are to be created are found there, as it is written: “For the spirit that enwraps itself is from Me, and the souls that I have made” (Isaiah 57:16), which indicates that the spirit to be released into the world, wrapped around a body, is located close to God. The dew that the Holy One, Blessed be He, will use to revive the dead is found in heaven, as it is written: “A bountiful rain You will pour down, God; when Your inheritance was weary, You confirmed it” (Psalms 68:10). There, in the firmaments, are the ofanim, the seraphim, the holy divine creatures, and the ministering angels, and the Throne of Glory. The King, God, the living, lofty, exalted One dwells above them in Aravot, as it is stated: “Extol Him Who rides upon the skies [Aravot], Whose name is God” (Psalms 68:5). And from where do we derive that Aravot is called “heaven”? This is learned by using a verbal analogy between two instances of “rides” and “rides”: Here, it is written: “Extol Him Who rides upon the skies [Aravot],” and there, it is written: “Who rides upon the heaven as your help” (Deuteronomy 33:26). And darkness and clouds and fog surround Him, as it is stated: “He made darkness His hiding place, His pavilion round about Him; darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies” (Psalms 18:12). The Gemara asks: And is there darkness before Heaven, i.e., before God? But isn’t it written: “He reveals deep and secret things, He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him” (Daniel 2:22), demonstrating that only light, not darkness, is found with God? The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. This verse, which states that only light dwells with Him, is referring
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to the inner houses, where there is only light; that source, according to which He is surrounded by darkness, is referring to the outer houses. And Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov said: There is one more firmament above these, which is above the heads of the divine creatures, as it is written: “And over the heads of the divine creatures there was the likeness of a firmament, like the color of the terrible ice” (Ezekiel 1:22). The Gemara comments: Until here, you have permission to speak; from this point forward you do not have permission to speak, as it is written in the book of Ben Sira: Seek not things concealed from you, nor search those hidden from you. Reflect on that which is permitted to you; you have no business with secret matters. It is taught in a baraita: Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said: What response did the Divine Voice provide to that wicked man, Nebuchadnezzar, when he said: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14), thereby intending to rise to heaven? A Divine Voice came and said to him: Wicked man, son of a wicked man, descendant, i.e., follower of the ways, of Nimrod the wicked, who caused the entire world to rebel against Him during the time of his reign. How many are the years of man? Seventy years, as it is stated: “The span of our life is seventy years, or if we are strong, eighty years” (Psalms 90:10). Now is there not from the earth to the firmament a walking distance of five hundred years, and the thickness of the firmament itself is a walking distance of five hundred years, and a similar distance exists between each and every one of the firmaments? And above them, above all the firmaments, are the divine creatures. The feet of the divine creatures correspond in distance to all the firmaments; the ankles of the animals correspond to all of them, the shins of the animals correspond to all of them, the knees of the animals correspond to all of them, the thighs of the animals correspond to all of them, the bodies of the animals correspond to all of them, the necks of the animals correspond to all of them, the heads of the animals correspond to all of them, and the horns of the animals correspond to all of them. Above them is the Throne of Glory: The feet of the Throne of Glory correspond to all of them, the Throne of Glory corresponds to all of them, and the living, almighty, lofty, exalted King dwells above them. And you, Nebuchadnezzar, say: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:15), but the next verse states: “Yet you shall be brought down to the netherworld, to the uttermost parts of the pit” (Isaiah 14:15). § It is taught in the mishna, according to the Gemara’s explanation: Nor may one expound the Design of the Divine Chariot to an individual. Rabbi Ḥiyya taught: But one may transmit to him, an individual, the outlines of this topic, leaving him to comprehend the rest on his own. Rabbi Zeira said: One may transmit the outlines of the Design of the Divine Chariot only to the president of the court, who needs to know them due to his wisdom and meritorious deeds, and to anyone whose heart inside him is concerned, i.e., one who is concerned about his sins and desires to achieve full repentance. There are those who say that this does not refer to two separate individuals, but to the president of the court, whose heart inside him is concerned. Rabbi Ami said: The secrets of the Torah may be transmitted only to one who possesses the following five characteristics: “The captain of fifty, and the man of favor, and the counselor, and the cunning charmer, and the skillful enchanter” (Isaiah 3:3). And Rabbi Ami said further: The words of Torah may not be transmitted to a gentile, as it is stated: “He has not dealt so with any nation, and as for His ordinances, they have not known them” (Psalms 147:20). § The Gemara relates: Rabbi Yoḥanan said to Rabbi Elazar: Come and I will teach you the Design of the Divine Chariot. Rabbi Elazar said to him: I have not yet aged sufficiently, as one must be very settled in one’s mind for these studies. When he grew old, Rabbi Yoḥanan had already passed away. Rabbi Asi said to him: Come and I will teach you the Design of the Divine Chariot. He said to him: Had I merited, I would have learned it from Rabbi Yoḥanan, your teacher. It therefore appears that I am unworthy of studying it. The Gemara relates: Rav Yosef would study the Design of the Divine Chariot and was familiar with the subject, whereas the Elders of Pumbedita would study the act of Creation. They said to Rav Yosef: Let the Master teach us the Design of the Divine Chariot. He said to them: You teach me the act of Creation. After they taught him that subject, they said to him: Let the Master teach us the Design of the Divine Chariot. He said to them: We learned with regard to them the secrets of the Torah: “Honey and milk are under your tongue” (Song of Songs 4:11), meaning that matters that are sweeter than honey and milk should remain under your tongue. In other words, one should not speak of such matters, and anyone who is familiar with them may not reveal them to others. Rabbi Abbahu said: It is derived from here, from the following verse: “The lambs [kevasim] will be for your clothing” (Proverbs 27:26), which he expounds as though it were written with the letter shin, kevashim, meaning concealed matters: Things that constitute the concealed matters of the world should be under your clothing; you should not reveal them. When the Elders of Pumbedita saw that Rav Yosef was not going to teach them, they said to him: We have learned them, the verses concerning the Design of the Divine Chariot written in the book of Ezekiel, up to the verse “And He said to me, son of man” (Ezekiel 2:1). He said to them: If so, these verses are the very essence of the Design of the Divine Chariot, as they provide the main details of the topic. The Gemara raises an objection to this from a baraita: Until where is the Design of the Divine Chariot related? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: Until the latter “And I saw” (Ezekiel 1:27), not including the last verse. Rabbi Yitzḥak says: Until the word “the electrum” (Ezekiel 1:27). Neither of these opinions accord with Rav Yosef’s opinion that the Design of the Divine Chariot continues until the end of the chapter. The Gemara answers: Until “And I saw,” we teach those worthy of it; from this point forward, we transmit only the outlines. There are those who say: Until “And I saw,” we transmit the outlines; from this point forward, if he is wise and can understand of his own accord, yes, we teach him. If not, we do not teach him even the outlines. The Gemara poses a question: And may one teach about the electrum of the Design of the Divine Chariot at all? But wasn’t there a certain youth who expounded the electrum, and fire came out and consumed him, showing that such study is highly dangerous? The Gemara answers: That youth was different, for his time to study such matters had not yet arrived. Therefore, he was punished. Rav Yehuda said: Indeed, that man is remembered for good, and Ḥananya ben Ḥizkiya was his name, because were it not for him, the book of Ezekiel would have been suppressed. Why did they wish to suppress it? Because they found that its words contradicted the words of Torah, as its later chapters contain many halakhot that appear not to accord with those of the Torah. What did he do? They brought up to him three hundred barrels of oil, for light and sustenance, and he sat in an upper chamber and expounded it, to reconcile its teachings with those of the Torah. The Sages taught: An incident occurred involving a youth who was reading the book of Ezekiel in the house of his teacher, and he was able to comprehend the electrum, and fire came out of the electrum and burned him. And they sought to suppress the book of Ezekiel due to the danger it posed. Ḥananya ben Ḥizkiya said to them: If this youth happened to be wise, are all people wise enough to understand this book? The Gemara asks: What is the electrum? Rav Yehuda said:
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It refers to speaking animals of fire. Electrum [ḥashmal] is an acrostic of this phrase [ḥayyot esh memallelot]. It was taught in a baraita: At times they are silent; at times they speak. When the divine speech emerges from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed be He, they are silent; and when the divine speech does not emerge from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed be He, they speak. § The verse states: “And the divine creatures ran and returned like the appearance of a flash of lightning [bazak]” (Ezekiel 1:14). What is the meaning of “ran and returned”? Rav Yehuda said: Like fire that is emitted from a furnace, whose flame is continuously bursting out and withdrawing. What is the meaning of “like the appearance of a flash of lightning”? Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: Like the fire that is emitted from between pieces of earthenware used for refining gold, as an additional meaning ascribed to the word bazak is shards of earthenware. The verse states: “And I looked and, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud, with a fire flashing up, so that a brightness was round about it; and out of its midst was like the color of electrum, out of the midst of the fire” (Ezekiel 1:4). The Gemara poses a question: Where did that wind go? Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: It went to conquer the entire world under the wicked Nebuchadnezzar. And why was all of this necessary? Why was it necessary that the entire world be subjected to his dominion? So that the nations of the world would not say: The Holy One, Blessed be He, delivered His children into the hands of a lowly nation. Since it was already decreed that the kingdom of Israel would fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, God made him into a great conqueror, so that Israel would not be ashamed of being defeated by him. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said with regard to this: Who caused Me to be an attendant to worshippers of molten images, forcing Me to wage their wars? It was the sins of Israel that led Me to do so. Another verse in the same chapter states: “Now as I beheld the divine creatures, behold, one wheel [ofan] was upon the earth near the divine creatures” (Ezekiel 1:15). Rabbi Elazar said: This wheel is a certain angel who stands on the earth and its head reaches the divine creatures. It was taught in a baraita: This angel is named Sandalfon, who is taller than his colleague by a distance of five hundred years, and he stands behind the Divine Chariot and weaves crowns for his Maker. The Gemara asks: Is that so? Can crowns be woven for God? But isn’t it written: “Blessed be the Lord’s glory from His place” (Ezekiel 3:12), which proves by inference that no one knows His place? Therefore, how can crowns be woven for Him? Rather, it can be done by saying a name for the crown, and then the crown goes and sits on God’s head of its own accord. § Rava said: All that Ezekiel saw, the prophet Isaiah saw as well, but the latter did not find it necessary to describe his vision in such detail. To what may Ezekiel be compared? To a villager who saw the king and is excited by all the extravagances of the king’s palace and everything it contains, as he is unaccustomed to them. And to what may Isaiah be compared? To a city dweller who saw the king. Such an individual focuses on the encounter with the king, and is oblivious to all the distractions. Reish Lakish said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted” (Exodus 15:1)? It is fitting to sing to He Who is exalted above the exalted. As the Master said: The king of the beasts is the lion, the king of the domestic animals is the ox, the king of the birds is the eagle, and man is exalted and lords over them, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, is exalted above all of them and above the entire world, as the creatures that appear in the Divine Chariot are the ox, the lion, the eagle, and man. The Gemara poses a question with regard to the animals of the Divine Chariot: One verse states: “As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; and the four had the face of a lion on the right side; and the four had the face of an ox on the left side” (Ezekiel 1:10). And it is also written: “And each one had four faces: The first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle” (Ezekiel 10:14), but it does not include the face of an ox in this second list. Reish Lakish said: Ezekiel requested mercy with regard to it, i.e., the face of the ox, and had it turned into a cherub. He said before Him as follows: Master of the Universe. Shall an accuser [kateigor] become a defender [saneigor]? As the face of an ox recalls Israel’s sin of the Golden Calf, it would be preferable for there to be a different face on the Divine Chariot. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of “cherub”? Rabbi Abbahu said: Like a baby [keravya], for in Babylonia they call a baby ravya. Rav Pappa said to Abaye: However, if that is so, what is the meaning of that which is written: “The first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle”? The face of a cherub is the same as the face of a man; what is the difference between them? He replied: The difference is that the face of a man is referring to a large face, whereas the face of a cherub means the small face of a baby. The Gemara asks another question: One verse states: “Each one had six wings; with two it covered its face and with two it covered its feet, and with two it flew” (Isaiah 6:2), and another verse states: “And every one had four faces, and every one of them had four wings” (Ezekiel 1:6). The Gemara answers: This is not difficult, as here, when the verse states they each had six wings, it is referring to the time when the Temple is standing, while there, where four wings are described, it is referring to the time when the Temple is not standing, for it is as if the number of the wings of the animals were diminished so that they now have only four. The Gemara asks: Which of the wings were diminished? Rav Ḥananel said that Rav said: Those with which they recite song. The proof is that it is written here: “And with two it flew [yeofef ]. And one called to the other and said” (Isaiah 6:2–3), and it is written: “Will you set [hata’if ] your eyes upon it? It is gone” (Proverbs 23:5), implying that the flight of these wings had ceased. And the Rabbis say that the wings they lost are those with which they cover their feet, for it is stated: “And their feet were straight feet” (Ezekiel 1:7). Now if these wings had not been diminished, how would he know what their feet looked like? Clearly their feet were no longer covered. The Gemara rejects this: This is no proof, for perhaps they were momentarily revealed, allowing him to see them. Because if you do not say so, that he saw them for a moment, then with regard to the verse: “And the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man” (Ezekiel 1:10), so too will you say that these the wings covering their faces were diminished as well? Rather, it must be that they were revealed and he saw them. Here too, they were revealed and he saw them. The Gemara refutes this: How can these cases be compared? Granted, it is logical that his face was revealed, as it is proper conduct for an angel to reveal his face before his Master, and therefore it is possible that they would have revealed their faces at certain times; but with regard to his feet, it is not proper conduct to reveal them before his Master. Therefore, they must have lacked wings to cover their feet. § The Gemara continues to address apparent contradictions between verses concerning similar matters: One verse states: “A thousand thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him” (Daniel 7:10), and another verse states: “Is there a number to His troops?” (Job 25:3), implying that they are even more numerous than “ten thousand times ten thousand.” The Gemara answers: This is not difficult, for here, when they are without number, the verse is referring to the time when the Temple is standing; there, the other verse is referring to the time when the Temple is not standing, for it is as though the heavenly entourage [pamalya] were diminished. It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says in the name of Abba Yosei ben Dosai: “A thousand thousands ministered to Him” is referring to the number of angels in a single troop, but with regard to the number of his troops, it can be said: “And to his troops, there is no number”. And Rabbi Yirmeya bar Abba said: There is no contradiction, since with regard to the phrase “a thousand thousands ministered to Him,” the pronoun “Him” can be literally translated as: It, referring not to those who serve God Himself, but to those who administer to the River Dinur, as it is stated: “A fiery [dinur] river issued and came forth from before him; a thousand thousands ministered to it, and a myriad myriads stand before it” (Daniel 7:10). The ministers of God, however, are indeed too numerous to count. The Gemara asks: From where does this river flow? The Gemara answers: From the perspiration of the divine creatures. And where does it flow to? Rav Zutra bar Toviya said that Rav said: Upon the heads of the wicked in Gehenna, as it is stated: “Behold, a storm of the Lord has gone forth in fury, a whirling storm; it shall whirl upon the head of the wicked” (Jeremiah 23:19). And Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov said: The river flows over those who were snatched away, i.e., the generations that were never created, as it is stated: “Who were snatched away before their time, whose foundation was poured out as a stream” (Job 22:16), implying that the River Dinur flows over them. It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Shimon HeḤasid said in explanation of this verse: These people “who were snatched away” are those nine hundred and seventy-four generations that were snatched away; they were to have been created
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before the creation of the world, but they were not created. The Torah was supposed to have been given a thousand generations after the world was created, as it is written: “He commanded His word for a thousand generations” (Psalms 105:8), but God gave it earlier, after only twenty-six generations, so that nine-hundred and seventy-four generations should have been created but were not. The Holy One, Blessed be He, acted by planting a few of them in each and every generation, and they are the insolent ones of the generation, as they belonged to generations that should not have been created at all. And Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said that the verse: “Who were snatched [kumtu]” (Job 22:16), is written for a blessing, as the verse is not referring to lowly, cursed people, but to the blessed. These are Torah scholars, who shrivel [mekamtin], i.e., humble, themselves over the words of Torah in this world. The Holy One, Blessed be He, reveals a secret to them in the World-to-Come, as it is stated: “Whose foundation [yesodam] was poured out as a stream” (Job 22:16), implying that He will provide them with an abundant knowledge of secret matters [sod]. Shmuel said to Ḥiyya bar Rav: Son of great ones, come and I will tell you something of the great things that your father would say: Each and every day, ministering angels are created from the River Dinur, and they recite song to God and then immediately cease to exist, as it is stated: “They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23), indicating that new angels praise God each morning. The Gemara comments: And this opinion disagrees with that of Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani, as Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: With each and every word that emerges from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed be He, an angel is created, as it is stated: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their hosts” (Psalms 33:6). The hosts of heaven are the angels, who, he claims, are created from the mouth of God, rather than from the River Dinur. § The Gemara continues to reconcile verses that seem to contradict each other: One verse states: “His raiment was as white snow, and the hair of his head like pure white wool” (Daniel 7:9), and it is written: “His locks are curled, black as a raven” (Song of Songs 5:11). The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. Here the verse in Daniel is referring to when He is in the heavenly academy, while there the verse in Song of Songs speaks of when He is at war, for the Master said: There is no finer individual to study Torah in an academy than an old man, and there is no finer individual to wage war than a youth. A different metaphor is therefore used to describe God on each occasion. The Gemara poses another question: One verse states: “His throne was fiery flames” (Daniel 7:9), and another phrase in the same verse states: “Till thrones were placed, and one who was ancient of days sat,” implying the existence of two thrones. The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. One throne is for Him and one is for David, as it is taught in a baraita with regard to this issue: One throne for Him and one for David; this is the statement of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Yosei HaGelili said to him: Akiva, how long shall you make the Divine Presence profane, by presenting it as though one could sit next to Him? Rather, the two thrones are designated for different purposes: One for judgment and one for righteousness. The Gemara asks: Did Rabbi Akiva accept this rebuff from him, or did he not accept it from him? The Gemara offers a proof: Come and hear the following teaching of a different baraita: One throne is for judgment and one is for righteousness; this is the statement of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya said to him: Akiva, what are you doing occupying yourself with the study of aggada? This is not your field of expertise. Take [kelakh] your words to the topics of plagues and tents. Meaning, it is preferable that you teach the halakhot of the impurity of leprosy and the impurity of the dead, which are within your field of expertise. Rather, with regard to the two thrones: One throne is for a seat and one is for a small seat. The seat is to sit on, and the small seat is for His footstool, as it is stated: “The heavens are My seat, and the earth My footstool” (Isaiah 66:1). § The Gemara stated earlier that one who studies the secrets of Torah must be “a captain of fifty and a man of favor” (Isaiah 3:3), but it did not explain the meaning of these requirements. It now returns to analyze that verse in detail. When Rav Dimi came from Israel to Babylonia, he said: Isaiah cursed Israel with eighteen curses, and his mind was not calmed, i.e., he was not satisfied, until he said to them the great curse of the following verse: “The child shall behave insolently against the aged, and the base against the honorable” (Isaiah 3:5). The Gemara asks: What are these eighteen curses? The Gemara answers: As it is written: “For behold, the Master, the Lord of hosts, shall take away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and staff, every support of bread, and every support of water; the mighty man, and the man of war; the judge, and the prophet, and the diviner, and the elder; the captain of fifty, and the man of favor, and the counselor, and the cunning charmer, and the skillful enchanter. And I will make children their princes, and babes shall rule over them” (Isaiah 3:1–4). The eighteen items listed in these verses shall be removed from Israel. The Gemara proceeds to clarify the homiletical meaning of these terms: “Support”; these are masters of the Bible. “Staff”; these are masters of Mishna, such as Rabbi Yehuda ben Teima and his colleagues. The Gemara interjects: Rav Pappa and the Rabbis disagreed with regard to this. One of them said: They were proficient in six hundred orders of Mishna, and the other one said: In seven hundred orders of Mishna, only six of which remain today. “Every support of bread”; these are masters of Talmud, as it is stated: “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine that I have mingled” (Proverbs 9:5). “And every support of water”; these are the masters of aggada, who draw people’s hearts like water by means of aggada. “The mighty man”; this is the master of halakhic tradition, one who masters the halakhot transmitted to him from his rabbis. “And the man of war”; this is one who knows how to engage in the discourse of Torah, generating novel teachings in the war of Torah. “A judge”; this is a judge who judges a true judgment truthfully. “A prophet”; as it literally indicates. “A diviner”; this is a king. Why is he called a diviner? For it is stated: “A divine sentence is on the lips of the king” (Proverbs 16:10). “An elder”; this is one fit for the position of head of an academy. “A captain of fifty,” do not read it as “sar ḥamishim,” rather read it as “sar ḥumashin”; this is one who knows how to engage in discourse with regard to the five books of [ḥamisha ḥumshei] the Torah. Alternatively, “a captain of fifty” should be understood in accordance with Rabbi Abbahu, for Rabbi Abbahu said: From here we learn that one may not appoint a disseminator over the public to transmit words of Torah or teachings of the Sages if he is less than fifty years of age. “And the man of favor”; this is one for whose sake favor is shown to his generation. The Gemara provides different examples of this: Some garner favor above, such as Rabbi Ḥanina ben Dosa, whose prayers for his generation would invariably be answered. Others gain favor below, for example: Rabbi Abbahu, who would plead Israel’s case in the house of the emperor. “The counselor”; this is referring to one who knows how to intercalate years and determine months, due to his expertise in the phases of the moon and the calculation of the yearly cycle. “The cunning”; this is a student who makes his rabbis wise through his questions. “Charmer [ḥarashim]”; this is referring to one so wise that when he begins speaking matters of Torah, all those listening are as though deaf [ḥershin], as they are unable to comprehend the profundity of his comments. “The skillful”; this is one who understands something new from something else he has learned. “Enchanter [laḥash]”; this is referring to one who is worthy of having words of the Torah that were given in whispers [laḥash], i.e., the secrets of the Torah, transmitted to him. The Gemara continues to interpret this verse: “And I will make children their princes” (Isaiah 3:4). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of “And I will make children [ne’arim] their princes”? Rabbi Elazar said: These are people who are devoid [menu’arin] of mitzvot; such people will become the leaders of the nation. “And babes [ta’alulim] shall rule over them”; Rav Pappa bar Ya’akov said: Ta’alulim means foxes [ta’alei], sons of foxes. In other words, inferior people both in terms of deeds and in terms of lineage. And the prophet Isaiah’s mind was not calmed until he said to them: “The child shall behave insolently against the aged, and the base against the honorable” (Isaiah 3:5). “The child” [na’ar]; these are people who are devoid of mitzvot, who will behave insolently toward one who is as filled with mitzvot as a pomegranate. “And the base [nikleh] against the honorable [nikhbad]”; this means that one for whom major [kaved] transgressions are like minor ones [kalot] in his mind will come and behave insolently with one for whom even minor transgressions are like major ones in his mind. § The Gemara continues its explanation of the chapter in Isaiah. Rav Ketina said: Even at the time of Jerusalem’s downfall, trustworthy men did not cease to exist among its people, as it is stated: “For a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, and say: You have a cloak, be our ruler” (Isaiah 3:6). The Gemara explains that they would approach someone and say to him: Things that people are careful to keep covered as with a cloak, i.e., words of Torah that are covered and concealed, are under your hand, as you are an expert with regard to them. What is the meaning of the end of that verse: “And this stumbling block” (Isaiah 3:6)? Things that people cannot grasp unless they have stumbled over them, as they can be understood only with much effort, are under your hand. Although they will approach an individual with these statements, he “shall swear that day, saying: I will not be a healer, for in my house there is neither bread nor a cloak; you shall not make me ruler of a people” (Isaiah 3:7). When the verse states: “Shall swear [yissa],” yissa is none other than an expression of an oath, as it is stated: “You shall not take [tissa] the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:6). Therefore, the inhabitant of Jerusalem swears: “I will not be a healer [ḥovesh]” (Isaiah 3:7), which means: I was never one of those who sit [meḥovshei] in the study hall; “for in my house there is neither bread nor a cloak,” as I possess knowledge of neither the Bible, nor Mishna, nor Gemara. This shows that even at Jerusalem’s lowest spiritual ebb, its inhabitants would admit the truth and own up to their complete ignorance. The Gemara raises a difficulty: But perhaps it is different there, for if he had said: I have learned, they would have said to him: Tell us, and people do not lie about things that can be easily verified. The Gemara rejects this claim: If he were a liar, he would have said that he learned and forgot, thereby avoiding shame. What is the meaning of “I will not be a healer,” which seems to imply that he had learned in the past? It means: I will not be a healer at all, as I have never learned. Consequently, there were trustworthy men in Jerusalem after all. The Gemara raises another difficulty: Is that so? But didn’t Rava say: Jerusalem was not destroyed until trustworthy men ceased to exist in it, as it is stated: “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now and know, and seek in its broad places, if you can find a man, if there is any that acts justly, that seeks truth, and I will pardon her” (Jeremiah 5:1), implying there were no trustworthy people at that time? The Gemara answers: This is not difficult:
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This case is referring to words of Torah, while that case is referring to commerce. With regard to words of Torah, they were trustworthy; with regard to commerce, they were not. § The Gemara returns to the topic of the Design of the Divine Chariot. The Sages taught: An incident occurred involving Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai, who was riding on a donkey and was traveling along the way, and his student, Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh, was riding a donkey behind him. Rabbi Elazar said to him: My teacher, teach me one chapter in the Design of the Divine Chariot. He said to him: Have I not taught you: And one may not expound the Design of the Divine Chariot to an individual, unless he is a Sage who understands on his own accord? Rabbi Elazar said to him: My teacher, allow me to say before you one thing that you taught me. In other words, he humbly requested to recite before him his own understanding of this issue. He said to him: Speak. Immediately, Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai alighted from the donkey, and wrapped his head in his cloak in a manner of reverence, and sat on a stone under an olive tree. Rabbi Elazar said to him: My teacher, for what reason did you alight from the donkey? He said: Is it possible that while you are expounding the Design of the Divine Chariot, and the Divine Presence is with us, and the ministering angels are accompanying us, that I should ride on a donkey? Immediately, Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh began to discuss the Design of the Divine Chariot and expounded, and fire descended from heaven and encircled all the trees in the field, and all the trees began reciting song. What song did they recite? “Praise the Lord from the earth, sea monsters and all depths…fruit trees and all cedars…praise the Lord” (Psalms 148:7–14). An angel responded from the fire, saying: This is the very Design of the Divine Chariot, just as you expounded. Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai stood and kissed Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh on his head, and said: Blessed be God, Lord of Israel, who gave our father Abraham a son like you, who knows how to understand, investigate, and expound the Design of the Divine Chariot. There are some who expound the Torah’s verses well but do not fulfill its imperatives well, and there are some who fulfill its imperatives well but do not expound its verses well, whereas you expound its verses well and fulfill its imperatives well. Happy are you, our father Abraham, that Elazar ben Arakh came from your loins. The Gemara relates: And when these matters, this story involving his colleague Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh, were recounted before Rabbi Yehoshua, he was walking along the way with Rabbi Yosei the Priest. They said: We too shall expound the Design of the Divine Chariot. Rabbi Yehoshua began expounding. And that was the day of the summer solstice, when there are no clouds in the sky. Yet the heavens became filled with clouds, and there was the appearance of a kind of rainbow in a cloud. And ministering angels gathered and came to listen, like people gathering and coming to see the rejoicing of a bridegroom and bride. Rabbi Yosei the Priest went and recited these matters before Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai, who said to him: Happy are all of you, and happy are the mothers who gave birth to you; happy are my eyes that saw this, students such as these. As for you and I, I saw in my dream that we were seated at Mount Sinai, and a Divine Voice came to us from heaven: Ascend here, ascend here, for large halls [teraklin] and pleasant couches are made up for you. You, your students, and the students of your students are invited to the third group, those who will merit to welcome the Divine Presence. The Gemara poses a question: Is that so? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Yehuda, says: There are three lectures. In other words, there are three Sages with regard to whom it states that they delivered lectures on the mystical tradition: Rabbi Yehoshua lectured on these matters before Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai; Rabbi Akiva lectured before Rabbi Yehoshua; and Ḥananya ben Ḥakhinai lectured before Rabbi Akiva. However, Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh was not included in the list, despite the testimony that he lectured before Rabban Yoḥanan. The Gemara explains: Those who lectured and were also lectured to were included; but those who lectured and were not lectured to were not included. The Gemara asks: But wasn’t there Ḥananya ben Ḥakhinai, who was not lectured to, and yet he is included? The Gemara answers: Ḥananya ben Ḥakhinai actually lectured before one who lectured in front of his own rabbi, so he was also included in this list. § The Sages taught: Four entered the orchard [pardes], i.e., dealt with the loftiest secrets of Torah, and they are as follows: Ben Azzai; and ben Zoma; Aḥer, the other, a name for Elisha ben Avuya; and Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva, the senior among them, said to them: When, upon your arrival in the upper worlds, you reach pure marble stones, do not say: Water, water, although they appear to be water, because it is stated: “He who speaks falsehood shall not be established before My eyes” (Psalms 101:7). The Gemara proceeds to relate what happened to each of them: Ben Azzai glimpsed at the Divine Presence and died. And with regard to him the verse states: “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His pious ones” (Psalms 116:15). Ben Zoma glimpsed at the Divine Presence and was harmed, i.e., he lost his mind. And with regard to him the verse states: “Have you found honey? Eat as much as is sufficient for you, lest you become full from it and vomit it” (Proverbs 25:16). Aḥer chopped down the shoots of saplings. In other words, he became a heretic. Rabbi Akiva came out safely. The Gemara recounts the greatness of ben Zoma, who was an expert interpreter of the Torah and could find obscure proofs: They asked ben Zoma: What is the halakha with regard to castrating a dog? The prohibition against castration appears alongside the sacrificial blemishes, which may imply that it is permitted to castrate an animal that cannot be sacrificed as an offering. He said to them: The verse states “That which has its testicles bruised, or crushed, or torn, or cut, you shall not offer to God, nor shall you do so in your land” (Leviticus 22:24), from which we learn: With regard to any animal that is in your land, you shall not do such a thing. They also asked ben Zoma: A woman considered to be a virgin who became pregnant, what is the halakha? A High Priest may marry only a virgin; is he permitted to marry her? The answer depends on the following: Are we concerned for the opinion of Shmuel? Shmuel says:
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I can engage in intercourse several times without blood. In other words, I can have relations with a woman while leaving her hymen intact. If this is so, it is possible that the assumed virgin had intercourse in this manner and is forbidden to the High Priest. Or, perhaps a person who can act like Shmuel is not common and the halakha is not concerned with this case. He said to them: One like Shmuel is not common, and we are concerned that she may have conceived in a bath. Perhaps she washed in a bath that contained a man’s semen, from which she became impregnated while remaining a virgin. The Gemara asks: How could she possibly become pregnant in such a manner? Didn’t Shmuel say: Any semen that is not shot like an arrow cannot fertilize? The Gemara answers: This does not mean that it must be shot like an arrow at the moment of fertilization. Even if initially, when released from the male, it was shot as an arrow, it can also fertilize a woman at a later moment. With regard to the fate of ben Zoma, the Sages taught: There was once an incident with regard to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya, who was standing on a step on the Temple Mount, and ben Zoma saw him and did not stand before him to honor him, as he was deep in thought. Rabbi Yehoshua said to him: From where do you come and where are you going, ben Zoma, i.e., what is on your mind? He said to him: In my thoughts I was looking upon the act of Creation, at the gap between the upper waters and the lower waters, as there is only the breadth of a mere three fingers between them, as it is stated: “And the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2), like a dove hovering over its young without touching them. Rabbi Yehoshua said to his students who had overheard this exchange: Ben Zoma is still outside; he has not yet achieved full understanding of these matters. The Gemara explains: Now, this verse: “And the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters,” when was it stated? On the first day, whereas the division of the waters occurred on the second day, as it is written: “And let it divide the waters from the waters” (Genesis 1:6). How, then, could ben Zoma derive a proof from the former verse? The Gemara asks: And how much, in fact, is the gap between them? Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov said: Like the thickness of a thread; and the Rabbis said: Like the gap between the boards of a bridge. Mar Zutra, and some say it was Rav Asi, said: Like two robes spread one over the other, with a slight gap in between. And some said: Like two cups placed one upon the other. § The Gemara stated earlier that Aḥer chopped down the saplings, becoming a heretic. With regard to him, the verse states: “Do not let your mouth bring your flesh into guilt” (Ecclesiastes 5:5). The Gemara poses a question: What was it that led him to heresy? He saw the angel Mitatron, who was granted permission to sit and write the merits of Israel. He said: There is a tradition that in the world above there is no sitting; no competition; no turning one’s back before Him, i.e., all face the Divine Presence; and no lethargy. Seeing that someone other than God was seated above, he said: Perhaps, the Gemara here interjects, Heaven forbid, there are two authorities, and there is another source of power in control of the world in addition to God. Such thoughts led Aḥer to heresy. The Gemara relates: They removed Mitatron from his place in heaven and smote him with sixty rods [pulsei] of fire, so that others would not make mistake that Aḥer made. They said to the angel: What is the reason that when you saw Elisha ben Avuya you did not stand before him? Despite this conduct, since Mitatron was personally involved, he was granted permission to erase the merits of Aḥer and cause him to stumble in any manner. A Divine Voice went forth saying: “Return, rebellious children” (Jeremiah 3:22), apart from Aḥer. Upon hearing this, Elisha ben Avuya said: Since that man, meaning himself, has been banished from that world, let him go out and enjoy this world. Aḥer went astray. He went and found a prostitute and solicited her for intercourse. She said to him: And are you not Elisha ben Avuya? Shall a person of your stature perform such an act? He uprooted a radish from a patch of radishes on Shabbat and gave it to her, to demonstrate that he no longer observed the Torah. The prostitute said: He is other than he was. He is not the same Elisha ben Avuya, he is Aḥer, other. The Gemara relates: Aḥer asked Rabbi Meir a question, after he had gone astray. He said to him: What is the meaning of that which is written: “God has made even the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14)? Rabbi Meir said to him: Everything that the Holy One, Blessed be He, created, He created a similar creation corresponding to it. He created mountains, He created hills; He created seas, He created rivers. Aḥer said to him: Rabbi Akiva, your teacher, did not say so, but explained the verse as follows: Everything has its opposite: He created the righteous, He created the wicked; He created the Garden of Eden, He created Gehenna. Each and every person has two portions, one in the Garden of Eden and one in Gehenna. If he merits it, by becoming righteous, he takes his portion and the portion of his wicked colleague in the Garden of Eden; if he is found culpable by becoming wicked, he takes his portion and the portion of his colleague in Gehenna. Rav Mesharshiyya said: What is the verse from which it is derived? With regard to the righteous, it is stated: “Therefore in their land they shall possess double” (Isaiah 61:7); whereas with regard to the wicked, it is stated: “And destroy them with double destruction” (Jeremiah 17:18); therefore, each receives a double portion. Aḥer asked Rabbi Meir another question, again after he had gone astray. What is the meaning of that which is written: “Gold and glass cannot equal it; neither shall its exchange be vessels of fine gold” (Job 28:17)? If it is referring to the praise and honor of the Torah, it should have compared it only to gold, not to glass. He said to him: This is referring to words of Torah, which are as difficult to acquire as gilded vessels and vessels of fine gold but are as easy to lose as glass vessels. Aḥer said to him: Rabbi Akiva, your teacher, did not say so, but taught as follows: Just as golden vessels and glass vessels have a remedy even when they have broken, as they can be melted down and made into new vessels, so too a Torah scholar, although he has transgressed, has a remedy. Rabbi Meir said to him: If so, you too, return from your ways. He said to him: I have already heard the following declaration behind the dividing curtain, which conceals God from the world: “Return, rebellious children,” (Jeremiah 3:22) apart from Aḥer. The Gemara cites a related story: The Sages taught: There was once an incident involving Aḥer, who was riding on a horse on Shabbat, and Rabbi Meir was walking behind him to learn Torah from him. After a while, Aḥer said to him: Meir, turn back, for I have already estimated and measured according to the steps of my horse that the Shabbat boundary ends here, and you may therefore venture no further. Rabbi Meir said to him: You, too, return to the correct path. He said to him: But have I not already told you that I have already heard behind the dividing curtain: “Return, rebellious children,” apart from Aḥer? Nevertheless, Rabbi Meir took hold of him and brought him to the study hall. Aḥer said to a child, by way of divination: Recite your verse that you studied today to me. He recited the following verse to him: “There is no peace, said the Lord, concerning the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22). He brought him to another study hall. Aḥer said to a child: Recite your verse to me. He recited to him: “For though you wash with niter, and take for you much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me” (Jeremiah 2:22). He brought him to another study hall. Aḥer said to
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a child: Recite your verse to me. He recited to him: “And you, spoiled one, what are you doing, that you clothe yourself with scarlet, that you deck yourself with ornaments of gold, that you enlarge your eyes with paint? In vain you make yourself fair” (Jeremiah 4:30). He brought him to another synagogue, until he had brought him into thirteen synagogues, where all the children recited to him similar verses that speak of the hopeless situation of the wicked. At the last one, he said to him: Recite your verse to me. He recited to him: “And to the wicked [velerasha] God says, what is it for you to declare My statutes” (Psalms 50:16). The Gemara relates: That child had a stutter, so it sounded as though he were saying to him: Vele’elisha, i.e., and to Elisha, God says. This made Elisha think the child was deliberately insulting him. Some say Aḥer had a knife, and he tore the child apart and sent him to the thirteen synagogues. And others say that Aḥer merely said: Had I a knife, I would have torn him apart. The Gemara relates: When Aḥer passed away, the Heavenly Court declared that he should not be judged, nor brought into the World-to-Come. He should not be judged in a manner befitting his deeds, because he occupied himself with Torah, whose merit protects him. And he should not be brought into the World-to-Come because he sinned. Rabbi Meir said: It is better that he be judged properly and be brought into the World-to-Come. When I die I will request this of Heaven, and I will cause smoke to rise up from his grave, as a sign that he is being sentenced in Gehenna. The Gemara relates: When Rabbi Meir passed away, smoke rose up from the grave of Aḥer, implying that Rabbi Meir’s wish was granted. Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Was this a mighty deed on Rabbi Meir’s part, to burn his teacher? Was this the only remedy available? Can it be that there was one Sage among us who left the path and we cannot save him? If we hold him by the hand, who will remove him from our protection; who? Rabbi Yoḥanan continued and said: When I die I will have the smoke extinguished from his grave, as a sign that he has been released from the sentence of Gehenna and brought to the World-to-Come. Indeed, when Rabbi Yoḥanan passed away, the smoke ceased to rise up from the grave of Aḥer. A certain eulogizer began his eulogy of Rabbi Yoḥanan with the following: Even the guard at the entrance could not stand before you, our rabbi. The guard at the entrance to Gehenna could not prevent Rabbi Yoḥanan from arranging the release of Aḥer. The Gemara relates: The daughter of Aḥer came before Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi and said to him: Rabbi, provide me with sustenance, as she was in need of food. He said to her: Whose daughter are you? She said to him: I am the daughter of Aḥer. He said to her, angrily: Is there still of his seed remaining in the world? But isn’t it stated: “He shall have neither son nor grandson among his people or any remaining in his dwellings” (Job 18:19)? She said to him: Remember his Torah, and do not remember his deeds. Immediately, fire descended and licked Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s bench. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi wept and said: If God protects the honor of those who treat the Torah with contempt in such a manner, as Aḥer despised the Torah and relinquished its teachings, how much more so would He do for those who treat it with honor. The Gemara poses a question: And Rabbi Meir, how could he learn Torah from the mouth of Aḥer? But didn’t Rabba bar bar Ḥana say that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek Torah from his mouth; for he is an angel of the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 2:7)? The verse teaches: If the rabbi is similar to an angel of the Lord of hosts, perfect in his ways, they should seek Torah from his mouth; but if not, they should not seek Torah from his mouth. Reish Lakish said: Rabbi Meir found a verse and interpreted it homiletically: “Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to My knowledge” (Proverbs 22:17). It does not state “to their knowledge,” but “to My knowledge.” In other words, one must listen to the words of the Sages, despite their flaws, provided that their opinion concurs with that of God. Rav Ḥanina said that one can find support for this idea from here: “Listen, daughter and consider, and incline your ear; forget also your own people and your father’s house” (Psalms 45:11), which likewise indicates that one must listen to the words of a Sage while forgetting, i.e., ignoring, the faulty aspects of his teachings. The Gemara asks: If so, the verses contradict each other, for one source states that one may learn only from a scholar who is perfect in his ways, while the other indicates that it is permitted even to learn from one whose character is flawed. The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. This case, in which it is permitted to a flawed scholar, is referring to an adult; whereas that case, which prohibits doing so, is referring to a minor, who should learn only from a righteous person, so that his ways are not corrupted by a teacher with flawed character. When Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said: In the West, Eretz Yisrael, they say: Rabbi Meir ate a half-ripe date and threw the peel away. In other words, he was able to extract the important content from the inedible shell. Rava taught: What is the meaning of that which is written: “I went down into the garden of nuts, to look at the green plants of the valley” (Song of Songs 6:11)? Why are Torah scholars compared to nuts? To tell you: Just as this nut, despite being soiled with mud and excrement, its content is not made repulsive, as only its shell is soiled; so too a Torah scholar, although he has sinned, his Torah is not made repulsive. The Gemara relates: Rabba bar Sheila found Elijah the prophet, who had appeared to him. He said to Elijah: What is the Holy One, Blessed be He, doing? Elijah said to him: He is stating halakhot transmitted by all of the Sages, but in the name of Rabbi Meir He will not speak. He said to him: Why? He replied: Because he learned halakhot from the mouth of Aḥer. He said to him: Why should he be judged unfavorably for that? Rabbi Meir found a pomegranate and ate its contents while throwing away its peel. He said to him: Indeed, your defense has been heard above. Now God is saying: My son, Meir, says: When a person suffers, e.g., by receiving lashes or the death penalty at the hands of the court, how does the Divine Presence express itself? Woe is Me from My head, woe is Me from My arm, as God empathizes with the sufferer. If the Holy One, Blessed be He, suffers to such an extent over the blood of the wicked, how much more so does He suffer over the blood of the righteous that is spilled. The Gemara relates: Shmuel found Rav Yehuda leaning on the bar of the door, crying. He said to him: Long-toothed one [shinnana], what are you crying for? He said to him: Is it a small matter, that which is written with regard to Sages who have sinned: “Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed? Where is he who counted the towers?” (Isaiah 33:18). He proceeded to explain: “Where is he who counted”; for they would count all the letters of the Torah. “Where is he who weighed”; for they would weigh and compare the minor and major transgressions of the Torah. “Where is he who counted the towers”; for they would teach three hundred halakhot concerning the details of tent impurity involving a wooden closet floating in the air. If they studied a subject so removed from reality in such depths, how much more so did they analyze other issues. And Rabbi Ami said: Doeg asked Ahithophel three hundred questions with regard to a closet floating in the air, as they were both great Torah scholars. And we learned in a mishna (Sanhedrin 90a): Three kings and four commoners have no portion in the World-to-Come, a list that includes Doeg and Ahithophel. If such great Sages could sin and forfeit their share in the World-to-Come, we, who are less knowledgeable than they, what will be of us? He said to him: Long-toothed one, there was mud [tina] in their hearts, i.e., they had certain flaws that prevented their Torah learning from protecting them. The Gemara explains: Aḥer, what was his failing? Greek tunes never ceased from his mouth. He would constantly hum Greek songs, even when he was among the Sages. This shows that from the outset he was drawn to gentile culture and beliefs. Similarly, they said about Aḥer: When he would stand after learning in the study hall, many heretical books, which he had been reading, would fall from his lap. Therefore, he was somewhat unsound even when among the Sages. The gentile philosopher, Nimos HaGardi, asked Rabbi Meir: Does all wool that enters the cauldron to be dyed emerge colored? In other words, do all those who learn Torah emerge as decent and worthy? He said to him: Whoever was clean when he was with his mother, from the outset, will emerge decent and worthy, but all those who were not clean when they were with their mother will not emerge worthy. One who approaches Torah study having been flawed from the outset will not be properly influenced by it. § The Gemara returns to the four who entered the orchard. It is stated above that Rabbi Akiva ascended in safety and descended safely. With regard to him, the verse states: “Draw me, we will run after you; the king has brought me into his chambers” (Song of Songs 1:4). The Gemara relates: And even Rabbi Akiva, the ministering angels sought to push him out of the orchard. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to them: Leave this Elder, for he is fit to serve My glory.
16a
The Gemara asks: What verse did Rabbi Akiva expound that prevented him from making the same mistake as Aḥer? Rabba bar bar Ḥana said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: It was the following: “And He came [ve’ata] from the holy myriads” (Deuteronomy 33:2), which he explained in this manner: He, God, is unique [ot] among His myriads of angels. Therefore, he knew that he had merely seen an angel. And Rabbi Abbahu said: Rabbi Akiva expounded the verse: “Preeminent above a myriad” (Song of Songs 5:10) to indicate that He is exemplary among His myriad. And Reish Lakish said: He expounded the verse: “The Lord of hosts is His name” (Isaiah 48:2); He is the Master in His host. And Rav Ḥiyya bar Abba said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: He expounded the verses: “But the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake; the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, fire; but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, a still, small voice,” and it states in that verse: “And behold, the Lord passed by” (I Kings 19:11–12). Rabbi Akiva used this verse in order to recognize the place of His presence and refrain from trespassing there. § The Gemara returns to discussing the heavenly beings. The Sages taught: Six statements were said with regard to demons: In three ways they are like ministering angels, and in three ways they are like humans. The baraita specifies: In three ways they are like ministering angels: They have wings like ministering angels; and they fly from one end of the world to the other like ministering angels; and they know what will be in the future like ministering angels. The Gemara is puzzled by this last statement: Should it enter your mind that they know this? Not even the angels are privy to the future. Rather, they hear from behind the curtain when God reveals something of the future, like ministering angels. And in three ways they are similar to humans: They eat and drink like humans; they multiply like humans; and they die like humans. Six statements were said with regard to humans: In three ways, they are like ministering angels, and in three ways they are like animals. The baraita explains: In three ways they are like ministering angels: They have intelligence like ministering angels; and they walk upright like ministering angels; and they speak in the holy tongue like ministering angels. In three ways humans are like animals: They eat and drink like animals; and they multiply like animals; and they emit excrement like animals. § The mishna taught: Whoever looks at four things, it would have been better for him had he never entered the world: Anyone who reflects upon that which is above the firmament; that which is below the earth; what was before the creation of the world; and what will be after the end of the world. The Gemara asks: Granted, it is prohibited to reflect on what is above, what is below, and what is after. This is fine, since one is examining things that are not part of the world but lie beyond it. But before the creation of the world, what has happened has happened. Why is it prohibited to reflect upon this? The Gemara explains: Rabbi Yoḥanan and Rabbi Elazar both say: This can be demonstrated through a parable with regard to a flesh-and-blood king who said to his servants: Build for me large palaces on a garbage dump. They went and built them for him. Clearly, in that case, the king does not desire that they mention the garbage dump. Here too, God does not want people to concern themselves with the chaos that preceded the world. It is taught in the mishna: Whoever has no concern for the honor of his Maker deserves to have never come to the world. The Gemara asks: What is lack of concern for the honor of one’s Maker? Rabbi Abba said: This is one who looks at a rainbow. Rav Yosef said: This is one who commits a transgression in private. They proceed to clarify their opinions: Looking at a rainbow constitutes an act of disrespect toward the Divine Presence, as it is written: “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 1:28), and it is a dishonor to God to stare at His likeness. Rav Yosef said: This is one who commits a transgression in private, in accordance with Rabbi Yitzḥak, as Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Whoever commits a transgression in private, it is as though he pushed away the feet of the Divine Presence, as it is stated: “Thus said the Lord: The heavens are My seat, and the earth My footstool” (Isaiah 66:1). If one believes that no one can see what he is doing in private, it is as though he said that God is absent from that place. He is therefore compared to one who attempts to remove God from His footstool. The Gemara raises a difficulty: And is that so? But didn’t Rabbi Ela the Elder say: If a person sees that his inclination is overcoming him, he should go to a place where he is unknown, and wear black, and wrap himself in black, in the manner of mourners, because he should be ashamed of his weakness, and do there what his heart desires, but let him not desecrate the Name of Heaven in public. This shows that sinning in private is sometimes preferable to the public performance of a transgression. The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. This case, where one who commits a transgression in public has no concern for the honor of his Maker, occurs when one is capable of overcoming his inclination and fails to do so. That case, where it is preferable to sin in private, occurs when one is incapable of overcoming his inclination. He is therefore advised to, at the very least, refrain from desecrating God’s name in public. Rabbi Yehuda, son of Rabbi Naḥmani, the disseminator of Reish Lakish, interpreted a verse homiletically: Whoever looks at the following three things, his eyes will grow dim: One who looks at a rainbow, at a Nasi, and at the priests. He explains: At a rainbow, as it is written: “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about, this was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezekiel 1:28). At a Nasi, as it is written: “And you shall put of your splendor upon him” (Numbers 27:20), which indicates that the splendor of the Divine Presence rested upon Moses, who was the Nasi of Israel. The third item, looking at priests, is referring to one who looks at the priests when the Temple is standing, as they would stand on their platform and bless Israel with the ineffable name, at which point the Divine Presence would rest above the joints of their fingers. Apropos this Sage, the Gemara cites another statement of his: Rabbi Yehuda, son of Rabbi Naḥmani, the disseminator of Reish Lakish, interpreted a verse homiletically: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Trust not in a companion, do not put your confidence in an intimate friend” (Micah 7:5)? If the evil inclination says to you: Sin, and the Holy One, Blessed be He, will forgive, do not trust it, since it is stated: “Trust not in a companion [rei’a].” And rei’a is referring to none other than the evil [ra] inclination, as it is stated: “For the inclination of the heart of man is evil [ra]” (Genesis 8:21). And “intimate friend” is referring to none other than the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it is stated: “You are the intimate friend of my youth” (Jeremiah 3:4). Lest you say: Since I am acting in private, who will testify against me? The stones of the house and the beams of the house of each person testify against him, as it is stated: “For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it” (Habakkuk 2:11). And the Sages say: A person’s soul shall itself testify against him, as it is stated: “Guard the doors of your mouth from she who lies in your bosom” (Micah 7:5). What thing lies in a person’s bosom? You must say it is his soul. Rabbi Zerika said: The two ministering angels who accompany him, i.e., each individual, they testify against him, as it is stated: “For He will command his angels over you, to guard you in all your ways” (Psalms 91:11). And the Sages say: A person’s limbs testify against him, as it is stated: “Therefore you are My witnesses, says the Lord, and I am God” (Isaiah 43:12), which indicates that each individual becomes his own witness and testifies against himself on the Day of Judgment. MISHNA: Yosei ben Yo’ezer says not to place one’s hands on offerings before slaughtering them on a Festival because this is considered performing labor with an animal on a Festival. His colleague, Yosef ben Yoḥanan, says to place them; Yehoshua ben Peraḥya says not to place them; Nitai HaArbeli says to place them; Yehuda ben Tabbai says not to place them; Shimon ben Shataḥ says to place them; Shemaya says to place them; Avtalyon says not to place them. Hillel and Menaḥem did not disagree with regard to this issue. Menaḥem departed from his post, and Shammai entered in his stead. Shammai says not to place them; Hillel says to place them.
16b
The first members of each pair served as Nasi, and their counterparts served as deputy Nasi. GEMARA: The Sages taught: Three of the first pairs who say not to place hands and two of the last pairs who say to place hands served as Nasi, and their counterparts served as deputy Nasi; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. And the Rabbis say the opposite: Yehuda ben Tabbai was deputy Nasi and Shimon ben Shataḥ was the Nasi. The Gemara asks: Who is the tanna who taught that which the Sages taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehuda ben Tabbai said: I swear that I will not see the consolation of Israel if I did not kill a conspiring witness. This means that Rabbi Yehuda ben Tabbai sentenced a conspiring witness to death, in order to counter the views of the Sadducees, who would say: Conspiring witnesses are not executed unless the sentenced one has been executed. Their views opposed the traditional view, which maintains that conspiring witnesses are executed only if the one sentenced by their testimony has not yet been executed. Shimon ben Shataḥ said to him: I swear that I will not see the consolation of Israel if you did not shed innocent blood, as the Sages said: Conspiring witnesses are not executed unless they are both found to be conspirators; if only one is found to be a conspirator, he is not executed. And they are not flogged if they are liable to such a penalty, unless they are both found to be conspirators. And if they testified falsely that someone owed money, they do not pay money unless they are both found to be conspirators. Hearing this, Yehuda ben Tabbai immediately accepted upon himself not to rule on any matter of law unless he was in the presence of Shimon ben Shataḥ, as he realized he could not rely on his own judgment. The baraita further relates: All of Yehuda ben Tabbai’s days, he would prostrate himself on the grave of that executed individual, to request forgiveness, and his voice was heard weeping. The people thought that it was the voice of that executed person, rising from his grave. Yehuda ben Tabbai said to them: It is my voice, and you shall know that it is so, for tomorrow, i.e., sometime in the future, he will die, and his voice will no longer be heard. Yehuda ben Tabbai was referring to himself, but he did not want to mention something negative about himself in direct terms. Rav Aḥa, son of Rava, said to Rav Ashi: This provides no conclusive proof that the voice was not that of the executed man, as perhaps ben Tabbai appeased the executed individual in the World-to-Come. Or, alternatively, the latter may have prosecuted him by the law of Heaven, and that is why his voice can no longer be heard. The Gemara returns to its original question: Whose opinion does this baraita follow? Granted, if you say it is in accordance with that of Rabbi Meir, who said that Shimon ben Shataḥ was deputy Nasi while Rabbi Yehuda ben Tabbai was Nasi, that explains why he had previously issued a halakhic ruling in the presence of Shimon ben Shataḥ to execute the conspiring witness, and only after that unfortunate incident did he undertake to issue rulings only in the presence of his colleague. But if you say that the baraita is in accordance with the Sages, who said: Yehuda ben Tabbai was deputy Nasi and Shimon ben Shataḥ the Nasi, why did he need to make such a commitment? May the deputy Nasi issue a halakhic ruling in the presence of the Nasi? The Gemara refutes this: No; what did he mean by accepting upon himself not to rule on his own? He spoke with regard to joining the ruling of others: Even with regard to joining the ruling of others, I will also not join until I have first heard the view of Shimon ben Shataḥ. § It is taught in the mishna: Menaḥem departed and Shammai entered. The Gemara asks: To where did Menaḥem depart? Abaye said: He departed and went astray. Therefore, the mishna did not wish to delve into the details of his case. Rava said: He departed for the king’s service. He received a post from the king and had to leave the court. This is also taught in a baraita: Menaḥem departed for the king’s service, and eighty pairs of students dressed in silk robes left with him to work for the king, and that they no longer studied Torah. § Rav Shemen bar Abba said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: A rabbinic decree [shevut] should never be taken lightly in your eyes, since placing hands on the head of an offering on a Festival is prohibited only as a rabbinic decree because it is considered making use of an animal, which is not considered a prohibited labor but merely resembles one, and yet the greatest scholars of each generation disputed it. The Gemara is puzzled by this statement: This is obvious. Since it is an accepted rabbinic decree, why should people take it lightly? The Gemara answers: It was necessary for him to state it because it is a rabbinic decree related to a mitzva. In other words, although this rabbinic decree of placing the hands on an animal is not performed for one’s own sake but for the purpose of a mitzva, it was nevertheless a serious matter in the eyes of the Sages. The Gemara remains puzzled: This too is obvious. In that case as well, the act is prohibited by the Sages. The Gemara responds: Rabbi Yoḥanan’s statement comes to exclude the opinion of the one who said that they disagree with regard to the actual obligation of placing hands, i.e., whether or not obligatory peace-offerings require placing the hands. He therefore teaches us that it is a rabbinic decree that is the subject of their dispute, not the requirement itself. Rami bar Ḥama said: You can learn from here, from this dispute, that the mitzva of placing hands requires not only placing one’s hands on the animal’s head, but we also require that one places his hands with all his strength. For if it enters your mind that we do not require all his strength, what prohibition does one violate by placing his hands? Let him place them on a Festival as well, as this does not resemble a prohibited action at all. The Gemara raises an objection to this from a baraita: “Speak to the children of [benei] Israel” (Leviticus 1:2). The word benei literally means: Sons of. And it states nearby: “And he shall place his hand on the head of the burnt-offering” (Leviticus 1:4), from which we learn that the sons of Israel place their hands, but the daughters of Israel do not place them. Rabbi Yosei and Rabbi Yishmael say: It is optional for the daughters of Israel to place their hands. They may place their hands if they so choose, although they are not obligated to do so. Rabbi Yosei said: The Sage Abba Elazar related to me the following incident: On one occasion, we had a calf for a peace-offering, and we brought it to the Women’s Courtyard, and women placed their hands on it. We did this not because there is an obligation of placing hands in the case of women, but in order to please the women, by allowing them to sacrifice an offering, in all of its particulars, as men do. Now, if it enters your mind that we require placing hands with all one’s strength, would we perform work with consecrated offerings in order to please the women? Placing one’s hands forcefully on an animal is considered performing work with it, and if one does it without being obligated to do so, he has thereby performed work with an offering. Rather, isn’t it correct to conclude from this that we do not require placing hands with all one’s strength? The Gemara rejects this: Actually, I could say to you that we do require placing hands with all one’s strength, but here they allowed women to place their hands by saying to them: Ease your hands and do not press forcefully, so that their hand placing should not constitute work. The Gemara retorts: If so, then the reason formulated as: Not because there is an obligation to place hands in the case of women, is irrelevant to this law. Let him derive the permission for women to do so from the reason that it is not considered placing hands at all. If placing hands must be performed with all one’s strength, this action the women are performing does not constitute placing hands. Rabbi Ami said: He stated one reason and another. One reason is that it is not considered placing hands at all, as it is not performed with all of one’s strength; and another reason is that they allowed it in order to please the women. Rav Pappa said: Learn from this that anything upon which one may not place objects or upon which one may not sit on Shabbat, its sides are likewise prohibited, for if it enters your mind to say that the sides are permitted, they could have told the women to place their hands on the sides, i.e., on the head of the animal rather than on its back, as the head of the animal is considered as if it were one of its sides. Rather, must one not conclude from this that the sides are prohibited?
