Berakhot 19a:7ברכות י״ט א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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19aי״ט א

ואי סלקא דעתך דלא ידעי כי אמר להו מאי הוי אלא מאי דידעי למה ליה למימר להו לאחזוקי ליה טיבותא למשה

And if it should enter your mind that the dead do not know, then what of it if he tells them? The Gemara rejects this: Rather what will you say, that they know? Then why does he need to tell them? The Gemara replies: This is not difficult, as he is telling them so that they will give credit to Moses.

אמר רבי יצחק כל המספר אחרי המת כאלו מספר אחרי האבן איכא דאמרי דלא ידעי ואיכא דאמרי דידעי ולא איכפת להו

On this subject, Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Anyone who speaks negatively after the deceased it is as if he speaks after the stone. The Gemara offers two interpretations of this: Some say this is because the dead do not know, and some say that they know, but they do not care that they are spoken of in such a manner.

איני והא אמר רב פפא חד אישתעי מילתא בתריה דמר שמואל ונפל קניא מטללא ובזעא לארנקא דמוחיה

The Gemara asks: Is that so? Didn’t Rav Pappa say: There was once someone who spoke disparagingly after the death of Mar Shmuel and a reed fell from the ceiling, fracturing his skull? Obviously, the dead care when people speak ill of them.

שאני צורבא מרבנן דקודשא בריך הוא תבע ביקריה

The Gemara rejects this: This is no proof that the dead care. Rather, a Torah scholar is different, as God Himself demands that his honor be upheld.

אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי כל המספר אחר מטתן של תלמידי חכמים נופל בגיהנם שנאמר והמטים עקלקלותם יוליכם ה׳ את פועלי האון שלום על ישראל אפילו בשעה ששלום על ישראל יוליכם ה׳ את פועלי האון

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said similarly: One who speaks disparagingly after the biers of Torah scholars and maligns them after their death will fall in Gehenna, as it is stated: “But those who turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord will lead them away with the workers of iniquity; peace be upon Israel” (Psalms 125:5). Even if he speaks ill of them when there is peace upon Israel, after death, when they are no longer able to fight those denouncing them (Tosafot); nevertheless the Lord will lead them away with the workers of iniquity, to Gehenna.

תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל אם ראית תלמיד חכם שעבר עבירה בלילה אל תהרהר אחריו ביום שמא עשה תשובה שמא סלקא דעתך אלא ודאי עשה תשובה והני מילי בדברים שבגופו אבל בממונא עד דמהדר למריה:

On a similar note, it was taught in the school of Rabbi Yishmael: If you saw a Torah scholar transgress a prohibition at night, do not think badly of him during the day; perhaps he has repented in the meantime. The Gemara challenges this: Does it enter your mind that only perhaps he has repented? Shouldn’t he be given the benefit of the doubt? Rather, he has certainly repented. The Gemara notes: The idea that one must always give a Torah scholar the benefit of the doubt and assume that he has repented refers specifically to matters affecting himself, but, if one witnesses a Torah scholar committing a transgression involving the property of another, one is not required to give him the benefit of the doubt. Rather, he should not assume that he has repented until he sees him return the money to its owner.

ואמר רבי יהושע בן לוי בעשרים וארבעה מקומות בית דין מנדין על כבוד הרב וכולן שנינו במשנתנו אמר ליה רבי אלעזר היכא אמר ליה לכי תשכח

Since matters relating to the respect due Torah scholars were raised, the Gemara continues, citing Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, who said: There are twenty-four places in which the court ostracizes over matters of respect due the rabbi, and we learned them all in our Mishna. Rabbi Elazar said to him: Where are those cases to be found? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said to him: When you look, you will find them.

נפק דק ואשכח תלת המזלזל בנטילת ידים והמספר אחר מטתן של תלמידי חכמים והמגיס דעתו כלפי מעלה

He went out, analyzed, and found three examples: One who demeans the ritual of washing of the hands, one who speaks disparagingly after the bier of Torah scholars, and one who is arrogant vis-à-vis Heaven. The Gemara cites sources for each of these cases.

