Join Our Mailing List

Sponsor Us!

Tractate Avot:
Chapter 5



Print Friendly and PDF

MISHNA A. By ten sayings the world was created; and why so? Could it not have been created by one saying? But it was that vengeance might be taken on the wicked, who destroy the world that was created by ten sayings; and to give a goodly reward to the righteous, who maintain the world that was created by ten sayings.

Tosephtha--Aboth of R. Nathan.

"By ten sayings the world was created." For what purpose is this stated? To teach that if one carries out a precept, or observes one Sabbath, or preserves a soul, it is considered as if he had preserved the entire world, which was created with ten sayings. But he who transgresses once, or violates one Sabbath, or destroys one soul, is considered like unto one who has destroyed the entire world, which was created with ten sayings. And so we find with Cain, who killed his brother Abel, as it is written [Gen. iv. 10]: "The voice of thy brother's blood (in plural)." He shed only the blood of one person--why is the plural used? Infer from this that the blood of the decedent's children, grandchildren, and all the descendants which were destined to be descended from him, were all crying before the Holy One, blessed be He.

R. Nehemiah said: "Whence is it deduced that a single person is equal to the whole creation? It is written [ibid. v. 1]: 'This is the book of the generations of Adam.' And before that it is written [ibid. ii. 4]: 'These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created.' We see that with reference to the creation of man almost the same wording is used as with reference to the creation of heaven and earth, which goes to show that one is as much as the other. Likewise may be inferred from this, that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed him (Adam) all the generation which were to spring from him, as if they were standing and playing before him." There are others who say that the righteous only were shown to him, as it is written [Is. iv. 3]: "Every one that is written down into life in Jerusalem.

R. Joshua b. Kar'hah said: "It is written [Ps. cxxxix. 16]: 'My undeveloped substance did thy eyes see, and in thy book,' etc. Infer from this that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed unto Adam all succeeding generations, together with their preachers, directors, leaders, prophets, heroes, criminals, and their pious. In this or that generation, such and such a king will reign; in another, a certain sage will exist, etc."

R. Eliezer the son of R. Jose the Galilean said: "Nine hundred and seventy-four generations before the creation of the world, the Torah was already written and reposing in the lap of the Lord, and sung praises together with the angels, as it is written [Ps. viii. 8, 9]: 'Then was I near him as a nursling; and I was day by day (his) delight, playing before him at all times; playing in the world, his earth.' They have compared this to one who desired to engrave many subjects on a piece of wood, and as it was not of sufficient size, he was in despair. What could he do? Let him engrave upon the earth, where he has enough space. So also did the Holy One, blessed be He, whose great name shall be praised for ever and evermore, when He in His wisdom and understanding created the entire world. He created the heavens and the earth in the upper and lower regions, and created in man all that he created in his world: the world contains forests, so also does man, viz., his hair; the world contains evil beasts, so does man, viz., lice; there are thorns in the world, so also are they in man--his ears; there is odor, so also in man--his nose; light--man's sight; evil-smelling liquids, so also in man--the excretion of the nose; salty water, so also in man--tears; rivers, so also in man--his urine; castles, so also in man--his lips; gates, so also in man--his teeth; sweet water, so also in man--his saliva; stars, so also in man--his cheeks; towers, so also in man--his neck; cathedrals, so also in man--his arms; nails, so also in man--his fingers; a king, so also in man--his head; advisers, so also in man--his kidneys; millstones, so also in man--his stomach; regulations, so also in man--his spleen; manure, so also in man--his belly; pits, so also in man--his navel; spring-water, so also in man--his blood; trees, so also in man--his bones; hills, so also in man--his ashes; a mortar and pestle, so also in man--his knees; horses, so also in man--his legs; hills and valleys, so also in man--when standing he is like a hill and when lying he is like a valley Hence all that which the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world, He also created in man."

MISHNA B. Ten generations were there from Adam to Noah, to show how great was His long-suffering; for all the generations were provoking him, till He brought the deluge upon them.

Tosephtha--Aboth of R. Nathan.

 1"Ten generations were there from Adam to Noah." For what purpose was this stated? To teach that all these generations persisted in provoking the Lord, nevertheless He did not bring the flood on the world, for the sake of the upright and pious. There are others who say: As long as Methuselah lived, the flood descended not upon the world; and it was even suspended for seven days after his demise; as it is written [Gen. vii. 10]: "And it came to pass, after the seven days." What seven days? The period of mourning for the upright, who prevented the retribution.

Another explanation is: The above passage teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, granted them an additional respite, after the original one hundred and twenty years, of seven days, in which time to repent.

Still another explanation is, that the Lord changed the order of the world for seven days, causing the sun to rise in the west and to set in the east, so that perchance they would notice it, become frightened, and repent; however, it had no effect.

Still another explanation is, that the Lord spread His table before them during seven days, and gave them an inkling of what there was in the world to come, so they might reflect and say: Woe to us, for all this good which is lost to us, and for the destruction of our offspring, as it is written [ibid. vi. 12]: And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt.

R. Elazar b. Parta said: "It is written [ibid., ibid. 3]: 'My spirit shall not always strive for the sake of man.' It means that the Lord said: 'I will not judge them until I will double their rewards,' as it is written [Job, xxi. 13]: 'They wear out their days in happiness; and in a moment they go down to the nether world.'

R. Jose the Galilean said: "It is written: 'My spirit shall not always strive.' It means that the Lord said: 'I will not equal the evil thoughts to the good thoughts so long as their fate has not yet been sealed.' After that, however, both are equal in transgression."

He used to say: "The evil spirit is removed from the upright and the good spirit predominates, as it is written [Ps. cix. 22]: 'And my heart is deeply wounded within me.' From the wicked, however, the good thoughts are removed and evil thoughts are given them instead, as it is written [ibid. xxxvi. 2]: 'Saith vice itself to the wicked, So I feel it within my heart, that he should have no dread of God before his eyes.' To people of mediocrity both are given: the one who is nearer to the good thoughts is ruled by them, and one who is nearer to the evil thoughts is ruled by them, as it is written [ibid. cix. 31]: 'For he ever standeth at the right hand of the needy, to save him from those that judge his soul.'"

R. Simeon b. Elazar said It is written [Gen. vi. 3]: 'My spirit shall not strive,' etc. This means the Lord said: 'I will not judge them before I have rewarded the upright.' This is only as to this world; but as to the world to come, it is written [ibid. cxlvi. 46]: 'When his spirit goeth forth, he returneth to his (native) earth.'"

R. Aqiba said, of the same verse: "The Lord said: 'They have not reflected that they are flesh and blood.' On the contrary, they were haughty, and said unto God: 'Depart from us'" [Job, xxi. 14].

R. Meir said, of the same verse: "This means that the Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'This generation said: God does not judge, there is no judge in the world; God has left it.'"

Rabbi said, of the same verse: "This means that the Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'They have not instituted a Sanhedrin on earth, therefore will I institute for them a Sanhedrin on high.'"

MISHNA C. Ten generations were there from Noah to Abraham, to show how great was His long-suffering; for all the generations were provoking Him till Abraham our father came, and received the reward of them all.

Tosephtha-Aboth of R. Nathan.

 1"Ten generations," etc. For what purpose was it necessary to state this? To teach that all these generations have provoked Him, and there was not one who walked in the way of the Holy One, blessed be He, till Abraham our father, as it is written [Gen. xxvi. 5]: "Because that Abraham obeyed my voice . . . and my laws." Are there then two Laws? Infer from this that the Lord provided Abraham with two reins, which, like two sages, made him understand, advised him and taught him all night, as it is written [Ps. xvi. 7]: "I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: also in the night season my reins admonish me." And not only that, but Abraham our father was wont to practise charity first and justice afterward, as it is written [Gen. xviii. 19]: "For I know him, that he will command," etc. When two disputants came before him, and, one of them complained that the other owed him a manah, Abraham was wont to deposit a manah of his own with one of them, and then said: Make your complaints. When he found that one really owed the other, he said to the one with whom he deposited the manah: "Give it to thy neighbor"; and if neither owed the other, he said: "Divide it between yourselves, and depart in peace." However, David the king practised justice first and charity after, as it is written [II Samuel, viii. 15]: "And David did what was just and right unto all his people." When two disputants came to him, and one of them claimed that the other owed him a manah, he told them to make their complaints, and after finding one of them liable, he used to give the other the manah; otherwise, he said: "Divide your claims, and depart in peace."

MISHNA D. With ten temptations was Abraham our, father tempted, and he withstood them all, to show how great was the love of Abraham our father.

Tosephtha--Aboth of R. Nathan.

"With ten temptations," etc. They are as follows: two at "get thee out of thy country"; two with his two sons; two with his two wives; one with the kings; one at "the pieces"; one at Ur of the Chaldees; and one at the circumcision. Wherefore so many? For the reason that when Abraham our father will claim his reward, the angels shall say: More than us, even more than all of us, is he worthy to receive his rewards, as it is written [Eccl. ix. 7]: "Go, eat with joy thy bread, and drink with a merry heart thy wine."

In comparison to these ten temptations, the Holy One, blessed be He, performed ten miracles for his descendants in Egypt, and also brought ten plagues (on the Egyptians); and performed ten miracles for the Israelites at the sea, and brought ten plagues on the Egyptians at the sea. The Egyptians roared at them with their voices, so also did the Lord roar at them at the sea, as it is written [Job, xxxvii. 5]: "God thundereth with his marvellous voice." The Egyptians came to the sea with bows and arrows, so also did the Lord appear, as it is written [Habakkuk, iii. 9]: "Laid quite bare is thy bow"; also [Ps. xviii. 15]: "And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them." The Egyptians came to the sea armed with swords, so also did the Lord, as it is written [ibid.]: "And he shot forth lightnings, and discomfited them"--lightning means sword, as it is written [Ezek. xxi. 14, 15]: "The sword, the sword is sharpened, and also polished: in order to make a thorough slaughter it is sharpened, in order that it may glitter 1 is it polished." 1 The Egyptians came armed with spears, so also did the Lord, as it is written [Habakkuk, iii. 11]: "At the shining of the flaming glitter of thy spear." The Egyptians were proud of their shield and buckler; so was the Lord, as it is written [Ps. xxxv. 2]: "Take hold of shield and buckler, and rise up for my help." The Egyptians came with sling-stones, but the Lord with hailstones, as it is written [Ps. xviii. 13]: "From the brightness before him his thick clouds passed away (with) hail-stones and coals of fire."

When our fathers stood by the sea, Moses said to them: "Arise and pass through it!" and they rejoined: "We will not pass, till we see the sea become chips, chips." 2 Whereupon Moses struck the sea with his staff, and it was converted into chips, as it is written [Habakkuk, iii. 14]: "Thou didst strike through with his own spears the chiefs of his villages." Again Moses said to them: "Arise and pass through it," and they rejoined: "We will not pass till the sea becomes a valley." Moses struck the sea again, and it became a valley, as it is written [Ps. lviii. 13]: "He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through"; also [Is. lxiii. 14]: "As a beast goeth down into the valley." Moses again urged them to pass through the sea, and they answered: "We will not, till it becomes separated into parts"; as it is written [Ps. cxxxvi. 13]: "To him who divided the Red Sea into parts." When urged again, they said: "We will not pass till the bottom becomes loamy." Whereupon Moses struck the sea with his staff, and the bottom became loamy, as it is written [Habakkuk, iii. 15]: "But (thou) didst pass along over the sea with thy horses, over the piled-up billows 1 of great waters." Again they refused to pass through, until the bottom of the sea should become a desert; and Moses caused it to be so, as it is written [Ps. cvi. 9]: "And he led them through the depths, as through the wilderness." They refused again until the sea became converted into small particles, and Moses caused it to be so, as it is written [ibid. lxxiv. 13]: "It was thou that didst divide by thy strength the sea." They again refused until it should become rocky, and Moses caused it to be so, as it is written [ibid.]: "Thou brokest in pieces the heads of the crocodiles on the water," and that can be broken on rocks only. They again refused until the sea should become dry land, and Moses made it so, as it is written [ibid. lxvi. 6]: "He changed the sea into dry land"; also [Ex. xv. 19]: "But the children of Israel went on dry ground through the midst of the sea." They refused again until the waters became as walls, and Moses made them so, as it is written [Ex. xiv. 22]: "And the waters were a wall unto them, on their right hand, and on their left." They still refused till there should be bottles, and Moses complied again, as it is written [ibid. xv. 8]: "The flood stood upright as a wall." 2 And the infants were drinking oil and honey out of these bottles, as it is written [Deut. xxxii. 13]: "And he made him to suck honey out of the rock," etc. There are others who say: "Living water issued out of the sea, when they were between the walls, and they drank of it, as the sea water is salty; for it is stated "the flood," and that means sweet water, as it is written [Songs, iv. 15]: "A well of living waters, and flowing down from Lebanon." The clouds of glory were above their heads, to protect them from the sun.

R. Eliezer said: "The deep was arched over their heads, while passing through the sea, to save them from pain." The former and the latter both say: The upper and the lower waters overthrew the Egyptians, as it is written [Ex. xiv. 27]: "And the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea."

MISHNA F. With ten temptations did our ancestors tempt God in the wilderness, as it is written [Numb. xxv. 22]: "And have tempted me these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice."

Tosephtha--Aboth of R. Nathan.

 1"By means of ten trials the Holy One, blessed be He, tested our forefathers," and they were found wanting in all of them. They are as follows: In the wilderness, in the plain, opposite Suph, between Paran and Thophel and Laban and Chazeroth and Di-zahab. "In the wilderness" they made the golden calf, as it is written [Ex. xxxii. 8]: "They have made themselves a molten calf." "In the plain" they quarrelled with Moses on account of water, as it is written [ibid. xvii. 3]: "And the people thirsted there for water." "Opposite Suph"--their rebellion at the Red Sea. There are others who say: This has reference to Michah's graven image. "Between Paran"--where the incident of the spies occurred [Numb. xiii. 3]: "And Moses sent them out from the wilderness of Paran." "And Thophel" refers to the nonsense (slander) 2 they talked of the manna. "And Laban"--this is the dissension of Korah. "And Chazeroth"--near which place the incident of the quails occurred. All these are seven, and somewhere else it is written [Deut. ix. 22]: "And at Thah'erah, and at Massah, and at Kibroth-hat-thavah." (Making altogether ten.) What does Di-zahab refer to? Aaron said to them: "Ye have enough of the sin of the gold which ye brought for the calf."

R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: "This sin with which the Israelites were afflicted, is enough for that time till the resurrection of the dead."

Ten names of praise are applied to the Holy One, blessed be He: "Adonai," "Jah," "Eloim," "Eloah," "Eloechu," "Eloechem," "El," "Eheh-ascher-Eheh," "Shadai," "Zebaoth." Said R. Jose: "I do not agree as to the name "Zebaoth," for it is written [Deut. xx. 9]: "That they shall appoint captains for the armies," the Hebrew term for "army" being "Zebaoth." (These being proper names of God, we have not translated them.)

Ten ignominious names are applied to the idols. They are as follows: Abominations, idols, molten images, graven images, false gods, groves, sun-images, Atzabim, Aven, images.

Two signs (the inverted letter Nun) are placed in the Torah at a small section, viz.: "And it came to pass, when the ark set forward," etc. [Numb. x. 35, 36]. Said Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel: "It would have been advisable to remove this section and put it in another place. Something like this we find elsewhere [Judges, xviii. 20]: 'And Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Menasseh,' was he the son of Menasseh, and not the son of Moses? But because his deeds were not like those of his father Moses, therefore he is traced to Menasseh."

Likewise we find [Zech. iv. 14]: "These are the two sons of the clear oil, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." This refers to Aaron and the Messiah, and we do not know who is more beloved; but, as it is written [Ps. cx. 4]: "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent of it, thou shalt be a priest for ever." It is to be inferred from this that the latter is more beloved.

It is said [Ps. lxxx. 14]: "The boar out of the forest doth gnaw at it." Is it not written out of the river1 The difference in the two words implies this: As long as Israel act contrary to the will of the Omnipotent, the idolaters are likened to them as a boar out of the forest, which kills the people, damages the cattle, and is an affliction to mankind. However, when the Israelites act according to the will of the Omnipotent, the idolaters are likened unto them, as the boar out of the river (hippopotamus), which does not kill people, nor injures any creatures. Many words of the Torah are dotted. They are as follows: "May the Lord judge between me and thee" [Gen. xvi. 5]. The second Yod is dotted in the word "ubenecha," which hints that she (Sarah) applied it to Hagar. Others say she meant those who caused quarrelling between her and him. "And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife?" [ibid. xviii. 9]. The Aleph, Yod, and Vav are dotted to imply that, although they knew where she was, still they inquired after her. "And he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose" [ibid. xix. 33]. The second Vav is dotted, to imply that he perceived only when the younger arose. "And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him" [ibid. xxxiii. 4]. All the letters of the word "vayishokehu" are dotted, to signify that he was not sincere. R. Simeon b. Elazar said: "It implies, on the contrary, that this kissing was sincere, but all his other acts were insincere." "And his brothers went to feed his father's flocks in Shechem" [ibid. xxxvii. 12]. There are dots on the word "eth," to imply that they did not go to feed the flocks, but to eat, drink, and commit follies. "All that were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses numbered with Aaron" [Numb. iii. 39]. The entire word is dotted, to imply that Aaron was not included in the number. "Or be on a distant journey" [ibid. ix. 10]. The Heh in the word "rechokah" is dotted, to imply that it does not really mean a distant journey, only that he was prohibited from passing the threshold of the outer court (of the Temple). "And we have laid waste (all) up to Naphach, which reacheth unto Medeba" [ibid. xxi. 30]. The Resh in the word "asher" is dotted, to imply that only the idolaters laid waste the countries. Concerning the first day of Tabernacles, it is written [ibid. xxix. 15]: "And a tenth part each." The Vav of the word "eissoron" is dotted, to imply that there should be only one-tenth part. And, lastly: "The secret things belong unto the Lord out God; but those things which are publicly known belong to us and to our children for ever" [Deut. xxix. 30]. The entire two first words and the Ayin of the third are dotted, to imply that Ezra said: If Elijah will come and question me why I have written thus, will answer: 'I have already dotted them.' However, if he will say: 'Thou hast written well,' I will erase the dots."

In the Torah there is written eleven times the word היא (which means "she"), when it ought to be הוא (he). (See Massorah.)

Ten times did the Shekhina descend upon the earth. Once in the Garden of Eden, as it is written [Gen. iii. 8]: "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden." Once in the generation of the (builders of) the tower, as it is written [ibid. xi. 5]: "And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower." Once in Sodom, as it is written [ibid. xviii. 21]: "And I will go down now, and see if they have done according to the cry against them." Once in Egypt, as it is written [Ex. iii. 8]: "And I am come down to deliver it out of the hand of the Egyptians." Once at the sea, as it is written [Ps. xviii. 10]: "And he bent the heavens, and came down." Once at Sinai, as it is written [Ex. xix. 20]: "And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai." Once at the Temple, as it is written [Ezek. xliv. 2]: "This gate shall remain locked, it shall not be opened . . . because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it." Once at the pillar of cloud, as it is written [Numb. xi. 25]: "And the Lord came down in a cloud." And once when it will come down in the days of Gog and Magog, as it is written [Zech. xiv. 4]: "And his feet will stand on that day upon the Mount of Olives."

Ten degrees the Shekhina removed itself from one place to another: From the cover to the cherub, as it is written [II Samuel, xxii. ii]: "And he rode upon a cherub, and flew along"; from the cherub to the threshold, as it is written [Ezek. ix. 3]: "And the glory of the God of Israel ascended up from the cherub whereupon it had been, to the threshold of the house"; from the threshold to the two cherubim, as it is written [ibid. x. 18]: "And the glory of the Lord went forth from off the threshold of the house, and halted over the cherubim"; from the cherubim to the roof, as it is written [Prov. xxi. 9]: "It is better to dwell in a corner of a roof"; from the roof to the wall of the outer court, as it is written [Amos, vii. 7]: "And, behold, the Lord was standing upon a wall (made) by a plumbline"; from the wall of the outer court to the altar, as it is written [ibid. ix. 1]: "I saw the Lord standing upon the altar"; from the altar to the city, as it is written [Micah, vi. 9]: "The voice of the Lord calleth unto the city"; from the city to the mount, as it is written [Ezek. xi. 23]: "And the glory of the Lord ascended from the midst of the city, and halted upon the mount," etc.; from the mount to the desert, as it is written [Prov. xxi. 19]: "It is better to dwell in a desert land"; and once when it ascended on high, as it is written [Hosea, v. 15]: "I will go (hence, and) return to my place."

A prophet is called by ten different names. They are as follows: Ambassador, faithful, servant, messenger, seer, watchman, man of scrutiny, dreamer, prophet, man of God.

There are ten names for the Holy Spirit, namely: Proverb, metaphor, riddle, word, saying, calling, commandment, prophecy, sacred speech, and vision.

Joy has ten different expressions: Gladness, joy, rejoicing, joyfulness, pleasure, relish, satisfaction, complacency, delight, cheer.

Ten are called "living": The Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written [Jer. x. 10]: "But the Lord God is the truth: he is the living God"; the Torah, as it is written [Prov. iii. 18]: "A tree of life is she to those that lay hold on her: and every one that firmly graspeth her will be made happy"; Israel, as it is written [Deut. iv. 41: "But ye that cleave unto the Lord your God are alive, every one of you, this day"; good deeds, as it is written [Prov. xi. 30]: "The fruit of the righteous is of the tree of life"; the Garden of Eden, as it is written [Ps. cxvi. 9]: "I will walk before the Lord in the lands of life"; the tree, as it is written [Gen. ii. 9]: "And the tree of life in the midst of the garden"; Palestine, as it is written [Ezek. xxvi. 20]: "But I will bestow glory in the land of life"; charitable deeds, as it is written [Prov. Xii. 28]: "On the path of righteousness there is life"; the wise, as it is written [ibid. xiii. 14]: "The instruction of the wise is a source of life"; light, as it is written [Job, xxxiii. 30]: "In the light of life."

MISHNA E. Ten miracles were wrought for our fathers in Egypt, and ten by the sea.

MISHNA G. Ten miracles were wrought in the Sanctuary: No woman miscarried from the scent of the holy meat, and the holy meat never stank; and a fly was not seen in the slaughter-house; and an uncleanness befell not the high-priest on the Day of Atonement; and a defect was not found in the sheep, nor in the two loaves, nor in the shew-bread; and rains did not extinguish the fire of the fuel heaped upon the altar, and wind prevailed not against the pillar of smoke; they stood serried, and bowed down at ease; and serpent and scorpion harmed not in Jerusalem, and a man never said to his fellow, "The place is too strait for me to lodge in Jerusalem,"

MISHNA H. Ten things were created at twilight of the eve of Sabbath: the mouth of the earth and the mouth of the well, and the mouth of the ass, and the bow, and the manna, and the rod, and the Shomir worm, and the character and the writing, and the tables. And some say the evil spirits also; and the sepulchre of Moses, and the ram of Abraham our father; and some say the first tongs with which subsequently other tongs were made.

Tosephtha--Aboth of R. Nathan.

 1Ten miracles were performed for our forefathers in Jerusalem: The holy meat was never spoiled; no woman miscarried from the scent of the holy meat; no one was ever injured; no accident ever happened to any one; no one ever stumbled; no conflagration ever occurred; no rain was ever there; no man ever said: "I could find no oven wherein to roast the paschal lamb"; no man ever said. "I could find no bed wherein to sleep"; no man ever said to another: "I could find no quarters in which to pass the night."

Jerusalem never was defiled by leprosy, nor condemned as a misled city; no ledges, galleries, or channels could be built on the public streets, because they would form a tent for uncleanness; a corpse could not be left there over night, nor human bones be carried through the streets, and no stranger was permitted to settle within its walls. No graves could be maintained there except those of the house of David and the prophetess Huldah, which existed since the days of the early prophets. It was said that there was a grotto which caused the uncleanness to run into the brook Kidron. No plants must be planted there, and no gardens or parks might be laid out there, except gardens of roses, which existed there since the days of the early prophets. No geese nor hens might be bred there, much less swine; no dung might remain there, because of defilement. A stubborn and rebellious son is not judged there, such is the decree of R. Nathan, for it is written [Deut. xxi. 19]: "Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place but as they are not his city and place, he cannot be judged. Houses cannot be sold there together with the ground on which they stand. No house can remain as a permanent possession after a twelve-month. No rent may be taken for houses, but it may be for beds and mattresses. Said R. Jehudah: "It is not allowed to take rent even for that." What did they do with the skins of the holocaust? They were given to the lodging-house keepers. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: "The innkeepers were in the inside and the lodging-house keepers on the outside. The innkeepers used to buy sheep, having nice wool, for four to five selahs, and sell them to the Jerusalemites, and made big profits on them."

One verse says: "In one of thy tribes" [Deut. xii. 14]; and another says: "Out of all your tribes" [ibid., ibid. 5]. The first relates to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the second to Jerusalem, which belongs to all Israel. What belonged to Judah? The Temple Mount, the chambers, and the outer courts; and to Benjamin belonged the Temple, the porch, and the Holy of Holies, and a triangle extended into the part of Judah in which the altar was built. Benjamin was favored, and became the host of the Mightiness, as it is written [ibid. xxxiii. 12]: "And between his shoulders will he dwell."

Said R. Jehudah: At the time when it became known that the Temple would be built on the boundaries of Judah and Benjamin, they had improved and separated the suburb of Jericho. And who ate its products all these years? The children of the Kenite, the father-in-law of Moses, as it is written [Numb. x. 32]: "It shall be, that the same goodness which the Lord may do unto us will we do unto thee." However, when the Temple was built, they vacated. And whence do we know that they were sustained by charity? They said: "When the Lord will reveal His Shekhina, He will reward Jethro and his children, as it is written [ibid., ibid. 29]: For the Lord hath spoken (to bring) good upon Israel." Said R. Simeon: They were prominent men and were proprietors of houses, fields, and vineyards. However, because of the work of the Lord they left everything and went away, as it is written [I Chron. iv. 23]: "There were the potters, and those that dwelt in plantations," etc. They dwelt with the king in his work. And where did they then go? To Jabez, to study the Torah, and thus have become a people of the Omnipotent. Jabez was a very good and righteous man: he was a truthful man and pious, and occupied himself with the study of the Law; therefore the pious went to a pious.

"Ten miracles were wrought, etc.; and an uncleanness befell not the high-priest on the Day of Atonement"--except R. Ishmael b. Kimchith, who went out to converse with a certain dignitary, and some saliva dropped out of his mouth on his garments; and his brother entered and officiated as high-priest in his stead, and their mother had the satisfaction of seeing her two sons as high-priests on the same day.

The sages saw her, and said to her: "What piety hast thou practised?" And she rejoined: "The ceilings of my house never saw my hair."

"No woman miscarried." It never happened that there was anything left of the holy meat; and when they ate too much of it, they drank the waters of Shiloach, which assisted digestion.

"And a defect was not found," etc. Broken earthen vessels were sunk in the ground.

"And wind prevailed not," etc. And when the pillar of smoke went up from the sacrificial altar, the smoke went up straight as a staff until it reached the clouds; but the pillar of the incense went up from the golden altar in the direction of the Holy of Holies.

"They stood serried and bowed down," etc. When the Israelites came up to kneel before their Father in Heaven, it was so that they were compact and no one could put his finger between them, but when kneeling every one had ample space. The greatest wonder of all was, that even when a hundred people entered at once there was no need for the inspectors of the synagogue to proclaim: "Make room for your brother!" (Some think that) the greatest wonder of all was, that when all stood up in prayer they were compact and no one could put his finger between them, but when they bowed there was a space of a man's height between them.

Said Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel: Jerusalem is destined that all the nations and kingdoms should be gathered together in it, as it is written [Jer. iii. 17]: "And all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord"; and further: "Let the waters be gathered together" [Gen. i. 9]. As "the gathering together" there means that all the waters of creation shall be in one place, so also "the gathering together" here means that all the nations and kingdoms shall be assembled in it.

Tosephtha--Aboth of R. Nathan.

 1"The men of Sodom"--have no share in the world to come, and they are not judged, as it is written [Gen. xiii. 13]: "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly." "Wicked"--one with another; "sinners"--in consanguinity; "before the Lord"--inasmuch as they desecrated the name of God; "exceedingly"--they did all that intentionally. And it is written [Ps. i. 5]: "Therefore shall the wicked not be able to stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." The first part of the passage relates to the generation of the flood, and the second to the men of Sodom. R. Nehemiah said: "Even in the congregation of the wicked they are not included, as it is written [ibid. civ. 35]: 'May the sinners cease from off the earth, and the wicked be no more.'"

Small children of the wicked have no share in the world to come, and are not judged, as it is written [Mal. iii. 19]: "For, behold, the day is coming which shall burn as an oven . . . who will not leave them root or bough." Such is the dictum of R. Eliezer. R. Joshua, however, said: They are included, and the words, "who will not leave them root or bough," refer to their own bodies, as it is written [Dan. iv. ii]: "He called with might, and thus he said: Hew down the tree and lop off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit"; and further [ibid. 12]: "Nevertheless leave the body of its roots in the earth, but (bound) with fetters of iron and copper." As in both passages roots are mentioned, and as the roots mentioned there refer to the trunk of the tree, so the roots here refer to the body of man. If so, what do the words, "who will not leave them root or bough," imply? That no reward shall be found on which they could depend.

Others say: "They are included, and to them refers what is written [Is. xliv. 5]: "This one will say, I belong to the Lord; and the other will call himself by the name of Jacob; and the other will inscribe himself with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel." "This one will say, I belong to the Lord," refers to the perfectly righteous; "and the other will call himself by the name of Jacob" refers to the small children of the wicked; "and the other will inscribe himself with his hand unto the Lord" refers to the wicked who left off their wickedness, turned back, and repented; and, "and surname himself by the name of Jacob" refers to proselytes.

Korah and his company have no share in the world to come, and are not judged, as it is written [Numb. xvi. 33]: "And the earth closed over them, and they disappeared from the midst of the congregation." Such is the decision of R. Eliezer. R. Joshua, however, said: "They are included, and the words, 'The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up' [I Samuel, ii. 6], have reference to them, because here is mentioned the grave, as it is written [Numb. xvi. 33]: 'And they went down, they and all they that appertained to them, alive into the pit.' 1 Also there it is mentioned. in both cases the bringing up from the grave is included." Said R. Eliezer to him: "If so, how are we to understand, 'And the earth closed over them and they disappeared from the midst of the congregation'?" He answered: "We are to understand that they disappeared from the midst of the congregation, but not from the world to come."

The generation of the desert have no share in the world to come, and are not judged, as it is written [ibid. xiv. 35]: "In this wilderness shall they be spent, and therein shall they die"; and further [Ps. xcv. ii]: "So that I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest." Such is the dictum of R. Eliezer. R. Joshua, however, said: "They are included, and the words, 'Gather together unto me my pious servants, who make a covenant with me by sacrifice' [Ps. l. 5], have reference to them." Said R. Eliezer to him: "If so, how dost thou explain the words, 'so that I sware in my wrath'?" He answered that this had reference to the spies, and all equally wicked of that generation. "But," continued R. Joshua, "I am anxious to know how thou dost apply the words: 'Gather together.'" "I apply them," said the other, "to Moses, Aaron, the pious of the generation, and the tribe of Levi." R. Jose the Galilean said: "They are not included, for it is written [Numb. xiv. 35]: 'In this wilderness shall they be spent, and therein shall they die'; and further [Deut. xxi. 4]: 'And they shall break there the neck of the heifer in the valley.' As the word 'there' mentioned here means that it shall die and not be moved from its place, so also the 'there' mentioned in that passage means that they shall die and not be moved from their places." An objection was raised, namely: Is in that passage the word "there" mentioned in connection with the wicked only, and not with the upright? Is it not said [Gen. xlix. 31]: "There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife"; and further [ibid. 5]: "In my grave, which I have dug for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me"; and also [Numb. xx. 1]: "And Miriam died there and was buried there"; and further [ibid. xxxiii. 38]: "And Aaron the priest went up . . . and died there"; and further [Deut. xxxiv. 5]: "And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the order of the Lord"? Said Rabban Gamaliel: It is written [Deut. xi. 21]: "In order that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give unto them." It refers to the resurrection, when the parents and the children both will enjoy the same longevity. R. Jose the Galilean sides with R. Eliezer, and R. Gamaliel sides with R. Joshua.

The ten tribes have no share in the world to come, and are not judged, as it is written [Deut. xxix. 27]: "And the Lord plucked them out of their land . . . and he cast them into another land, as it is this day." Said R. Simeon b. Jacob: "As the day in which they have rebelled will never return, even so will they not return." R. Aqiba, however, said: "As the day is first dark and then lightens up, so also their darkness will be followed by light."

The following seven have no share in the world to come: A scribe, a teacher of little children, even the best of physicians, the city judge, the store-keeper, the beadle, and the butcher.

There are three kings and four commoners who have no share in the world to come. The three kings are: Jeroboam, Achab, and Menasseh; the, four commoners are: Balaam, Doeg, Achitophel, and Gechazi. Said R. Jehudah: Menasseh has already repented, as it is written [II Chron. xxxiii. 13]: "And he prayed unto him, and he permitted himself to be entreated by him . . . and brought him back to Jerusalem, unto his kingdom." They argued against him thus: "Had the verse stated merely, 'and brought him back to Jerusalem,' we would then agree with thee, but since it is added, 'unto his kingdom,' it can be said that He returned him to His kingdom, but not to a life in the world to come."

Said R. Meir: "Absalom has no share in the world to come." Said R. Simeon b. Elazar: "Achaz, Achaziah, and all the kings of Israel who were wicked have no share in the world to come." Said R. Johnan b. Nuri: "Also one who pronounces the Name as it is written has no share in the world to come."

He used to say: "One who scans the Song of Songs (like a secular poem), and one who cannot speak above whispering or has turned yellow in consequence of a wound or recites (in ridicule) the passage, 'I will put none of those diseases upon them,' etc. [Gen. xv. 26], has no share in the world to come." And the sages say: Every disciple who has studied, and then abandons his studies, has no share in the world to come, as it is written [Numb. xv. 31]: "Because the word of the Lord hath he despised"; and further [Jer. ii. 5]: "What fault did your fathers find in me, that they went away far from me?"

R. Meir said: "Whoever does not visit the college which is in his city has no share in the world to come"; and R. Aqiba said: "Also those who do not serve the sages."

MISHNA I. Seven things mark the clod, 1 and seven there are for the sage. The wise man does not speak before those who surpass him in wisdom and years; he does not interrupt another in his speech, he is not hasty in answering; he does not ask questions rashly; asks with propriety and to the point; speaks first upon the matter first in order, and last upon last; when he does not understand the matter under discussion, he confesses, "I do not understand it"; and admits it when he has been convinced. The opposite of these things mark the clod

Tosephtha--Aboth of R. Nathan.

 2There are seven creations of as many grades of importance. The sky is very important; but more important are the stars, because they light up the world. Of a higher grade than the stars are the trees, because they produce fruit, and the stars do not. More significant than the trees are the pernicious winds, because they move hither and thither, and the trees do not. Greater than the pernicious winds is the beast, for the beast is active and eats, which the former cannot do. Of a higher kind of development is man; for man is intellectual, and the beast is not. More excellent than man are the ministering angels; for they are able to traverse from one end of the world to another, which man cannot do.

Man possesses six qualifications three of which belong also to the beast, and three to the angels: Man eats and drinks, multiplies, and excretes just like a beast; but he is endowed with intellect, walks erect, and speaks in the holy language, just as the angels do.

The evil spirits (Shedim; Deut. xxxii. 17) possess six qualifications three of which belong to man, and three to the angels; namely, they eat and drink, multiply, and die as men do; but they have wings, a knowledge of the future, and traverse from one end of the world to another, just as the angels do. 1 There are others who say: They also can assume any shape and form they like, and see but are not seen.

The rabbis taught: 2 There are seven sorts of hypocrites (who try to show themselves as if they were of the true Pharisees), and they are: Shichmi; Niqpi; Qoosai; Medukhia; "What more is my duty, and I will do it?"; Pharisee of love; and Pharisee of fear.

Shichmi--i.e., who acts like Shechem (Gen. xxxiv.), (who allowed himself to be circumcised, not to please God but for his own benefit). Niqpi--i.e., one who walks tiptoe (so that he strikes his feet against stones or other obstacles in the way), in order to show his meekness and thereby attract attention. Qoosai--i.e., one who shows himself as walking with his eyes shut in order not to look upon women, and strikes his head against a wall and bleeds. Such is the interpretation of R. Nahman b. Itz'hak. Medukhia--i.e., who so bends his body while walking that he resembles a pestle. Such is the interpretation of Rabba b. Shila. "What more is my duty," etc. Why is this hypocrisy? It means that he is boasting of having done every possible good thing, and challenges that he shall be told what more there is to be done and he will do it. "Pharisee of love," etc. Abayi and Rabha both said to the scholar who repeated this: "Do not place love and fear with the hypocrites, as R. Jehudah said in the name of Rabh: 'Always shall one occupy himself with Torah and merits even not for the sake of Heaven, for once he makes it his custom to do so he will finally come to do it for the sake of Heaven.'"

Said R. Nahman b. Itz'hak: "That which is hidden (in one's heart) is only so from human beings, but not from Heaven; and even visible hypocrisy can only be punished by the Upper Court." Said Janai the king to his wife: "Do not fear of the Pharisees, neither of those who claim to be their opponents; but do fear of the colored ones (who put on false colors), who in reality act like Zimri (Numb. xxv.), and demand the reward of Phinehas."

There are seven things which, if used moderately, are wholesome to the body, and if in excess, are the reverse: Wine, work, sleep, wealth, travel, warm water, and the letting of blood.

With seven things God created the world. They are as follows: Wisdom, understanding, knowledge, strength, might, kindness, and mercy. And as He has created the world with seven things, so also has He created seven ancestors--three fathers and four mothers.

Seven attributes are serving before the Throne of Grace, viz.: Faithful, Righteous, Justice, Kind, Merciful, Truth, Peace, as it is written [Hosea, ii. 21, 22]: "And I will betroth thee unto me for ever: yea, I will betroth thee in righteousness, and in justice, and in loving-kindness, and in mercy. And I will betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord"; and further [Ps. lxxxv. 11]: "Kindness and truth are encountered together; righteousness and peace kiss each other." And what signifies, "and thou shalt know the Lord"? Any one who is possessed of these attributes has a knowledge of the wisdom of the Omnipotent.

There are seven dwelling-places: The high, the low, the atmosphere, and the four winds. Said R. Meir: There are seven heavens: Curtain, firmament, welkin, dwelling-house, habitation, settled place, nebulæ. Accordingly the earth has seven names: Land, earth, realm, dry land, globe, and nether world. Why is it so named? Because it is seasoned with every thing. Others say, because it destroys all.

"A wise man does not speak before those who surpass him in wisdom and years." This refers to Moses, as it is written [Ex. iv. 30]: "And Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and he did the signs before the eyes of the people." Now, then, who of the two was competent to speak? Naturally, Moses; for he had the message direct from God, and Aaron only heard it from Moses. But Moses considered that it was not seemly to speak in the presence of his elder brother; he therefore conferred upon Aaron the honor of being speaker.

"Does not interrupt," etc.--refers to Aaron, as it is written [Lev. x. 19]: "And Aaron spoke unto Moses: Behold, this day have they offered their sin-offering, and their burnt-offering," etc. He was silent till Moses ceased speaking, and did not even say to Moses to be brief in his utterances. There are others who say that Aaron took him aside and said: "My brother Moses, tithes, which are less important than any other offering, a mourner (before the burial of the dead) is prohibited from eating them; a sin-offering, which is of great importance, so much the more should it be forbidden to him." And Moses at once admitted that he was right, as it is written [ibid. 20]: "And when Moses heard this, it was pleasing in his eyes," and in the eyes of the Mightiness.

"And he was angry with Elazar and Ithamar the sons of Aaron" [ibid. 16]. Learn from this that when one teaches his disciples he usually keeps his eyes on the great one, and when he is angry, he turns his anger to the one who is least: for he was angry even with Aaron.

Aaron was older than Moses, and the Lord is greater than Aaron, and why did He not speak to Aaron? Because his other sons did not prevent Nadab and Abihu from committing a sin.

We find with Abraham our father, when he was praying for the men of Sodom, the Holy One, blessed be He, said: "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then will I spare the whole place for their sake" [Gen. xviii. 26]. The One who said: "There shall be the world," very well knew that there were not in Sodom even four or five righteous, only He waited till Abraham finished, and then answered him, as it is written [ibid. 33]: "And the Lord went away when he had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned unto his place."

"He is not hasty in answering"--refers to Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, as it is written [Job, xxxii. 7]: "I had said, Days shall speak." Infer from this that they were sitting silently before Job. When he rose, they also arose; when he sat down, they did likewise; when he ate or drank, they did as he did, until Job asked their permission to speak, as it is written [ibid. iii. 1-3]: "And after this time job opened his mouth, and cursed his day. . . . Let that day whereon I was born perish, and the night when it was said, There hath been a male child conceived." The night when my mother came to my father and told him that she was pregnant shall perish. And whence do we know that they did not all speak at once? As it is written [ibid. 2]: "And Job commenced, and said"; and, "Then answered Eliphaz the Themanite, and said" [ibid. iv. 1]; and, "Then answered Bildad the Shuchite, and said" [ibid. viii. 1]; and, "Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said" [ibid. xi. 1]; and, "And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite commenced, and said" [ibid. xxxii. 6]. Scripture has enumerated them one by one for the purpose of informing all who come into the world that the wise does not speak before one who is greater than he.

"And does not interrupt another in his speech; asks with propriety"--refers to Jehudah, as it is written [Gen. xliii. 9]: "I will be surety for him."

"Asks unwarranted"--refers to Reuben, as it is written [ibid. xlii. 37]: "And Reuben said unto his father, thus: Two of my sons shalt thou slay."

"Speaks first upon the matter which is first in order,"--etc. refers to Jacob. Others say to Rebecca, and still others say to the men of Haran.

"And says: 'I have not heard it,' when he actually did not hear"--refers to Moses, as it is written [Numb. ix. 7, 8]: "And these men said unto him . . . and Moses said unto them, Wait ye, and I will hear what the Lord," etc.

"Admits the truth"--also refers to Moses, as it is written [Lev. x. 20]: "And when Moses heard this, it was pleasing in his eyes." Also the Holy One, blessed be He, confessed to the truth, as it is written [Numb. xxvii. 7]: "The daughters of Zelophchad speak rightly."

MISHNA J. Seven kinds of punishments come on account of seven cardinal transgressions. When some men tithe, and some do not tithe, dearth comes from drought; some of them are hungry, and some of them are satiated. When they have not tithed at all, a dearth comes from tumult and from drought. And when they have not separated the first dough, a deadly dearth comes.

MISHNA K. Pestilence comes unto the world for the capital crimes mentioned in the Torah, which are not to be brought before the tribunal, 1 and for the seventh-year fruits.

MISHNA L. The sword comes upon the world for suppression or perversion of judgment, and also for false interpretation of the Law.

MISHNA M. Noisome beasts come into the world for vain swearing, and for profanation of the Name. Captivity comes upon the world for idolatry, for incest and for shedding of blood, and for not observing the Sabbatical year.

MISHNA N. At four seasons the pestilence waxes: in the fourth year, in the Sabbatical year; at the ending of the latter, and at the ending of the Feast in every year--in the fourth, on account of the poor's tithe in the third; in the seventh, on account of the poor's tithe in the sixth; and at the ending of the seventh, on account of the fruit of the Sabbatical year; and at the ending of the feast in every year, on account of the largesses of the poor.

Tosephtha--Aboth of R. Nathan.

 2"Seven kinds of chastisements," etc. Said R. Jose: Because of the sin of the first dough, there is no blessing in the fruit, and the people are delivered into the hands of their enemies, as it is written [Lev. xxvi. 16]: "And ye shall sow in vain your seed; for your enemies shall eat it." For the sin of offerings and tithes the heavens withheld the rain and dew, as it is written [Job, xxiv. 19]: "Drought and heat speedily consume the snow waters," etc.

A plague comes to the world because of the sin of gleanings, forgotten sheaves, the corners and the tithes for the poor.

It happened that a woman who was the neighbor of a landowner sent her two children to glean in his field, but he did not let them. In their absence their mother wished that they return home, thinking they might bring something to eat; and they, too, wished to return home, thinking that their mother might have something to give them to eat. Coming home empty-handed and finding nothing at home to eat, the disappointment and the sorrow all around were so great that all three died in one day. Said the Lord: Ye took away their lives, I also will take away your lives, as it is written [Prov. xxii. 22, 23]: "Rob not the poor, because he is poor, neither crush the afflicted in the gate; for the Lord will plead their cause, and despoil the life of those that despoil them."

"The sword comes upon the world," etc. When R. Simeon b. Gamaliel and R. Ishmael b. Elisha the high-priest were seized and condemned to die, and the former was wondering and saying: "Woe to us, that we are to be slain as intentional violators of the Sabbath, idolaters, uncoverers of consanguinity, or blood-shedders." Said the latter to him: "Dost thou desire that I shall say something before thee?" And he answered: "Say!" Whereupon he said: "Mayhap when thou wert dining poor people came to thy door, but were forbidden to enter by the doorkeeper?" And R. Simeon answered: "By heaven, this was not done. On the contrary, watchmen were placed at my door: when they saw the poor approaching, they brought them to my table and were given food and drink, and they blessed heaven." "Perhaps when thou wert sitting at the Temple mount and lecturing, and all the multitudes of Israel were sitting before thee, thou hadst become haughty for a moment?" "No, my brother Ishmael, I have never done that; but man should be prepared for affliction (without any reason whatever)."

They then beseeched the executioner in the following manner: One said: "I am a priest, the son of a high-priest. Kill me first, and spare me the pain of seeing my colleague die." And the other said: "I am a prince, the son of a prince. Kill me first, and spare me the pain of seeing my colleague die." And he advised them to cast lots. They did so, and it fell on Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel. Whereupon the executioner took the sword and cut off his head. R. Ishmael held it to his bosom, and wept and cried: "The holy mouth, the truthful mouth, a mouth whence issued precious stones, diamonds, and pearls, who has hidden thee in the dust, and who has filled thy tongue with dust and ashes? Thou art meant in the prophetic exclamation [Zech. xiii. 7]: 'Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man whom I have associated with me.'" Scarcely had he finished when also his head was struck off. To them Scripture refers when it is said [Ex. xxii. 23]: "My wrath shall wax hot, and I will slay you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." As the men are slain, is it not self-evident that the women become widows? (Why, then, does Scripture say: "And your wives shall be widows"?) To convey the idea that they were and were not widows; i.e., there was no evidence that the men were killed, as it happened in Bythar, where not a soul escaped to give evidence of any man's death, and consequently the women could not marry again. "And the children shall become fatherless" means that they could not inherit the property of their father, for the same reason.

"Captivity comes upon the world," etc. Because of idolatry, as it is written [Lev. xxvi. 30]: "And I will destroy your high places and [ibid. 33]: "And you will I scatter among the nations and further [Deut. iv. 25]: "When thou begettest children," etc.; and [ibid. 27]: "And the Lord will scatter you among the nations"; and [ibid. 28]: "And ye will serve their gods, the work of man's hands." The Holy One, blessed be He, said: "As you are desirous of being idolatrous, I will exile you to a place where idolatry prevails."

For not observing the Sabbatical year. Whence do we know this? It is written [Lev. xxvi. 34]: "Then shall the land satisfy its Sabbaths," etc. Said the Holy One, blessed be He: "Because ye do not observe the Sabbatical year, the land itself will observe it; and the number of months that ye fail to observe it, the land itself will observe it." For that reason it is written [ibid.]: "Then shall the land satisfy its Sabbaths, all the days of its desolation."

Tosephtha--Aboth of R. Nathan.

 1Five are not to be forgiven: The one who sins relying that he will repent, and repents and sins again (and thus he sins too much and repents too much); the one who sins relying upon the forgiveness of the day of atonement; and the one who instigates others to sin; and the one who is guilty of profaning the Holy Name. And were it not for the sins of mankind, the keys to the mysteries would have been intrusted to man, and he would know by what means earth and heaven were created and also what there is above. R. Aqiba used to say: "Everything is foreseen and unconcealed, and everything is according to one's understanding." He also used to say that everything was given as a pledge, and a net is spread out for all living, etc. The repentance of the wicked delays the execution of their judgment; their verdict, however, remains sealed until they make restitution. The quietness of the wicked (without having remorse) ends badly. Superiority buries its claimers.

A man arrives into this world naked and leaves it in the same state, and it is desirable that the leaving should be as (sinless) as the coming. For profaning the Holy Name there is no repentance pending, and the Day of Atonement does not forgive. Repentance forgives till the day of death, and that day wipes out (all sin). The wicked are paid (in this world) and the upright are given credit (that is to say, the wicked that have studied the Law without performing what is written therein and otherwise have done nothing good, and those upright that have studied the Law with a good intention and have done no evil--these and those are given a small portion of what they earned), and the greater part is counted to them for the future.

R. Elazar b. Zadoq says: The upright in this world can be compared with a tree whose trunk grows on a clean spot, while one of its branches extends over an unclean spot, of which people say: Cut off the branch, and the whole tree will be on a clean spot. The wicked ones can be compared with a tree standing on an unclean spot and extending its branches to a clean spot, in which case, if the branches would be cut off, the whole tree would stand on an unclean spot.

Six different names were applied to the lion: Arjah, Cphir, Lobhi, Laish, Sha'hal, Sha'haz. Six names were applied to the serpent; viz., Na'hash, Soroph, Tanin, Ziphoni, Epheh, Achshubh. Six names were applied to Solomon; namely, Solomon, Jedidiah, Koeleth, Ben Iokoh, Ogur, L'muel.

MISHNA O. Four kinds of views are held by men concerning property. He who says: "What belongs to me shall continue to be mine, and thou shalt keep thine own," holds the common view. Some consider this the view of the men of Sodom. 1 "Mine shall be thine, and thine shall be mine," thus say the ignorant. "Mine shall be thine, and thou shalt also keep thine own," thus says the magnanimous. "Thine shall be mine, and mine shall continue to be mine," are the words of the godless.

MISHNA P. There are four kinds of dispositions among men. Some are easily enraged, but as quickly soothed--there the fault is neutralized by the merit. Some are slow to anger, but are calmed only with difficulty--there the merit is counterbalanced by the fault. One is slow to anger and easily pacified--he is of a gentle disposition. Another is easily irritated and hard to soothe--he is a wicked man.

MISHNA Q. There are four kinds of pupils: one understands readily but forgets soon--there the advantage is swallowed by the failing; another grasps but slowly, and seldom forgets--there the failing is outweighed by the talent; a third understands readily and is slow to forget--his is a good portion; a fourth understands slowly and forgets quickly--his is a poor endowment.

MISHNA R. There are four kinds of charity-givers: He who gives but does not care that others should give--his eye is evil towards others (i.e., the charity-giver shall not have the pleasure of doing charity and the poor shall be deprived of it); he who makes others give, but does not give himself, does not make the best use of his own; he who gives, and makes others give, is pious; but he who neither gives nor suffers others to give is a cruel man.

MISHNA S. There are four kinds of visitors of the house of learning: he that goes and does not practise (i.e., he accepts the lessons without any examination or study of them), the reward of going only remains with him; he that practises (i.e., he who studies at home) and does not go, the reward of practice remains with him; he that does both is pious; he that enrols among the college visitors, but neither goes nor practises, is wicked.

MISHNA T. There are four kinds of the disciples of the wise: sponge, funnel, strainer, and sieve; sponge--sucking up all things; funnel--allowing all that is received in the one end to flow out at the other; strainer--letting the wine run through and retaining the dregs; sieve--blowing off the bran and keeping the flour.

MISHNA U. Love, inspired by ulterior motives, dies out when those motives disappear; but love without such motives never fades.

MISHNA V. What love is that which is inspired by ulterior motives? E.g. the love of Amnon and Thamar. And what love is without such motives? E.g., the love of David and Jonathan.

MISHNA W. Whatsoever gainsaying is for the sake of Heaven will have good results, and that which is not for the sake of Heaven will not have the desired result.

MISHNA X. What gainsaying is that which is for the sake of Heaven? E.g., the gainsaying of Hillel and Shammai. And that which is not for the sake of Heaven? E.g., the gainsaying of Korah and his followers.

MISHNA Y. Whosoever causes many to be righteous, sin prevails not over him; and whosoever causes many to sin, they grant him not the faculty to repent.

MISHNA Z. Moses, who was righteous and caused many to become righteous, the righteousness of the many was therefore laid upon him, as it is written [Deut. xxxiii. 21]: "He executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgment with Israel."

Jeroboam, who on the contrary sinned and caused many to sin, the sin of the many, therefore, was laid upon him, as it is written [I Kings xiv. 16]: "For the sake of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who induced Israel to sin."

MISHNA AA. In whomsoever are the following three things, he is a disciple of Abraham, and in whomsoever are the contrary three things, he is a disciple of Balaam.

MISHNA BB. He who possesses a good eye, a modest spirit, and a humble mind is to be counted the disciple of Abraham our father; an evil eye, a haughty spirit, and a bombastic mind is to be counted the disciple of Balaam. And what difference is there between the disciples of Abraham and those of Balaam? The disciples of Balaam go down to Gehenna, as it is written [Ps. lv. 24]: "But thou, O God, thou wilt bring them down into the pit of destruction: let not the men of blood and deceit live out half their days; but I will indeed trust in thee." But the disciples of Abraham derive benefit in this world and inherit the world to come, as it is written [Prov. viii. 21]: "That I may cause those that love me to inherit a lasting possession; and their treasures will I fill."

MISHNA CC. Jehudah b. Tema was in the habit of saying: "Be courageous as the panther, light-winged as the eagle, swift as the deer, and strong as the lion, to execute the will of thy Heavenly Father."

MISHNA DD. He used to say: "Gehenna will be the place for the bold of face, and the Garden of Eden will be that for the shamefaced."

MISHNA EE. He used to say: "One five years old should study Scripture; ten years--Mishna; thirteen years--should practise the commandments; fifteen years old--should study Gemara; eighteen years old--the bridal; at twenty--pursuits; at thirty--strength; at forty--discernment; at fifty--counsel; at sixty--age; at seventy--hoariness; at eighty--power; at ninety--decrepitude; at one hundred--it is as though he were dead and gone and had ceased from the world."

MISHNA FF. Ben Bag-Bag said: "Turn it, and turn it again (the Torah), for everything can be found therein. Study it, get old and gray with it, and never depart from it; for there is no better gauge of a moral life than--the Torah."

MISHNA GG. Ben He-He said: "The reward is commensurate with the affliction."


Footnotes

106:1 Chapter XXXII. of the original.

108:1 Chapter XXXIII. of the original.

109:1 The Hebrew term for both "glitter" and "lightning" is ברק.

109:2 The text reads "nekabim," and the verse quoted begins with "nakab-tha" hence the supposition.

110:1 {! 0x3c < !}<{! 0x55 U !}U{! 0x3e > !}>הם{! 0x3c < !}<{! 0x2f / !}/{! 0x55 U !}U{! 0x3e > !}>ר means both "loam" and "billows."

110:2 נד is 'wall," נאד is "bottle," The Talmud plays on the similarity of the two words.

111:1 Chapter XXXIV. of the original.

111:2 תפל in Hebrew means also "nonsense."

112:1 יאר in Hebrew means a "river" and יער means a "forest"; in the verse quoted the latter word is used, but the Massorah says that the middle letter is suspended above the line, and the Talmud maintains that this shows that originally the first-mentioned word was used, but subsequently the middle letter was changed and the change indicated by the suspension.

116:1 Chapter XXXV. of the original.

119:1 Chapter XXXVI. of the original.

120:1 The Hebrew term for both "grave" and "pit" is sheol, hence the analogy.

122:1 According to Maimonides.

122:2 Chapter XXXVII. of the original.

123:1 See Section Moed, Vol. VI., Hagiga, 37. The repetition here is because of this addition.

123:2 Here is a statement which is repeated in Tract Sota, 22b, under the heading: "The rabbis taught." As there it is more comprehensible, we prefer to give it here in that form.

127:1 According to Rashi, it means when the Jewish tribunal ceased its existence during the last years of the Second Temple; and according to other commentaries it means Kareth and heavenly death, with which the earthly tribunals had nothing to do.

127:2 Chapter XXXVIII. of the original.

129:1 Chapter XXXIX. of the original.

131:1 i.e., "I do not wish to derive benefit from others, and no one shall derive benefit from me." This was the method of the Sodomites.


Sources: Sacred Texts

Back to Top