17a
Rav Ashi said: Even if you say that sides are permitted in general, there is no proof from here, since anything that is near the animal’s back is considered as its back. Therefore, placing the hands on the head of the animal is the same as placing them on the animal itself, as opposed to its sides. MISHNA: Beit Shammai say: One may bring peace-offerings on a Festival because both the owners and the priests partake of them, but one may not place his hands on them, on the peace-offerings before sacrificing them. However, one may not bring burnt-offerings at all because they are not eaten, and labor is permitted on Festivals only for the sake of preparing food for humans. And Beit Hillel say: One may bring peace-offerings and also burnt-offerings, and one places his hands on both of them. If the festival of Shavuot occurs on the eve of Shabbat, Beit Shammai say: The day of slaughter is after Shabbat, on Sunday. This is the day on which the animals brought in honor of the pilgrim Festival are slaughtered, since they maintain that the Festival burnt-offering is not sacrificed on the Festival day itself but on the following day, and all burnt-offerings vowed by individuals are postponed to the following day. And Beit Hillel say: The day of slaughter is not after Shabbat. Since the slaughter may be performed on the Festival day itself, it is unnecessary to postpone it. But they concede that if Shavuot occurs on Shabbat, the day of slaughter is after Shabbat. The mishna relates that when the day of slaughter was on a Sunday, the High Priest would not dress in his festive garments but would wear his regular clothing. And all were permitted to eulogize and fast on this day. This was done in order not to uphold and reinforce the opinion of the Sadducees, who would say: Shavuot must always occur after Shabbat. As the day of slaughter was on Sunday, it was necessary to demonstrate that we do not accept the view of the Sadducees, and that the day is not a Festival. GEMARA: Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Oshaya said: From where is it derived that the Shavuot offerings can be redressed, i.e., that the obligatory Festival offerings can be sacrificed all seven days following the Festival? As it is stated: “Three times a year all your males shall appear…on the festival of Passover, and on the festival of Shavuot, and on the festival of Sukkot” (Deuteronomy 16:16). The verse compares the festival of Shavuot to the festival of Passover by analogy: Just as one can redress the failure to bring the offering on the festival of Passover on all seven days of the Festival, so too, on the festival of Shavuot, one can redress the failure to bring the offering for all seven, i.e., Shavuot and the six days following it. The Gemara raises a difficulty: But perhaps you should say instead that the verse compares Shavuot to the festival of Sukkot by analogy: Just as the Festival day of Sukkot can be redressed for all eight days, as the Eighth Day of Assembly is part of the Festival, so too can the festival of Shavuot be redressed for all eight days. The Gemara answers: The Eighth Day of Assembly is an independent pilgrimage Festival and is not considered part of Sukkot. The Gemara continues to ask: You can say that when they said that The Eighth Day of Assembly is an independent pilgrimage Festival, this applies only to the issue of peh, zayin, reish, kuf, shin, beit, an acronym for the six halakhot that differentiate The Eighth Day of Assembly from the festival of Sukkot. But with regard to the redress of the Festival offerings, it is considered a day of redress for the first Festival day, as we learned in a mishna (9a): One who did not celebrate by sacrificing the Festival offerings on the first day of the Sukkot Festival can celebrate by sacrificing them throughout the pilgrimage Festival of Sukkot and on the last day of that Festival. If so, the question remains: Why do we not compare Shavuot to Sukkot and allow its offerings to be completed on all eight days? The Gemara answers by implementing the following principle: If you grasped many, you did not grasp anything; if you grasped few, you grasped something. In other words, when one must choose between a smaller number and a larger one, there is more certainty in choosing the smaller one. Even if that choice turns out to be erroneous, it is preferable to the larger one, as it is included in it. In this case, seven is included in eight. Therefore, it is preferable to compare Shavuot to the seven days of Passover than to the eight days of Sukkot. The Gemara asks: But if we do not compare Shavuot to Sukkot, for the sake of what halakha did the Merciful One write the festival of Sukkot in this context? The laws of all the Festivals were already listed, so the Torah must have mentioned their names again in order to compare them for a particular reason. The Gemara answers: The festival of Sukkot was mentioned in order to compare it by analogy to the festival of Passover, in the following manner: Just as the festival of Passover requires lodging overnight in Jerusalem after the conclusion of the Festival, as one may not depart that night, so too the festival of Sukkot requires lodging in Jerusalem after Sukkot has ended. The Gemara asks: And there, with regard to Passover itself, from where do we derive that it requires lodging?
17b
The Gemara answers: One may leave Jerusalem only in the morning, after staying there for the night following the Festival, as it is written following the laws of the Paschal offering: “And you shall turn in the morning and go to your tents” (Deuteronomy 16:7). § We learned in the mishna: If the festival of Shavuot occurs on the eve of Shabbat, Beit Shammai say: The day of slaughter is after Shabbat; and Beit Hillel say: It does not have a day of slaughter. What, is it not that it does not have a day of slaughter at all; i.e., there are no days of redress for an offering that was meant to be sacrificed on the festival of Shavuot itself? The Gemara rejects this: No, Beit Hillel means that it does not require a day of slaughter. The Gemara asks: And what does this teach us; that all offerings are sacrificed on their day? But they have already disputed this once, as we learned in a mishna: Beit Shammai say: One may bring peace-offerings on a Festival but one may not place his hands on them. However, one may not bring burnt-offerings at all; and Beit Hillel say: One may bring peace-offerings and also burnt-offerings, and one places his hands on both of them. Why is it necessary to restate this argument in different terms? The Gemara answers: It is necessary, for had the mishna taught us only this case, that Beit Shammai prohibits bringing burnt-offerings on a Festival, we might have said: It is with regard to this case, a regular Festival followed by a weekday, that Beit Shammai state their opinion, because it is possible to sacrifice these burnt-offerings on the following day, on the day of slaughter after the Festival; but there, with regard to a Shavuot that occurs on a Friday, when one cannot sacrifice offerings on the following day, you might perhaps say that they agree with Beit Hillel that the burnt-offerings should be sacrificed on the Festival itself. It was therefore necessary to state that Beit Shammai’s view is the same in both cases. The reverse also applies: And had it taught us only that case, that there is no day of slaughter after Shabbat, we might have said: It is with regard to that case that Beit Hillel state their view, that the offerings should be sacrificed on the Festival itself, because it is not possible to sacrifice them on the following day, which is Shabbat; but here, on a regular Festival followed by a weekday, you might say that perhaps they agree with Beit Shammai. It is therefore necessary for the mishna to specify both cases. The question of whether there days of redress for Shavuot according to Beit Hillel therefore remains unresolved. The Gemara suggests: Come and hear a proof from a different source: One who did not celebrate by sacrificing the peace-offerings of the Festival on the seven days of Passover, or on the eight days of the festival of Sukkot, or on the first day of Shavuot may no longer celebrate and sacrifice those offerings. The Gemara infers: Does this not mean that if one did not sacrifice on the Festival day of Shavuot itself, this lapse cannot be remedied, thereby demonstrating that there are no days of redress for Shavuot? The Gemara refutes this: No, the term Festival day is referring to the day of slaughter, rather than the Festival itself. The Gemara immediately counters: If so, let us at least resolve from here, i.e., the mishna that there is only one day of slaughter and not seven days. The Gemara rejects this: Say that the wording of the mishna should be corrected, so that instead of: A day of slaughter, it reads: Days of slaughter. The Gemara suggests further: Come and hear a proof from another source, as Rabba bar Shmuel taught the following baraita: The Torah said to count thirty days, as it is stated: “A month of days” (Numbers 11:20), and then sanctify the month with offerings. And the Torah also said to count days from Passover and then sanctify the festival of Shavuot with offerings, as it is stated: “You shall count fifty days” (Leviticus 23:16). From this comparison, we learn the following halakha: Just as the new month is sanctified for the unit of time by which it is counted, i.e., for one day, so too, Shavuot is sanctified for the unit of time by which it is counted, i.e., for one full week, as it is stated: “Seven complete weeks shall there be” (Leviticus 23:15). The Gemara infers from this: Does this not mean that we learn from the month? If so, we can also learn that just as the festival of a month, the New Moon, is one day, so too Shavuot is only one day, without days of redress. Rava said: And how can you understand it that way? Is that to say that for Shavuot we count days but we do not count weeks? Didn’t Abaye say: It is a mitzva to count days, in the counting of the omer, as it is written: “Until the morrow of the seventh week, you shall count fifty days” (Leviticus 23:16); and it is also a mitzva to count weeks, as it is written: “Seven weeks you shall count for yourself, from when the sickle is first put to the standing corn” (Deuteronomy 16:9);and further, it is written: “The festival of weeks [shavuot]” (Deuteronomy 16:10), which indicates that it is a Festival that is established through a count of weeks? Consequently, the days of redress for Shavuot should last a week, in accordance with its components. § In the school of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov, a Sage taught the following: The verse states with regard to Shavuot: “And you shall make a proclamation on this very day, it shall be a holy convocation, you shall do no kind of laborious work” (Leviticus 23:21), and it states in the same chapter: “And when you reap the harvest of your land” (Leviticus 23:22). Which is the Festival on which you make a proclamation and also reap, i.e., which Festival occurs in the harvest season? You must say it is the festival of Shavuot. The Gemara proceeds to analyze the teaching: When exactly does this refer to? If we say it is referring to the Festival day itself, is it permitted to reap on a Festival? Obviously, ordinary work is prohibited on Festivals. Rather, is it not referring to the issue of redress? In other words, it speaks of those days on which redress can be made for the offerings of the Festival, i.e., the days of slaughter, on which one may indeed reap because they are regular weekdays, and they nevertheless have a festive quality. The Gemara comments: And even though the teaching that Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Oshaya said, that the halakha of the redress for Shavuot is derived from the comparison to Passover, was stated, it was nevertheless necessary to state the teaching of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov as well, for if we had learned only the proof that Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Oshaya said, I would say the following: Just as on the days of redress for the festival of Passover it is prohibited to perform any work that will not cause irretrievable loss, as they are part of the Festival, so too on the days of redress for Shavuot it is also prohibited to perform work. We are therefore taught the statement of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov as well, that on these festive days one may reap, as they are weekdays. Conversely, if we had learned the halakha only from the words of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov,