Sanhedrin 96a:3סנהדרין צ״ו א:ג
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96aצ״ו א

ושני נפשך במאי אישני אמר ליה זיל אייתי לי מספרא ואיגזייך אנא מהיכא אייתי א"ל עול לההוא ביתא ואייתי אזל אשכחינהו אתו מלאכי שרת ואידמו ליה כגברי והוו קא טחני קשייתא

and change your appearance so that they will not recognize you. Sennacherib asked him: With what shall I change it? God said to him: Go bring me scissors and I will shear you Myself. Sennacherib asked: From where should I bring the scissors? The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to him: Go to that house and bring them. He went and found ministering angels, who came and appeared to Sennacherib as men; and the angels were grinding date pits.

א"ל הבו לי מספרא א"ל טחון חד גריוא דקשייתא וניתן לך טחן חד גריוא דקשייתא ויהבו ליה מספרתא עד דאתא איחשך א"ל זיל אייתי נורא אזל ואייתי נורא בהדי דקא נפח ליה אתלי ביה נורא בדיקניה אזל גזייה לרישיה ודיקניה אמרו היינו דכתיב (ישעיהו ז, כ) וגם את הזקן תספה אמר רב פפא היינו דאמרי אינשי גרירתיה לארמאה שפיר ליה איתלי ליה נורא בדיקניה ולא שבעת חוכא מיניה

Sennacherib said to them: Give me scissors. The ministering angels said to him: Grind a se’a of pits and we will give it to you. He ground a se’a of pits and they gave him scissors. By the time he came back with the scissors it grew dark. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Sennacherib: Go and bring fire to provide light. Sennacherib went and brought fire. While he was fanning it, the fire ignited his beard and it spread and sheared his head and his beard. The Sages said: This is the meaning of that which is written: “And it shall also destroy the beard” (Isaiah 7:20). Rav Pappa says that this is in accordance with the adage that people say: If you scorch a gentile and it is pleasant for him, ignite a fire in his beard and you will never tire of ridiculing him. It means that if one does not protest when others ridicule him, they will escalate the ridicule. The adage is based upon this incident involving Sennacherib.

אזל אשכח דפא מתיבותא דנח אמר היינו אלהא רבא דשיזביה לנח מטופנא אמר אי אזיל ההוא גברא ומצלח מקרב להו לתרין בנוהי קמך שמעו בנוהי וקטלוהו היינו דכתיב (מלכים ב יט, לז) ויהי הוא משתחוה בית נסרוך אלהיו ואדרמלך ושראצר בניו הכהו בחרב וגו'

Sennacherib went and found a beam from Noah’s ark, from which he fashioned a god. He said: This beam is the great god who delivered Noah from the flood. He said: If that man, referring to himself, goes and succeeds, he will sacrifice his two sons before you. His sons heard his commitment and killed him. This is the meaning of that which is written: “And it came to pass as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god that Adrammelech and Sarezer, his sons, smote him with the sword, and they fled to Ararat” (II Kings 19:37), where Noah’s ark had come to rest. The Gemara explains that this interpretation is based upon the etymological similarity between neser, the Hebrew term for beam, and Nisroch, the god that Sennacherib fashioned from a beam.

(בראשית יד, טו) ויחלק עליהם לילה הוא ועבדיו ויכם וגו' אמר רבי יוחנן אותו מלאך שנזדמן לו לאברהם לילה שמו שנאמר (איוב ג, ג) והלילה אמר הורה גבר ור' יצחק נפחא אמר שעשה עמו מעשה לילה שנאמר (שופטים ה, כ) מן שמים נלחמו הכוכבים ממסלותם נלחמו עם סיסרא אמר ריש לקיש טבא דנפחא מדבר נפחא

§ Apropos the war between the kings and Abraham mentioned above, the Gemara explains a verse: “And he pursued as far as Dan. And he divided himself against them by night [laila], he and his servants, and smote them” (Genesis 14:14–15). The term “by night” [laila] appears out of place in this verse. Rabbi Yoḥanan says: That angel that happened to come and assist Abraham in that war, Laila is his name, as it is stated: “And Laila said: A man-child is brought forth” (Job 3:3), indicating that there is an angel named Laila. And Rabbi Yitzḥak Nappaḥa says: God performed for him an act of night, i.e., the stars in heaven waged war on his behalf, as it is stated: “They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera” (Judges 5:20). Reish Lakish said: The statement of Rabbi Yitzḥak Nappaḥa, the smith, is preferable to the statement of the son of the smith, Rabbi Yoḥanan.

וירדף עד דן אמר רבי יוחנן כיון שבא אותו צדיק עד דן תשש כחו ראה בני בניו שעתידין לעבוד ע"ז בדן שנאמר (מלכים א יב, כט) וישם את האחד בבית אל ואת האחד נתן בדן ואף אותו רשע לא נתגבר עד שהגיע לדן שנאמר (ירמיהו ח, טז) מדן נשמע נחרת סוסיו

With regard to the previous verse: “And he pursued as far as Dan” (Genesis 14:14), Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Once that righteous person, Abraham, came to Dan, his strength weakened. He saw through the Divine Spirit that his descendants were destined to worship idols in Dan, as it is stated: “And he fashioned two calves of gold…and he set one in Bethel, and the other one he placed in Dan” (I Kings 12:28–29). And even that wicked person, Nebuchadnezzar, did not prevail until he reached Dan, as it is stated: “From Dan the snorting of his horses is heard” (Jeremiah 8:16).

אמר רבי זירא אע"ג דשלח ר' (יהודה בן בתירא מנציבין) הזהרו בזקן ששכח תלמודו מחמת אונסו והזהרו בוורידין כר' יהודה והזהרו בבני עמי הארץ שמהן תצא תורה כי הא מילתא מודעינן להו

Rabbi Zeira says: Even though Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira sent a statement from Netzivin: Be vigilant with regard to treating with deference an elder who forgot his studies due to circumstances beyond his control, and be vigilant with regard to cutting the jugular veins when slaughtering an animal in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, and be vigilant with regard to treating with respect the children of ignoramuses, as from some of them Torah will emerge, we inform them of a message like this matter.

(ירמיהו יב, א) צדיק אתה ה' כי אריב אליך אך משפטים אדבר אותך מדוע דרך רשעים צלחה שלו כל בוגדי בגד נטעתם גם שורשו ילכו גם עשו פרי מאי אהדרו ליה (ירמיהו יב, ה) כי את רגלים רצתה וילאוך ואיך תתחרה את הסוסים ובארץ שלום אתה בוטח ואיך תעשה בגאון הירדן

The verse states: “Right would you be, Lord, were I to contend with You; yet will I reason with You: Why does the path of the wicked prosper; why are all who deal treacherously secure? You have planted them, they have also taken root; they grow, they also bring forth fruit” (Jeremiah 12:1–2). What did they respond to Jeremiah from heaven? “If you have run with the pedestrians, and they have wearied you, how can you contend with horses? And though in a land of peace you feel secure, how will you do in the wild country of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5).

משל לאדם אחד שאמר יכול אני לרוץ ג' פרסאות לפני הסוסים בין בצעי המים נזדמן לו רגלי אחד רץ לפניו ג' מילין ביבשה ונלאה א"ל ומה לפני רגלי כך לפני הסוסים עאכ"ו ומה שלשת מילין כך ג' פרסאות על אחת כמה וכמה ומה ביבשה כך בין בצעי המים על אחת כמה וכמה

The Gemara interprets the verse according to its straightforward meaning. This is a parable of a person who said: I can run three parasangs before the horses in the swamplands. He encountered a pedestrian and ran before him for three mil on dry land and wearied. The people said to him: And if running before a pedestrian you grew so weary, then if you were to run before horses, all the more so would you become weary. And if after running three mil you grew so weary, then if you were to run three parasangs, four times that distance, all the more so would you become weary. And if after running on dry land you grew so weary, then if you were to run in the swamplands, all the more so would you become weary.

אף אתה ומה בשכר ארבע פסיעות ששלמתי לאותו רשע שרץ אחר כבודי אתה תמיה כשאני משלם שכר לאברהם יצחק ויעקב שרצו לפני כסוסים עאכ"ו היינו דכתיב (ירמיהו כג, ט) לנביאים נשבר לבי בקרבי רחפו כל עצמותי הייתי כאיש שכור וכגבר עברו יין מפני ה' ומפני דברי קדשו

The Gemara explains: So too, you, Jeremiah: And if with regard to the reward for four paces that I compensated that wicked person, Nebuchadnezzar, who ran in My honor, you are astonished at its magnitude, when I compensate Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who ran before Me like horses throughout their lives, all the more so will their reward be great. This teaches the potency of even a minor mitzva. That is the meaning of that which is written: “Concerning the prophets. My heart within me is broken; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man and like a man whom wine has overcome, due to the Lord and due to His sacred words” (Jeremiah 23:9).

הני ד' פסיעות מאי היא דכתיב (ישעיהו לט, א) בעת ההיא שלח מרודך בלאדן בן בלאדן מלך בבל ספרים וגו' משום כי חלה חזקיהו ויחזק שדר ליה ספרים ומנחה (אין) (דברי הימים ב לב, לא) לדרוש (את) המופת אשר היה בארץ דאמר רבי יוחנן אותו היום שמת בו אחז שתי שעות היה

The Gemara asks: With regard to these four paces of Nebuchadnezzar, what is the incident to which the Gemara alludes? The Gemara answers that the incident is as it is written: “At that time Merodach-Baladan, son of Baladan, king of Babylonia, sent a letter and a gift to Hezekiah, as he had heard that he had been ill and was recovered” (Isaiah 39:1). The Gemara asks: Due to the fact that Hezekiah had been ill and was recovered, he sent him a letter and a gift? The Gemara answers: Yes, and he did so in order “to inquire of the wonder that was in the land” (II Chronicles 32:31). As Rabbi Yoḥanan says: On that day that Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, died, daylight lasted two hours, ten hours shorter than the standard day, so that the wicked Ahaz would be buried hurriedly, without the pomp typically accorded kings.

וכי חלה חזקיהו ואיתפח אהדרינהו קודשא בריך הוא להנך עשר שעי ניהליה דכתב (ישעיהו לח, ח) הנני משיב את צל המעלות אשר ירדה במעלות אחז בשמש אחורנית עשר מעלות ותשב השמש עשר מעלות במעלות אשר ירדה א"ל מאי האי א"ל חזקיהו חלש ואיתפח אמר איכא גברא כי האי ולא בעינא לשדורי ליה שלמא כתבו ליה שלמא למלכא חזקיה שלם לקרתא דירושלם שלם לאלהא רבא

And when Hezekiah fell ill and recovered, the Holy One, Blessed be He, restored those ten hours to Hezekiah, as it is written: “Behold, I will return the shadow of the dial, which descended on the sundial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which it had gone down” (Isaiah 38:8). Merodach said to his servants: What is this wonder that the day was extended? They said to him: Hezekiah fell ill and recovered, and the sun shone for him. Merodach said: There is a man like that and I do not need to send him greetings? The ministers of Merodach wrote to Hezekiah: Greetings to King Hezekiah, greetings to the city of Jerusalem, and greetings to the great God.

נבוכדנאצר ספריה דבלאדן הוה ההיא שעתא לא הוה התם כי אתא אמר להו היכי כתביתו אמרו ליה הכי כתבינן אמר להו קריתו ליה אלהא רבא וכתביתו ליה לבסוף אמר אלא הכי כתובו שלם לאלהא רבא שלם לקרתא דירושלם שלם למלכא חזקיה אמרי ליה קריינא דאיגרתא איהו ליהוי פרוונקא

Nebuchadnezzar was the scribe of Baladan, and at that time he was not there. When he came there he said to the other scribes: How did you write the king’s message? They said to him: We wrote this: Greetings to King Hezekiah, greetings to the city of Jerusalem, and greetings to the great God, as we were commanded. Nebuchadnezzar said to the scribes: You called him: The great God, and you wrote Him at the end of the list of greetings? He said: Rather, write this: Greetings to the great God, greetings to the city of Jerusalem, and greetings to King Hezekiah. The scribes said to Nebuchadnezzar: The one who reads the letter, let him be the messenger. You gave the advice; you correct the text.

רהט בתריה כדרהיט ארבע פסיעות אתא גבריאל ואוקמיה אמר ר' יוחנן אילמלא (לא) בא גבריאל והעמידו לא היה תקנה לשונאיהם של ישראל

Nebuchadnezzar pursued the messenger to take the letter from him and revise it. When he ran four paces, the angel Gabriel came and stopped his pursuit. Rabbi Yoḥanan says: If Gabriel had not come and stopped his pursuit there would have been no remedy for the enemies of the Jewish people, a euphemism for the Jewish people. Had Nebuchadnezzar succeeded in revising the letter, his reward would have been so great that he would have been able to destroy the Jewish people, as he desired.

מאי בלאדן בן בלאדן אמרי בלאדן מלכא הוה ואישתני אפיה והוה כי דכלבא הוה יתיב בריה על מלכותא כי הוה כתיב הוה כתיב שמיה ושמיה דאבוה בלאדן מלכא היינו דכתיב (מלאכי א, ו) בן יכבד אב ועבד אדניו

The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of: Merodach-Baladan, son of Baladan? If his name was Merodach it was not Baladan. The Sages say: Baladan was a king, and his visage was transformed and became like that of a dog. His son was sitting on the throne in his stead and when he would write a letter he would write his name and the name of his father, King Baladan. That is the meaning of that which is written with regard to the honor accorded by gentiles to their fathers: “A son honors his father and a servant his master” (Malachi 1:6).

בן יכבד אב הא דאמרן ועבד אדוניו דכתי' (ירמיהו נב, יב) ובחודש החמישי בעשור לחדש היא שנת תשע עשרה [שנה] למלך נבוכדנאצר מלך בבל בא נבוזראדן רב טבחים עמד לפני מלך בבל בירושלם וישרף את בית ה' ואת בית המלך

The Gemara elaborates: “A son honors his father” is referring to that which we stated with regard to Baladan. “And a servant his master” is referring to a verse, as it is written: “And in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, who stood before the king of Babylonia, into Jerusalem. And he burned the House of the Lord, and the house of the king” (Jeremiah 52:12–13).