Bava Metzia 85a:7בבא מציעא פ״ה א:ז
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85aפ״ה א

ובני בתירה ויונתן בן שאול רבן שמעון בן גמליאל הא דאמרן בני בתירה דאמר מר הושיבוהו בראש ומינוהו לנשיא עליהן יונתן בן שאול דקא"ל לדוד (שמואל א כג, יז) ואתה תמלוך על ישראל ואני אהיה לך למשנה

the sons of Beteira; and Jonathan, son of Saul. The Gemara discusses each case: The incident revealing the modesty of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel is that which we just said, as he referred to himself modestly as a fox. The sons of Beteira were exceptionally modest, as they served in the position of Nasi and yet abdicated their positions in favor of Hillel when he emigrated from Babylonia to Eretz Yisrael. As the Master said: The sons of Beteira, upon recognizing that Hillel was a superior expert in halakha, seated him at the head and appointed him Nasi over them (see Pesaḥim 66a). Jonathan, son of Saul, was extremely modest, as he said to David: “And you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be second to you” (I Samuel 23:17), despite the fact that his father, Saul, was the current king.

ממאי דלמא יונתן בן שאול דחזא דגריר עלמא בתר דוד בני בתירה נמי דחזו להלל דעדיף מינייהו אלא רבן שמעון בן גמליאל ודאי ענוותן הוה

The Gemara asks: From where do we know that the aforementioned men were truly modest? Perhaps Jonathan, son of Saul, relinquished his rights to the kingship not due to modesty, but because he saw that the world, i.e., the masses, were drawn after David, and he felt he had no other recourse. With regard to the sons of Beteira also, perhaps they abdicated only because they saw that Hillel was greater than they, as he was able to answer questions that they could not resolve. The Gemara adds: But Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel certainly was a truly modest individual.

אמר רבי חביבין יסורין קבל עליה תליסר שני שית בצמירתא ושבע בצפרנא ואמרי לה שבעה בצמירתא ושית בצפרנא

§ The Gemara returns to the previous incident. When he heard that the greatness of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, was due to his suffering, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to himself: Afflictions are evidently precious. He accepted thirteen years of afflictions upon himself; six years of stones in the kidneys and seven years of scurvy [bitzfarna]. And some say it was seven years of stones in the kidneys and six years of scurvy.

אהורייריה דבי רבי הוה עתיר משבור מלכא כד הוה רמי כיסתא לחיותא הוה אזיל קלא בתלתא מילי הוה מכוין דרמי בההיא שעתא דעייל רבי לבית הכסא ואפי' הכי מעבר ליה קליה לקלייהו ושמעו ליה נחותי ימא

The Gemara relates: The stableman [ahuriyareih] of the house of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was wealthier than King Shapur of Persia, due to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s abundant livestock. When the stableman would place fodder before the livestock, the sound of their lowing would travel the distance of three mil. He would calculate the right moment so that he would place the fodder before the animals at precisely that time when Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi entered the latrine, so that the lowing of the animals would drown out Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s screams of pain. But even so, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s voice was so loud that it overcame the sound of the livestock, and even sailors heard it out at sea.

ואפ"ה יסורי דר' אלעזר בר' שמעון עדיפי מדרבי דאילו ר"א בר"ש מאהבה באו ומאהבה הלכו דרבי ע"י מעשה באו וע"י מעשה הלכו

The Gemara says: But even so, the afflictions of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, were greater than those of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. The reason is that whereas the afflictions of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, came upon him out of love, and left him out of love, i.e., they were solely the result of his own request, not because he deserved them, those of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi came upon him due to an incident and left him due to another incident.

ע"י מעשה באו מאי היא דההוא עגלא דהוו קא ממטו ליה לשחיטה אזל תליא לרישיה בכנפיה דרבי וקא בכי אמר ליה זיל לכך נוצרת אמרי הואיל ולא קא מרחם ליתו עליה יסורין

The Gemara stated that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s suffering came upon him due to an incident. What was that incident that led to his suffering? The Gemara answers that there was a certain calf that was being led to slaughter. The calf went and hung its head on the corner of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s garment and was weeping. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to it: Go, as you were created for this purpose. It was said in Heaven: Since he was not compassionate toward the calf, let afflictions come upon him.

וע"י מעשה הלכו יומא חד הוה קא כנשא אמתיה דרבי ביתא הוה שדיא בני כרכושתא וקא כנשא להו אמר לה שבקינהו כתיב (תהלים קמה, ט) ורחמיו על כל מעשיו אמרי הואיל ומרחם נרחם עליה

The Gemara explains the statement: And left him due to another incident. One day, the maidservant of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was sweeping his house. There were young weasels [karkushta] lying about, and she was in the process of sweeping them out. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to her: Let them be, as it is written: “The Lord is good to all; and His mercies are over all His works” (Psalms 145:9). They said in Heaven: Since he was compassionate, we shall be compassionate on him, and he was relieved of his suffering.

כולהו שני יסורי דר' אלעזר לא שכיב איניש בלא זמניה כולהו שני יסורי דרבי לא איצטריך עלמא למיטרא דאמר רבה בר רב שילא קשי יומא דמיטרא כיומא דדינא ואמר אמימר אי לאו צריך לעלמא בעו רבנן רחמי עליה ומבטלי ליה אפי' הכי כי הוו עקרי פוגלא ממשרא הוה קיימא בירא מליא מיא

The Gemara relates: During all the years of the suffering of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, no one died prematurely, as his afflictions atoned for the entire generation. During all the years of the suffering of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, the world did not require any rain, as the moisture of the dew was sufficient. As Rabba bar Rav Sheila said: A day of rain is as difficult as a day of judgment, due to the damage that storms and flooding can cause. And Ameimar said: Were it not for the fact that rain is needed by people, the Sages would pray for mercy and annul it, due to the nuisances of rain. And even so, despite the fact that there was no rain all those years, when a radish was uprooted from its row in the field, there remained in its place a hole filled with water, due to the moisture in the earth.

איקלע רבי לאתריה דר' אלעזר בר' שמעון א"ל יש לו בן לאותו צדיק אמרו לו יש לו בן וכל זונה שנשכרת בשנים שוכרתו בשמנה אתייה אסמכיה ברבי ואשלמיה לר' שמעון בן איסי בן לקוניא אחות דאמיה

The Gemara continues discussing Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s relationship with Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon. Once Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi arrived at the place of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon. He said to the locals: Does that righteous person have a son? They said to him: He has a son who is wayward, and any prostitute who hires herself out to others for two coins hires him for eight, due to his handsomeness. Upon hearing this report, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi resolved to extricate Rabbi Elazar’s son from his plight. He brought him back with him, ordained him as a rabbi, and gave him over to Rabbi Shimon ben Isi ben Lakonya, the brother of the boy’s mother, to teach him Torah.

כל יומא הוה אמר לקרייתי אנא איזיל אמר ליה חכים עבדו יתך וגולתא דדהבא פרסו עלך ורבי קרו לך ואת אמרת לקרייתי אנא איזיל אמר ליה מומי עזובה דא כי גדל אתא יתיב במתיבתא דרבי שמעיה לקליה אמר הא קלא דמי לקליה דר' אלעזר בר' שמעון אמרו ליה בריה הוא

Each day, the boy would say: I am going back to my town, because it was difficult for him to study. Rabbi Shimon ben Isi ben Lakonya said to him: You have been made wise, and a golden cloak has been spread over you when you were ordained, and you are called by the title Rabbi, and yet you say: I am going back to my town? The boy said to him: I vow [momei] that this thought of leaving is now abandoned, i.e., I will stay and improve my ways. When the boy matured and became a Torah scholar, he came and sat in the academy of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi heard his voice and said: This voice is similar to the voice of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon. Those who were present said to him: It is his son.

קרי עליה (משלי יא, ל) פרי צדיק עץ חיים ולוקח נפשות חכם פרי צדיק עץ חיים זה ר' יוסי בר' אלעזר בר' שמעון ולוקח נפשות חכם זה ר' שמעון בן איסי בן לקוניא

Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi read the verse about him: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that is wise wins souls” (Proverbs 11:30). The Gemara explains, with regard to the phrase “the fruit of the righteous,” that this is referring to Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, who was the son of a righteous individual and became a great scholar in his own right. When the verse states: “And he that is wise wins souls,” this is referring to Rabbi Shimon ben Isi ben Lakonya, who successfully helped Rabbi Yosei reach his potential.

