This section of Ta'anit 21b-22a forms the basis of a video lesson led by faculty of the Lehrhaus Talmud Circles in the Bay Area of California, USA. On November 11, 2018, Dr. Deena Aronoff, Rabbi Jennifer Clayman, Rabbi Dorothy Richman and Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan gather for the Global Day of Jewish Learning ON AIR, in a live broadcast of this learning session. Watch the video, included below the sources.

אבא אומנא הוה אתי ליה שלמא ממתיבתא דרקיעא כל יומא ולאביי כל מעלי יומא דשבתא לרבא כל מעלי יומא דכיפורי הוה קא חלשא דעתיה דאביי משום דאבא אומנא אמרו ליה לא מצית למיעבד כעובדיה ומאי הוו עובדיה דאבא אומנא דכי הוה עביד מילתא הוה מחית גברי לחוד ונשי לחוד ואית ליה לבושא דאית ביה קרנא דהוות בזיעא כי כוסילתא כי הוות אתיא ליה איתתא הוה מלביש לה כי היכי דלא ניסתכל בה ואית ליה דוכתא דצניעא דשדי ביה פשיטי דשקיל דאית ליה שדי ביה דלית ליה לא מיכסיף כי הוה אתרמי ליה צורבא מרבנן אגרא מיניה לא שקיל ובתר דקאי יהיב ליה פשיטי ואמר ליה זיל בריא נפשך יומא חד שדר אביי זוגא דרבנן למיבדקיה אותבינהו ואכלינהו ואשקינהו ומך להו ביסתרקי בליליא

§ Apropos the above stories that deal with the merits of ordinary people, the Gemara relates: Abba the Bloodletter would receive greetings from the yeshiva on High every day, and Abaye would receive these greetings every Shabbat eve, and Rava would receive greetings only once a year on Yom Kippur eve. Abaye was distressed due to Abba the Bloodletter, as he did not understand why Abba received greater honor than he did. They said to him: You are unable to perform what he does, and therefore you do not merit the same honor. The Gemara asks: And what were these righteous deeds of Abba the Bloodletter? The Gemara explains that when he would perform a matter of bloodletting, he would bring in men separately from women, for reasons of modesty. And he had a special garment that had a slit in the place of the incision [kusilta] where the bloodletting instrument was inserted. When a woman came to him, he would have her dress in that garment, so that he would not see her exposed. And furthermore, he had a hidden place where he worked, where customers would place the coins [peshitei] that he would take as his fee. In this manner, one who had money would throw it there, while one who did not have money was not embarrassed. When a Torah scholar came to him for bloodletting, he would take no pay from him, and after the scholar arose, Abba would give him money and say to him: Go and purchase food with this money to heal yourself, as it is important to eat healthy food after bloodletting. One day, Abaye sent a pair of Sages to investigate the extent of Abba the Bloodletter’s righteousness. Abba the Bloodletter sat them down, and gave them food to eat, and gave them something to drink. And at night he spread out mats [bistarkei] for them to sleep on.

לצפרא כרכינהו ושקלינהו וקמו ונפקו להו לשוקא ואשכחינהו א"ל לשיימיה מר היכי שוו א"ל הכי והכי א"ל ודלמא שוו טפי א"ל בהכי שקלינהו אמרו ליה דידך ניהו ושקלינהו מינך אמרו ליה במטותא מינך במאי חשדתינן א"ל אמינא פדיון שבויים איקלע להו לרבנן ואכסיפו למימר לי אמרו ליה השתא נשקלינהו מר אמר להו מההוא שעתא אסחתינהו מדעתאי לצדקה הוה קא חלשא דעתיה דרבא משום דאביי אמרו ליה מסתייך דקא מגנית אכולה כרכא ר' ברוקא חוזאה הוה שכיח בשוקא דבי לפט הוה שכיח אליהו גביה א"ל איכא בהאי שוקא בר עלמא דאתי א"ל לא אדהכי והכי חזא לההוא גברא דהוה סיים מסאני אוכמי ולא רמי חוטא דתכלתא בגלימיה א"ל האי בר עלמא דאתי הוא רהט בתריה א"ל מאי עובדך א"ל זיל האידנא ותא למחר למחר א"ל מאי עובדך א"ל זנדוקנא אנא ואסרנא גברי לחוד ונשי לחוד ורמינא פורייאי בין הני להני כי היכי דלא ליתו לידי איסורא כי חזינא בת ישראל דיהבי נכרים עלה עינייהו מסרנא נפשאי ומצילנא לה יומא חד הוות נערה מאורסה גבן דיהבו בה נכרים עינייהו שקלי דורדייא דחמרא ושדאי לה בשיפולה ואמרי דיסתנא היא א"ל מאי טעמא לית לך חוטי ורמית מסאני אוכמי א"ל עיילנא ונפיקנא ביני נכרים כי היכי דלא לידעו דיהודאה אנא כי הוו גזרי גזירתא מודענא להו לרבנן ובעו רחמי ומבטלי לגזירתייהו ומאי טעמא כי אמינא לך אנא מאי עובדך ואמרת לי זיל האידנא ותא למחר א"ל בההיא שעתא גזרי גזירתא ואמינא ברישא איזיל ואשמע להו לרבנן דלבעי רחמי עלה דמילתא אדהכי והכי אתו הנך תרי אתי א"ל הנך נמי בני עלמא דאתי נינהו אזל לגבייהו אמר להו מאי עובדייכו אמרו ליה אינשי בדוחי אנן מבדחינן עציבי אי נמי כי חזינן בי תרי דאית להו תיגרא בהדייהו טרחינן ועבדינן להו שלמא:

In the morning, the Sages rolled up these rugs and took them, and they arose and went out to the market with them. And when Abba found them, the Sages said to him: Let the Master appraise these rugs, how much they are worth. He said to them: Their value is such and such. They said to him: But perhaps they are worth more. He said to them: This is what I paid for them. They said to him: The rugs are yours and we took them from you. After explaining the reason for their actions, the Sages said to him: Please tell us, what did you suspect of us? You knew that we had taken your rugs, and yet you did not say anything. He said to them: I said to myself, certainly an unexpected opportunity for a ransom of prisoners became available for the Sages, and they required immediate funds, but they were too embarrassed to say so to me or to ask for money. Instead, they took the rugs. The Sages said to him: Now that we have explained the situation, let the Master take back the rugs. He said to them: From that moment when I realized they were missing, I put them out of my mind and consigned them for charity. As far as I am concerned, they are already designated for that purpose, and I cannot take them back. Rava was distressed due to the fact that Abaye received greetings from Heaven every Shabbat eve, while Rava received such greetings only once a year, on Yom Kippur eve, as stated above. They said to him: Be content that through your merit you protect your entire city. § The Gemara relates another story about the righteousness of common people. Rabbi Beroka Ḥoza’a was often found in the market of Bei Lefet, and Elijah the Prophet would often appear to him. Once Rabbi Beroka said to Elijah: Of all the people who come here, is there anyone in this market worthy of the World-to-Come? He said to him: No. In the meantime, Rabbi Beroka saw a man who was wearing black shoes, contrary to Jewish custom, and who did not place the sky-blue, dyed thread of ritual fringes on his garment. Elijah said to Rabbi Beroka: That man is worthy of the World-to-Come. Rabbi Beroka ran after the man and said to him: What is your occupation? The man said to him: Go away now, as I have no time, but come back tomorrow and we will talk. The next day, Rabbi Beroka arrived and again said to him: What is your occupation? The man said to him: I am a prison guard [zandukana], and I imprison the men separately and the women separately, and I place my bed between them so that they will not come to transgression. When I see a Jewish woman upon whom gentiles have set their eyes, I risk my life to save her. One day, there was a betrothed young woman among us, upon whom the gentiles had set their eyes. I took dregs [durdayya] of red wine and threw them on the lower part of her dress, and I said: She is menstruating [dastana], so that they would leave her alone. Rabbi Beroka said to him: What is the reason that you do not have threads of ritual fringes, and why do you wear black shoes? The man said to him: Since I come and go among gentiles, I dress this way so that they will not know that I am a Jew. When they issue a decree, I inform the Sages, and they pray for mercy and annul the decree. Rabbi Beroka further inquired: And what is the reason that when I said to you: What is your occupation, you said to me: Go away now but come tomorrow? The man said to him: At that moment, they had just issued a decree, and I said to myself: First I must go and inform the Sages, so that they will pray for mercy over this matter. In the meantime, two brothers came to the marketplace. Elijah said to Rabbi Beroka: These two also have a share in the World-to-Come. Rabbi Beroka went over to the men and said to them: What is your occupation? They said to him: We are jesters, and we cheer up the depressed. Alternatively, when we see two people who have a quarrel between them, we strive to make peace. It is said that for this behavior one enjoys the profits of his actions in this world, and yet his reward is not diminished in the World-to-Come.