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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Berakoth
AND IN THE BREAKS HE GIVES GREETING OUT OF RESPECT AND RETURNS IT TO ANYONE. It has been taught similarly: If one was reciting the Shema' and his teacher or superior meets him in the breaks, he may give greeting out of respect, and needless to say he may return it, and in the middle he may give greeting out of fear and needless to say he may return it. So R. Meir. R. Judah said: In the middle he may give greeting out of fear and return it out of respect, and in the breaks he may give greeting out of respect and return it to anyone.
Ahi the Tanna1 of the school of R. Hiyya put a question to R. Hiyya: What of interrupting [to give greeting] during the recital of Hallel2 and the reading of the Megillah?2 Do we argue a fortiori that if he may interrupt during the recital of the Shema' which is a Biblical precept, there is no question that he may do so during the recital of Hallel, which is a Rabbinical precept, or do we say that the proclaiming of the miracle3 is more important? — He replied: He may interrupt, and there is no objection. Rabbah said: On the days on which the individual says the complete Hallel,4 he may interrupt between one section and another but not in the middle of a section; on the days on which the individual does not say the complete Hallel5 he may interrupt even in the middle of a section. But that is not so. For surely Rab b. Shaba once happened to visit Rabina on one of the days on which the individual does not say the complete Hallel and he [Rabina] did not break off to greet him? — It is different with Rab b. Shaba, because Rabina had no great respect for him.
Ashian the Tanna1 of the school of R. Ammi enquired of R. Ammi: May one who is keeping a [voluntary]6 fast take a taste?7 Has he undertaken to abstain from eating and drinking, and this is really not such, or has he undertaken not to have any enjoyment, and this he obtains? — He replied: He may taste, and there is no objection. It has been taught similarly: A mere taste does not require a blessing, and one who is keeping a [voluntary] fast may take a taste, and there is no objection. How much may he taste? — R. Ammi and R. Assi used to taste as much as a rebi'ith.8
Rab said: If one gives greeting to his fellow before he has said his prayers9 it is as if he made him a high place, as it says, Cease ye from man in whose nostrils is a breath, for how little is he to be accounted!10 Read not bammeh [how little], but bammah [high place].11 Samuel interpreted: How come you to esteem this man and not God?12 R. Shesheth raised an objection: IN THE BREAKS HE GIVES GREETING OUT OF RESPECT AND RETURNS IT!13 — R. Abba explains the dictum to refer to one who rises early to visit another.14 R. Jonah said in the name of R. Zera: If a man does his own business before he says his prayers, it is as if he had built a high p]ace. He said to him: A high place, do you say? No, he replied; I only mean that it is forbidden.15 R. Idi b. Abin said in the name of R. Isaac b. Ashian:16 It is forbidden to a man to do his own business before he says his prayers, as it says, Righteousness shall go before him and then he shall set his steps on his own way.17
R. Jonah further said in the name of R. Zera: Whoever goes seven days without a dream is called evil, as it says, And he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.18 Read not sabea', [satisfied] but sheba' [seven].19 R. Aha the son of R. Hiyya b. Abba said to him: Thus said R. Hiyya in the name of R. Johanan: Whoever sates himself with words of Torah before he retires will receive no evil tidings, as it says, And if he abides sated he shall not be visited with evil.
THE BREAKS ARE AS FOLLOWS etc. R. Abbahu said in the name of R. Johanan: The halachah follows R. Judah, who says that one should not interrupt between 'your God' and 'True and firm'. R. Abbahu said in the name of R. Johanan: What is R. Judah's reason? Because we find in Scripture the words,
The Lord God is truth.1 Does he repeat the word 'true'2 or does he not repeat the word 'true'? — R. Abbahu said in the name of R. Johanan: He repeats the word 'true'; Rabbah says: He does not repeat the word 'true'. A certain man went down to act as reader before Rabbah, and Rabbah heard him say 'truth, truth', twice; whereupon he remarked: The whole of truth has got hold of this man.3
R. Joseph said: How fine was the statement which was brought by R. Samuel b. Judah when he reported that in the West [Palestine] they say [in the evening], Speak unto the children of Israel and thou shalt say unto them, I am the Lord your God, True.4 Said Abaye to him: What is there so fine about it, seeing that R. Kahana has said in the name of Rab: [In the evening] one need not begin [this third section of the Shema'] but if he does begin, he should go through with it? And should you say that the words, 'and thou shalt say unto them' do not constitute a beginning, has not R. Samuel b. Isaac said in the name of Rab, 'Speak unto the children of Israel' is no beginning, but 'and thou shalt say unto them' is a beginning? — R. Papa said: In the West they hold that 'and thou shalt say unto them' also is no beginning, until one says, 'and they shall make unto themselves fringes'. Abaye said: Therefore we [in Babylon] begin [the section], because they begin it in the West; and since we begin we go through with it, because R. Kahana has said in the name of Rab: One need not begin, but if he begins he should go through with it.
Hiyya b. Rab said: If one has said [in the evening] 'I am the Lord your God,' he must say also, 'True [etc.]'; if he has not said 'I am the Lord your God', he need not say 'True'. But one has to mention the going forth from Egypt?5 — He can say thus: We give thanks to Thee O Lord our God, that Thou hast brought us forth from the land of Egypt and redeemed us from the house of servitude and wrought for us miracles and mighty deeds, by the [Red] Sea, and we did sing unto Thee.6
R. JOSHUA B. KORHAH SAID: WHY IS THE SECTION OF 'HEAR' SAID BEFORE etc. It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Yohai says: It is right that 'Hear' should come before 'And it shall come to pass because the former prescribes learning7 and the latter teaching,8 and that 'and it shall come to pass' should precede 'And the Lord said' because the former prescribes teaching and the latter performance. But does then 'hear' speak only of learning and not also of teaching and doing? Is it not written therein, 'And thou shalt teach diligently, and thou shalt bind them and thou shalt write them'? Also, does 'and it shall come to pass' speak only of teaching and not also of performance? Is it not written therein, 'and ye shall bind and ye shall write'? — Rather this is what he means to say: It is right that 'hear' should precede 'and it shall come to pass', because the former mentions both learning, teaching, and doing; and that 'and it shall come to pass' should precede 'and the Lord said', because the former mentions both teaching and doing, whereas the latter mentions doing only. But is not the reason given by R. Joshua b. Korhah sufficient? — He [R. Simeon b. Yohai] gave an additional reason. One is that he should first accept Upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven and then accept the yoke of the commandments. A further reason is that it [the first section] has these other features.
Rab once washed his hands and recited the Shema' and put on tefillin and said the tefillah. But how could he act in this way,9 seeing that it has been taught: 'One who digs a niche in a grave for a corpse is exempt from reciting Shema' and tefillah and from tefillin and from all the commandments prescribed in the Torah. When the hour for reciting the Shema' arrives, he goes up and washes his hands and puts on tefillin and recites the Shema' and says the tefillah?' Now this statement itself contains a contradiction. First it says that he is exempt and then it says that he is under obligation? — This is no difficulty; the latter clause speaks of where there are two,10 the former of where there is only one. In any case this seems to contradict Rab? — Rab held with R. Joshua b. Korhah, who said that first he accepts the yoke of the kingdom of heaven and then he accepts the yoke of the commandments.11 I will grant you that R. Joshua b. Korhah meant that the recital [of one section] should precede that of the other. But can you understand him to mean that the recital should precede the act [of putting on the tefillin]? And further, did Rab really adopt the view of R. Joshua b. Korhah? Did not R. Hiyya b. Ashi say: On many occasions I stood before Rab when he rose early and said a blessing and taught us our section and put on phylacteries and then recited the Shema'?12 And should you say, he did this only when the hour for reciting the Shema' had not yet arrived — if that is so what is the value of the testimony of R. Hiyya b. Ashi? — To refute the one who says that a blessing need not be said for the study of the Mishnah;13 he teaches us that for the Mishnah also a blessing must be said. All the same there is a contradiction of Rab?14 — His messenger was at fault.15
'Ulla said: If one recites the Shema' without tefillin it is as if he bore false witness against himself.16 R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: It is as if he offered a burnt-offering without a meal-offering and a sacrifice without drink-offering.
R. Johanan also said: If one desires to accept upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven in the most complete manner,
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