Ki Tavo, Siman 2 כי תבוא, ב׳
1 א

וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה וְהַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְּוִיִּם אֶל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר הַסְכֵּת וּשְׁמַע. מַהוּ הַסְכֵּת וּשְׁמַע. הַס, וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן כַּתֵּת. אָמַר לָהֶן מֹשֶׁה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, עֲשׂוּ עַצְמְכֶם כִּתּוֹת כִּתּוֹת וְהַטּוּ לְבַבְכֶם לִשְׁמֹעַ דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה. דָּבָר אַחֵר, אָמַר לָהֶם: כַּתְּתוּ לְבַבְכֶם וְנַפְשְׁכֶם לִשְׁמֹעַ דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה. בְּכָל לְבַבְכֶם (דברים יא, יג), אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן יַעֲקֹב, בָּא הַכָּתוּב לְהַזְהִיר אֶת הַכֹּהֲנִים בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁעוֹבְדִין עֲבוֹדָה, שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה לָהֶם שְׁתֵּי לְבָבוֹת, אֶחָד לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, וְאֶחָד לְדָבָר אַחֵר. וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁכֶם (שם), אֲפִלּוּ נוֹטֵל אֶת נַפְשְׁךָ. פַּעַם אֶחָד גָּזְרָה מַלְכוּת יָוָן שְׁמָד עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁלֹּא יַעַסְקוּ בַּתּוֹרָה. הָלַךְ רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא וַחֲבֵרָיו וְעָסְקוּ בַּתּוֹרָה. בָּא פַּפּוּס בֶּן יְהוּדָה וּמְצָאוֹ, וְאָמַר לוֹ: הֲרֵי אַתָּה מִסְתַּכֵּן בְּעַצְמְךָ שֶׁאַתָּה עוֹבֵר עַל גְּזֵרַת הַמֶּלֶךְ. אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא, אֶמְשֹׁל לְךָ מָשָׁל לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה. לְשׁוּעָל שֶׁהָיָה מְהַלֵּךְ עַל שְׂפַת הַנָּהָר, רָאָה שָׁם דָּגִים רָצִים וּמִתְחַבְּאִים. אָמַר לָהֶם: בּוֹאוּ וּלְכוּ אֶצְלִי וְאַטְמִין אֶתְכֶם בִּנְקִיקֵי הַסְּלָעִים וְאַל תִּתְיָרְאוּ. אָמְרוּ לוֹ: וְאַתָּה הוּא שֶׁאוֹמְרִים עָלֶיךָ שֶׁאַתָּה פִּקֵּחַ שֶׁבַּחַיּוֹת. אֵין אַתָּה אֶלָּא טִפֵּשׁ. כָּל חַיֵּינוּ אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא בַּמַּיִם, וְאַתָּה אוֹמֵר לָנוּ, עֲלוּ לַיַּבָּשָׁה. וּמַה בִּמְקוֹם חִיּוּתֵינוּ אָנוּ מִתְיָרְאִין, בִּמְקוֹם מִיתָתֵנוּ עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה. וְאַף אָנוּ כָּל חַיֵּינוּ אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא בַּתּוֹרָה, דִּכְתִיב: כִּי הִיא חַיֶּיךָ וְאֹרֶךְ יָמֶיךָ (דברים ל, כ). וְאַתָּה אוֹמֵר, מִסְתַּכֵּן אַתָּה בְּעַצְמְךָ. לְיָמִים מוּעָטִים נִתְפְּסוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם. אָמַר לוֹ פַּפּוּס לְרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא, אַשְׁרֶיךָ שֶׁנִּתְפַּסְתָּ עַל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה. אוֹי לוֹ לְפַּפּוּס, שֶׁנִּתְפַּס עַל דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים. וּכְשֶׁהוֹצִיאוּ אֶת רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא לַהֲרִיגָה, זְמַן קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע הָיָה, וְהָיוּ מְסָרְקִין אֶת בְּשָׂרוֹ בַּמַּסְרְקוֹת שֶׁל בַּרְזֶל, וְהוּא קָרָא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע. וְעָלָיו אָמַר דָּוִד, מִמְּתִים יָדְךָ ה' מִמְּתִים מֵחֶלֶד חֶלְקָם וְגוֹ' (תהלים יז, יד). אָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא בַּר פַּפָּא, אַל תְּהִי קוֹרֵא מִמְּתִים, אֶלָּא קוֹרֵא מְמִיתִים, עַל תּוֹרָה שֶׁנִּתְנָה עַל יָדְךָ. בְּנֵי אָדָם שֶׁרוֹאִים אוֹתָן אָמַר, חֲלֻדָּה מְלֵאִין, חַטָּאִין יֵשׁ בְּיָדָן, לְפִיכָךְ הֵן נֶהֱרָגִין, וְכֵן הֵן מֵתִים מֵחֶלֶד. וְהֵן אֵינָן יוֹדְעִין שֶׁחֶלְקָן בְּחַיֵּי עוֹלָם וְכָל טוֹבָה צְפוּנָה לָהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וּצְפוּנְךָ תְּמַלֵּא בִטְנָם (שם). וְלֹא עוֹד, אֶלָּא שֶׁזּוֹכִין לְזַרְעָם אַחֲרֵיהֶם. וּמִתּוֹךְ שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל מוֹסְרִין עַצְמָן עַל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה וְעַל קְדוּשַׁת שְׁמוֹ, לְפִיכָךְ עָשָׂה לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא חֲטִיבָה וּבְרָכָה בָּעוֹלָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: אֶת ה' הֶאֱמַרְתָּ הַיּוֹם וְגוֹ'. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל עוֹשִׂין חֲטִיבָה לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, כָּךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עוֹשֶׂה לָהֶם חֲטִיבָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַה' הֶאֱמִירְךָ הַיּוֹם. אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהָעֱלִי כּוֹבֶשֶׁת, כֵּן עֲתִידִין יִשְׂרָאֵל לִכְבּשׁ אַרְבַּע מַלְכֻיּוֹת תַּחַת רַגְלֵיהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וּלְתִתְּךָ עֶלְיוֹן עַל כָּל הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לִתְהִלָּה לְשֵׁם וּלְתִפְאֶרֶת.

(Deut. 27:9:) “Then Moses and the Levitical priests spoke to all Israel, saying, ‘Pay attention and listen.’” What is the meaning of pay attention (hasket) and listen? Be silent (has) and then break down (katet). Moses said to Israel, “Form [yourselves into] individual classes (kitot), and incline your heart to hear the words of Torah.” Another interpretation: He said to them, “Pound (katetu) your hearts and souls to hear the words of Torah.” [(Deut. 26:16:) “With all your heart.”] R. Eliezer ben Jacob says, “The text comes to warn the priests when they perform a service not to have two hearts, one in the presence of the Holy One and one for something else.” (Ibid., cont.:) “And with all your soul (nafsheka),” even though [someone] takes your life (nafshekha). On one occasion [the Romans]1Although the Tanhuma identifies the persecution with the Greek kingdom, the mention of R. Aqiva suggests the persecution under Hadrian. decreed a religious persecution against Israel, in which they were not to occupy themselves with the Torah.2See Ber. 61b for a fuller version of this story. R. Aqiva and his colleagues proceeded to [ignore it and] occupy themselves with the Torah. When Pappus ben Judah found him, he said to him, “See here, rabbi, you are endangering yourself, when you transgress against a decree of the king.” R. Aqiva said to him, “Let me illustrate for you in a parable: To what is the matter comparable? To a fox. As he was walking near a river, he saw [some] fish there.3Ber. 61b explains that the fish were fleeing the nets of fishermen. He said to them, ‘Get yourselves to me, and I will hide you in the clefts of the rocks. Then you shall not be afraid.’ They said to him, ‘Are you the one that they say about you that you are the most clever of the animals? You are only a fool. All our lives have been [spent] only in the water. So would you tell us to walk onto the dry land? If we are afraid in the place of our life, all the more so [will we be afraid] in the place of our death!’ Similarly all the life of Israel exists only in the Torah, of which it is written (in Deut. 30:20), ‘for that is your life and your length of days’; yet you are saying, ‘You are endangering yourself?’” In a few days they arrested the both of them. Pappus said to him, “Fortunate are you, since you were arrested for the words of Torah. Woe to that Pappus, who was arrested for idle things.” [Subsequently] when they brought out R. Aqiva for execution, it was time to recite the Shema'. While they combed his flesh with combs of iron, he was calling out the recitation of the Shema'. About him David has said (in Ps. 17:14), “Of those who die by your hand, O Lord […] from the world (heled), their portion [is life].”4This interpretation of the verse is assumed by the midrash. R. Hanina bar Pappa said, “Do not read, ‘of those who die,’ but, ‘those who kill,’5In Hebrew the difference between the two renderings is a matter of how one vowels the written text. [because they kill themselves] for the sake of the Torah, which was given [by Your hand].” When people see them, they say, “They are full of rust (hulda), they have sins on their hand; that is the reason they were killed, and so they die from the world.” But they do not know that their portion is in eternal life and that everything good is being kept in store for them. It is so stated (ibid. cont.), “may You fill their belly with what You have kept in store for them.” And not only that, but they attain merit for their children after them.6As indicated by the rest of the verse. And because [the Children of] Israel lay down their lives for the Torah and for the sanctification of the name of the Holy One, blessed be He; for that reason the Holy One, blessed be He, made them into an entity and a blessing in the world, as stated (in Deut. 26:17), “Today you have had the Lord promise….” And just as Israel makes an entity in front of the Holy One, blessed be He, so does the Holy One, blessed be He, make them an entity, as stated (in vs. 18), “The Lord has proclaimed you today [to be for Him a treasured people…].” R. Joshua ben Levi said, “Just as the pestle ('eli) crushes, so is Israel going to crush four empires under its feet. It is so stated (in Deut. 26:19), ‘And to set you on high ('elyon)) over all the nations that He has made in praise, in name, and in honor.’”