כׇּל יוֹמָא דְשַׁבְּתָא הֲוָה יָתֵיב וְגָרֵיס כּוּלֵּי יוֹמָא. הַהוּא יוֹמָא דְּבָעֵי לְמֵינַח נַפְשֵׁיהּ, קָם מַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת קַמֵּיהּ וְלָא יְכִיל לֵיהּ, דְּלָא הֲוָה פָּסֵק פּוּמֵּיהּ מִגִּירְסָא. אֲמַר: מַאי אַעֲבֵיד לֵיהּ? הֲוָה לֵיהּ בּוּסְתָּנָא אֲחוֹרֵי בֵּיתֵיהּ, אֲתָא מַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת סָלֵיק וּבָחֵישׁ בְּאִילָנֵי. נְפַק לְמִיחְזֵי. הֲוָה סָלֵיק בְּדַרְגָּא, אִיפְּחִית דַּרְגָּא מִתּוּתֵיהּ, אִישְׁתִּיק וְנָח נַפְשֵׁיהּ.
What did David do? Every Shabbat he would sit and learn all day long to protect himself from the Angel of Death. On that day on which the Angel of Death was supposed to put his soul to rest, the day on which David was supposed to die, the Angel of Death stood before him and was unable to overcome him because his mouth did not pause from study. The Angel of Death said: What shall I do to him? David had a garden [bustana] behind his house; the Angel of Death came, climbed, and shook the trees. David went out to see. As he climbed the stair, the stair broke beneath him. He was startled and was silent, interrupted his studies for a moment, and died.
שְׁלַח שְׁלֹמֹה לְבֵי מִדְרְשָׁא: אַבָּא מֵת וּמוּטָל בַּחַמָּה, וּכְלָבִים שֶׁל בֵּית אַבָּא רְעֵבִים — מָה אֶעֱשֶׂה? שְׁלַחוּ לֵיהּ: חֲתוֹךְ נְבֵלָה וְהַנַּח לִפְנֵי הַכְּלָבִים. וְאָבִיךְ, הַנַּח עָלָיו כִּכָּר אוֹ תִּינוֹק וְטַלְטְלוֹ. וְלֹא יָפֶה אָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה: ״כִּי לְכֶלֶב חַי הוּא טוֹב מִן הָאַרְיֵה הַמֵּת״. וּלְעִנְיַן שְׁאֵילָה דְּשָׁאֵילְנָא קֳדָמֵיכוֹן: נֵר קְרוּיָה ״נֵר״, וְנִשְׁמָתוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם קְרוּיָה ״נֵר״. מוּטָב תִּכְבֶּה נֵר שֶׁל בָּשָׂר וָדָם מִפְּנֵי נֵרוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא.
Since David died in the garden, Solomon sent the following question to the study hall: Father died and is lying in the sun, and the dogs of father’s house are hungry. There is room for concern lest the dogs come and harm his body. What shall I do? They sent an answer to him: Cut up an animal carcass and place it before the dogs. Since the dogs are hungry, handling the animal carcass to feed them is permitted. And with regard to your father, it is prohibited to move his body directly. Place a loaf of bread or an infant on top of him, and you can move him into the shade due to the bread or the infant. And is it not appropriate what Solomon said: “For a living dog is better than a dead lion.” The ultimate conclusion of this discussion is that life is preferable to death. And now, with regard to the question that I asked before you; Rav Tanḥum spoke modestly, as, actually, they had asked him the question. A lamp is called ner and a person’s soul is also called ner, as it is written: “The spirit of man is the lamp [ner] of the Lord” (Proverbs 20:27). It is preferable that the lamp of a being of flesh and blood, an actual lamp, will be extinguished in favor of the lamp of the Holy One, Blessed be He, a person’s soul. Therefore, one is permitted to extinguish a flame for the sake of a sick person.
אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַב שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר שִׁילַת מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַב: בִּקְּשׁוּ חֲכָמִים לִגְנוֹז סֵפֶר קֹהֶלֶת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁדְּבָרָיו סוֹתְרִין זֶה אֶת זֶה. וּמִפְּנֵי מָה לֹא גְּנָזוּהוּ? — מִפְּנֵי שֶׁתְּחִילָּתוֹ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה וְסוֹפוֹ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה. תְּחִילָּתוֹ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה, דִּכְתִיב: ״מַה יִּתְרוֹן לָאָדָם בְּכׇל עֲמָלוֹ שֶׁיַּעֲמוֹל תַּחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ״ — וְאָמְרִי דְּבֵי רַבִּי יַנַּאי תַּחַת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ הוּא דְּאֵין לוֹ. קוֹדֶם שֶׁמֶשׁ — יֵשׁ לוֹ. סוֹפוֹ דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה, דִּכְתִיב: ״סוֹף דָּבָר הַכֹּל נִשְׁמָע אֶת הָאֱלֹהִים יְרָא וְאֶת מִצְוֹתָיו שְׁמוֹר כִּי זֶה כׇּל הָאָדָם״. מַאי ״כִּי זֶה כׇּל הָאָדָם״? — אָמַר רַבִּי (אֱלִיעֶזֶר) [אֶלְעָזָר]: כׇּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ לֹא נִבְרָא אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבִיל זֶה. רַבִּי אַבָּא בַּר כָּהֲנָא אָמַר: שָׁקוּל זֶה כְּנֶגֶד כׇּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ. שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן עַזַּאי אוֹמֵר, וְאָמְרִי לַהּ שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן זוֹמָא אוֹמֵר: לֹא נִבְרָא כׇּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ אֶלָּא לִצְווֹת לָזֶה.
Since contradictions in Ecclesiastes were mentioned, the Gemara cites additional relevant sources. Rav Yehuda, son of Rav Shmuel bar Sheilat, said in the name of Rav: The Sages sought to suppress the book of Ecclesiastes and declare it apocryphal because its statements contradict each other and it is liable to confuse its readers. And why did they not suppress it? Because its beginning consists of matters of Torah and its end consists of matters of Torah. The ostensibly contradictory details are secondary to the essence of the book, which is Torah. The Gemara elaborates: Its beginning consists of matters of Torah, as it is written: “What profit has man of all his labor which he labors under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3), and the Sages of the school of Rabbi Yannai said: By inference: Under the sun is where man has no profit from his labor; however, before the sun, i.e., when engaged in the study of Torah, which preceded the sun, he does have profit. Its ending consists of matters of Torah, as it is written: “The end of the matter, all having been heard: Fear God, and keep His mitzvot; for this is the whole man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). With regard to this verse, the Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the phrase: For this is the whole man? Rabbi Eliezer said: The entire world was only created for this person. Rabbi Abba bar Kahana said: This person is equivalent to the entire world. Shimon ben Azzai says and some say that Shimon ben Zoma says: The entire world was only created as companion to this man, so that he will not be alone.
וּמַאי ״דְּבָרָיו סוֹתְרִין זֶה אֶת זֶה״? כְּתִיב: ״טוֹב כַּעַס מִשְּׂחוֹק״, וּכְתִיב ״לִשְׂחוֹק אָמַרְתִּי מְהוֹלָל״! כְּתִיב ״וְשִׁבַּחְתִּי אֲנִי אֶת הַשִּׂמְחָה״, וּכְתִיב ״וּלְשִׂמְחָה מַה זֹּה עוֹשָׂה! לָא קַשְׁיָא ״טוֹב כַּעַס מִשְּׂחוֹק״: טוֹב כַּעַס שֶׁכּוֹעֵס הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל הַצַּדִּיקִים בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, מִשְּׂחוֹק שֶׁמְּשַׂחֵק הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל הָרְשָׁעִים בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה. וְ״לִשְׁחוֹק אָמַרְתִּי מְהוֹלָל״ — זֶה שְׂחוֹק שֶׁמְּשַׂחֵק הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עִם הַצַּדִּיקִים בָּעוֹלָם הַבָּא.
And to the essence of the matter, the Gemara asks: What is the meaning of: Its statements that contradict each other? It is written: “Vexation is better than laughter” (Ecclesiastes 7:3), and it is written: “I said of laughter: It is praiseworthy” (Ecclesiastes 2:2), which is understood to mean that laughter is commendable. Likewise in one verse it is written: “So I commended mirth” (Ecclesiastes 8:15), and in another verse it is written: “And of mirth: What does it accomplish?” (Ecclesiastes 2:2). The Gemara answers: This is not difficult, as the contradiction can be resolved. Vexation is better than laughter means: The vexation of the Holy One, Blessed be He, toward the righteous in this world is preferable to the laughter which the Holy One, Blessed be He, laughs with the wicked in this world by showering them with goodness. I said of laughter: It is praiseworthy, that is the laughter which the Holy One, Blessed be He, laughs with the righteous in the World-to-Come.
״וְשִׁבַּחְתִּי אֲנִי אֶת הַשִּׂמְחָה״ — שִׂמְחָה שֶׁל מִצְוָה. ״וּלְשִׂמְחָה מַה זֹּה עוֹשָׂה״ — זוֹ שִׂמְחָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ שֶׁל מִצְוָה. לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁאֵין שְׁכִינָה שׁוֹרָה לֹא מִתּוֹךְ עַצְבוּת וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ עַצְלוּת וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ שְׂחוֹק וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ שִׂיחָה וְלֹא מִתּוֹךְ דְּבָרִים בְּטֵלִים, אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ דְּבַר שִׂמְחָה שֶׁל מִצְוָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וְעַתָּה קְחוּ לִי מְנַגֵּן וְהָיָה כְּנַגֵּן הַמְנַגֵּן וַתְּהִי עָלָיו יַד ה׳״. אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה: וְכֵן לִדְבַר הֲלָכָה. אָמַר רָבָא: וְכֵן לַחֲלוֹם טוֹב.
Similarly, “So I commended mirth,” that is the joy of a mitzva. “And of mirth: What does it accomplish?” that is joy that is not the joy of a mitzva. The praise of joy mentioned here is to teach you that the Divine Presence rests upon an individual neither from an atmosphere of sadness, nor from an atmosphere of laziness, nor from an atmosphere of laughter, nor from an atmosphere of frivolity, nor from an atmosphere of idle conversation, nor from an atmosphere of idle chatter, but rather from an atmosphere imbued with the joy of a mitzva. As it was stated with regard to Elisha that after he became angry at the king of Israel, his prophetic spirit left him until he requested: “But now bring me a minstrel; and it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him” (II Kings 3:15). Rav Yehuda said: And, so too, one should be joyful before stating a matter of halakha. Rava said: And, so too, one should be joyful before going to sleep in order to have a good dream.
אִינִי, וְהָאָמַר רַב גִּידֵּל אָמַר רַב: כׇּל תַּלְמִיד חָכָם שֶׁיּוֹשֵׁב לִפְנֵי רַבּוֹ וְאֵין שִׂפְתוֹתָיו נוֹטְפוֹת מָר, תִּכָּוֶינָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״שִׂפְתוֹתָיו שׁוֹשַׁנִּים נוֹטְפוֹת מוֹר עוֹבֵר״: אַל תִּקְרֵי ״מוֹר עוֹבֵר״, אֶלָּא ״מָר עוֹבֵר״. אַל תִּקְרֵי ״שׁוֹשַׁנִּים״, אֶלָּא ״שֶׁשּׁוֹנִים״. לָא קַשְׁיָא: הָא בְּרַבָּה וְהָא בְּתַלְמִידָא. וְאִיבָּעֵית אֵימָא הָא וְהָא בְּרַבָּה, וְלָא קַשְׁיָא: הָא מִקַּמֵּי דְּלִפְתַּח, הָא לְבָתַר דִּפְתַח. כִּי הָא דְּרַבָּה מִקַּמֵּי דְּפָתַח לְהוּ לְרַבָּנַן אָמַר מִילְּתָא דִּבְדִיחוּתָא וּבָדְחִי רַבָּנַן, לְסוֹף יָתֵיב בְּאֵימְתָא וּפָתַח בִּשְׁמַעְתָּא.
The Gemara asks: Is that so, that one should introduce matters of halakha joyfully? Didn’t Rav Giddel say that Rav said: Any Torah scholar who sits before his teacher and his lips are not dripping with myrrh due to fear of his teacher, those lips shall be burnt, as it is stated: “His lips are as lilies, dripping with flowing myrrh [shoshanim notefot mor over]” (Song of Songs 5:13)? He interpreted homiletically: Do not read mor over, flowing myrrh; rather, read mar over, flowing bitterness. Likewise, do not read shoshanim, lilies; rather, read sheshonim, that are studying, meaning that lips that are studying Torah must be full of bitterness. The Gemara explains: This is not difficult, there is no contradiction here, as this, where it was taught that one should introduce matters of halakha joyfully, is referring to a rabbi, and that, where it was taught that one must be filled with bitterness, is referring to a student, who must listen to his teacher with trepidation. And if you wish, say instead that this and that are referring to a rabbi, and it is not difficult. This, where it was taught that he must be joyful, is before he begins teaching, whereas that, where it was taught that he must be filled with bitterness and trepidation, is after he already began teaching halakha. That explanation is like that which Rabba did. Before he began teaching halakha to the Sages, he would say something humorous and the Sages would be cheered. Ultimately, he sat in trepidation and began teaching the halakha.
וְאַף סֵפֶר מִשְׁלֵי בִּקְּשׁוּ לִגְנוֹז שֶׁהָיוּ דְּבָרָיו סוֹתְרִין זֶה אֶת זֶה. וּמִפְּנֵי מָה לֹא גְּנָזוּהוּ? אָמְרִי: סֵפֶר קֹהֶלֶת לָאו עַיְינִינַן וְאַשְׁכְּחִינַן טַעְמָא? הָכָא נָמֵי לִיעַיֵּין. וּמַאי דְּבָרָיו סוֹתְרִים זֶה אֶת זֶה? — כְּתִיב ״אַל תַּעַן כְּסִיל כְּאִוַּלְתּוֹ״, וּכְתִיב: ״עֲנֵה כְסִיל כְּאִוַּלְתּוֹ״. לָא קַשְׁיָא: הָא בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה, הָא בְּמִילֵּי דְעָלְמָא.
And, the Gemara continues, the Sages sought to suppress the book of Proverbs as well because its statements contradict each other. And why did they not suppress it? They said: In the case of the book of Ecclesiastes, didn’t we analyze it and find an explanation that its statements were not contradictory? Here too, let us analyze it. And what is the meaning of: Its statements contradict each other? On the one hand, it is written: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him” (Proverbs 26:4), and on the other hand, it is written: “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 26:5). The Gemara resolves this apparent contradiction: This is not difficult, as this, where one should answer a fool, is referring to a case where the fool is making claims about Torah matters; whereas that, where one should not answer him, is referring to a case where the fool is making claims about mundane matters.
כִּי הָא דְּהָהוּא דַּאֲתָא לְקַמֵּיהּ דְּרַבִּי אֲמַר לֵיהּ: אִשְׁתְּךָ אִשְׁתִּי, וּבָנֶיךָ בָּנַי. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: רְצוֹנֶךָ שֶׁתִּשְׁתֶּה כּוֹס שֶׁל יַיִן? שָׁתָה וּפָקַע. הָהוּא דַּאֲתָא לְקַמֵּיהּ דְּרַבִּי חִיָּיא, אֲמַר לֵיהּ: אִמְּךָ אִשְׁתִּי, וְאַתָּה בְּנִי. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: רְצוֹנֶךָ שֶׁתִּשְׁתֶּה כּוֹס שֶׁל יַיִן? שָׁתָה וּפָקַע. אֲמַר רַבִּי חִיָּיא: אַהְנְיָא לֵיהּ צְלוֹתֵיהּ לְרַבִּי דְּלָא לְשַׁוּוֹיֵיהּ בְּנֵי מַמְזֵירֵי. דְּרַבִּי כִּי הֲוָה מְצַלֵּי אֲמַר: ״יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, שֶׁתַּצִּילֵנִי הַיּוֹם מֵעַזֵּי פָּנִים וּמֵעַזּוּת פָּנִים״.
The Gemara relates how Sages conducted themselves in both of those circumstances. As in the case of that man who came before Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi and said to him: Your wife is my wife and your children are my children, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: Would you like to drink a cup of wine? He drank and burst and died. Similarly, the Gemara relates: There was that man who came before Rabbi Ḥiyya and said to him: Your mother is my wife, and you are my son. He said to him: Would you like to drink a cup of wine? He drank and burst and died. Rabbi Ḥiyya said with regard to the incident involving Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s prayer that his children will not be rendered mamzerim, children of illicit relations, was effective for him. As when Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi would pray, he said after his prayer: May it be Your will, O Lord, my God, that You will deliver me today from impudent people and from insolence. Insolence, in this case, refers to mamzerut. It was due to his prayer that that man burst and was unsuccessful in disparaging Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s children.
בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה מַאי הִיא? — כִּי הָא דְּיָתֵיב רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל וְקָא דָרֵישׁ: עֲתִידָה אִשָּׁה שֶׁתֵּלֵד בְּכָל יוֹם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר ״הָרָה וְיוֹלֶדֶת יַחְדָּיו״. לִיגְלֵג עָלָיו אוֹתוֹ תַּלְמִיד, אָמַר: ״אֵין כׇּל חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ״! אֲמַר לֵיהּ: בֹּא וְאַרְאֶךָּ דּוּגְמָתָן בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה. נְפַק אַחְוִי לֵיהּ תַּרְנְגוֹלֶת.
In matters of Torah, what is the case with regard to which the verse said that one should respond to a fool’s folly? As in the case where Rabban Gamliel was sitting and he interpreted a verse homiletically: In the future, in the World-to-Come, a woman will give birth every day, as it says: “The woman with child and her that gives birth together” (Jeremiah 31:7), explaining that birth will occur on the same day as conception. A certain student scoffed at him and said: That cannot be, as it has already been stated: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Rabban Gamliel said to him: Come and I will show you an example of this in this world. He took him outside and showed him a chicken that lays eggs every day.
וְתוּ, יָתֵיב רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל וְקָא דָרֵישׁ: עֲתִידִים אִילָנוֹת שֶׁמּוֹצִיאִין פֵּירוֹת בְּכָל יוֹם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וְנָשָׂא עָנָף וְעָשָׂה פֶרִי״ — מֶה עָנָף בְּכָל יוֹם אַף פְּרִי בְּכָל יוֹם. לִיגְלֵג עָלָיו אוֹתוֹ תַּלְמִיד, אָמַר: וְהָכְתִיב ״אֵין כׇּל חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ״. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: בֹּא וְאַרְאֶךָּ דּוּגְמָתָם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה. נְפַק אַחְוִי לֵיהּ צָלָף.
And furthermore: Rabban Gamliel sat and interpreted a verse homiletically: In the future, in the World-to-Come, trees will produce fruits every day, as it is stated: “And it shall bring forth branches and bear fruit” (Ezekiel 17:23); just as a branch grows every day, so too, fruit will be produced every day. A certain student scoffed at him and said: Isn’t it written: There is nothing new under the sun? He said to him: Come and I will show you an example of this in this world. He went outside and showed him a caper bush, part of which is edible during each season of the year.
וְתוּ, יָתֵיב רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל וְקָא דָרֵישׁ: עֲתִידָה אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁתּוֹצִיא גְּלוּסְקָאוֹת וּכְלֵי מֵילָת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״יְהִי פִסַּת בַּר בָּאָרֶץ״. לִיגְלֵג עָלָיו אוֹתוֹ תַּלְמִיד וְאָמַר: ״אֵין כׇּל חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ״. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: בֹּא וְאַרְאֶךָּ דּוּגְמָתָן בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה. נְפַק אַחְוִי לֵיהּ כְּמֵיהִין וּפִטְרִיּוֹת. וְאַכְּלֵי מֵילָת — נְבָרָא בַּר קוֹרָא.
And furthermore: Rabban Gamliel sat and interpreted a verse homiletically: In the future, the World-to-Come, Eretz Yisrael will produce cakes and fine wool garments that will grow in the ground, as it is stated: “Let abundant grain be in the land.” A certain student scoffed at him and said: There is nothing new under the sun. He said to him: Come and I will show you an example in this world. He went outside and showed him truffles and mushrooms, which emerge from the earth over the course of a single night and are shaped like a loaf of bread. And with regard to wool garments, he showed him the covering of a heart of palm, a young palm branch, which is wrapped in a thin net-like covering.
תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: לְעוֹלָם יְהֵא אָדָם עַנְוְותָן כְּהִלֵּל וְאַל יְהֵא קַפְּדָן כְּשַׁמַּאי. מַעֲשֶׂה בִּשְׁנֵי בְּנֵי אָדָם
Since the Gemara discussed the forbearance of Sages, who remain silent in the face of nonsensical comments, it cites additional relevant examples. The Sages taught in a baraita: A person should always be patient like Hillel and not impatient like Shammai. The Gemara related: There was an incident involving two people