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הוי אומר מדה טובה מרובה ממדת פורענות במדה טובה כתיב (תהלים עח, כג) ויצו שחקים ממעל ודלתי שמים פתח וימטר עליהם מן לאכול ובמידת פורענות הוא אומר (בראשית ז, יא) וארובות השמים נפתחו

You must say that the attribute of reward is greater than the attribute of punishment, as with regard to the attribute of reward it is written: “He commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, and rained upon them manna to eat” (Psalms 78:23–24). And with regard to the attribute of punishment at the time of the flood the verse says: “And the windows of the heavens were opened” (Genesis 7:11). To mete out punishment, God opened only windows, which are considerably smaller openings than doors, indicating that the attribute of reward is greater.

במידת פורענות כתיב (ישעיהו סו, כד) ויצאו וראו בפגרי האנשים הפושעים בי כי תולעתם לא תמות ואשם לא תכבה והיו דראון לכל בשר והלא אדם מושיט אצבעו באור בעולם הזה מיד נכוה אלא כשם שנותן הקב"ה כח ברשעים לקבל פורענותם כך נותן הקב"ה כח בצדיקים לקבל טובתן:

With regard to the attribute of punishment it is written: “And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men who have rebelled against Me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh” (Isaiah 66:24). The Gemara asks: Is it not so that when a person extends his finger into the fire in this world, he is immediately burned? How, then, can one withstand the fire of Gehenna, which is never extinguished? Rather, just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, provides strength to the wicked to receive their punishment, so too, the Holy One, Blessed be He, provides strength to the righteous to receive their reward, His handful.

רבי עקיבא אומר אף הקורא בספרים החיצונים וכו': תנא בספרי מינים רב יוסף אמר בספר בן סירא נמי אסור למיקרי א"ל אביי מאי טעמא אילימא משום דכתב [ביה] לא תינטוש גילדנא מאודניה דלא ליזיל משכיה לחבלא אלא צלי יתיה בנורא ואיכול ביה תרתין גריצים

§ The mishna teaches that Rabbi Akiva says: Also one who reads external literature has no share in the World-to-Come. The Sages taught in a baraita: This is a reference to reading books of heretics. Rav Yosef says: It is also prohibited to read the book of ben Sira, due to its problematic content. Abaye said to Rav Yosef: What is the reason that it is prohibited to read the book of ben Sira? If we say that it is prohibited due to the fact that ben Sira wrote in it: Do not flay the skin of the fish from its ear, so that its skin does not go to ruin, but roast it on the fire and eat with it two loaves of bread, and you believe it to be nonsense, that is not a sufficient reason.

אי מפשטיה באורייתא נמי כתב (דברים כ, יט) לא תשחית את עצה אי מדרשא אורח ארעא קמ"ל דלא ליבעול שלא כדרכה

If your difficulty is from its literal meaning, that does not pose a difficulty, as in the Torah, God also wrote: “You shall not destroy its trees” (Deuteronomy 20:19). It is prohibited to destroy both trees and fish skin arbitrarily. If your difficulty is from its homiletic interpretation as a euphemism, ben Sira is teaching us proper conduct: A man should not engage in sexual intercourse in an atypical manner, i.e., anal intercourse, with his wife, as it causes her discomfort.

ואלא משום דכתיב בת לאביה מטמונת שוא מפחדה לא יישן בלילה בקטנותה שמא תתפתה בנערותה שמא תזנה בגרה שמא לא תינשא נישאת שמא לא יהיו לה בנים הזקינה שמא תעשה כשפים הא רבנן נמי אמרוה אי אפשר לעולם בלא זכרים ובלא נקבות אשרי מי שבניו זכרים אוי לו למי שבניו נקבות

Rather, perhaps the book poses a difficulty because it is written there: A daughter is for her father false treasure; due to fear for her he will not sleep at night: During her minority, lest she be seduced; during her young womanhood lest she engage in licentiousness; once she has reached her majority, lest she not marry; once she marries, lest she have no children; once she grows old, lest she engage in witchcraft (Ben Sira 42:11–14). Perhaps you believe that one should not say this to the father of daughters. Didn’t the Sages also say it with regard to women? They said: It is impossible for the world to exist without males and without females; nevertheless, happy is one whose children are males and woe unto him whose children are females.

אלא משום דכתיב לא תעיל דויא בלבך דגברי גיברין קטל דויא הא שלמה אמרה (משלי יב, כה) דאגה בלב איש ישחנה ר' אמי ור' אסי חד אמר ישיחנה מדעתו וחד אמר ישיחנה לאחרים

Rather, perhaps the book poses a difficulty because it is written there: Do not introduce anxiety into your heart, as anxiety has killed mighty men (Ben Sira 14:1; 30:29). Didn’t Solomon already say it in the verse: “Anxiety in a man’s heart dejects him [yashḥena]” (Proverbs 12:25)? Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi interpret the term homiletically and read it as yesiḥenna. One says that it means: He shall remove it [yesiḥenna] from his mind, and that will ease his anxiety. And one says: He shall tell it [yesiḥenna] to others, and that will ease his anxiety. Both agree with the statement of ben Sira.

ואלא משום דכתיב מנע רבים מתוך ביתך ולא הכל תביא אל ביתך והא רבי נמי אמרה דתניא רבי אומר לעולם לא ירבה אדם רעים בתוך ביתו שנאמר (משלי יח, כד) איש רעים להתרועע

Rather, perhaps the book poses a difficulty because it is written there: Prevent the multitudes from inside your house, and do not bring everyone into your house (Ben Sira 11:37). But didn’t Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi also say it, as it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: A person should never have many friends inside his house, as it is stated: “There are friends that one has to his own detriment” (Proverbs 18:24), as through his association with them he will become weak and be ruined.

אלא משום דכתיב זלדקן קורטמן עבדקן סכסן דנפח בכסיה לא צחי אמר במאי איכול לחמא לחמא סב מיניה מאן דאית ליה מעברתא בדיקני' כולי עלמא לא יכלי ליה

Rather, perhaps the book poses a difficulty because it is written there: A sparse-bearded man is clever; a thick-bearded man is a fool. One who blows on his cup is not thirsty. One who said: With what will I eat bread, take the bread from him. One who has a passage in his beard, the entire world is unable to overcome him. Abaye suggests: Due to all this nonsense, it is not appropriate to read this book.

אמר רב יוסף מילי מעלייתא דאית ביה דרשינן להו אשה טובה מתנה טובה בחיק ירא אלהים תנתן אשה רעה צרעת לבעלה מאי תקנתיה יגרשנה מביתו ויתרפא מצרעתו אשה יפה אשרי בעלה מספר ימיו כפלים

Rav Yosef says: Even though there are passages in the book that are inappropriate, we teach the superior matters that are in it even in public. A good wife is a good gift; she will be given into the bosom of a God-fearing man (Ben Sira 26:3). A bad wife is leprosy for her husband. What is his remedy? He shall chase her from his house and will be healed from his leprosy (Ben Sira 25:30). A beautiful wife, happy is her husband; the number of his days is doubled (Ben Sira 26:1). Due to his happiness, it is as though his life is twice as long.

העלם עיניך מאשת חן פן תלכד במצודתה אל תט אצל בעלה למסוך עמו יין ושכר כי בתואר אשה יפיה רבים הושחתו ועצומים כל הרוגיה רבים היו פצעי רוכל המרגילים לדבר ערוה כניצוץ מבעיר גחלת (ירמיהו ה, כז) ככלוב מלא עוף כן בתיהם מלאים מרמה מנע רבים מתוך ביתך ולא הכל תביא ביתך רבים יהיו דורשי שלומך גלה סודך לאחד מאלף משוכבת חיקך שמור פתחי פיך אל תצר צרת מחר (משלי כז, א) כי לא תדע מה ילד יום שמא למחר איננו ונמצא מצטער על עולם שאינו שלו

We also teach what it states there: Avert your eyes from a woman of grace, lest you be trapped in her snare. Turn not to her husband to mix wine and strong drink with him, as many have been corrupted by the beauty of the beautiful woman, and mighty are all her fatalities (Ben Sira 9:9–11). Many are the wounds of a peddler (Ben Sira 11:36), which in this context is referring to those who accustom others to matters of forbidden sexual relations. Like a spark ignites a coal (Ben Sira 11:43), like a cage full of birds, so too, their houses are filled with deceit (Ben Sira 11:36–37). Prevent the multitudes from inside your house, and do not bring everyone into your house (Ben Sira 11:37). Let many be those who greet you; reveal your secrets to one in a thousand. From she who lies in your bosom guard the openings of your mouth, i.e., do not tell her everything. Grieve not about tomorrow’s trouble, because you know not what a day may bring; perhaps tomorrow you will no longer be, and one will have worried about a world that is not his.

(משלי טו, טו) כל ימי עני רעים בן סירא אומר אף לילות בשפל גגים גגו ובמרום הרים כרמו ממטר גגים לגגו ומעפר כרמו לכרמים

The verse states: “All the days of the poor are terrible” (Proverbs 15:15). The book of ben Sira says: Also the nights are terrible, as then the poor person worries. The poor person’s roof is among the lowest roofs in the city, and in the elevation of the hills is his vineyard, at the highest point, as those are of the lowest quality and consequently the least expensive places for each. From the rain on the roofs of the entire city, water will flow down to his roof and dampen it, and the soil of his vineyard is eroded by the rain and swept down to other vineyards.

[סימן זיר"א רב"א משרשי"א חנינ"א טובי"ה ינא"י יפ"ה יוחנ"ן מרח"ם יהוש"ע מקצ"ר]

§ The Gemara provides a mnemonic for the statements that follow, based primarily on those who authored those statements. Zeira; Rava; Mesharshiyya; Ḥanina toviyya, referring to Rabbi Ḥanina, who spoke of a good [tova] wife; Yannai yafe, referring to Rabbi Yannai, who spoke of one who is broad-minded [da’ato yafe]; Yoḥanan meraḥem, referring to Rabbi Yoḥanan, who spoke of one who is compassionate [meraḥem]; Yehoshua mekatzer, referring to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, who spoke of one who is intolerant [da’ato ketzara].

אמר ר' זירא אמר רב מאי דכתיב (משלי טו, טו) כל ימי עני רעים אלו בעלי תלמוד וטוב לב משתה תמיד אלו בעלי משנה

Rabbi Zeira says that Rav says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “All the days of the poor are terrible, and for the good-hearted it is always a feast” (Proverbs 15:15)? “All the days of the poor are terrible”; these are masters of the Talmud, who invest constant effort in their study and encounter endless difficulties and questions. “And for the good-hearted it is always a feast”; these are masters of the Mishna, who study only halakhic conclusions and encounter no difficulties.

רבא אמר איפכא והיינו דאמר רב משרשיא משמיה דרבא מאי דכתיב (קהלת י, ט) מסיע אבנים יעצב בהם אלו בעלי משנה (קהלת י, ט) ובוקע עצים יסכן בם אלו בעלי תלמוד

Rava says that the opposite is true; and this is that which Rav Mesharshiyya said in the name of Rava: What is the meaning of that which is written: “One who quarries stones shall be saddened by them and he who chops wood shall be warmed by it” (Ecclesiastes 10:9)? “One who quarries stones shall be saddened by them”; these are masters of the Mishna, as they invest effort, but are unable to benefit from that effort, as they do not reach halakhic conclusions. “And he who chops wood shall be warmed by it”; these are masters of the Talmud, who invest considerable effort and benefit from it, as they reach halakhic conclusions.

רבי חנינא אומר כל ימי עני רעים זה מי שיש לו אשה רעה וטוב לב משתה תמיד זה שיש לו אשה טובה רבי ינאי אומר כל ימי עני רעים זה אסטניס וטוב לב משתה תמיד זה שדעתו יפה רבי יוחנן אמר כל ימי עני רעים זה רחמני וטוב לב משתה תמיד זה אכזרי רבי יהושע בן לוי אמר כל ימי עני רעים זה

Rabbi Ḥanina says: “All the days of the poor are terrible”; this is referring to one who has a bad wife. “And for the good-hearted it is always a feast”; this is referring to one who has a good wife. Rabbi Yannai says: “All the days of the poor are terrible”; this is referring to one who is delicate [istenis], i.e., one who is sensitive to repulsive items. “And for the good-hearted it is always a feast”; this is referring to one who is broad-minded [da’ato yafe], i.e., he is not particular and will eat anything. Rabbi Yoḥanan says: “All the days of the poor are terrible”; this is referring to one who is compassionate [meraḥem], as he always senses the suffering in the world and is constantly anxious. “And for the good-hearted it is always a feast”; this is referring to one who is cruel and indifferent to suffering in the world. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: “All the days of the poor are terrible”; this is referring to