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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
(Mnemonic: Woman and land help this two shoots, tradesmen inferior.)3
R. Eleazar said: Any man who has no wife is no proper man; for it is said, Male and female created He them and called their name Adam.4
R. Eleazar further stated: Any man who owns no land is not a proper man; for it is said, The heavens are the heavens of the Lord; but the earth hath he given to the children of men.5
Others say: R. Eleazar pointed out a contradiction: It is written kenegedo9 but we read kenegedo!10 — If he was worthy she is meet for him;10 if he was not worthy she chastises him.9
R. Jose met Elijah and asked him: It is written, I will make him a help;11 how does a woman help a man? The other replied: If a man brings wheat, does he chew the wheat? If flax, does he put on the flax?12 Does she not, then, bring light to his eyes and put him on his feet!
R. Eleazar further stated: What is meant by the Scriptural text, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh?13 This teaches that Adam had intercourse with every beast and animal but found no satisfaction until he cohabited with Eve.
R. Eleazar further stated: What is meant by the text, And in thee shall the families of the earth be blessed?14 The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Abraham, 'I have two goodly shoots to engraft15 on you: Ruth the Moabitess and Naamah the Ammonitess'.16 All the families of the earth,14 even the other families who live on the earth are blessed only for Israel's sake. All the nations of the earth,17 even the ships that go from Gaul to Spain are blessed only for Israel's sake.
R. Eleazar further stated: There will be a time when all craftsmen will take up agriculture;18 for it is said, And all that handle the oar, the mariners, and all the pilots of the sea, shall come down from their ships; they shall stand upon the land.19
R. Eleazar once saw a plot of land that was ploughed across its width.22 'Wert thou to be ploughed along thy length also',23 he remarked, 'engaging in business would still be more profitable'. Rab once entered among growing ears of corn. Seeing that they were swaying24 he called out to them, 'Swing as you will,25 engaging in business brings more profit than you can do'.
Raba said: A hundred zuz26 in business means meat and wine every day; a hundred zuz in land, only salt and vegetables.27 Furthermore it causes him to sleep on the ground28 and embroils him in strife.29
R. Papa said, 'Sow30 but do not buy,31 even if the cost is the same; there is a blessing in the former. Sell out32 to avoid disgrace;33 but only mattresses, [not] however, a cloak, [since one] might not always again obtain [a suitable one].34 Stop up35 and you will need no repair;36 repair37 and you will not need to rebuild; for whosoever engages in building grows poor. Be quick in buying land; be deliberate in taking a wife. Come down a step in choosing your wife;38 go up a step in selecting your shoshbin.39
R. Eleazar b. Abina40 said: Punishment comes into the world only on Israel's account; for it is said, I have cut off nations, their corners are desolate; I have made their streets waste,41 and this is followed by the text, 'I said: Surely thou wilt fear Me, thou wilt receive correction'.42
Rab was once taking leave of R. Hiyya. The latter said to him, 'May the All Merciful deliver you from that which is worse than death'. 'But is there' [Rab wondered] 'anything that is worse than death'? When he went out he considered the matter and found [the following text]: And I find more bitter than death the woman etc.43
Rab was constantly tormented by his wife. If he told her, 'Prepare me lentils', she would prepare him small peas; [and if he asked for] small peas, she prepared him lentils. When his son Hiyya grew up he gave her [his father's instruction] in the reverse order.44 'Your mother', Rab once remarked to him, 'has improved'!45 'It was I', the other replied, 'who reversed [your orders] to her'. 'This is what people say', the first said to him, 'Thine own offspring teaches thee reason';46 you, however, must not continue to do so' for it is said, They have taught their tongue to speak lies, they weary themselves etc'.47
R. Hiyya was constantly tormented by his wife. He, nevertheless, whenever he obtained anything suitable wrapped it up in his scarf and brought it to her. Said Rab to him, 'But, surely, she is tormenting the Master!' — 'It is sufficient for us', the other replied, 'that they rear up our children and deliver us
Rab Judah was reading with his son R. Isaac the Scriptural text, And I find more bitter than death the woman. When the latter asked him, 'Who, for instance'? — 'For instance, your mother'. But,1 surely, Rab Judah taught his son R. Isaac, 'A man finds happiness2 only with his first wife; for it is said, Let thy fountain be blessed and have joy of the wife of thy youth';3 and when the latter asked him, 'Who for instance?' [he answered:] 'For instance, your mother'!4 — She was indeed irascible but could be easily appeased with a kindly word.5
How is one to understand the term a 'bad wife'? Abaye said: One who prepares for him6 a tray7 and has her tongue8 also ready for him. Raba said: One who prepares for him6 the tray and turns her back upon him.9
In the West,13 they used to ask a man who married, 'findeth or find?'14 Findeth, because it is written, Whoso findeth a wife, findeth a great good;12 Find, because it is written, And I find more bitter than death the woman.15
Raba further stated: A bad wife is as troublesome as a very rainy day; for it is said, A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.22
Raba further stated: Come and see how precious is a good wife and how baneful is a bad wife. 'How precious is a good wife', for it is written: Whoso findeth a wife findeth a great good.12 Now, if Scripture speaks of the woman herself, then how precious is a good wife whom Scripture praises. If Scripture speaks of the Torah, then how precious is a good wife with whom the Torah is compared. 'How baneful is a bad wife', for it is written, And I find more bitter than death the woman.23 Now, if Scripture speaks of herself, then how baneful is a bad wife whom Scripture censures. If Scripture speaks of Gehenna, then how baneful is a bad wife with whom Gehenna is compared.
The Lord has delivered me into their hands against whom I am not able to stand.27 R. Hisda said in the name of Mar 'Ukba b. Hiyya: This refers to a bad wife the amount of whose kethubah25 is large.26 In the West28 it was said: This refers to one whose maintenance depends on his money.29
I will provoke them with a vile32 nation.33 R. Hanan b. Raba stated in the name of Rab: This refers to a bad wife the amount of whose kethubah25 is large.34 R. Eliezer stated: This refers to the Sadducees;35 for so it is said, The fool32 has said in his heart: 'There is no God' etc.36 In a Baraitha it was taught: This refers to the people of Barbaria37 and the people of Mauretania38 who go naked in the streets; for there is nothing more objectionable and abominable to the Omnipresent than the man who goes naked in the streets. R. Johanan said: This refers to the Parsees.39
They44 issued three decrees as a punishment for three [transgressions]:45 They decreed against [ritually prepared] meat,46 because the priestly gifts47 [were neglected]. They decreed against the use of baths, because ritual bathing [was not observed]. They exhumed the dead,48 because rejoicings were held on the days of their49 festivals; as it is said, Then shall the hand of the Lord be against you, and against your fathers,50 and Rabbah b. Samuel said that that51 referred to the exhumation of the dead, for the Master said, 'For the sins of the living the dead are exhumed'.
Said Raba to Rabbah b. Mari: It is written, They shall not be gathered, nor be buried, they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth,52 but it is also written,53 And death shall be chosen rather than life!54 — The other replied: 'Death shall be chosen' for the wicked, in order that they may not live in this world and thus sin and fall into Gehenna.55
It is written in the book of Ben Sira: —56
A good wife is a precious gift;57 she will be put in the bosom of the God-fearing man.58 A bad wife is a plague to her husband. What remedy has he? — Let him give her a letter of divorce and be healed of his plague.
Turn away thy eyes from [thy neighbour's] charming wife lest thou be caught in her net. Do not turn in to her husband to mingle with him wine and strong drink; for, through the form of a beautiful woman, many were destroyed and a mighty host are all her slain.61
As a cage is full of birds so are [the harlots'] houses full of deceit.64
Keep away many from thy house; and do not bring everyone into thy house.
Many be they that seek thy welfare; reveal thy secret only to one of a thousand.
It was taught: R. Eliezer stated, He who does not engage in propagation of the race is as though he sheds blood; for it is said, Whoso sheddeth man's blood by man shall his blood be shed,70 and this is immediately followed by the text, And you, be ye fruitful and multiply.71 R. Jacob said: As though he has diminished the Divine Image; since it is said, For in the image of God made he man,72 and this is immediately followed by, And you, be ye fruitful etc.71 Ben 'Azzai said: As though he sheds blood and diminishes the Divine Image; since it is said,73 And you, be ye fruitful and mutltiply.71
They said to Ben 'Azzai: Some preach well and act well, others act well but do not preach well; you. however, preach well but do not act well!74 Ben 'Azzai replied: But what shall I do, seeing that my soul is in love with the Torah; the world can be carried on by others.
Another [Baraitha] taught: R. Eliezer said, Anyone who does not engage in the propagation of the race is as though he sheds blood; For it is said, Whoso sheddeth mans's blood,72 and close upon it follows, And you, be ye fruitful etc.71 R. Eleazar b. Azariah said: As though he diminished the Divine Image. Ben 'Azzai said etc.75 They said to Ben 'Azzai: Some preach well etc.75
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