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Tractate Shabbat: Chapter 23

Regulations concerning borrowing, casting lots, waiting for the close of the Sabbath and attending to a corpse.

Regulations concerning borrowing, casting lots, waiting for the close of the Sabbath and attending to a corpse.

MISHNA: A man may borrow of an acquaintance jugs of wine or oil (on Sabbath), provided he does not say to him: "Lend (them to) me." A woman may also borrow bread from her acquaintance. If the man is refused (by his acquaintance), he may leave his upper garment (as a pledge) with the lender, and settle his account after Sabbath. Thus, also, in Jerusalem, the custom was, if the eve of Passover fell on a Sabbath, a man might leave his upper garment with the vender, take his paschal lamb, and settle his account after the holiday.

GEMARA: Rabha bar R. Hanan said to Abayi: "What is the difference between saying: 'I want to borrow' and 'Lend me'?" Answered Abayi: "The difference is, if a man says, 'I want to borrow,' he usually returns what he has borrowed and the lender will not be compelled to write it down; but if he says, 'Lend (trust) me,' the lender generally writes down what he has lent." Said Rabba again: "During the week it makes no difference, the lender is not particular whether one says, 'I want to borrow,' or 'Lend me.' He writes it down just the same-, then why should a distinction be made on Sabbath?" And Abayi answered: "The saying of 'I want to borrow,' on Sabbath, is a reminder to the lender that the sages said, that one must not say 'lend me,' and thus prevents him from writing it down."

The same said again to Abayi: "Let us see! The sages said, that everything done on a festival which can be done in a different manner from that on a week-day should so be done. Now, why do we not see women, who go for water with jugs, perform that work differently from their manner on a week-day?" He answered: "Because that would be impossible! For how should they do? Shall we say, that one who carries a large jug should carry a small one? That would necessitate her going twice. Or that one who carries a small jug should carry a larger one? Then she would have a heavier burden to carry. Should she cover it with a cloth? Then she might wring it. Should she cover it with a lid? Then she might have to untie it. Hence it is impossible." 1


"A woman may also borrow bread from an acquaintance," etc. From the Mishna we see, that only on Sabbath a woman must not say, "Lend me," when borrowing bread, and on weekdays that would be permitted. Would this not be against the decree of Hillel, who prohibits this on account of possible usury (as explained in Tract Baba Metzia)? Nay; we can say that the Mishna is in accordance with Hillel's decree, but here it refers to such places where bread has a fixed value, while Hillel refers to places where bread has not a fixed value.

"If the man be refused," etc. It was taught: "A loan on a festival is, according to R. Joseph, uncollectable by law, and Rabba say it is collectable." R. Joseph says, that it is uncollectable, because otherwise the lender will write it down; and Rabba says, if we say that it is uncollectable, the lender will not trust the borrower and the latter will not have the means of celebrating the festival. Is this not a contradiction to our Mishna, which teaches, that if the man be refused trust, he may pledge his garment, etc.? If the loan be uncollectable, the pledging is quite right; but if it be collectable by law, why should the borrower pledge his garment? The lender can sue him by law? The lender might say, that he does not care to be troubled by lawsuits and judges. R. Ivia would take pledges, and Rabba bar Ula would trick the borrower (by in turn borrowing something from him after the holiday and holding that for a pledge).

MISHNA: A man may count the number of his guests and also of his extra dishes verbally, but not from a written list. He may let his children and household draw lots at table (as to who is to have one dish, and who is to have another), provided he does not intentionally stake a larger portion against a smaller one. They may also draw lots for the holy sacrifices on a festival (as to which priest is to have one sacrifice and which is to have another), but not for the eatable portions of the sacrifices (to whom one piece belongs, and to whom another piece belongs).

GEMARA: Why should a man not read from a written list Said R. Bibhi: "Lest he might strike out a guest's name or an extra dish from the list." Abayi said: "This is a precautionary measure against reading of business papers on Sabbath." What is the point of difference between them? If the list is engraved on the wall! In that case there is no fear of striking out a name, but the precaution against reading business papers still remains, and the Amoraim differ in this case with the Tanaim in the following Tosephta, as we have learned: "A man must not look into a mirror on Sabbath (lest he trim his hair with scissors), but R. Meir permits looking into a mirror which is attached to a wall." Now, why may a man look into a stationary mirror; because by the time he goes to fetch scissors, he will be reminded that it is Sabbath? Why not say, that the same is the case with another mirror, which he holds in his hand? By the time he lays down the mirror and goes for scissors, he will also be reminded that it is Sabbath? The mirror prohibited to be used by the first Tana of the Tosephta is one that is attached to an instrument which can be used to trim hair, and that is in accordance with the dictum of R. Na'hman as stated by Rabba bar Abuha in his name: "Why did the sages prohibit the use of an iron mirror? Because a man might use it to trim his superfluous hair."

The rabbis taught: An inscription at the foot of pictures of beasts or men must not be read on. the Sabbath; and gazing, on the picture of a man is prohibited even on week-days, because it is written [Leviticus xix. 4]: "Ye shall not turn unto the idols." With what tradition do you supplement this verse, that you may infer therefrom the prohibition to gaze at a picture? Said R. Hanin: "Ye shall not turn to the idols which your imagination alone hath created."

"He may let his children and household draw lots," etc. It says, "his children and household": we must assume, that strangers are not to be included; if not, why not? As R. Jehudah said in the name of Samuel: A party of men eating on a festival, where the portions distributed to each are exactly alike in size and quantity, are guilty of the following prohibited acts; viz.: measuring, weighing, counting, borrowing and lending 1 (all of which acts are prohibited on a festival). According to Hillel's opinion, they are guilty of usury also. If that is so, why should it be allowed for his children and household? Here the reason is as related by R. Jehudah in the name of Rabh, who said: "It is allowed to borrow or lend from and to one's children and household and charge interest, in order to exemplify the evils of usury." If that is so, why is it not allowed, according to the Mishna, to stake a larger portion against a smaller? As a matter of fact, it is allowed; but the Mishna is defective and should read: "He may let his children and household draw lots at table, and even stake a larger portion against a smaller." Why so? As R. Jehudah said in the name of Rabh above: He may let his children and household draw lots, but not strangers. Why so? As R. Jehudah said in the name of Samuel above: A larger portion must not be staked against a smaller one even on week-days for strangers. Why so? On account of Kubeia. 1

"They may also draw lots for the holy sacrifices," etc. What is meant by "but not for the eatable portions"? (Why should that not be done? The eatable portions of the sacrifices must be eaten on a festival.) Said R. Jacob the son of the daughter of Jacob: "That prohibition is only applicable to the eatable portions of the sacrifices left over from the preceding day. Is this not self-evident? I would say, that because it is written [Hosea iv. 4]: 'And thy people are contentious equally with the priests,' that the priests are contentious, and hence they should be permitted to cast lots for the eatable portions of the sacrifices (for the sake of peace); therefore we are taught, that the sacrifices of the day may be drawn for, but not those of the preceding day."

The same R. Jacob said: "A man on whose account another man has been punished, either through divine or human judgment, is not admitted into the abode of the Holy One, blessed be He." Whence is this adduced? Shall we assume that it is -from the verses [I Kings xxii. 20-22]: "And the Lord said, Who will persuade Achab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gil'ad? And one said, In this manner, and another said, In that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and placed himself before the Lord and said, I will persuade him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And He said, Thou wilt persuade him, and also prevail: go forth and do so." And it was asked who the spirit was, and R. Johanan said, it was the spirit of Naboth; and Rabh said that by saying, "Go forth," the Lord meant to expel the spirit from within His abode. Perhaps the reason for expelling the spirit was because it is written [Psalms ci. 7]: "He that speaketh falsehoods shall not succeed before my eyes." Therefore we must say that the basis for R. Jacob is the following. It is written [Proverbs xvii. 26]: "To punish the just with a fine even is not good." (This is explained to signify, that even punishment through a just man is not good.) What is not good is certainly evil, and it is written [Psalms v. 5]: "For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: evil cannot abide with thee"; and this means, that "because Thou, God, art righteous, evil cannot remain in Thy abode."

"They may draw lots," etc. How do we know that the word "Choloshim" 1 means lots? It is written [Isaiah xiv. 12]: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O morning-star, son of the dawn! how art thou hewn down to the ground, crusher of nations!" ("Crusher" is expressed by the word "Cholesh," and the inference is made from the supposition that lots were cast which nation was to be crushed first.)

It is written [Daniel iv. 33]: "And additional greatness was added unto me." What was that additional greatness? Said R. Jehudah in the name of R. Jeremiah bar Aba: "From this we can infer, that he (Nebuchadnezzar) rode a male lion and twisted a snake round the lion's head, to verify what is written [Jeremiah xxvii. 6]: 'And also the beasts of the field have I given him to serve him.'

MISHNA: One must not hire laborers on the Sabbath, nor may he commission another man to hire them for him. One must not stand at the extreme limit of the "techoom" 2 and wait for dusk (the end of Sabbath), in order to hire laborers (beyond the techoom), or gather fruit beyond it; but if watching fruit beyond the techoom, he may await the dusk at its extreme limit, and in that case bring the fruit back with him. Abba Saul laid down the rule: "Whatever I am permitted to prepare for the day following the Sabbath, on the Sabbath, I may get ready for at dusk."

GEMARA: What is the difference between a man and his neighbor? The Mishna teaches he should not hire laborers on Sabbath nor commission another man to hire them for him? Is this not self-evident? His neighbor is also a Jew. Said R. Papa: "That refers to a Gentile neighbor." R. Ashi opposed this, and said: "The prohibition to commission a Gentile to do something on a Sabbath is merely rabbinical, for the sake of the Sabbath rest (Shbhuth), 1 and to hire laborers on the Sabbath is also prohibited only by rabbinical law. How then can one rabbinical law be supplemented by another of the same character? Hence I may say, that the Mishna refers to a Jewish neighbor and should be explained thus: A man must not commission him to hire laborers on Sabbath, but he may say to him, 'Come to me after dusk and we will do something together.' The Mishna is in accordance with the opinion of R. Jehoshua ben Kar'ha, as we have learned elsewhere: A man must not say to his neighbor, 'I would like to see thee after dusk for the purpose of talking business,' and R. Jehoshua ben Kar'ha says he may do so, and Rabba bar bar Hana in the name of R. Johanan taught, that the halakhah prevails according to R. Jeshoshua ben Kar'ha."

Rabba bar bar Hana in the name of R. Johanan said again: "What reason did R. Jehoshua ben Kar'ha have for saying so? Because it is written [Isaiah lviii. 13]: 'By not following thy own business, and speaking vain words.' It is not allowed to speak, but surely thinking is permitted!"

R. A'ha bar R. Huna asked Rabha concerning the following contradiction: "How can we say, R. Johanan states, that though it is not allowed to speak it is allowed to think; did not Rabba bar bar Hana say in the name of R. Johanan, that everywhere it is allowed to think, excepting in a bathhouse and a toilet-room, for where it is not allowed to speak of the Law it is also not allowed to think of it?" "In that case it is different, for it is written [Deuteronomy xxiii. 15]: 'Therefore shall thy camp be holy,' and a bathhouse and a toilet-room cannot be holy; hence thinking of the Law in those places is not allowed." Speaking of other things except the Law is not permitted (on Sabbath). Did not R. Hisda and R. Hamnuna both say, that it is allowed to count up charitable disbursements on Sabbath; and R. Elazar say, that one may figure out amounts to be distributed among the poor (on Sabbath); and R. Jacob bar Idi say in the name of R. Johanan, that all things pertaining to the saving of human beings or the affairs of the community maybe discussed on Sabbath, and that it is allowed to go to the schoolhouses and call meetings for deliberation upon the community's business; and R. Samuel bar Nahmeni say in the name of R. Johanan, that even halls may be visited for the purpose of calling business meetings together; and the disciples of Menasseh say, that betrothal of daughters may be discussed and the advisability of choosing a profession for a child may be deliberated upon, on the Sabbath? The passage cited in the Law states, that "following thy business" is prohibited, but affairs sanctioned by Heaven may be discussed (and all the above affairs are pleasing to the Lord).

R. Jehudah said in the name of Samuel: "Accounts concerning which advice is requested by others and which have no bearing upon one's own business may be figured on the Sabbath." The following Boraitha is cited in support of this: "Accounts of disbursements in the past and of future expenditures must not be calculated on the Sabbath; but such as are of no importance, and concerning which advice was asked, may be calculated. Is the following Boraitha not contradictory to the one cited? Accounts which are of no importance at all may be calculated on Sabbath, but not such as are of importance." How so? A man may say to his neighbor, "I have hired so much labor to cultivate a certain field," or "I have expended so many Dinars on such a dwelling," but be must not say, "I have expended so much and must expend so much more." (The contradiction arises from the fact that in the previous Boraitha it is prohibited to calculate disbursements made in the past, while in the last Boraitha it is permitted.) But according to your opinion, why not cite the contradiction occurring in the previous Boraitha itself; viz.: Firstly, it is said that disbursements of the past must not be calculated, and then, that accounts of no value may be figured? This presents no contradiction at all (neither in the previous Boraitha itself, nor from one to the other). If the disbursements of the past have already been made and nothing is owing, then the accounts of same are of no value and may be spoken of on the Sabbath; but if any amount of such expenditures is still due, then it becomes an important account and must not be discussed.

"One must not stand at the extreme limit of the 'techoom,'" etc. The rabbis taught: It once happened that the fence of the field belonging to a pious man was broken, and noticing it on a Sabbath, he was about to mend it, when he recollected that it was Sabbath; so he left it. A miracle occurred, and kaffir-corn began to sprout in the place of the broken fence and furnished him and his family with their sustenance. R. Jehudah said in the name of Samuel: "A man may say to his neighbor, 'Tomorrow I intend to go to a certain town.' Why may he say this? Because, if there are huts on the road to that town at distances of seventy ells apart, he may even go on Sabbath; hence, though there be no huts on the road, he may say that he intends going on the morrow."

An objection was made, based upon our Mishna; viz.: "One must not stand at the extreme limit of the techoom and wait for dusk in order to hire laborers or gather fruit." It would be quite right, if the hiring of laborers only was concerned; for a thing which must not be done on Sabbath must not be waited for at the techoom; but as for gathering fruit, if there were walls around the town, that would be permitted? Why, then, should it be prohibited to wait at the techoom until dusk? This may refer to fruit which was still attached to the ground (and could not be gathered on Sabbath even if the town had walls). How can this be said? Have we not learned that R. Oshea taught: "One must not wait at the techoom to bring straw and chaff." It would be correct concerning straw which is still attached to the ground; but how can this apply to chaff? This may refer to chaff which is used to mix with loam, and hence was designated for building purposes.

Another objection was made! Come and hear: We have learned in the succeeding Mishna, that nightfall may be awaited at the techoom in the case of a bride and corpse; hence for other purposes one must not await nightfall at the techoom. It would be quite right if it said, in the case of things pertaining to a bride, for instance to cut off a myrtle-branch; but what things can be done pertaining to a corpse? Only the bringing of the coffin and the shroud? Why, then, should a man not be allowed to bring things which are the equivalent of the necessaries pertaining to a corpse? for if there were walls surrounding the town, he would be allowed to bring them. Why, then, should he not be permitted to wait at the techoom for the purpose of bringing them? Because the case may be, that things (as shrouds) pertaining to the corpse were not already prepared, but must be cut.

"But if watching fruit beyond the techoom, he may await the dusk," etc. May he do this even if he had not yet recited the Habhdalah prayer? Why! R. Elazar ben Antignous said in the name of R. Elazar ben Jacob, that a man must not transact his business at the close of Sabbath, before reciting the Habhdalah prayer. And if it be that he said the Habhdalah prayer while reciting the evening prayer, did not R. Jehudah in the name of Samuel say, that even if a man included the Habhdalah prayer in the evening prayer, he must say it again over the goblet of wine? Should it then be said, that he said the prayer over the goblet also; how could he have done that in a field? This case refers to the time of wine-pressing (when it is possible to obtain a goblet of wine even in the field); such is the explanation of R. Nathan bar Ami to Rabh. Said R. Aba to R. Ashi: "In the West (Palestine) we simply say the benediction, 'Blessed be he, etc., who distinguishes between holy and ordinary days,' and go right to work." And R. Ashi said: "When we were in the house of R. Kahana, he would pronounce the same benediction, and we would go and chop wood."

"Abba Saul laid down the rule," etc. Concerning what clause of the Mishna does Abba Saul lay down this rule? Shall we assume that he refers to the first clause of the Mishna, which decrees, that one must not stand at the extreme limit of the techoom and wait for dusk, and thus applies his rule? Then, instead of saying, "Whatever I am permitted to prepare," etc., he should have said in the negative, "Whatever I am not permitted to say to another man he should do for me, I must not wait at the techoom to do myself." If we assume, however, that the rule refers to the latter clause of the Mishna, namely, "but if watching fruit, he may await the dusk," etc., then Abba should have applied his rule to the contrary; viz.: "Whatever I am permitted to wait for at the techoom, I may tell another man to do for me." Abba Saul applies his rule to the latter clause of the Mishna, and he refers to the following dictum of R. Jehudah in the name of Samuel, viz.: "A man may say, to his neighbor: 'Watch my fruit which is in your vicinity, and I will watch such of yours as is in my vicinity.'" This is commented upon by Abba Saul, addressing the first Tana as follows: "You certainly admit that a man may say to his neighbor, 'Watch my fruit in thy vicinity and I will watch thine in my vicinity.' Now, say, 'Whatever I am permitted to tell my neighbor to do, I am also permitted to wait for at the techoom to do it myself.'" What does Abba Saul intend to supplement by laying down a rule? He means to add what was taught by the rabbis, as follows:

One must not wait at the techoom to bring home a stray animal; but if it is seen from the limits of the techoom, it may be called, so that it will come to within the techoom by itself. To this Abba Saul applied the rule, that if one may call to the animal, he may also wait at the techoom limits until dusk and bring it in himself. A man may also wait at the techoom limits to forward what is necessary for a bride; and also what is necessary for a corpse, to bring a coffin and shrouds for him; and we may say to him: "Go to a certain place and take it; and if thou dost not find it in that place, go to another place; and if thou canst not buy it for one hundred Zuz buy it for two hundred." R. Jose the son of R. Jehudah said: "One must not specify the amount the necessaries are to be bought for, but merely say, 'If thou canst not get it for little money, get it for more.'"

MISHNA: One may await the dusk at the limits of the techoom, to furnish what is necessary for a bride and for a corpse, and to bring a coffin and shrouds for the latter. If a Gentile brought mourning fifes on the Sabbath, an Israelite must not play (mourn) on them, unless they be brought from the vicinity. If a coffin had been made and a grave dug for him (on the Sabbath), an Israelite may be buried therein; but if it was done on purpose for an Israelite, he must not at any time be buried therein.

GEMARA: What does the Mishna mean by saying, "unless they be brought from the vicinity"? Rabh said: "By that is meant a place within sight, where one is positive that it was within the limits of the techoom." Samuel said: "Even if it is not positively known that they came from within the limits of the techoom, but where it is presumed that such is the case, the fifes may be used." Our Mishna seems to be in accord with Samuel's explanation, because it says in the next clause, "If a coffin had been made and a grave dug for him, an Israelite may be buried therein," and it does not say positively that the two things were done for a Gentile; hence we see, that where an object is doubtful, we may presume that it is allowed. Thus in the case of the fifes, if there is a doubt as to whence they were brought, they may nevertheless be used by an Israelite. We have learned in a Boraitha, however, a support to Rabh's opinion; viz.:

A city which contains both Israelites and Gentiles, and there is a bathhouse there which is heated on the Sabbath, if the majority of the inhabitants are Gentiles an Israelite may go there immediately after sunset on the Sabbath. If there are more Israelites than Gentiles there, the Israelite must wait the length of time required to heat water afresh before going to the bathhouse; and the same is the case in a city where there is an equal number of Jews and Gentiles. (This is a support to Rabh, because, though it is doubtful whether the bath was heated for a Jew or a Gentile, still, the Israelite must wait.) R. Jehudah. said: "If the capacity of the bath be limited (so that water be heated quickly) and a notable man be present, the Israelite need not wait." What is meant by a notable man? Said R. Jehudah in the name of R. Itz'hak the son of R. Jehudah: "If there was a man present who had ten servants, who could heat ten jars of water at the same time, an Israelite might go and bathe himself." 1

"If a coffin had been made and a grave dug for him," etc. Why should we not wait until the length of time in which a new grave can be dug elapses? Said Ula: "This refers to a paved way, where a grave is seldom dug for an Israelite (hence it must have been dug for a Gentile)." What can be said in reference to the coffin? Said R. Abuha: "If the coffin lie on the same grave."

MISHNA: One may do all that is necessary for a corpse (on Sabbath), anoint and wash it, provided he does not dislocate its limbs. The pillow may be moved from under its head; the corpse may be put on sand, in order to keep it (from putrefying) the longer; its jaws may be tied, not for the sake of bringing them together more closely, but to prevent them from dropping lower. In like manner, a beam that had been broken may be upheld by a stool or bedstead, not in order to make it erect again, but to keep it from breaking still more.

GEMARA: Did not R. Jehudah. in the name of Samuel say, that it once happened that a disciple of R. Meir, while entering behind his master into the bathhouse, wished to rinse off a place for his master to sit down, and his master would not permit it; so he wanted to grease the steps with oil, but the master said that the floor must not be oiled? Hence we see, that a thing which must not be handled must not be anointed or washed. How then is it permitted to wash and anoint a corpse? If the floor of a bathhouse be allowed to be washed, there is fear lest another floor will be washed also (and thus smoothen any holes which may be in the floor); but a corpse and a floor cannot be confounded, and it is allowed to wash and anoint a corpse out of respect to the dead.

What is meant to be supplemented by "all that is necessary for a corpse"? They meant to add what was taught by the rabbis; viz.: One may bring vessels for cooling the corpse, or iron vessels may be put on the belly of the corpse to keep it from swelling, and one may stop up any holes in the corpse to keep the air from entering."

MISHNA: One must not close the eyes of the dead on the Sabbath, nor (even) on the week-day, while he is expiring. Whoever closes the eyes of a dying person the instant he expires, is equal to the man who sheds blood ('like a murderer).

GEMARA: The rabbis taught: Who closes the eyes of a dying man is like a murderer, for it is the same as a candle which is about to go out. If a man lays a finger on the flame, it immediately becomes extinguished, but if left alone would still burn for a little time. The same can be applied to the case of an expiring man; if his eyes were not closed, he would live a little longer, and hence it is like murder.

We have learned in a Boraitha: R. Simeon ben Gamaliel said: "One who wishes that the eyes of a corpse should close, should inject wine into the nostrils of the corpse and anoint the eyelids with a little oil, and then pull the big toes of the feet, when the eyelids will close of themselves."

We have learned in another Boraitha: "One should violate the Sabbath even for a child of one day, if it still have life; but for a corpse, even be it that of David, King of Israel, the Sabbath must not be violated." The reason for this is: For a child of even one day, the Sabbath should be violated, saith the Thorah, in order that it may keep many Sabbaths in the future; but David, King of Israel, when dead, can keep no more commandments. This is in accord with the saying of R. Johanan; viz. It is written [Psalms lxxxviii. 6]: "Free among the dead," etc. which means, that when a man is dead, he is free from keeping any commandments.

We have also learned in a Boraitha: R. Simeon ben Elazar said: A child of a day need not be guarded from the attacks of cats and dogs, but even when Og the King of Bashan is dead he must be guarded, as it is written [Genesis ix. 2]: "And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth," etc. Hence, as long as a man lives, the beasts are in dread of him; but as soon as he is dead, the fear is destroyed.

We have learned in another Boraitha: R. Simeon ben Elazar said: As long as thou canst, practise charity: as long as thou hast the opportunity and as long as it is in thy hands. For Solomon said in his wisdom [Ecclesiastes xii. 1]: "But remember also thy Creator in the days of thy youthful vigor, while the evil days (meaning old age) are not yet come, nor those years draw nigh of which thou wilt say, I have no pleasure in them." By that is meant, the days of the Messiah, because at that time there will be neither rich nor poor: all will be rich (and no opportunity for charity will present itself). This differs with the teaching of Samuel, who says, that there is no difference between the present time and the days of Messiah, only that one is subject to the government at the present time, while then it will not be so, as it is written [Deut. xv. 11]: "For the needy will not cease out of the land."

We have learned in a Boraitha: R. Elazar Hakappar said: A man should always pray for deliverance from poverty, although if he himself will not eventually come to poverty, his children or his grandchildren will, as it is written [Deut. xv. 11]: "For the needy will not cease out of the land, therefore do I command thee," etc. (The Hebrew term for "therefore" is "Biglal," and the school of Ishmael taught that Biglal is the equivalent of Galgal, meaning a "wheel," thus inferring, from that word, that poverty is like a wheel, always turning from one to the other.)

R. Joseph said: "There is a tradition extant, that a diligent young scholar will never become poor." But we see that he sometimes does become poor? Still, we have never seen one so poor that he had to beg his bread from house to house.

Said R. Hyya to his wife: "If thou seest a man about to beg bread from thee, hasten to give it to him, that he might at some other time do likewise for thy children." Said she to him: "Art thou cursing thy children?" "Nay; I am simply quoting the verse above, as interpreted by the school of Ishmael, that poverty is a wheel continually turning."

We have learned in a Boraitha: Rabbon Gamaliel the Great 1  said thus: "It is written [Deut. xvii. 18]: "And grant thee mercy and have mercy upon thee, and multiply thee," etc. This means to say, that one who hath mercy upon creatures will be granted mercy from above, but one who hath not mercy upon other creatures will not be granted mercy from above.

It is written [Ecclesiastes xii. 2]: "While the sun, and the light, and the moon, and the stars are not yet darkened." The sun and the light are compared to the brow and the nose, the moon to the soul, the stars to the cheeks; and further, the verse reads: "And the clouds return not again after the rain," which means, that after weeping the eyes become dim. (The entire verse is, according to this interpretation, not applicable to the end of the world but to a human life.)

Samuel said: "Up to forty years of age, the eyes of a man which have become dim through tears may yet be restored by different remedies, but beyond that age there is no remedy for them"; and R. Na'hman said: "The dye used for the eyes makes them brighter until a man is forty years of age; after that age, however, it may preserve the eyes, but does not help them, even if the eyes are filled with dye." What are we given to understand by this statement? We are told that, the larger the brush used for applying the dye to the eye, the better it is for the eyes.

One of R. Hanina's daughters died, and he did not weep over her death. Said his wife to him: "Was a hen carried out of thy house?" "Is it not sufficient that our child died; wouldst thou have me lose my eyes through weeping?" replied R. Hanina; and he is of the opinion of R. Johanan, who said in the name of R. Jose ben Katzartha: "There are six kinds of tears in the eyes, three of which are good for the eyes and three bad. Tears generated by smoke, weeping, or disorder of the bowels are bad for the eyes; but those that are caused through laughing, acrid fruits (such as mustard), and medicaments which are applied to produce tears, are good for the eyes."

It is written [Ecclesiastes xii. 3]: "On the day when the watchmen of the house will tremble": this refers to the bowels and the sides which protect the bowels; "the men of might will bend themselves," meaning the legs of the man; "and those be darkened that look through the windows," refers to the eyes.

Cæsar asked of R. Jehoshua ben Hananiah: "Why didst thou not come to the debating rooms?" and he answered: "The mountain is covered with snow" (meaning his head was gray),"the surrounding paths are icy" (meaning his beard was gray),"the dogs do not bark any more" (meaning his voice was inaudible)," and the millstones grind no more" (meaning his teeth were decayed).

The school of Rabh would say of an old man: "He hath lost nothing and is constantly seeking" (meaning that he was always bowed down).

We have learned in a Boraitha: R. Jose bar Kisma said: "Two are better than three" (referring to two legs, instead of two legs and a stick). "Woe is to the One who goeth away and doth not return," so said he. What does he mean by it? Said R. Hisda: "Youth."

When R. Dimi came from Palestine, he said: "Youth is a crown of roses, and old age a crown of thorns."

We have learned in the name of R. Meir: Be heedful of thy teeth and thou wilt show it in thy step, as it is written [Jeremiah xliv. 17]: "When we had plenty of food and fared well and saw no evil." Said Samuel to his disciple R. Jehudah: "Thou sagacious man! When thou goest to eat, untie thy stomacher and bring in thy bread! Before the age of forty, eating is more wholesome; but after that, drinking is better."

A eunuch (who was a Sadducee) said to R. Jehoshua, was bald-headed, with the intent to tease him: How far is it from here to Bald city?" and he answered: "Just as far as from here to Castrate city." The eunuch said again: "I noticed that a bald goat only cost four Zuz"; and R. Jehoshua said: "Yea! and I noticed that the privates which were cut away from a he-goat cost eight Zuz." The eunuch noticed that R. Jehoshua did not wear shoes, and said: "He who rides a horse is a king, he who rides an ass is a nobleman, he who wears shoes is at least a man, but he who does not even wear shoes is worse off than a corpse in his grave." Said R. Jehoshua: "Thou eunuch! Thou hast told me three things, and three things thou shalt presently hear from me: The beauty of the face is a beard, the joy of the heart is a wife, and God's inheritance is children. Blessed be the place that has kept thee from all these joys." The eunuch retorted: "Thou bald-head! Wouldst thou quarrel with me!" and R. Jehoshua replied: Thou eunuch! Thou earnest to tease me."

Rabbi said to R. Simeon the son of Halaphta: "Why did we not have the pleasure of thy company on the festivals, as our parents had the pleasure of thy parents' company?" and he answered: "The hills have become mountains, those who were near have become distant, two have become three, and the peacemaker of the house is gone" (meaning, "I have become old, can make but short steps, must have a cane to lean on, and my teeth are gone").

It is written [Ecclesiastes xii. 4]: "And when the two doors on the streets will be locked, while the sound of the mill becometh dull, and man riseth up at the voice of the bird"; and means, that in old age a man's stomach refuses to digest and he cannot excrementize, and he becomes so weak that the least sound, such as piping of a bird, will awaken him from his slumbers. Even so said Barzillai the Gileadite to King David [II Samuel xix. 36]: "I am eighty years old this day; can I discern between good and evil?" which proves to us that the mind of an old man changes; and further, it says: "Or can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink?" From this we see that an old man's sense of taste is lost; and further, again: "Or can I listen yet to the voice of singing men and singing women?" which proves to us that old men become hard of hearing. Said Rabh: "Barzillai the Gileadite was a liar; for the servant who was in the house of Rabbi was ninety-two years old, and she would taste all the dishes that were being cooked." Said Rabha: "Barzillai was a lascivious man, and a man of that kind ages very rapidly and loses all his senses."

We have learned in a Boraitha: R. Ishmael bar R. Jose said: "The older scholars become, the more wisdom comes to them, as it is written [Job xii. 12]: 'So is with the ancients wisdom, and with those of length of days understanding.' With ignorant men, however, it is different. The older they become, the more ignorant they are, as it is written [ibid. 20]: 'He removeth the speech from trusty speakers and taketh away the intelligence of the aged.'"

It is written [Ecclesiastes xii. 5]: "Also when men will be afraid of every elevation." To an aged man, even a little hillock appears as a high mountain; "and are terrified on every way," and they are afraid of everything on their way; "and the almond-tree will refuse (its blossom)," meaning that the joints of the limbs will refuse to do their duty; "and the locust will drag itself slowly along, and the desire will gainsay compliance," means that the desires of old men wane.

Said R. Kahana: "What is written [Psalms xxxiii. 9]: 'For he spoke, and it came into being,' refers to a woman; and 'he commanded, and it stood fast,' refers to children."

It is written [Ecclesiastes xii. 5]: "Because man goeth to his eternal home." Said R. Itz'hak: "This proves that every righteous man is given a dwelling in the world to come according to his merit, and this is like a king with his slaves entering a city. They all enter through one gate, but when night comes every man is given a berth in accordance with his rank."

R. Itz'hak said again: "It is written [Ecclesiastes xi. 10]: 'For childhood and the time when the head is black 1 are vanity,' and means to say, that the deeds committed in youth blacken the reputation in old age."

R. Itz'hak said again: The worms are as disagreeable to a corpse as pricks of needles are to a man, even if an excrescence only is pricked, as it is written [Job xiv. 22]: "But his body on him feeleth pain, and his soul will mourn for him." R. Hisda said: "The soul of a man mourns for him the first seven days after his death, and that is based upon an analogy of expression; viz.: It is written [Genesis l. 10]: 'And he made for his father a mourning of seven days'; and the verse in Job previously quoted also contains the word 'mourn,' hence the analogy."

R. Jehudah said: "If a corpse has left none to mourn him, ten men should go to the place where he died and mourn his death." A stranger, who had none to mourn him, died in the neighborhood of R. Jehudah; so every day R. Jehudah took ten men, went to the place where the stranger died, and mourned for him. After seven days, the spirit of the stranger appeared to R. Jehudah in a dream, and said to him: "May thy heart be as light as thou hast made mine."

Said R. Abuha: "All that is said in the presence of a corpse is known to the latter, until he is buried and the earth is thrown on top of him." R. Hyya and R. Simeon bar Rabbi differ concerning this: One says, until the corpse is buried, and the other, until the flesh is decomposed. He who says until the flesh is decomposed, bases his assertion on the previously cited verse: "But his body on him feeleth pain, and his soul will mourn him." The other, who says "only until he is buried," bases his assertion upon the verse [Ecclesiastes xii. 7]: "When the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return unto God who gave it."

The rabbis taught: "Return the soul to the Lord as clean as He gave it to thee." This is illustrated by a parable of a king who once gave to his attendants suits of clothes. The wise among them took care of them, kept them clean and folded, and used them on special occasions only. The fools put them on and performed their work in them. Naturally, the clothes became dirty. All at once, the king demanded the clothes back again. The wise men returned them clean and whole, but the fools returned them in a dirty and dilapidated condition. The king was well pleased with the wise men, and told them to depart in peace, and had their clothes stored; but the clothes of the fools he ordered to be sent to the washers, and the fools were sent to prison. So does also the Holy One, blessed be He. Concerning the bodies of the righteous men, He saith [Isaiah lvii. 2]: "He shall come in peace: they shall repose in their resting-place"; and concerning the souls he saith [I Samuel xxv. 29]: "Yet will the soul of my lord be bound in the bond of life with the Lord thy God." Concerning the bodies of the wicked, He saith [Isaiah lxviii. 22]: "There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked"; and concerning the souls of the wicked, He saith [I Samuel xxv. 29]: "And the soul of thy enemies will he hurl away, as out of the middle of the sling."

We have learned: R. Eliezer said: "The souls of righteous men are deposited underneath the throne of honor, as it is written: 'Yet will the soul of my lord be bound in the bond of life'; and the souls of the wicked are crowded together until they are crushed, as it is written: 'The souls of thy enemies will he hurl away.'" "How is it with the souls of men who are neither righteous nor wicked?" asked Rabba of R. Na'hman. He answered: "If I were dead, ye would not know it." Samuel said: The souls of the righteous, of the ordinary men, and of the wicked are given over to the angel whose name is Domah, who has charge of all souls. The souls of the righteous are given their resting-place soon; the others are not given rest until they come before the divine judgment.

Said R. Mari: "The bodies of righteous men also decompose, as it is written: 'When the dust will return to the earth, as it was.'"

Diggers were digging some earth belonging to R. Na'hman. They came to the grave where R. Achai bar Yashia was buried, and the corpse scolded them. The diggers came to R. Na'hman, and told him that a man who was buried on his ground had scolded them. So R. Na'hman went himself to the grave, and asked: "Who art thou, Master?" and the man in the grave answered: "I am called Achai bar Yashia." Said R. Na'hman to him: "Did not R. Mari say, that the bodies of the righteous shall turn to dust?" and the corpse replied: "Who is this Mari? I know him not." But R. Na'hman persisted: "It is written: 'When the dust shall return to the earth, as it was.'" And the corpse retorted: "He who taught thee Ecclesiastes, did not teach thee Proverbs, where it is written [Ch. xiv. 30]: 'Jealousy is the rottenness of the bones'; and if thy teacher had explained this to thee, thou wouldst have known, that he who hath jealousy in his heart, his bones shall rot after death, but he who hath no jealousy in his heart, his bones shall not rot." Thereupon R. Na'hman felt the dead man's bones, and truly they were sound. So he said to him: "Let the Master arise and go home with me for a while." And the dead man answered: "By this remark thou hast proven to me that thou hast not even studied the prophets, for it is written [Ezekiel xxxvii. 13]: 'And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and when I cause you to come up out of your graves' (for this would tell thee, that only the Lord can make me arise, and still thou askest me to go with thee)." "Yea," quoth R. Na'hman; "but there is another passage [Genesis iii. 19]: 'For dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return.'" "This will, however, be only one hour before the final resurrection," answered the corpse.

A certain Sadducee said to R. Abuha: "Ye say that the souls of the righteous are deposited underneath the throne of honor. How, then, could the woman of the familiar spirit whom King Saul consulted, 1 bring up the soul of Samuel?" R. Abuha answered: "That happened during the first twelvemonth after the death of Samuel, as we have learned in a Boraitha, that during the first twelvemonth the souls of the deceased come up and down; but after that period the soul ascends to heaven and does not return."

Said R. Jehudah, the son of R. Samuel bar Shila, in the name of Rabh: "From the funeral sermon held over the remains of the deceased, it may be observed whether they will enter the kingdom of Heaven or not." (If the funeral sermon is in the form of a eulogy and the deceased was much beloved, it can be presumed that he will have a happy time in the beyond.) This is not so! For did not Rabh say to R. Samuel bar Shila: "See that thou makest my funeral oration exceeding touching, for I shall be there." R. Jehudah meant to say, that when the sermon is touching, and elicits a responsive chord in the breasts of the audience; for some orations may be made ever so touching but if the deceased was not deserving, it will produce no effect whatever. Said Abayi to Rabba: "Thou, Master, who hast not a single friend in Pumbaditha, who will mourn thy death?" "Thou and Rabba bar R. Hana will suffice," answered Rabba.

R. A'ha asked Rabh: "Who is the man that will live in the world to come?" He answered by quoting the verse [Isaiah xxx. 21]: "And thy ears shall hear the word behind thee, saying, This is the way; walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left." 1 R. Hanina said: "The man who gives satisfaction to our masters."

It is written [Ecclesiastes xii. 5]: "And the mourners go about the streets." The Galileans said: "Do such things as will be spoken of to thy credit in thy funeral sermon"; and the Judæans said: "Do such things as will be spoken of after thy burial." There is no difference in the two statements, for in Galilee the funeral sermon was held before burial, and in Judæa after burial.

We have learned (in the Mishna Abhoth): "One day before thy death, thou shalt repent of thy sins," said R. Eliezer; and his disciples asked him, "Can a man know on which day he will die?" and he answered: "For just that reason, he should repent to-day, lest he die to-morrow. Thus all his days will be spent in repentance. So also hath Solomon said in his wisdom [Ecclesiastes ix. 8]: 'At all times let thy garments be white, and let not oil be wanting on thy head.'" Commenting upon this, R. Johanan ben Zakkai said: "This is illustrated by a parable about a king who invited his retainers to a banquet, but did not state the time; the wise among them dressed and were ready, standing in front of the palace, for they said: 'In a king's house nothing is wanting. Perhaps the banquet takes place to-day.' The fools, however, went about their business, saying: 'Can a banquet be given without preparation?' Suddenly the king called in his retainers to the banquet. The wise went in becomingly attired, while the fools went in in their working clothes. The king was well pleased with the wise, and angry with the fools, and said: 'Those that are prepared and attired for the banquet shall sit down, eat, drink, and be merry; but those that are not, shall stand and look on, but shall receive nothing.'" Said the son-in-law of R. Meir, in the latter's name: Then it would appear as if those standing were waiting upon those who were sitting (and they would not be ashamed). They were also to sit down, but while the others ate they would be hungry, and while the others drank they would remain thirsty, as it is written [Isaiah lxv. 13 and 14]: "Therefore, thus hath said the Lord Eternal, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be made ashamed; behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry out from pain of heart, and from a broken spirit shall ye howl"; and on this account it is written: "At all times let thy garments be white," etc.


343:1 The additional quotations of Rabha bar Hanan to Abayi concerning festivals will appear in Tract "Festivals," where they properly belong.

344:1 Guilty of borrowing and lending can only be explained by presuming that, if one received a smaller portion than another, the host would promise to make up for the deficiency on another day.

345:1 From the Greek κ{! 0x79 y !}yβεια = dice. The above prohibition is a precautionary measure against the possibility of casting lots degenerating into a game of hazard.

346:1 The term "casting lots" is expressed in the Mishna by the word "Choloshim," and the root of the word "Choloshim" is "Cholosh," and has a variety of meanings.

346:2 By "techoom" is meant the distance of 2,000 ells which a man may traverse on the Sabbath, and refers to the limits of that distance.

347:1 See Introduction to Tract Sabbath

352:1 Others say that this above Boraitha really supports Samuel on account of R. Jehudah, and Rashi remarks that he finds that the more plausible supposition.

354:1 This means Gamaliel the Second, who was the Nassi in Jamnia, and he is entitled "the Great" in many places.

358:1 The Hebrew expression for "the time when the head is black" is "Shachrus," meaning blackness.

360:1 See I Samuel xxviii.

361:1 The significance of the verse is explained by Rashi as follows: When we hear of a man who has died, and we are told to walk in his ways and to do as he did, such a man will live in the world to come.

Sources: Sacred Texts