כי נח נפשיה אמטוהו למערתא דאבוה הוה הדרא לה עכנא למערתא אמר ליה עכנא עכנא פתח פיך ויכנס בן אצל אביו לא פתחא להו כסבורים העם לומר שזה גדול מזה

When this Rabbi Yosei died, he was brought to his father’s cave for burial. A serpent encircled the entrance of the cave, denying any access. Those present said to it: Serpent, serpent! Open your mouth, so that a son may enter next to his father. The serpent did not open its mouth for them. The people there thought that Rabbi Yosei was denied burial alongside his father because this one, Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, was greater than that one, Rabbi Yosei.

יצתה בת קול ואמרה לא מפני שזה גדול מזה אלא זה היה בצער מערה וזה לא היה בצער מערה

A Divine Voice emerged and said: It is not because this one is greater than that one; rather, it is because this one, Rabbi Elazar, experienced the suffering of the cave, while that one, i.e., Rabbi Yosei, did not experience suffering of the cave. Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, suffered with his father for thirteen years in a cave while hiding from the Romans (see Shabbat 33b).

איקלע רבי לאתריה דר' טרפון אמר להו יש לו בן לאותו צדיק שהיה מקפח את בניו אמרו לו בן אין לו בן בת יש לו וכל זונה שנשכרת בשנים שוכרתו בשמנה

The Gemara relates a similar incident: Once Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi arrived at the place of Rabbi Tarfon. He said to the townspeople: Does that righteous person, Rabbi Tarfon, who would take an oath by the life of his children, have a son? Rabbi Tarfon was wont to take oaths by the lives of his children (see Oholot 16:1). They said to him: He does not have a son, but he has a grandson, a son from his daughter, and every prostitute who is hired for two coins hires him for eight.

אתיוהו לקמיה אמר ליה אי הדרת בך יהיבנא לך ברתאי הדר ביה איכא דאמרי נסבה וגירשה איכא דאמרי לא נסבה כלל כדי שלא יאמרו בשביל זו חזר זה

The townspeople brought Rabbi Tarfon’s grandson before Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, who said to him: If you repent from your evil ways, I will give you my daughter in marriage. He repented and became a righteous individual. There are those who say that he married Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s daughter and subsequently divorced her. There are those who say that he did not marry her at all, so that it would not be said about him: It was for the sake of that woman that this man repented.

ולמה ליה כולי האי דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב ואמרי לה אמר ר' חייא בר אבא אמר ר' יוחנן ואמרי לה אמר ר' שמואל בר נחמני אמר ר' יונתן כל המלמד את בן חבירו תורה זוכה ויושב בישיבה של מעלה שנאמר (ירמיהו טו, יט) אם תשוב ואשיבך לפני תעמוד

§ The Gemara asks: And why did Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi exert himself so much to save these wayward sons? The Gemara answers: It is because of that which Rav Yehuda says that Rav says, and some say that which Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says, and some say that which Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says that Rabbi Yonatan says: Anyone who teaches Torah to the son of another merits to sit and study in the heavenly academy, as it is stated: “Therefore so says the Lord: If you return, and I bring you back, you shall stand before Me” (Jeremiah 15:19). This verse, which is addressed to Jeremiah, indicates that if he is able to cause the Jewish people to return to God, he himself will be brought to stand before God.

וכל המלמד את בן עם הארץ תורה אפילו הקב"ה גוזר גזירה מבטלה בשבילו שנאמר (ירמיהו טו, יט) ואם תוציא יקר מזולל כפי תהיה

And anyone who teaches Torah to the son of an ignoramus achieves such an exalted status that even if the Holy One, Blessed be He, were to issue a harsh decree, He may nullify it for his sake, as it is stated in the continuation of the verse: “And if you bring forth the precious out of the worthless, you shall be as My mouth,” i.e., you will be like the mouth of God that can rescind a decree.

אמר ר' פרנך אמר ר' יוחנן כל שהוא תלמיד חכם ובנו תלמיד חכם ובן בנו תלמיד חכם שוב אין תורה פוסקת מזרעו לעולם שנאמר (ישעיהו נט, כא) ואני זאת בריתי וגו' לא ימושו מפיך ומפי זרעך ומפי זרע זרעך אמר ה' מעתה ועד עולם

The Gemara relates other statements pertaining to Torah scholars and their descendants. Rabbi Parnakh says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: With regard to anyone who is a Torah scholar, and whose son is a Torah scholar, and whose grandson is a Torah scholar, the Torah will never again cease from his descendants, as it is stated: “And as for Me, this is My covenant…My spirit that is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed’s seed, says the Lord, from now and forever” (Isaiah 59:21).

מאי אמר ה' אמר הקב"ה אני ערב לך בדבר זה מאי מעתה ועד עולם אמר ר' ירמיה מכאן ואילך תורה מחזרת על אכסניא שלה

The Gemara asks: What is the significance of the phrase “says the Lord”? The Gemara answers that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said: I am your guarantor in this matter. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the phrase “from now and forever”? The verse mentioned only three generations. Rabbi Yirmeya says: The verse means that from this point forward, after three generations, the Torah returns to its lodging, i.e., the Torah is now ingrained in the family.

רב יוסף יתיב ארבעין תעניתא ואקריוהו לא ימושו מפיך יתיב ארבעים תעניתא אחריני ואקריוהו לא ימושו מפיך ומפי זרעך יתיב מאה תעניתא אחריני אתא ואקריוהו לא ימושו מפיך ומפי זרעך ומפי זרע זרעך אמר מכאן ואילך לא צריכנא תורה מחזרת על אכסניא שלה

The Gemara relates that Rav Yosef fasted forty fasts so that the Torah would become ingrained in his family, and he was read the verse in a dream: “My words…shall not depart out of your mouth.” He fasted an additional forty fasts and he was read: “Shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed.” He fasted an additional one hundred fasts. In a dream, he came and was read the conclusion of the verse: “Shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed’s seed.” He said: From this point forward I do not need to fast anymore, as I am now assured that the Torah will return to its lodging.

ר' זירא כי סליק לארעא דישראל יתיב מאה תעניתא דלשתכח גמרא בבלאה מיניה כי היכי דלא נטרדיה יתיב מאה אחרניתא דלא לשכוב ר' אלעזר בשניה ונפלין עילויה מילי דצבורא ויתיב מאה אחריני דלא נשלוט ביה נורא דגיהנם

The Gemara relates a similar occurrence: When Rabbi Zeira ascended from Babylonia to Eretz Yisrael, he fasted one hundred fasts so that he would forget the Babylonian method of studying Gemara, so that it would not hinder him from adapting to the unique style of study prevalent in Eretz Yisrael. He fasted an additional one hundred fasts so that Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, would not die during his lifetime, which would have caused the burden of communal matters to fall upon him. As dean of the Torah academy, Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, was in charge of all public affairs, leaving Rabbi Zeira unencumbered to study Torah. Rabbi Zeira fasted an additional one hundred fasts so that the fire of Gehenna should not affect him.

כל תלתין יומי הוה בדיק נפשיה שגר תנורא סליק ויתיב בגויה ולא הוה שלטא ביה נורא יומא חד יהבו ביה רבנן עינא ואיחרכו שקיה וקרו ליה קטין חריך שקיה

The Gemara relates with regard to Rabbi Zeira: Every thirty days, he would examine himself to ascertain if he remained on his exalted level. He would ignite an oven, climb in, and sit inside it, and the fire would not affect him. One day, the Sages gave him the evil eye, i.e., they were envious of him, and his legs became singed in the fire. And from then on they referred to him as: The short one with singed legs.

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב מאי דכתיב (ירמיהו ט, יא) מי האיש החכם ויבן את זאת ואשר דבר פי ה' אליו ויגידה על מה אבדה הארץ דבר זה

§ The Gemara discusses the topic of the acquisition of Torah knowledge. Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Who is the wise man, that he may understand this? And who is he to whom the mouth of the Lord has spoken, that he may declare it? Why has the land been lost and laid waste like a wilderness, so that none passes through?” (Jeremiah 9:11). This matter, i.e., the question: Why has the land been lost,