I. The extent of the mitzvah
Rabbi Yose bar Rabbi Bun in the name of Rabbi Huna bar Hiyya: Come and see how great is the strength of those who do mitzvot, since before an elder they do not stand, but before those who do mitzvot they stand!
Rabbi Yose bar Rabbi Bun said: Those who stand before a corpse, they are not standing before a corpse but actually before those who are occupied with the funeral.
How many times does a person have to stand before an elder? Shimon bar Va in the name of Rabbi Yohanan: Twice per day. Rabbi Lazar said: Once per day.
But is it not taught: Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar says: From where [do we know that] one does not have to go to trouble for a elder? That’s why it says, “elder, fear your God, I am YHVH!?” According to the opinion of Rabbi Yohanan, this is fine. According to the opinion of Rabbi Lazar, he should not stand at all?!
Rabbi Ya’akov bar Aha in the name of Rabbi Lazar: That one who sees a group of elders should not pass by them such that they would stand before him.
Just as they disagree here, so too they disagree about greeting (salutatio).
Rabbi Hizkiyah, Rabbi Hanina bar Rabbi Abahu in the name of Rabbi Abduma from Haifa: For an elder, four amot; when he passes, he sits for him. A high priest, anyone who sees him [stands] until he is hidden from him.
What’s the reason? “When Moshe left to go to the tent, the entire people stood” (Shemot 33:8).
Two Amoraim: One said [this is] for praise and one said [this is] for shame. The one who said for praise—“See this righteous one and merit.” The one who said for shame—“See his thighs, see his belly, he eats from what is the Jews’, he drinks what is the Jews’, everything that is his is the Jews’.”
The ark is facing the people, the priests are facing the people and Israel their face is facing the holy.
Said Rabbi Lazar: The Torah does not stand before its child. Shmuel said: They do not stand before a colleague.
Rabbi Hila [and] Rabbi Ya’akov bar Iddi were sitting. Shmuel bar Va passed by and they stood before him.
He said to them: You have made two mistakes! One, since I am not an elder; another, since the Torah does not stand before its child.
Rabbi Ze’eira said: Rabbi Aha would interrupt and rise because he was careful about this teaching, as it is taught: The writers of scrolls, tefillin and mezuzot interrupt for recitation of Shema but do not interrupt for the Amidah. Rabbi Hananyah ben Akavyah says: Just as they interrupt for recitation of Shema, so too they interrupt for the Amidah, tefillin and the other mitzvot of the Torah.
Hizkiyah bar Rabbi used to wear himself out studying the Torah. He would go and sit before the assembly house in order to see elders and stand before them.
Yehudah bar Hiyya used to go back and forth to pay respects to Rabbi Yannai his father-in-law every Friday. He would sit in a high place in order to see him and stand before him.
His students said to him: Is it is not the law, Rabbi, “For an elder, four amot?”
He said to them: There is no sitting before Sinai.
One time he was late. He said: It is not possible that Yehudah my son changed his practice. He said: It is not possible that troubles have afflicted this righteous body. It seems that we no longer have Yehudah bar Rabbi!
[When] Rabbi Meir saw even an am ha-aretz elder, he would stand before him. He would say: It is no accident that days are lengthened.
Rabbi Hanina would strike anyone who did not stand before him and say to him: Do you want to annul the Torah!?
Rabbi Simon said: “Before grey hair, you should stand, you should honour the face of an elder, you should fear your God, I, YHVH”—I am the One who put “standing before an elder” first.
When the nasi enters, all the people stand before him and none of them have permission to sit until he says to them, “Sit!”
[When] the head of the court enters, they make for him rows. He can enter from either side.
When] a sage enters, one stands and one sits, one stands and one sits, until he arrives and sits in his place.
Rabbi Meir used to go to the assembly house. When all the people saw him, they would stand before him. When they heard this teaching, they sought to do [the text’s procedure] for him. He was angry and left. He said to them: I learnt that they ascend in holiness but do not descend!
They wanted to appoint Rabbi Ze’eira but he did not want to accept it. When he heard this teaching: “For a sage, bridegroom or nasi—greatness atones,” he accepted his appointment.
A sage? “Before grey hair you should stand and you should honour the face of an elder.” What is written afterwards? “When a convert lives in your land, you shall not oppress him” (VaYikra 19:33)—just as a convert is forgiven all of her sins, so too an appointed sage.”
A bridegroom? “Esav went to Yishmael and married Mahlat, Yishmael’s daughter” (Bereishit 28:9). Was Mahlat her name!? Wasn’t Basmat her name!? (see Bereishit 36:3). Rather, he was forgiven (nimhalu) all of his sins.
A nasi? “One year-old was Shaul in his reign” (1 Shmuel 13:1)— was he a one year-old!? Rather, his sins were forgiven like a one year-old child.
Rabbi Manna cursed those who were appointed for money.
Rabbi Immi applied the verse to them “You shall not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold” (Shemot 20:20).
Rabbi Yoshayah said: And the robe that is on them is like a donkey saddle!
Rabbi Shayan said: Those ones who are appointed for money—they do not stand before them, nor do they call them “rabbi,” and the robe that is on them is like a donkey saddle!
Rabbi Zeira and one of the rabbis were sitting [and learning]. One of those who was appointed for money passed by. That one of the rabbis said to Rabbi Zeira: “We shall occupy ourselves in our learning and not stand before him.”
Ya’akov of Kfar Gevurayya translated: “Ah, you who say, ‘Wake up’ to wood, ‘awaken,’ to inert stone! He teaches?”—Does he know how to teach? “He seizes gold and silver, but there is no spirit inside him”—No, he is appointed for money (lit. silver) and he knows nothing! “But the Eternal in His holy abode”—this is Rabbi Yitzhak bar Lazar in the Gate Synagogue of Caesarea!
19Ah, you who say, “Wake up” to wood,
“Awaken,” to inert stone!
Can that give an oracle?
Why, it is encased in gold and silver,
But there is no breath inside it.
20But the Eternal in His holy Abode—
Be silent before Him all the earth!
Rabbi Ammi asked Rabbi Simon: Have you learnt that they appoint elders (zekeinim) outside Eretz Yisrael?
He said to him: I have learnt that they do not appoint elders outside Eretz Yisrael.
Rabbi Levi said: This is nothing other than an explicit verse! “Son of Man, the house of Israel dwelling on their land” (Yehezkel 36:17)—thus all of your dwelling can only be on your land.
The rabbis of Caesaerea said: They appoint elders outside Eretz Yisrael with the understanding that they return.
Rabbi Yitzhak bar Nahman was in Gaza and they appointed him with the understanding that he return.
Rabbi Zemina was in Tyre and they appointed him with the understanding that he return.
Also Rabbi Yonah was in Pitka and did not receive upon himself an appointment. He said: “Until they appoint me as ‘rabbi,’” and he was appointed ‘rabbi.’
Rabbi Hama said: Yehudah ben Titus was in Rome and they appointed him with the understanding that he return.
Shimon bar Va was in Damascus and he appointed children though he was not appointed.
Shimon bar Va was an expert in everything about pearls but he did not have a loaf of bread to eat! Rabbi Yohanan used to apply the verse to him, “But the sages (hakhamim) have no bread” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). He said: “Anyone who doesn’t recognise the deeds of Avraham should recognise the deeds of this man’s ancestors.”
Shimon bar Va was in Damascus and Rabbi Abahu sent him a letter. He gave him one of his grey hairs (seivah) in it [saying,] “Because of this grey har, rise and go to Eretz Yisrael! Who threw dust in your eyes Rabbi Yohanan?—Abahu of the (low quality) cloak is appointed, Shimon of the (high quality) cloak is not appointed?!”