המספר אחר מטתן של תלמידי חכמים מאי היא דתנן הוא היה אומר אין משקין לא את הגיורת ולא את המשוחררת וחכמים אומרים משקין ואמרו לו מעשה בכרכמית שפחה משוחררת בירושלים והשקוה שמעיה ואבטליון ואמר להם דוגמא השקוה ונדוהו ומת בנדויו וסקלו בית דין את ארונו

What is the source for one who speaks disparagingly after the biers of Torah scholars? As we learned in the mishna: Akavya ben Mahalalel would say: In the case of a woman whose husband suspects her of adultery, who was warned by her husband not to seclude herself with another man and she did not listen (see Numbers 5), the court does not administer the bitter water potion of a sota to a convert or an emancipated maidservant. And the Rabbis say: The court administers the bitter water potion to them. And the Rabbis said to him as proof: There is the story of Kharkemit, an emancipated maidservant in Jerusalem, and Shemaya and Avtalyon administered her the bitter waters. Akavya ben Mahalalel said to the Sages: That is no proof. Shemaya and Avtalyon, who were also from families of converts, required the maidservant to drink the potion because she was like them [dugma]. And since Akavya ben Mahalalel cast aspersion on the deceased Torah scholars, he was ostracized and died while he was still under the ban of ostracism. And in accordance with the halakha with regard to one who dies while under a ban of ostracism, the court stoned his coffin. Apparently, one who deprecates a deceased Torah scholar is sentenced to ostracism.

והמזלזל בנטילת ידים מאי היא דתנן אמר רבי יהודה חס ושלום שעקביא בן מהללאל נתנדה שאין עזרה ננעלת על כל אדם בישראל בחכמה ובטהרה וביראת חטא כעקביא בן מהללאל אלא את מי נדו את אלעזר בן חנוך שפקפק בנטילת ידים וכשמת שלחו בית דין והניחו אבן גדולה על ארונו ללמדך שכל המתנדה ומת בנדויו בית דין סוקלין את ארונו

And what is the source for one who demeans the ritual of washing of the hands? We learned later in the same mishna: Rabbi Yehuda said: That story related with regard to the ostracism of Akavya ben Mahalalel is completely untrue; God forbid that Akavya ben Mahalalel was ostracized, as the Temple courtyard is not closed on any Jew, meaning that even when all of Israel made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, when each of the three groups that gathered to offer the Paschal lamb filled the courtyard, leading the Temple administration to close the courtyard, there was no one there as perfect in wisdom, purity and fear of sin as Akavya ben Mahalalel. Rather, whom did they excommunicate? Elazar ben Ḥanokh, because he doubted and demeaned the rabbinic ordinance of washing of the hands. And when he died, the court sent instructions and they placed a large rock upon his coffin in order to teach you that one who is ostracized and dies in a state of ostracism, the court stones his coffin, as if symbolically stoning him. Apparently, one who makes light of the ritual of washing of the hands is sentenced to ostracism.

המגיס דעתו כלפי מעלה מאי היא דתנן שלח לו שמעון בן שטח לחוני המעגל צריך אתה להתנדות ואלמלא חוני אתה גוזרני עליך נדוי אבל מה אעשה שאתה מתחטא לפני המקום ועושה לך רצונך כבן שמתחטא לפני אביו ועושה לו רצונו ועליך הכתוב אומר ישמח אביך ואמך ותגל יולדתך

What is the source for the third case, one who is arrogant vis-à-vis Heaven? The mishna relates that Ḥoni HaMe’aggel, the circle-drawer, drew a circle and stood inside it, and said that he would not leave the circle until it rained, and he went so far as to make demands in terms of the manner in which he wanted the rain to fall. After it rained, Shimon ben Shataḥ, the Nasi of the Sanhedrin, relayed to Ḥoni HaMe’aggel: Actually, you should be ostracized for what you said, and if you were not Ḥoni, I would have decreed ostracism upon you, but what can I do? You nag God and He does your bidding, like a son who nags his father and his father does his bidding without reprimand. After all, the rain fell as you requested. About you, the verse states: “Your father and mother will be glad and she who bore you will rejoice” (Proverbs 23:25). Apparently, one who is arrogant vis-à-vis Heaven would ordinarily merit excommunication.

