Avodah Zarah 10bעבודה זרה י׳ ב
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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10bי׳ ב

ולימא ליה מימר [בהדיא] אמר שמעי (בי) חשובי רומי ומצערו ליה ולימא ליה בלחש משום דכתיב (קהלת י, כ) כי עוף השמים יוליך את הקול

The Gemara asks: But why not let him say his advice explicitly? Why did Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi answer in such a circumspect way, which could have been interpreted incorrectly? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to himself: If I answer openly, the important Romans might hear me and will cause me anguish. The Gemara asks: But why not let him say his advice quietly? The Gemara explains: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was still worried that they might hear what he had said, because it is written: “Curse not the king, no, not in your thought, and curse not the rich in your bedchamber, for a bird of the air shall carry the voice” (Ecclesiastes 10:20).

הוה ליה ההוא ברתא דשמה גירא קעבדה איסורא שדר ליה גרגירא שדר ליה כוסברתא שדר ליה כרתי שלח ליה חסא

The Gemara relates: Antoninus had a certain daughter whose name was Gira, who performed a prohibited action, i.e., she engaged in promiscuous intercourse. Antoninus sent a rocket plant [gargira] to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, to allude to the fact that Gira had acted promiscuously [gar]. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi sent him coriander [kusbarta], which Antoninus understood as a message to kill [kos] his daughter [barta], as she was liable to receive the death penalty for her actions. Antoninus sent him leeks [karti] to say: I will be cut off [karet] if I do so. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi then sent him lettuce [ḥasa], i.e., Antoninus should have mercy [ḥas] on her.

כל יומא הוה שדר ליה דהבא פריכא במטראתא וחיטי אפומייהו אמר להו אמטיו חיטי לרבי אמר [ליה רבי] לא צריכנא אית לי טובא אמר ליהוו למאן דבתרך דיהבי לבתראי דאתו בתרך ודאתי מינייהו ניפוק עלייהו

The Gemara relates: Every day Antoninus would send to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi crushed gold in large sacks, with wheat in the opening of the sacks. He would say to his servants: Bring this wheat to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, and they did not realize that the bags actually contained gold. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to Antoninus: I do not need gold, as I have plenty. Antoninus said: The gold should be for those who will come after you, who will give it to the last ones who come after you. And those who descend from them will bring forth the gold that I now give you, and will be able to pay taxes to the Romans from this money.

ה"ל ההיא נקרתא דהוה עיילא מביתיה לבית רבי כל יומא הוה מייתי תרי עבדי חד קטליה אבבא דבי רבי וחד קטליה אבבא דביתיה א"ל בעידנא דאתינא לא נשכח גבר קמך

The Gemara relates anther anecdote involving Antoninus. Antoninus had a certain underground cave from which there was a tunnel that went from his house to the house of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. Every day he would bring two servants to serve him. He would kill one at the entrance of the house of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, and would kill the other one at the entrance of his house, so that no living person would know that he had visited Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. He said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: When I come to visit, let no man be found before you.

יומא חד אשכחיה לר' חנינא בר חמא דהוה יתיב אמר לא אמינא לך בעידנא דאתינא לא נשכח גבר קמך א"ל לית דין בר איניש א"ל אימא ליה לההוא עבדא דגני אבבא דקאים וליתי

One day, Antoninus found that Rabbi Ḥanina bar Ḥama was sitting there. He said: Did I not tell you that when I come to visit, let no man be found before you? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: This is not a human being; he is like an angel, and you have nothing to fear from him. Antoninus said to Rabbi Ḥanina bar Ḥama: Tell that servant who is sleeping at the entrance that he should rise and come.

אזל ר' חנינא בר חמא אשכחיה דהוה קטיל אמר היכי אעביד אי איזיל ואימא ליה דקטיל אין משיבין על הקלקלה אשבקיה ואיזיל קא מזלזלינן במלכותא בעא רחמי עליה ואחייה ושדריה אמר ידענא זוטי דאית בכו מחיה מתים מיהו בעידנא דאתינא לא נשכח איניש קמך

Rabbi Ḥanina bar Ḥama went and found that the servant Antoninus referred to had been killed. He said to himself: How shall I act? If I go and tell Antoninus that he was killed, this is problematic, as one should not report distressing news. If I leave him and go, then I would be treating the king with disrespect. He prayed for God to have mercy and revived the servant, and he sent him to Antoninus. Antoninus said: I know that even the least among you can revive the dead; but when I come to visit let no man be found before you, even one as great as Rabbi Ḥanina bar Ḥama.

כל יומא הוה משמש לרבי מאכיל ליה משקי ליה כי הוה בעי רבי למיסק לפוריא הוה גחין קמי פוריא א"ל סק עילואי לפורייך אמר לאו אורח ארעא לזלזולי במלכותא כולי האי אמר מי ישימני מצע תחתיך לעולם הבא

The Gemara relates: Every day Antoninus would minister to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi; he would feed him and give him to drink. When Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi wanted to ascend to his bed, Antoninus would bend down in front of the bed and say to him: Ascend upon me to your bed. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said in response: It is not proper conduct to treat the king with this much disrespect. Antoninus said: Oh, that I were set as a mattress under you in the World-to-Come!

א"ל אתינא לעלמא דאתי א"ל אין א"ל והכתיב (עובדיה א, יח) לא יהיה שריד לבית עשו בעושה מעשה עשו

On another occasion, Antoninus said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: Will I enter the World-to-Come? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: Yes. Antoninus said to him: But isn’t it written: “And there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau” (Obadiah 1:18)? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi answered: The verse is stated with regard to those who perform actions similar to those of the wicked Esau, not to people like you.

תניא נמי הכי לא יהיה שריד לבית עשו יכול לכל ת"ל לבית עשו בעושה מעשה עשו

This is also taught in a baraita: From the verse: “And there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau,” one might have thought that this applies to everyone descended from Esau, irrespective of an individual’s actions. Therefore, the verse states: “Of the house of Esau,” to indicate that the verse is stated only with regard to those who continue in the way of Esau, and perform actions similar to those of Esau.

א"ל והכתיב (יחזקאל לב, כט) שמה אדום מלכיה וכל נשיאיה א"ל מלכיה ולא כל מלכיה כל נשיאיה ולא כל שריה

Antoninus said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: But isn’t it written in the description of the netherworld: “There is Edom, her kings and all her leaders” (Ezekiel 32:29)? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: The verse states: “Her kings,” but not: All of her kings, and likewise it states: “All her leaders,” but not: All of her officers. Some of them will merit the World-to-Come.

תניא נמי הכי מלכיה ולא כל מלכיה כל נשיאיה ולא כל שריה מלכיה ולא כל מלכיה פרט לאנטונינוס בן אסוירוס כל נשיאיה ולא כל שריה פרט לקטיעה בר שלום

This is also taught in a baraita: The verse states: “Her kings,” but not: All of her kings, and: “All her leaders,” but not: All of her officers. The inference learned from the wording of the verse: “Her kings,” but not: All of her kings, serves to exclude Antoninus the son of Asveirus; and the inference from the wording: “All her leaders,” but not: All of her officers, serves to exclude the Roman officer Ketia, son of Shalom.

קטיעה בר שלום מאי הוי דההוא קיסרא דהוה סני ליהודאי אמר להו לחשיבי דמלכותא מי שעלה לו נימא ברגלו יקטענה ויחיה או יניחנה ויצטער אמרו לו יקטענה ויחיה

The Gemara asks: What is it that occurred involving Ketia, son of Shalom? As there was a certain Roman emperor who hated the Jews. He said to the important members of the kingdom: If one had an ulcerous sore [nima] rise on his foot, should he cut it off and live, or leave it and suffer? They said to him: He should cut it off and live. The ulcerous sore was a metaphor for the Jewish people, whom the emperor sought to eliminate as the cause of harm for the Roman Empire.

אמר להו קטיעה בר שלום חדא דלא יכלת להו לכולהו דכתיב (זכריה ב, י) כי כארבע רוחות השמים פרשתי אתכם מאי קאמר אלימא דבדרתהון בד' רוחות האי כארבע רוחות לארבע רוחות מבעי ליה אלא כשם שא"א לעולם בלא רוחות כך א"א לעולם בלא ישראל ועוד קרו לך מלכותא קטיעה

Ketia, son of Shalom, said to them: It is unwise to do so, for two reasons. One is that you cannot destroy all of them, as it is written: “For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, says the Lord” (Zechariah 2:10). He clarified: What is it saying? Shall we say that the verse means that God has scattered them to the four winds of the world? If so, this phrase: “As the four winds,” is inaccurate, since it should have said: To the four winds. Rather, this is what the verse is saying: Just as the world cannot exist without winds, so too, the world cannot exist without the Jewish people, and they will never be destroyed. And furthermore, if you attempt to carry out the destruction of the Jews, they will call you the severed kingdom, as the Roman Empire would be devoid of Jews, but Jews would exist in other locations.

א"ל מימר שפיר קאמרת מיהו כל דזכי (מלכא) שדו ליה לקמוניא חלילא כד הוה נקטין ליה ואזלין אמרה ליה ההיא מטרוניתא ווי ליה לאילפא דאזלא בלא מכסא נפל על רישא דעורלתיה קטעה אמר יהבית מכסי חלפית ועברית כי קא שדו ליה אמר כל נכסאי לר"ע וחביריו יצא ר"ע ודרש (שמות כט, כח) והיה לאהרן ולבניו מחצה לאהרן ומחצה לבניו

The emperor said to Ketia: You have spoken well and your statement is correct; but they throw anyone who defeats the king in argument into a house full of ashes [lekamonya ḥalila], where he would die. When they were seizing Ketia and going to take him to his death, a certain matron [matronita] said to him: Woe to the ship that goes without paying the tax. Ketia bent down over his foreskin, severed it, and said: I gave my tax; I will pass and enter. When they threw him into the house of ashes, he said: All of my property is given to Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues. How was this inheritance to be divided? The Gemara relates: Rabbi Akiva went out and taught that the verse: “And it shall be for Aaron and his sons” (Exodus 29:28), means half to Aaron and half to his sons. Here too, as Rabbi Akiva is mentioned separately, he should receive half, while his colleagues receive the other half.

יצתה בת קול ואמרה קטיעה בר שלום מזומן לחיי העוה"ב בכה רבי ואמר יש קונה עולמו בשעה אחת ויש קונה עולמו בכמה שנים

The Gemara returns to the story of Ketia. A Divine Voice emerged and said: Ketia, son of Shalom, is destined for life in the World-to-Come. When Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi heard this, he wept, saying: There is one who acquires his share in the World-to-Come in one moment, and there is one who acquires his share in the World-to-Come only after many years of toil.

אנטונינוס שמשיה לרבי אדרכן שמשיה לרב כי שכיב אנטונינוס א"ר נתפרדה חבילה כי שכיב אדרכן אמר רב

The Gemara relates: Antoninus would attend to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, and similarly the Persian king Adrakan would attend to Rav. When Antoninus died, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: The bundle is separated. When Adrakan died, Rav likewise said: