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Today's Daf Yomi

January 13, 2020 | ט״ז בטבת תש״פ

Berakhot 10

Bruria corrects Rabbi Meir, her husband, that one should not pray for the death of evildoers but for their repentance. There is a discussion between Bruria and a heretic and Rabbi Avahu and a heretic regarding verses that are hard to understand. The verse in Proverbs “the her mouth is full of intelligence” is said regarding King David who praised God throughout different stages in his life. The verses of Barchi Nafshi are explained. Why the phrase used five times? The soul is similar to God is five ways. The gemara describes the story in which Yeshayahu visits Chizkiyahu who is dying. How did the story play out? How did Chizkiyahu end up not dying then? What was his sin for which he was supposed to die? Is it better to pray based on one’s own merits or to pray baed on the merits of others? Can leaders accept gifts from others? Examples from both directions are brought from Elisha and Shmuel. One should pray from a place of humility. One should not eat before praying. What happens if one doesn’t say shema in the first three hours of the day? Beit Shamai and Beit Hillel debate what position one should be in when saying shema. Rabbi Tarfon tried to do like Beit Shamai and was told he was deserving of death!

תוכן זה תורגם גם ל: עברית

כל פרשה שהיתה חביבה על דוד פתח בה באשרי וסיים בה באשרי פתח באשרי דכתיב אשרי האיש וסיים ב׳אשרי׳ דכתיב אשרי כל חוסי בו:

Every chapter that was dear to David, he began with “happy is” and concluded with “happy is.” He opened with “happy is,” as it is written: “Happy is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked or stood in the way of sinners or sat in the dwelling place of the scornful” (Psalms 1:1). And he concluded with “happy,” as it is written at the end of the chapter: “Pay homage in purity, lest He be angry, and you perish on the way when His anger is kindled suddenly. Happy are those who take refuge in Him” (Psalms 2:12). We see that these two chapters actually constitute a single chapter.

הנהו בריוני דהוו בשבבותיה דרבי מאיר והוו קא מצערו ליה טובא הוה קא בעי רבי מאיר רחמי עלויהו כי היכי דלימותו אמרה ליה ברוריא דביתהו מאי דעתך משום דכתיב יתמו חטאים מי כתיב חוטאים חטאים כתיב

With regard to the statement of Rabbi Yehuda, son of Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi, that David did not say Halleluya until he saw the downfall of the wicked, the Gemara relates: There were these hooligans in Rabbi Meir’s neighborhood who caused him a great deal of anguish. Rabbi Meir prayed for God to have mercy on them, that they should die. Rabbi Meir’s wife, Berurya, said to him: What is your thinking? On what basis do you pray for the death of these hooligans? Do you base yourself on the verse, as it is written: “Let sins cease from the land” (Psalms 104:35), which you interpret to mean that the world would be better if the wicked were destroyed? But is it written, let sinners cease?” Let sins cease, is written. One should pray for an end to their transgressions, not for the demise of the transgressors themselves.

ועוד שפיל לסיפיה דקרא ורשעים עוד אינם כיון דיתמו חטאים ורשעים עוד אינם אלא בעי רחמי עלויהו דלהדרו בתשובה ורשעים עוד אינם

Moreover, go to the end of the verse, where it says: “And the wicked will be no more.” If, as you suggest, transgressions shall cease refers to the demise of the evildoers, how is it possible that the wicked will be no more, i.e., that they will no longer be evil? Rather, pray for God to have mercy on them, that they should repent, as if they repent, then the wicked will be no more, as they will have repented.

בעא רחמי עלויהו והדרו בתשובה:

Rabbi Meir saw that Berurya was correct and he prayed for God to have mercy on them, and they repented.

אמר לה ההוא מינא לברוריא כתיב רני עקרה לא ילדה משום דלא ילדה רני

The Gemara relates an additional example of Berurya’s incisive insight: A certain heretic said to Berurya: It is written: “Sing, barren woman who has not given birth, open forth in song and cry, you did not travail, for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, said the Lord” (Isaiah 54:1). Because she has not given birth, she should sing and rejoice?

אמרה ליה שטיא שפיל לסיפיה דקרא דכתיב כי רבים בני שוממה מבני בעולה אמר ה׳

Berurya responded to this heretic’s mockery and said: Fool! Go to the end of the verse, where it is written: “For the children of the desolate shall be more numerous than the children of the married wife, said the Lord.”

אלא מאי עקרה לא ילדה רני כנסת ישראל שדומה לאשה עקרה שלא ילדה בנים לגיהנם כותייכו:

Rather, what is the meaning of: “Sing, barren woman who has not given birth”? It means: Sing congregation of Israel, which is like a barren woman who did not give birth to children who are destined for Gehenna like you.

אמר ליה ההוא מינא לרבי אבהו כתיב מזמור לדוד בברחו מפני אבשלום בנו וכתיב לדוד מכתם בברחו מפני שאול במערה הי מעשה הוה ברישא מכדי מעשה שאול הוה ברישא לכתוב ברישא

In explaining passages from Psalms, the Gemara relates another instance of a response to the question of a heretic: A certain heretic said to Rabbi Abbahu, it is written: “A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son, Absalom” (Psalms 3:1), and similarly it is said: “To the chief musician, al tashḥet, a mikhtam of David when fleeing from Saul into the cave” (Psalms 57:1). Which event was first? Since the event with Saul was first, it would have been appropriate to write it first.

אמר ליה אתון דלא דרשיתון סמוכין קשיא לכו אנן דדרשינן סמוכים לא קשיא לן

Rabbi Abbahu said to him: For you, who do not employ the homiletic method of juxtaposition of verses, it is difficult. But for us, who employ the homiletic method of juxtaposition of verses, it is not difficult, as the Sages commonly homiletically infer laws and moral lessons from the juxtaposition of two verses.

דאמר רבי יוחנן סמוכין מן התורה מנין שנאמר סמוכים לעד לעולם עשוים באמת וישר

Regarding the juxtaposition of verses, Rabbi Yoḥanan said: From where in the Bible is it derived that one may draw homiletical inferences from the juxtaposition of verses? As it is said: “The works of His hands in truth and justice, all His commandments are sure. Adjoined forever and ever, made in truth and uprightness” (Psalms 111:7–8). Conclude from here that it is appropriate to draw inferences from the juxtaposition of God’s commandments. Accordingly, David’s fleeing from Absalom is situated where it is in order to juxtapose it to the next chapter, which mentions the war of Gog and Magog; the second chapter of Psalms opens: “Why are the nations in an uproar?”

למה נסמכה פרשת אבשלום לפרשת גוג ומגוג שאם יאמר לך אדם כלום יש עבד שמורד ברבו אף אתה אמור לו כלום יש בן שמורד באביו אלא הוה הכא נמי הוה:

Why was the chapter of Absalom juxtaposed with the chapter of Gog and Magog? They are juxtaposed so that if a person should say to you, expressing doubt with regard to the prophecy of the war of Gog and Magog “against the Lord and against His anointed”: Is there a slave who rebels against his master? Is there someone capable of rebelling against God? You too say to him: Is there a son who rebels against his father and severs the relationship with the one who brought him into the world and raised him? Yet, nevertheless, there was such a son, Absalom, and so too there can be a situation where people will seek to rebel against God.

אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יוחי מאי דכתיב פיה פתחה בחכמה ותורת חסד על לשונה כנגד מי אמר שלמה מקרא זה לא אמרו אלא כנגד דוד אביו שדר בחמשה עולמים ואמר שירה

Rabbi Yoḥanan said explanations of other verses in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: What is the meaning of that which is written: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of loving-kindness is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26)? The Sages explain that this chapter discusses the wisdom of Torah and those who engage in its study, so with reference to whom did Solomon say this verse? He said this verse about none other than his father, David, who was the clearest example of one who opens his mouth in wisdom, and who resided in five worlds or stages of life and his soul said a song of praise corresponding to each of them. Five times David said: “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” each corresponding to a different stage of life.

דר במעי אמו ואמר שירה שנאמר ברכי נפשי את ה׳ וכל קרבי את שם קדשו

He resided in his mother’s womb, his first world, and said a song of praise of the pregnancy, as it is stated: “Of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name” (Psalms 103:1), in which he thanks God for creating all that is within his mother, i.e., her womb.

יצא לאויר העולם ונסתכל בכוכבים ומזלות ואמר שירה שנאמר ברכו ה׳ מלאכיו גברי כח עושי דברו לשמע בקול דברו ברכו ה׳ כל צבאיו וגו׳

He emerged into the atmosphere of the world, his second world, looked upon the stars and constellations and said a song of praise of God for the entirety of creation, as it is stated: “Bless the Lord, His angels, mighty in strength, that fulfill His word, listening to the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all His hosts, His servants, that do His will. Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His kingship, bless my soul, Lord” (Psalms 103:20–23). David saw the grandeur of all creation and recognized that they are mere servants, carrying out the will of their Creator (Ma’ayan HaBerakhot).

ינק משדי אמו ונסתכל בדדיה ואמר שירה שנאמר ברכי נפשי את ה׳ ואל תשכחי כל גמוליו

He nursed from his mother’s breast, his third world, and he looked upon her bosom and said a song of praise, as it is stated: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all His benefits [gemulav]” (Psalms 103:2). The etymological association is between gemulav and gemulei meḥalav, which means weaned from milk (Isaiah 28:9).

מאי כל גמוליו אמר רבי אבהו שעשה לה דדים במקום בינה

We still must understand, however, what is meant by all His benefits? What in particular is praiseworthy in what God provided, beyond merely providing for the infant? Rabbi Abbahu said: In contrast with most other animals, God placed her breasts near her heart, the place that is the source of understanding.

טעמא מאי אמר רב יהודה כדי שלא יסתכל במקום ערוה רב מתנא אמר כדי שלא יינק ממקום הטנופת

What is the reason that God did this? Rav Yehuda said: So that the nursing child would not look upon the place of his mother’s nakedness. Rav Mattana said: So that the child would not nurse from a place of uncleanliness.

ראה במפלתן של רשעים ואמר שירה שנאמר יתמו חטאים מן הארץ ורשעים עוד אינם ברכי נפשי את ה׳ הללויה

He witnessed in both vision and reality the downfall of the wicked and he said a song of praise, as it is stated: “Let sinners cease from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul, Halleluya (Psalms 104:35).

נסתכל ביום המיתה ואמר שירה שנאמר ברכי נפשי את ה׳ ה׳ אלהי גדלת מאד הוד והדר לבשת

The fifth world was when David looked upon the day of death and said a song of praise, as it is stated: “Bless the Lord, O my soul. Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed in glory and majesty” (Psalms 104:1); for even death is a time of transcendence for the righteous.

מאי משמע דעל יום המיתה נאמר אמר רבה בר רב שילא מסיפא דעניינא דכתיב תסתיר פניך יבהלון תסף רוחם יגועון וגו׳

The connection between this final praise and the day of death is unclear. The Gemara asks: From where is it inferred that this verse was stated with regard to the day of death? Rabba bar Rav Sheila says: We can derive this from the verses at the end of the matter, where it is written: “You hide Your face, they vanish; You gather Your breath, they perish and return to the dust” (Psalms 104:29).

רב שימי בר עוקבא ואמרי לה מר עוקבא הוה שכיח קמיה דרבי שמעון בן פזי והוה מסדר אגדתא קמיה דרבי יהושע בן לוי אמר ליה מאי דכתיב ברכי נפשי את ה׳ וכל קרבי את שם קדשו אמר ליה בא וראה שלא כמדת הקדוש ברוך הוא מדת בשר ודם מדת בשר ודם צר צורה על גבי הכותל ואינו יכול להטיל בה רוח ונשמה קרבים ובני מעים והקדוש ברוך הוא אינו כן צר צורה בתוך צורה ומטיל בה רוח ונשמה קרבים ובני מעים והיינו דאמרה חנה אין קדוש כה׳ כי אין בלתך ואין צור כאלהינו

Other interpretations of this verse exist. The Gemara relates how Rav Shimi bar Ukva, and some say Mar Ukva, would regularly study before Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi, who was well versed in aggada and would arrange the aggada before Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi.
Once, Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi said to him: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Bless the Lord, my soul, and all that is within me bless His Holy name”?
Rav Shimi bar Ukva said to Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi: Come and see that the attribute of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is not like the attribute of flesh and blood, as this verse praises the formation of man in his mother’s womb. The attribute of flesh and blood is such that he shapes a form on the wall for all to see, yet he cannot instill it with a spirit and soul, bowels and intestines. While the Holy One, Blessed be He, is not so, as God shapes one form within another form, a child in its mother’s womb, and instills it with spirit and soul, bowels and intestines. And this is the explanation of what Hannah said with regard to the birth of Samuel: “There is none holy like the Lord, for there is none like You, and there is no Rock like our God” (I Samuel 2:2).

מאי אין צור כאלהינו אין צייר כאלהינו

What is the meaning of there is no rock [tzur] like our God? There is no artist [tzayyar] like our God.

מאי כי אין בלתך אמר רבי יהודה בר מנסיא אל תקרי כי אין בלתך אלא אין לבלותך שלא כמדת הקדוש ברוך הוא מדת בשר ודם מדת בשר ודם מעשה ידיו מבלין אותו והקדוש ברוך הוא מבלה מעשיו

The Gemara continues to interpret the rest of that verse homiletically: What is the meaning of “there is none like You”? Rabbi Yehuda ben Menasya said: Do not read the verse to mean “there is none like You [biltekha]”; rather, read it to mean “none can outlast You [levalotkha],” as the attribute of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is not like the attribute of flesh and blood: The attribute of flesh and blood is such that his creations outlast him, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, outlasts His actions.

אמר ליה אנא הכי קא אמינא לך הני חמשה ברכי נפשי כנגד מי אמרן דוד לא אמרן אלא כנגד הקדוש ברוך הוא וכנגד נשמה

This did not satisfy Rav Shimi bar Ukva, who said to Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi: I meant to say to you as follows: Corresponding to whom did David say these five instance of “Bless the Lord, O my soul”? He answered him: He said them about none other than the Holy One, Blessed be He, and corresponding to the soul, as the verse refers to the relationship between man’s soul and God. The five instances of “Bless the Lord, O my soul” correspond to the five parallels between the soul in man’s body and God’s power in His world.

מה הקדוש ברוך הוא מלא כל העולם אף נשמה מלאה את כל הגוף מה הקדוש ברוך הוא רואה ואינו נראה אף נשמה רואה ואינה נראית מה הקדוש ברוך הוא זן את כל העולם כלו אף נשמה זנה את כל הגוף מה הקדוש ברוך הוא טהור אף נשמה טהורה מה הקדוש ברוך הוא יושב בחדרי חדרים אף נשמה יושבת בחדרי חדרים יבא מי שיש בו חמשה דברים הללו וישבח למי שיש בו חמשה דברים הללו:

Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, fills the entire world, so too the soul fills the entire body.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, sees but is not seen, so too does the soul see, but is not seen.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, sustains the entire world, so too the soul sustains the entire body.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, is pure, so too is the soul pure.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, resides in a chamber within a chamber, in His inner sanctum, so too the soul resides in a chamber within a chamber, in the innermost recesses of the body.
Therefore, that which has these five characteristics, the soul, should come and praise He Who has these five characteristics.

אמר רב המנונא מאי דכתיב מי כהחכם ומי יודע פשר דבר מי כהקדוש ברוך הוא שיודע לעשות פשרה בין שני צדיקים בין חזקיהו לישעיהו חזקיהו אמר ליתי ישעיהו גבאי דהכי אשכחן באליהו דאזל לגבי אחאב שנאמר וילך אליהו להראות אל אחאב ישעיהו אמר ליתי חזקיהו גבאי דהכי אשכחן ביהורם בן אחאב דאזל לגבי אלישע

With regard to redemption and prayer, the Gemara tells the story of Hezekiah’s illness, his prayer to God, and subsequent recuperation. Rav Hamnuna said: What is the meaning of that which is written praising the Holy One, Blessed be He: “Who is like the wise man, and who knows the interpretation [pesher] of the matter” (Ecclesiastes 8:1)? This verse means: Who is like the Holy One, Blessed be He, Who knows how to effect compromise [peshara] between two righteous individuals, between Hezekiah, the king of Judea, and Isaiah the prophet. They disagreed over which of them should visit the other. Hezekiah said: Let Isaiah come to me, as that is what we find with regard to Elijah the prophet, who went to Ahab, the king of Israel, as it is stated: “And Elijah went to appear to Ahab” (I Kings 18:2). This proves that it is the prophet who must seek out the king. And Isaiah said: Let Hezekiah come to me, as that is what we find with regard to Yehoram ben Ahab, king of Israel, who went to Elisha the prophet, as it is stated: “So the king of Israel, Jehosaphat and the king of Edom went down to him” (II Kings 3:12).

מה עשה הקדוש ברוך הוא הביא יסורים על חזקיהו ואמר לו לישעיהו לך ובקר את החולה שנאמר בימים ההם חלה חזקיהו למות ויבא אליו ישעיהו בן אמוץ הנביא ויאמר אליו כה אמר ה׳ צבאות צו לביתך כי מת אתה ולא תחיה וגו׳ מאי כי מת אתה ולא תחיה מת אתה בעולם הזה ולא תחיה לעולם הבא

What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do to effect compromise between Hezekiah and Isaiah? He brought the suffering of illness upon Hezekiah and told Isaiah: Go and visit the sick. Isaiah did as God instructed, as it is stated: “In those days Hezekiah became deathly ill, and Isaiah ben Amoz the prophet came and said to him: Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Set your house in order, for you will die and you will not live” (Isaiah 38:1). This seems redundant; what is the meaning of you will die and you will not live? This repetition means: You will die in this world, and you will not live, you will have no share, in the World-to-Come.

אמר ליה מאי כולי האי אמר ליה משום דלא עסקת בפריה ורביה אמר ליה משום דחזאי לי ברוח הקדש דנפקי מינאי בנין דלא מעלו

Hezekiah said to him: What is all of this? For what transgression am I being punished?
Isaiah said to him: Because you did not marry and engage in procreation.
Hezekiah apologized and said: I had no children because I envisaged through divine inspiration that the children that emerge from me will not be virtuous. Hezekiah meant that he had seen that his children were destined to be evil. In fact, his son Menashe sinned extensively, and he thought it preferable to have no children at all.

אמר ליה בהדי כבשי דרחמנא למה לך מאי דמפקדת איבעי לך למעבד ומה דניחא קמיה קודשא בריך הוא לעביד

Isaiah said to him: Why do you involve yourself with the secrets of the Holy One, Blessed be He? That which you have been commanded, the mitzva of procreation, you are required to perform, and that which is acceptable in the eyes of the Holy One, Blessed be He, let Him perform, as He has so decided.

אמר ליה השתא הב לי ברתך אפשר דגרמא זכותא דידי ודידך ונפקי מנאי בנין דמעלו אמר ליה כבר נגזרה עליך גזירה אמר ליה בן אמוץ כלה נבואתך וצא

Hezekiah said to Isaiah: Now give me your daughter as my wife; perhaps my merit and your merit will cause virtuous children to emerge from me.
Isaiah said to him: The decree has already been decreed against you and this judgment cannot be changed.
Hezekiah said to him: Son of Amoz, cease your prophecy and leave. As long as the prophet spoke as God’s emissary, Hezekiah was obligated to listen to him. He was not, however, obligated to accept Isaiah’s personal opinion that there was no possibility for mercy and healing.

כך מקובלני מבית אבי אבא אפילו חרב חדה מונחת על צוארו של אדם אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים

Hezekiah continued: I have received a tradition from the house of my father’s father, from King David, the founding father of the dynasty of kings of Judea: Even if a sharp sword rests upon a person’s neck, he should not prevent himself from praying for mercy. One may still hold out hope that his prayers will be answered, as was David himself when he saw the Angel of Destruction, but nonetheless prayed for mercy and his prayers were answered.

אתמר נמי רבי יוחנן ורבי אליעזר דאמרי תרוייהו אפילו חרב חדה מונחת על צוארו של אדם אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים שנאמר הן יקטלני לו איחל

With regard to the fact that one should not despair of God’s mercy, the Gemara cites that it was also said that Rabbi Yoḥanan and Rabbi Eliezer both said: Even if a sharp sword is resting upon a person’s neck, he should not prevent himself from praying for mercy, as it is stated in the words of Job: “Though He slay me, I will trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Even though God is about to take his life, he still prays for God’s mercy.

אמר רבי חנן אפילו בעל החלומות אומר לו לאדם למחר הוא מת אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים שנאמר כי ברב חלמות והבלים ודברים הרבה כי את האלהים ירא

Similarly, Rabbi Ḥanan said: Even if the master of dreams, in a true dream, an angel (Ma’ayan HaBerakhot) tells a person that tomorrow he will die, he should not prevent himself from praying for mercy, as it is stated: “For in the multitude of dreams and vanities there are many words; but fear God” (Ecclesiastes 5:6). Although the dream may seem real to him, that is not necessarily the case, and one must place his trust in God.

מיד ויסב חזקיהו פניו אל הקיר ויתפלל אל ה׳

Having heard Isaiah’s harsh prophecy, immediately “Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall and prayed to the Lord” (Isaiah 38:2).

מאי קיר אמר רבי שמעון בן לקיש מקירות לבו שנאמר מעי מעי אוחילה קירות לבי וגו׳

The Gemara asks: What is meant by the word “wall [kir]” in this context? Why did Hezekiah turn his face to a wall? Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: This symbolically alludes to the fact that Hezekiah prayed to God from the chambers [kirot] of his heart, as it is stated elsewhere: “My anguish, my anguish, I am in pain. The chambers of my heart. My heart moans within me” (Jeremiah 4:19).

רבי לוי אמר על עסקי הקיר אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם ומה שונמית שלא עשתה אלא קיר אחת קטנה החיית את בנה אבי אבא שחפה את ההיכל כולו בכסף ובזהב על אחת כמה וכמה זכר נא את אשר התהלכתי לפניך באמת ובלב שלם והטוב בעיניך עשיתי

Rabbi Levi said: Hezekiah intended to evoke matters relating to a wall, and he said before God: Master of the Universe, and if the woman from Shunem, who made only a single small wall on the roof for the prophet Elisha, and you revived her son, all the more so should you bring life to the descendant of my father’s father, King Solomon, who covered the entire Temple Sanctuary with silver and gold. In his prayer, Hezekiah said: “Please, Lord, please remember that I walked before You in truth, and with a complete heart, and what was good in Your eyes I did. And Hezekiah wept sore” (Isaiah 38:3).

מאי והטוב בעיניך עשיתי אמר רב יהודה אמר רב שסמך גאולה לתפלה רבי לוי אמר שגנז ספר רפואות

The Gemara asks: To what specific action was he referring when he said: “And what was good in your sight I did”? Various opinions are offered: Mentioning Hezekiah’s merits, Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav that he juxtaposed redemption and prayer at sunrise instead of sleeping late, as was the custom of most kings (Iyyun Ya’akov). Rabbi Levi said: He suppressed the Book of Remedies upon which everyone relied.

תנו רבנן ששה דברים עשה חזקיהו המלך על שלשה הודו לו ועל שלשה לא הודו לו

The Sages taught: King Hezekiah performed six innovative actions. With regard to three the Sages agreed with him, and with regard to three they did not agree with him.

על שלשה הודו לו גנז ספר רפואות והודו לו כתת נחש הנחשת והודו לו גירר עצמות אביו על מטה של חבלים והודו לו

With regard to three actions the Sages agreed with him:
He suppressed the Book of Remedies, and they agreed with him.
He ground the copper snake through which miracles were performed for Israel (Numbers 21:9), destroying it because it had been used in idol worship (II Kings 18:4), and they agreed with him.
He dragged the bones of his evil father, King Ahaz, on a bed of ropes; meaning he did not accord his father a funeral fit for a king (II Chronicles 28:27), and they agreed with him.

ועל שלשה לא הודו לו סתם מי גיחון ולא הודו לו קצץ דלתות היכל ושגרם למלך אשור ולא הודו לו עבר ניסן בניסן ולא הודו לו

Yet, with regard to three other innovations, the Sages of his generation did not agree with him:
He stopped up the waters of the Gihon, the Pool of Siloam, diverting its water into the city by means of a tunnel (II Chronicles 32:30), and they did not agree with him.
He cut off the doors of the Sanctuary and sent them to the king of Assyria (II Kings 18:16), and they did not agree with him.
He intercalated Nisan in Nisan, creating a leap year by adding an extra month during the month of Nisan. That intercalation must be performed before the end of Adar (II Chronicles 30:2).

ומי לית ליה לחזקיהו החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים זה ניסן ואין אחר ניסן

With regard to his intercalation of Nisan, the Gemara asks: Did Hezekiah not accept the halakha: “This month will be for you the first of the months; it shall be the first for you of the months of the year” (Exodus 12:2)? By inference, this first month is Nisan, and no other month is Nisan. How could Hezekiah add an additional Nisan in violation of Torah law?

אלא טעה בדשמואל דאמר שמואל אין מעברין את השנה ביום שלשים של אדר הואיל וראוי לקובעו ניסן סבר הואיל וראוי לא אמרינן:

The Gemara answers that the scenario was different. Rather, Hezekiah erred with regard to the halakhic opinion ascribed in later generations to Shmuel, as Shmuel said: One may not intercalate the year on the thirtieth day of Adar, since it is fit to establish it as the New Moon of Nisan. On the thirtieth day of each month, those who witnessed the new moon would come and testify before the court, which, based on their testimony, would declare that day the first day of the next month. Therefore, one may not declare a leap year on the thirtieth day of Adar, as it could potentially become the first of Nisan. Therefore, the Sages of Hezekiah’s generation did not agree with his decision to intercalate the year on the thirtieth of Adar. Hezekiah held that we do not say: Since that day is fit to establish it as the New Moon is reason enough to refrain from intercalation of the year.

אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי יוסי בן זמרא כל התולה בזכות עצמו תולין לו בזכות אחרים וכל התולה בזכות אחרים תולין לו בזכות עצמו

Stemming from the analysis of Hezekiah’s prayer, Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei ben Zimra: Anyone who bases his prayer or request upon his own merit, when God answers his prayer, it is based upon the merit of others. And anyone who modestly bases his prayer or request upon the merit of others, when God answers his prayer, it is based upon his own merit.

משה תלה בזכות אחרים שנאמר זכר לאברהם ליצחק ולישראל עבדיך תלו לו בזכות עצמו שנאמר ויאמר להשמידם לולי משה בחירו עמד בפרץ לפניו להשיב חמתו מהשחית

The Gemara cites proof from Moses. When he prayed to God for forgiveness after the incident of the Golden Calf, he based his request upon the merit of others, as it is stated: “Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel your servants, to whom You swore upon Yourself, and told them: I will increase your descendants like the stars of the heavens, and all of this land of which I have spoken, I will give to your descendants and they will inherit it forever” (Exodus 32:13). Yet when this story is related, God’s forgiveness of Israel is based upon Moses’ own merit, as it is stated: “And He said He would destroy them, had Moses, His chosen, not stood before Him in the breach to turn back His destructive fury, lest He should destroy them” (Psalms 106:23).

חזקיהו תלה בזכות עצמו דכתיב זכר נא את אשר התהלכתי לפניך תלו לו בזכות אחרים שנאמר וגנותי אל העיר הזאת להושיעה למעני ולמען דוד עבדי והיינו דרבי יהושע בן לוי דאמר רבי יהושע בן לוי מאי דכתיב הנה לשלום מר לי מר אפילו בשעה ששיגר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא שלום מר הוא לו:

Hezekiah, however, based his request upon his own merit, as it is written: “Please, remember that I walked before You” (Isaiah 38:3). When God answered his prayers, it was based upon the merit of others with no mention made of Hezekiah’s own merit, as it is stated: “And I will protect this city to save it, for My sake and for the sake of David, My servant” (II Kings 19:34). And that is what Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said. As Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Behold, for my peace I had great bitterness; but You have, in love to my soul, delivered it from the pit of corruption; for You have thrown all my sins behind Your back” (Isaiah 38:17)? This verse teaches that even when the Holy One, Blessed be He, sent him peace and told him that he would recover from his illness, it was bitter for him, because God did not take his merit into consideration.

נעשה נא עלית קיר קטנה

Having mentioned the chamber on the roof built for Elisha by the woman from Shunem, the Gemara now describes the entire event. The woman from Shunem suggested to her husband: “Let us make, I pray thee, a small chamber on the roof, and let us place a bed, table, stool and candlestick for him there, and it will be, when he comes to us, that he will turn in there” (II Kings 4:10).

רב ושמואל חד אמר עלייה פרועה היתה וקירוה וחד אמר אכסדרה גדולה היתה וחלקוה לשנים

Rav and Shmuel argued over the meaning of small chamber. One of them said: They had an uncovered second story on their roof, over which they built a ceiling; and one of them said: There was an enclosed veranda [akhsadra] and they divided it in half.

בשלמא למאן דאמר אכסדרה היינו דכתיב קיר אלא למאן דאמר עלייה מאי קיר

The Gemara comments: Granted, according to the one who said that it was an enclosed veranda which they divided in two, it makes sense that the term wall [kir] was written. However, according to the one who said that they had an open second story, what is the meaning of wall?

שקירוה

The Gemara responds: The one who said that they had an uncovered second story interprets kir not as wall but as ceiling meaning that they built a ceiling [kirui] over it.

בשלמא למאן דאמר עלייה היינו דכתיב עליית אלא למאן דאמר אכסדרה מאי עליית

On the other hand, granted, according to the one who said that they had an uncovered second story, it makes sense that the term second story [aliyat] was written. But according to the one who said that it was an enclosed veranda, what is the meaning of the term second story?

מעולה שבבתים

The Gemara responds: The one who said that it was an enclosed veranda interprets aliyat not as second story, but as the most outstanding [me’ula] of the rooms.

ונשים לו שם מטה ושלחן וכסא ומנורה

Incidental to this discussion, the Gemara analyzes the statement made by the woman from Shunem to her husband with regard to the provisions that they would place in the room for Elisha: “And let us place a bed, table, stool and candlestick for him there.”

אמר אביי ואיתימא רבי יצחק הרוצה להנות יהנה כאלישע ושאינו רוצה להנות אל יהנה כשמואל הרמתי שנאמר ותשובתו הרמתה כי שם ביתו ואמר רבי יוחנן שכל מקום שהלך שם ביתו עמו

Abaye, and some say Rabbi Yitzḥak, said: A great man who seeks to enjoy the contributions of those who seek to honor him may enjoy those gifts, as Elisha enjoyed gifts given him by the woman from Shunem, among others. And one who does not seek to enjoy these gifts should not enjoy them, as was the practice of the prophet Samuel from Rama, who would not accept gifts from anyone at all. From where do we know that this was Samuel’s custom? As it is stated: “And he returned to Rama, for there was his house, and there he judged Israel, and he built an altar to the Lord” (I Samuel 7:17). And similarly, Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Every place where Samuel went, his house was with him, so he would have everything that he needed and not be forced to benefit from public contributions. One may opt to conduct himself in accordance with either of these paths.

ותאמר אל אישה הנה נא ידעתי כי איש אלהים קדוש הוא אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא מכאן שהאשה מכרת באורחין יותר מן האיש

Regarding the woman from Shunem: “And she said to her husband: Behold now, I perceive that he is a holy man of God who passes by us continually” (II Kings 4:9). Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: From here, where the woman from Shunem perceived the prophet’s greatness before her husband did, derive that a woman recognizes the character of her guests more than a man does.

קדוש הוא מנא ידעה רב ושמואל חד אמר שלא ראתה זבוב עובר על שלחנו וחד אמר סדין של פשתן הציעה על מטתו ולא ראתה קרי עליו

The Gemara notes that the woman from Shunem said that “he is holy.” The Gemara asks: From where did she know that he was holy? Rav and Shmuel disagreed over this. One of them said: She never saw a fly pass over his table; and the other said: She spread a white linen sheet on his bed, and despite that even the smallest stain is visible on white linen, and nocturnal seminal emissions are not uncommon, she never saw the residue of a seminal emission on it.

קדוש הוא אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא הוא קדוש ומשרתו אינו קדוש שנאמר ויגש גיחזי להדפה אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא שאחזה בהוד יפיה

With regard to the verse: “He is holy,” Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: The woman from Shunem intimated that: He is holy, but his attendant, Geihazi, is not holy, as she saw no indication of holiness in him (Iyyun Ya’akov). Here too, she correctly perceived the character of her guest, as it is later stated: “And Geihazi approached her to push her away [lehodfa]” (II Kings 4:27). And Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: He grabbed her by the majesty of her beauty [hod yofya], meaning that when he pushed her he grabbed her breasts in a licentious manner.

עובר עלינו תמיד אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא משום רבי אליעזר בן יעקב כל המארח תלמיד חכם בתוך ביתו ומהנהו מנכסיו מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו מקריב תמידין

With regard to the phrasing of the verse: “He is a holy man of God who passes by us continually,” Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: From this verse we derive that one who hosts a Torah scholar in his home and lets him enjoy his possessions, the verse ascribes to him credit as if he is sacrificing the daily [tamid] offering, as the verse states: “Passes by us continually [tamid].”

ואמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא משום רבי אליעזר בן יעקב אל יעמוד אדם במקום גבוה ויתפלל אלא במקום נמוך ויתפלל שנאמר ממעמקים קראתיך ה׳

With regard to the halakhot of prayer, Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: A person should not stand in a high place and pray; rather, he should stand in a low place and pray, as it is stated: “I called to You, Lord, from the depths” (Psalms 130:1).

תניא נמי הכי לא יעמוד אדם לא על גבי כסא ולא על גבי שרפרף ולא במקום גבוה ויתפלל אלא במקום נמוך ויתפלל לפי שאין גבהות לפני המקום שנאמר ממעמקים קראתיך ה׳ וכתיב תפלה לעני כי יעטף

That was also taught in a baraita: One should neither stand upon a chair nor upon a stool, nor in a high place and pray. Rather, one should stand in a low place and pray, for there is no haughtiness before God. As it is stated: “I called to You, Lord, from the depths” and it is written: “A prayer for the impoverished, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before God” (Psalms 102:1). It is appropriate to feel impoverished when praying and make one’s requests humbly.

ואמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא משום רבי אליעזר בן יעקב המתפלל צריך שיכוין את רגליו שנאמר ורגליהם רגל ישרה

And Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: When praying, one should align his feet next to each other, as a single foot, in order to model oneself after the angels, with regard to whom it is stated: “And their feet were a straight foot” (Ezekiel 1:7).

(אמר רבי יצחק אמר רבי יוחנן) ואמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא משום רבי אליעזר בן יעקב מאי דכתיב לא תאכלו על הדם לא תאכלו קודם שתתפללו על דמכם

Rabbi Yitzḥak said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said and Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: What is the meaning of that which is written: “You shall not eat with the blood” (Leviticus 19:26)? You may not eat before you pray for your blood. One may not eat before he prays.

איכא דאמרי אמר רבי יצחק אמר רבי יוחנן אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא משום רבי אליעזר בן יעקב כל האוכל ושותה ואחר כך מתפלל עליו הכתוב אומר ואתי השלכת אחרי גוך אל תקרי גויך אלא גאיך אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא לאחר שנתגאה זה קבל עליו מלכות שמים:

Others say that Rabbi Yitzḥak said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said that Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: One who eats and drinks and later prays, about him the verse states the rebuke of the prophet in the name of God: “And Me you have cast behind your back” (I Kings 14:9). One who sees to his own bodily needs by eating and drinking before prayer casts God aside, according his arrogance and ego priority over God (Maharsha). Indeed, do not read your back [gavekha]; rather, your pride [ge’ekha]. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: After this one has become arrogant and engaged in satisfying his own needs, he only then accepted upon himself the kingdom of Heaven.

רבי יהושע אומר עד שלש שעות אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל הלכה כרבי יהושע:

We learned in the mishna that Rabbi Yehoshua says: One may recite the morning Shema until three hours of the day. Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: The halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua.

הקורא מכאן ואילך לא הפסיד:

We also learned in the mishna that one who recites Shema from that time onward loses nothing; although he does not fulfill the mitzva of reciting of Shema at its appointed time, he is nevertheless considered like one who reads the Torah, and is rewarded accordingly.

אמר רב חסדא אמר מר עוקבא ובלבד שלא יאמר יוצר אור

With regard to this ruling, Rav Ḥisda said that Mar Ukva said: This only applies provided one does not recite: Who forms light [yotzer or], or the rest of the blessings recited along with Shema, as they pertain only to the fulfillment of the mitzva of reciting of the morning Shema; after the third hour, they are inappropriate.

מיתיבי הקורא מכאן ואילך לא הפסיד כאדם שהוא קורא בתורה אבל מברך הוא שתים לפניה ואחת לאחריה תיובתא דרב חסדא תיובתא

The Gemara raises an objection to Rav Ḥisda’s statement from a baraita: One who recites Shema from that time onward loses nothing, and is considered like one who reads Torah, but he recites two blessings beforehand and one blessing thereafter.This directly contradicts Rav Ḥisda’s statement, and the Gemara notes: Indeed, the refutation of the statement of Rav Ḥisda is a conclusive refutation, and Rav Ḥisda’s opinion is rejected in favor of that of the baraita.

איכא דאמרי אמר רב חסדא אמר מר עוקבא מאי לא הפסיד שלא הפסיד ברכות תניא נמי הכי הקורא מכאן ואילך לא הפסיד כאדם שקורא בתורה אבל מברך הוא שתים לפניה ואחת לאחריה

Some say that Rav Ḥisda said that Mar Ukva said the opposite: What is the meaning of: Loses nothing, in the mishna? This means that one who recites Shema after the third hour does not lose the opportunity to recite the blessings and is permitted to recite them although the time for the recitation of Shema has passed. That was also taught in a baraita: One who recites Shema after this time loses nothing, and is considered like one who reads the Torah, but he recites two blessings beforehand and one thereafter.

אמר רבי מני גדול הקורא קריאת שמע בעונתה יותר מהעוסק בתורה מדקתני הקורא מכאן ואילך לא הפסיד כאדם הקורא בתורה מכלל דקורא בעונתה עדיף:

With regard to our mishna, Rabbi Mani said: Greater is one who recites Shema at its appropriate time than one who engages in Torah study. A proof is cited based on what was taught in the mishna: One who recites Shema after this time loses nothing and is considered like one who reads the Torah. This is proven by inference, since one who recites Shema at its appointed time is greater than one who does not, and one who does not is equal to one who reads the Torah, when one recites Shema at its appointed time he fulfills two mitzvot, that of Torah study and that of the recitation of Shema.

מתני׳ בית שמאי אומרים בערב כל אדם יטה ויקרא ובבקר יעמוד שנאמר ובשכבך ובקומך

MISHNA: Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disputed the proper way to recite Shema. Beit Shammai say: One should recite Shema in the manner indicated in the text of Shema itself. Therefore, in the evening every person must recline on his side and recite Shema, in fulfillment of the verse: “When you lie down,” and in the morning he must stand and recite Shema, in fulfillment of the verse: When you rise, as it is stated: “When you lie down, and when you rise.”

ובית הלל אומרים כל אדם קורא כדרכו שנאמר ובלכתך בדרך

And Beit Hillel say: Every person recites Shema as he is, and he may do so in whatever position is most comfortable for him, both day and night, as it is stated: “And when you walk along the way,” when one is neither standing nor reclining (Me’iri).

אם כן למה נאמר ובשכבך ובקומך בשעה שבני אדם שוכבים ובשעה שבני אדם עומדים

If so, according to Beit Hillel, why was it stated: “When you lie down, and when you rise”? This is merely to denote time; at the time when people lie down and the time when people rise.

אמר רבי טרפון אני הייתי בא בדרך והטתי לקרות כדברי בית שמאי וסכנתי בעצמי מפני הלסטים

With regard to this halakha, Rabbi Tarfon said: Once, I was coming on the road when I stopped and reclined to recite Shema in accordance with the statement of Beit Shammai. Although Rabbi Tarfon was a disciple of Beit Hillel, he thought that fulfilling the mitzva in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai would be a more meticulous fulfillment of the mitzva, acceptable to all opinions. Yet in so doing, I endangered myself due to the highwaymen [listim] who accost travelers.

אמרו לו כדי היית לחוב בעצמך שעברת על דברי בית הלל:

The Sages said to him: You deserved to be in a position where you were liable to pay with your life, as you transgressed the statement of Beit Hillel. This statement will be explained in the Gemara.

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Berakhot 10

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Berakhot 10

כל פרשה שהיתה חביבה על דוד פתח בה באשרי וסיים בה באשרי פתח באשרי דכתיב אשרי האיש וסיים ב׳אשרי׳ דכתיב אשרי כל חוסי בו:

Every chapter that was dear to David, he began with “happy is” and concluded with “happy is.” He opened with “happy is,” as it is written: “Happy is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked or stood in the way of sinners or sat in the dwelling place of the scornful” (Psalms 1:1). And he concluded with “happy,” as it is written at the end of the chapter: “Pay homage in purity, lest He be angry, and you perish on the way when His anger is kindled suddenly. Happy are those who take refuge in Him” (Psalms 2:12). We see that these two chapters actually constitute a single chapter.

הנהו בריוני דהוו בשבבותיה דרבי מאיר והוו קא מצערו ליה טובא הוה קא בעי רבי מאיר רחמי עלויהו כי היכי דלימותו אמרה ליה ברוריא דביתהו מאי דעתך משום דכתיב יתמו חטאים מי כתיב חוטאים חטאים כתיב

With regard to the statement of Rabbi Yehuda, son of Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi, that David did not say Halleluya until he saw the downfall of the wicked, the Gemara relates: There were these hooligans in Rabbi Meir’s neighborhood who caused him a great deal of anguish. Rabbi Meir prayed for God to have mercy on them, that they should die. Rabbi Meir’s wife, Berurya, said to him: What is your thinking? On what basis do you pray for the death of these hooligans? Do you base yourself on the verse, as it is written: “Let sins cease from the land” (Psalms 104:35), which you interpret to mean that the world would be better if the wicked were destroyed? But is it written, let sinners cease?” Let sins cease, is written. One should pray for an end to their transgressions, not for the demise of the transgressors themselves.

ועוד שפיל לסיפיה דקרא ורשעים עוד אינם כיון דיתמו חטאים ורשעים עוד אינם אלא בעי רחמי עלויהו דלהדרו בתשובה ורשעים עוד אינם

Moreover, go to the end of the verse, where it says: “And the wicked will be no more.” If, as you suggest, transgressions shall cease refers to the demise of the evildoers, how is it possible that the wicked will be no more, i.e., that they will no longer be evil? Rather, pray for God to have mercy on them, that they should repent, as if they repent, then the wicked will be no more, as they will have repented.

בעא רחמי עלויהו והדרו בתשובה:

Rabbi Meir saw that Berurya was correct and he prayed for God to have mercy on them, and they repented.

אמר לה ההוא מינא לברוריא כתיב רני עקרה לא ילדה משום דלא ילדה רני

The Gemara relates an additional example of Berurya’s incisive insight: A certain heretic said to Berurya: It is written: “Sing, barren woman who has not given birth, open forth in song and cry, you did not travail, for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, said the Lord” (Isaiah 54:1). Because she has not given birth, she should sing and rejoice?

אמרה ליה שטיא שפיל לסיפיה דקרא דכתיב כי רבים בני שוממה מבני בעולה אמר ה׳

Berurya responded to this heretic’s mockery and said: Fool! Go to the end of the verse, where it is written: “For the children of the desolate shall be more numerous than the children of the married wife, said the Lord.”

אלא מאי עקרה לא ילדה רני כנסת ישראל שדומה לאשה עקרה שלא ילדה בנים לגיהנם כותייכו:

Rather, what is the meaning of: “Sing, barren woman who has not given birth”? It means: Sing congregation of Israel, which is like a barren woman who did not give birth to children who are destined for Gehenna like you.

אמר ליה ההוא מינא לרבי אבהו כתיב מזמור לדוד בברחו מפני אבשלום בנו וכתיב לדוד מכתם בברחו מפני שאול במערה הי מעשה הוה ברישא מכדי מעשה שאול הוה ברישא לכתוב ברישא

In explaining passages from Psalms, the Gemara relates another instance of a response to the question of a heretic: A certain heretic said to Rabbi Abbahu, it is written: “A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son, Absalom” (Psalms 3:1), and similarly it is said: “To the chief musician, al tashḥet, a mikhtam of David when fleeing from Saul into the cave” (Psalms 57:1). Which event was first? Since the event with Saul was first, it would have been appropriate to write it first.

אמר ליה אתון דלא דרשיתון סמוכין קשיא לכו אנן דדרשינן סמוכים לא קשיא לן

Rabbi Abbahu said to him: For you, who do not employ the homiletic method of juxtaposition of verses, it is difficult. But for us, who employ the homiletic method of juxtaposition of verses, it is not difficult, as the Sages commonly homiletically infer laws and moral lessons from the juxtaposition of two verses.

דאמר רבי יוחנן סמוכין מן התורה מנין שנאמר סמוכים לעד לעולם עשוים באמת וישר

Regarding the juxtaposition of verses, Rabbi Yoḥanan said: From where in the Bible is it derived that one may draw homiletical inferences from the juxtaposition of verses? As it is said: “The works of His hands in truth and justice, all His commandments are sure. Adjoined forever and ever, made in truth and uprightness” (Psalms 111:7–8). Conclude from here that it is appropriate to draw inferences from the juxtaposition of God’s commandments. Accordingly, David’s fleeing from Absalom is situated where it is in order to juxtapose it to the next chapter, which mentions the war of Gog and Magog; the second chapter of Psalms opens: “Why are the nations in an uproar?”

למה נסמכה פרשת אבשלום לפרשת גוג ומגוג שאם יאמר לך אדם כלום יש עבד שמורד ברבו אף אתה אמור לו כלום יש בן שמורד באביו אלא הוה הכא נמי הוה:

Why was the chapter of Absalom juxtaposed with the chapter of Gog and Magog? They are juxtaposed so that if a person should say to you, expressing doubt with regard to the prophecy of the war of Gog and Magog “against the Lord and against His anointed”: Is there a slave who rebels against his master? Is there someone capable of rebelling against God? You too say to him: Is there a son who rebels against his father and severs the relationship with the one who brought him into the world and raised him? Yet, nevertheless, there was such a son, Absalom, and so too there can be a situation where people will seek to rebel against God.

אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יוחי מאי דכתיב פיה פתחה בחכמה ותורת חסד על לשונה כנגד מי אמר שלמה מקרא זה לא אמרו אלא כנגד דוד אביו שדר בחמשה עולמים ואמר שירה

Rabbi Yoḥanan said explanations of other verses in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: What is the meaning of that which is written: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of loving-kindness is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26)? The Sages explain that this chapter discusses the wisdom of Torah and those who engage in its study, so with reference to whom did Solomon say this verse? He said this verse about none other than his father, David, who was the clearest example of one who opens his mouth in wisdom, and who resided in five worlds or stages of life and his soul said a song of praise corresponding to each of them. Five times David said: “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” each corresponding to a different stage of life.

דר במעי אמו ואמר שירה שנאמר ברכי נפשי את ה׳ וכל קרבי את שם קדשו

He resided in his mother’s womb, his first world, and said a song of praise of the pregnancy, as it is stated: “Of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name” (Psalms 103:1), in which he thanks God for creating all that is within his mother, i.e., her womb.

יצא לאויר העולם ונסתכל בכוכבים ומזלות ואמר שירה שנאמר ברכו ה׳ מלאכיו גברי כח עושי דברו לשמע בקול דברו ברכו ה׳ כל צבאיו וגו׳

He emerged into the atmosphere of the world, his second world, looked upon the stars and constellations and said a song of praise of God for the entirety of creation, as it is stated: “Bless the Lord, His angels, mighty in strength, that fulfill His word, listening to the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all His hosts, His servants, that do His will. Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His kingship, bless my soul, Lord” (Psalms 103:20–23). David saw the grandeur of all creation and recognized that they are mere servants, carrying out the will of their Creator (Ma’ayan HaBerakhot).

ינק משדי אמו ונסתכל בדדיה ואמר שירה שנאמר ברכי נפשי את ה׳ ואל תשכחי כל גמוליו

He nursed from his mother’s breast, his third world, and he looked upon her bosom and said a song of praise, as it is stated: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all His benefits [gemulav]” (Psalms 103:2). The etymological association is between gemulav and gemulei meḥalav, which means weaned from milk (Isaiah 28:9).

מאי כל גמוליו אמר רבי אבהו שעשה לה דדים במקום בינה

We still must understand, however, what is meant by all His benefits? What in particular is praiseworthy in what God provided, beyond merely providing for the infant? Rabbi Abbahu said: In contrast with most other animals, God placed her breasts near her heart, the place that is the source of understanding.

טעמא מאי אמר רב יהודה כדי שלא יסתכל במקום ערוה רב מתנא אמר כדי שלא יינק ממקום הטנופת

What is the reason that God did this? Rav Yehuda said: So that the nursing child would not look upon the place of his mother’s nakedness. Rav Mattana said: So that the child would not nurse from a place of uncleanliness.

ראה במפלתן של רשעים ואמר שירה שנאמר יתמו חטאים מן הארץ ורשעים עוד אינם ברכי נפשי את ה׳ הללויה

He witnessed in both vision and reality the downfall of the wicked and he said a song of praise, as it is stated: “Let sinners cease from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul, Halleluya (Psalms 104:35).

נסתכל ביום המיתה ואמר שירה שנאמר ברכי נפשי את ה׳ ה׳ אלהי גדלת מאד הוד והדר לבשת

The fifth world was when David looked upon the day of death and said a song of praise, as it is stated: “Bless the Lord, O my soul. Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed in glory and majesty” (Psalms 104:1); for even death is a time of transcendence for the righteous.

