אִיבְרָא מַלְכָּא אַתְּ דְּאִי לָאו מַלְכָּא אַתְּ לָא מִימַּסְרָא יְרוּשָׁלַיִם בִּידָךְ דִּכְתִיב וְהַלְּבָנוֹן בְּאַדִּיר יִפּוֹל וְאֵין אַדִּיר אֶלָּא מֶלֶךְ דִּכְתִיב וְהָיָה אַדִּירוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ וְגוֹ׳ וְאֵין לְבָנוֹן אֶלָּא בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר הָהָר הַטּוֹב הַזֶּה וְהַלְּבָנוֹן וּדְקָאָמְרַתְּ אִי מַלְכָּא אֲנָא אַמַּאי לָא קָאָתֵית לְגַבַּאי עַד הָאִידָּנָא בִּרְיוֹנֵי דְּאִית בַּן לָא שָׁבְקִינַן 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.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ אִילּוּ חָבִית שֶׁל דְּבַשׁ וּדְרָקוֹן כָּרוּךְ עָלֶיהָ לֹא הָיוּ שׁוֹבְרִין אֶת הֶחָבִית בִּשְׁבִיל דְּרָקוֹן אִישְׁתִּיק קָרֵי עֲלֵיהּ רַב יוֹסֵף וְאִיתֵּימָא רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא מֵשִׁיב חֲכָמִים אָחוֹר וְדַעְתָּם יְסַכֵּל אִיבְּעִי לֵיהּ לְמֵימַר לֵיהּ שָׁקְלִינַן צְבָתָא וְשָׁקְלִינַן לֵיהּ לִדְרָקוֹן וְקָטְלִינַן לֵיהּ וְחָבִיתָא שָׁבְקִינַן לַהּ 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.
אַדְּהָכִי אֲתָא פְּרֵיסְתְּקָא עֲלֵיהּ מֵרוֹמִי אֲמַר לֵיהּ קוּם דְּמִית לֵיהּ קֵיסָר וְאָמְרִי הָנְהוּ חֲשִׁיבֵי דְּרוֹמִי לְאוֹתֹיבָךָ בְּרֵישָׁא הֲוָה סָיֵים חַד (מסאני) [מְסָאנֵיהּ] בְּעָא לְמִסְיְימֵהּ לְאַחֲרִינָא לָא עָיֵיל בְּעָא לְמִישְׁלְפֵיהּ לְאִידַּךְ לָא נְפַק אֲמַר מַאי הַאי 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?
אֲמַר לֵיהּ לָא תִּצְטַעַר שְׁמוּעָה טוֹבָה אַתְיָא לָךְ דִּכְתִיב שְׁמוּעָה טוֹבָה תְּדַשֶּׁן עָצֶם אֶלָּא מַאי תַּקַּנְתֵּיהּ לֵיתֵי אִינִישׁ דְּלָא מְיַתְּבָא דַּעְתָּךְ מִינֵּיהּ וְלַחֲלֹיף קַמָּךְ דִּכְתִיב וְרוּחַ נְכֵאָה תְּיַבֶּשׁ גָּרֶם עֲבַד הָכִי עֲיַיל אֲמַר לֵיהּ וּמֵאַחַר דְּחָכְמִיתוּ כּוּלֵּי הַאי עַד הָאִידָּנָא אַמַּאי לָא אָתֵיתוּ לְגַבַּאי אֲמַר לֵיהּ וְלָא אֲמַרִי לָךְ אֲמַר לֵיהּ אֲנָא נָמֵי אֲמַרִי לָךְ 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.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ מֵיזָל אָזֵילְנָא וְאִינָשׁ אַחֲרִינָא מְשַׁדַּרְנָא אֶלָּא בָּעֵי מִינַּאי מִידֵּי דְּאֶתֵּן לָךְ אֲמַר לֵיהּ תֵּן לִי יַבְנֶה וַחֲכָמֶיהָ וְשׁוּשִׁילְתָּא דְּרַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל וְאָסְווֹתָא דְּמַסַּיִין לֵיהּ לְרַבִּי צָדוֹק קָרֵי עֲלֵיהּ רַב יוֹסֵף וְאִיתֵּימָא רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא מֵשִׁיב חֲכָמִים אָחוֹר וְדַעְתָּם יְסַכֵּל אִיבְּעִי לְמֵימַר לֵיהּ לִשְׁבְּקִינְהוּ הָדָא זִימְנָא 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.
וְהוּא סָבַר דִּלְמָא כּוּלֵּי הַאי לָא עָבֵיד וְהַצָּלָה פּוּרְתָּא נָמֵי לָא הָוֵי 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.
אָסְווֹתָא דְּמַסַּיִין לֵיהּ לְרַבִּי צָדוֹק מַאי הִיא יוֹמָא קַמָּא אַשְׁקְיוּהּ מַיָּא דְפָארֵי לִמְחַר מַיָּא דְסִיפּוּקָא לִמְחַר מַיָּא דְקִימְחָא עַד דִּרְוַוח מְיעֵיהּ פּוּרְתָּא פּוּרְתָּא 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.
אֲזַל שַׁדַּרֵיהּ לְטִיטוּס וְאָמַר אֵי אֱלֹהֵימוֹ צוּר חָסָיוּ בוֹ זֶה טִיטוּס הָרָשָׁע שֶׁחֵירַף וְגִידֵּף כְּלַפֵּי מַעְלָה § 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.
מָה עָשָׂה תָּפַשׂ זוֹנָה בְּיָדוֹ וְנִכְנַס לְבֵית קׇדְשֵׁי הַקֳּדָשִׁים וְהִצִּיעַ סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וְעָבַר עָלֶיהָ עֲבֵירָה וְנָטַל סַיִיף וְגִידֵּר אֶת הַפָּרוֹכֶת וְנַעֲשָׂה נֵס וְהָיָה דָּם מְבַצְבֵּץ וְיוֹצֵא וּכְסָבוּר הָרַג אֶת עַצְמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר שָׁאֲגוּ צוֹרְרֶיךָ בְּקֶרֶב מוֹעֲדֶיךָ שָׂמוּ אוֹתוֹתָם אוֹתוֹת 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).
אַבָּא חָנָן אוֹמֵר מִי כָמוֹךָ חֲסִין יָהּ מִי כָמוֹךָ חָסִין וְקָשֶׁה שֶׁאַתָּה שׁוֹמֵעַ נִיאוּצוֹ וְגִידּוּפוֹ שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע וְשׁוֹתֵק דְּבֵי רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל תָּנָא מִי כָּמֹכָה בָּאֵלִים ה׳ מִי כָּמוֹכָה בָּאִלְּמִים 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.
מָה עָשָׂה נָטַל אֶת הַפָּרוֹכֶת וַעֲשָׂאוֹ כְּמִין גַּרְגּוּתְנִי וְהֵבִיא כׇּל כֵּלִים שֶׁבַּמִּקְדָּשׁ וְהִנִּיחָן בָּהֶן וְהוֹשִׁיבָן בִּסְפִינָה לֵילֵךְ לְהִשְׁתַּבֵּחַ בְּעִירוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וּבְכֵן רָאִיתִי רְשָׁעִים קְבוּרִים וָבָאוּ וּמִמְּקוֹם קָדוֹשׁ יְהַלֵּכוּ וְיִשְׁתַּכְּחוּ בָעִיר אֲשֶׁר כֵּן עָשׂוּ אַל תִּיקְרֵי קְבוּרִים אֶלָּא קְבוּצִים אַל תִּיקְרֵי וְיִשְׁתַּכְּחוּ אֶלָּא וְיִשְׁתַּבְּחוּ 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.
אִיכָּא דְּאָמְרִי קְבוּרִים מַמָּשׁ דַּאֲפִילּוּ מִילֵּי דְּמִטַּמְּרָן אִיגַּלְיָין לְהוֹן 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.
עָמַד עָלָיו נַחְשׁוֹל שֶׁבַּיָּם לְטוֹבְעוֹ אָמַר כִּמְדוּמֶּה אֲנִי שֶׁאֱלֹהֵיהֶם שֶׁל אֵלּוּ אֵין גְּבוּרָתוֹ אֶלָּא בַּמַּיִם בָּא פַּרְעֹה טְבָעוֹ בַּמַּיִם בָּא סִיסְרָא טְבָעוֹ בַּמַּיִם אַף הוּא עוֹמֵד עָלַי לְטוֹבְעֵנִי בַּמַּיִם אִם גִּבּוֹר הוּא יַעֲלֶה לַיַּבָּשָׁה וְיַעֲשֶׂה עִמִּי מִלְחָמָה יָצְתָה בַּת קוֹל וְאָמְרָה לוֹ רָשָׁע בֶּן רָשָׁע בֶּן בְּנוֹ שֶׁל עֵשָׂו הָרָשָׁע בְּרִיָּה קַלָּה יֵשׁ לִי בְּעוֹלָמִי וְיַתּוּשׁ שְׁמָהּ 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.
אַמַּאי קָרֵי לַהּ בְּרִיָּה קַלָּה דְּמַעֲלָנָא אִית לַהּ וּמַפְּקָנָא לֵית לַהּ 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.
עֲלֵה לַיַּבָּשָׁה וְתַעֲשֶׂה עִמָּהּ מִלְחָמָה עָלָה לַיַּבָּשָׁה בָּא יַתּוּשׁ וְנִכְנַס בְּחוֹטְמוֹ וְנִקֵּר בְּמוֹחוֹ שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים יוֹמָא חַד הֲוָה קָא חָלֵיף אַבָּבָא דְּבֵי נַפָּחָא שְׁמַע קָל אַרְזַפְתָּא אִישְׁתִּיק אֲמַר אִיכָּא תַּקַּנְתָּא כֹּל יוֹמָא מַיְיתוּ נַפָּחָא וּמָחוּ קַמֵּיהּ לְגוֹי יָהֵיב לֵיהּ אַרְבַּע זוּזֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲמַר לֵיהּ מִיסָּתְיָיךְ דְּקָא חָזֵית בְּסָנְאָךְ עַד תְּלָתִין יוֹמִין עֲבַד הָכִי מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ כֵּיוָן דְּדָשׁ דָּשׁ 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.
תַּנְיָא אָמַר רַבִּי פִּנְחָס בֶּן עֲרוּבָא אֲנִי הָיִיתִי בֵּין גְּדוֹלֵי רוֹמִי וּכְשֶׁמֵּת פָּצְעוּ אֶת מוֹחוֹ וּמָצְאוּ בּוֹ כְּצִפּוֹר דְּרוֹר מִשְׁקַל שְׁנֵי סְלָעִים בְּמַתְנִיתָא תָּנָא כְּגוֹזָל בֶּן שָׁנָה מִשְׁקַל שְׁנֵי לִיטְרִין 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.
אָמַר אַבָּיֵי נָקְטִינַן פִּיו שֶׁל נְחוֹשֶׁת וְצִפּוֹרְנָיו שֶׁל בַּרְזֶל כִּי הֲוָה קָא מָיֵית אֲמַר לְהוּ לִיקְלְיוּהּ לְהָהוּא גַּבְרָא וּבַדַּרוּ לְקִיטְמֵיהּ אַשַּׁב יַמִּי דְּלָא לַשְׁכְּחֵיהּ אֱלָהָא דִיהוּדָאֵי וְלוֹקְמֵיהּ בְּדִינָא 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.
אוּנְקְלוֹס בַּר קְלוֹנִיקוּס בַּר אֲחָתֵיהּ דְּטִיטוּס הֲוָה בָּעֵי לְאִיגַּיּוֹרֵי אֲזַל אַסְּקֵיהּ לְטִיטוּס בִּנְגִידָא אֲמַר לֵיהּ מַאן חֲשִׁיב בְּהָהוּא עָלְמָא אֲמַר לֵיהּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מַהוּ לְאִידַּבּוֹקֵי בְּהוּ אֲמַר לֵיהּ מִילַּיְיהוּ נְפִישִׁין וְלָא מָצֵית לְקַיּוֹמִינְהוּ זִיל אִיגָּרִי בְּהוּ בְּהָהוּא עָלְמָא וְהָוֵית רֵישָׁא דִּכְתִיב הָיוּ צָרֶיהָ לְרֹאשׁ וְגוֹ׳ כׇּל הַמֵּיצַר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל נַעֲשָׂה רֹאשׁ אֲמַר לֵיהּ דִּינֵיהּ דְּהָהוּא גַּבְרָא בְּמַאי אֲמַר לֵיהּ § 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: