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

אֲבָל מִטַּמֵּא הוּא לְמֵת מִצְוָה. אַמַּאי, לֵימָא: ״אֵין חׇכְמָה וְאֵין תְּבוּנָה וְאֵין עֵצָה לְנֶגֶד 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.”

שָׁאנֵי הָתָם, דִּכְתִיב ״וְלַאֲחוֹתוֹ״.

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.

וְלִיגְמַר מִינַּהּ! שֵׁב וְאַל תַּעֲשֶׂה שָׁאנֵי.

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.

אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַב פָּפָּא לְאַבָּיֵי: מַאי שְׁנָא רִאשׁוֹנִים דְּאִתְרְחִישׁ לְהוּ נִיסָּא, וּמַאי שְׁנָא אֲנַן דְּלָא מִתְרְחִישׁ לַן נִיסָּא? אִי מִשּׁוּם תַּנּוֹיֵי, בִּשְׁנֵי דְרַב יְהוּדָה כּוּלֵּי תַּנּוֹיֵי בִּנְזִיקִין הֲוָה, וַאֲנַן קָא מַתְנִינַן שִׁיתָּא סִדְרֵי. וְכִי הֲוָה מָטֵי רַב יְהוּדָה בְּעוּקְצִין, הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁכּוֹבֶשֶׁת יָרָק בַּקְּדֵרָה, וְאָמְרִי לַהּ זֵיתִים שֶׁכְּבָשָׁן בְּטַרְפֵיהֶן טְהוֹרִים, אָמַר: הֲוָיוֹת דְּרַב וּשְׁמוּאֵל קָא חָזֵינָא הָכָא. וַאֲנַן קָא מַתְנִינַן בְּעוּקְצִין תְּלֵיסַר מְתִיבָתָא, וְאִילּוּ רַב יְהוּדָה כִּי הֲוָה שָׁלֵיף חַד מְסָאנֵיהּ, אָתֵי מִטְרָא, וַאֲנַן קָא מְצַעֲרִינַן נַפְשִׁין וּמִצְוָח קָא צָוְחִינַן, וְלֵית דְּמַשְׁגַּח בַּן.

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.

אֲמַר לֵיהּ: קַמָּאֵי הֲווֹ קָא מָסְרִי נַפְשַׁיְיהוּ אַקְּדוּשַּׁת הַשֵּׁם, אֲנַן לָא מָסְרִינַן נָפְשִׁין אַקְּדוּשַּׁת הַשֵּׁם. כִּי הָא דְּרַב אַדָּא בַּר אַהֲבָה חַזְיַיהּ לְהַהִיא כּוּתִית דַּהֲוָת לְבִישָׁא כַּרְבַּלְתָּא בְּשׁוּקָא. סְבַר דְּבַת יִשְׂרָאֵל הִיא, קָם קַרְעֵיהּ מִינַּהּ. אִגַּלַּאי מִילְּתָא דְּכוּתִית הִיא. שַׁיְּימוּהָ בְּאַרְבַּע מְאָה זוּזֵי. אֲמַר לַהּ: מָה שְׁמִךְ? אֲמַרָה לֵיהּ: מָתוּן. אֲמַר לַהּ, מָתוּן — מָתוּן אַרְבַּע מְאָה זוּזֵי שַׁוְיָא.

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.

רַב גִּידֵּל הֲוָה רְגִיל דַּהֲוָה קָא אָזֵיל וְיָתֵיב אַשַּׁעֲרֵי דִטְבִילָה. אֲמַר לְהוּ: הָכִי טְבִילוּ וְהָכִי טְבִילוּ. אָמְרִי לֵיהּ רַבָּנַן לָא קָא מִסְתְּפֵי מָר מִיֵּצֶר הָרָע? אֲמַר לְהוּ: דָּמְיָין בְּאַפַּאי כִּי קָאקֵי חִיוָּרֵי.

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.

רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן הֲוָה רְגִיל דַּהֲוָה קָא אָזֵיל וְיָתֵיב אַשַּׁעֲרֵי דִטְבִילָה. אֲמַר: כִּי סָלְקָן בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָתְיָין מִטְּבִילָה, מִסְתַּכְּלָן בִּי, וְנֶהֱוֵי לְהוּ זַרְעָא דְּשַׁפִּירֵי כְּווֹתִי. אָמְרִי לֵיהּ רַבָּנַן: לָא קָא מִסְתְּפֵי מָר מֵעֵינָא בִּישָׁא? אֲמַר לְהוּ: אֲנָא מִזַּרְעָא דְּיוֹסֵף קָא אָתֵינָא, דְּלָא שָׁלְטָא בֵּיהּ עֵינָא בִּישָׁא, דִּכְתִיב ״בֵּן פּוֹרָת יוֹסֵף בֵּן פּוֹרָת עֲלֵי עָיִן״, וְאָמַר רַבִּי אֲבָהוּ: אַל תִּקְרֵי ״עֲלֵי עָיִן״, אֶלָּא ״עוֹלֵי עָיִן״.

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.

רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בְּרַבִּי חֲנִינָא אֲמַר מֵהָכָא: ״וְיִדְגּוּ לָרֹב בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ״, מָה דָּגִים שֶׁבַּיָּם מַיִם מְכַסִּין עֲלֵיהֶם וְאֵין עַיִן הָרָע שׁוֹלֶטֶת בָּהֶם, אַף זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף אֵין עַיִן הָרָע שׁוֹלֶטֶת בָּהֶם.

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.

וְאִי בָּעֵית אֵימָא: עַיִן שֶׁלֹּא רָצְתָה לִזּוֹן מִמַּה שֶּׁאֵינוֹ שֶׁלּוֹ — אֵין עַיִן הָרָע שׁוֹלֶטֶת בּוֹ.

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.

מַתְנִי׳ נָשִׁים וַעֲבָדִים וּקְטַנִּים פְּטוּרִין מִקְּרִיאַת שְׁמַע

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