Berakhot 20aברכות כ׳ א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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20aכ׳ א

אבל מטמא הוא למת מצוה אמאי לימא אין חכמה ואין תבונה ואין עצה לנגד ה׳

but he does become impure for a met mitzva. Here too, the question is asked: Let us say that the obligation to bury a met mitzva, which is predicated on the preservation of human dignity, should not override mitzvot explicitly written in the Torah, as it is stated: “There is neither wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord.”

שאני התם דכתיב ולאחותו

The Gemara answers: There it is different, as it is explicitly written: “And his sister,” from which we derive that although he may not become ritually impure to bury his sister, he must do so for a met mitzva.

וליגמר מינה שב ואל תעשה שאני:

The Gemara suggests: Let us derive a general principle that human dignity takes precedence over all mitzvot in the Torah from this case. This possibility is rejected: This is a special case, because a case of “sit and refrain from action” [shev ve’al ta’aseh] is different. Engaging in the burial of a met mitzva is not actually in contravention of a mitzva. Rather, by doing so he becomes ritually impure and is then rendered incapable of fulfilling that mitzva. We cannot derive a general principle from here that human dignity would also override a Torah prohibition in a case where that prohibition is directly contravened.

אמר ליה רב פפא לאביי מאי שנא ראשונים דאתרחיש להו ניסא ומאי שנא אנן דלא מתרחיש לן ניסא אי משום תנויי בשני דרב יהודה כולי תנויי בנזיקין הוה ואנן קא מתנינן שיתא סדרי וכי הוה מטי רב יהודה בעוקצין האשה שכובשת ירק בקדרה ואמרי לה זיתים שכבשן בטרפיהן טהורים אמר הויות דרב ושמואל קא חזינא הכא ואנן קא מתנינן בעוקצין תליסר מתיבתא ואילו רב יהודה כי הוה שליף חד מסאניה אתי מטרא ואנן קא מצערינן נפשין ומצוח קא צוחינן ולית דמשגח בן

The Gemara responds: In the context of the discussion whether or not human dignity overrides honoring God in the sense of fulfilling his mitzvot, Rav Pappa said to Abaye: What is different about the earlier generations, for whom miracles occurred and what is different about us, for whom miracles do not occur? If it is because of Torah study; in the years of Rav Yehuda all of their learning was confined to the order of Nezikin, while we learn all six orders! Moreover, when Rav Yehuda would reach in tractate Okatzin, which discusses the extent to which the stems of various fruits and vegetables are considered an integral part of the produce in terms of becoming ritually impure, the halakha that a woman who pickles a vegetable in a pot, and some say when he would reach the halakha that olives pickled with their leaves are pure, because after pickling, it is no longer possible to lift the fruit by its leaves, they are no longer considered part of the fruit; he would find it difficult to understand. He would say: Those are the disputes between Rav and Shmuel that we see here. And we, in contrast, learn thirteen versions of Okatzin. While, with regard to miracles, after declaring a fast to pray for a drought to end, when Rav Yehuda would remove one of his shoes the rain would immediately fall, whereas we torment ourselves and cry out and no one notices us.

אמר ליה קמאי הוו קא מסרי נפשייהו אקדושת השם אנן לא מסרינן נפשין אקדושת השם כי הא דרב אדא בר אהבה חזייה לההיא כותית דהות לבישא כרבלתא בשוקא סבר דבת ישראל היא קם קרעיה מינה אגלאי מילתא דכותית היא שיימוה בארבע מאה זוזי אמר לה מה שמך אמרה ליה מתון אמר לה מתון מתון ארבע מאה זוזי שויא:

Abaye said to Rav Pappa: The previous generations were wholly dedicated to the sanctification of God’s name, while we are not as dedicated to the sanctification of God’s name. Typical of the earlier generations’ commitment, the Gemara relates: Like this incident involving Rav Adda bar Ahava who saw a non-Jewish woman who was wearing a garment made of a forbidden mixture of wool and linen [karbalta] in the marketplace. Since he thought that she was Jewish, he stood and ripped it from her. It was then divulged that she was a non-Jew and he was taken to court due to the shame that he caused her, and they assessed the payment for the shame that he caused her at four hundred zuz. Ultimately, Rav Adda said to her: What is your name? She replied: Matun. In a play on words, he said to her: Matun, her name, plus matun, the Aramaic word for two hundred, is worth four hundred zuz.

רב גידל הוה רגיל דהוה קא אזיל ויתיב אשערי דטבילה אמר להו הכי טבילו והכי טבילו אמרי ליה רבנן לא קא מסתפי מר מיצר הרע אמר להו דמיין באפאי כי קאקי חיורי

It was also related about the earlier generations, that they would degrade themselves in the desire to glorify God. Rav Giddel was accustomed to go and sit at the gates of the women’s immersion sites. He said to them: Immerse yourselves in this way, and immerse yourselves in that way. The Sages said to him: Master, do you not fear the evil inclination? He said to them: In my eyes, they are comparable to white geese.

רבי יוחנן הוה רגיל דהוה קא אזיל ויתיב אשערי דטבילה אמר כי סלקן בנות ישראל ואתיין מטבילה מסתכלן בי ונהוי להו זרעא דשפירי כוותי אמרי ליה רבנן לא קא מסתפי מר מעינא בישא אמר להו אנא מזרעא דיוסף קא אתינא דלא שלטא ביה עינא בישא דכתיב בן פורת יוסף בן פורת עלי עין ואמר רבי אבהו אל תקרי עלי עין אלא עולי עין

Similarly, the Gemara relates that Rabbi Yoḥanan was accustomed to go and sit at the gates of the women’s immersion sites. Rabbi Yoḥanan, who was known for his extraordinary good looks, explained this and said: When the daughters of Israel emerge from their immersion, they will look at me, and will have children as beautiful as I. The Sages asked him: Master, do you not fear the evil eye? He said to them: I descend from the seed of Joseph over whom the evil eye has no dominion, as it is written: “Joseph is a bountiful vine, a bountiful vine on a spring [alei ayin]” (Genesis 49:22). “Ayin” can mean both “spring” and “eye.” And Rabbi Abbahu said a homiletic interpretation: Do not read it alei ayin, rather olei ayin, above the eye; they transcend the influence of the evil eye.

רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא אמר מהכא וידגו לרב בקרב הארץ מה דגים שבים מים מכסין עליהם ואין עין הרע שולטת בהם אף זרעו של יוסף אין עין הרע שולטת בהם

Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, cited a different proof, from Jacob’s blessing of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Menashe: “The angel who redeems me from all evil shall bless the young and in them may my name be recalled, and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and may they multiply [veyidgu] in the midst of the earth” (Genesis 48:16). Veyidgu is related etymologically to the word fish [dag]. Just as the fish in the sea, water covers them and the evil eye has no dominion over them, so too the seed of Joseph, the evil eye has no dominion over them.

ואי בעית אימא עין שלא רצתה לזון ממה שאינו שלו אין עין הרע שולטת בו:

And if you wish, say instead: Joseph’s eye, which did not seek to feast on that which was not his, Potiphar’s wife, the evil eye has no dominion over him.

מתני׳ נשים ועבדים וקטנים פטורין מקריאת שמע

MISHNA Women, slaves, and minors, who have parallel obligations in various mitzvot, are exempt from the recitation of Shema