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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
Better it is for man to cohabit with a doubtful married woman1 rather than that he should publicly shame his neighbour. Whence do we know this? — From what Raba expounded, viz., What is meant by the verse, But in mine adversity they rejoiced and gathered themselves together…they did tear me, and ceased not?2 David exclaimed before the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Sovereign of the Universe! Thou knowest full well that had they torn my flesh, my blood would not have poured forth to the earth.3 Moreover, when they are engaged in studying "Leprosies" and "Tents"4 they jeer at me, saying, "David! what is the death penalty of him who seduces a married woman?" I reply to them, "He is executed by strangulation, yet has he a portion in the world to come. But he who publicly puts his neighbour to shame has no portion in the world to come."'5
Mar Zutra b. Tobiah said in Rab's name — others state, R. Hana6 b. Bizna said in the name of R. Simeon the pious — others again state, R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: Better had a man throw himself into a fiery furnace than publicly put his neighbour to shame. Whence do we know it? — From Tamar.7 For it is written, when she was brought forth, she sent to her father-in-law [etc].8
R. Hanina, son of R. Idi, said: What is meant by the verse, Ye shall not wrong one another ['amitho]? — Wrong not a people that is with you in learning and good deeds.9
Rab said: One should always be heedful of wronging his wife, for since her tears are frequent she is quickly hurt.10
R. Eleazar said:11 Since the destruction of the Temple, the gates of prayer are locked, for it is written, Also when I cry out, he shutteth out my prayer.12 Yet though the gates of prayer are locked, the gates of tears are not, for it is written, Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears.13
Rab also said: He who follows his wife's counsel will descend14 into Gehenna, for it is written, But there was none like unto Ahab [which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up].15 R. papa objected to Abaye: But people say, If your wife is short, bend down and hear her whisper! — There is no difficulty: the one refers to general matters; the other to household affairs.16 Another version: the one refers to religious matters, the other to secular questions.
R. Hisda said: All gates are locked, excepting the gates [through which pass the cries of] wrong [ona'ah], for it is written, Behold the Lord stood by a wall of wrongs, and in his hand were the wrongs.17 R. Eleazar said: All [evil] is punished through an agent, excepting wrong, for it is written, And in his hand were the wrongs.18 R. Abbahu said: There are three [evils] before which the Curtain19 is not closed: overreaching, robbery and idolatry. Overreaching, for it is written, and in his hand was the overreaching. Robbery, because it is written, Robbery and spoil are heard in her; they are before me continually.20 Idolatry, for it is written, A people that provoketh me to anger continually before my face; [that sacrificeth — sc. to idols — in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick].21
Rab Judah said: One should always take heed that there be corn in his house; for strife is prevalent in a house only on account of corn [food], for it is written, He maketh peace in thy borders: he filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.22 Said R. papa, Hence the proverb: When the barley is quite gone from the pitcher, strife comes knocking at the door,23 R. Hinena b. papa said: One should always take heed that there be corn in his house, because Israel were called poor only on account of [the lack of] corn, for it is said, And so it was when Israel had sown etc., and it is further written, And they [sc. the Midianites and the Amalekites] encamped against them, [and destroyed the increase of the earth], whilst this is followed by, And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites.24
R. Helbo said: One must always observe the honour due to his wife, because blessings rest on a man's home only on account of his wife, for it is written, And he treated Abram well for her sake.25 And thus did Raba say to the townspeople of Mahuza,26 Honour your wives, that ye may be enriched.27
We learnt elsewhere: If he cut it into separate tiles, placing sand between each tile: R. Eliezer declared it clean, and the Sages declared it unclean;
Baba Mezi'a 59b
and this was the oven of 'Aknai.1 Why [the oven of] 'Aknai? — Said Rab Judah in Samuel's name: [It means] that they encompassed it with arguments2 as a snake, and proved it unclean. It has been taught: On that day R. Eliezer brought forward every imaginable argument,3 but they did not accept them. Said he to them: 'If the halachah agrees with me, let this carob-tree prove it!' Thereupon the carob-tree was torn a hundred cubits out of its place — others affirm, four hundred cubits. 'No proof can be brought from a carob-tree,' they retorted. Again he said to them: 'If the halachah agrees with me, let the stream of water prove it!' Whereupon the stream of water flowed backwards — 'No proof can be brought from a stream of water,' they rejoined. Again he urged: 'If the halachah agrees with me, let the walls of the schoolhouse prove it,' whereupon the walls inclined to fall. But R. Joshua rebuked them, saying: 'When scholars are engaged in a halachic dispute, what have ye to interfere?' Hence they did not fall, in honour of R. Joshua, nor did they resume the upright, in honour of R. Eliezer; and they are still standing thus inclined. Again he said to them: 'If the halachah agrees with me, let it be proved from Heaven!' Whereupon a Heavenly Voice cried out: 'Why do ye dispute with R. Eliezer, seeing that in all matters the halachah agrees with him!' But R. Joshua arose and exclaimed: 'It is not in heaven.'4 What did he mean by this? — Said R. Jeremiah: That the Torah had already been given at Mount Sinai; we pay no attention to a Heavenly Voice, because Thou hast long since written in the Torah at Mount Sinai, After the majority must one incline.5
R. Nathan met Elijah6 and asked him: What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do in that hour? — He laughed [with joy], he replied, saying, 'My sons have defeated Me, My sons have defeated Me.' It was said: On that day all objects which R. Eliezer had declared clean were brought and burnt in fire.7 Then they took a vote and excommunicated him.8 Said they, 'Who shall go and inform him?' 'I will go,' answered R. Akiba, 'lest an unsuitable person go and inform him, and thus destroy the whole world.'9 What did R. Akiba do? He donned black garments and wrapped himself in black,10 and sat at a distance of four cubits from him. 'Akiba,' said R. Eliezer to him, 'what has particularly happened to-day?'11 'Master,' he replied, 'it appears to me that thy companions hold aloof from thee.' Thereupon he too rent his garments, put off his shoes, removed [his seat] and sat on the earth, whilst tears streamed from his eyes.12 The world was then smitten: a third of the olive crop, a third of the wheat, and a third of the barley crop. Some say, the dough in women's hands swelled up.
A Tanna taught: Great was the calamity that befell that day, for everything at which R. Eliezer cast his eyes was burned up. R. Gamaliel13 too was travelling in a ship, when a huge wave arose to drown him. 'It appears to me,' he reflected, 'that this is on account of none other but R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus.' Thereupon he arose and exclaimed, 'Sovereign of the Universe! Thou knowest full well that I have not acted for my honour, nor for the honour of my paternal house, but for Thine, so that strife may not multiply in Israel! 'At that the raging sea subsided.
Ima Shalom was R. Eliezer's wife, and sister to R. Gamaliel. From the time of this incident onwards she did not permit him to fall upon his face.14 Now a certain day happened to be New Moon, but she mistook a full month for a defective one.15 Others say, a poor man came and stood at the door, and she took out some bread to him.16 [On her return] she found him fallen on his face. 'Arise,' she cried out to him, 'thou hast slain my brother.' In the meanwhile an announcement was made from the house of Rabban Gamaliel that he had died. 'Whence dost thou know it?' he questioned her. 'I have this tradition from my father's house: All gates are locked, excepting the gates of wounded feelings.'17
Our Rabbis taught: He who wounds the feelings of a proselyte transgresses three negative injunctions, and he who oppresses him infringes two. Wherein does wronging differ? Because three negative injunctions are stated: Viz., Thou shalt not wrong a stranger [i.e., a proselyte],18 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not wrong him,19 and ye shall not therefore wrong each his fellowman,20 a proselyte being included in 'fellowman.' But for 'oppression' also three are written, viz., and thou shalt not oppress him,21 Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger,22 and [If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee,] thou shalt not be to him as a usurer23 which includes a proselyte! — But [say] both [are forbidden] by three [injunctions].
It has been taught: R. Eliezer the Great said: Why did the Torah warn against [the wronging of] a proselyte in thirty-six, or as others say, in forty-six, places? Because he has a strong inclination to evil.24 What is the meaning of the verse, Thou shalt neither wrong a stranger, nor oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt? It has been taught: R. Nathan said: Do not taunt your neighbour with the blemish you yourself have.25 And thus the proverb runs:26 If there is a case of hanging in a man's family record, say not to him,27 'Hang this fish up for me.'
MISHNAH. PRODUCE MAY NOT BE MIXED WITH OTHER PRODUCE, EVEN NEW WITH NEW,
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