אין ישיבה בעזרה אלא למלכי בית דוד בלבד שנאמר (דברי הימים א יז, טז) ויבא המלך דוד וישב לפני ה' כדאמר רב חסדא בעזרת נשים הכא נמי בעזרת נשים
Sitting in the Temple courtyard is permitted only for kings of the House of David, as it is stated: “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord” (I Chronicles 17:16)? How, then, could the High Priest have been sitting? The Gemara explains: As Rav Ḥisda said in a similar context: This took place not in the Israelite courtyard, where the prohibition against sitting applies, but in the women’s courtyard. Here, too, the reading was in the women’s courtyard, where it is permitted to sit.
והיכא איתמר דרב חסדא אהא מיתיבי דתניא היכן קורין בו בעזרה ראב"י אומר בהר הבית שנאמר (נחמיה ח, ג) ויקרא בו לפני הרחוב אשר לפני שער המים ואמר רב חסדא בעזרת נשים
§ The Gemara clarifies: And where was this statement of Rav Ḥisda originally stated? It was stated in relation to the following: The Sages raised an objection based on that which was taught in a baraita: Where did they read the Torah scroll in fulfillment of the mitzva of assembly, in which the Torah is publicly read on the Sukkot following the Sabbatical Year? It was read in the Temple courtyard. Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov says: It is read on the Temple Mount, as it is stated concerning the public reading performed by Ezra: “And he read from it before the wide road that was before the Gate of the Water” (Nehemiah 8:3). And Rav Ḥisda said: The courtyard referred to by the first tanna is the women’s courtyard.
(נחמיה ח, ו) ויברך עזרא את ה' האלהים הגדול מאי גדול אמר רב יוסף אמר רב שגדלו בשם המפורש רב גידל אמר (דברי הימים א טז, לו) ברוך ה' אלהי ישראל מן העולם ועד העולם
Apropos the verse in Nehemiah, the Gemara interprets an adjacent verse homiletically. It is stated: “And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God” (Nehemiah 8:6). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of “great” here? Rav Yosef said that Rav said: It means that he ascribed greatness to Him by enunciating God’s explicit name. Rav Giddel said: He established that one should say at the conclusion of every blessing: “Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel, from eternity to eternity” (I Chronicles 16:36).
אמר ליה אביי לרב דימי ודילמא שגידלו בשם המפורש א"ל אין אומרים שם המפורש בגבולים
Abaye said to Rav Dimi: Why does Rav Giddel interpret it this way? Perhaps the meaning of “great” is that he ascribed greatness to Him by enunciating God’s explicit name? Rav Dimi said to him: The explicit name may not be enunciated in the provinces, i.e., outside the Temple courtyard.
ולא והכתיב (נחמיה ח, ד) ויעמוד עזרא הסופר על מגדל עץ אשר עשו לדבר ואמר רב גידל שגדלו בשם המפורש הוראת שעה היתה
The Gemara asks: And is this really not permitted? Isn’t it written: “And Ezra the Scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose... and Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God” (Nehemiah 8:4-6); and Rav Giddel said: “Great” in this verse means that he ascribed greatness to Him by enunciating God’s explicit name. Since this event took place outside the Temple (see Nehemiah 8:3), it suggests that God’s explicit name may indeed be enunciated outside the Temple. The Gemara answers: That cannot be proven from here because the permission to use God’s explicit name in that context was a provisional edict issued in exigent circumstances, since the people had uniquely come together in a prayerful commitment to God.
(נחמיה ט, ד) ויצעקו אל ה' אלהים בקול גדול מאי אמור אמר רב ואיתימא ר' יוחנן בייא בייא היינו האי דאחרביה למקדשא וקליה להיכליה וקטלינהו לכולהו צדיקי ואגלינהו לישראל מארעהון ועדיין מרקד בינן כלום יהבתיה לן אלא לקבולי ביה אגרא לא איהו בעינן ולא אגריה בעינן
The Gemara recounts the event described in the verses: The verse states: And they cried with a loud voice to the Lord their God (Nehemiah 9:4). What was said? Rav said, and some say it was Rabbi Yoḥanan who said: Woe, woe. It is this, i.e., the evil inclination for idol worship, that destroyed the Temple, and burned its Sanctuary, and murdered all the righteous ones, and caused the Jewish people to be exiled from their land. And it still dances among us, i.e., it still affects us. Didn’t You gave it to us for solely for the purpose of our receiving reward for overcoming it. We do not want it, and we do not want its reward. We are prepared to forgo the potential rewards for overcoming the evil inclination as long as it departs from us.
נפל להו פיתקא מרקיעא דהוה כתב בה אמת
In response to their prayer a note fell to them from the heavens upon which was written: Truth, indicating that God accepted their request.
אמר רב חנינא שמע מינה חותמו של הקב"ה אמת
The Gemara makes a parenthetical observation. Rav Ḥanina said: Learn from this that the seal of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is truth.
