In terms of this reward, Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: One who waits in the synagogue for the other to finish his prayer merits the following blessings, as it is stated: “If only you had listened to My mitzvot then your peace would be as a river, and your righteousness as the waves of the sea. Your seed would be as the sand, and the offspring of your body like the grains thereof; his name would be neither cut off nor destroyed from before Me” (Isaiah 48:18–19). The explanation of this passage is based on the etymological similarity between the word mitzva and the word tzevet, which means group. If he keeps the other person company and does not abandon him after his prayer, all of the blessings that appear later in the verse will be fulfilled in him (Talmidei Rabbeinu Yona). In another baraita it was taught that Abba Binyamin says: If the eye was given permission to see, no creature would be able to withstand the abundance and ubiquity of the demons and continue to live unaffected by them. Similarly, Abaye said: They are more numerous than we are and they stand over us like mounds of earth surrounding a pit. Rav Huna said: Each and every one of us has a thousand demons to his left and ten thousand to his right. God protects man from these demons, as it says in the verse: “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; they will not approach you” (Psalms 91:7). Summarizing the effects of the demons, Rava said:
The crowding at the kalla, the gatherings for Torah study during Elul and Adar, is from the demons;
those knees that are fatigued even though one did not exert himself is from the demons;
those clothes of the Sages that wear out, despite the fact that they do not engage in physical labor, is from friction with the demons;
those feet that are in pain is from the demons. One who seeks to know that the demons exist should place fine ashes around his bed, and in the morning the demons’ footprints appear like chickens’ footprints, in the ash. One who seeks to see them should take the afterbirth of a firstborn female black cat, born to a firstborn female black cat, burn it in the fire, grind it and place it in his eyes, and he will see them. He must then place the ashes in an iron tube sealed with an iron seal [gushpanka] lest the demons steal it from him, and then seal the opening so he will not be harmed. Rav Beivai bar Abaye performed this procedure, saw the demons, and was harmed. The Sages prayed for mercy on his behalf and he was healed. It was taught in a baraita that Abba Binyamin said: One’s prayer is only fully heard in a synagogue, as it is stated with regard to King Solomon’s prayer in the Temple: “Yet have You turned toward the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication, Lord my God, to listen to the song and the prayer which Your servant prays before You on this day” (I Kings 8:28). The following verse concludes: “To hear the prayer Your servant directs toward this place” (I Kings 8:29). We see that one’s prayer is heard specifically in the Temple, of which the synagogue is a microcosm (Rav Yoshiyahu Pinto). It may be inferred that in a place of song, a synagogue where God’s praises are sung, there prayer should be. In explaining Abba Binyamin’s statement, Ravin bar Rav Adda said that Rabbi Yitzḥak said: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, is located in a synagogue? As it is stated: “God stands in the congregation of God; in the midst of the judges He judges” (Psalms 82:1). The congregation of God is the place where people congregate to sing God’s praises, and God is located among His congregation. And from where is it derived that ten people who pray, the Divine Presence is with them? As it is stated: “God stands in the congregation of God,” and the minimum number of people that constitute a congregation is a quorum of ten. From where is it derived that three who sit in judgment, the Divine Presence is with them? It is derived from this same verse, as it is stated: “In the midst of the judges He judges,” and the minimum number of judges that comprises a court is three. From where is it derived that two who sit and engage in Torah study, the Divine Presence is with them? As it is stated: “Then they that feared the Lord spoke one with the other, and the Lord listened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that fear the Lord, and that think upon His name” (Malachi 3:16). The Divine Presence listens to any two God-fearing individuals who speak with each other. With regard to this verse, the Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the phrase, “And that think upon His name”? Rav Ashi said: If a person intended to perform a mitzva, but due to circumstances beyond his control, he did not perform it, the verse ascribes him credit as if he performed the mitzva, as he is among those that think upon His name. The Gemara returns to Ravin bar Rav Adda’s statement: And from where is it derived that when even one who sits and engages in Torah study, the Divine Presence is with him? As it is stated: “In every place where I cause My Name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you” (Exodus 20:21); God blesses even a single person who mentions God’s name, a reference to Torah study (Iyyun Ya’akov). The Gemara asks: Since the Divine Presence rests even upon one who engages in Torah study, was it necessary to say that the Divine Presence rests upon two who study Torah together? The Gemara answers: There is a difference between them. Two people, their words of Torah are written in the book of remembrance, as it is stated: “And a book of remembrance was written”; however a single individual’s words of Torah are not written in a book of remembrance. The Gemara continues: Since the Divine Presence rests even upon two who engage in Torah study, is it necessary to mention three? The Gemara answers: Here too, a special verse is necessary lest you say that judgment is merely to keep the peace among the citizenry, and the Divine Presence does not come and rest upon those who sit in judgment as they are not engaged in Torah study. Ravin bar Rav Adda teaches us that sitting in judgment is also Torah. The Gemara asks: Since the Divine Presence rests even upon three, is it necessary to mention ten? The Gemara answers: The Divine Presence arrives before a group of ten, as the verse: “God stands in the congregation of God,” indicates that when the ten individuals who comprise a congregation arrive, the Divine Presence is already there. For a group of three judges, however, the Divine Presence does not arrive until they sit and begin their deliberations, as in the midst of the judges He judges. God aids them in their judgment, but does not arrive before them. The Gemara cites another aggadic statement: Rabbi Avin bar Rav Adda said that Rabbi Yitzḥak said: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, wears phylacteries? As it is stated: “The Lord has sworn by His right hand, and by the arm of His strength” (Isaiah 62:8). Since it is customary to swear upon holy objects, it is understood that His right hand and the arm of His strength are the holy objects upon which God swore. Specifically, “His right hand” refers to the Torah, as it is stated in describing the giving of the Torah: “From His right hand, a fiery law for His people” (Deuteronomy 33:2). “The arm of His strength,” His left hand, refers to phylacteries, as it is stated: “The Lord gave strength to His nation” (Psalms 29:11), in the form of the mitzva of phylacteries. The Gemara asks: And from where is it derived that phylacteries provide strength for Israel? As it is written: “And all the nations of the land shall see that the name of the Lord is called upon you, and they will fear you” (Deuteronomy 28:10). It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer the Great says: This is a reference to the phylacteries of the head, upon which the name of God is written in fulfillment of the verse: “That the name of the Lord is called upon you.” Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said to Rav Ḥiyya bar Avin: What is written in the phylacteries of the Master of the world? Rav Ḥiyya bar Avin replied: It is written: “Who is like Your people, Israel, one nation in the land?” (I Chronicles 17:21). God’s phylacteries serve to connect Him, in a sense, to the world, the essence of which is Israel. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak continues: Is the Holy One, Blessed be He, glorified through the glory of Israel? Rav Ḥiyya bar Avin answered: Yes, as indicated by the juxtaposition of two verses; as it is stated: “You have affirmed, this day, that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His laws and commandments, and listen to His voice.” And the subsequent verse states: “And the Lord has affirmed, this day, that you are His treasure, as He spoke to you, to keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 26:17–18). From these two verses it is derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel: You have made Me a single entity [ḥativa] in the world, as you singled Me out as separate and unique. And because of this, I will make you a single entity in the world, and you will be a treasured nation, chosen by God. You have made Me a single entity in the world, as it is stated that Israel declares God’s oneness by saying: “Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4). And because of this, I will make you a single entity in the world, unique and elevated with the utterance: “Who is like Your people, Israel, one nation in the land?” Consequently, the Holy One, Blessed be He, is glorified through the glory of Israel whose praises are written in God’s phylacteries. Rav Aḥa, son of Rava said to Rav Ashi: It works out well with regard to the contents of one of the four compartments of God’s phylacteries of the head. However, all four compartments of Israel’s phylacteries of the head contain portions of the Torah that praise God. What portions in praise of Israel are written in the rest of the compartments of God’s phylacteries of the head? Rav Ashi said to him: In those three compartments it is written: “For who is a great nation, to whom God is close, like the Lord our God whenever we call upon Him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7); “And who is a great nation, who has righteous statutes and laws, like this entire Torah which I set before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:8); “Happy are you, Israel, who is like you? A people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and that is the sword of your excellence. And your enemies shall dwindle away before you, and you shall tread upon their high places” (Deuteronomy 33:29); “Or has God attempted to go and take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs and by wonders” (Deuteronomy 4:34); “And to elevate you above all nations that He has made, in praise, in name and in glory; that you may be a holy people to the Lord, your God, as He has spoken” (Deuteronomy 26:19). Rav Aḥa, son of Rava, raises an objection: If all of these verses are included in God’s phylacteries of the head, there are too many compartments as more than four verses of praise were listed. Rather, the portions in God’s phylacteries must be arranged as follows: The verses “For who is a great nation” and “And who is a great nation” are included in one compartment, as they are similar. “Happy are you, Israel” and "Who is like your people, Israel" are in one compartment. “Or has God attempted” is in one compartment and “And to elevate you” is in one compartment in the phylacteries of the head, where there are four separate compartments. And all of the verses are written together on one parchment in the phylacteries of the arm, which has only one compartment. Additionally, Ravin bar Rav Adda said that Rabbi Yitzḥak said: One who is accustomed to come to the synagogue and did not come one day, the Holy One, Blessed be He, asks about him, as it were, to determine what happened to him, as it is stated: “Who among you fears the Lord? Who hears the voice of His servant? Though he walks in darkness and has no light, let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rely upon his God” (Isaiah 50:10). In other words, God asks, who among you fears the Lord yet did not come to hear the voice of His servant the prayer leader, who engages in the service of God? He who went out before dawn and walks in darkness before prayer. If it is for a matter involving a mitzva that he went and absented himself from prayer in the synagogue, then, despite the darkness, there is light for him, the aura of his mitzva will protect him. But if it is for an optional matter, some mundane purpose, that he went and absented himself from prayer in the synagogue, then, even once the day begins, there is no light for him (Maharsha). The verse continues: “Let him trust in the name of the Lord.” The Gemara asks: What is the reason that God is so exacting with this person? The Gemara answers: Because he should have relied on the name of the Lord, and trusted that he would not incur any loss if he postponed dealing with his mundane matters until after prayer in the synagogue, and he did not rely on God. On this same topic, Rabbi Yoḥanan said: When the Holy One, Blessed be He, enters a synagogue and does not find ten people there, He immediately becomes angry, as it is stated: “Why, when I came, was there no one? When I called, there was no one to answer…Behold, with My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness” (Isaiah 50:2). Concerning another aspect of the constancy of prayer, Rabbi Ḥelbo said that Rav Huna said: One who sets a fixed place for his prayer, the God of Abraham assists him. Since prayer parallels the Temple service, it is a sign of respect to set a fixed place for this sacred rite (Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto). The God of Abraham assists him because this pious custom evokes Abraham’s conduct. When he dies, those who eulogize one who set a fixed place for his prayer say about him: “Where is the humble one, where is the pious one, of the disciples of our father Abraham?” Presumably, one who sets a fixed place for prayer is a disciple of Abraham in every respect, including humility and piety (Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto). The Gemara asks: From where do we derive that Abraham our father set a fixed place for his prayer? The Gemara answers: As it is written: “And Abraham rose in the morning to the place where he had stood before God” (Genesis 19:27), and the verb “standing” means nothing other than prayer, as it is stated: “And Pinehas stood and prayed” (Psalms 106:30). Rabbi Ḥelbo said that Rav Huna said: One who leaves the synagogue should not take large strides because it creates the impression that he is eager to leave. Abaye explained Rav Huna’s statement and said: This halakha was only said with regard to leaving the synagogue, where large strides seem particularly disrespectful. However, with regard to entering a synagogue, it is a mitzva to run and one is permitted to rush and take large strides (Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto). As it is said: “And let us know, eagerly strive to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3). One who eagerly enters a synagogue displays his enthusiasm to follow the path of God. Rabbi Zeira said: Initially, when I saw the Sages running to the Rabbi’s lecture on Shabbat, I said: These Sages are desecrating Shabbat. One is prohibited from running on Shabbat in deference to the sanctity of the day. Once I heard that which Rabbi Tanḥum said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One should always run for a matter of halakha, even on Shabbat, as it is stated: “They shall walk after the Lord, who will roar like a lion” (Hosea 11:10). In other words, one should rush as though he were chased by a lion (Birkat Hashem), I too run. Rabbi Zeira said: The reward for attending the lecture is for running. Since most individuals attending the lecture did not fully understand the material taught, the primary reward for attendance was given for their intention to hear the Torah being taught, as evidenced by their rush to arrive. Similarly, Abaye said: The reward for attending the kalla is for the crowding. Due to the large crowd, study was difficult, so the primary reward was given for their effort to hear and understand some part of the lecture. Similarly, Rava said: The reward for learning the halakhic traditions of the amora’im is for the logical analysis, as the primary reward for studying Talmud was not given for knowing the halakhic conclusions, but for the logical reasoning that led to those conclusions. Rav Pappa said: The primary reward for attending a house of mourning [bei tammaya] is for the silence, which is the optimal manner for those consoling the mourners to express their empathy. Mar Zutra said: The primary reward for fasting is for the charity given to the poor on the fast day (see Isaiah 58). Rav Sheshet said: The primary reward for delivering a eulogy is for causing those in attendance to raise their voices and cry, as that increases the grief over the deceased. Rav Ashi said: The primary reward for participating in a wedding is for the words, i.e., the good wishes with which the guests regale the bride and groom. Back to the topic of deference for a synagogue, the Gemara records that Rav Huna said: One who prays behind the synagogue is called wicked, as while the entire congregation is facing one direction to pray, he faces the opposite direction creating the impression that he is treating the synagogue and its congregation with contempt. As it is stated: “The wicked walk round about, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men” (Psalms 12:9). In other words, only the wicked walk round about the synagogue in order to pray. Abaye said: This halakha was said only in a case where one does not turn his face toward the synagogue. But where he turns his face toward the synagogue and prays we have no prohibition in that case. To reinforce the gravity of this prohibition, the Gemara relates: A certain individual prayed behind the synagogue and did not turn to face the synagogue. Elijah the Prophet passed by and appeared to him as an Arab [taya’a]. Elijah said: “This is how [kadu bar] you stand before your Master?” Elijah drew a sword and killed him. Rav Huna already explained the beginning of the verse, “The wicked walk round about.” The Gemara explains the end of the verse: “When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.” One of the Sages said to Rav Beivai bar Abaye, and some say Rav Beivai said to Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak: What is the meaning of: “When vileness is exalted among the sons of men”? He said to him: These are matters of utmost importance, exalted, i.e., mitzvot or prayer, which people nonetheless treat with contempt, vileness among the sons of men. Rabbi Yoḥanan and his student, Rabbi Elazar, both said an alternative explanation of this verse: Once a person needs the help of others and loses dignity in their eyes, vileness among the sons of men, his face changes and becomes like a kerum, as it is stated: “When [kerum] vileness is exalted among the sons of men.” What is kerum referred to by Rabbi Yoḥanan and Rabbi Elazar? When Rav Dimi came to Babylonia from Eretz Yisrael he said: There is a bird in the cities by the sea called kerum and when the sun rises, the bird changes several colors. Similarly, one who becomes dependent upon others blushes in embarrassment. Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi both said: One who becomes dependent upon others, it is as if he was punished with two punishments: Fire and water. As it is stated: “You have caused men to ride over our heads; we have gone through fire and water” (Psalms 66:12). And Rabbi Ḥelbo said that Rav Huna said: One must always be vigilant with regard to the afternoon prayer, as Elijah’s prayer was only answered in the afternoon prayer, as it is stated: “And it was at the time of the afternoon offering that Elijah the Prophet came near, and he said: Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known on this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, Lord, answer me, that this people will know that You, Lord, are God” (I Kings 18:36–37). Because Elijah was answered in the afternoon prayer, it has particular significance. In passing, the Gemara explains why it was necessary for Elijah to repeat, “answer me, Lord, answer me”: The first answer me was the request that fire descend from the heavens, while the second answer me was the request that Israel should accept complete faith in God and not say that the fire descending from the heavens was an act of sorcery. Rabbi Yoḥanan said: One must be vigilant with regard to the evening prayer as well, as it is stated: “Let my prayer come forth as incense before You, the lifting of my hands as the evening offering” (Psalms 141:2).
Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: One must be vigilant with regard to the morning prayer as well, as it is stated: “Lord, in the morning You shall hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer unto You and will look forward” (Psalms 5:4). And Rabbi Ḥelbo said that Rav Huna said: Anyone who benefits from the feast of a groom but does not cause him to rejoice violates the five voices mentioned in this verse, as it is stated: “The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride, and the voice of those who say: Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for His mercy lasts forever, even of those who bring a thanks-offering to the house of the Lord. For I will restore the captivity of the land as it was in the beginning, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 33:11). These five voices in the context of a bride and groom correspond to the five voices mentioned in the context of the revelation at Sinai, as in Song of Songs, the day of the revelation at Sinai is alluded to by the phrase: His wedding day (Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, Maharsha). What is his reward if he causes the groom to rejoice? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: He is privileged to acquire the Torah, which was given with five voices, as it is stated: “And it was on the third day, when it was morning, there were sounds [kolot], and lightning and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and the voice of the shofar” (Exodus 19:16). The plural kolot indicates at least two sounds, while “the voice of the shofar” is one more. The passage continues: “And when the voice of the shofar grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him by a voice” (Exodus 19:19). Along with the three previous voices, the second shofar and the voice with which God answered Moses amount to a total of five voices at the revelation at Sinai. The Gemara asks: Is this so? Isn’t it also written: “And the whole nation saw the voices and the torches and the sound of the shofar” (Exodus 20:15)? Clearly more than five voices are mentioned with regard to the revelation at Sinai. The Gemara answers: Those voices were sounded prior to the giving of the Torah, so they are not included in this calculation of voices. Rabbi Abbahu said: The reward for causing a groom to rejoice is the same as if one had offered a thanks-offering in the Temple, for as it is stated later in the previously cited verse from Jeremiah: “Those who bring a thanks-offering to the house of the Lord.”
And Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: The reward for causing a groom to rejoice is the same as if one rebuilt one of Jerusalem’s ruins, as it is stated later in the same verse: “For I will restore the captivity of the land as it was in the beginning.” And Rabbi Ḥelbo said that Rav Huna said: Any person who has the fear of Heaven, his words are heeded, as it is stated: “The end of the matter, all having been heard: Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is all of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). The Gemara explains: “The end of the matter, all having been heard,” refers to the words of one “who keeps His commandments; for this is all of man.” With regard to the end of this verse, the Gemara asks: What is meant by, “for this is all of man”? Rabbi Elazar said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said about him: The entire world was created only for this person. This is the ultimate person for which all of man was created. Rabbi Abba bar Kahana said: The end of this verse teaches that this is equivalent to the entire world, all of man.
Rabbi Shimon ben Azzai, and some say Rabbi Shimon ben Zoma, says: Not only is he the equivalent of the entire world, but the entire world was created to serve as companions for him, so that he would have a society in which to live and with which to interact. And Rabbi Ḥelbo said that Rav Huna said: One who is aware that another person is accustomed to greet him is not only obligated to return his greeting, but he must greet him first, as it is stated: “Seek peace and pursue it” (Psalms 34:15). If the other person extended his greeting to him and he did not respond, he is called a robber, as it is stated: “It is you who have eaten up the vineyard, the spoils of the poor is in your houses” (Isaiah 3:14). The only way to steal from a pauper who owns nothing is to rob him of his dignity by refusing to return his greeting.