וקובר את בניו מוחלין לו על כל עונותיו
and buries his sons, all his transgressions are forgiven.
אמר ליה רבי יוחנן בשלמא תורה וגמילות חסדים דכתיב בחסד ואמת יכפר עון חסד זו גמילות חסדים שנאמר רודף צדקה וחסד ימצא חיים צדקה וכבוד אמת זו תורה שנאמר אמת קנה ואל תמכר אלא קובר את בניו מנין
Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: What is your source for this? Granted, if one engages in Torah and acts of charity, his transgressions are forgiven, as it is written: “With mercy and truth, iniquity is expiated” (Proverbs 16:6); mercy refers to acts of charity, as it is stated: “He who pursues charity and mercy finds life, charity and honor” (Proverbs 21:21), mercy and charity are listed together. And truth refers to Torah, as it is stated: “Buy truth and do not sell it; also wisdom, guidance and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). However, from where is it derived that the transgressions of one who buries his sons are also forgiven?
תנא ליה ההוא סבא משום רבי שמעון בן יוחאי אתיא עון עון כתיב הכא בחסד ואמת יכפר עון וכתיב התם ומשלם עון אבות אל חיק בניהם
An answer was provided to Rabbi Yoḥanan when a certain elder taught him in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yoḥai: This conclusion is derived from a verbal analogy between the words iniquity and iniquity. Here, it is written: “With mercy and truth, iniquity is expiated,” and there it is written: “He repays the iniquity of the fathers onto the bosom of their children” (Jeremiah 32:18). Because he “repays the iniquity of the fathers onto the bosom of their children,” the father’s transgressions are forgiven.
אמר רבי יוחנן נגעים ובנים אינן יסורין של אהבה
Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Leprosy and suffering due to children are not afflictions of love.
ונגעים לא והתניא כל מי שיש בו אחד מארבעה מראות נגעים הללו אינן אלא מזבח כפרה
The Gemara asks: Is leprosy not an affliction of love? Didn’t we learn in a baraita: If one has any of the four signs of leprosy (Leviticus 13) they are nothing other than an altar of atonement?
מזבח כפרה הוו יסורין של אהבה לא הוו
The Gemara answers: Although the signs of leprosy are an altar of atonement for one’s transgressions, they are not an affliction of love.
ואי בעית אימא הא לן והא להו
And if you wish, say instead: This baraita, which says that leprosy is an affliction of love, is for us in Babylonia, because outside of Eretz Yisrael we are not as careful of the laws of ritual impurity, and one afflicted with leprosy may interact with others, mitigating his suffering. And that statement of Rabbi Yoḥanan, that leprosy is not an affliction of love, is for them in Eretz Yisrael, where they are exceedingly careful of the laws of ritual impurity and the suffering of a leper is great because he is banished from society (Rav Hai Gaon).
ואי בעית אימא הא בצנעא הא בפרהסיא
And if you wish, say instead: This baraita, which says that leprosy is an affliction of love, refers to concealed leprosy that only strikes the concealed areas of one’s body. But that statement of Rabbi Yoḥanan refers to visible leprosy that causes those who see it to distance themselves from the leper.
ובנים לא היכי דמי אילימא דהוו להו ומתו והא אמר רבי יוחנן דין גרמא דעשיראה ביר אלא הא דלא הוו ליה כלל והא דהוו ליה ומתו
The Gemara continues to object: And suffering due to children is not an affliction of love? The Gemara clarifies: What are the circumstances? If you say that he had children and they died, didn’t Rabbi Yoḥanan himself say, while consoling the victim of a catastrophe: This is the bone of my tenth son? Rabbi Yoḥanan experienced the death of ten of his children, and he kept a small bone from his tenth child as a painful memorial. He would show that bone to others in order to console them, and since he showed it to them, the deaths of his children must certainly have been affliction of love. He consoled others by displaying that there is an element of intimacy with God that exists in that suffering (Tosafot). Why, then, would Rabbi Yoḥanan have said that suffering due to children is not afflictions of love? Rather, one must conclude that when Rabbi Yoḥanan said that those afflictions are not afflictions of love, he was speaking with regard to one who has no children, and when one had children who died, this could very well be considered afflictions of love.
רבי חייא בר אבא חלש על לגביה רבי יוחנן אמר ליה חביבין עליך יסורין אמר ליה לא הן ולא שכרן אמר ליה הב לי ידך יהב ליה ידיה ואוקמיה
The Gemara continues to address the issue of suffering and affliction: Rabbi Yoḥanan’s student, Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba, fell ill. Rabbi Yoḥanan entered to visit him, and said to him: Is your suffering dear to you? Do you desire to be ill and afflicted? Rabbi Ḥiyya said to him: I welcome neither this suffering nor its reward, as one who welcomes this suffering with love is rewarded. Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: Give me your hand. Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba gave him his hand, and Rabbi Yoḥanan stood him up and restored him to health.
רבי יוחנן חלש על לגביה רבי חנינא אמר ליה חביבין עליך יסורין אמר ליה לא הן ולא שכרן אמר ליה הב לי ידך יהב ליה ידיה ואוקמיה
Similarly, Rabbi Yoḥanan fell ill. Rabbi Ḥanina entered to visit him, and said to him: Is your suffering dear to you? Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: I welcome neither this suffering nor its reward. Rabbi Ḥanina said to him: Give me your hand. He gave him his hand, and Rabbi Ḥanina stood him up and restored him to health.
אמאי לוקים רבי יוחנן לנפשיה
The Gemara asks: Why did Rabbi Yoḥanan wait for Rabbi Ḥanina to restore him to health? If he was able to heal his student, let Rabbi Yoḥanan stand himself up.
אמרי אין חבוש מתיר עצמו מבית האסורים
The Gemara answers, they say: A prisoner cannot generally free himself from prison, but depends on others to release him from his shackles.
רבי אלעזר חלש על לגביה רבי יוחנן חזא דהוה קא גני בבית אפל גלייה לדרעיה ונפל נהורא חזייה דהוה קא בכי רבי אלעזר אמר ליה אמאי קא בכית אי משום תורה דלא אפשת שנינו אחד המרבה ואחד הממעיט ובלבד שיכוין לבו לשמים ואי משום מזוני לא כל אדם זוכה לשתי שלחנות ואי משום בני דין גרמא דעשיראה ביר
The Gemara relates that Rabbi Elazar, another of Rabbi Yoḥanan’s students, fell ill. Rabbi Yoḥanan entered to visit him, and saw that he was lying in a dark room. Rabbi Yoḥanan exposed his arm, and light radiated from his flesh, filling the house. He saw that Rabbi Elazar was crying, and said to him: Why are you crying? Thinking that his crying was over the suffering that he endured throughout his life, Rabbi Yoḥanan attempted to comfort him: If you are weeping because you did not study as much Torah as you would have liked, we learned: One who brings a substantial sacrifice and one who brings a meager sacrifice have equal merit, as long as he directs his heart toward Heaven. If you are weeping because you lack sustenance and are unable to earn a livelihood, as Rabbi Elazar was, indeed, quite poor, not every person merits to eat off of two tables, one of wealth and one of Torah, so you need not bemoan the fact that you are not wealthy. If you are crying over children who have died, this is the bone of my tenth son, and suffering of that kind afflicts great people, and they are afflictions of love.
אמר ליה להאי שופרא דבלי בעפרא קא בכינא אמר ליה על דא ודאי קא בכית ובכו תרוייהו
Rabbi Elazar said to Rabbi Yoḥanan: I am not crying over my misfortune, but rather, over this beauty of yours that will decompose in the earth, as Rabbi Yoḥanan’s beauty caused him to consider human mortality. Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: Over this, it is certainly appropriate to weep. Both cried over the fleeting nature of beauty in the world and death that eventually overcomes all.
אדהכי והכי אמר ליה חביבין עליך יסורין אמר ליה לא הן ולא שכרן אמר ליה הב לי ידך יהב ליה ידיה ואוקמיה
Meanwhile, Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: Is your suffering dear to you? Rabbi Elazar said to him: I welcome neither this suffering nor its reward. Upon hearing this, Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: Give me your hand. Rabbi Elazar gave him his hand, and Rabbi Yoḥanan stood him up and restored him to health.
רב הונא תקיפו ליה ארבע מאה דני דחמרא על לגביה רב יהודה אחוה דרב סלא חסידא ורבנן ואמרי לה רב אדא בר אהבה ורבנן ואמרו ליה לעיין מר במיליה אמר להו ומי חשידנא בעינייכו אמרו ליה מי חשיד קודשא בריך הוא דעביד דינא בלא דינא
The Gemara relates another story regarding acknowledgement of the justice of divine punishment: Four hundred barrels of Rav Huna’s wine fermented and turned into vinegar, causing him great financial loss.
Rav Yehuda, the brother of Rav Sala the Pious, along with the Sages, and some say Rav Adda bar Ahava, along with the Sages, entered to visit him, and said: The Master should examine his actions, as perhaps he committed a transgression for which he is being punished.
Rav Huna said to them: Am I suspect in your eyes? Have I committed a transgression on account of which you advise me to examine my behavior?
They said to him: Is the Holy One, Blessed be He, suspect that He exacts punishment without justice? Your loss was certainly just, and you must examine your conduct to find out why. The Sages were aware of a flaw in Rav Huna’s conduct, to which they alluded (Tosafot).
אמר להו אי איכא מאן דשמיע עלי מלתא לימא אמרו ליה הכי שמיע לן דלא יהיב מר שבישא לאריסיה
Rav Huna said to them: If someone has heard something improper that I have done, let him say so. They said to him: We have heard that the Master does not give a share of his grapevines to his tenant farmers. A tenant farmer is entitled to a portion of the crop grown on his landlord’s property, as well as a share of the vines planted during a given year.
אמר להו מי קא שביק לי מידי מיניה הא קא גניב ליה כוליה
Rav Huna said to them: Does this tenant farmer leave me anything from the produce that he grows on my property? He steals it all. Consequently, in denying him his share of the grapevines I am simply recouping that which was stolen from me by this tenant farmer.
אמרו ליה היינו דאמרי אינשי בתר גנבא גנוב וטעמא טעים אמר להו קבילנא עלי דיהיבנא ליה איכא דאמרי הדר חלא והוה חמרא ואיכא דאמרי אייקר חלא ואיזדבן בדמי דחמרא:
They said to him: That is the meaning of the folk saying: One who steals from a thief has a taste of theft. Despite the fact that the property was stolen to begin with, one nevertheless engages in theft. Although he did not violate a prohibition per se, it is still a form of theft, and one who is held to a higher standard than others will be punished for it.
He said to them: I accept upon myself to give my tenant farmer his portion in the future.
Thereupon, as a result of Rav Huna’s repentance, God restored his loss. Some say his vinegar turned back into wine, and some say that the price of vinegar rose and it was sold at the price of wine.
תניא אבא בנימין אומר על שני דברים הייתי מצטער כל ימי על תפלתי שתהא לפני מטתי ועל מטתי שתהא נתונה בין צפון לדרום על תפלתי שתהא לפני מטתי מאי לפני מטתי אילימא לפני מטתי ממש והאמר רב יהודה אמר רב ואיתימא רבי יהושע בן לוי מנין למתפלל שלא יהא דבר חוצץ בינו לבין הקיר שנאמר ויסב חזקיהו פניו אל הקיר ויתפלל לא תימא לפני מטתי אלא אימא סמוך למטתי
The Gemara returns to the topic of prayer. It was taught in a baraita that the tanna Abba Binyamin would say: All of my life I have taken great pains with regard to two things: That my prayer should be before my bed and that my bed should be placed north to south. Abba Binyamin’s statement requires explanation. With regard to his statement: That my prayer should be before my bed, the Gemara asks, what does before my bed mean? If you say that it literally means that he would stand before his bed and pray, it is difficult, as Rav Yehuda said that Rav said, and some say that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: From where is it derived that one who prays should have nothing separating between him and the wall? As it is stated: “And Hezekiah turned to face the wall and prayed” (Isaiah 38:2), in order to facilitate his concentration during prayer. That being said, why would Abba Binyamin pray before his bed? Rather, do not say that before my bed refers to where he stood during prayer, but rather, say that he prayed adjacent to the time that he would retire to bed; he was careful to recite Shema and recite the evening prayer just before going to sleep (Rabbeinu Ḥananel).
ועל מטתי שתהא נתונה בין צפון לדרום
Abba Binyamin’s statement: And my bed should be placed north to south was in deference to the Divine Presence, which rests between east and west, the direction of the Temple; as the Holy of Holies was to the west, while the main entrance was to the east. Therefore, the Sages were careful not to perform actions inconsistent with that sanctity while facing east to west; and, therefore, Abba Binyamin was careful not to sleep in a bed that faced east to west.
דאמר רבי חמא ברבי חנינא אמר רבי יצחק כל הנותן מטתו בין צפון לדרום הויין ליה בנים זכרים שנאמר וצפונך תמלא בטנם ישבעו בנים
In praise of that stringency, the Sages added that Rabbi Ḥama said that Rabbi Ḥanina said that Rabbi Yitzḥak said: One who places his bed facing north to south will be rewarded with male children, as it is stated: “And whose belly You fill with Your treasure [utzfunekha], who have sons in plenty and leave their abundance to their babies” (Psalms 17:14). This verse indicates that one who sets his bed facing north will be rewarded with sons in plenty, as north [tzafon] is etymologically similar to Your treasure [tzfunekha].
רב נחמן בר יצחק אמר אף אין אשתו מפלת נפלים כתיב הכא וצפונך תמלא בטנם וכתיב התם וימלאו ימיה ללדת והנה תומים בבטנה:
Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: Moreover, his wife will not miscarry. From where do we derive this? It is written here: “And whose belly You fill [temaleh] with Your treasure,” and it is written there, concerning Rebecca’s pregnancy: “And her time to give birth was fulfilled [vayimle’u] and there were twins in her belly” (Genesis 25:24), consequently: You fill with Your treasure refers to a pregnancy that proceeds without complication.
תניא אבא בנימין אומר שנים שנכנסו להתפלל וקדם אחד מהם להתפלל ולא המתין את חברו ויצא טורפין לו תפלתו בפניו שנאמר טרף נפשו באפו הלמענך תעזב ארץ
Another of Abba Binyamin’s statements with regard to the laws of prayer was taught in a baraita: Abba Binyamin says: If two people enter a synagogue outside of the city in order to pray, and one began praying before the other and did not wait for the other person to complete his prayer, and left him alone in the synagogue, his prayer is thrown back in his face. Because he left the other person alone and caused him to be distracted during his prayer, his own prayer is thrown back in his face, as it is stated: “You who throw your soul in your face, for your sake will the earth be forsaken? The Rock will be moved from its place” (Job 18:4). This verse indicates that one who left the other person alone effectively causes his soul, as prayer is the outpouring of the soul before God, to be thrown in his face. God says to that person: For your sake, do you think because you left, the earth will be forsaken, that God will leave the world and the prayer of the other person will go unheard?
ולא עוד אלא שגורם לשכינה שתסתלק מישראל שנאמר ויעתק צור ממקמו ואין צור אלא הקדוש ברוך הוא שנאמר צור ילדך תשי
Not only that, but it causes the Divine Presence to remove itself from Israel, as it is stated in the continuation of the verse: “The Rock will be moved from its place.” The rock, God, is forced to remove His presence. And Rock means nothing other than the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it is stated: “Of the Rock that gave birth to you, you have been unmindful, and you have forgotten God Who bore you” (Deuteronomy 32:18).
ואם המתין לו מה שכרו
And if he waits for him in the synagogue, what is his reward? Is his reward proportionate to the punishment received by one who failed to do so?