כי מטו אגישרא קמו גמלי אמר להו ההוא טייעא מאי האי אמרו ליה רבנן דקא עבדי יקרא אהדדי מר אמר מר ניעול ברישא ומר אמר מר ניעול ברישא אמר דינא הוא דרבה בר הונא ליעול ברישא חליף גמליה דרבה בר הונא נתור ככיה ושניה דההוא טייעא
When they reached a bridge that could be crossed only in single file, the camels carrying the two Sages stood in their places and would not cross the bridge. A certain Arab [Tayya’a] who witnessed what was happening said to them: What is this phenomenon that the camels have stopped moving? They said to him: The deceased Sages are showing honor to each other. It is as if one Sage is saying: The Master should go and cross the bridge first, while at the same time the other Sage is saying: The Master should go and cross first. The Arab said: By law Rabba bar Huna should go first, since he is the son of a great man, and the camel carrying Rabba bar Huna then passed first. Shortly thereafter, the molars and other teeth of that Arab fell out due to the disrespect he showed Rav Hamnuna.
פתח עליה ההוא ינוקא גזע ישישים עלה מבבל ועמו ספר מלחמות קאת וקפוד הוכפלו לראות בשוד ושבר הבא משנער קצף על עולמו וחמס ממנו נפשות ושמח בהם ככלה חדשה רוכב ערבות שש ושמח בבא אליו נפש נקי וצדיק
When they reached Tiberias a certain child opened his eulogy saying as follows: The shoot of an ancient line, i.e., Rabba bar Rav Huna, who was the descendant of great people, has ascended from Babylonia, and with him is the book of wars, i.e., Rav Hamnuna, who was great in Torah, which is referred to as the book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14). The curses of the pelican and the bittern, which are symbols of the destruction of the Temple (Isaiah 34:11), have been doubled, to see the ruin and brokenness that has come from Shinar, i.e., Babylonia. The Lord became angry with His world and seized souls from it, and He rejoices over them when they come to Him like a new bride. God who rides upon the clouds is joyous and happy when an innocent and righteous soul comes to Him.
כי נח נפשיה דרבינא פתח עליה ההוא ספדנא תמרים הניעו ראש על צדיק כתמר נשים לילות כימים [על משים לילות כימים]
§ The Gemara continues recounting other famous eulogies. When Ravina passed away, a certain eulogizer opened his eulogy for him with the following words: Date-palms, hang your heads in sadness over the righteous man who may be likened to a date-palm. Women, make your nights like days in weeping, over a man who made his nights like days studying the Torah.
א"ל רב אשי לבר קיפוק ההוא יומא מאי אמרת אמר ליה אמינא אם בארזים נפלה שלהבת מה יעשו איזובי קיר לויתן בחכה הועלה מה יעשו דגי רקק בנחל שוטף נפלה חכה מה יעשו מי גבים
The Gemara relates that prior to Ravina’s death, Rav Ashi said to bar Kippok, who was a famous eulogizer: On that day when Ravina will die, what will you say? He said to him: I shall begin my eulogy and say as follows: If the cedars went up in flame, what shall the hyssop of the wall do? If the leviathan was lifted by a hook, what shall the tiny fish of the marsh do? If a fish hook was cast into the flowing river, what can the water of the puddles do?
א"ל בר אבין ח"ו דחכה ושלהבת בצדיקי אמינא ומאי אמרת אמינא בכו לאבלים ולא לאבידה שהיא למנוחה ואנו לאנחה
Bar Avin, who was also a eulogizer, said to him: God forbid that the words hook and flame should be said with regard to the righteous, as these are not expressions of honor. Rav Ashi asked him: And what will you say? He said to him: I shall say: Cry for the mourners and not for that which was lost, as that which was lost, i.e., the soul of Ravina, has gone to its eternal rest, while we, the mourners, are left with our sighs.
חלש דעתיה עלייהו ואתהפוך כרעייהו ההוא יומא לא אתו לאספודיה והיינו דאמר רב אשי לא בר קיפוק חליץ ולא בר אבין חליץ
Rav Ashi was offended by them, as their words of praise for Ravina might have been understood as a show of disrespect to Rav Ashi, since they likened Ravina to a cedar and the other Sages, Rav Ashi included, to hyssops of the wall. Due to Rav Ashi’s anger, their feet turned inward and became crooked. On that day when Ravina actually died, neither of them came to eulogize him. This is what Rav Ashi said using a metaphor to describe this incident: Neither bar Kippok can perform ḥalitza, nor can bar Avin perform ḥalitza, because their feet are crooked and so their shoes cannot be removed from their feet in the proper manner.
רבא כי הוה אתא לדגלת א"ל לבר אבין קום אימא מילתא קאי ואמר באו רוב שלישית במים זכור ורחם תעינו מאחריך כאשה מבעלה אל תזניחנו כאות מי מרה
When Rava once came to the Tigris River, and he was concerned that he might be swept away by the water, he said to bar Avin: Rise and say a prayer on our behalf. He rose and said: Most of the third, a poetic reference to the Jewish people (Isaiah 19:24), has come in the water, implying that Rava was equal in importance to the majority of the Jewish people. Remember then and have mercy on us. Although we have strayed from you like an unfaithful woman strays from her husband, do not forsake and punish us like the sign of the bitter water, with which a woman suspected of adultery is tested. That is to say, do not punish us with water.
(חנין יוחנן זירא אבא יעקב יוסי שמואל חייא מנחם סימן)
Apropos eulogies for righteous men, the Gemara presents the names: Ḥanin, Yoḥanan, Zeira, Abba, Ya’akov, Yosei, Shmuel, Ḥiyya, and Menaḥem; this is a mnemonic device for the stories that follow.
רבי חנין חתניה דבי נשיאה הוה לא קא הוו ליה בני בעא רחמי והוו ליה ההוא יומא דהוה ליה נח נפשיה פתח עליה ההוא ספדנא שמחה לתוגה נהפכה ששון ויגון נדבקו בעת שמחתו נאנח בעת חנינתו אבד חנינו אסיקו ליה חנן על שמיה
It was related that Rabbi Ḥanin was a son-in-law in the house of the Nasi. At first he did not have any children, but he prayed that God have mercy on him, and then had a child. On the same day that a son was born to him, he himself passed away. A certain eulogizer opened his eulogy for him with the following words: Happiness has been turned into sorrow; joy and suffering have become joined together. At the moment of his happiness he sighed his dying breath. At the moment he was graced with a son, his own grace was lost. And they named the child Ḥanan after his father.
כי נח נפשיה דר' יוחנן פתח עליה ר' יצחק בן אלעזר קשה היום לישראל כיום בא השמש בצהרים דכתיב (עמוס ח, ט) והיה ביום ההוא והבאתי השמש בצהרים ואמר ר' יוחנן זה יומו של יאשיהו
When Rabbi Yoḥanan passed away, Rabbi Yitzḥak ben Elazar opened his eulogy for him as follows: Today is as difficult for the Jewish people as the day that the sun set at noon, as it is written: “And it shall come to pass on that day, says the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day. And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning for an only son, and its end like a bitter day” (Amos 8:9–10). And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: This was the day on which King Josiah was killed (see II Chronicles 35:20–24). This demonstrates that the most righteous person of the generation is described as the sun.
כי נח נפשיה דר' יוחנן יתיב רבי אמי שבעה ושלשים אמר רבי אבא בריה דרבי חייא בר אבא רבי אמי דעבד לגרמיה הוא דעבד דהכי אמר ר' חייא בר אבא אמר ר' יוחנן אפילו רבו שלימדו חכמה אינו יושב עליו אלא יום אחד
It was further related that when Rabbi Yoḥanan passed away, Rabbi Ami sat in mourning for him for seven days and for thirty days as though he had lost a close relative. Rabbi Abba, son of Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba, said: What Rabbi Ami did, he did on his own, but this practice does not reflect the halakha. For Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said as follows: Even for the death of his teacher who taught him wisdom, one sits in mourning over him for only one day and no more.
כי נח נפשיה דרבי זירא פתח עליה ההוא ספדנא ארץ שנער הרה וילדה ארץ צבי גידלה שעשועיה אוי נא לה אמרה רקת כי אבדה כלי חמדתה
The Gemara tells of another incident about a eulogy: When Rabbi Zeira died, a certain eulogizer opened his eulogy for him saying: The land of Shinar conceived and gave birth to him, as he was originally Babylonian, but the land of beauty, i.e., Eretz Yisrael, raised the darling of Babylonia, as he later moved to Eretz Yisrael and grew up there. Woe to her, said Rakkath, a poetic name for Tiberias, for her dearest vessel has been lost.
כי נח נפשיה דרבי אבהו אחיתו עמודי דקסרי מיא דרבי יוסי שפעו מרזבי דציפורי דמא דרבי יעקב אתחמיאו כוכבי ביממא דר' אסי איעקרו כל אילניא דר' חייא נחיתו כיפי דנורא מרקיעא דר' מנחם (בראשית יוסי) אישתעו צלמנייא והוו למחלצייא
The Gemara continues to discuss the death of the righteous: When Rabbi Abbahu passed away, the pillars of Caesarea, his city, ran with water as if they were shedding tears over him. When Rabbi Yosei passed away, the gutters of Tzippori, his city, flowed with blood. When Rabbi Ya’akov passed away, the stars were visible during the day. When Rabbi Asi passed away, all the trees were uprooted in a storm. When Rabbi Ḥiyya passed away, fiery stones fell from the sky. When Rabbi Menaḥem, son of Rabbi Yosei, passed away, the faces of the statues became smooth as if they had been smoothed with a plasterer’s trowel [meḥlatzaya].
דר' תנחום בר חייא איתקצצו כל אנדרטיא דר' אלישיב איחתרו שבעין מחתרתא בנהרדעא דרב המנונא נחיתו כיפי דברדא מרקיעא דרבה ורב יוסף נשוק כיפי דפרת אהדדי דאביי ורבא נשוק כיפי דדגלת אהדדי כי נח נפשיה דר' משרשיא טעון דיקלי שיצי
When Rabbi Tanḥum bar Ḥiyya passed away, every statue [andartaya] of the king were mutilated. When Rabbi Elyashiv passed away, seventy tunnels of thieves were dug in Neharde’a, because as long as he was alive there were no thieves in the town due to his merit. When Rav Hamnuna passed away, hail stones fell from the sky. When Rabba and Rav Yosef passed away, the tops of the bridges of the Euphrates collapsed and touched each other. When Abaye and Rava passed away, the tops of the bridges of the Tigris collapsed and touched each other. When Rabbi Mesharshiyya passed away, the palm trees became laden with thorns [shitzei].
§ The Gemara returns to the subject of tearing garments in mourning: The Sages taught the following baraita: