Gittin 56b:13גיטין נ״ו ב:יג
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56bנ״ו ב

איברא מלכא את דאי לאו מלכא את לא מימסרא ירושלים בידך דכתיב (ישעיהו י, לד) והלבנון באדיר יפול ואין אדיר אלא מלך דכתיב (ירמיהו ל, כא) והיה אדירו ממנו וגו' ואין לבנון אלא ביהמ"ק שנאמר (דברים ג, כה) ההר הטוב הזה והלבנון ודקאמרת אי מלכא אנא אמאי לא קאתית לגבאי עד האידנא בריוני דאית בן לא שבקינן

in truth, you are a king, if not now, then in the future. As if you are not a king, Jerusalem will not be handed over into your hand, as it is written: “And the Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one” (Isaiah 10:34). And “mighty one” means only a king, as it is written: “And their mighty one shall be of themselves, and their ruler shall proceed from the midst of them” (Jeremiah 30:21), indicating that “mighty one” parallels “ruler.” And “Lebanon” means only the Temple, as it is stated: “That good mountain and the Lebanon” (Deuteronomy 3:25). And as for what you said with your second comment: If I am a king why didn’t you come to me until now, there are zealots among us who did not allow us to do this.

אמר ליה אילו חבית של דבש ודרקון כרוך עליה לא היו שוברין את החבית בשביל דרקון אישתיק קרי עליה רב יוסף ואיתימא רבי עקיבא (ישעיהו מד, כה) משיב חכמים אחור ודעתם יסכל איבעי ליה למימר ליה שקלינן צבתא ושקלינן ליה לדרקון וקטלינן ליה וחביתא שבקינן לה

Understanding that Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai was prepared to ask him not to destroy the Temple, Vespasian said to him: If there is a barrel of honey and a snake [derakon] is wrapped around it, wouldn’t they break the barrel in order to kill the snake? In similar fashion, I am forced to destroy the city of Jerusalem in order to kill the zealots barricaded within it. Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai was silent and did not answer. In light of this, Rav Yosef later read the following verse about him, and some say that it was Rabbi Akiva who applied the verse to Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai: “I am the Lord…Who turns wise men backward and makes their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44:25). As Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai should have said the following to Vespasian in response: In such a case, we take tongs, remove the snake, and kill it, and in this way we leave the barrel intact. So too, you should kill the rebels and leave the city as it is.

אדהכי אתי פריסתקא עליה מרומי אמר ליה קום דמית ליה קיסר ואמרי הנהו חשיבי דרומי לאותיבך ברישא הוה סיים חד מסאני בעא למסיימא לאחרינא לא עייל בעא למשלפא לאידך לא נפק אמר מאי האי

In the meantime, as they were talking, a messenger [feristaka] arrived from Rome, and said to him: Rise, for the emperor has died, and the noblemen of Rome plan to appoint you as their leader and make you the next emperor. At that time Vespasian was wearing only one shoe, and when he tried to put on the other one, it would not go on his foot. He then tried to remove the other shoe that he was already wearing, but it would not come off. He said: What is this?

אמר ליה לא תצטער שמועה טובה אתיא לך דכתיב (משלי טו, ל) שמועה טובה תדשן עצם אלא מאי תקנתיה ליתי איניש דלא מיתבא דעתך מיניה ולחליף קמך דכתיב (משלי יז, כב) ורוח נכאה תיבש גרם עבד הכי עייל אמר ליה ומאחר דחכמיתו כולי האי עד האידנא אמאי לא אתיתו לגבאי אמר ליה ולא אמרי לך אמר ליה אנא נמי אמרי לך

Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to him: Be not distressed or troubled, for good tidings have reached you, as it is written: “Good tidings make the bone fat” (Proverbs 15:30), and your feet have grown fatter out of joy and satisfaction. Vespasian said to him: But what is the remedy? What must I do in order to put on my shoe? Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to him: Have someone with whom you are displeased come and pass before you, as it is written: “A broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). He did this, and his shoe went on his foot. Vespasian said to him: Since you are so wise, why didn’t you come to see me until now? Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to him: But didn’t I already tell you? Vespasian said to him: I also told you what I had to say.

אמר ליה מיזל אזילנא ואינש אחרינא משדרנא אלא בעי מינאי מידי דאתן לך אמר ליה תן לי יבנה וחכמיה ושושילתא דרבן גמליאל ואסוותא דמסיין ליה לרבי צדוק קרי עליה רב יוסף ואיתימא רבי עקיבא (ישעיהו מד, כה) משיב חכמים אחור ודעתם יסכל איבעי למימר ליה לשבקינהו הדא זימנא

Vespasian then said to Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai: I will be going to Rome to accept my new position, and I will send someone else in my place to continue besieging the city and waging war against it. But before I leave, ask something of me that I can give you. Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to him: Give me Yavne and its Sages and do not destroy it, and spare the dynasty of Rabban Gamliel and do not kill them as if they were rebels, and lastly give me doctors to heal Rabbi Tzadok. Rav Yosef read the following verse about him, and some say that it was Rabbi Akiva who applied the verse to Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai: “I am the Lord…Who turns wise men backward and makes their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44:25), as he should have said to him to leave the Jews alone this time.

והוא סבר דלמא כולי האי לא עביד והצלה פורתא נמי לא הוי

And why didn’t Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai make this request? He maintained that Vespasian might not do that much for him, and there would not be even a small amount of salvation. Therefore, he made only a modest request, in the hope that he would receive at least that much.

אסוותא דמסיין ליה לרבי צדוק מאי היא יומא קמא אשקיוה מיא דפארי למחר מיא דסיפוקא למחר מיא דקימחא עד דרווח מיעיה פורתא פורתא

The Gemara asks: What was he requesting when he asked for doctors to heal Rabbi Tzadok? How did they heal him? The first day they gave him water to drink that contained bran [parei]. The next day they gave him water containing flour mixed with bran [sipuka]. The following day they gave him water containing flour. In this way they slowly restored his ability to eat, allowing his stomach to broaden little by little.

אזל שדריה לטיטוס ואמר (דברים לב, לז) אי אלהימו צור חסיו בו זה טיטוס הרשע שחירף וגידף כלפי מעלה

§ Vespasian went back to Rome and sent Titus in his place. The Gemara cites a verse that was expounded as referring to Titus: “And he shall say: Where is their God, their rock in whom they trusted?” (Deuteronomy 32:37). This is the wicked Titus, who insulted and blasphemed God on High.

מה עשה תפש זונה בידו ונכנס לבית קדשי הקדשים והציע ספר תורה ועבר עליה עבירה ונטל סייף וגידר את הפרוכת ונעשה נס והיה דם מבצבץ ויוצא וכסבור הרג את עצמו שנאמר (תהלים עד, ד) שאגו צורריך בקרב מועדיך שמו אותותם אותות

What did Titus do when he conquered the Temple? He took a prostitute with his hand, and entered the Holy of Holies with her. He then spread out a Torah scroll underneath him and committed a sin, i.e., engaged in sexual intercourse, on it. Afterward he took a sword and cut into the curtain separating between the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies. And a miracle was performed and blood spurted forth. Seeing the blood, he mistakenly thought that he had killed himself. Here, the term himself is a euphemism for God. Titus saw blood issuing forth from the curtain in God’s meeting place, the Temple, and he took it as a sign that he had succeeded in killing God Himself. As it is stated: “Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place; they have set up their own signs for signs” (Psalms 74:4).

אבא חנן אומר (תהלים פט, ט) מי כמוך חסין יה מי כמוך חסין וקשה שאתה שומע ניאוצו וגידופו של אותו רשע ושותק דבי רבי ישמעאל תנא (שמות טו, יא) מי כמוכה באלים ה' מי כמוכה באלמים

Abba Ḥanan says: The verse states: “Who is strong like You, O Lord?” (Psalms 89:9). Who is strong and indurate like You, as You hear the abuse and the blasphemy of that wicked man and remain silent. Similarly, the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught that the verse: “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods [elim]” (Exodus 15:11), should be read as: Who is like You among the mute [ilmim], for You conduct Yourself like a mute and remain silent in the face of Your blasphemers.

מה עשה נטל את הפרוכת ועשאו כמין גרגותני והביא כל כלים שבמקדש והניחן בהן והושיבן בספינה לילך להשתבח בעירו שנאמר (קהלת ח, י) ובכן ראיתי רשעים קבורים ובאו וממקום קדוש יהלכו וישתכחו בעיר אשר כן עשו אל תיקרי קבורים אלא קבוצים אל תיקרי וישתכחו אלא וישתבחו

What else did Titus do? He took the curtain and formed it like a large basket, and brought all of the sacred vessels of the Temple and placed them in it. And he put them on a ship to go and be praised in his city that he had conquered Jerusalem, as it is stated: “And so I saw the wicked buried, and come to their rest; but those that had done right were gone from the holy place, and were forgotten in the city; this also is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 8:10). Do not read the word as “buried [kevurim].” Rather, read it as collected [kevutzim]. And do not read the word as “and were forgotten [veyishtakeḥu].” Rather, read it as: And they were praised [veyishtabeḥu]. According to this interpretation, the verse speaks of those who will gather and collect items “from the holy place,” the Temple, and be praised in their city about what they had done.

איכא דאמרי קבורים ממש דאפילו מילי דמטמרן איגלייא להון

There are those who say that the verse is to be read as written, as it is referring to items that were actually buried. This is because even items that had been buried were revealed to them, i.e., Titus and his soldiers, as they found all of the sacred vessels.

עמד עליו נחשול שבים לטובעו אמר כמדומה אני שאלהיהם של אלו אין גבורתו אלא במים בא פרעה טבעו במים בא סיסרא טבעו במים אף הוא עומד עלי לטובעני במים אם גבור הוא יעלה ליבשה ויעשה עמי מלחמה יצתה בת קול ואמרה לו רשע בן רשע בן בנו של עשו הרשע בריה קלה יש לי בעולמי ויתוש שמה

It is further related about Titus that he was once traveling at sea and a wave rose up against him and threatened to drown him. Titus said: It seems to me that their God, the God of Israel, has power only in water. Pharaoh rose against them and He drowned him in water. Sisera rose against them and He drowned him in water. Here too, He has risen up against me to drown me in water. If He is really mighty, let Him go up on dry land and there wage war against me. A Divine Voice issued forth and said to him: Wicked one, son of a wicked one, grandson of Esau the wicked, for you are among his descendants and act just like him, I have a lowly creature in My world and it is called a gnat.

אמאי קרי לה בריה קלה דמעלנא אית לה ומפקנא לית לה

The Gemara interjects: Why is it called a lowly creature? It is called this because it has an entrance for taking in food, but it does not have an exit for excretion.

עלה ליבשה ותעשה עמה מלחמה עלה ליבשה בא יתוש ונכנס בחוטמו ונקר במוחו שבע שנים יומא חד הוה קא חליף אבבא דבי נפחא שמע קל ארזפתא אישתיק אמר איכא תקנתא כל יומא מייתו נפחא ומחו קמיה לנכרי יהיב ליה ארבע זוזי לישראל אמר ליה מיסתייך דקא חזית בסנאך עד תלתין יומין עבד הכי מכאן ואילך כיון דדש דש

The Gemara resumes its story about Titus. The Divine Voice continued: Go up on dry land and make war with it. He went up on dry land, and a gnat came, entered his nostril, and picked at his brain for seven years. Titus suffered greatly from this until one day he passed by the gate of a blacksmith’s shop. The gnat heard the sound of a hammer and was silent and still. Titus said: I see that there is a remedy for my pain. Every day they would bring a blacksmith who hammered before him. He would give four dinars as payment to a gentile blacksmith, and to a Jew he would simply say: It is enough for you that you see your enemy in so much pain. He did this for thirty days and it was effective until then. From that point forward, since the gnat became accustomed to the hammering, it became accustomed to it, and once again it began to pick away at Titus’s brain.

תניא אמר רבי פנחס בן ערובא אני הייתי בין גדולי רומי וכשמת פצעו את מוחו ומצאו בו כצפור דרור משקל שני סלעים במתניתא תנא כגוזל בן שנה משקל שני ליטרין

It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Pineḥas ben Arova said: I was at that time among the noblemen of Rome, and when Titus died they split open his head and found that the gnat had grown to the size of a sparrow weighing two sela. It was taught in another baraita: It was like a one-year-old pigeon weighing two litra.

אמר אביי נקטינן פיו של נחושת וצפורניו של ברזל כי הוה קא מיית אמר להו ליקליוה לההוא גברא ולבדרי לקיטמיה אשב ימי דלא לשכחיה אלהא דיהודאי ולוקמיה בדינא

Abaye said: We have a tradition that its mouth was made of copper and its claws were fashioned of iron. When Titus was dying, he said to his attendants: Burn that man, i.e., me, and scatter his ashes across the seven seas, so that the God of the Jews should not find me and stand me for judgment.

אונקלוס בר קלוניקוס בר אחתיה דטיטוס הוה בעי לאיגיורי אזל אסקיה לטיטוס בנגידא אמר ליה מאן חשיב בההוא עלמא אמר ליה ישראל מהו לאידבוקי בהו אמר ליה מילייהו נפישין ולא מצית לקיומינהו זיל איגרי בהו בההוא עלמא והוית רישא דכתיב (איכה א, ה) היו צריה לראש וגו' כל המיצר לישראל נעשה ראש אמר ליה דיניה דההוא גברא במאי א"ל

§ The Gemara relates: Onkelos bar Kalonikos, the son of Titus’s sister, wanted to convert to Judaism. He went and raised Titus from the grave through necromancy, and said to him: Who is most important in that world where you are now? Titus said to him: The Jewish people. Onkelos asked him: Should I then attach myself to them here in this world? Titus said to him: Their commandments are numerous, and you will not be able to fulfill them. It is best that you do as follows: Go out and battle against them in that world, and you will become the chief, as it is written: “Her adversaries [tzareha] have become the chief” (Lamentations 1:5), which means: Anyone who distresses [meitzer] Israel will become the chief. Onkelos said to him: What is the punishment of that man, a euphemism for Titus himself, in the next world? Titus said to him: