ולא ברכתי לפני כהן ולא אכלתי מבהמה שלא הורמו מתנותיה
And I never recited Grace after Meals in the presence of a priest, but rather I gave him the privilege to lead. And I never ate from an animal whose priestly portions, i.e., the foreleg, the jaw, and the maw, had not already been set aside.
דא"ר יצחק א"ר יוחנן אסור לאכול מבהמה שלא הורמו מתנותיה ואמר ר' יצחק כל האוכל מבהמה שלא הורמו מתנותיה כאילו אוכל טבלים ולית הלכתא כוותיה
Another example of Rabbi Perida’s meticulous behavior is based on that which Rabbi Yitzḥak said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: It is prohibited to eat meat from an animal whose priestly portions have not been set aside. And Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Anyone who eats meat from an animal whose priestly portions have not been set aside is regarded as if he were eating untithed produce. The Gemara comments: And the halakha is not in accordance with his opinion. Rather, it is permitted to eat meat from such an animal. Nevertheless, Rabbi Perida acted stringently and did not eat from it.
ולא ברכתי לפני כהן
The Gemara considers another of Rabbi Perida’s actions: He said: And I never blessed Grace after Meals in the presence of a priest, but rather I gave him the privilege to lead.
למימרא דמעליותא היא והא א"ר יוחנן כל תלמיד חכם שמברך לפניו אפילו כ"ג עם הארץ אותו ת"ח חייב מיתה שנאמר (משלי ח, לו) כל משנאי אהבו מות אל תקרי משנאי אלא משניאי
Is this to say that doing so is especially virtuous? But hasn’t Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Any Torah scholar who allows someone else to bless Grace after Meals in his presence, i.e., to lead for him, even if that person is a High Priest who is an ignoramus, then that Torah scholar is liable to receive the death penalty for belittling his own honor? This is as it is stated: “All those who hate me, love death” (Proverbs 8:36). Do not read it as “those who hate Me [mesan’ai],” rather read it as though it said: Those who make Me hated [masni’ai]. The honor due to a Torah scholar is representative of the honor of God in the world. Therefore, by belittling his own honor, he causes others to fail to respect God, which can ultimately develop into hate. If so, why did Rabbi Perida consider his behavior to be so deserving of praise?
כי קאמר איהו בשוין
The Gemara answers: When Rabbi Perida says this, he was speaking of people of equal stature. He was particular to honor the priesthood only when the priest was also a Torah scholar.
שאלו תלמידיו את רבי נחוניא בן הקנה במה הארכת ימים אמר להם מימי לא נתכבדתי בקלון חברי ולא עלתה על מטתי קללת חברי וותרן בממוני הייתי
The Gemara discusses the fourth Sage who was blessed with longevity: Rabbi Neḥunya ben HaKana was once asked by his disciples: In the merit of which virtue were you blessed with longevity? He said to them: In all my days, I never attained veneration at the expense of my fellow’s degradation. Nor did my fellow’s curse ever go up with me upon my bed. If ever I offended someone, I made sure to appease him that day. Therefore, when I went to bed I knew that no one had any grievances against me. And I was always openhanded with my money.
לא נתכבדתי בקלון חברי כי הא דרב הונא דרי מרא אכתפיה אתא רב חנא בר חנילאי וקא דרי מיניה א"ל אי רגילת דדרית במאתיך דרי ואי לא אתייקורי אנא בזילותא דידך לא ניחא לי
The Gemara clarifies the meaning of his statement: Rabbi Neḥunya said: I never attained veneration at the expense of my fellow’s denigration. This is referring to conduct such as that of Rav Huna, who was carrying a hoe over his shoulder as he returned from his work. Rav Ḥana bar Ḥanilai came and, out of respect for his teacher, took the hoe from him to carry it for him. Rav Huna said to him: If you are accustomed to carry such objects in your own city, you may carry it; but if not, then for me to be venerated through your denigration is not pleasing for me.
ולא עלתה על מטתי קללת חברי כי הא דמר זוטרא כי הוה סליק לפורייה אמר שרי ליה לכל מאן דצערן
Rabbi Neḥunya also said: Nor did I ever allow the resentment caused by my fellow’s curse to go up with me upon my bed. This is referring to conduct such as that of Mar Zutra. When he would go to bed at night, he would first say: I forgive anyone who has vexed me.
וותרן בממוני הייתי דאמר מר איוב וותרן בממוניה הוה שהיה מניח פרוטה לחנוני מממוניה
Lastly, Rabbi Neḥunya said: And I was always openhanded with my money. This is referring to conduct such as that which the Master said: Job was openhanded with his money, as he would always leave at least a peruta of his money with the shopkeeper. He never demanded the change from his transactions.
שאל ר"ע את רבי נחוניא הגדול (אמר לו) במה הארכת ימים אתו גווזי וקא מחו ליה סליק יתיב ארישא דדיקלא א"ל רבי אם נאמר (במדבר כח, ד) כבש למה נאמר אחד אמר להו צורבא מדרבנן הוא שבקוהו
On a similar occasion, Rabbi Akiva asked Rabbi Neḥunya the Great; he said to him: In the merit of which virtue were you blessed with longevity? Rabbi Neḥunya’s attendants [gavzei] came and started beating Rabbi Akiva, for they felt that he was acting disrespectfully by highlighting Rabbi Neḥunya’s old age. Rabbi Akiva ran away from them, and he climbed up and sat upon the top of a date palm. From there, he said to Rabbi Neḥunya: My teacher, I have a question about the verse concerning the daily offering that states “one lamb” (Numbers 28:4). If it is stated “lamb” in the singular, why is it also stated “one”; isn’t this superfluous? Upon hearing Rabbi Akiva’s scholarly question, Rabbi Neḥunya said to his attendants: He is clearly a young Torah scholar, let him be.
א"ל אחד מיוחד שבעדרו
Rabbi Neḥunya then addressed Rabbi Akiva’s questions. With regard to the second question, he said to him: The word “one” teaches that the lamb should be the unique one of its flock, i.e., only the best quality lamb should be used.
א"ל מימי לא קבלתי מתנות ולא עמדתי על מדותי וותרן בממוני הייתי
With regard to the original question, Rabbi Neḥunya said to him: In all my days I never accepted gifts. Nor was I ever inflexible by exacting a measure of retribution against those who wronged me. And I was always openhanded with my money.
לא קבלתי מתנות כי הא דר' אלעזר כי הוו משדרי ליה מתנות מבי נשיאה לא הוה שקיל כי הוה מזמני ליה לא הוה אזיל אמר להו לא ניחא לכו דאחיה דכתיב (משלי טו, כז) שונא מתנות יחיה ר' זירא כי הוו משדרי ליה מבי נשיאה לא הוה שקיל כי הוה מזמני ליה אזיל אמר אתייקורי דמתייקרי בי
The Gemara explains: I never accepted gifts; this is referring to conduct such as that of Rabbi Elazar. When they would send him gifts from the house of the Nasi, he would not take them, and when they would invite him, he would not go there, as he considered hospitality to be a type of gift. He would say to them: Is it not pleasing to you that I should live, as it is written: “He that hates gifts shall live” (Proverbs 15:27)? In contrast, it was reported about Rabbi Zeira that when they would send him gifts from the house of the Nasi, he would not accept them, but when they would invite him, he would go there. He said: They are honored by my presence; therefore my visiting is not considered like I am taking a gift from them.
ולא עמדתי על מדותי דאמר רבא כל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין ממנו כל פשעיו שנאמר (מיכה ז, יח) נושא עון ועובר על פשע למי נושא עון למי שעובר על פשע
He also said: Nor was I ever inflexible in exacting a measure of retribution against those who wronged me. This is referring to conduct such as that which Rava said: Anyone who overlooks exacting a measure of retribution against those who wronged him, all his transgressions are removed from him, as it is stated: “He pardons iniquity and overlooks transgression” (Micah 7:18), which is homiletically read as saying: For whom does He pardon iniquity? For he who overlooks transgressions that others have committed against him.
שאל רבי את ר' יהושע בן קרחה במה הארכת ימים א"ל קצת בחיי אמר לו רבי תורה היא וללמוד אני צריך א"ל מימי לא נסתכלתי בדמות אדם רשע דאמר ר' יוחנן אסור לאדם להסתכל בצלם דמות אדם רשע שנאמר (מלכים ב ג, יד) לולא פני יהושפט מלך יהודה אני נושא אם אביט אליך ואם אראך
In a similar incident, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi once asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa: In the merit of which virtue were you blessed with longevity? He said to him: Why do you ask me, are you wearied of my long life? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: My teacher, it is Torah and so I must learn it. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa said to him: In all my days I never gazed at the likeness of a wicked man, as Rabbi Yoḥanan said: It is prohibited for a person to gaze in the image of the likeness of a wicked man, as it is stated that the prophet Elisha said to Jehoram king of Israel: “Were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat, the king of Judea, I would not look toward you, nor see you” (II Kings 3:14).
ר"א אמר עיניו כהות שנאמר (בראשית כז, א) ויהי כי זקן יצחק ותכהין עיניו מראות משום דאסתכל בעשו הרשע
Rabbi Elazar said: One who gazes at the likeness of an evil man, his eyes become dim, as it is stated: “And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim so that he could not see” (Genesis 27:1). This happened because he gazed at the wicked Esau.
והא גרמא ליה והאמר ר' יצחק לעולם אל תהי קללת הדיוט קלה בעיניך שהרי אבימלך קלל את שרה ונתקיים בזרעה שנאמר (בראשית כ, טז) הנה הוא לך כסות עינים אל תקרי כסות אלא כסיית עינים
The Gemara asks: Did this cause Isaac’s blindness? Didn’t Rabbi Yitzḥak say: A curse of an ordinary person should not be lightly regarded in your eyes, because Abimelech cursed Sarah, and although he was not a righteous man, his curse was nevertheless fulfilled, albeit in her descendant. As it is stated that Abimelech said to Sarah with regard to the gift that he gave to Abraham: “Behold, it is for you a covering of the eyes” (Genesis 20:16). Do not read it as “a covering [kesut] of the eyes,” but rather read it as: A blindness [kesiat] of the eyes. Abimelech’s words were a veiled curse for Sarah to suffer from blindness. While she herself did not suffer, the curse was apparently fulfilled in the blindness of her son, Isaac.
הא והא גרמא ליה רבא אמר מהכא (משלי יח, ה) שאת פני רשע לא טוב
According to Rabbi Yitzḥak, Abimelech’s curse was the cause of Isaac’s blindness, and it was not, as Rabbi Elazar suggested, the fact he gazed at Esau. The Gemara explains: Both this and that jointly caused it. Rava said: The prohibition against gazing at the likeness of a wicked person is derived from here: “It is not good to raise the face of the wicked” (Proverbs 18:5).
בשעת פטירתו א"ל [רבי] ברכני א"ל יהי רצון שתגיע לחצי ימי ולכולהו לא אמר לו הבאים אחריך בהמה ירעו
At the time of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa’s departure from this world, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: My teacher, bless me. He said to him: May it be God’s will that you live to reach to half of my days. When Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi heard this, he asked in astonishment: Are you saying that to the entirety of your days I should not reach? Why? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa said to him: Shall those who come after you just tend cattle? If you live as long as me, your sons will never be able to succeed you in the position of Nasi. As such, they will never achieve greatness in Torah, and it will be as if they just tended cattle throughout their lives. It is therefore better that your life not be so prolonged, so that they have the opportunity to rise to eminence.
אבוה בר איהי ומנימן בר איהי חד אמר תיתי לי דלא אסתכלי בכותי וחד אמר תיתי לי דלא עבדי שותפות בהדי כותי
Avuh bar Ihi and Minyamin bar Ihi both spoke on this topic: One of them said: May a blessing come to me for I never gazed at a wicked gentile. And the other one said: May a blessing come to me for I never formed a partnership with a wicked gentile, so as not to have any association with a wicked person.
שאלו תלמידיו את ר' זירא במה הארכת ימים אמר להם מימי לא הקפדתי בתוך ביתי ולא צעדתי בפני מי שגדול ממני ולא הרהרתי במבואות המטונפות ולא הלכתי ד"א בלא תורה ובלא תפילין ולא ישנתי בבית המדרש לא שינת קבע ולא שינת עראי ולא ששתי בתקלת חבירי ולא קראתי לחבירי (בחניכתו) ואמרי לה (בחכינתו):
The Gemara presents a similar incident: Rabbi Zeira was once asked by his disciples: In the merit of which virtue were you blessed with longevity? He said to them: In all my days, I was never angry inside my house with members of my household who acted against my wishes. Nor did I ever walk ahead of someone who was a greater Torah scholar than me. Nor did I ever meditate upon words of Torah in filthy alleyways, as doing so is a disgrace to the Torah. Nor did I ever walk four cubits without meditating on words of Torah or without wearing phylacteries. Nor did I ever sleep in a study hall, neither a deep sleep or a brief nap. Nor did I ever rejoice when my fellow stumbled. Nor did I ever call my fellow by his derogatory nickname [ḥanikhato]. And some say that he said: I never called my fellow by his nickname [ḥakhinato], i.e., even one that is not derogatory.
מתני׳ ועוד א"ר יהודה בית הכנסת שחרב אין מספידין בתוכו ואין מפשילין בתוכו חבלים ואין פורשין לתוכו מצודות ואין שוטחין על גגו פירות ואין עושין אותו קפנדריא
MISHNA: And Rabbi Yehuda said further: A synagogue that fell into ruin still may not be used for a mundane purpose. Therefore, one may not eulogize in it. And nor may one stretch out and repair ropes in it. The wide expanse of the synagogue would have been particularly suitable for this. And nor may one spread animal traps within it. And nor may one spread out produce upon its roof to dry. And nor may one make it into a shortcut.
שנאמר (ויקרא כו, לא) והשמותי את מקדשכם קדושתן אף כשהן שוממין
The halakha that a synagogue in disrepair still may not be used for mundane purposes is derived from a verse, as it is stated: “And I will bring desolation to your sanctuaries” (Leviticus 26:31). The fact that the word “sanctuaries” appears after the word “desolation” indicates that their sanctity remains upon them even when they are desolate.
עלו בו עשבים לא יתלוש מפני עגמת נפש:
However, if grass sprang up of its own accord in the ruined synagogue, although it is not befitting its sanctity, one should not pick it, due to the anguish that it will bring to those who see it. It will remind them of the disrepair of the synagogue and the need to rebuild it.
גמ׳ ת"ר בתי כנסיות אין נוהגין בהן קלות ראש אין אוכלין בהן ואין שותין בהן
GEMARA: The Sages taught in a baraita: With regard to synagogues: One may not act inside them with frivolity. Therefore, one may not eat in them; nor may one drink in them;