Moed Katan 16b:22מועד קטן ט״ז ב
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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16bט״ז ב

אף דברי תורה בסתר

so too, the words of Torah, which are “the work of the hands of an artist,” i.e., God, must remain hidden in the study hall.

יצא רבי חייא ושנה לשני בני אחיו בשוק לרב ולרבה בר בר חנה שמע ר' איקפד אתא ר' חייא לאיתחזויי ליה א"ל עייא מי קורא לך בחוץ ידע דנקט מילתא בדעתיה נהג נזיפותא בנפשיה תלתין יומין

Despite Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s decree, Rabbi Ḥiyya went out and taught his two nephews, Rav and Rabba bar bar Ḥana, in the marketplace. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi heard what he had done and became angry with him. When Rabbi Ḥiyya came at some later date to visit him, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi mockingly said to him: Iyya, who is calling you outside? By asking this question Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was intimating that Rabbi Ḥiyya should leave his house. Rabbi Ḥiyya understood that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi had taken the matter to heart and was insulted, and so he conducted himself as if he had been admonished, as a self-imposed punishment, for thirty days.

ביום תלתין שלח ליה תא הדר שלח ליה דלא ליתי

On the thirtieth day, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi sent him a message, saying: Come and visit me. However, he later reversed his opinion and sent him another message, telling him not to come.

מעיקרא מאי סבר ולבסוף מאי סבר מעיקרא סבר מקצת היום ככולו ולבסוף סבר לא אמרינן מקצת היום ככולו

The Gemara asks: At the outset what did he hold, and ultimately what did he hold? Initially, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi held that the legal status of part of the day is like that of an entire day, and since the thirtieth day already begun, Rabbi Ḥiyya’s time of admonition had ended. But ultimately he held that with regard to this issue we do not say that the legal status of part of the day is like that of an entire day.

לסוף אתא א"ל אמאי אתית א"ל דשלח לי מר דליתי והא שלחי לך דלא תיתי א"ל זה ראיתי וזה לא ראיתי קרי עליה (משלי טז, ז) ברצות ה' דרכי איש גם אויביו ישלים אתו

In the end Rabbi Ḥiyya came on that same day. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi asked him: Why have you come? Rabbi Ḥiyya responded: Because you, Master, sent me a message that I should come. He said to him: But I sent you a second message that you should not come. He responded: This messenger that you sent, i.e., the first one, I saw him and I did as he said, but that messenger, i.e., the second one, I did not see. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi read the verse about Rabbi Ḥiyya: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7), as it was clear to him that Rabbi Ḥiyya had merited divine assistance.

מ"ט עבד מר הכי א"ל דכתיב (משלי א, כ) חכמות בחוץ תרונה א"ל אם קרית לא שנית ואם שנית לא שילשת ואם שילשת לא פירשו לך

§ Concerning the issue with which the entire incident had begun, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi asked Rabbi Ḥiyya: What is the reason that you, the Master, acted as you did, ignoring my instructions not to teach Torah in the marketplace? Rabbi Ḥiyya said to him: As it is written: “Wisdom cries aloud in the streets” (Proverbs 1:20), which implies that Torah should be publicized in the streets. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: If you read this verse once, you certainly did not read it a second time in greater depth; and if you read it a second time, you certainly did not read it a third time; and if you read it a third time, then it was not adequately explained to you, as it is clear that you do not understand it properly.

חכמות בחוץ תרונה כדרבא דאמר רבא כל העוסק בתורה מבפנים תורתו מכרזת עליו מבחוץ

The words: “Wisdom cries aloud in the streets,” should be understood in accordance with the opinion of Rava. As Rava said: With regard to everyone who occupies himself with Torah study inside the privacy of his home, his Torah knowledge will proclaim his greatness outside, as it will be revealed to the masses and they will see his greatness.

והא כתיב (ישעיהו מח, טז) לא מראש בסתר דברתי ההוא ביומי דכלה

The Gemara asks: But isn’t it written: “From the beginning I have not spoken in secret” (Isaiah 48:16), implying that the Torah should be taught and proclaimed in public? The Gemara answers: That verse is referring to the days of the kalla, the gathering for Torah study held during Elul and Adar, when many people come to listen to Torah discourses. During this time, it is not only permitted but even recommended to teach Torah to the masses. In this way, the verse can be explained in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi.

ור' חייא האי חמוקי ירכיך מאי עביד לה מוקי לה בצדקה ובגמילות חסדים

The Gemara asks: And what did Rabbi Ḥiyya do with this verse: “Your rounded thighs are like jewels”? How did he understand it? This verse implies that the Torah must be kept hidden in the study hall and not publicized in the marketplace. The Gemara explains: He interprets it not as a reference to Torah, but as referring to acts of charity and loving-kindness, which should certainly be performed in private.

אלמא נזיפה דידהו תלתין יומין נזיפת נשיא שאני

This incident demonstrates that, apparently, admonition of those who live in Eretz Yisrael lasts for thirty days and not for seven days. The Gemara answers that this is not a conclusive proof, since Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was the Nasi. The admonition of the Nasi of the Sanhedrin is different i.e., more severe, than the admonition of anyone else.

ונזיפה דידן כמה הוי חד יומא כי הא דשמואל ומר עוקבא כי הוו יתבי גרס שמעתא הוה יתיב מר עוקבא קמיה דשמואל ברחוק ד' אמות וכי הוו יתבי בדינא הוה יתיב שמואל קמיה דמר עוקבא ברחוק ד' אמות והוו חייקי ליה דוכתא למר עוקבא בציפתא ויתיב עילויה כי היכי דלישתמען מיליה

The Gemara asks: And how long is our admonition in Babylonia? The Gemara answers: It is only one day, as in the case involving Shmuel and the Exilarch Mar Ukva. When they would sit and study halakha, Mar Ukva would sit before Shmuel at a distance of four cubits as a sign of respect. Mar Ukva would conduct himself as though Shmuel were his teacher because Shmuel was much greater than him in Torah matters. And when they would sit together in judgment, Shmuel would sit before Mar Ukva at a distance of four cubits because Mar Ukva was the Exilarch and the chief judge. But they would lower a place for Mar Ukva in the matting upon which he sat, and he would sit on it so that he could hear Shmuel’s words of Torah even when they were engaged in judgment.

כל יומא הוה מלוי ליה מר עוקבא לשמואל עד אושפיזיה יומא חד איטריד בדיניה הוה אזיל שמואל בתריה כי מטא לביתיה א"ל לא נגה לך לישרי לי מר בתיגריה ידע דנקט מילתא בדעתיה נהג נזיפותא בנפשיה חד יומא

Every day, Mar Ukva would accompany Shmuel to his lodgings, in the manner that a student would show honor toward his teacher. One day, Mar Ukva was so heavily preoccupied with a case that had been brought before him for judgment that he did not realize that Shmuel was walking behind him to show him respect due to his position as the Exilarch. When Mar Ukva reached his home, Shmuel said to him: Is it not enough for you that I accompanied you until here? Release me, Master, from my obligation, so that I may return home. Mar Ukva understood that Shmuel had taken the matter to heart and was insulted. Therefore, he conducted himself as if he had been admonished, for one day as a self-imposed punishment.

ההיא איתתא דהוות יתבה בשבילא הוות פשטה כרעה וקא מניפה חושלאי והוה חליף ואזיל צורבא מרבנן ולא איכנעה מקמיה אמר כמה חציפא ההיא איתתא אתאי לקמיה דר"נ אמר לה מי שמעת שמתא מפומיה אמרה ליה לא אמר לה זילי נהוגי נזיפותא חד יומא בנפשיך

It was related that a certain woman was sitting alongside a path with her leg extended while she was sifting barley. A Torah scholar passed by her on this path, but she did not yield to him and move her leg to make room for him. He said: How rude is that woman! The woman came before Rav Naḥman to ask if this statement should be deemed as excommunication. He said to her: Did you hear the word excommunication explicitly issue from his mouth? She said to him: No. He said to her: If this is the case, then go and observe an admonition for one day, as it appears that the Torah scholar sought only to admonish you.

זוטרא בר טוביה הוה קפסיק סידרא קמיה דרב יהודה כי מטא להאי פסוקא (שמואל ב כג, א) ואלה דברי דוד האחרונים א"ל אחרונים מכלל דאיכא ראשונים ראשונים מאי נינהו

§ Zutra bar Toviyya was once reading the portion of the Bible before Rav Yehuda. When he reached the verse: “Now these are the last words of David” (II Samuel 23:1), Zutra bar Toviyya said to Rav Yehuda: If it is written that these are the last of David’s words, by inference there are first words as well. If this is the case, what are these first words of David? Prior to this, it mentions only David’s song, but not his words.

שתיק ולא אמר ליה ולא מידי הדר א"ל אחרונים מכלל דאיכא ראשונים ראשונים מאי היא א"ל מאי דעתך דלא ידע פירושא דהאי קרא לאו גברא רבה הוא ידע דנקט מילתא בדעתיה נהג נזיפותא בנפשיה חד יומא

Rav Yehuda remained silent and said nothing to him. Zutra bar Toviyya thought that Rav Yehuda did not hear what he had said, so he then said to him a second time: If it is written that these are the last of David’s words, by inference there are first words as well. If this is the case, what are these first words of David? He said to him: What do you think? Do you think that anyone who does not know the meaning of this verse is not a great man? Why are you stressing the fact that I do not know the answer to your question? Zutra bar Toviyya understood that Rav Yehuda had taken the matter to heart and was insulted. Therefore, he conducted himself as if had been admonished for one day as a self-imposed punishment.

ודאתן עלה מיהא אחרונים מכלל דאיכא ראשונים ראשונים מאי היא (שמואל ב כב, א) וידבר דוד לה' את דברי השירה הזאת ביום הציל ה' אותו מכף כל אויביו ומכף שאול

The Gemara asks: But now that we have come to discuss this issue, since the verse mentions David’s last words, by inference there are also first words. What then are these first words of David? The Gemara answers: The first words are: “And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him out of the hand of his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul” (II Samuel 22:1), as that song is also referred to as words.

אמר לו הקב"ה לדוד דוד שירה אתה אומר על מפלתו של שאול אלמלי אתה שאול והוא דוד איבדתי כמה דוד מפניו

The Gemara elaborates: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to David: David, do you recite a song over the fall of Saul? Had you been Saul and he were David, then I would have destroyed many Davids before him. Although I decreed that Saul’s kingdom would not continue, as an individual he was far greater and more important than you.

היינו דכתיב (תהלים ז, א) שגיון לדוד אשר שר לה' על דברי כוש בן ימיני וכי כוש שמו והלא שאול שמו אלא מה כושי משונה בעורו אף שאול משונה במעשיו

The response to this admonishment is found in the verse, as it is written: “Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord, concerning the words of Cush the Benjaminite” (Psalms 7:1). Is Cush his name? Saul is his name. Rather, this is a designation that indicates: Just as a Cushite, a native of the ancient kingdom of Cush in eastern Africa, is distinguished by his dark skin, so too, Saul was distinguished by his actions, as he was absolutely righteous and performed many good deeds. Therefore, David uses the word shiggaion as an allusion to the error [shegia] that he had made when he sang a song of praise over Saul’s downfall.

כיוצא בדבר אתה אומר (במדבר יב, א) על אודות האשה הכושית אשר לקח וכי כושית שמה והלא ציפורה שמה אלא מה כושית משונה בעורה אף ציפורה משונה במעשיה כיוצא בדבר אתה אומר (ירמיהו לח, ז) וישמע עבד מלך הכושי וכי כושי שמו והלא צדקיה שמו אלא מה כושי משונה בעורו אף צדקיה משונה במעשיו

The Gemara notes: Similarly, you can explain the verse: “And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses due to the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had taken a Cushite woman” (Numbers 12:1). But is her name Cushite? Zipporah is her name. Rather, just as a Cushite is distinguished by his dark skin, so too, Zipporah was distinguished by her actions. The Gemara continues: Similarly, you can explain the verse: “Now when Ebed-Melech the Cushite heard” (Jeremiah 38:7). Is his name Cushite? Zedekiah is his name. Rather, just as a Cushite is distinguished by his dark skin, so too, Zedekiah was distinguished by his righteous actions.

כיוצא בדבר אתה אומר (עמוס ט, ז) הלא כבני כושיים אתם לי (בית) ישראל וכי כושיים שמן והלא ישראל שמן אלא מה כושי משונה בעורו אף ישראל משונין במעשיהן מכל האומות

Similarly, you can explain the verse: “Are you not as much Mine as the children of the Cushites, O children of Israel?” (Amos 9:7). Is their name Cushite? Israel is their name. Rather, just as a Cushite stands out because of his dark skin, so too, the Jewish people are distinguished by their actions, and they are different from all the other nations.

א"ר שמואל בר נחמני א"ר יונתן מאי דכתיב (שמואל ב כג, א) נאם דוד בן ישי ונאם הגבר הוקם על נאם דוד בן ישי שהקים עולה של תשובה

§ Having mentioned the last words of David, the Gemara continues to explain other expressions in that passage. Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: What is the meaning of that which is written: “The saying of David, son of Yishai, and the saying of the man who was raised up on high [al ]” (II Samuel 23:1)? It means as follows: The saying of David, son of Yishai, who raised the yoke of [ulla] repentance, as through his actions he taught the power of repentance. The word al, on high, and the word ulla are comprised of the same consonants in Hebrew.

(שמואל ב כג, ג) אמר אלהי ישראל לי דבר צור ישראל מושל באדם צדיק מושל יראת אלהים מאי קאמר א"ר אבהו ה"ק אמר אלהי ישראל לי דבר צור ישראל אני מושל באדם מי מושל בי צדיק שאני גוזר גזרה ומבטלה

The passage continues: “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me, He that rules over men must be righteous, ruling in the fear of God” (II Samuel 23:3). The Gemara asks: What is this verse saying? What does it mean? Rabbi Abbahu said: This is what the verse is saying: The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me: Although I rule over man, who rules over Me? It is a righteous person. How is it possible to say that a righteous person rules over God, as it were? As I, God, issue a decree and the righteous person nullifies it.

(שמואל ב כג, ח) אלה שמות הגבורים אשר לדוד יושב בשבת וגו' מאי קאמר א"ר אבהו ה"ק ואלה שמות גבורותיו של דוד

Similarly, the verse states there: “These are the names of David’s warriors; Josheb-Basshebeth a Tahchemonite, chief of the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite; he raised his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time” (II Samuel 23:8). The Gemara asks: What is this verse saying? Rabbi Abbahu said: This is what the verse is saying: These are the names of the mighty actions of David. These expressions should not be read as names of people but instead as descriptions of David’s good deeds.

יושב בשבת בשעה שהיה יושב בישיבה לא היה יושב על גבי כרים וכסתות אלא על גבי קרקע דכל כמה דהוה רביה עירא היאירי קיים הוה מתני להו לרבנן על גבי כרים וכסתות כי נח נפשיה הוה מתני דוד לרבנן והוה יתיב על גבי קרקע אמרו ליה ליתיב מר אכרים וכסתות לא קביל עליה

Josheb-Basshebeth [yoshev bashevet] indicates that when David would sit [yoshev] in the study hall, he would not sit upon pillows and cushions, as an important person ordinarily would. Rather, he would sit on the ground like one of the students. For as long as David’s teacher, Ira the Jairite, was alive, Ira would teach the Sages while sitting on pillows and cushions. When Ira passed away, David would teach the Sages, and he did this while sitting on the ground. They said to him: Master, you should sit upon pillows and blankets. He did not accept their suggestions, since in his humility he did not wish to appear as the teacher of the Jewish people.

תחכמוני אמר רב אמר לו הקב"ה הואיל והשפלת עצמך תהא כמוני שאני גוזר גזרה ואתה מבטלה

In this verse, David is described as “a Tahchemonite [taḥkemoni].” Rav said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to him: Since you have humbled yourself, be you now like Me [tehe kamoni]. How so? As I issue a decree, and you, owing to your righteousness, may nullify it.

ראש השלישים תהא ראש לשלשת אבות הוא עדינו העצני כשהיה יושב ועוסק בתורה היה מעדן עצמו כתולעת ובשעה שיוצא למלחמה היה מקשה עצמו כעץ

David is also described here as “chief of the captains [rosh hashalishim]” because God said to him: You will be the head [rosh] of the three [sheloshet] Patriarchs. “The same was Adino the Eznite”; this alludes to the fact that when David would sit and occupy himself with Torah, he would make himself soft [me’aden] as a worm, and when he would go out to war, he would make himself hard and strong as a tree [etz].

על שמונה מאות חלל בפעם אחת שהיה זורק חץ ומפיל שמונה מאות חלל בפעם אחת והיה מתאנח על מאתים דכתיב (דברים לב, ל) איכה ירדף אחד אלף

The expression: “Against eight hundred people, which he slew at one time,” means that he would throw an arrow in the air and with it kill eight hundred people at one time. And David would sigh over the two hundred who were missing from fulfillment of the Torah’s promise, as it is written: “How should one man chase a thousand” (Deuteronomy 32:30).

יצתה בת קול ואמרה (מלכים א טו, ה) רק בדבר אוריה החתי

A Divine Voice issued forth and said by way of explanation as to why the promise was not entirely fulfilled: “Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, save only the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (I Kings 15:5). Had David not committed this sin, then all of the promises mentioned in the Torah would have been fulfilled in their entirety through him.

אמר רבי תנחום בריה דרבי חייא איש כפר עכו אמר רבי יעקב בר אחא אמר ר' שמלאי ואמרי לה אמר ר' תנחום אמר רב הונא ואמרי לה אמר רב הונא לחודיה

The Gemara returns to the halakhot of ostracism and mentions that Rabbi Tanḥum, son of Rabbi Ḥiyya, of the village of Akko, said that Rabbi Ya’akov bar Aḥa said that Rabbi Simlai said, and some say that this tradition was transmitted in the following manner: Rabbi Tanḥum said that Rav Huna said, and others say that Rav Huna himself made this statement without the chain of transmission: