Yehuda haNasi (Judah the Prince) and Antoninus

Rabi (Rabbi Yehuda haNasi - Tannaim - Sixth Generation, c.170 - c.200 CE) succeeded his father, R. Shimon ben Gamliel as Nasi and was a key figure in Jewish history. A pious and brilliant scholar, he worked to further consolidate the authority of his office. His great wealth and his prestige among the Jews also impressed the Romans, resulting in many discussions with them. His greatest achievement, however, was his organization and compilation of Jewish Law in the Mishnah.

Biography: Rabbi Judah HaNasi was born to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel II in 135 CE (and died in 200 CE), which was the same year that the Romans suppressed the Bar-Kochba Revolt and only 65 years after the Romans destroyed the Second Temple. The national trauma was still fresh, and the Sanhedrin was hunted by the Romans and thus not providing any unifying leadership. Without a central address to settle questions, the Oral Tradition was in danger of being lost. When Rabbi Judah became the first Nasi (Patriarch - same Hebrew title, but different function than the President of the Sanhedrin) in 161 CE (some say from 170-200 CE), he resolved to solve this by collecting all of the sayings of the rabbis and organizing them into 6 categories ("orders", or "sedarim") and 63 sub-categories ("tractates", or "masechtot"). Rabbi Akiba and his student Rabbi Meir had already had a go at this, so some of the work was done in previous generations. Not all of the sayings made it into the Mishnah; those were collected and called "baraitas", and they frequently appear in the Talmud (the "Tosefta" is a collection of baraitas). It's not clear that Rabbi Judah HaNasi wanted to "fix" the law; he may have intended to only write down what everybody thought so that future generations could decide what to do. For his efforts, Rabbi Judah HaNasi is sometimes just called "Rabbi".

- David Schwartz, Pirkei Avot Ch. 2 - With Bios

רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יְהוּדָה מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַאי אוֹמֵר, הַנּוֹי וְהַכֹּחַ וְהָעֹשֶׁר וְהַכָּבוֹד וְהַחָכְמָה וְהַזִּקְנָה וְהַשֵּׂיבָה וְהַבָּנִים, נָאֶה לַצַּדִּיקִים וְנָאֶה לָעוֹלָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שם טז) עֲטֶרֶת תִּפְאֶרֶת שֵׂיבָה בְּדֶרֶךְ צְדָקָה תִּמָּצֵא. וְאוֹמֵר (שם כ) תִּפְאֶרֶת בַּחוּרִים כֹּחָם וַהֲדַר זְקֵנִים שֵׂיבָה. וְאוֹמֵר (שם יד) עֲטֶרֶת חֲכָמִים עָשְׁרָם. וְאוֹמֵר (שם יז) עֲטֶרֶת זְקֵנִים בְּנֵי בָנִים וְתִפְאֶרֶת בָּנִים אֲבוֹתָם. וְאוֹמֵר (ישעיה כד) וְחָפְרָה הַלְּבָנָה וּבוֹשָׁה הַחַמָּה, כִּי מָלַךְ ה' צְבָאוֹת בְּהַר צִיּוֹן וּבִירוּשָׁלַיִם וְנֶגֶד זְקֵנָיו כָּבוֹד. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן מְנַסְיָא אוֹמֵר, אֵלּוּ שֶׁבַע מִדּוֹת שֶׁמָּנוּ חֲכָמִים לַצַּדִּיקִים, כֻּלָּם נִתְקַיְּמוּ בְרַבִּי וּבְבָנָיו:
Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai: Beauty, strength, riches, honor, wisdom, [old age], gray hair, and children are becoming to the righteous, and becoming to the world, As it is said: “Gray hair is a crown of glory (beauty); it is attained by way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31), And it says: “The ornament of the wise is their wealth” (ibid. 14:24), And it says: “The glory of youths is their strength; and the beauty of old men is their gray hair” (ibid. 20:29), And it says: “Grandchildren are the glory of their elders, and the glory of children is their parents” (ibid. 17:6), And it says: “Then the moon shall be ashamed, and the sun shall be abashed. For the Lord of Hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and God’s Honor will be revealed to his elders” (Isaiah 24:23). Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya said: these seven qualities, which the sages have listed [as becoming] to the righteous, were all of them fulfilled in Rabbi and his sons.
רַבִּי פָּתַח אוֹצָרוֹת בִּשְׁנֵי בַצּוֹרֶת אָמַר יִכָּנְסוּ בַּעֲלֵי מִקְרָא בַּעֲלֵי מִשְׁנָה בַּעֲלֵי תַלְמוּד בַּעֲלֵי הֲלָכָה בַּעֲלֵי הַגָּדָה אֲבָל עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ אַל יִכָּנְסוּ דָּחַק רַבִּי יוֹנָתָן בֶּן עַמְרָם וְנִכְנַס אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי פַּרְנְסֵנִי אָמַר לוֹ בְּנִי קָרִיתָ אָמַר לוֹ לָאו שָׁנִיתָ אָמַר לוֹ לָאו אִם כֵּן בַּמָּה אֲפַרְנְסֶךָ [אָמַר לוֹ] פַּרְנְסֵנִי כְּכֶלֶב וּכְעוֹרֵב פַּרְנְסֵיהּ בָּתַר דִּנְפַק יְתֵיב רַבִּי וְקָא מִצְטַעַר וְאָמַר אוֹי לִי שֶׁנָּתַתִּי פִּתִּי לְעַם הָאָרֶץ אָמַר לְפָנָיו רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בַּר רַבִּי שֶׁמָּא יוֹנָתָן בֶּן עַמְרָם תַּלְמִידְךָ הוּא שֶׁאֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לֵיהָנוֹת מִכְּבוֹד תּוֹרָה מִיָּמָיו בָּדְקוּ וְאַשְׁכַּח אָמַר רַבִּי יִכָּנְסוּ הַכֹּל
It is related that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi once opened his storehouses to distribute food during years of drought. He said: Masters of Bible, masters of Mishna, masters of Talmud, masters of halakha, masters of aggada may enter and receive food from me, but ignoramuses should not enter. Rabbi Yonatan ben Amram, whom Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi did not know, pushed his way in, and entered, and said to him: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, sustain me. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: My son, have you read the Bible? Rabbi Yonatan ben Amram said to him, out of modesty: No. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi continued: Have you studied Mishna? Once again, Rabbi Yonatan ben Amram said to him: No. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi then asked him: If so, by what merit should I sustain you? Rabbi Yonatan ben Amram said to him: Sustain me like a dog and like a raven, who are given food even though they have not learned anything. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was moved by his words and fed him. After Rabbi Yonatan left, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi sat, and was distressed, and said: Woe is me, that I have given my bread to an ignoramus. His son, Rabbi Shimon bar Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, said to him: Perhaps he was your disciple Yonatan ben Amram, who never in his life wanted to materially benefit from the honor shown to the Torah? They investigated the matter and found that such was the case. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi then said: Let everyone enter, as there may also be others who hide the fact that they are true Torah scholars.

[Antoninus and Rabbi Yehuda haNasi were] often mentioned together in the Talmud as being intimate friends. Antoninus is often identified with Marcus Aurelias. The latest and most exhaustive investigation of the material is by Krauss, "Antoninus und Rabbi", who identifies him with Avidius Cassius, a famous general of Marcus Aurelius and Procurator of Judea.

אנטונינוס שלח לרבינו אמר ליה בגין דתסורתא חסרין מה נעביד ונמלא יתהון, נסביה לשלוחא ועיליה לגו פרדסא שרי עקר פגלין רברבין ושתיל דקיקין, אמר ליה הב לי אנטוגרפא, אמר ליה לית את צריך, סליק לגביה, אמר ליה דין הן אנטוגרפא, אמר ליה לא יהיב לי כלום. אמר ליה ומה אמר לך, אמר ליה לא אמר לי כלום. אמר ליה ולא עבד קודמיך כלום. אמר ליה נסבני ואעלני לגו פרדסא שרי עקר פגלין רברבין ושתיל דקיקין, תרדין רברבין ושתל דקיקין, חסין רברבין ושתל דקיקין, מיד הבין, שרי מפיק דכסין ומעייל דכסין עד זמן דאתמלין תסורתא.

Antoninus sent the following message to Rabbi Yehudah: “The treasury is empty. Tell me what to do.” Rabbi Yehudah led the messenger into his garden and in his presence he pulled out some large radishes and planted small ones in their stead. When the messenger asked him for a reply, R. Yehudah said that none was needed. The messenger returned to Antoninus and reported that Rabbi Yehudah gave no answer to the question. “Did he do anything in your presence?” Antoninus asked and the messenger related what he had seen. Antoninus understood the hint and he discharged some officials and appointed others in their place. In a short time the royal treasury was again filled with gold.

א"ל אנטונינוס לרבי בעינא דימלוך אסוירוס ברי תחותי ותתעביד טבריא קלניא ואי אימא להו חדא עבדי תרי לא עבדי אייתי גברא ארכביה אחבריה ויהב ליה יונה לעילאי בידיה וא"ל לתתאה אימר לעילא דלמפרח מן ידיה יונה אמר שמע מינה הכי קאמר לי את בעי מינייהו דאסוירוס ברי ימלוך תחותי ואימא ליה לאסוירוס דתעביד טבריא קלניא
The Gemara provides the background for this assertion. It is related that Antoninus said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: I wish for Asveirus my son to rule instead of me, and that the city Tiberias be released [kelaneya] from paying taxes. And if I tell the Roman senate one of my wishes, they will do as I wish, but if I ask for two of them they will not do as I wish. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi conveyed his answer in the following manner: He brought a man, placed him on the shoulders of another man, and put a dove in the hands of the one on top. And he said to the one on the bottom: Tell the one on top that he should cause the dove to fly from his hands. Antoninus said to himself: Learn from it that this is what Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi is saying to me: You should ask the Senate: Let Asveirus my son rule instead of me, and say to Asveirus that he should release Tiberias from paying taxes.
א"ל מצערין לי חשובי [רומאי] מעייל ליה לגינא כל יומא עקר ליה פוגלא ממשרא קמיה אמר ש"מ הכי קאמר לי את קטול חד חד מינייהו ולא תתגרה בהו בכולהו ולימא ליה מימר [בהדיא] אמר שמעי (בי) חשובי רומי ומצערו ליה ולימא ליה בלחש משום דכתיב (קהלת י, כ) כי עוף השמים יוליך את הקול
Antoninus also said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: Important Romans are upsetting me; what can I do about them? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi brought him to his garden, and every day he uprooted a radish from the garden bed before him. Antoninus said to himself: Learn from it that this is what Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi is saying to me: You should kill them one by one, and do not incite all of them at once. The Gemara asks: But why not let him say his advice explicitly? Why did Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi answer in such a circumspect way, which could have been interpreted incorrectly? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to himself: If I answer openly, the important Romans might hear me and will cause me anguish. The Gemara asks: But why not let him say his advice quietly? The Gemara explains: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was still worried that they might hear what he had said, because it is written: “Curse not the king, no, not in your thought, and curse not the rich in your bedchamber, for a bird of the air shall carry the voice” (Ecclesiastes 10:20).
הוה ליה ההוא ברתא דשמה גירא קעבדה איסורא שדר ליה גרגירא שדר ליה כוסברתא שדר ליה כרתי שלח ליה חסא
