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Today's Daf Yomi

February 4, 2020 | ט׳ בשבט תש״פ

Berakhot 32

Chana, Eliahu and Moshe all spoke to God impertinently. Even though it was frowned upon, God answered their prayers. How did Moshe get up the courage to stand before God and ask for forgiveness for the nation? The gemara brings several different options. What is the meaning of the phrase used for Moshe’s prayer “and Moshe beseeched (vayechal).” Six different explanations of the root of the word are brought. One should first praise God and then request – from where is this derived? What is more important – prayer or good deeds? Fasting or giving charity? Prayer or sacrifices? A priest who kills someone is not allowed to say the preistly blessing. Once there was no longer a temple, the doors to prayers being accepted were somewhat closed.Is it permissible to pray for an extended period of time. What is the risk? If one’s prayers aren’t answered, one should try again. The early pious people would sit an hour before and an hour after prayer. From where is this derived? If they spent also an hour praying, then most of the their day was spent in prayer – how did they learn well and work? For what is one allowed/not allowed to stop in the middle of prayer?

תוכן זה תורגם גם ל: עברית

דכתיב ואשר הרעתי:

As it is written in a future prophecy: “In that day, says the Lord, I will assemble the lame, and I will gather those who are abandoned and those with whom I have dealt in wickedness” (Micah 4:6). God states that He caused Israel to act wickedly.

אמר רבי חמא ברבי חנינא אלמלא שלש מקראות הללו נתמוטטו רגליהם של שונאי ישראל

Similarly, Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: Had it not been for these three verses, the legs of the enemies of Israel, a euphemism for Israel itself, would have collapsed, as Israel would have been unable to withstand God’s judgment.

חד דכתיב ואשר הרעתי וחד דכתיב הנה כחמר ביד היוצר כן אתם בידי בית ישראל וחד דכתיב והסרתי את לב האבן מבשרכם ונתתי לכם לב בשר

One is the verse just mentioned in which it is written: “Those whom I have dealt in wickedness.” And one is the verse in which it is written: “Behold, like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel” (Jeremiah 18:6). And one is the verse in which it is written: “And I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will place within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). These three verses indicate that God influences a person’s decisions, and therefore one does not have sole responsibility for his actions.

רב פפא אמר מהכא ואת רוחי אתן בקרבכם ועשיתי את אשר בחקי תלכו

Rav Pappa said there is a clearer proof from here: “And I will place My spirit within you and I will cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will observe My decrees and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27).

ואמר רבי אלעזר משה הטיח דברים כלפי מעלה שנאמר ויתפלל משה אל ה׳ אל תקרי אל ה׳ אלא על ה׳

And Rabbi Elazar said: Moses also spoke impertinently toward God on High, as it is stated in the verse following the sin of those who murmured against God in the desert: “And Moses prayed to the Lord and the fire subsided” (Numbers 11:2), and this verse is interpreted homiletically: Do not read to [el] the Lord, but rather onto [al] the Lord, which indicates that he spoke impertinently.

שכן דבי רבי אליעזר בן יעקב קורין לאלפין עיינין ולעיינין אלפין

The Gemara explains the basis for this interpretation: As the Sages of the school of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov would indiscriminately read alef as ayin and ayin as alef and in this case transforming el into al.

דבי רבי ינאי אמרי מהכא ודי זהב

The Sages of the school of Rabbi Yannai, however, say proof that Moses spoke impertinently toward God on High is derived from here, Moses’ rebuke at the beginning of Deuteronomy: “And Di Zahav” (Deuteronomy 1:1). This is an entry in a list of places where Moses had spoken to Israel. As there was no place encountered by that name, it is interpreted as an allusion to another matter.

מאי ודי זהב אמרי דבי רבי ינאי כך אמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם בשביל כסף וזהב שהשפעת להם לישראל עד שאמרו די הוא גרם שעשו את העגל

We must clarify: What is the meaning of and Di Zahav? The Sages of the school of Rabbi Yannai said that Moses said the following before the Holy One, Blessed be He, to atone for Israel after the sin of the Golden Calf: Master of the Universe, because of the gold and silver that you lavished upon Israel during the exodus from Egypt until they said enough [dai]; it was this wealth that caused Israel to make the Golden Calf.

אמרי דבי רבי ינאי אין ארי נוהם מתוך קופה של תבן אלא מתוך קופה של בשר

Establishing a general moral principle, the Sages the school of Rabbi Yannai said: A lion does not roar standing over a basket of straw from which he derives no pleasure, but he roars standing over a basket of meat, as he only roars when satiated.

אמר רבי אושעיא משל לאדם שהיתה לו פרה כחושה ובעלת אברים האכילה כרשינין והיתה מבעטת בו אמר לה מי גרם ליך שתהא מבעטת בי אלא כרשינין שהאכלתיך

Similarly, Rabbi Oshaya said: This is comparable to a person who had a lean, but large-limbed cow. At one point, he fed it lupines, a choice food, and soon thereafter the cow was kicking him. He said to the cow: Who caused you to begin kicking me if not the lupines I fed you? Here, too, the sin was caused by an abundance of good.

אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן משל לאדם אחד שהיה לו בן הרחיצו וסכו והאכילו והשקהו ותלה לו כיס על צוארו והושיבו על פתח של זונות מה יעשה אותו הבן שלא יחטא

The Gemara offers another analogy: Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: This is comparable to a person who had a son; he bathed him and anointed him with oil, fed him and gave him drink, and hung a purse of money around his neck. Then, he brought his son to the entrance of a brothel. What could the son do to avoid sinning?

אמר רב אחא בריה דרב הונא אמר רב ששת היינו דאמרי אינשי מלי כרסיה זני בישי שנאמר כמרעיתם וישבעו שבעו וירם לבם על כן שכחוני רב נחמן אמר מהכא ורם לבבך ושכחת את ה׳ ורבנן אמרי מהכא ואכל ושבע ודשן ופנה

On a similar note, Rav Aḥa, son of Rav Huna, said that Rav Sheshet said: That is what people say in a popular maxim: Filling his stomach is a type of sin, as it is stated: “When they were fed and became full they were sated, and their hearts were lifted and they have forgotten Me” (Hosea 13:6). Rav Naḥman said: This principle is derived not from the verse in Hosea, but from here: “And your heart is lifted and you forget the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:14). And the Rabbis say that this principle is derived from here: “And they will have eaten and been sated and fattened, and they will turn to other gods” (Deuteronomy 31:20).

ואי בעית אימא מהכא וישמן ישורון ויבעט אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר רבי יונתן מנין שחזר הקדוש ברוך הוא והודה לו למשה שנאמר וכסף הרביתי להם וזהב עשו לבעל:

And if you wish, say instead that it is derived from here: “And Jeshurun grew fat and kicked” (Deuteronomy 32:15). Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: From where in the Torah is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, ultimately conceded to Moses that the reason for the sin of the Golden Calf was indeed the riches lavished upon Israel? As it is stated: “And I gave them an abundance of silver and gold, which they used for the Ba’al” (Hosea 2:10).

וידבר ה׳ אל משה לך רד מאי לך רד אמר רבי אלעזר אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה משה רד מגדולתך כלום נתתי לך גדולה אלא בשביל ישראל ועכשיו ישראל חטאו אתה למה לי מיד תשש כוחו של משה ולא היה לו כח לדבר וכיון שאמר הרף ממני ואשמידם אמר משה דבר זה תלוי בי מיד עמד ונתחזק בתפלה ובקש רחמים

The Gemara elaborates upon additional aspects of the sin of the Golden Calf. It is stated: “And the Lord said to Moses: Go and descend, for your people whom you have lifted out of the land of Egypt have been corrupted” (Exodus 32:7). What is the meaning of “go and descend”? Rabbi Elazar said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses: Moses, descend from your greatness. Isn’t it only for the sake of Israel, so that you may serve as an emissary, that I granted you prominence; and now that Israel has sinned, why do I need you? There is no need for an emissary. Immediately, Moses’ strength waned and he was powerless to speak in defense of Israel. And once God said to Moses: “Leave Me be, that I may destroy them” (Deuteronomy 9:14), Moses said to himself: If God is telling me to let Him be, it must be because this matter is dependent upon me. Immediately Moses stood and was strengthened in prayer, and asked that God have mercy on the nation of Israel and forgive them for their transgression.

משל למלך שכעס על בנו והיה מכהו מכה גדולה והיה אוהבו יושב לפניו ומתירא לומר לו דבר אמר המלך אלמלא אוהבי זה שיושב לפני הרגתיך אמר דבר זה תלוי בי מיד עמד והצילו:

The Gemara says: This is comparable to a king who became angry at his son who had sinned against him, and beat him, administering a severe beating. At that moment, a well-wisher of the king was sitting before him and witnessed the entire event, and was afraid to say anything to the king about the excessive beating. Meanwhile, the king said to his son: Were it not for this well-wisher of mine who is sitting before me, I would have killed you. Upon hearing this, the king’s friend said to himself: This is clearly a sign that this matter, rescuing the son from the hands of his father, is dependent upon me. Immediately he stood and rescued him from the king.

ועתה הניחה לי ויחר אפי בהם ואכלם ואעשה אותך לגוי גדול וגו׳ אמר רבי אבהו אלמלא מקרא כתוב אי אפשר לאומרו מלמד שתפסו משה להקדוש ברוך הוא כאדם שהוא תופס את חבירו בבגדו ואמר לפניו רבונו של עולם אין אני מניחך עד שתמחול ותסלח להם:

In an additional aspect of the sin of the Golden Calf, God told Moses: “Now leave Me be, that My wrath will be enraged against them and I will consume them; and I will make of you a great nation” (Exodus 32:10). Explaining this verse, Rabbi Abbahu said: Were the verse not written in this manner, it would be impossible to utter it, in deference to God. The phrase: Leave Me be, teaches that Moses grabbed the Holy One, Blessed be He, as a person who grabs his friend by his garment would, and he said before Him: Master of the Universe, I will not leave You be until You forgive and pardon them.

ואעשה אותך לגוי גדול וגו׳ אמר רבי אלעזר אמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם ומה כסא של שלש רגלים אינו יכול לעמוד לפניך בשעת כעסך כסא של רגל אחד על אחת כמה וכמה

In the same verse, God promised Moses: “And I will make of you a great nation.” What was Moses’ response? Rabbi Elazar said: Moses said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, if a chair with three legs, the collective merit of the three forefathers, is unable to stand before You in Your moment of wrath, all the more so that a chair with one leg, my merit alone, will be unable to withstand your wrath.

ולא עוד אלא שיש בי בושת פנים מאבותי עכשיו יאמרו ראו פרנס שהעמיד עליהם בקש גדולה לעצמו ולא בקש עליהם רחמים:

Moreover, but I have a sense of shame before my forefathers. Now they will say: See this leader that God placed over Israel. He requested greatness for himself but did not pray for God to have mercy upon them in their troubled time.

ויחל משה את פני ה׳ אמר רבי אלעזר מלמד שעמד משה בתפלה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא עד שהחלהו ורבא אמר עד שהפר לו נדרו כתיב הכא ויחל וכתיב התם לא יחל דברו ואמר מר הוא אינו מיחל אבל אחרים מחלין לו

The Torah continues: “And Moses beseeched [vayḥal] before the Lord” (Exodus 32:11). Many interpretations were given for this uncommon term, vayḥal: Rabbi Elazar said: It teaches that Moses stood in prayer before the Holy One, Blessed be He, until it made him ill [heḥelahu] from overexertion. And Rava said: Moses stood in prayer until he nullified His vow, as the term vayḥal alludes to nullification of an oath. Here it is written vayḥal, and there referring to vows, it is written: “He shall not nullify [lo yaḥel] his word” (Numbers 30:3). And with regard to vows, the Master said: He who vowed cannot nullify his vow, but others, the court, can nullify his vow for him. Here, it is as if Moses nullified the Lord’s vow to destroy Israel.

ושמואל אמר מלמד שמסר עצמו למיתה עליהם שנאמר ואם אין מחני נא מספרך

And Shmuel said: The term vayḥal teaches that Moses gave his life, from the term ḥalal, a dead person, for Israel, as it is stated: “And if not, erase me, please, from Your book” (Exodus 32:32).

אמר רבא אמר רב יצחק מלמד שהחלה עליהם מדת רחמים

Rava, also interpreting this verse, said that Rav Yitzḥak said: The term vayḥal teaches that he caused the Divine Attribute of Mercy to take effect [heḥela] upon them.

ורבנן אמרי מלמד שאמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם חולין הוא לך מעשות כדבר הזה

And the Rabbis say that this term constitutes the essence of Moses’ claim: It teaches that Moses said before the Holy One Blessed be He: It is a sacrilege [ḥullin] for You to do something like this.

ויחל משה את פני ה׳ תניא רבי אליעזר הגדול אומר מלמד שעמד משה בתפלה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא עד שאחזתו אחילו מאי אחילו אמר רבי אלעזר אש של עצמות מאי אש של עצמות אמר אביי אשתא דגרמי

And another interpretation of the verse, “And Moses beseeched [vayḥal] before the Lord.” It was taught in a baraita: Rabbi Eliezer the Great says: This term teaches that Moses stood in prayer until he was overcome by aḥilu. Even the Sages were unfamiliar with this term. Therefore, the Gemara asks: What is the meaning of aḥilu? Rabbi Elazar, an amora of Eretz Yisrael, said that aḥilu is fire in the bones. However, this expression was familiar in Eretz Yisrael but not in Babylonia. They asked in Babylonia: What is the disease that they called fire of the bones? Abaye said that is a disease known in Babylonia as eshta degarmei, which in Aramaic means fire of the bones; in other words, a fever.

זכר לאברהם ליצחק ולישראל עבדיך אשר נשבעת להם בך מאי בך אמר רבי אלעזר אמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם אלמלא נשבעת להם בשמים ובארץ הייתי אומר כשם ששמים וארץ בטלים כך שבועתך בטלה ועכשו שנשבעת להם בשמך הגדול מה שמך הגדול חי וקיים לעולם ולעולמי עולמים כך שבועתך קיימת לעולם ולעולמי עולמים:

As Moses continues his prayer, he says: “Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel Your servants, to whom You swore in Your name” (Exodus 32:13). What is the meaning of in Your name? Rabbi Elazar said: Moses said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, had You sworn to them by the heavens and the earth, I would say: Just as the heavens and the earth will ultimately be no more, so too Your oath will be null and void. Now that You swore to them by Your great name, just as Your name lives and stands for all eternity, so too does Your oath live and stand for all eternity.

ותדבר אליהם ארבה את זרעכם ככוכבי השמים וכל הארץ הזאת אשר אמרתי האי אשר אמרתי אשר אמרת מיבעי ליה

In this verse, Moses continues: “And You said to them: I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your offspring that they shall inherit it forever.” The Gemara clarifies a puzzling phrase in this verse. That phrase of which I have spoken, it should have said: Of which You have spoken, as Moses is referring to God’s promise to the forefathers.

אמר רבי אלעזר עד כאן דברי תלמיד מכאן ואילך דברי הרב ורבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר אלו ואלו דברי תלמיד אלא כך אמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם דברים שאמרת לי לך אמור להם לישראל בשמי הלכתי ואמרתי להם בשמך עכשו מה אני אומר להם:

Rabbi Elazar said: To this point, the verse cites the words of the student, Moses; from this point, and all this land of which I have spoken, the verse cites the words of the Master, God. And Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said: These and those are the words of the student; Moses spoke the entire verse. Rather, Moses said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, those matters which You told me to go and say to Israel in My name, I went and told it to them in Your name. I have already told Israel of God’s promise to the forefathers. Now what do I say to them?

מבלתי יכלת ה׳ יכול ה׳ מיבעי ליה

The Gemara moves to a discussion of additional prayers offered by Moses. Moses said that if God fails to bring the Jewish people into Eretz Yisrael, the nations of the world will say: “The Lord did not have the ability [yekholet] to bring this people into the land which He swore to them, and He killed them in the desert” (Numbers 14:16). The Gemara examines this verse closely: The verse should not have utilized the term yekholet, an abstract feminine noun, but rather, it should have said: “The Lord was not able [yakhol],” a masculine verb.

אמר רבי אלעזר אמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם עכשיו יאמרו אומות העולם תשש כחו כנקבה ואינו יכול להציל אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה והלא כבר ראו נסים וגבורות שעשיתי להם על הים אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם עדיין יש להם לומר למלך אחד יכול לעמוד לשלשים ואחד מלכים אינו יכול לעמוד

Rabbi Elazar said: Moses phrased it that way because he said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, now the nations of the world will say that His strength weakened like a female and He is unable to rescue the nation of Israel. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses: And did the nations of the world not already see the miracles and the mighty acts that I performed on behalf of Israel at the Red Sea? Moses said before Him: Master of the Universe, they can still say: The Lord can stand up to a single king like Pharaoh and defeat him, but He is unable to stand up to the thirty-one kings in the land of Canaan.

אמר רבי יוחנן מנין שחזר הקדוש ברוך הוא והודה לו למשה שנאמר ויאמר ה׳ סלחתי כדבריך תני דבי רבי ישמעאל כדבריך עתידים אומות העולם לומר כן

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, ultimately conceded to Moses? As it is said: “And the Lord said: I have forgiven according to your word” (Numbers 14:20). The Sages of the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: According to your word, it will be, as indeed in the future the nations of the world will say this.

אשרי תלמיד שרבו מודה לו

The Gemara concludes: Happy is the student whose teacher concedes to him as the Lord conceded to Moses.

ואולם חי אני אמר רבא אמר רב יצחק מלמד שאמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה משה החייתני בדבריך:

Explaining the next verse, “Nevertheless, as I live, and the glory of the Lord fills the entire world” (Numbers 14:21), Rava said that Rav Yitzḥak said: This teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses: Moses, you have given Me life with your words. I am happy that on account of your arguments, I will forgive Israel.

דרש רבי שמלאי לעולם יסדר אדם שבחו של הקדוש ברוך הוא ואחר כך יתפלל מנלן ממשה דכתיב ואתחנן אל ה׳ בעת ההיא וכתיב ה׳ אלהים אתה החלת להראות את עבדך את גדלך ואת ידך החזקה אשר מי אל בשמים ובארץ אשר יעשה כמעשיך וכגבורותיך וכתיב בתריה אעברה נא ואראה את הארץ הטובה וגו׳:

Based on Moses’ prayers, Rabbi Simlai taught: One should always set forth praise of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and then pray for his own needs. From where do we derive that one should conduct himself in this manner? From Moses, as it is written in his prayer: “And I beseeched the Lord at that time” (Deuteronomy 3:23). And immediately afterward in his prayer, it is written: “Lord, God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand, for what God is there in the heavens or on earth who can perform deeds such as Yours and Your might” (Deuteronomy 3:24)? Here, Moses began with praise of God, and it is only thereafter that it is written: “Please, let me pass over and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and the Lebanon” (Deuteronomy 3:25). Only after his praise did Moses make his personal request.

סימן מעשים צדקה קרבן כהן תענית מנעל ברזל:

The Gemara prefaces the next discourse with a mnemonic symbol: Deeds, charity, offering, priest, fast, shoe, iron.

אמר רבי אלעזר גדולה תפלה יותר ממעשים טובים שאין לך גדול במעשים טובים יותר ממשה רבינו אף על פי כן לא נענה אלא בתפלה שנאמר אל תוסף דבר אלי וסמיך ליה עלה ראש הפסגה:

Rabbi Elazar said: This story proves that prayer is greater than good deeds without prayer (Tosafot), as there was none greater in the performance of good deeds than Moses our teacher; nevertheless, his request was granted, albeit in a limited manner, in his request to enter Eretz Yisrael, only through prayer, when God permitted him to climb the mountain and look out over the land. As, initially it is stated: “Speak no more to Me,” juxtaposed to which is: “Go up to the summit of the mountain.”

ואמר רבי אלעזר גדולה תענית יותר מן הצדקה מאי טעמא זה בגופו וזה בממונו:

After comparing and contrasting prayer and good deeds, the Gemara explores another comparison. Rabbi Elazar said: A fast is greater than charity. What is the reason that fasting is greater? Because a fast is a mitzva performed with one’s body as he afflicts himself, while charity is performed only with one’s money.

ואמר רבי אלעזר גדולה תפלה יותר מן הקרבנות שנאמר למה לי רב זבחיכם וכתיב ובפרשכם כפיכם

In another comparison, Rabbi Elazar said: Prayer is greater than sacrifices, as it is stated: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me, says the Lord. I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not desire the blood of bulls and sheep and goats” (Isaiah 1:11). And several verses later it is written: “And when you spread forth your hands I will hide My eyes from you, and even if you increase your prayer, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:15). Not only Israel’s sacrifices, but even their prayers, which are on a higher spiritual level, will not be accepted.

אמר רבי יוחנן כל כהן שהרג את הנפש לא ישא את כפיו שנאמר ידיכם דמים מלאו:

Speaking of that verse in Isaiah, the Gemara cites that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Any priest who killed a person may not lift his hands in the Priestly Blessing as it is stated: “And when you spread forth your hands I will hide My eyes from you…your hands are full of blood.” Here we see that the Priestly Blessing, performed with hands spread forth, is not accepted when performed by priests whose “hands are full of blood.”

ואמר רבי אלעזר מיום שחרב בית המקדש ננעלו שערי תפלה שנאמר גם כי אזעק ואשוע שתם תפלתי ואף על פי ששערי תפילה ננעלו שערי דמעה לא ננעלו שנאמר שמעה תפלתי ה׳ ושועתי האזינה אל דמעתי אל תחרש

On the subject of prayer, Rabbi Elazar also said: Since the day the Temple was destroyed the gates of prayer were locked and prayer is not accepted as it once was, as it is said in lamentation of the Temple’s destruction: “Though I plead and call out, He shuts out my prayer” (Lamentations 3:8). Yet, despite the fact that the gates of prayer were locked with the destruction of the Temple, the gates of tears were not locked, and one who cries before God may rest assured that his prayers will be answered, as it is stated: “Hear my prayer, Lord, and give ear to my pleading, keep not silence at my tears” (Psalms 39:13). Since this prayer is a request that God should pay heed to the tears of one who is praying, he is certain that at least the gates of tears are not locked.

רבא לא גזר תעניתא ביומא דעיבא משום שנאמר סכתה בענן לך מעבור תפלה:

With regard to the locking of the gates of prayer, the Gemara relates that Rava did not decree a fast on a cloudy day because it is stated: “You have covered Yourself in a cloud, through which prayer cannot pass” (Lamentations 3:44). The verse indicates that clouds are a bad omen, indicating that God has averted His face (Rav Hai Gaon).

ואמר רבי אלעזר מיום שחרב בית המקדש נפסקה חומת ברזל בין ישראל לאביהם שבשמים שנאמר ואתה קח לך מחבת ברזל ונתת אותה קיר ברזל בינך ובין העיר:

And Rabbi Elazar said: Since the day the Temple was destroyed an iron wall separates Israel from their Father in heaven, as it is stated to the prophet Ezekiel, instructing him to symbolize that separation: “And take for yourself an iron griddle, and set it as an iron wall between yourself and the city…it will be a sign for the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 4:3).

אמר רבי חנין אמר רבי חנינא כל המאריך בתפלתו אין תפלתו חוזרת ריקם מנא לן ממשה רבינו שנאמר ואתפלל אל ה׳ וכתיב בתריה וישמע ה׳ אלי גם בפעם ההיא

The Gemara cites other statements in praise of prayer: Rabbi Ḥanin said that Rabbi Ḥanina said: Anyone who prolongs his prayer is assured that his prayer does not return unanswered; it will surely be accepted. From where do we derive this? From Moses our teacher, as it is stated that Moses said: “So I fell down before the Lord the forty days and forty nights that I fell down; and I prayed to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 9:26–27), and it is written thereafter: “And the Lord heard me that time as well, the Lord would not destroy you” (Deuteronomy 10:10).

איני והא אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן כל המאריך בתפילתו ומעיין בה סוף בא לידי כאב לב שנאמר תוחלת ממשכה מחלה לב מאי תקנתיה יעסוק בתורה שנאמר ועץ חיים תאוה באה ואין עץ חיים אלא תורה שנאמר עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה לא קשיא הא דמאריך ומעיין בה הא דמאריך ולא מעיין בה

The Gemara raises an objection: Is that so? Didn’t Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba say that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Anyone who prolongs his prayer and expects it to be answered, will ultimately come to heartache, as it will not be answered. As it is stated: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). And what is the remedy for one afflicted with that illness? He should engage in Torah study, as it is stated: “But desire fulfilled is the tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12), and tree of life is nothing other than Torah, as it is stated: “It is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it, and those who support it are joyous” (Proverbs 3:18). This is not difficult. This, Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba’s statement that one will suffer heartache refers to one who prolongs his prayer and expects it to be answered; that, Rabbi Ḥanin’s statement that one who prolongs his prayer is praiseworthy refers to one who prolongs his prayer and does not expect it to be answered.

אמר רבי חמא ברבי חנינא אם ראה אדם שהתפלל ולא נענה יחזור ויתפלל שנאמר קוה אל ה׳ חזק ויאמץ לבך וקוה אל ה׳:

On a similar note, Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: A person who prayed and saw that he was not answered, should pray again, as it is stated: “Hope in the Lord, strengthen yourself, let your heart take courage, and hope in the Lord” (Psalms 27:14). One should turn to God with hope, and if necessary turn to God again with hope.

תנו רבנן ארבעה צריכין חזוק ואלו הן תורה ומעשים טובים תפלה ודרך ארץ

Connected to the emphasis on the need to bolster one’s effort in prayer, the Gemara notes that the Sages taught in a baraita: Four things require bolstering, constant effort to improve, and they are: Torah, good deeds, prayer, and occupation.

תורה ומעשים טובים מנין שנאמר רק חזק ואמץ מאד לשמר ולעשות ככל התורה חזק בתורה ואמץ במעשים טובים

For each of these, a biblical proof is cited: From where is it derived that Torah and good deeds require bolstering? As it is stated in the instruction to Joshua: “Only be strong and be extremely courageous, observe and do all of the Torah that Moses My servant commanded you; do not deviate to the right or to the left, that you may succeed wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7). In this verse, observe refers to Torah study and do refers to good deeds (Maharsha); the apparently repetitive language is not extraneous. The Gemara derives: Be strong in Torah and be courageous in good deeds.

תפלה מנין שנאמר קוה אל ה׳ חזק ויאמץ לבך וקוה אל ה׳

From where is it derived that prayer requires bolstering? As it is said: “Hope in the Lord, strengthen yourself, let your heart take courage, and hope in the Lord.”

דרך ארץ מנין שנאמר חזק ונתחזק בעד עמנו וגו׳:

From where is it derived that occupation requires bolstering? As it is stated: “Be strong and we will be strong for the sake of our nation and for the cities of our God” (II Samuel 10:12). All of one’s labor requires bolstering.

ותאמר ציון עזבני ה׳ וה׳ שכחני היינו עזובה היינו שכוחה אמר ריש לקיש אמרה כנסת ישראל לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם אדם נושא אשה על אשתו ראשונה זוכר מעשה הראשונה אתה עזבתני ושכחתני

The Gemara cites a midrash on the following verse from Isaiah, relating to the sin of the Golden Calf and Moses’ supplication for forgiveness: “But Zion said: The Lord has forsaken me and the Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman forget her suckling baby, that she would not have compassion for the child of her womb? These may forget, but you I will not forget” (Isaiah 49:14–15). The Gemara seeks to clarify: Forsaken is the same as forgotten. They are synonymous; why repeat the same idea twice? Reish Lakish said: The community of Israel said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, even when a man marries a second wife after his first wife, he certainly recalls the deeds of his first wife. Yet You have not only forsaken me, but You have forgotten me as well.

אמר לה הקדוש ברוך הוא בתי שנים עשר מזלות בראתי ברקיע ועל כל מזל ומזל בראתי לו שלשים חיל ועל כל חיל וחיל בראתי לו שלשים לגיון ועל כל לגיון ולגיון בראתי לו שלשים רהטון ועל כל רהטון ורהטון בראתי לו שלשים קרטון ועל כל קרטון וקרטון בראתי לו שלשים גסטרא ועל כל גסטרא וגסטרא תליתי בו שלש מאות וששים וחמשה אלפי רבוא כוכבים כנגד ימות החמה וכולן לא בראתי אלא בשבילך ואת אמרת עזבתני ושכחתני

The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel: My daughter, I created twelve constellations in the firmament, and for each and every constellation I have created thirty armies, and for each and every army I have created thirty legions [ligyon], and for each and every legion I have created thirty infantry division leaders [rahaton], and for each and every infantry division leader I have created thirty military camp leaders [karton], and for each and every military camp leader I have created thirty leaders of forts [gastera], and on each and every leader of a fort I have hung three hundred and sixty-five thousand stars corresponding to the days of the solar year. And all of them I have created only for your sake; and you said the Lord has forsaken me and the Lord has forgotten me?

התשכח אשה עולה אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא כלום אשכח עולות אילים ופטרי רחמים שהקרבת לפני במדבר אמרה לפניו רבונו של עולם הואיל ואין שכחה לפני כסא כבודך שמא לא תשכח לי מעשה העגל אמר לה גם אלה תשכחנה

The verse goes on to say: “Can a woman forget her suckling baby, that she would not have compassion for the child of her womb? These may forget, but you I will not forget.” The meaning of this verse is that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the community of Israel: Have I forgotten the ram offerings and firstborn animals that you offered before Me in the desert? The community of Israel replied to Him: Master of the Universe, since there is no forgetfulness before the Throne of Your Glory, perhaps you will not forget my sin of the Golden Calf? God responded to Israel: “These [elu] too shall be forgotten.” “These” is a reference to the sin of the Golden Calf, regarding which Israel said: “These [elu] are your gods.”

אמרה לפניו רבונו של עולם הואיל ויש שכחה לפני כסא כבודך שמא תשכח לי מעשה סיני אמר לה ואנכי לא אשכחך

The community of Israel said before Him: Master of the Universe, since there is forgetfulness before the Throne of Your Glory, perhaps You will also forget the events revolving around the revelation at Sinai? God said to Israel: I [anokhi] will not forget you the revelation at Sinai, which began with: “I [anokhi] am the Lord your God.”

והיינו דאמר רבי אלעזר אמר רב אושעיא מאי דכתיב גם אלה תשכחנה זה מעשה העגל ואנכי לא אשכחך זה מעשה סיני:

The Gemara notes: That is what Rabbi Elazar said that Rav Oshaya said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “These too will be forgotten”? That is the sin of the Golden Calf. And what is the meaning of I will not forget you? Those are the events that transpired at Sinai.

חסידים הראשונים היו שוהין שעה אחת:

We learned in the mishna that the early generations of pious men would wait one hour in order to achieve the solemn frame of mind appropriate for prayer.

מנא הני מילי אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי אמר קרא אשרי יושבי ביתך

The Gemara asks: From where are these matters derived? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: This is alluded to when the verse states: “Happy are those who dwell in Your House” (Psalms 84:5), immediately after which it is said: “They will yet praise You, Selah.”

ואמר רבי יהושע בן לוי המתפלל צריך לשהות שעה אחת אחר תפלתו שנאמר אך צדיקים יודו לשמך ישבו ישרים את פניך

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who prays must also wait one hour after his prayer, as it is stated: “Surely the righteous will give thanks unto Your name, the upright will sit before You” (Psalms 140:14), meaning that after thanking God through prayer, one should stay and sit before Him.

תניא נמי הכי המתפלל צריך שישהא שעה אחת קודם תפלתו ושעה אחת אחר תפלתו קודם תפלתו מנין שנאמר אשרי יושבי ביתך לאחר תפלתו מנין דכתיב אך צדיקים יודו לשמך ישבו ישרים את פניך

That opinion was also taught in a baraita: One who prays must wait one hour before his prayer and one hour after his prayer. From where is it derived that one must wait one hour before his prayer? As it is stated: “Happy are those who dwell in Your House.” And from where is it derived that one must stay one hour after his prayer? As it is written: “Surely the righteous will give thanks unto Your name, the upright will sit before You.”

תנו רבנן חסידים הראשונים היו שוהין שעה אחת ומתפללין שעה אחת וחוזרין ושוהין שעה אחת וכי מאחר ששוהין תשע שעות ביום בתפלה תורתן היאך משתמרת ומלאכתם היאך נעשית

The Sages taught in a baraita with regard to waiting before and after prayer: The early generations of pious men would wait one hour, pray one hour, then wait one hour again. This raises the question: Since the early pious men would spend nine hours per day engaged either in prayer or the requisite waiting periods before and after prayer, three hours each for the morning, afternoon, and evening prayers, how is their Torah preserved? There was little time remaining to review their studies. And how was their work accomplished?

אלא מתוך שחסידים הם תורתם משתמרת ומלאכתן מתברכת:

The Gemara answers: Rather, because they were pious they merited that their Torah is preserved and their work is blessed.

אפילו המלך שואל בשלומו לא ישיבנו:

Additionally, we learned in the mishna: Even if the king greets him while he is praying, he should not respond to him as one may not interrupt his prayer.

אמר רב יוסף לא שנו אלא למלכי ישראל אבל למלכי אומות העולם פוסק

In limiting application of this principle, Rav Yosef said: They only taught this mishna with regard to kings of Israel, as a Jewish king would understand that the individual did not fail to respond to his greeting due to disrespect for the king. However, with regard to kings of the nations of the world, he interrupts his prayer and responds to their greeting due to the potential danger.

מיתיבי המתפלל וראה אנס בא כנגדו ראה קרון בא כנגדו לא יהא מפסיק אלא מקצר ועולה

The Gemara raised an objection to Rav Yosef’s statement: One who is praying and saw a violent person, feared by all, coming toward him, or a carriage coming toward him and he is in the way, he should not stop his prayer but rather abridge it and move out of the way.

לא קשיא הא דאפשר לקצר יקצר ואם לאו פוסק

The Gemara responds: This is not difficult. Rather, this that teaches to abridge one’s prayer rather than stopping, refers to a case where it is possible to abridge his prayer and complete it in time, in which case he should abridge it. And if it is not a situation where he can abridge his prayer, he interrupts his prayer.

