Tamid 32aתמיד ל״ב א
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32aל״ב א

מן השמים לארץ רחוק או ממזרח למערב אמרו לו ממזרח למערב תדע שהרי חמה במזרח הכל מסתכלין בה חמה במערב הכל מסתכלין בה חמה באמצע רקיע אין הכל מסתכלין בה

Is the distance from the heavens to the earth further, or is the distance from east to west further? They said to him: From east to west is a greater distance. Know that this is so, as when the sun is in the east, everyone looks at it without hurting their eyes, and when the sun is in the west, everyone looks at it without hurting their eyes. By contrast, when the sun is in the middle of the sky, no one looks at it, as it would hurt their eyes. This shows that the sun’s place in the middle of the sky is not as far from the earth as its remote positions in the extreme east and west.

וחכמים אומרים זה וזה כאחד שוין שנאמר (תהלים קג, יא) כגבוה שמים על הארץ [וגו'] כרחוק מזרח ממערב ואי חד מינייהו נפיש נכתוב תרווייהו כי ההוא דנפיש ואלא חמה באמצע רקיע מ"ט אין הכל מסתכלין בה משום דקאי להדיא ולא כסי ליה מידי

But the Sages say: This distance and that distance are equal, as it is stated: “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His kindness toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:11–12). The verses compare the extent of God’s kindness and His removal of transgressions to vast expanses. And if one of the distances is greater than the other, let the verse write that both of God’s enumerated attributes are like the measure that is greater. But if so, with regard to the sun in the middle of the sky, what is the reason that no one looks at it? It is because it stands exposed and nothing covers it, whereas it is partially screened when it is in the east or the west.

אמר להן שמים נבראו תחלה או הארץ אמרו שמים נבראו תחלה שנא' (בראשית א, א) בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ

Alexander continued to ask questions of the Elders of the Negev. He said to them: Were the heavens created first or was the earth created first? They said: The heavens were created first, as it is stated: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

אמר להן אור נברא תחלה או חשך אמרו לו מילתא דא אין לה פתר ונימרו ליה חשך נברא תחלה דכתיב (בראשית א, ב) והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשך והדר ויאמר אלהים יהי אור ויהי אור

He said to them: Was the light created first, or was the darkness created first? They said to him: This matter has no solution, as the verses do not indicate an answer. The Gemara asks: But let them say to him that the darkness was created first, as it is written: “Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2), and only then does it state: “And God said: Let there be light. And there was light” (Genesis 1:3). Why did they not say that the darkness was created first?

סברי דילמא אתי לשיולי מה למעלה ומה למטה מה לפנים ומה לאחור

The Gemara answers that the Elders maintained: We must not answer this question, lest he come to ask questions about Creation that may not be discussed, i.e., what is above the firmament and what is below the earth, what was before Creation, and what will be after the end of the world (see Ḥagiga 11b).

אי הכי שמים נמי לא נימרו ליה מעיקרא סבור אקראי בעלמא הוא דקא שייל כיון דחזו דקהדר שאיל סברי לא נימא ליה דילמא אתי לשיולי מה למעלה מה למטה מה לפנים ומה לאחור

The Gemara asks: If so, if the Elders were concerned about such proscribed questions, then with regard to the creation of heaven as well, they should not have said anything to him. Why did they answer the question about heaven, but not the one about darkness? The Gemara answers that initially they assumed: It is merely incidental that he is asking about the creation of the universe, and therefore there is no need for caution. But once they saw that he again asked about the same general matter, they maintained: Let us not tell him an answer, lest he come to ask: What is above the firmament and what is below the earth, what was before Creation, and what will be after the end of the world?

אמר להם אידין מתקרי חכים אמרו ליה איזהו חכם הרואה את הנולד אמר להם אידין מתקרי גבור אמרו לו איזהו גבור הכובש את יצרו אמר להן אידין מתקרי עשיר אמרו ליה איזהו עשיר השמח בחלקו

Alexander said to the Elders: Who is truly worthy of being called wise? They said to him, citing a tradition (see Avot 2:9): Who is the wise person? The one who sees and anticipates the consequences of his behavior. He said to them: Who is truly worthy of being called mighty? They said to him, again citing a tradition (see Avot 4:1): Who is the mighty person? The one who masters his desire. He said to them: Who is worthy of being called wealthy? They said to him: Who is the wealthy person? The one who is pleased with his own portion (see Avot 4:1).

אמר להן מה יעביד איניש ויחיה אמרו ליה ימית עצמו מה יעביד איניש וימות יחיה את עצמו אמר להן מה יעביד איניש ויתקבל על ברייתא אמרו יסני מלכו ושלטן אמר להו דידי טבא מדידכו ירחם מלכו ושלטן ויעבד טיבו עם בני אינשא

He said to them: What must a man do and thereby ensure that he will live? They said to him: Such a man must figuratively kill himself, by living moderately. Alexander further inquired: What must a man do and ensure that he will die? They said to him: Such a man must keep himself alive, i.e., lead an extravagant and indulgent life. He said to them: What must a man do and ensure that he will be accepted by people? They said to Alexander: He must hate the king and the authorities and avoid becoming too close to those in power. Alexander rejected their answer and said to them: My advice for gaining people’s favor is better than yours. One who wants to be accepted must love the king and the authorities, but he must use his connections to perform beneficial acts for people.

אמר להן בימא יאי למידר או ביבשתא יאי למידר אמרו ליה ביבשתא יאי למידר דהא כל נחותי ימא לא מיתבא דעתיהון עד דסלקין ליבשתא

He said to them: Is it better for a person to live at sea, or is it better to live on dry land? They said to him: It is better to live on dry land, as all seafarers, their minds are constantly unsettled until they reach the dry land.

אמר להן אידין מנכון חכים יתיר אמרו לו כולנא כחדא שווין דהא כל מילתא דאמרת לנא בחד פתרנא לך אמר להן מה דין אתריסתון לקבלי אמרו ליה סטנא נצח

He said to them: Who among you is wiser than the others? They said to him: We are all equal in wisdom, as every matter that you say to us, we solve for you unanimously. He said to them: What is the substance of this stance, by which you, the Jewish people, oppose me? Since you are my subjects, and my people constitute the majority, you should concede that our lifestyle is superior. They said to him: Your dominance is inconsequential, as sometimes even the Satan is victorious, by convincing people to act in a manner that is clearly incorrect.

אמר להן הא אנא מקטילנא יתכון בגזירת מלכין אמרו ליה שלטן ביד מלכא ולא יאי למלכא כזב מיד אלביש יתהון לבושין דארגוון ושדי מניכא דדהבא על צואריהון

He said to them: Consequently, due to your insolence, I am executing you by the edict of kings. They said to him: Certainly, the authority is in the hand of the king to execute as you wish; but falsehood is unbecoming for the king, and you have pledged not to harm us. Immediately, Alexander dressed them in garments of purple and placed golden chains [menaykha] upon their necks.

אמר להן בעינא דאיזל למדינת אפריקי אמרו ליה לא מצית אזלת דפסקי הרי חשך אמר להן לא סגיא דלא אזלינא אמטו הכי משיילנא לכו אלא מאי אעביד

When Alexander was preparing to part from the Elders of the Negev, he said to them: I want to go to wage war against the country of Africa [Afriki]; what do you recommend? They said to him: You will be unable to go there, as the Mountains of Darkness block the passes. He said to them: It is not possible for me not to go; and it is due to this reason that I ask you to advise me. Rather than refraining from my campaign, what might I do to cross the Mountains of Darkness?

אמרו ליה אייתי חמרי לובאי דפרשי בהברא ואייתי קיבורי דמתני וקטר בהאי גיסא דכי אתית (באורחא) נקטת בגוייהו ואתית לאתרך

They said to him: Bring Libyan donkeys that walk even in the darkness [behavra], and these animals will guide you through those passes. And bring coils of rope, and tie one end of rope on this near side of the mountains, as you are about to enter there, so that when you come to return by the same path, you may take hold of the ropes left from your initial march, and, following them, you will come back to your place.

עבד הכי ואזל מטא לההוא מחוזא דכוליה נשי בעי למיעבד קרבא בהדייהו אמרו ליה אי קטלת לן יאמרו נשי קטל אי קטילנא לך יאמרו מלכא דקטלוהו נשי אמר להן אייתו לי נהמא אייתו ליה נהמא דדהבא אפתורא דדהבא

Alexander did this and went on his campaign. He came to a certain town whose entire population was women, and he wanted to wage battle against them. The women said to him: It is not in your interest to fight us. If you kill us, people will say: Alexander kills women; and if we kill you, people will say: Alexander is the king whom women killed in battle. Instead of fighting them, Alexander said to them: Bring me bread. They brought him bread of gold, upon a table of gold.