אותיבו בתעניתא תלתא יומין ותלתא לילואתא מסרוהו ניהליהו נפק אתא כי גוריא דנורא מבית קדשי הקדשים אמר להו נביא לישראל היינו יצרא דעבודת כוכבים שנאמר (זכריה ה, ח) ויאמר זאת הרשעה
In response to the indication of divine acceptance, they observed a fast for three days and three nights, and He delivered the evil inclination to them. A form of a fiery lion cub came forth from the chamber of the Holy of Holies. Zechariah the prophet said to the Jewish people: This is the evil inclination for idol worship, as it is stated in the verse that refers to this event: “And he said: This is the evil one” (Zechariah 5:8). The use of the word “this” indicates that the evil inclination was perceived in a physical form.
בהדי דתפסוה ליה אשתמיט ביניתא ממזייא ורמא קלא ואזל קליה ארבע מאה פרסי אמרו היכי נעביד דילמא חס ושלום מרחמי עליה מן שמיא אמר להו נביא שדיוהו בדודא דאברא וחפיוהו לפומיה באברא דאברא משאב שאיב קלא שנאמר (זכריה ה, ח) ויאמר זאת הרשעה וישלך אותה אל תוך האיפה וישלך את אבן העופרת אל פיה
When they caught hold of it one of its hairs fell, and it let out a shriek of pain that was heard for four hundred parasangs. They said: What should we do to kill it? Perhaps, Heaven forfend, they will have mercy upon him from Heaven, since it cries out so much. The prophet said to them: Throw it into a container made of lead and seal the opening with lead, since lead absorbs sound. As it is stated: “And he said: This is the evil one. And he cast it down into the midst of the measure, and he cast a stone of lead upon its opening” (Zechariah 5:8). They followed this advice and were freed of the evil inclination for idol worship.
אמרו הואיל ועת רצון הוא נבעי רחמי איצרא דעבירה בעו רחמי ואמסר בידייהו
When they saw that the evil inclination for idol worship was delivered into their hands as they requested, the Sages said: Since it is an auspicious time, let us pray also concerning the evil inclination for sin in the area of sexual relationships. They prayed, and it was also delivered into their hands.
אמר להו חזו דאי קטליתו ליה לההוא כליא עלמא חבשוהו תלתא יומי ובעו ביעתא בת יומא בכל ארץ ישראל ולא אשתכח אמרי היכי נעביד נקטליה כליא עלמא ניבעי רחמי אפלגא פלגא ברקיעא לא יהבי כחלינהו לעיניה ושבקוהו ואהני דלא מיגרי ביה לאיניש בקריבתה
Zechariah the prophet said to them: See and understand that if you kill this evil inclination the world will be destroyed because as a result there will also no longer be any desire to procreate. They followed his warning, and instead of killing the evil inclination they imprisoned it for three days. At that time, people searched for a fresh egg throughout all of Eretz Yisrael and could not find one. Since the inclination to reproduce was quashed, the chickens stopped laying eggs. They said: What should we do? If we kill it, the world will be destroyed. If we pray for half, i.e., that only half its power be annulled, nothing will be achieved because Heaven does not grant half gifts, only whole gifts. What did they do? They gouged out its eyes, effectively limiting its power, and set it free. And this was effective to the extent that a person is no longer aroused to commit incest with his close relatives.
במערבא מתנו הכי רב גידל אמר גדול שגדלו בשם המפורש ורב מתנא אמר (נחמיה ט, לב) האל הגדול הגבור והנורא
The Gemara returns to its discussion of the verse in Nehemiah cited above: In the West, i.e., Eretz Yisrael, they taught the debate concerning the verse “the Lord, the great God” as follows: Rav Giddel said: “Great” means that he ascribed greatness to Him by enunciating God’s explicit name. And Rav Mattana said: They reinserted the following appellations of God into their prayers: “The great, the mighty, and the awesome God” (Nehemiah 9:32).
והא דרב מתנא מטייא לדרבי יהושע בן לוי דאמר רבי יהושע בן לוי למה נקרא שמן אנשי כנסת הגדולה שהחזירו עטרה ליושנה אתא משה אמר (דברים י, יז) האל הגדול הגבור והנורא אתא ירמיה ואמר נכרים מקרקרין בהיכלו איה נוראותיו לא אמר נורא אתא דניאל אמר נכרים משתעבדים בבניו איה גבורותיו לא אמר גבור
The Gemara comments: This interpretation that Rav Mattana said leans to, i.e., is consonant with, the exposition of RabbiYehoshua ben Levi. As Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Why are the Sages of those generations called the members of the Great Assembly? It is because they returned the crown of the Holy One, Blessed be He, to its former glory. How so? Moses came and said in his prayer: “The great, the mighty, and the awesomeGod” (Deuteronomy 10:17). Jeremiah the prophet came and said: Gentiles, i.e., the minions of Nebuchadnezzar, are carousing in His sanctuary; where is His awesomeness? Therefore, he did not say awesome in his prayer: “The great God, the mighty Lord of Hosts, is His name” (Jeremiah 32:18). Daniel came and said: Gentiles are enslaving His children; where is His might? Therefore he did not say mighty in his prayer: “The great and awesome God” (Daniel 9:4).
אתו אינהו ואמרו אדרבה זו היא גבורת גבורתו שכובש את יצרו שנותן ארך אפים לרשעים ואלו הן נוראותיו שאלמלא מוראו של הקב"ה היאך אומה אחת יכולה להתקיים בין האומות
The members of the Great Assembly came and said: On the contrary, this is the might of His might, i.e., this is the fullest expression of it, that He conquers His inclination in that He exercises patience toward the wicked. God’s anger is flared by the gentile nations’ enslavement of His people, yet He expresses tremendous might by suppressing His anger and holding back from punishing them immediately. Therefore, it is still appropriate to refer to God as mighty. And these acts also express His awesomeness: Were it not for the awesomeness of the Holy One, Blessed be He, how could one people, i.e., the Jewish people, who are alone and hated by the gentile nations, survive among the nations?
ורבנן היכי עבדי הכי ועקרי תקנתא דתקין משה אמר רבי אלעזר מתוך שיודעין בהקב"ה שאמתי הוא לפיכך לא כיזבו בו
The Gemara asks: And the Rabbis, i.e., Jeremiah and Daniel, how could they do this and uproot an ordinance instituted by Moses, the greatest teacher, who instituted the mention of these attributes in prayer? Rabbi Elazar said: They did so because they knew of the Holy One Blessed be He, that He is truthful and hates a lie. Consequently, they did not speak falsely about Him. Since they did not perceive His attributes of might and awesomeness, they did not refer to them; therefore, they cannot be criticized for doing so.
וקורא אחרי מות ואך בעשור ורמינהי מדלגין בנביא ואין מדלגין בתורה
§ It was taught in the mishna: And he reads from the scroll the Torah portion beginning with the verse: “After the death” (Leviticus 16:1), and the portion beginning with the verse: “But on the tenth” (Leviticus 23:26). Although both of these portions appear in the book of Leviticus, they are not adjacent to one another. Perforce, the High Priest skipped the sections in between the two portions. The Gemara raises a contradiction: It is taught in a mishna in tractate Megilla: One may skip sections when reading the haftara in the Prophets, but one may not skip sections when reading in the Torah.
לא קשיא כאן בכדי שיפסיק התורגמן כאן בכדי שלא יפסיק התורגמן
The Gemara answers: This is not difficult: There, in the mishna in tractate Megilla that teaches that one may not skip, the intention is that one should not skip if the sections are so far apart from one another that the delay caused by doing so will be of such length that the translator who recites the Aramaic translation will conclude his translation before the next section is reached. In that case, the community would have to remain in silence while waiting for the next section to be reached, which is considered disrespectful of the community’s honor. Here, in the case of the mishna, where it is permitted to skip, the delay caused is of such short length that the translator will still not conclude his translation before the new section is reached.
והא עלה קתני מדלגין בנביא ואין מדלגין בתורה ועד כמה מדלג בכדי שלא יפסיק התורגמן הא בתורה כלל כלל לא
The Gemara challenges this resolution: But it was taught concerning this statement in the continuation of that mishna: One may skip sections when reading in the Prophets, and one may not skip sections when reading in the Torah. And how much may one skip? One may skip when the section skipped is of such short length that when the furling of the scroll is completed the translator will still not have concluded his translation. The baraita implies that the qualification for the length of the section that may be skipped applies only to reading the Prophets, but when reading the Torah, one may not skip at all. The Gemara’s resolution is therefore refuted.
אמר אביי לא קשיא כאן בענין אחד כאן בשני ענינין
The Gemara offers a different resolution. Abaye said: This is not difficult. Here, in the case of the mishna here, where it is permitted to skip, it is referring to when both sections pertain to a single topic, and therefore the listeners will be unaware that sections were skipped. There, in the mishna in tractate Megilla, which teaches that one may not skip, it is referring to when the two sections pertain to two different topics.
והתניא מדלגין בתורה בענין אחד ובנביא בשני ענינין כאן וכאן בכדי שלא יפסיק התורגמן ואין מדלגין מנביא לנביא ובנביא של שנים עשר מדלגין
As it was taught in a baraita: One may skip sections when reading in the Torah when both sections read pertain to one topic, and in the Prophets one may skip from one section to another even if they pertain to two different topics. Both here and there, one may skip only when the section skipped is of such short length that when furling is completed the translator will still not have concluded his translation. But one may not skip from one book of the Prophets to another book of the Prophets even if both pertain to the same topic, and even if the gap between them is short. However, among the books of the Twelve Prophets one may skip, as the twelve are considered one book for these purposes.