סקר
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Steinsaltz

and one may not adorn oneself inside them; nor may one wander about inside them; nor may one enter them in the sun for protection from the sun, or in the rain to find shelter from the rain; nor may one offer a eulogy inside them for an individual, which is a private event. However, one may read the Bible inside them, and one may study halakhot inside them, and one may offer a eulogy inside them for a Torah scholar, if the public attends the eulogy.

Rabbi Yehuda said: When does this apply? When the synagogues are occupied by the people using them. But when they are in a state of ruin, they should be left alone so that grass will sprout up inside them. And that grass should not be picked and removed, due to the anguish that it will bring to those who see it. It will remind them of the disrepair of the synagogue and the need to rebuild it.

The Gemara asks: Why did Rabbi Yehuda discuss the halakha about grass? Who mentioned anything about it? The Gemara explains: The text of the baraita is incomplete and is teaching the following: And among the other things that may be done in synagogues, they should also be sure to sweep them and to sprinkle their floors with water, in order that grass not sprout up in them. Rabbi Yehuda said: When does this apply? When the synagogues are occupied by the people using them, but when they are in a state of ruin, they should be left alone so that grass will sprout up inside them. If grass did sprout up, it should not be removed, due to the anguish that this will bring to those who see it.

Rav Asi said: Synagogues in Babylonia are built from the outset with a stipulation that they not have the full sanctity of a synagogue, in order that it be permitted to use them for the community’s general needs. But nevertheless, one should not act inside them with frivolity. The Gemara explains: What is meant by this? One should not make business calculations in a synagogue.

Rav Asi said: With regard to a synagogue in which people make business calculations, they will eventually keep a corpse inside it overnight. The Gemara questions the wording of this dictum: Can it really enter your mind to say that they will ever actually keep a corpse inside it overnight? Could it really be that there will not be any other alternative? Rather, Rav Asi means that as a punishment for acting with frivolity people in the community will die, including those who have no family, and so ultimately they will have to keep a corpse with no one to bury it [met mitzva] overnight in the synagogue.

§ The baraita taught: And one may not adorn oneself inside them. Rava said: The prohibition applies only to laypeople, but Torah scholars and their disciples are permitted to do so, as Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: What is the meaning of the term: Bei of the Sages, which is used to describe a study hall? It is a shortened form of house [beita] of the Sages. In order to facilitate the constant presence of the Torah scholars in the study hall, it is permitted for them to use the hall as though it were their home.

The baraita continued: And nor may one enter them in the sun for protection from the sun, or in the rain to find shelter from the rain. The Gemara explains: This is similar to that case of Ravina and Rav Adda bar Mattana. They were standing and asking a question of Rava, when a shower [zilḥa] of rain began to fall upon them. They all entered the synagogue, saying: Our having entered the synagogue is not due to the rain, that we stay dry; rather, it is due to the fact that the halakha we were discussing requires clarity like the day the north wind [istena] blows and the sky is perfectly clear. Therefore, we are entering the synagogue for the sake of studying Torah, which is certainly permitted.

Rav Aḥa, son of Rava, said to Rav Ashi: If a person needs to summon an individual from inside a synagogue, what should he do, since it is not permitted to enter a synagogue just for that purpose? Rav Ashi said to him: If he is a young Torah scholar, let him recite a halakha upon entering the synagogue; and if he is a tanna who memorizes large numbers of mishnayot, let him recite various mishnayot; and if he is an expert in the Bible, let him recite a verse; and if he is not able to do even this, let him say to a child: Recite for me a verse that you have learned today. Alternatively, he should remain in the synagogue for a short time and only afterward stand up and leave.

The baraita continues: And one may offer a eulogy inside them for a Torah scholar if the public attends the eulogy. The Gemara asks: What are the circumstances of a eulogy for the public? Rav Ḥisda depicted a case: For example, a eulogy for a Torah scholar at which Rav Sheshet is present. Owing to his presence, many people will come. Rav Sheshet himself depicted another case: For example, a eulogy at which Rav Ḥisda is present.

The Gemara offers another example: Rafram once eulogized his daughter-in-law inside a synagogue. He said: Due to my honor and the honor of the deceased, everyone will come to the eulogy. It will consequently be a public event, and it is therefore permitted to hold it in a synagogue. Similarly, Rabbi Zeira once eulogized a certain Sage inside a synagogue. He said: Whether due to my honor, or whether due to the honor of the deceased, everyone will come to the eulogy.

Reish Lakish once eulogized a certain young Torah scholar who was frequently present in Eretz Yisrael and who used to study halakha in the twenty-fourth row of the study hall. He sat so far back because he was not one of the principal scholars. Nevertheless, when he died, Reish Lakish said: Alas, Eretz Yisrael has lost a great man.

In contrast, there was a certain man who used to study halakha, the Sifra, and the Sifrei, and the Tosefta, and he died. People came and said to Rav Naḥman: Let the Master eulogize him. He said to them: How can I eulogize him? Should I say: Alas, a basket filled with books is lost? This would not be true. Although the man studied many areas of Torah, he was not proficient in them.

The Gemara compares the conduct of Reish Lakish in Eretz Yisrael to that of Rav Naḥman in Babylonia. Come and see what the difference is between the harsh scholars of Eretz Yisrael and the saintly ones of Babylonia. Although Reish Lakish was known for his harsh nature, he was still more respectful than Rav Naḥman, who was known for his saintliness.

We learned in a mishna there (Avot 1:13): And one who makes use of the crown [taga] of Torah learning will perish from the world. Reish Lakish taught: This is referring to one who allows himself to be served by one who studies halakhot, which is the crown of the Torah.

And Ulla said: It is better that a person should be served by one who studies four orders of the Mishna, and he should not allow himself to be served by one who teaches to others four orders of the Mishna, as in that case of Reish Lakish. He was traveling along the road when he reached a deep puddle of water. A certain man came and placed him upon his shoulders and began transferring him to the other side. Reish Lakish said to him: Have you read the Bible? He said to him: I have read it. He then asked: Have you studied the Mishna? He answered him: I have studied four orders of the Mishna. Reish Lakish then said to him: You have hewn these four mountains and yet you bear the weight of the son of Lakish upon your shoulders? It is inappropriate for you to carry me; throw the son of Lakish into the water.

The man said to Reish Lakish: It is pleasing for me to serve the Master in this way. Reish Lakish said to him: If so, learn from me this matter that Rabbi Zeira said. In this way you will be considered my disciple, and it will then be appropriate for you to serve me. Jewish women were strict upon themselves in that even if they see a spot of menstrual blood that is only the size of a mustard seed they wait on its account seven clean days before immersing themselves in a ritual bath to purify themselves.

The school of Eliyahu taught: Anyone who studies halakhot every day, he is guaranteed that he is destined for the World-to-Come, as it is stated: “His ways [halikhot] are eternal” (Habakkuk 3:6): Do not read the verse as halikhot [ways]; rather, read it as halakhot. Consequently, the verse indicates that the study of the halakhot brings one to eternal life.

The Sages taught in a baraita:

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
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