בֶּן אִישׁ חַי אַטּוּ כּוּלֵּי עָלְמָא בְּנֵי מֵתֵי נִינְהוּ אֶלָּא בֶּן אִישׁ חַי שֶׁאֲפִילּוּ בְּמִיתָתוֹ קָרוּי חַי רַב פְּעָלִים מִקַּבְצְאֵל שֶׁרִיבָּה וְקִבֵּץ פּוֹעֲלִים לַתּוֹרָה וְהוּא הִכָּה אֵת שְׁנֵי אֲרִאֵל מוֹאָב שֶׁלֹּא הִנִּיחַ כְּמוֹתוֹ לֹא בְּמִקְדָּשׁ רִאשׁוֹן וְלֹא בְּמִקְדָּשׁ שֵׁנִי
He was referred to in the verse as son of a living man. The Gemara wonders: Is that to say, the fact that the Bible referred to him with that appellation, that all others are children of the dead? Rather, the verse should be explained as follows: The son of a living man who lives forever, who even in death is referred to as living. Man of Kabze’el who had done mighty deeds, as he accumulated and gathered many workers for the sake of the Torah. Who killed the two lion-hearted men [Ariel] of Moab, as after his death he left no one his equal, in either the First Temple or the Second Temple periods, as the Temple is called Ariel (see Isaiah 29:1), and the two Ariel refers to the two Temples.
וְהוּא יָרַד וְהִכָּה אֶת הָאֲרִי בְּתוֹךְ הַבּוֹר בְּיוֹם הַשָּׁלֶג אִיכָּא דְאָמְרִי דְּתַבַּר גְּזִיזֵי דְבַרְדָּא וּנְחַת וּטְבַל אִיכָּא דְאָמְרִי דִּתְנָא סִיפְרָא דְבֵי רַב בְּיוֹמָא דְסִיתְוָא
The Sages disagreed over the interpretation of the rest of the verse: “And who descended and slew the lion in the pit on the snowy day.” Some say that this means that he broke blocks of hail and descended and immersed himself in the water to purify himself. Others say that he learned all of the Sifra, the halakhic midrash on the book of Leviticus of the school of Rav, on a winter’s day.
וְהַמֵּתִים אֵינָם יוֹדְעִים מְאוּמָה אֵלּוּ רְשָׁעִים שֶׁבְּחַיֵּיהֶן קְרוּיִין מֵתִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְאַתָּה חָלָל רָשָׁע נְשִׂיא יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאִי בָּעֵית אֵימָא מֵהָכָא עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים אוֹ עַל פִּי שְׁלֹשָׁה עֵדִים יוּמַת הַמֵּת חַי הוּא אֶלָּא הַמֵּת מֵעִיקָּרָא:
In contrast to the righteous, who are referred to as living even after their death, the verse states explicitly: “The dead know nothing.” These are the wicked, who even during their lives are called dead, as the prophet Ezekiel said in reference to a king of Israel who was alive: “And you are a slain, wicked prince of Israel” (Ezekiel 21:30). And if you wish, say instead that the proof is from here: “At the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses the dead shall be put to death” (Deuteronomy 17:6). This is puzzling. As long as the accused has not been sentenced to death, he is alive. Rather, this person who is wicked is considered dead from the outset.
בְּנֵי רַבִּי חִיָּיא נְפוּק לְקִרְיָיתָא אִייַּקַּר לְהוּ תַּלְמוּדַיְיהוּ הֲווֹ קָא מִצַּעֲרִי לְאִדְּכוֹרֵיהּ אֲמַר לֵיהּ חַד לְחַבְרֵיהּ יָדַע אֲבוּן בְּהַאי צַעֲרָא אֲמַר לֵיהּ אִידַּךְ מְנָא יָדַע וְהָא כְּתִיב יִכְבְּדוּ בָנָיו וְלֹא יֵדָע
The Gemara relates a story on this topic: The sons of Rabbi Ḥiyya went out to the villages to oversee the laborers. They forgot what they had learned and were struggling to recall it. One of them said to the other: Does our deceased father know of our anguish? The other said to him: From where would he know? Isn’t it written: “His sons are honored yet he shall not know it, they come to sorrow and he shall not understand them” (Job 14:21)? The dead do not know.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ אִידַּךְ וְלָא יָדַע וְהָא כְּתִיב אַךְ בְּשָׂרוֹ עָלָיו יִכְאָב וְנַפְשׁוֹ עָלָיו תֶּאֱבָל וְאָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק קָשָׁה רִמָּה לַמֵּת כְּמַחַט בַּבָּשָׂר הַחַי
The other said back to him: And do the dead truly not know? Isn’t it written: “Only in his flesh does he feel pain, in his soul does he mourn” (Job 14:22)? Based on this verse Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Gnawing maggots are as excruciating to the dead as the stab of a needle to the flesh of the living. The dead must have the capacity to feel and know.
