ואפילו הכי לא סמך רבי אלעזר ברבי שמעון אדעתיה קביל עליה יסורי באורתא הוו מייכי ליה שיתין נמטי לצפרא נגדי מתותיה שיתין משיכלי דמא וכיבא
§ After this digression, the Gemara returns to the story of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon. And although his flesh did not putrefy, even so Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, still did not rely on his own opinion, as he was worried that he may have erred in one of his decisions. He accepted afflictions upon himself as atonement for his possible sins. At night his attendants would spread out sixty felt bed coverings for him. In the morning, despite the bed coverings, they would remove sixty basins of blood and pus from underneath him.
למחר עבדה ליה דביתהו שיתין מיני לפדא ואכיל להו וברי ולא הות שבקא ליה דביתהו למיפק לבי מדרשא כי היכי דלא לדחקוהו רבנן
The following day, i.e., every morning, his wife would prepare for him sixty types of relish [lifda] made from figs, and he would eat them and become healthy. His wife, concerned for his health, would not allow him to go to the study hall, so that the Rabbis would not push him beyond his limits.
באורתא אמר להו אחיי ורעיי בואו בצפרא אמר להו זילו מפני ביטול תורה יומא חד שמעה דביתהו אמרה ליה את קא מייתית להו עילויך כלית ממון של בית אבא אימרדה אזלה לבית נשא
In the evening, he would say to his pains: My brothers and my friends, come! In the morning he would say to them: Go away, due to the dereliction of Torah study that you cause me. One day his wife heard him inviting his pains. She said to him: You are bringing the pains upon yourself. You have diminished the money of my father’s home due to the costs of treating your self-imposed afflictions. She rebelled against him and went back to her father’s home, and he was left with no one to care for him.
סליקו ואתו הנך [שיתין] ספונאי עיילו ליה שיתין עבדי כי נקיטי שיתין ארנקי ועבדו ליה שיתין מיני לפדא ואכיל להו
Meanwhile, there were these sixty sailors who came and entered to visit Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon. They brought him sixty servants, each bearing sixty purses, and prepared him sixty types of relish and he ate them. When they had encountered trouble at sea, these sailors had prayed to be saved in the merit of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon. Upon returning to dry land, they presented him with these gifts.
יומא חד אמרה לה לברתה זילי בקי באבוך מאי קא עביד האידנא אתיא אמר לה זילי אמרי לאמך שלנו גדול משלהם קרי אנפשיה (משלי לא, יד) היתה כאניות סוחר ממרחק תביא לחמה אכל ושתי וברי נפק לבי מדרשא
One day, the wife of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, said to her daughter: Go and check on your father and see what he is doing now. The daughter came to her father, who said to her: Go and tell your mother that ours is greater than theirs, i.e., my current financial status is greater than that of your father’s household. He read the verse about himself: “She is like the merchant-ships; she brings her food from afar” (Proverbs 31:14). As he was unhindered by his wife from going to the study hall, Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, ate and drank and became healthy and went out to the study hall.
אייתו לקמיה שתין מיני דמא טהרינהו הוה קא מרנני רבנן ואמרי סלקא דעתך לית בהו חד ספק אמר להו אם כמותי הוא יהיו כולם זכרים ואם לאו תהא נקבה אחת ביניהם היו כולם זכרים ואסיקו להו ר' אלעזר על שמיה
The students brought sixty questionable samples of blood before him for inspection, to determine whether or not they were menstrual blood. He deemed them all ritually pure, thereby permitting the women to engage in intercourse with their husbands. The Rabbis of the academy were murmuring about Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, and saying: Can it enter your mind that there is not one uncertain sample among them? He must be mistaken. Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, said to them: If the halakha is in accordance with my ruling, let all the children born from these women be males. And if not, let there be one female among them. It turned out that all of the children were males, and they were called Elazar in his name.
תניא אמר רבי כמה פריה ורביה ביטלה רשעה זו מישראל
It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi lamented and said concerning the wife of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon: How much procreation has this evil woman prevented from the Jewish people. She caused women not to have children by preventing her husband from going to the study hall and rendering his halakhic rulings.