The Gemara relates: Antoninus had a certain daughter whose name was Gira, who performed a prohibited action, i.e., she engaged in promiscuous intercourse. Antoninus sent a rocket plant [gargira] to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, to allude to the fact that Gira had acted promiscuously [gar]. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi sent him coriander [kusbarta], which Antoninus understood as a message to kill [kos] his daughter [barta], as she was liable to receive the death penalty for her actions. Antoninus sent him leeks [karti] to say: I will be cut off [karet] if I do so. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi then sent him lettuce [ḥasa], i.e., Antoninus should have mercy [ḥas] on her.
כל יומא הוה שדר ליה דהבא פריכא במטראתא וחיטי אפומייהו אמר להו אמטיו חיטי לרבי אמר [ליה רבי] לא צריכנא אית לי טובא אמר ליהוו למאן דבתרך דיהבי לבתראי דאתו בתרך ודאתי מינייהו ניפוק עלייהו
The Gemara relates: Every day Antoninus would send to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi crushed gold in large sacks, with wheat in the opening of the sacks. He would say to his servants: Bring this wheat to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, and they did not realize that the bags actually contained gold. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to Antoninus: I do not need gold, as I have plenty. Antoninus said: The gold should be for those who will come after you, who will give it to the last ones who come after you. And those who descend from them will bring forth the gold that I now give you, and will be able to pay taxes to the Romans from this money.
ה"ל ההיא נקרתא דהוה עיילא מביתיה לבית רבי כל יומא הוה מייתי תרי עבדי חד קטליה אבבא דבי רבי וחד קטליה אבבא דביתיה א"ל בעידנא דאתינא לא נשכח גבר קמך יומא חד אשכחיה לר' חנינא בר חמא דהוה יתיב אמר לא אמינא לך בעידנא דאתינא לא נשכח גבר קמך א"ל לית דין בר איניש א"ל אימא ליה לההוא עבדא דגני אבבא דקאים וליתי אזל ר' חנינא בר חמא אשכחיה דהוה קטיל אמר היכי אעביד אי איזיל ואימא ליה דקטיל אין משיבין על הקלקלה אשבקיה ואיזיל קא מזלזלינן במלכותא בעא רחמי עליה ואחייה ושדריה אמר ידענא זוטי דאית בכו מחיה מתים מיהו בעידנא דאתינא לא נשכח איניש קמך
The Gemara relates anther anecdote involving Antoninus. Antoninus had a certain underground cave from which there was a tunnel that went from his house to the house of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. Every day he would bring two servants to serve him. He would kill one at the entrance of the house of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, and would kill the other one at the entrance of his house, so that no living person would know that he had visited Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. He said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: When I come to visit, let no man be found before you. One day, Antoninus found that Rabbi Ḥanina bar Ḥama was sitting there. He said: Did I not tell you that when I come to visit, let no man be found before you? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: This is not a human being; he is like an angel, and you have nothing to fear from him. Antoninus said to Rabbi Ḥanina bar Ḥama: Tell that servant who is sleeping at the entrance that he should rise and come. Rabbi Ḥanina bar Ḥama went and found that the servant Antoninus referred to had been killed. He said to himself: How shall I act? If I go and tell Antoninus that he was killed, this is problematic, as one should not report distressing news. If I leave him and go, then I would be treating the king with disrespect. He prayed for God to have mercy and revived the servant, and he sent him to Antoninus. Antoninus said: I know that even the least among you can revive the dead; but when I come to visit let no man be found before you, even one as great as Rabbi Ḥanina bar Ḥama.
כל יומא הוה משמש לרבי מאכיל ליה משקי ליה כי הוה בעי רבי למיסק לפוריא הוה גחין קמי פוריא א"ל סק עילואי לפורייך אמר לאו אורח ארעא לזלזולי במלכותא כולי האי אמר מי ישימני מצע תחתיך לעולם הבא
The Gemara relates: Every day Antoninus would minister to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi; he would feed him and give him to drink. When Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi wanted to ascend to his bed, Antoninus would bend down in front of the bed and say to him: Ascend upon me to your bed. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said in response: It is not proper conduct to treat the king with this much disrespect. Antoninus said: Oh, that I were set as a mattress under you in the World-to-Come!
א"ל אתינא לעלמא דאתי א"ל אין א"ל והכתיב (עובדיה א, יח) לא יהיה שריד לבית עשו בעושה מעשה עשו
On another occasion, Antoninus said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: Will I enter the World-to-Come? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: Yes. Antoninus said to him: But isn’t it written: “And there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau” (Obadiah 1:18)? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi answered: The verse is stated with regard to those who perform actions similar to those of the wicked Esau, not to people like you.
אַנְטוּנִינוּס שָׁאַל לְרִבִּי. מָהוּ לִבְנוֹת מִזְבֵּחַ. אָמַר לֵיהּ. בְּנֵיהוּ וּגְנוֹז אֲבָנָיו. מַהוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת לוֹ קְטוֹרֶת. אָמַר לֵיהּ. חַסֵּר בָּהּ אַחַת מִסַּמְמָנֶיהָ. לֹא כֵן תַּנֵּי. לֹ֥א תַֽעֲשׂ֖וּ לָכֶ֑ם. לָכֶם אֵין אַתֶּם עוֹשִׂין [אֲבָל] עוֹשִׂין הֵם אֲחֵרִים לָכֶם. אָמַר רִבִּי חֲנַנְיָה. בְּגִין רִבִּי רוֹמַנוֹס דְּשַׁלְּחֵיהּ רִבִּי יַעַבְדִּינֵיהּ לֵיהּ. אִית מִילִּין אָֽמְרִין דְּאִתְגַּײַר (אַנְטוּלִינוּס) [אַנְטוּנִינוּס]. אִית מִילִּין אָֽמְרִין דְּלָא אִתְגַּײַר (אַנְטוּלִינוּס) [אַנְטוּנִינוּס]. רָאוּ אוֹתוֹ יוֹצֵא בְמִנְעַל פָּחוּת בְּיוֹם הַכִּיפּוּרִים. מַה אַתְּ שְׁמַע מִינָּהּ. שֶׁכֵּן אֲפִילוּ יְרֵיאֵי שָׁמַיִם יוֹצְאִין בְּכָךְ. (אַנְטוֹלִינוּס) [אַנְטוּנִינוּס] אֲמַר לְרִבִּי.. מֵייכְלָתִי אַתְּ מִן לִוְיָתָן לְעָֽלְמָא דַאֲתִי. אֲמַר לֵיהּ. אִין. אֲמַר לֵיהּ. מִן אִימֶּר פִּיסְחָא לָא אַייכְלְתָנִי וּמִן לִוְיָתָן אַתְּ מֵיכַל לִי. אֲמַר לֵיהּ. מַה נַעֲבִיד לָךְ וּבְאִימֶּר פִּיסְחָא כְתִיב וְכָל־עָרֵ֖ל לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ׃ כֵּיוָן דִּשְׁמַע כֵן אֲזַל וְגָזַר. אֲתַא לְגַבֵּיהּ. אֲמַר לֵיהּ. רִבִּי. חֲמִי גְזוּרָתִי. אֲמַר לֵיהּ. בְּדִידִי לָא אִיסְתַּכְּלִית מִן יוֹמוֹיּ אֶלָּא בְדִידָךְ. וְלָמָּה נִקְרָא שְׁמוֹ רַבֵּינוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ. שֶׁלֹּא הִבִּיט בְּמִילָתוֹ מִיָּמָיו. וְלָמָּה נִקְרָא שְׁמוֹ נָחוּם אִישׁ קוֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים. שֶׁלֹּא הִבִּיט בְּצוּרַת מַטְבֵּעַ מִיָּמָיו. הָדָא אָֽמְרָה דְּאִתְגַּייֵר (אַנְטוּלִינוּס) [אַנְטוּנִינוּס]. מִילֵּיהוֹן דְּרַבָּנִן אָֽמְרִין. (לֹא) ניִתְגַּייֵר (אַנְטוּלִינוּס) [אַנְטוּנִינוּס]. דְּאָמַר רִבִּי חִזְקִיָּה רִבִּי אַבָּהוּ בְשֵׁם רִבִּי לָֽעְזָר. אִם בָּאִין הֵן גֵּירֵי הַצֶּדֶק לְעָתִיד לָבוֹא (אַנְטוּלִינוּס) [אַנְטוּנִינוּס] בָּא בְרֹאשָׁם.

There are indications implying that (Antolinus) [Antoninus] converted; there are indications implying that (Antolinus) [Antoninus] did not convert. One saw him walking with a slight shoe on the Day of Atonement. What do you infer since even God-fearing people go outside thus? (Antolinus) [Antoninus] said to Rebbi, can I eat from the Leviathan in the World to Come? He said to him, yes. He told him, from the Passover lamb you would not let me eat, but from Leviathan you make me eat? He answered, what can we do for you since about the Passover lamb it is written that no uncircumcised man may eat from it. When he heard this, he went and circumcized. He came to Rebbi and said to him, look at my circumcision. He answered him, at mine I never looked, and at yours I should look? Why is he called our holy teacher? Because he never in his life looked at his circumcision. And why is his name Naḥum the holiest of holies? Because he never in his life looked at the figure on a coin. This implies that (Antolinus) [Antoninus] converted. The statement of the rabbis implies that (Antolinus) [Antoninus] did (not) convert, as Rebbi Ḥizkiah, Rebbi Abbahu in the name of Rebbi Eleazar said: When in the Future World the proselytes come, (Antolinus) [Antoninus] comes at the head of all of them.

רַבֵּנוּ עָשָׂה סְעוּדָה לְאַנְטוֹנִינוּס בְּשַׁבָּת, הֵבִיא לְפָנָיו תַּבְשִׁילִין שֶׁל צוֹנֵן אָכַל מֵהֶם וְעָרַב לוֹ, עָשָׂה לוֹ סְעוּדָה בַּחוֹל הֵבִיא לְפָנָיו תַּבְשִׁילִין רוֹתְחִין, אָמַר לוֹ אוֹתָן עָרְבוּ לִי יוֹתֵר מֵאֵלּוּ. אָמַר לוֹ תֶּבֶל אֶחָד הֵן חֲסֵרִין. אָמַר לוֹ וְכִי יֵשׁ קֵילָרִין שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ חָסֵר כְּלוּם, אָמַר לוֹ שַׁבָּת הֵן חֲסֵרִין, אִית לָךְ שַׁבָּת.

Rabbeinu (Rabbi Yehudah/Rebbi) made a feast for Antoninus on the Shabbat. They brought before him prepared foods that were cold. He ate from them and found them very tasty. He (Rebbi) made a feast for him (Antoninus) on a weekday and brought before him steaming foods. He (Antoninus) said to him (Rebbi) those (the cold food on Shabbat) tasted better to me than these (warm foods). He (Rebbi) explained that the warm weekday food was missing a single spice. He (Antoninus) said to him, ‘and is there anything in the king’s treasury that is lacking?' He (Rebbi) said that the food was missing Shabbat. 'Do you have Shabbat?'

אמר ליה אנטונינוס לרבי גוף ונשמה יכולין לפטור עצמן מן הדין כיצד גוף אומר נשמה חטאת שמיום שפירשה ממני הריני מוטל כאבן דומם בקבר ונשמה אומרת גוף חטא שמיום שפירשתי ממנו הריני פורחת באויר כצפור אמר ליה אמשול לך משל למה הדבר דומה למלך בשר ודם שהיה לו פרדס נאה והיה בו בכורות נאות והושיב בו שני שומרים אחד חיגר ואחד סומא אמר לו חיגר לסומא בכורות נאות אני רואה בפרדס בא והרכיבני ונביאם לאכלם רכב חיגר על גבי סומא והביאום ואכלום לימים בא בעל פרדס אמר להן בכורות נאות היכן הן אמר לו חיגר כלום יש לי רגלים להלך בהן אמר לו סומא כלום יש לי עינים לראות מה עשה הרכיב חיגר על גבי סומא ודן אותם כאחד אף הקב"ה מביא נשמה וזורקה בגוף ודן אותם כאחד שנאמר (תהלים נ, ד) יקרא אל השמים מעל ואל הארץ לדין עמו יקרא אל השמים מעל זו נשמה ואל הארץ לדין עמו זה הגוף:
§ Apropos exchanges with prominent gentile leaders, the Gemara cites an exchange where Antoninos, the Roman emperor, said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: The body and the soul are able to exempt themselves from judgment for their sins. How so? The body says: The soul sinned, as from the day of my death when it departed from me, I am cast like a silent stone in the grave, and do not sin. And the soul says: The body sinned, as from the day that I departed from it, I am flying in the air like a bird, incapable of sin. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: I will tell you a parable. To what is this matter comparable? It is comparable to a king of flesh and blood who had a fine orchard, and in it there were fine first fruits of a fig tree, and he stationed two guards in the orchard, one lame, who was unable to walk, and one blind. Neither was capable of reaching the fruit on the trees in the orchard without the assistance of the other. The lame person said to the blind person: I see fine first fruits of a fig tree in the orchard; come and place me upon your shoulders. I will guide you to the tree, and we will bring the figs to eat them. The lame person rode upon the shoulders of the blind person and they brought the figs and ate them. Sometime later the owner of the orchard came to the orchard. He said to the guards: The fine first fruits of a fig tree that were in the orchard, where are they? The lame person said: Do I have any legs with which I would be able to walk and take the figs? The blind person said: Do I have any eyes with which I would be able to see the way to the figs? What did the owner of the orchard do? He placed the lame person upon the shoulders of the blind person just as they did when they stole the figs, and he judged them as one. So too, the Holy One, Blessed be He, brings the soul on the day of judgment and casts it back into the body, as they were when they sinned, and He judges them as one, as it is stated: “He calls to the heavens above and to the earth that He may judge His people” (Psalms 50:4). “He calls to the heavens above”; this is the soul, which is heavenly. “And to the earth that He may judge His people”; this is the body, which is earthly.
א"ל אנטונינוס לרבי מפני מה חמה יוצאה במזרח ושוקעת במערב א"ל אי הוה איפכא נמי הכי הוה אמרת לי א"ל הכי קאמינא לך מפני מה שוקעת במערב א"ל כדי ליתן שלום לקונה שנאמר (נחמיה ט, ו) וצבא השמים לך משתחוים א"ל ותיתי עד פלגא דרקיע ותתן שלמא ותיעול משום פועלים ומשום עוברי דרכים
The Gemara relates another exchange. Antoninos said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: For what reason does the sun emerge in the east and set in the west? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: If it were the reverse, you would have also said that to me, as the sun must emerge from one direction and set in the other. Antoninos said to him: This is what I am saying to you: For what reason does the sun set in the west and not occasionally deviate and set elsewhere? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: The sun always sets in the west in order to greet its Creator, as it is stated: “And the hosts of heaven worship You” (Nehemiah 9:6). Setting is a form of worship; it is as though the sun is bowing to God. The Divine Presence rests in the west, as is evident from the fact that the Holy of Holies in the Temple, in which the Ark, the resting place of the Divine Presence, is located in the west. Antoninos said to him: If so, let the sun come until the midpoint of the sky, set slightly and greet its Creator, and return and enter its place of origin in the east and set there. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi answered him: The sun sets in the west due to workers and due to travelers, as, if the sun did not proceed from east to west with the light of day gradually waning, they would not know that it is time to return home or to find an inn.
וא"ל אנטונינוס לרבי נשמה מאימתי ניתנה באדם משעת פקידה או משעת יצירה א"ל משעת יצירה א"ל אפשר חתיכה של בשר עומדת שלשה ימים בלא מלח ואינה מסרחת אלא משעת פקידה אמר רבי דבר זה למדני אנטונינוס ומקרא מסייעו שנאמר (איוב י, יב) ופקודתך שמרה רוחי
And Antoninos said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: From when is the soul placed in a person? Is it from the moment of conception or from the moment of the formation of the embryo, forty days after conception? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: It is from the moment of the formation of the embryo. Antoninos said to him: That is inconceivable. Is it possible that a piece of meat could stand for even three days without salt as a preservative and would not rot? The embryo could not exist for forty days without a soul. Rather, the soul is placed in man from the moment of conception. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: Antoninos taught me this matter, and there is a verse that supports him, as it is stated: “And Your Providence [pekudatekha] has preserved my spirit” (Job 10:12) indicating that it is from the moment of conception [pekida] that the soul is preserved within a person.
ואמר ליה אנטונינוס לרבי מאימתי יצה"ר שולט באדם משעת יצירה או משעת יציאה א"ל משעת יצירה א"ל א"כ בועט במעי אמו ויוצא אלא משעת יציאה אמר רבי דבר זה למדני אנטונינוס ומקרא מסייעו שנאמר (בראשית ד, ז) לפתח חטאת רובץ
And Antoninos said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: From when does the evil inclination dominate a person? Is it from the moment of the formation of the embryo or from the moment of emergence from the womb? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: It is from the moment of the formation of the embryo. Antoninos said to him: If so, the evil inclination would cause the fetus to kick his mother’s innards and emerge from the womb. Rather, the evil inclination dominates a person from the moment of emergence from the womb. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: Antoninos taught me this matter, and there is a verse that supports him, as it is stated: “Sin crouches at the entrance” (Genesis 4:7), indicating that it is from the moment of birth, when the newborn emerges from the entrance of his mother’s womb, that the evil inclination lurks.
אנטונינוס שמשיה לרבי אדרכן שמשיה לרב כי שכיב אנטונינוס א"ר נתפרדה חבילה כי שכיב אדרכן אמר רב נתפרדה חבילה

The Gemara relates: Antoninus would attend to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, and similarly the Persian king Adrakan would attend to Rav. When Antoninus died, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: The bundle [i.e. connection] is separated. When Adrakan died, Rav likewise said: The bundle is separated.