ותו ליכא והא איכא דתני רב יוסף תודוס איש רומי הנהיג את בני רומי להאכילן גדיים מקולסין בלילי פסחים שלח ליה שמעון בן שטח אלמלא תודוס אתה גוזרני עליך נדוי שאתה מאכיל את ישראל קדשים בחוץ

The Gemara challenges this: And are there no more cases of excommunication or threats of excommunication? Surely there are additional cases like the one in the baraita taught by Rav Yosef: It is told that Theodosius of Rome, leader of the Jewish community there, instituted the custom for the Roman Jews to eat whole kids, young goats roasted with their entrails over their heads, as was the custom when roasting the Paschal lamb, on the eve of Passover, as they did in the Temple. Shimon ben Shataḥ sent a message to him: If you were not Theodosius, an important person, I would have decreed ostracism upon you, as it appears as if you are feeding Israel consecrated food, which may only be eaten in and around the Temple itself, outside the Temple.

במשנתנו קאמרינן והא ברייתא היא

The Gemara responds: This case should not be included, as Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said that there were twenty-four cases in our Mishna, and this is merely a baraita.

ובמתניתין ליכא והא איכא הא דתנן חתכו חוליות ונתן חול בין חוליא לחוליא רבי אליעזר מטהר וחכמים מטמאים וזהו תנורו של עכנאי

The Gemara asks: And are there none in the Mishna? Isn’t there that which we learned in the mishna: One who cut an earthenware oven horizontally into ring-shaped pieces and put sand between the pieces, Rabbi Eliezer deems the oven ritually pure, i.e., it is no longer susceptible to ritual impurity. He holds that, although the fragments of the oven were pieced together, it is not considered an intact vessel but, rather, as a collection of fragments, and a broken earthenware vessel cannot become ritually impure. And the Rabbis deem it ritually impure. Since the oven continues to serve its original function, it is still considered a single entity and a whole vessel despite the sand put between the pieces. And this is called the oven of akhnai, snake.

מאי עכנאי אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל מלמד שהקיפוהו הלכות כעכנאי זה וטמאוהו

The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of oven of the snake? Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: It is called snake to teach that the Rabbis surrounded Rabbi Eliezer with halakhot and proofs like a snake surrounds its prey, and declared the oven and its contents ritually impure.

ותניא אותו היום הביאו כל טהרות שטיהר רבי אליעזר ושרפום לפניו ולבסוף ברכוהו

And it was taught in a baraita: On that day, they gathered all of the ritually pure food items that had come into contact with the oven that Rabbi Eliezer had declared ritually pure, and burned them before him, and because he did not accept the decision of the majority, in the end they “blessed,” a euphemism for ostracized, him. This is another case that ended in ostracism.

אפילו הכי נדוי במתניתין לא תנן אלא בעשרים וארבעה מקומות היכא משכחת לה רבי יהושע בן לוי מדמה מילתא למילתא ורבי אלעזר לא מדמה מילתא למילתא:

The Gemara answers: Even so, we did not learn the ruling with regard to his ostracism in the mishna. The Gemara asks: Then where do you find the twenty-four places mentioned in Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s statement? The Gemara responds: Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi likens one matter to another similar matter. Whenever he would encounter a case in a mishna where one of the Sages expressed himself inappropriately in reference to other Sages, he concluded that they should have been excommunicated. Rabbi Elazar does not liken one matter to another similar matter, and therefore located only three explicit cases of ostracism.

נושאי המטה וחלופיהן תנו רבנן אין מוציאין את המת סמוך לקריאת שמע ואם התחילו אין מפסיקין איני והא רב יוסף אפקוהו סמוך לקריאת שמע אדם חשוב שאני:

We learned in the mishna that the pallbearers and their replacements are exempt from the recitation of Shema. On this subject, the Gemara cites that which the Sages taught in a baraita: The deceased may not be taken out to be buried adjacent to the time for the recitation of Shema, but should be buried later. And if they already started to take him out, they need not stop in order to recite Shema. The Gemara challenges: Is that so? Didn’t they take Rav Yosef out to be buried adjacent to the time for the recitation of Shema? The Gemara resolves this contradiction: The case of an important person is different, and they are more lenient in order to honor him at his burial.

שלפני המטה ושלאחר המטה: תנו רבנן העוסקים בהספד בזמן שהמת מוטל לפניהם נשמטין אחד אחד וקורין אין המת מוטל לפניהם הן יושבין וקורין והוא יושב ודומם הם עומדים ומתפללין והוא עומד ומצדיק עליו את הדין ואומר רבון העולמים הרבה חטאתי לפניך ולא נפרעת ממני אחד מני אלף יהי רצון מלפניך ה׳ אלהינו שתגדור פרצותינו ופרצות כל עמך בית ישראל ברחמים

In the mishna, we learned the halakha with regard to the pallbearers and their obligation to recite Shema, and a distinction was made between those who are before the bier and those after the bier. Our Rabbis taught in a baraita: Those involved in eulogy must slip away from the eulogy one by one while the deceased is laid out before them and recite Shema elsewhere. And if the deceased is not laid out before them, the eulogizers must sit and recite Shema while the bereaved sits silently. They stand and pray and he stands and justifies God’s judgment, saying: Master of the Universe, I have sinned greatly against You, and You have not collected even one one-thousandth of my debt. May it be Your will, Lord our God, to mercifully repair the breaches in our fence and the breaches of Your nation, the House of Israel.

אמר אביי לא מבעי ליה לאינש למימר הכי דאמר רבי שמעון בן לקיש וכן תנא משמיה דרבי יוסי לעולם אל יפתח אדם פיו לשטן

Abaye said: A person should not say that, as Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said, and it was also taught in the name of Rabbi Yosei: One must never open his mouth to the Satan, i.e., one must not leave room for or raise the possibility of disaster or evil. This formula, which states that the entire debt owed due to his transgressions has not been collected, raises the possibility that further payment will be exacted from him.

ואמר רב יוסף מאי קראה שנאמר כמעט כסדום היינו מאי אהדר להו נביא שמעו דבר ה׳ קציני סדום:

And Rav Yosef said: What is the verse from which it is derived? As it is stated: “We should have almost been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9), after which what did the prophet reply to them? “Hear the word of the Lord, rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, people of Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:10).

קברו את המת וחזרו וכו׳: אם יכולים להתחיל ולגמור את כולה אין אבל פרק אחד או פסוק אחד לא ורמינהו קברו את המת וחזרו אם יכולין להתחיל ולגמור אפילו פרק אחד או פסוק אחד

We learned in the mishna that, in a case when they buried the deceased and returned, if they have sufficient time to begin to recite Shema and conclude before they arrive at the row formed by those who came to console the bereaved, they should begin. Here, the Gemara clarifies: This is the case only if they can begin and complete recitation of Shema in its entirety. However, if they can only complete one chapter or one verse, they should not stop to do so. The Gemara raises a contradiction from that which we learned in the baraita: After they buried the deceased and returned, if they can begin the recitation of Shema and finish even a single chapter or verse, they should begin.

הכי נמי קאמר אם יכולין להתחיל ולגמור אפילו פרק אחד או אפילו פסוק אחד עד שלא יגיעו לשורה יתחילו ואם לאו לא יתחילו

The Gemara responds: That is also what the tanna of the mishna said and this is the conclusion drawn from his statement: If one can begin and conclude even one chapter or one verse before they arrive at the row of consolers, they should begin. And if not, they should not begin.