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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Berakoth
among the celestial family,1 and among the earthly family,2 and among the disciples who occupy themselves with Thy Torah whether for its own sake or for other motives; and may it please Thee that all who do so for other motives may come to study it for its own sake!
R. Alexandri on concluding his prayer added the following: May it be Thy will, O Lord our God, to station us in an illumined corner and do not station us in a darkened corner, and let not our heart be sick nor our eyes darkened! According to some this was the prayer of R. Hamnuna, and R. Alexandri on concluding his prayer used to add the following: Sovereign of the Universe, it is known full well to Thee that our will is to perform Thy will, and what prevents us? The yeast in the dough3 and the subjection to the foreign Powers. May it be Thy will to deliver us from their hand, so that we may return to perform the statutes of Thy will with a perfect heart!
Raba on concluding his prayer added the following: My God, before I was formed I was not worthy [to be formed], and now that I have been formed I am as if I had not been formed. I am dust in my lifetime, all the more in my death. Behold I am before Thee like a vessel full of shame and confusion. May it be Thy will, O Lord my God, that I sin no more, and the sins I have committed before Thee wipe out in Thy great mercies, but not through evil chastisements and diseases! This was the confession of R. Hamnuna Zuti on the Day of Atonement.4
Mar the son of Rabina on concluding his prayer added the following: My God, keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile. May my soul be silent to them that curse me and may my soul be as the dust to all. Open Thou my heart in Thy law, and may my soul pursue Thy commandments, and deliver me from evil hap, from the evil impulse and from an evil woman and from all evils that threaten to come upon the world. As for all that design evil against me, speedily annul their counsel and frustrate their designs!5 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before Thee, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer!6
When R. Shesheth kept a fast, on concluding his prayer he added the following: Sovereign of the Universe, Thou knowest full well that in the time when the Temple was standing, if a man sinned he used to bring a sacrifice, and though all that was offered of it was its fat and blood, atonement was made for him therewith. Now I have kept a fast and my fat and blood have diminished. May it be Thy will to account my fat and blood which have been diminished as if I had offered them before Thee on the altar, and do Thou favour me.7
When R. Johanan finished the Book of Job,8 he used to say the following: The end of man is to die, and the end of a beast is to be slaughtered, and all are doomed to die. Happy he who was brought up in the Torah and whose labour was in the Torah and who has given pleasure to his Creator and who grew up with a good name and departed the world with a good name; and of him Solomon said: A good name is better than precious oil, and the day of death than the day of one's birth.9
A favourite saying of R. Meir was: Study with all thy heart and with all thy soul to know My ways and to watch at the doors of My law. Keep My law in thy heart and let My fear be before thy eyes. Keep thy mouth from all sin and purify and sanctify thyself from all trespass and iniquity, and I will be with thee in every place.
A favourite saying of the Rabbis of Jabneh was: I am God's creature and my fellow10 is God's creature. My work is in the town and his work is in the country. I rise early for my work and he rises early for his work. Just as he does not presume to do my work, so I do not presume to do his work. Will you say, I do much11 and he does little? We have learnt:12 One may do much or one may do little; it is all one, provided he directs his heart to heaven.
A favourite saying of Abaye was: A man should always be subtle in the fear of heaven.13 A soft answer turneth away wrath,14 and one should always strive to be on the best terms with his brethren and his relatives and with all men and even with the heathen in the street, in order that he may be beloved above and well-liked below and be acceptable to his fellow creatures. It was related of R. Johanan b. Zakkai that no man ever gave him greeting first, even a heathen in the street.
A favourite saying of Raba was: The goal of wisdom is repentance and good deeds, so that a man should not study Torah and Mishnah and then despise15 his father and mother and teacher and his superior in wisdom and rank, as it says, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, a good understanding have all they that do thereafter.16 It does not say, 'that do',17 but 'that do thereafter', which implies, that do them for their own sake and not for other motives.18 If one does them for other motives, it were better that he had not been created.
A favourite saying of Rab was: [The future world is not like this world.]19 In the future world there is no eating nor drinking nor propagation nor business nor jealousy nor hatred nor competition, but the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads feasting on the brightness of the divine presence, as it says, And they beheld God, and did eat and drink.20
[Our Rabbis taught]:21 Greater is the promise made by the Holy One, blessed be He, to the women than to the men; for it says, Rise up, ye women that are at ease; ye confident daughters, give ear unto my speech.22 Rab said to R. Hiyya: Whereby do women earn merit? By making their children go to the synagogue23 to learn Scripture and their husbands to the Beth Hamidrash to learn Mishnah, and waiting for their husbands till they return from the Beth Hamidrash. When the Rabbis24 took leave from the school of R. Ammi — some say, of R. Hanina — they said to him: May you see your requirements provided25 in your lifetime, and may your latter end be for the future world and your hope for many generations; may your heart meditate understanding, your mouth speak wisdom and your tongue indite song; may your eyelids look straight before you,26 may your eyes be enlightened by the light of the Torah and your face shine like the brightness of the firmament; may your lips utter knowledge, your reins rejoice in uprightness27 and your steps run to hear the words of the Ancient of Days. When the Rabbis took leave from the school of R. Hisda — others Say, of R. Samuel b. Nahmani — they said to him: We are instructed, we are well laden28 etc. 'We are instructed, we are well laden'. Rab and Samuel — according to others, R. Johanan and R. Eleazar — give different explanations of this. One Says: 'We are instructed' — in Torah, 'and well laden' — with precepts. The other says: 'We are instructed' — in Torah and precepts; 'we are well laden' — with chastisements.
There is no breach: [that is], may our company not be like that of David from which issued Ahitophel.1 And no going forth: [that is] may our company not be like that of Saul from which issued Doeg the Edomite.2 And no outcry: may our company not be like that of Elisha, from which issued Gehazi.3 In our broad places: may we produce no son or pupil who disgraces himself4 in public.5
Hearken unto Me, ye stout-hearted, who are far from righteousness.6 Rab and Samuel — according to others, R. Johanan and R. Eleazar — interpret this differently. One says: The whole world is sustained by [God's] charity, and they7 are sustained by their own force.8 The other says: All the world is sustained by their merit, and they are not sustained even by their own merit. This accords with the saying of Rab Judah in the name of Rab. For Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: Every day a divine voice goes forth from Mount Horeb and proclaims: The whole world is sustained for the sake of My son Hanina, and Hanina My son has to subsist on a kab of carobs from one week end to the next. This [explanation] conflicts with that of Rab Judah. For Rab Judah said: Who are the 'stout-hearted'? The stupid Gubaeans.9 R. Joseph said: The proof is that they have never produced a proselyte. R. Ashi said: The people of Mata Mehasia10 are 'stout-hearted', for they see the glory of the Torah twice a year,11 and never has one of them been converted.
A BRIDEGROOM IF HE DESIRES TO RECITE etc. May we conclude from this that Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel deprecates showing off12 and the Rabbis do not deprecate it? But do we not understand them to hold the opposite views, as we have learnt: In places where people are accustomed to work in the month of Ab they may work, and in places where it is the custom not to work they may not work; but in all places Rabbinical students abstain from study. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel says: A man should always conduct himself as if he were a scholar.13 We have here a contradiction between two sayings of the Rabbis, and between two sayings of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel! — R. Johanan said: Reverse the names; R. Shisha the son of R. Idi said: There is no need to reverse. There is no contradiction between the two sayings of the Rabbis. In the case of the recital of the Shema', since everybody else recites, and he also recites, it does not look like showing off on his part; but in the case of the month of Ab, since everybody else does work and he does no work, it looks like showing off. Nor is there a contradiction between the two sayings of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel. In the case of the Shema', the validity of the act depends on the mental concentration and we are witnesses that he is unable to concentrate. Here, however, anyone who sees will say, He has no work; go and see how many unemployed there are in the market place.14
MISHNAH. ONE WHOSE DEAD [RELATIVE] LIES BEFORE HIM15 IS EXEMPT FROM THE RECITAL OF THE SHEMA' AND FROM THE TEFILLAH AND FROM TEFILLIN AND FROM ALL THE PRECEPTS LAID DOWN IN THE TORAH. WITH REGARD TO THE BEARERS OF THE BIER AND THOSE WHO RELIEVE THEM AND THOSE WHO RELIEVE THEM AGAIN,16 WHETHER IN FRONT OF THE BIER OR BEHIND THE BIER17 — THOSE IN FRONT OF THE BIER, IF THEY ARE STILL REQUIRED, ARE EXEMPT; BUT THOSE BEHIND THE BIER EVEN IF STILL REQUIRED, ARE NOT EXEMPT.18 BOTH, HOWEVER, ARE EXEMPT FROM [SAYING] THE TEFILLAH. WHEN THEY HAVE BURIED THE DEAD AND RETURNED [FROM THE GRAVE], IF THEY HAVE TIME TO BEGIN AND FINISH [THE SHEMA'] BEFORE FORMING A ROW,19 THEY SHOULD BEGIN, BUT IF NOT THEY SHOULD NOT BEGIN. AS FOR THOSE WHO STAND IN THE ROW, THOSE ON THE INSIDE20 ARE EXEMPT, BUT THOSE ON THE OUTSIDE ARE NOT EXEMPT. [WOMEN, SLAVES AND MINORS ARE EXEMPT FROM RECITING THE SHEMA' AND PUTTING ON TEFILLIN, BUT ARE SUBJECT TO THE OBLIGATIONS OF TEFILLAH, MEZUZAH, AND GRACE AFTER MEALS].21
GEMARA. [If the dead] LIES BEFORE HIM, he is exempt.22 [implying] if it does not lie before him,23 he is not exempt.24 This statement is contradicted by the following:25 One whose dead lies before him eats in another room. If he has not another room, he eats in his fellow's room. If he has no fellow to whose room he can go, he makes a partition and eats [behind it]. If he has nothing with which to make a partition, he turns his face away and eats. He may not eat reclining, nor may he eat flesh or drink wine; he does not say a blessing [over food] nor grace after meals,26
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