כי הוה קא ניחא נפשיה אמר לה לדביתהו ידענא בדרבנן דרתיחי עלי ולא מיעסקי בי שפיר אוגנין בעיליתאי ולא תידחלין מינאי א"ר שמואל בר נחמני אישתעיא לי אימיה דרבי יונתן דאישתעיא לה דביתהו דרבי אלעזר ברבי שמעון לא פחות מתמני סרי ולא טפי מעשרין ותרין שנין אוגניתיה בעיליתא
As Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, was dying, he said to his wife: I know that the Rabbis are angry at me for arresting several thieves who are their relatives, and therefore they will not properly tend to my burial. When I die, lay me in my attic and do not be afraid of me, i.e., do not fear that anything will happen to my corpse. Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said: Rabbi Yonatan’s mother told me that the wife of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, told her: I laid him in the attic for no less than eighteen years and for no more than twenty-two years.
כי הוה סליקנא מעיננא ליה במזייה כי הוה משתמטא ביניתא מיניה הוה אתי דמא יומא חד חזאי ריחשא דקא נפיק מאוניה חלש דעתאי איתחזי לי בחלמא אמר לי לא מידי הוא יומא חד שמעי בזילותא דצורבא מרבנן ולא מחאי כדבעי לי
His wife continued: When I would go up to the attic I would check his hair, and when a hair would fall out from his head, blood would come and appear in its place, i.e., his corpse did not decompose. One day I saw a worm emerging from his ear, and I became very distressed that perhaps his corpse had begun to decompose. My husband appeared to me in a dream and said to me: It is no matter for concern. Rather, this is a consequence for a sin of mine, as one day I heard a Torah scholar being insulted and I did not protest as I should have. Therefore, I received this punishment in my ear, measure for measure.
כי הוו אתו בי תרי לדינא הוו קיימי אבבא אמר מר מילתיה ומר מילתיה נפיק קלא מעיליתיה ואמר איש פלוני אתה חייב איש פלוני אתה זכאי יומא חד הוה קא מינציא דביתהו בהדי שבבתא אמרה לה תהא כבעלה שלא ניתן לקבורה אמרי רבנן כולי האי ודאי לאו אורח ארעא
During this period, when two people would come for adjudication of a dispute, they would stand by the doorway to the home of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon. One litigant would state his side of the matter, and the other litigant would state his side of the matter. A voice would issue forth from his attic, saying: So-and-so, you are guilty; so-and-so, you are innocent. The Gemara relates: One day, the wife of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, was quarreling with a neighbor. The neighbor said to her as a curse: This woman should be like her husband, who was not buried. When word spread that Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, had not been buried, the Rabbis said: This much, i.e., now that the matter is known, to continue in this state is certainly not proper conduct, and they decided to bury him.
איכא דאמרי רבי שמעון בן יוחאי איתחזאי להו בחלמא אמר להו פרידה אחת יש לי ביניכם ואי אתם רוצים להביאה אצלי אזול רבנן לאעסוקי ביה לא שבקו בני עכבריא דכל שני דהוה ניים רבי אלעזר ברבי שמעון בעיליתיה לא סליק חיה רעה למתייהו
There are those who say that the Sages found out that Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, had not been buried when Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai, his father, appeared to them in a dream and said to them: I have a single fledgling among you, i.e., my son, and you do not wish to bring it to me by burying him next to me. Consequently, the Sages went to tend to his burial. The residents of Akhbaria, the town where the corpse of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, was resting, did not allow them to do so, as they realized that all the years that Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, had been resting in his attic, no wild beast had entered their town. The townspeople attributed this phenomenon to his merit and they did not want to lose this protection.
יומא חד מעלי יומא דכיפורי הוה הוו טרידי שדרו רבנן לבני בירי ואסקוהו לערסיה ואמטיוה למערתא דאבוה אשכחוה לעכנא דהדרא לה למערתא אמרו לה עכנא עכנא פתחי פיך ויכנס בן אצל אביו פתח להו
One day, which was Yom Kippur eve, everyone in the town was preoccupied with preparations for the Festival. The Rabbis sent a message to the residents of the adjacent town of Biri instructing them to help remove the body of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, from the attic, and they removed his bier and brought it to his father’s burial cave. They found a serpent [le’akhna] that had placed its tail in its mouth and completely encircled the entrance to the cave, denying them access. They said to it: Serpent, serpent! Open your mouth to allow a son to enter next to his father. It opened its mouth for them and uncoiled, and they buried Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, alongside his father.
