Megillah 25aמגילה כ״ה א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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25aכ״ה א

יברכוך טובים הרי זו דרך המינות על קן צפור יגיעו רחמיך ועל טוב יזכר שמך מודים מודים משתקין אותו

May the good bless You, this is a path of heresy, as heretics divide the world into two domains, good and evil. If one says the following in his prayers: Just as Your mercy is extended to a bird’s nest, as You have commanded us to send away the mother before taking her chicks or eggs (see Deuteronomy 22:6–7), so too extend Your mercy to us; or: May Your name be mentioned with the good; or: We give thanks, we give thanks, twice, he is suspected of heretical beliefs and they silence him.

המכנה בעריות משתקין אותו האומר (ויקרא יח, כא) ומזרעך לא תתן להעביר למולך לא תתן לאעברא בארמיותא משתקין אותו בנזיפה:

If one modifies the text while reading the laws of forbidden sexual relations, i.e., he introduces euphemisms out of a sense of propriety, they silence him. Similarly, if one says while translating the verse: “And you shall not give any of your seed to set them apart to Molekh” (Leviticus 18:21): And you shall not give any of your seed to impregnate an Aramean woman, he is silenced with rebuke.

גמ׳ בשלמא מודים מודים דמיחזי כשתי רשויות ועל טוב יזכר שמך נמי דמשמע על טוב אין ועל רע לא ותנן חייב אדם לברך על הרעה כשם שהוא מברך על הטובה אלא על קן צפור יגיעו רחמיך מ"ט

GEMARA: The mishna cites three instances where the communal prayer leader is silenced. The Gemara clarifies: Granted, they silence one who repeats: We give thanks, we give thanks, as it appears like he is acknowledging and praying to two authorities. And, granted, they also silence one who says: May Your name be mentioned with the good, as this formulation indicates one is thanking God only for the good and not for the bad, and we learned in a mishna (Berakhot 54a): One is obligated to bless God for the bad just as he blesses Him for the good. However, in the case of one who recites: Just as Your mercy is extended to a bird’s nest, what is the reason that they silence him?

פליגי בה תרי אמוראי במערבא ר' יוסי בר אבין ור' יוסי בר זבידא חד אמר מפני שמטיל קנאה במעשה בראשית וחד אמר מפני שעושה מדותיו של הקב"ה רחמים ואינן אלא גזירות

Two amora’im in the West, Eretz Yisrael, disagree about this question, Rabbi Yosei bar Avin and Rabbi Yosei bar Zevida. One said that this was because one who says this engenders jealousy among God’s creations, as it appears as though he is indicating that God favored one creature over all others. And one said that saying this is prohibited because one transforms the attributes of the Holy One, Blessed be He, into expressions of mercy, and they are nothing but decrees of the King that must be fulfilled without inquiring into the reasons behind them.

ההוא דנחית קמיה דרבה אמר אתה חסת על קן צפור אתה חוס ורחם עלינו (אתה חסת על אותו ואת בנו אתה חוס ורחם עלינו) אמר רבה כמה ידע האי מרבנן לרצויי למריה א"ל אביי והא משתקין אותו תנן

The Gemara relates that a particular individual descended before the ark as prayer leader in the presence of Rabba, and said in his prayers: You have shown mercy to birds, as expressed through the mitzva to chase away the mother bird before taking eggs from its nest; have mercy and pity upon us. You have shown mercy to animals, as expressed through the prohibition against slaughtering an animal and its offspring on the same day; have mercy and pity upon us. Rabba said: How much does this rabbi know to appease the Lord, his Master! Abaye said to him: Didn’t we learn in the mishna that they silence him?

ורבה לחדודי לאביי הוא דבעא

The Gemara explains: And Rabba, too, held in accordance with this mishna but merely acted this way because he wanted to hone Abaye’s intellect. Rabba did not make his statement to praise the rabbi, but simply to test his nephew and student, Abaye, and to encourage him to articulate what he knows about the mishna.

ההוא דנחית קמיה דרבי חנינא אמר האל הגדול הגבור והנורא האדיר והחזק והאמיץ

With regard to additions to prayers formulated by the Sages, the Gemara relates that a particular individual descended before the ark as prayer leader in the presence of Rabbi Ḥanina. He extended his prayer and said: God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome, the powerful, and the strong, and the fearless.

אמר ליה סיימתינהו לשבחיה דמרך השתא הני תלתא אי לאו דכתבינהו משה באורייתא ואתו כנסת הגדולה ותקנינהו אנן לא אמרינן להו ואת אמרת כולי האי משל לאדם שהיו לו אלף אלפי אלפים דינרי זהב והיו מקלסין אותו (באלף) דינרי כסף לא גנאי הוא לו

When he finished, Rabbi Ḥanina said to him: Have you concluded all of the praises of your Master? Even these three praises that we recite: The great, the mighty, and the awesome, had Moses our teacher not written them in the Torah (Deuteronomy 10:17), and had the members of the Great Assembly not come and incorporated them into the Amida prayer (see Nehemiah 9:32), we would not be permitted to recite them. And you went on and recited all of these. It is comparable to a man who possessed many thousands of golden dinars, yet they were praising him for owning a thousand silver ones. Isn’t that deprecatory toward him? All of the praises one can lavish upon the Lord are nothing but a few silver dinars relative to many thousands of gold dinars. Reciting a litany of praise does not enhance God’s honor.

אמר רבי חנינא הכל בידי שמים חוץ מיראת שמים שנאמר (דברים י, יב) ועתה ישראל מה ה' אלהיך שואל מעמך כי אם ליראה

Tangentially, the Gemara cites an additional statement by Rabbi Ḥanina, concerning principles of faith. Rabbi Ḥanina said: Everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for fear of Heaven. Man has free will to serve God or not, as it is stated: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you other than to fear the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 10:12). The fact that God asks man to fear Him indicates that it is in man’s ability to do so.

מכלל דיראה מילתא זוטרתי היא אין לגבי משה רבינו מילתא זוטרתי היא משל לאדם שמבקשין הימנו כלי גדול ויש לו דומה עליו ככלי קטן קטן ואין לו דומה עליו ככלי גדול

The Gemara notes: This proves by inference that fear of Heaven is a minor matter, as the verse is formulated as though God is not asking anything significant. Can it in fact be maintained that fear of Heaven is a minor matter? The Gemara responds: Indeed, for Moses our teacher, fear of Heaven is a minor matter. It is comparable to one who is asked for a large vessel and he has one; it seems to him like a small vessel because he owns it. However, one who is asked for just a small vessel and he does not have one, it seems to him like a large vessel. Therefore, Moses could say: What does the Lord your God ask of you other than to fear, because in his eyes it was a minor matter.

אמר רבי זירא האומר שמע שמע כאומר מודים מודים דמי

Rabbi Zeira said: One who repeats himself while reciting Shema and says: Listen Israel, listen Israel, is like one who says: We give thanks, we give thanks.

מיתיבי הקורא את שמע וכופלה הרי זה מגונה מגונה הוא דהוי שתוקי לא משתקינן ליה לא קשיא הא דאמר מילתא מילתא ותני לה הא דאמר פסוקא פסוקא ותני לה

The Gemara raises an objection: It was taught in a baraita: One who recites Shema and repeats it, it is reprehensible. One may infer: It is reprehensible, but they do not silence him. The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. This case, where one repeats Shema and it is reprehensible but they do not silence him, is referring to one who recites and repeats each individual word. In so doing, he ruins the recitation of Shema. However, that case, where Rabbi Zeira holds that they silence one who repeats Shema, is referring to one who recites and repeats an entire verse, as it appears that he is worshipping separate authorities.

א"ל רב פפא לרבא ודלמא מעיקרא לא כיון דעתיה והשתא כיון דעתיה אמר ליה חברותא כלפי שמיא אי לא מכוין דעתיה מחינא ליה בארזפתא דנפחא עד דמכוין דעתיה:

Rav Pappa said to Rava with regard to this halakha: And perhaps initially he did not focus his attention on the recitation of Shema and therefore had to repeat it, and now he focused his attention. Rava said to him: Can one have that degree of familiarity with Heaven, to the extent that he can take his words lightly and say them however he likes? If he did not focus his attention, we beat him with a blacksmith’s hammer until he focuses his attention, as conduct of that sort is unacceptable.

המכנה בעריות משתקין אותו: תנא רב יוסף קלון אביו וקלון אמו:

We learned in the mishna: If one modifies the text while reading the laws of forbidden sexual relations, they silence him. Rav Yosef taught that this is referring to one who says: The shame of his father and the shame of his mother, instead of: “The nakedness of your father and the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover” (Leviticus 18:7).

האומר ומזרעך לא תתן להעביר וכו': תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל בישראל הבא על הכותית והוליד ממנה בן לע"ז הכתוב מדבר:

We learned in the mishna: If one says, while translating the verse: “And you shall not give any of your seed to set them apart to Molekh” (Leviticus 18:21): And you shall not give any of your seed to impregnate an Aramean woman, he is silenced with rebuke. A Sage from the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: One who translates the verse in this manner maintains that the verse speaks of a Jew who has relations with a gentile woman and fathered from her a son who will be raised to engage in idol worship.

מתני׳ מעשה ראובן נקרא ולא מתרגם מעשה תמר נקרא ומתרגם מעשה עגל הראשון נקרא ומתרגם והשני נקרא ולא מתרגם ברכת כהנים מעשה דוד ואמנון נקראין ולא מתרגמין

MISHNA: The incident of Reuben, about which it says: “And Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine” (Genesis 35:22), is read from the Torah in public but not translated, so that the uneducated not come to denigrate Reuben. The incident of Tamar (Genesis, chapter 38) is read in public and also translated. The first report of the incident of the Golden Calf, i.e., the Torah’s account of the incident itself (Exodus 32:1–20), is read and translated, but the second narrative, i.e., Aaron’s report to Moses of what had taken place (Exodus 32:21–24) is read but not translated. The verses constituting the Priestly Benediction (Numbers 6:24–26) and the incident of David and Amnon (II Samuel, chapter 13) are read, but not translated.

אין מפטירין במרכבה ורבי יהודה מתיר ר' אליעזר אומר אין מפטירין (יחזקאל טז, ב) בהודע את ירושלם:

One may not conclude the Torah reading with by reading from the Prophets the account of the Divine Chariot (Ezekiel, chapter 1), so as not to publicize that which was meant to remain hidden. And Rabbi Yehuda permits it. Rabbi Eliezer says: One may not conclude with section from the Prophets beginning with: “Make known to Jerusalem her abominations” (Ezekiel 16:2), because it speaks derogatively of the Jewish people.

גמ׳ תנו רבנן יש נקרין ומתרגמין ויש נקרין ולא מתרגמין ויש לא נקרין ולא מתרגמין אלו נקרין ומתרגמין: בל"ת עק"ן נשפ"ה סימן:

GEMARA: The Sages taught in the Tosefta (3:31): There are portions of the Bible that are read and translated; there are portions that are read but not translated; and there are portions that are neither read nor translated. The following are read and translated: The Hebrew acronym bet, lamed, tav; ayin, kuf, nun; nun, shin, peh, heh comprise a mnemonic for the sections included in this category, as the Gemara will explain.

מעשה בראשית נקרא ומתרגם פשיטא מהו דתימא אתו לשיולי מה למעלה מה למטה

The Gemara enumerates the sections indicated by the letters of the mnemonic. The section of the act of Creation [bereshit], alluded to by the letter bet, is read and translated. The Gemara comments: This is obvious. Why might one think otherwise? The Gemara answers: Lest you say that if the story of the Creation is read in public people will come to ask questions that should not be asked, for instance: What is above and what is below,