מאי משמע דעל יום המיתה נאמר אמר רבה בר רב שילא מסיפא דעניינא דכתיב תסתיר פניך יבהלון תסף רוחם יגועון וגו׳

The connection between this final praise and the day of death is unclear. The Gemara asks: From where is it inferred that this verse was stated with regard to the day of death? Rabba bar Rav Sheila says: We can derive this from the verses at the end of the matter, where it is written: “You hide Your face, they vanish; You gather Your breath, they perish and return to the dust” (Psalms 104:29).

רב שימי בר עוקבא ואמרי לה מר עוקבא הוה שכיח קמיה דרבי שמעון בן פזי והוה מסדר אגדתא קמיה דרבי יהושע בן לוי אמר ליה מאי דכתיב ברכי נפשי את ה׳ וכל קרבי את שם קדשו אמר ליה בא וראה שלא כמדת הקדוש ברוך הוא מדת בשר ודם מדת בשר ודם צר צורה על גבי הכותל ואינו יכול להטיל בה רוח ונשמה קרבים ובני מעים והקדוש ברוך הוא אינו כן צר צורה בתוך צורה ומטיל בה רוח ונשמה קרבים ובני מעים והיינו דאמרה חנה אין קדוש כה׳ כי אין בלתך ואין צור כאלהינו

Other interpretations of this verse exist. The Gemara relates how Rav Shimi bar Ukva, and some say Mar Ukva, would regularly study before Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi, who was well versed in aggada and would arrange the aggada before Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi.
Once, Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi said to him: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Bless the Lord, my soul, and all that is within me bless His Holy name”?
Rav Shimi bar Ukva said to Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi: Come and see that the attribute of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is not like the attribute of flesh and blood, as this verse praises the formation of man in his mother’s womb. The attribute of flesh and blood is such that he shapes a form on the wall for all to see, yet he cannot instill it with a spirit and soul, bowels and intestines. While the Holy One, Blessed be He, is not so, as God shapes one form within another form, a child in its mother’s womb, and instills it with spirit and soul, bowels and intestines. And this is the explanation of what Hannah said with regard to the birth of Samuel: “There is none holy like the Lord, for there is none like You, and there is no Rock like our God” (I Samuel 2:2).

מאי אין צור כאלהינו אין צייר כאלהינו

What is the meaning of there is no rock [tzur] like our God? There is no artist [tzayyar] like our God.

מאי כי אין בלתך אמר רבי יהודה בר מנסיא אל תקרי כי אין בלתך אלא אין לבלותך שלא כמדת הקדוש ברוך הוא מדת בשר ודם מדת בשר ודם מעשה ידיו מבלין אותו והקדוש ברוך הוא מבלה מעשיו

The Gemara continues to interpret the rest of that verse homiletically: What is the meaning of “there is none like You”? Rabbi Yehuda ben Menasya said: Do not read the verse to mean “there is none like You [biltekha]”; rather, read it to mean “none can outlast You [levalotkha],” as the attribute of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is not like the attribute of flesh and blood: The attribute of flesh and blood is such that his creations outlast him, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, outlasts His actions.

אמר ליה אנא הכי קא אמינא לך הני חמשה ברכי נפשי כנגד מי אמרן דוד לא אמרן אלא כנגד הקדוש ברוך הוא וכנגד נשמה

This did not satisfy Rav Shimi bar Ukva, who said to Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi: I meant to say to you as follows: Corresponding to whom did David say these five instance of “Bless the Lord, O my soul”? He answered him: He said them about none other than the Holy One, Blessed be He, and corresponding to the soul, as the verse refers to the relationship between man’s soul and God. The five instances of “Bless the Lord, O my soul” correspond to the five parallels between the soul in man’s body and God’s power in His world.

מה הקדוש ברוך הוא מלא כל העולם אף נשמה מלאה את כל הגוף מה הקדוש ברוך הוא רואה ואינו נראה אף נשמה רואה ואינה נראית מה הקדוש ברוך הוא זן את כל העולם כלו אף נשמה זנה את כל הגוף מה הקדוש ברוך הוא טהור אף נשמה טהורה מה הקדוש ברוך הוא יושב בחדרי חדרים אף נשמה יושבת בחדרי חדרים יבא מי שיש בו חמשה דברים הללו וישבח למי שיש בו חמשה דברים הללו:

Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, fills the entire world, so too the soul fills the entire body.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, sees but is not seen, so too does the soul see, but is not seen.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, sustains the entire world, so too the soul sustains the entire body.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, is pure, so too is the soul pure.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, resides in a chamber within a chamber, in His inner sanctum, so too the soul resides in a chamber within a chamber, in the innermost recesses of the body.
Therefore, that which has these five characteristics, the soul, should come and praise He Who has these five characteristics.

אמר רב המנונא מאי דכתיב מי כהחכם ומי יודע פשר דבר מי כהקדוש ברוך הוא שיודע לעשות פשרה בין שני צדיקים בין חזקיהו לישעיהו חזקיהו אמר ליתי ישעיהו גבאי דהכי אשכחן באליהו דאזל לגבי אחאב שנאמר וילך אליהו להראות אל אחאב ישעיהו אמר ליתי חזקיהו גבאי דהכי אשכחן ביהורם בן אחאב דאזל לגבי אלישע

With regard to redemption and prayer, the Gemara tells the story of Hezekiah’s illness, his prayer to God, and subsequent recuperation. Rav Hamnuna said: What is the meaning of that which is written praising the Holy One, Blessed be He: “Who is like the wise man, and who knows the interpretation [pesher] of the matter” (Ecclesiastes 8:1)? This verse means: Who is like the Holy One, Blessed be He, Who knows how to effect compromise [peshara] between two righteous individuals, between Hezekiah, the king of Judea, and Isaiah the prophet. They disagreed over which of them should visit the other. Hezekiah said: Let Isaiah come to me, as that is what we find with regard to Elijah the prophet, who went to Ahab, the king of Israel, as it is stated: “And Elijah went to appear to Ahab” (I Kings 18:2). This proves that it is the prophet who must seek out the king. And Isaiah said: Let Hezekiah come to me, as that is what we find with regard to Yehoram ben Ahab, king of Israel, who went to Elisha the prophet, as it is stated: “So the king of Israel, Jehosaphat and the king of Edom went down to him” (II Kings 3:12).

מה עשה הקדוש ברוך הוא הביא יסורים על חזקיהו ואמר לו לישעיהו לך ובקר את החולה שנאמר בימים ההם חלה חזקיהו למות ויבא אליו ישעיהו בן אמוץ הנביא ויאמר אליו כה אמר ה׳ צבאות צו לביתך כי מת אתה ולא תחיה וגו׳ מאי כי מת אתה ולא תחיה מת אתה בעולם הזה ולא תחיה לעולם הבא

What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do to effect compromise between Hezekiah and Isaiah? He brought the suffering of illness upon Hezekiah and told Isaiah: Go and visit the sick. Isaiah did as God instructed, as it is stated: “In those days Hezekiah became deathly ill, and Isaiah ben Amoz the prophet came and said to him: Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Set your house in order, for you will die and you will not live” (Isaiah 38:1). This seems redundant; what is the meaning of you will die and you will not live? This repetition means: You will die in this world, and you will not live, you will have no share, in the World-to-Come.

אמר ליה מאי כולי האי אמר ליה משום דלא עסקת בפריה ורביה אמר ליה משום דחזאי לי ברוח הקדש דנפקי מינאי בנין דלא מעלו

Hezekiah said to him: What is all of this? For what transgression am I being punished?
Isaiah said to him: Because you did not marry and engage in procreation.
Hezekiah apologized and said: I had no children because I envisaged through divine inspiration that the children that emerge from me will not be virtuous. Hezekiah meant that he had seen that his children were destined to be evil. In fact, his son Menashe sinned extensively, and he thought it preferable to have no children at all.

אמר ליה בהדי כבשי דרחמנא למה לך מאי דמפקדת איבעי לך למעבד ומה דניחא קמיה קודשא בריך הוא לעביד

Isaiah said to him: Why do you involve yourself with the secrets of the Holy One, Blessed be He? That which you have been commanded, the mitzva of procreation, you are required to perform, and that which is acceptable in the eyes of the Holy One, Blessed be He, let Him perform, as He has so decided.

אמר ליה השתא הב לי ברתך אפשר דגרמא זכותא דידי ודידך ונפקי מנאי בנין דמעלו אמר ליה כבר נגזרה עליך גזירה אמר ליה בן אמוץ כלה נבואתך וצא

Hezekiah said to Isaiah: Now give me your daughter as my wife; perhaps my merit and your merit will cause virtuous children to emerge from me.
Isaiah said to him: The decree has already been decreed against you and this judgment cannot be changed.
Hezekiah said to him: Son of Amoz, cease your prophecy and leave. As long as the prophet spoke as God’s emissary, Hezekiah was obligated to listen to him. He was not, however, obligated to accept Isaiah’s personal opinion that there was no possibility for mercy and healing.

כך מקובלני מבית אבי אבא אפילו חרב חדה מונחת על צוארו של אדם אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים

Hezekiah continued: I have received a tradition from the house of my father’s father, from King David, the founding father of the dynasty of kings of Judea: Even if a sharp sword rests upon a person’s neck, he should not prevent himself from praying for mercy. One may still hold out hope that his prayers will be answered, as was David himself when he saw the Angel of Destruction, but nonetheless prayed for mercy and his prayers were answered.

אתמר נמי רבי יוחנן ורבי אליעזר דאמרי תרוייהו אפילו חרב חדה מונחת על צוארו של אדם אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים שנאמר הן יקטלני לו איחל

With regard to the fact that one should not despair of God’s mercy, the Gemara cites that it was also said that Rabbi Yoḥanan and Rabbi Eliezer both said: Even if a sharp sword is resting upon a person’s neck, he should not prevent himself from praying for mercy, as it is stated in the words of Job: “Though He slay me, I will trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Even though God is about to take his life, he still prays for God’s mercy.

אמר רבי חנן אפילו בעל החלומות אומר לו לאדם למחר הוא מת אל ימנע עצמו מן הרחמים שנאמר כי ברב חלמות והבלים ודברים הרבה כי את האלהים ירא

Similarly, Rabbi Ḥanan said: Even if the master of dreams, in a true dream, an angel (Ma’ayan HaBerakhot) tells a person that tomorrow he will die, he should not prevent himself from praying for mercy, as it is stated: “For in the multitude of dreams and vanities there are many words; but fear God” (Ecclesiastes 5:6). Although the dream may seem real to him, that is not necessarily the case, and one must place his trust in God.

מיד ויסב חזקיהו פניו אל הקיר ויתפלל אל ה׳

Having heard Isaiah’s harsh prophecy, immediately “Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall and prayed to the Lord” (Isaiah 38:2).

מאי קיר אמר רבי שמעון בן לקיש מקירות לבו שנאמר מעי מעי אוחילה קירות לבי וגו׳

The Gemara asks: What is meant by the word “wall [kir]” in this context? Why did Hezekiah turn his face to a wall? Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: This symbolically alludes to the fact that Hezekiah prayed to God from the chambers [kirot] of his heart, as it is stated elsewhere: “My anguish, my anguish, I am in pain. The chambers of my heart. My heart moans within me” (Jeremiah 4:19).

רבי לוי אמר על עסקי הקיר אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם ומה שונמית שלא עשתה אלא קיר אחת קטנה החיית את בנה אבי אבא שחפה את ההיכל כולו בכסף ובזהב על אחת כמה וכמה זכר נא את אשר התהלכתי לפניך באמת ובלב שלם והטוב בעיניך עשיתי

Rabbi Levi said: Hezekiah intended to evoke matters relating to a wall, and he said before God: Master of the Universe, and if the woman from Shunem, who made only a single small wall on the roof for the prophet Elisha, and you revived her son, all the more so should you bring life to the descendant of my father’s father, King Solomon, who covered the entire Temple Sanctuary with silver and gold. In his prayer, Hezekiah said: “Please, Lord, please remember that I walked before You in truth, and with a complete heart, and what was good in Your eyes I did. And Hezekiah wept sore” (Isaiah 38:3).

מאי והטוב בעיניך עשיתי אמר רב יהודה אמר רב שסמך גאולה לתפלה רבי לוי אמר שגנז ספר רפואות

The Gemara asks: To what specific action was he referring when he said: “And what was good in your sight I did”? Various opinions are offered: Mentioning Hezekiah’s merits, Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav that he juxtaposed redemption and prayer at sunrise instead of sleeping late, as was the custom of most kings (Iyyun Ya’akov). Rabbi Levi said: He suppressed the Book of Remedies upon which everyone relied.

תנו רבנן ששה דברים עשה חזקיהו המלך על שלשה הודו לו ועל שלשה לא הודו לו

The Sages taught: King Hezekiah performed six innovative actions. With regard to three the Sages agreed with him, and with regard to three they did not agree with him.

על שלשה הודו לו גנז ספר רפואות והודו לו כתת נחש הנחשת והודו לו גירר עצמות אביו על מטה של חבלים והודו לו

With regard to three actions the Sages agreed with him:
He suppressed the Book of Remedies, and they agreed with him.
He ground the copper snake through which miracles were performed for Israel (Numbers 21:9), destroying it because it had been used in idol worship (II Kings 18:4), and they agreed with him.
He dragged the bones of his evil father, King Ahaz, on a bed of ropes; meaning he did not accord his father a funeral fit for a king (II Chronicles 28:27), and they agreed with him.

ועל שלשה לא הודו לו סתם מי גיחון ולא הודו לו קצץ דלתות היכל ושגרם למלך אשור ולא הודו לו עבר ניסן בניסן ולא הודו לו

Yet, with regard to three other innovations, the Sages of his generation did not agree with him:
He stopped up the waters of the Gihon, the Pool of Siloam, diverting its water into the city by means of a tunnel (II Chronicles 32:30), and they did not agree with him.
He cut off the doors of the Sanctuary and sent them to the king of Assyria (II Kings 18:16), and they did not agree with him.
He intercalated Nisan in Nisan, creating a leap year by adding an extra month during the month of Nisan. That intercalation must be performed before the end of Adar (II Chronicles 30:2).

ומי לית ליה לחזקיהו החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים זה ניסן ואין אחר ניסן

With regard to his intercalation of Nisan, the Gemara asks: Did Hezekiah not accept the halakha: “This month will be for you the first of the months; it shall be the first for you of the months of the year” (Exodus 12:2)? By inference, this first month is Nisan, and no other month is Nisan. How could Hezekiah add an additional Nisan in violation of Torah law?

אלא טעה בדשמואל דאמר שמואל אין מעברין את השנה ביום שלשים של אדר הואיל וראוי לקובעו ניסן סבר הואיל וראוי לא אמרינן:

The Gemara answers that the scenario was different. Rather, Hezekiah erred with regard to the halakhic opinion ascribed in later generations to Shmuel, as Shmuel said: One may not intercalate the year on the thirtieth day of Adar, since it is fit to establish it as the New Moon of Nisan. On the thirtieth day of each month, those who witnessed the new moon would come and testify before the court, which, based on their testimony, would declare that day the first day of the next month. Therefore, one may not declare a leap year on the thirtieth day of Adar, as it could potentially become the first of Nisan. Therefore, the Sages of Hezekiah’s generation did not agree with his decision to intercalate the year on the thirtieth of Adar. Hezekiah held that we do not say: Since that day is fit to establish it as the New Moon is reason enough to refrain from intercalation of the year.

אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי יוסי בן זמרא כל התולה בזכות עצמו תולין לו בזכות אחרים וכל התולה בזכות אחרים תולין לו בזכות עצמו

Stemming from the analysis of Hezekiah’s prayer, Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei ben Zimra: Anyone who bases his prayer or request upon his own merit, when God answers his prayer, it is based upon the merit of others. And anyone who modestly bases his prayer or request upon the merit of others, when God answers his prayer, it is based upon his own merit.

משה תלה בזכות אחרים שנאמר זכר לאברהם ליצחק ולישראל עבדיך תלו לו בזכות עצמו שנאמר ויאמר להשמידם לולי משה בחירו עמד בפרץ לפניו להשיב חמתו מהשחית

The Gemara cites proof from Moses. When he prayed to God for forgiveness after the incident of the Golden Calf, he based his request upon the merit of others, as it is stated: “Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel your servants, to whom You swore upon Yourself, and told them: I will increase your descendants like the stars of the heavens, and all of this land of which I have spoken, I will give to your descendants and they will inherit it forever” (Exodus 32:13). Yet when this story is related, God’s forgiveness of Israel is based upon Moses’ own merit, as it is stated: “And He said He would destroy them, had Moses, His chosen, not stood before Him in the breach to turn back His destructive fury, lest He should destroy them” (Psalms 106:23).

חזקיהו תלה בזכות עצמו דכתיב זכר נא את אשר התהלכתי לפניך תלו לו בזכות אחרים שנאמר וגנותי אל העיר הזאת להושיעה למעני ולמען דוד עבדי והיינו דרבי יהושע בן לוי דאמר רבי יהושע בן לוי מאי דכתיב הנה לשלום מר לי מר אפילו בשעה ששיגר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא שלום מר הוא לו:

Hezekiah, however, based his request upon his own merit, as it is written: “Please, remember that I walked before You” (Isaiah 38:3). When God answered his prayers, it was based upon the merit of others with no mention made of Hezekiah’s own merit, as it is stated: “And I will protect this city to save it, for My sake and for the sake of David, My servant” (II Kings 19:34). And that is what Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said. As Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Behold, for my peace I had great bitterness; but You have, in love to my soul, delivered it from the pit of corruption; for You have thrown all my sins behind Your back” (Isaiah 38:17)? This verse teaches that even when the Holy One, Blessed be He, sent him peace and told him that he would recover from his illness, it was bitter for him, because God did not take his merit into consideration.

נעשה נא עלית קיר קטנה

Having mentioned the chamber on the roof built for Elisha by the woman from Shunem, the Gemara now describes the entire event. The woman from Shunem suggested to her husband: “Let us make, I pray thee, a small chamber on the roof, and let us place a bed, table, stool and candlestick for him there, and it will be, when he comes to us, that he will turn in there” (II Kings 4:10).

רב ושמואל חד אמר עלייה פרועה היתה וקירוה וחד אמר אכסדרה גדולה היתה וחלקוה לשנים

Rav and Shmuel argued over the meaning of small chamber. One of them said: They had an uncovered second story on their roof, over which they built a ceiling; and one of them said: There was an enclosed veranda [akhsadra] and they divided it in half.

בשלמא למאן דאמר אכסדרה היינו דכתיב קיר אלא למאן דאמר עלייה מאי קיר

The Gemara comments: Granted, according to the one who said that it was an enclosed veranda which they divided in two, it makes sense that the term wall [kir] was written. However, according to the one who said that they had an open second story, what is the meaning of wall?

שקירוה

The Gemara responds: The one who said that they had an uncovered second story interprets kir not as wall but as ceiling meaning that they built a ceiling [kirui] over it.

בשלמא למאן דאמר עלייה היינו דכתיב עליית אלא למאן דאמר אכסדרה מאי עליית

On the other hand, granted, according to the one who said that they had an uncovered second story, it makes sense that the term second story [aliyat] was written. But according to the one who said that it was an enclosed veranda, what is the meaning of the term second story?

מעולה שבבתים

The Gemara responds: The one who said that it was an enclosed veranda interprets aliyat not as second story, but as the most outstanding [me’ula] of the rooms.

ונשים לו שם מטה ושלחן וכסא ומנורה

Incidental to this discussion, the Gemara analyzes the statement made by the woman from Shunem to her husband with regard to the provisions that they would place in the room for Elisha: “And let us place a bed, table, stool and candlestick for him there.”

אמר אביי ואיתימא רבי יצחק הרוצה להנות יהנה כאלישע ושאינו רוצה להנות אל יהנה כשמואל הרמתי שנאמר ותשובתו הרמתה כי שם ביתו ואמר רבי יוחנן שכל מקום שהלך שם ביתו עמו

Abaye, and some say Rabbi Yitzḥak, said: A great man who seeks to enjoy the contributions of those who seek to honor him may enjoy those gifts, as Elisha enjoyed gifts given him by the woman from Shunem, among others. And one who does not seek to enjoy these gifts should not enjoy them, as was the practice of the prophet Samuel from Rama, who would not accept gifts from anyone at all. From where do we know that this was Samuel’s custom? As it is stated: “And he returned to Rama, for there was his house, and there he judged Israel, and he built an altar to the Lord” (I Samuel 7:17). And similarly, Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Every place where Samuel went, his house was with him, so he would have everything that he needed and not be forced to benefit from public contributions. One may opt to conduct himself in accordance with either of these paths.

ותאמר אל אישה הנה נא ידעתי כי איש אלהים קדוש הוא אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא מכאן שהאשה מכרת באורחין יותר מן האיש

Regarding the woman from Shunem: “And she said to her husband: Behold now, I perceive that he is a holy man of God who passes by us continually” (II Kings 4:9). Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: From here, where the woman from Shunem perceived the prophet’s greatness before her husband did, derive that a woman recognizes the character of her guests more than a man does.

קדוש הוא מנא ידעה רב ושמואל חד אמר שלא ראתה זבוב עובר על שלחנו וחד אמר סדין של פשתן הציעה על מטתו ולא ראתה קרי עליו

The Gemara notes that the woman from Shunem said that “he is holy.” The Gemara asks: From where did she know that he was holy? Rav and Shmuel disagreed over this. One of them said: She never saw a fly pass over his table; and the other said: She spread a white linen sheet on his bed, and despite that even the smallest stain is visible on white linen, and nocturnal seminal emissions are not uncommon, she never saw the residue of a seminal emission on it.

קדוש הוא אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא הוא קדוש ומשרתו אינו קדוש שנאמר ויגש גיחזי להדפה אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא שאחזה בהוד יפיה

With regard to the verse: “He is holy,” Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: The woman from Shunem intimated that: He is holy, but his attendant, Geihazi, is not holy, as she saw no indication of holiness in him (Iyyun Ya’akov). Here too, she correctly perceived the character of her guest, as it is later stated: “And Geihazi approached her to push her away [lehodfa]” (II Kings 4:27). And Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: He grabbed her by the majesty of her beauty [hod yofya], meaning that when he pushed her he grabbed her breasts in a licentious manner.

עובר עלינו תמיד אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא משום רבי אליעזר בן יעקב כל המארח תלמיד חכם בתוך ביתו ומהנהו מנכסיו מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו מקריב תמידין

With regard to the phrasing of the verse: “He is a holy man of God who passes by us continually,” Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: From this verse we derive that one who hosts a Torah scholar in his home and lets him enjoy his possessions, the verse ascribes to him credit as if he is sacrificing the daily [tamid] offering, as the verse states: “Passes by us continually [tamid].”

ואמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא משום רבי אליעזר בן יעקב אל יעמוד אדם במקום גבוה ויתפלל אלא במקום נמוך ויתפלל שנאמר ממעמקים קראתיך ה׳

With regard to the halakhot of prayer, Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: A person should not stand in a high place and pray; rather, he should stand in a low place and pray, as it is stated: “I called to You, Lord, from the depths” (Psalms 130:1).

תניא נמי הכי לא יעמוד אדם לא על גבי כסא ולא על גבי שרפרף ולא במקום גבוה ויתפלל אלא במקום נמוך ויתפלל לפי שאין גבהות לפני המקום שנאמר ממעמקים קראתיך ה׳ וכתיב תפלה לעני כי יעטף

That was also taught in a baraita: One should neither stand upon a chair nor upon a stool, nor in a high place and pray. Rather, one should stand in a low place and pray, for there is no haughtiness before God. As it is stated: “I called to You, Lord, from the depths” and it is written: “A prayer for the impoverished, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before God” (Psalms 102:1). It is appropriate to feel impoverished when praying and make one’s requests humbly.

ואמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא משום רבי אליעזר בן יעקב המתפלל צריך שיכוין את רגליו שנאמר ורגליהם רגל ישרה

And Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: When praying, one should align his feet next to each other, as a single foot, in order to model oneself after the angels, with regard to whom it is stated: “And their feet were a straight foot” (Ezekiel 1:7).

(אמר רבי יצחק אמר רבי יוחנן) ואמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא משום רבי אליעזר בן יעקב מאי דכתיב לא תאכלו על הדם לא תאכלו קודם שתתפללו על דמכם

Rabbi Yitzḥak said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said and Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: What is the meaning of that which is written: “You shall not eat with the blood” (Leviticus 19:26)? You may not eat before you pray for your blood. One may not eat before he prays.

איכא דאמרי אמר רבי יצחק אמר רבי יוחנן אמר רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא משום רבי אליעזר בן יעקב כל האוכל ושותה ואחר כך מתפלל עליו הכתוב אומר ואתי השלכת אחרי גוך אל תקרי גויך אלא גאיך אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא לאחר שנתגאה זה קבל עליו מלכות שמים:

Others say that Rabbi Yitzḥak said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said that Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: One who eats and drinks and later prays, about him the verse states the rebuke of the prophet in the name of God: “And Me you have cast behind your back” (I Kings 14:9). One who sees to his own bodily needs by eating and drinking before prayer casts God aside, according his arrogance and ego priority over God (Maharsha). Indeed, do not read your back [gavekha]; rather, your pride [ge’ekha]. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: After this one has become arrogant and engaged in satisfying his own needs, he only then accepted upon himself the kingdom of Heaven.

רבי יהושע אומר עד שלש שעות אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל הלכה כרבי יהושע:

We learned in the mishna that Rabbi Yehoshua says: One may recite the morning Shema until three hours of the day. Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: The halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua.

הקורא מכאן ואילך לא הפסיד:

We also learned in the mishna that one who recites Shema from that time onward loses nothing; although he does not fulfill the mitzva of reciting of Shema at its appointed time, he is nevertheless considered like one who reads the Torah, and is rewarded accordingly.

אמר רב חסדא אמר מר עוקבא ובלבד שלא יאמר יוצר אור

With regard to this ruling, Rav Ḥisda said that Mar Ukva said: This only applies provided one does not recite: Who forms light [yotzer or], or the rest of the blessings recited along with Shema, as they pertain only to the fulfillment of the mitzva of reciting of the morning Shema; after the third hour, they are inappropriate.

מיתיבי הקורא מכאן ואילך לא הפסיד כאדם שהוא קורא בתורה אבל מברך הוא שתים לפניה ואחת לאחריה תיובתא דרב חסדא תיובתא

The Gemara raises an objection to Rav Ḥisda’s statement from a baraita: One who recites Shema from that time onward loses nothing, and is considered like one who reads Torah, but he recites two blessings beforehand and one blessing thereafter.This directly contradicts Rav Ḥisda’s statement, and the Gemara notes: Indeed, the refutation of the statement of Rav Ḥisda is a conclusive refutation, and Rav Ḥisda’s opinion is rejected in favor of that of the baraita.

איכא דאמרי אמר רב חסדא אמר מר עוקבא מאי לא הפסיד שלא הפסיד ברכות תניא נמי הכי הקורא מכאן ואילך לא הפסיד כאדם שקורא בתורה אבל מברך הוא שתים לפניה ואחת לאחריה

Some say that Rav Ḥisda said that Mar Ukva said the opposite: What is the meaning of: Loses nothing, in the mishna? This means that one who recites Shema after the third hour does not lose the opportunity to recite the blessings and is permitted to recite them although the time for the recitation of Shema has passed. That was also taught in a baraita: One who recites Shema after this time loses nothing, and is considered like one who reads the Torah, but he recites two blessings beforehand and one thereafter.

אמר רבי מני גדול הקורא קריאת שמע בעונתה יותר מהעוסק בתורה מדקתני הקורא מכאן ואילך לא הפסיד כאדם הקורא בתורה מכלל דקורא בעונתה עדיף:

With regard to our mishna, Rabbi Mani said: Greater is one who recites Shema at its appropriate time than one who engages in Torah study. A proof is cited based on what was taught in the mishna: One who recites Shema after this time loses nothing and is considered like one who reads the Torah. This is proven by inference, since one who recites Shema at its appointed time is greater than one who does not, and one who does not is equal to one who reads the Torah, when one recites Shema at its appointed time he fulfills two mitzvot, that of Torah study and that of the recitation of Shema.

מתני׳ בית שמאי אומרים בערב כל אדם יטה ויקרא ובבקר יעמוד שנאמר ובשכבך ובקומך

MISHNA: Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disputed the proper way to recite Shema. Beit Shammai say: One should recite Shema in the manner indicated in the text of Shema itself. Therefore, in the evening every person must recline on his side and recite Shema, in fulfillment of the verse: “When you lie down,” and in the morning he must stand and recite Shema, in fulfillment of the verse: When you rise, as it is stated: “When you lie down, and when you rise.”

ובית הלל אומרים כל אדם קורא כדרכו שנאמר ובלכתך בדרך

And Beit Hillel say: Every person recites Shema as he is, and he may do so in whatever position is most comfortable for him, both day and night, as it is stated: “And when you walk along the way,” when one is neither standing nor reclining (Me’iri).

אם כן למה נאמר ובשכבך ובקומך בשעה שבני אדם שוכבים ובשעה שבני אדם עומדים

If so, according to Beit Hillel, why was it stated: “When you lie down, and when you rise”? This is merely to denote time; at the time when people lie down and the time when people rise.

אמר רבי טרפון אני הייתי בא בדרך והטתי לקרות כדברי בית שמאי וסכנתי בעצמי מפני הלסטים

With regard to this halakha, Rabbi Tarfon said: Once, I was coming on the road when I stopped and reclined to recite Shema in accordance with the statement of Beit Shammai. Although Rabbi Tarfon was a disciple of Beit Hillel, he thought that fulfilling the mitzva in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai would be a more meticulous fulfillment of the mitzva, acceptable to all opinions. Yet in so doing, I endangered myself due to the highwaymen [listim] who accost travelers.

אמרו לו כדי היית לחוב בעצמך שעברת על דברי בית הלל:

The Sages said to him: You deserved to be in a position where you were liable to pay with your life, as you transgressed the statement of Beit Hillel. This statement will be explained in the Gemara.

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