אָמְרִי בְּצַעֲרָא דִידְהוּ יָדְעִי בְּצַעֲרָא דְאַחֲרִינָא לָא יָדְעִי
In order to reconcile this contradiction they said: They know of their own pain but do not know of the pain of others.
וְלָא וְהָתַנְיָא מַעֲשֶׂה בְּחָסִיד אֶחָד שֶׁנָּתַן דִּינָר לְעָנִי בְּעֶרֶב רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה בִּשְׁנֵי בַצּוֹרֶת וְהִקְנִיטַתּוּ אִשְׁתּוֹ וְהָלַךְ וְלָן בְּבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת וְשָׁמַע שְׁתֵּי רוּחוֹת שֶׁמְסַפְּרוֹת זוֹ לָזוֹ אָמְרָה חֲדָא לַחֲבֶרְתָּהּ חֲבֶרְתִּי בּוֹאִי וְנָשׁוּט בָּעוֹלָם וְנִשְׁמַע מֵאֲחוֹרֵי הַפַּרְגּוֹד מַה פּוּרְעָנוּת בָּא לָעוֹלָם אָמְרָה לָהּ חֲבֶרְתָּהּ אֵינִי יְכוֹלָה שֶׁאֲנִי קְבוּרָה בְּמַחְצֶלֶת שֶׁל קָנִים אֶלָּא לְכִי אַתְּ וּמַה שֶּׁאַתְּ שׁוֹמַעַת אָמְרִי לִי הָלְכָה הִיא וְשָׁטָה וּבָאָה וְאָמְרָה לָהּ חֲבֶרְתָּהּ חֲבֶרְתִּי מַה שָּׁמַעְתְּ מֵאֲחוֹרֵי הַפַּרְגּוֹד אָמְרָה לָהּ שָׁמַעְתִּי שֶׁכָּל הַזּוֹרֵעַ בִּרְבִיעָה רִאשׁוֹנָה בָּרָד מַלְקֶה אוֹתוֹ הָלַךְ הוּא וְזָרַע בִּרְבִיעָה שְׁנִיָּה שֶׁל כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ לָקָה שֶׁלּוֹ לֹא לָקָה
The Gemara challenges this: And is it so that the dead do not know of the pain of others? Wasn’t it taught in a baraita: There was an incident involving a pious man who gave a poor man a dinar on the eve of Rosh HaShana during drought years, and his wife mocked him for giving so large a sum at so difficult a time? And in order to escape her incessant mockery, he went and slept in the cemetery. That night in his dream (Ritva, HaKotev, Maharsha), he heard two spirits conversing with each other. One said to the other: My friend, let us roam the world and hear from behind the heavenly curtain [pargod], which separates the Divine Presence from the world, what calamity will befall the world. The other spirit said to her: I cannot go with you, as I am buried in a mat of reeds, but you go, and tell me what you hear. She went, and roamed, and came back. The other spirit said: My friend, what did you hear from behind the heavenly curtain? She replied: I heard that anyone who sows during the first rainy season of this year, hail will fall and strike his crops. Hearing this, the pious man went and sowed his seeds during the second rainy season. Ultimately, the crops of the entire world were stricken by hail and his crops were not stricken.
לַשָּׁנָה הָאַחֶרֶת הָלַךְ וְלָן בְּבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת וְשָׁמַע אוֹתָן שְׁתֵּי רוּחוֹת שֶׁמְסַפְּרוֹת זוֹ עִם זוֹ אָמְרָה חֲדָא לַחֲבֶרְתָּהּ בּוֹאִי וְנָשׁוּט בָּעוֹלָם וְנִשְׁמַע מֵאֲחוֹרֵי הַפַּרְגּוֹד מַה פּוּרְעָנוּת בָּא לָעוֹלָם אָמְרָה לָהּ חֲבֶרְתִּי לֹא כָּךְ אָמַרְתִּי לָךְ אֵינִי יְכוֹלָה שֶׁאֲנִי קְבוּרָה בְּמַחְצֶלֶת שֶׁל קָנִים אֶלָּא לְכִי אַתְּ וּמַה שֶּׁאַתְּ שׁוֹמַעַת בּוֹאִי וְאִמְרִי לִי הָלְכָה וְשָׁטָה וּבָאָה וְאָמְרָה לָהּ חֲבֶרְתָּהּ חֲבֶרְתִּי מַה שָּׁמַעְתְּ מֵאֲחוֹרֵי הַפַּרְגּוֹד אָמְרָה לָהּ שָׁמַעְתִּי שֶׁכָּל הַזּוֹרֵעַ בִּרְבִיעָה שְׁנִיָּה שִׁדָּפוֹן מַלְקֶה אוֹתוֹ הָלַךְ וְזָרַע בִּרְבִיעָה רִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁל כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ נִשְׁדַּף וְשֶׁלּוֹ לֹא נִשְׁדַּף
The following year, on the eve of Rosh HaShana, the same pious man went and slept in the cemetery at his own initiative, and again he heard the two spirits conversing with each other. One said to the other: Let us roam the world and hear from behind the heavenly curtain what calamity will befall the world. She said to her: My friend, have I not already told you that I cannot, as I am buried in a mat of reeds? Rather, you go, and tell me what you hear. She went, and roamed, and returned. The other spirit said to her: My friend, what did you hear from behind the curtain? She said to her: I heard that those who sow during the second rainy season blight will strike his crops. That pious man went and sowed during the first rainy season. Since everyone else sowed during the second rainy season, ultimately, the crops of the entire world were blighted and his crops were not blighted.
אָמְרָה לוֹ אִשְׁתּוֹ מִפְּנֵי מַה אֶשְׁתָּקַד שֶׁל כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ לָקָה וְשֶׁלְּךָ לֹא לָקָה וְעַכְשָׁיו שֶׁל כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ נִשְׁדַּף וְשֶׁלְּךָ לֹא נִשְׁדַּף סָח לָהּ כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הַלָּלוּ אָמְרוּ לֹא הָיוּ יָמִים מוּעָטִים עַד שֶׁנָּפְלָה קְטָטָה בֵּין אִשְׁתּוֹ שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ חָסִיד וּבֵין אִמָּהּ שֶׁל אוֹתָהּ רִיבָה אָמְרָה לָהּ לְכִי וְאַרְאֵךְ בִּתֵּךְ שֶׁהִיא קְבוּרָה בְּמַחְצֶלֶת שֶׁל קָנִים
The pious man’s wife said to him: Why is it that last year, the crops of the entire world were stricken and yours were not stricken, and now this year, the crops of the entire world were blighted and yours were not blighted? He related to her the entire story. They said: It was not even a few days later that a quarrel fell between the pious man’s wife and the mother of the young woman who was buried there. The pious man’s wife said to her scornfully: Go and I will show you your daughter, and you will see that she is buried in a mat of reeds.
לַשָּׁנָה הָאַחֶרֶת הָלַךְ וְלָן בְּבֵית הַקְּבָרוֹת וְשָׁמַע אוֹתָן רוּחוֹת שֶׁמְסַפְּרוֹת זוֹ עִם זוֹ אָמְרָה לָהּ חֲבֶרְתִּי בּוֹאִי וְנָשׁוּט בָּעוֹלָם וְנִשְׁמַע מֵאֲחוֹרֵי הַפַּרְגּוֹד מַה פּוּרְעָנוּת בָּא לָעוֹלָם אָמְרָה לָהּ חֲבֶרְתִּי הֲנִיחִינִי דְּבָרִים שֶׁבֵּינִי לְבֵינֵךְ כְּבָר נִשְׁמְעוּ בֵּין הַחַיִּים אַלְמָא יָדְעִי
The following year, he again went and slept in the cemetery, and heard the same spirits conversing with each other. One said to the other: My friend, let us roam the world and hear from behind the heavenly curtain what calamity will befall the world. She said to her: My friend, leave me alone, as words that we have privately exchanged between us have already been heard among the living. Apparently, the dead know what transpires in this world.
דִּילְמָא אִינִישׁ אַחֲרִינָא שָׁכֵיב וְאָזֵיל וְאָמַר לְהוּ
The Gemara responds: This is no proof; perhaps another person, who heard about the conversation of the spirits secondhand, died and he went and told them that they had been overheard.
תָּא שְׁמַע דִּזְעֵירִי הֲוָה מַפְקֵיד זוּזֵי גַּבֵּי אוּשְׁפִּיזְכָתֵיהּ עַד דְּאָתֵי וְאָזֵיל לְבֵי רַב שְׁכִיבָה אֲזַל בָּתְרַהּ לַחֲצַר מָוֶת אֲמַר לַהּ זוּזֵי הֵיכָא אֲמַרָה לֵיהּ זִיל שַׁקְלִינְהוּ מִתּוּתֵי בְּצִנּוֹרָא דְּדָשָׁא בְּדוּךְ פְּלָן וְאֵימָא לַהּ לְאִימָּא תְּשַׁדַּר לִי מַסְרְקַאי וְגוּבְתַּאי דְּכוּחְלָא בַּהֲדֵי פְּלָנִיתָא דְּאָתְיָא לִמְחַר אַלְמָא יָדְעִי
With regard to the deceased’s knowledge of what transpires, come and hear a proof, as it is told: Ze’iri would deposit his dinars with his innkeeper. While he was going and coming to and from the school of Rav, she died, and he did not know where she had put the money. So he went after her to her grave in the cemetery and said to her: Where are the dinars? She replied: Go and get them from beneath the hinge of the door in such and such a place, and tell my mother that she should send me my comb and a tube of eyeshadow with such and such a woman who will die and come here tomorrow. Apparently, the dead know what transpires in this world.
דִּלְמָא דּוּמָה קָדֵים וּמַכְרֵיז לְהוּ
The Gemara rejects this proof: Perhaps the angel Duma, who oversees the dead, comes beforehand and announces to them that a particular individual will arrive the next day, but they themselves do not know.
תָּא שְׁמַע דַּאֲבוּהּ דִּשְׁמוּאֵל הֲווֹ קָא מַפְקְדִי גַּבֵּיהּ זוּזֵי דְיַתְמֵי כִּי נָח נַפְשֵׁיהּ לָא הֲוָה שְׁמוּאֵל גַּבֵּיהּ הֲווֹ קָא קָרוּ לֵיהּ בַּר אָכֵיל זוּזֵי דְיַתְמֵי אֲזַל אַבָּתְרֵיהּ לַחֲצַר מָוֶת אֲמַר לְהוּ בָּעֵינָא אַבָּא אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ אַבָּא טוּבָא אִיכָּא הָכָא אֲמַר לְהוּ בָּעֵינָא אַבָּא בַּר אַבָּא אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ אַבָּא בַּר אַבָּא נָמֵי טוּבָא אִיכָּא הָכָא אֲמַר לְהוּ בָּעֵינָא אַבָּא בַּר אַבָּא אֲבוּהּ דִּשְׁמוּאֵל הֵיכָא אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ סְלֵיק לִמְתִיבְתָּא דִּרְקִיעָא אַדְּהָכִי חַזְיֵיהּ לְלֵוִי דְּיָתֵיב אַבָּרַאי אֲמַר לֵיהּ אַמַּאי יָתְבַתְּ אַבָּרַאי מַאי טַעְמָא לָא סָלְקַתְּ אֲמַר לֵיהּ דְאָמְרִי לִי כָּל כִּי הָנָךְ שְׁנֵי דְּלָא סְלֵיקְתְּ לִמְתִיבְתָּא דְּרַבִּי אַפָּס וְאַחְלֵישְׁתֵּיהּ לְדַעְתֵּיהּ לָא מְעַיְּילִינַן לָךְ לִמְתִיבְתָּא דִרְקִיעָא
The Gemara cites another proof: Come and hear, as it is told: They would deposit the money of orphans with Shmuel’s father for safekeeping. When Shmuel’s father died, Shmuel was not with him, and did not learn from him the location of the money. Since he did not return it, Shmuel was called: Son of him who consumes the money of orphans. Shmuel went after his father to the cemetery and said to the dead: I want Abba. The dead said to him: There are many Abbas here. He told them: I want Abba bar Abba. They said to him: There are also many people named Abba bar Abba here. He told them: I want Abba bar Abba, the father of Shmuel. Where is he? They replied: Ascend to the yeshiva on high. Meanwhile, he saw his friend Levi sitting outside the yeshiva, away from the rest of the deceased. He asked him: Why do you sit outside? Why did you not ascend to the yeshiva? He replied: Because they tell me that for all those years that you didn’t enter the yeshiva of Rabbi Afes, and thereby upset him, we will not grant you entry to the yeshiva on high.
אַדְּהָכִי וְהָכִי אֲתָא אֲבוּהּ חַזְיֵיהּ דַּהֲוָה קָא בָכֵי וְאַחֵיךְ אֲמַר לֵיהּ מַאי טַעְמָא קָא בָּכֵית אֲמַר לֵיהּ דְּלַעֲגָל קָא אָתֵית מַאי טַעְמָא אַחֵיכְתְּ דַּחֲשִׁיבַתְּ בְּהַאי עָלְמָא טוּבָא אֲמַר לֵיהּ אִי חֲשִׁיבְנָא נְעַיְּילוּהּ לְלֵוִי וְעַיְּילוּהוּ לְלֵוִי
Meanwhile, Shmuel’s father came and Shmuel saw that he was crying and laughing. Shmuel said to his father: Why are you crying? His father replied: Because you will come here soon. Shmuel continued and asked: Why are you laughing? His father replied: Because you are extremely important in this world. Shmuel said to him: If I am important, then let them grant Levi entry to the yeshiva. And so it was that they granted Levi entry to the yeshiva.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ זוּזֵי דְיַתְמֵי הֵיכָא אֲמַר לֵיהּ זִיל שַׁקְלִינְהוּ בְּאַמְתָא דְרִחְיָא עִילָּאֵי וְתַתָּאֵי דִּידַן וּמִיצְעֵי דְּיַתְמֵי אֲמַר לֵיהּ מַאי טַעְמָא עֲבַדְתְּ הָכִי אֲמַר לֵיהּ אִי גָּנְבִי גַּנָּבֵי מִגַּנְבוּ מִדִּידַן אִי אָכְלָה אַרְעָא אָכְלָה מִדִּידַן אַלְמָא דְּיָדְעִי דִּילְמָא שָׁאנֵי שְׁמוּאֵל כֵּיוָן דַּחֲשִׁיב קָדְמִי וּמַכְרְזִי פַּנּוּ מָקוֹם
Shmuel said to his father: Where is the orphans’ money? He said to him: Go and retrieve it from the millhouse, where you will find the uppermost and the lowermost money is ours, and the money in the middle belongs to the orphans. Shmuel said to him: Why did you do that? He replied: If thieves stole, they would steal from our money on top, which the thief would see first. If the earth swallowed up any of it, it would swallow from our money, on the bottom. Apparently, the dead, in this case Shmuel’s father, know when others will die. Since Shmuel did not die the next day, clearly the angel Duma could not have informed them (Tosafot). The Gemara responds: Perhaps Shmuel is different, and because he is so important they announce beforehand: Clear place for his arrival.
וְאַף רַבִּי יוֹנָתָן הֲדַר בֵּיהּ דְּאָמַר רַבִּי שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר נַחְמָנִי אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹנָתָן מִנַּיִן לַמֵּתִים שֶׁמְסַפְּרִים זֶה עִם זֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֵלָיו זֹאת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב לֵאמֹר מַאי לֵאמֹר אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמֹשֶׁה לֵךְ אֱמוֹר לָהֶם לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב שְׁבוּעָה שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּעְתִּי לָכֶם כְּבָר קִייַּמְתִּיהָ לִבְנֵיכֶם
In any case, with regard to the crux of the issue, Rabbi Yonatan also reconsidered his opinion, as Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: From where is it derived that the dead converse with each other? As it is stated: “And the Lord said to him, this is the land that I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying: I will give it to your offspring” (Deuteronomy 34:4). What is the meaning of “saying”? It means that God told Moses: Go and tell Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that the oath that I swore to you I have already fulfilled for your descendants.