שלח רבי לדבר באשתו שלחה ליה כלי שנשתמש בו קודש ישתמש בו חול תמן אמרין באתר דמרי ביתא תלא זייניה כולבא רעיא קולתיה תלא שלח לה נהי דבתורה גדול ממני אבל במעשים טובים מי גדול ממני שלחה ליה בתורה מיהא גדול ממך לא ידענא במעשים ידענא דהא קביל עליה יסורי
The Gemara continues: After this incident, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi sent a messenger to speak with the wife of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, and propose marriage. She sent a message to him in response: Shall a vessel used by someone sacred, i.e., Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, be used by someone who is, relative to him, profane? There, in Eretz Yisrael, they say that she used the colloquial adage: In the location where the master of the house hangs his sword, shall the contemptible shepherd hang his basket [kultei]? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi sent a message back to her: Granted that in Torah he was greater than I, but was he greater than I in pious deeds? She sent a message back to him: Whether he was greater than you in Torah I do not know; but I do know that he was greater than you in pious deeds, as he accepted afflictions upon himself.
בתורה מאי היא דכי הוו יתבי רבן שמעון בן גמליאל ורבי יהושע בן קרחה אספסלי יתבי קמייהו רבי אלעזר בר' שמעון ורבי אארעא
The Gemara asks: With regard to Torah knowledge, what is the event that demonstrated the superiority of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, over Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi? The Gemara answers: When Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa, the leading Sages of the generation, were sitting on benches [asafselei] teaching Torah along with the other Sages, the youthful pair Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi would sit before them on the ground out of respect.
מקשו ומפרקו אמרי מימיהן אנו שותים והם יושבים על גבי קרקע עבדו להו ספסלי אסקינהו
These two young students would engage in discussions with the Sages, in which they would raise difficulties and answer them brilliantly. Seeing the young scholars’ brilliance, the leading Sages said: From their waters we drink, i.e., we are learning from them, and they are the ones sitting on the ground? Benches were prepared for Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, and they were promoted to sit alongside the other Sages.
אמר להן רבן שמעון בן גמליאל פרידה אחת יש לי ביניכם ואתם מבקשים לאבדה הימני אחתוהו לרבי אמר להן רבי יהושע בן קרחה מי שיש לו אב יחיה ומי שאין לו אב ימות אחתוהו נמי לרבי אלעזר ברבי שמעון חלש דעתיה אמר קא חשביתו ליה כוותי
Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said to the other Sages present: I have a single fledgling among you, i.e., my son Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, and you are seeking to take it from me? By promoting my son to such a prestigious position at such a young age, his chances of being adversely affected by the evil eye are greatly increased. They demoted Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi to sit on the ground, at his father’s request. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa said to the Sages: Should one who has a father to care for him, i.e., Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, be demoted so that he may live, while the other one, who does not have a father to care for him, i.e., Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, should be allowed to die? Upon hearing his argument, the Sages also demoted Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, without explaining to him the reason for his demotion. He became offended and said to them: You are equating Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi to me, by demoting us together. In fact, I am much greater than he.
עד ההוא יומא כי הוה אמר רבי מילתא הוה מסייע ליה רבי אלעזר ברבי שמעון מכאן ואילך כי הוה אמר רבי יש לי להשיב אמר ליה רבי אלעזר ברבי שמעון כך וכך יש לך להשיב זו היא תשובתך השתא היקפתנו תשובות חבילות שאין בהן ממש
As a result of that incident, the relationship of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, with Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi changed. Up until that day, when Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi would state a matter of Torah, Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, would support him by citing proofs for his opinion. From this point forward, when they were discussing a subject and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi would say: I have an argument to respond, Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, would preempt him by saying to him: Such and such is what you have to respond, and this is the refutation of your claim. Now that you asked these questions, you have surrounded us with bundles of refutations that have no substance, i.e., you have forced us to give unnecessary answers. Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, would anticipate Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s comments and immediately dismiss them as having no value.
חלש דעתיה דרבי אתא א"ל לאבוה אמר ליה בני אל ירע לך שהוא ארי בן ארי ואתה ארי בן שועל
Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi became offended. He came and told his father what had transpired. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said to him: My son, do not let his actions offend you, as he is a lion, son of a lion, and you are a lion, son of a fox. Rabbi Elazar’s father, Rabbi Shimon, was a renowned Sage, and therefore Rabbi Elazar’s sagacity is not surprising. In any event, this incident demonstrates the superiority of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi with regard to knowledge of Torah.
והיינו דאמר רבי שלשה ענוותנין הן ואלו הן אבא
The Gemara concludes: This incident is the background to a statement which Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: There are three prototypical modest people, and they are: Father, i.e., Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel;