סקר
האם אתה לומד דף יומי עם רש"י?






 

Steinsaltz

This case is referring to words of Torah, while that case is referring to commerce. With regard to words of Torah, they were trustworthy; with regard to commerce, they were not.

§ The Gemara returns to the topic of the Design of the Divine Chariot. The Sages taught: An incident occurred involving Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai, who was riding on a donkey and was traveling along the way, and his student, Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh, was riding a donkey behind him. Rabbi Elazar said to him: My teacher, teach me one chapter in the Design of the Divine Chariot. He said to him: Have I not taught you: And one may not expound the Design of the Divine Chariot to an individual, unless he is a Sage who understands on his own accord? Rabbi Elazar said to him: My teacher, allow me to say before you one thing that you taught me. In other words, he humbly requested to recite before him his own understanding of this issue. He said to him: Speak.

Immediately, Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai alighted from the donkey, and wrapped his head in his cloak in a manner of reverence, and sat on a stone under an olive tree. Rabbi Elazar said to him: My teacher, for what reason did you alight from the donkey? He said: Is it possible that while you are expounding the Design of the Divine Chariot, and the Divine Presence is with us, and the ministering angels are accompanying us, that I should ride on a donkey? Immediately, Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh began to discuss the Design of the Divine Chariot and expounded, and fire descended from heaven and encircled all the trees in the field, and all the trees began reciting song.

What song did they recite? “Praise the Lord from the earth, sea monsters and all depths…fruit trees and all cedars…praise the Lord” (Psalms 148:7–14). An angel responded from the fire, saying: This is the very Design of the Divine Chariot, just as you expounded. Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai stood and kissed Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh on his head, and said: Blessed be God, Lord of Israel, who gave our father Abraham a son like you, who knows how to understand, investigate, and expound the Design of the Divine Chariot. There are some who expound the Torah’s verses well but do not fulfill its imperatives well, and there are some who fulfill its imperatives well but do not expound its verses well, whereas you expound its verses well and fulfill its imperatives well. Happy are you, our father Abraham, that Elazar ben Arakh came from your loins.

The Gemara relates: And when these matters, this story involving his colleague Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh, were recounted before Rabbi Yehoshua, he was walking along the way with Rabbi Yosei the Priest. They said: We too shall expound the Design of the Divine Chariot. Rabbi Yehoshua began expounding. And that was the day of the summer solstice, when there are no clouds in the sky. Yet the heavens became filled with clouds, and there was the appearance of a kind of rainbow in a cloud. And ministering angels gathered and came to listen, like people gathering and coming to see the rejoicing of a bridegroom and bride.

Rabbi Yosei the Priest went and recited these matters before Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai, who said to him: Happy are all of you, and happy are the mothers who gave birth to you; happy are my eyes that saw this, students such as these. As for you and I, I saw in my dream that we were seated at Mount Sinai, and a Divine Voice came to us from heaven: Ascend here, ascend here, for large halls [teraklin] and pleasant couches are made up for you. You, your students, and the students of your students are invited to the third group, those who will merit to welcome the Divine Presence.

The Gemara poses a question: Is that so? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Yehuda, says: There are three lectures. In other words, there are three Sages with regard to whom it states that they delivered lectures on the mystical tradition: Rabbi Yehoshua lectured on these matters before Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai; Rabbi Akiva lectured before Rabbi Yehoshua; and Ḥananya ben Ḥakhinai lectured before Rabbi Akiva. However, Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh was not included in the list, despite the testimony that he lectured before Rabban Yoḥanan. The Gemara explains: Those who lectured and were also lectured to were included; but those who lectured and were not lectured to were not included. The Gemara asks: But wasn’t there Ḥananya ben Ḥakhinai, who was not lectured to, and yet he is included? The Gemara answers: Ḥananya ben Ḥakhinai actually lectured before one who lectured in front of his own rabbi, so he was also included in this list.

§ The Sages taught: Four entered the orchard [pardes], i.e., dealt with the loftiest secrets of Torah, and they are as follows: Ben Azzai; and ben Zoma; Aḥer, the other, a name for Elisha ben Avuya; and Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva, the senior among them, said to them: When, upon your arrival in the upper worlds, you reach pure marble stones, do not say: Water, water, although they appear to be water, because it is stated: “He who speaks falsehood shall not be established before My eyes” (Psalms 101:7).

The Gemara proceeds to relate what happened to each of them: Ben Azzai glimpsed at the Divine Presence and died. And with regard to him the verse states: “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His pious ones” (Psalms 116:15). Ben Zoma glimpsed at the Divine Presence and was harmed, i.e., he lost his mind. And with regard to him the verse states: “Have you found honey? Eat as much as is sufficient for you, lest you become full from it and vomit it” (Proverbs 25:16). Aḥer chopped down the shoots of saplings. In other words, he became a heretic. Rabbi Akiva came out safely.

The Gemara recounts the greatness of ben Zoma, who was an expert interpreter of the Torah and could find obscure proofs: They asked ben Zoma: What is the halakha with regard to castrating a dog? The prohibition against castration appears alongside the sacrificial blemishes, which may imply that it is permitted to castrate an animal that cannot be sacrificed as an offering. He said to them: The verse states “That which has its testicles bruised, or crushed, or torn, or cut, you shall not offer to God, nor shall you do so in your land” (Leviticus 22:24), from which we learn: With regard to any animal that is in your land, you shall not do such a thing. They also asked ben Zoma: A woman considered to be a virgin who became pregnant, what is the halakha? A High Priest may marry only a virgin; is he permitted to marry her? The answer depends on the following: Are we concerned for the opinion of Shmuel? Shmuel says:

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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