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Gittin 56a:15גיטין נ״ו א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
56aנ״ו א

אמר ליה לא אמר ליה יהיבנא לך דמי פלגא דסעודתיך אמר ליה לא אמר ליה יהיבנא לך דמי כולה סעודתיך א"ל לא נקטיה בידיה ואוקמיה ואפקיה

The host said to him: No, you must leave. Bar Kamtza said to him: I will give you money for half of the feast; just do not send me away. The host said to him: No, you must leave. Bar Kamtza then said to him: I will give you money for the entire feast; just let me stay. The host said to him: No, you must leave. Finally, the host took bar Kamtza by his hand, stood him up, and took him out.

אמר הואיל והוו יתבי רבנן ולא מחו ביה ש"מ קא ניחא להו איזיל איכול בהו קורצא בי מלכא אזל אמר ליה לקיסר מרדו בך יהודאי א"ל מי יימר א"ל שדר להו קורבנא חזית אי מקרבין ליה

After having been cast out from the feast, bar Kamtza said to himself: Since the Sages were sitting there and did not protest the actions of the host, although they saw how he humiliated me, learn from it that they were content with what he did. I will therefore go and inform [eikhul kurtza] against them to the king. He went and said to the emperor: The Jews have rebelled against you. The emperor said to him: Who says that this is the case? Bar Kamtza said to him: Go and test them; send them an offering to be brought in honor of the government, and see whether they will sacrifice it.

אזל שדר בידיה עגלא תלתא בהדי דקאתי שדא ביה מומא בניב שפתים ואמרי לה בדוקין שבעין דוכתא דלדידן הוה מומא ולדידהו לאו מומא הוא

The emperor went and sent with him a choice three-year-old calf. While bar Kamtza was coming with the calf to the Temple, he made a blemish on the calf’s upper lip. And some say he made the blemish on its eyelids, a place where according to us, i.e., halakha, it is a blemish, but according to them, gentile rules for their offerings, it is not a blemish. Therefore, when bar Kamtza brought the animal to the Temple, the priests would not sacrifice it on the altar since it was blemished, but they also could not explain this satisfactorily to the gentile authorities, who did not consider it to be blemished.

סבור רבנן לקרוביה משום שלום מלכות אמר להו רבי זכריה בן אבקולס יאמרו בעלי מומין קריבין לגבי מזבח סבור למיקטליה דלא ליזיל ולימא אמר להו רבי זכריה יאמרו מטיל מום בקדשים יהרג

The blemish notwithstanding, the Sages thought to sacrifice the animal as an offering due to the imperative to maintain peace with the government. Rabbi Zekharya ben Avkolas said to them: If the priests do that, people will say that blemished animals may be sacrificed as offerings on the altar. The Sages said: If we do not sacrifice it, then we must prevent bar Kamtza from reporting this to the emperor. The Sages thought to kill him so that he would not go and speak against them. Rabbi Zekharya said to them: If you kill him, people will say that one who makes a blemish on sacrificial animals is to be killed. As a result, they did nothing, bar Kamtza’s slander was accepted by the authorities, and consequently the war between the Jews and the Romans began.

אמר רבי יוחנן ענוותנותו של רבי זכריה בן אבקולס החריבה את ביתנו ושרפה את היכלנו והגליתנו מארצנו

Rabbi Yoḥanan says: The excessive humility of Rabbi Zekharya ben Avkolas destroyed our Temple, burned our Sanctuary, and exiled us from our land.

שדר עלוייהו לנירון קיסר כי קאתי שדא גירא למזרח אתא נפל בירושלים למערב אתא נפל בירושלים לארבע רוחות השמים אתא נפל בירושלים

The Roman authorities then sent Nero Caesar against the Jews. When he came to Jerusalem, he wished to test his fate. He shot an arrow to the east and the arrow came and fell in Jerusalem. He then shot another arrow to the west and it also fell in Jerusalem. He shot an arrow in all four directions of the heavens, and each time the arrow fell in Jerusalem.

א"ל לינוקא פסוק לי פסוקיך אמר ליה (יחזקאל כה, יד) ונתתי את נקמתי באדום ביד עמי ישראל וגו' אמר קודשא בריך הוא בעי לחרובי ביתיה ובעי לכפורי ידיה בההוא גברא ערק ואזל ואיגייר ונפק מיניה ר"מ

Nero then conducted another test: He said to a child: Tell me the verse that you learned today. He said to him as follows: “And I will lay My vengeance upon Edom by the hand of My people Israel” (Ezekiel 25:14). Nero said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, wishes to destroy His Temple, and He wishes to wipe his hands with that man, i.e., with me. The Romans are associated with Edom, the descendants of Esau. If I continue on this mission, I will eventually be punished for having served as God’s agent to bring about the destruction. So he fled and became a convert, and ultimately Rabbi Meir descended from him.

שדריה עילוייהו לאספסיינוס קיסר אתא צר עלה תלת שני הוו בה הנהו תלתא עתירי נקדימון בן גוריון ובן כלבא שבוע ובן ציצית הכסת נקדימון בן גוריון שנקדה לו חמה בעבורו בן כלבא שבוע שכל הנכנס לביתו כשהוא רעב ככלב יוצא כשהוא שבע בן ציצית הכסת שהיתה ציצתו נגררת על גבי כסתות איכא דאמרי שהיתה כסתו מוטלת בין גדולי רומי

The Roman authorities then sent Vespasian Caesar against the Jews. He came and laid siege to Jerusalem for three years. There were at that time in Jerusalem these three wealthy people: Nakdimon ben Guryon, ben Kalba Savua, and ben Tzitzit HaKesat. The Gemara explains their names: Nakdimon ben Guryon was called by that name because the sun shined [nakad] on his behalf, as it is related elsewhere (see Ta’anit 19b) that the sun once continued to shine in order to prevent him from suffering a substantial loss. Ben Kalba Savua was called this because anyone who entered his house when he was hungry as a dog [kelev] would leave satiated [save’a]. Ben Tzitzit HaKesat was referred to by that name because his ritual fringes [tzitzit] dragged along on blankets [keset], meaning that he would not walk in the street with his feet on the ground, but rather they would place blankets beneath him. There are those who say that his seat [kiseh] was found among the nobles of Rome, meaning that he would sit among them.

חד אמר להו אנא זיינא להו בחיטי ושערי וחד אמר להו בדחמרא ובדמלחא ומשחא וחד אמר להו בדציבי ושבחו רבנן לדציבי דרב חסדא כל אקלידי הוה מסר לשמעיה בר מדציבי דאמר רב חסדא אכלבא דחיטי בעי שיתין אכלבי דציבי הוה להו למיזן עשרים וחד שתא

These three wealthy people offered their assistance. One of them said to the leaders of the city: I will feed the residents with wheat and barley. And one of them said to leaders of the city: I will provide the residents with wine, salt, and oil. And one of them said to the leaders of the city: I will supply the residents with wood. The Gemara comments: And the Sages gave special praise to he who gave the wood, since this was an especially expensive gift. As Rav Ḥisda would give all of the keys [aklidei] to his servant, except for the key to his shed for storing wood, which he deemed the most important of them all. As Rav Ḥisda said: One storehouse [akhleva] of wheat requires sixty storehouses of wood for cooking and baking fuel. These three wealthy men had between them enough commodities to sustain the besieged for twenty-one years.

הוו בהו הנהו בריוני אמרו להו רבנן ניפוק ונעביד שלמא בהדייהו לא שבקינהו אמרו להו ניפוק ונעביד קרבא בהדייהו אמרו להו רבנן לא מסתייעא מילתא קמו קלנהו להנהו אמברי דחיטי ושערי והוה כפנא

There were certain zealots among the people of Jerusalem. The Sages said to them: Let us go out and make peace with the Romans. But the zealots did not allow them to do this. The zealots said to the Sages: Let us go out and engage in battle against the Romans. But the Sages said to them: You will not be successful. It would be better for you to wait until the siege is broken. In order to force the residents of the city to engage in battle, the zealots arose and burned down these storehouses [ambarei] of wheat and barley, and there was a general famine.

מרתא בת בייתוס עתירתא דירושלים הויא שדרתה לשלוחה ואמרה ליה זיל אייתי לי סמידא אדאזל איזדבן אתא אמר לה סמידא ליכא חיורתא איכא אמרה ליה זיל אייתי לי אדאזל איזדבן אתא ואמר לה חיורתא ליכא גושקרא איכא א"ל זיל אייתי לי אדאזל אזדבן אתא ואמר לה גושקרא ליכא קימחא דשערי איכא אמרה ליה זיל אייתי לי אדאזל איזדבן

With regard to this famine it is related that Marta bat Baitos was one of the wealthy women of Jerusalem. She sent out her agent and said to him: Go bring me fine flour [semida]. By the time he went, the fine flour was already sold. He came and said to her: There is no fine flour, but there is ordinary flour. She said to him: Go then and bring me ordinary flour. By the time he went, the ordinary flour was also sold. He came and said to her: There is no ordinary flour, but there is coarse flour [gushkera]. She said to him: Go then and bring me coarse flour. By the time he went, the coarse flour was already sold. He came and said to her: There is no coarse flour, but there is barley flour. She said to him: Go then and bring me barley flour. But once again, by the time he went, the barley flour was also sold.

הוה שליפא מסאנא אמרה איפוק ואחזי אי משכחנא מידי למיכל איתיב לה פרתא בכרעא ומתה

She had just removed her shoes, but she said: I will go out myself and see if I can find something to eat. She stepped on some dung, which stuck to her foot, and, overcome by disgust, she died.

קרי עלה רבן יוחנן בן זכאי (דברים כח, נו) הרכה בך והענוגה אשר לא נסתה כף רגלה איכא דאמרי גרוגרות דר' צדוק אכלה ואיתניסא ומתה דר' צדוק יתיב ארבעין שנין בתעניתא דלא ליחרב ירושלים כי הוה אכיל מידי הוה מיתחזי מאבראי וכי הוה בריא מייתי ליה גרוגרות מייץ מייהו ושדי להו

Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai read concerning her a verse found in the section of the Torah listing the curses that will befall Israel: “The tender and delicate woman among you who would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground” (Deuteronomy 28:56). There are those who say that she did not step on dung, but rather she ate a fig of Rabbi Tzadok, and became disgusted and died. What are these figs? Rabbi Tzadok observed fasts for forty years, praying that Jerusalem would not be destroyed. He became so emaciated from fasting that when he would eat something it was visible from the outside of his body. And when he would eat after a fast they would bring him figs and he would suck out their liquid and cast the rest away. It was one such fig that Marta bat Baitos found and that caused her death.

כי הוה קא ניחא נפשה אפיקתה לכל דהבא וכספא שדיתיה בשוקא אמרה האי למאי מיבעי לי והיינו דכתיב (יחזקאל ז, יט) כספם בחוצות ישליכו

It is further related that as she was dying, she took out all of her gold and silver and threw it in the marketplace. She said: Why do I need this? And this is as it is written: “They shall cast their silver in the streets and their gold shall be as an impure thing; their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord; they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels” (Ezekiel 7:19).

אבא סקרא ריש בריוני דירושלים בר אחתיה דרבן יוחנן בן זכאי הוה שלח ליה תא בצינעא לגבאי אתא א"ל עד אימת עבדיתו הכי וקטליתו ליה לעלמא בכפנא א"ל מאי איעביד דאי אמינא להו מידי קטלו לי א"ל חזי לי תקנתא לדידי דאיפוק אפשר דהוי הצלה פורתא

§ The Gemara relates: Abba Sikkara was the leader of the zealots [biryonei] of Jerusalem and the son of the sister of Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai. Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai sent a message to him: Come to me in secret. He came, and Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to him: Until when will you do this and kill everyone through starvation? Abba Sikkara said to him: What can I do, for if I say something to them they will kill me. Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to him: Show me a method so that I will be able to leave the city, and it is possible that through this there will be some small salvation.

א"ל נקוט נפשך בקצירי וליתי כולי עלמא ולישיילו בך ואייתי מידי סריא ואגני גבך ולימרו דנח נפשך וליעיילו בך תלמידך ולא ליעול בך איניש אחרינא דלא לרגשן בך דקליל את דאינהו ידעי דחייא קליל ממיתא

Abba Sikkara said to him: This is what you should do: Pretend to be sick, and have everyone come and ask about your welfare, so that word will spread about your ailing condition. Afterward bring something putrid and place it near you, so that people will say that you have died and are decomposing. And then, have your students enter to bring you to burial, and let no one else come in so that the zealots not notice that you are still light. As the zealots know that a living person is lighter than a dead person.

עביד הכי נכנס בו רבי אליעזר מצד אחד ורבי יהושע מצד אחר כי מטו לפיתחא בעו למדקריה אמר להו יאמרו רבן דקרו בעו למדחפיה אמר להו יאמרו רבן דחפו פתחו ליה בבא נפק

Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai did this. Rabbi Eliezer entered from one side and Rabbi Yehoshua from the other side to take him out. When they arrived at the entrance of the city on the inside, the guards, who were of the faction of the zealots, wanted to pierce him with their swords in order to ascertain that he was actually dead, as was the common practice. Abba Sikkara said to them: The Romans will say that they pierce even their teacher. The guards then wanted at least to push him to see whether he was still alive, in which case he would cry out on account of the pushing. Abba Sikkara said to them: They will say that they push even their teacher. The guards then opened the gate and he was taken out.

כי מטא להתם אמר שלמא עלך מלכא שלמא עלך מלכא א"ל מיחייבת תרי קטלא חדא דלאו מלכא אנא וקא קרית לי מלכא ותו אי מלכא אנא עד האידנא אמאי לא אתית לגבאי א"ל דקאמרת לאו מלכא אנא

When Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai reached there, i.e., the Roman camp, he said: Greetings to you, the king; greetings to you, the king. Vespasian said to him: You are liable for two death penalties, one because I am not a king and yet you call me king, and furthermore, if I am a king, why didn’t you come to me until now? Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to him: As for what you said about yourself: I am not a king,