are increasingly diminished, and none ask and none seek. Upon whom is there to rely? Only upon our Father in Heaven.
He also said: In the times of the approach of the Messiah, impudence will increase and high costs will pile up. Although the vine shall bring forth its fruit, wine will nevertheless be expensive. And the monarchy shall turn to heresy, and there will be no one to give reproof about this. The meeting place of the Sages will become a place of promiscuity, and the Galilee shall be destroyed, and the Gavlan will be desolate, and the men of the border shall go round from city to city to seek charity, but they will find no mercy.
And the wisdom of scribes will putrefy, and people who fear sin will be held in disgust, and the truth will be absent. The youth will shame the face of elders, elders will stand before minors. Normal family relations will be ruined: A son will disgrace a father; a daughter will rise up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his household. The face of the generation will be like the face of a dog; a son will no longer be ashamed before his father. And upon what is there for us to rely? Only upon our Father in heaven.
§ Rav says concerning the decree banning the wearing of crowns that they taught this halakha only with regard to crowns of salt and sulfur, but those of myrtle and rose are permitted. And Shmuel says that even crowns of myrtle and rose are prohibited, but those made of reeds and bulrush are permitted. And Levi says: Even crowns of reeds and bulrush are prohibited. And likewise Levi teaches in his baraita: Even those of reeds and bulrush are prohibited.
The mishna taught that the Sages decreed against the wearing of crowns for bridegrooms and upon the drums. The Gemara poses a question: What is this drum [irus]? Rabbi Elazar says: A drum with one mouth. The Gemara relates a story involving this instrument: Rabba bar Rav Huna made a tambourine for his son. His father, Rav Huna, came and broke it. He said to him: This instrument will be confused for a drum with one mouth, and people will assume that a drum with one mouth is permitted. Instead, go and make for him a small drum on the mouth of an earthen jug [ḥatzava], or on the mouth of a container used for measuring a kefiza, a small measurement, which did not pose the concern of being confused with a drum with one mouth.
They further taught that in the war of Titus the Sages decreed upon the crowns of brides. The Gemara clarifies: What are the crowns of brides? Rabba bar bar Ḥana says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: A city of gold, a gold crown engraved with the design of a city, worn by women as an ornament. This is also taught in a baraita: Which are the crowns of brides that were forbidden? The crown of a bride is a city of gold. However, one may make it as a cap of fine wool [meilat].
The Sage taught: The Sages even decreed upon the canopy of grooms. The Gemara asks: What is the type of canopy of grooms that was prohibited, as they certainly did not ban the marriage canopy. The Gemara answers: It means the golden crimson [zehorit] clothes, dyed red and crimson and decorated with gold, which they would hang on a marriage canopy. This is also taught in a baraita: These are the canopy of grooms the Sages banned: The golden crimson clothes. But he may make a papyrus [papirit] construction and hang upon it whatever he wants, even ornaments made of gold.
§ The mishna taught that during the war of Titus the Sages decreed that a person should not teach his son Greek. The Sages taught that this decree came about as a result of the following incident: When the kings of the Hasmonean monarchy besieged each other in their civil war, Hyrcanus was outside of Jerusalem, besieging it, and Aristoblus was inside. On each and every day they would lower dinars in a box from inside the city, and those on the outside would send up animals for them to bring the daily offerings in the Temple.
A certain Elder was there, in Jerusalem, who was familiar with Greek wisdom. He communicated to those on the outside by means of Greek wisdom, using words understood only by those proficient in Greek wisdom. He said to them: As long as they are engaged in the Temple service, they will not be delivered into your hands. Upon hearing this, on the following day, when they lowered dinars in a box, they sent up a pig to them. Once the pig reached halfway up the wall, it inserted its hooves into the wall and Eretz Yisrael shuddered four hundred parasangs.
When the Sages saw this, they said at that time: Cursed is the person who raises pigs, and cursed is the person who teaches his son Greek wisdom. And with regard to that year of civil war, in which the land was destroyed, we learned (Menaḥot 64b): An incident occurred in which the omer, the measure of barley brought as a communal offering on the sixteenth of Nisan, came from Gaggot Tzerifim, and the two loaves offered on Shavuot came from the valley of Ein Sokher.
It is understood from both the mishna and the baraita that it is prohibited to learn Greek. The Gemara raises a question: Is that so? But didn’t Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi say: In Eretz Yisrael, why should people speak the tongue of Syriac [Sursi], the Aramaic commonly spoken in Eretz Yisrael? Rather, they should speak either in the sacred tongue, Hebrew, or in the beautiful tongue of Greek. And Rav Yosef similarly said: In Babylonia, why should they speak in the vernacular tongue of Aramaic? Rather, they should speak either in the sacred tongue, Hebrew, or in the tongue of Persian, used by the authorities.
The Gemara answers that there is a difference: The Greek tongue is discrete and Greek wisdom is discrete, and the Sages prohibited the latter but not the former.
The Gemara poses a question: And is Greek wisdom prohibited? But didn’t Rav Yehuda say that Shmuel said in the name of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel: What is the meaning of that which is written: “My eye affected my soul, due to all the daughters of my city” (Lamentations 3:51)? There were a thousand children in my father’s house, the princes’ household. Five hundred of them learned Torah, and the other five hundred learned Greek wisdom, and there only remained of them, after the bar Kokheva revolt, me, here in Eretz Yisrael, and the son of my father’s brother, who lives in Asia Minor [Asya]. The fact that Rabban Gamliel allowed half of his household to study Greek wisdom indicates that it is permitted.
The Gemara answers: The members of the house of Rabban Gamliel are different, as they were close to the monarchy, and therefore had to learn Greek wisdom in order to converse with people of authority. As it is taught in a baraita (Tosefta, Shabbat 7:1): One who cuts his hair in the komi style, which was the gentile fashion of cutting and wearing the hair, is considered to be acting in the ways of the Amorites, and it is prohibited to act in their way. However, they permitted Avtolos ben Reuven to cut his hair in the komi style, as he is close to the monarchy, and similarly they permitted the house of Rabban Gamliel to study Greek wisdom, because they are close to the monarchy.
§ The mishna taught: In the last war the Sages decreed that a bride may not go out in a palanquin inside the city, but the later Sages permitted it. The Gemara explains: What is the reason they permitted this practice? Due to modesty, so that brides should not have to go out into the street and be seen by all.
The mishna taught that from the time when Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai died, wisdom ceased. The Sages taught: From the time when Rabbi Eliezer died, it was as if the Torah scroll had been interred, as he had memorized many secrets of the Torah. From the time when Rabbi Yehoshua died, council and deliberate thought ceased, as he had the sharpest mind in Israel. From the time when Rabbi Akiva died, the powerful arm of Torah, meaning the exposition of all the details of Torah scripture, ceased, and the fountains of wisdom were sealed.
From the time when Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya died, the crowns of wisdom ceased, as “the crown of the wise is their riches” (Proverbs 14:24), and he was both a great Torah scholar and a very wealthy man. From the time when Rabbi Ḥanina ben Dosa died, the men of wondrous deeds ceased. From the time when Abba Yosei ben Katonta died, the pious men ceased. And why was he called Abba Yosei ben Katonta? Because he was among the diminished [miktanei] of the pious people, i.e., he lived in an era when the pious had become few.
From the time when ben Azzai died, the diligent ceased; from the time when ben Zoma died, the exegetists ceased. From the time when Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel died, locusts ascended upon the land and troubles proliferated. From the time when Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi died, the troubles multiplied.
The final line of the mishna states that from the time when Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi died, humility and fear of sin ceased. Rav Yosef said to the tanna who reviewed the mishna: Do not teach that humility ceased, for there is still one who is humble, namely me. Rav Naḥman similarly said to the tanna who reviewed the mishna: Do not teach that fear of sin ceased, for there is still one who fears sin, namely me.
הֲדַרַן עֲלָךְ עֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה וּסְלִיקָא לַהּ מַסֶּכֶת סוֹטָה