תנו רבנן מעשה בחסיד אחד שהיה מתפלל בדרך בא הגמון אחד ונתן לו שלום ולא החזיר לו שלום המתין לו עד שסיים תפלתו לאחר שסיים תפלתו אמר לו ריקא והלא כתוב בתורתכם רק השמר לך ושמר נפשך וכתיב ונשמרתם מאד לנפשתיכם כשנתתי לך שלום למה לא החזרת לי שלום אם הייתי חותך ראשך בסייף מי היה תובע את דמך מידי

The Sages taught: There was a related incident, involving a particular pious man who was praying while traveling along his path when an officer [hegmon] came and greeted him. The pious man did not pause from his prayer and did not respond with a greeting. The officer waited for him until he finished his prayer.
After he finished his prayer, the officer said to him: You good for nothing. You endangered yourself; I could have killed you.
Isn’t it written in your Torah: “Take utmost care and guard yourself diligently” (Deuteronomy 4:9)?
And it is also written: “Take therefore good heed unto yourselves” (Deuteronomy 4:15)? Why did you ignore the danger to your life?
When I greeted you, why did you not respond with a greeting?
Were I to sever your head with a sword, who would hold me accountable for your spilled blood?

אמר לו המתן לי עד שאפייסך בדברים אמר לו אילו היית עומד לפני מלך בשר ודם ובא חברך ונתן לך שלום היית

The pious man said to him: Wait for me until I will appease you with my words.
He said to him: Had you been standing before a flesh and blood king and your friend came and greeted you, would you
return his greeting?

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The Golden Calf Was All God’s Fault

In which we consider whether we have free choice, whether Pharaoh had free choice, and whether anyone ever really has...

Berakhot 32

The William Davidson Talmud | Powered by Sefaria

Berakhot 32

דכתיב ואשר הרעתי:

As it is written in a future prophecy: “In that day, says the Lord, I will assemble the lame, and I will gather those who are abandoned and those with whom I have dealt in wickedness” (Micah 4:6). God states that He caused Israel to act wickedly.

אמר רבי חמא ברבי חנינא אלמלא שלש מקראות הללו נתמוטטו רגליהם של שונאי ישראל

Similarly, Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: Had it not been for these three verses, the legs of the enemies of Israel, a euphemism for Israel itself, would have collapsed, as Israel would have been unable to withstand God’s judgment.

חד דכתיב ואשר הרעתי וחד דכתיב הנה כחמר ביד היוצר כן אתם בידי בית ישראל וחד דכתיב והסרתי את לב האבן מבשרכם ונתתי לכם לב בשר

One is the verse just mentioned in which it is written: “Those whom I have dealt in wickedness.” And one is the verse in which it is written: “Behold, like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel” (Jeremiah 18:6). And one is the verse in which it is written: “And I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will place within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). These three verses indicate that God influences a person’s decisions, and therefore one does not have sole responsibility for his actions.

רב פפא אמר מהכא ואת רוחי אתן בקרבכם ועשיתי את אשר בחקי תלכו

Rav Pappa said there is a clearer proof from here: “And I will place My spirit within you and I will cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will observe My decrees and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27).

ואמר רבי אלעזר משה הטיח דברים כלפי מעלה שנאמר ויתפלל משה אל ה׳ אל תקרי אל ה׳ אלא על ה׳

And Rabbi Elazar said: Moses also spoke impertinently toward God on High, as it is stated in the verse following the sin of those who murmured against God in the desert: “And Moses prayed to the Lord and the fire subsided” (Numbers 11:2), and this verse is interpreted homiletically: Do not read to [el] the Lord, but rather onto [al] the Lord, which indicates that he spoke impertinently.

שכן דבי רבי אליעזר בן יעקב קורין לאלפין עיינין ולעיינין אלפין

The Gemara explains the basis for this interpretation: As the Sages of the school of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov would indiscriminately read alef as ayin and ayin as alef and in this case transforming el into al.

דבי רבי ינאי אמרי מהכא ודי זהב

The Sages of the school of Rabbi Yannai, however, say proof that Moses spoke impertinently toward God on High is derived from here, Moses’ rebuke at the beginning of Deuteronomy: “And Di Zahav” (Deuteronomy 1:1). This is an entry in a list of places where Moses had spoken to Israel. As there was no place encountered by that name, it is interpreted as an allusion to another matter.

מאי ודי זהב אמרי דבי רבי ינאי כך אמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם בשביל כסף וזהב שהשפעת להם לישראל עד שאמרו די הוא גרם שעשו את העגל

We must clarify: What is the meaning of and Di Zahav? The Sages of the school of Rabbi Yannai said that Moses said the following before the Holy One, Blessed be He, to atone for Israel after the sin of the Golden Calf: Master of the Universe, because of the gold and silver that you lavished upon Israel during the exodus from Egypt until they said enough [dai]; it was this wealth that caused Israel to make the Golden Calf.

אמרי דבי רבי ינאי אין ארי נוהם מתוך קופה של תבן אלא מתוך קופה של בשר

Establishing a general moral principle, the Sages the school of Rabbi Yannai said: A lion does not roar standing over a basket of straw from which he derives no pleasure, but he roars standing over a basket of meat, as he only roars when satiated.

אמר רבי אושעיא משל לאדם שהיתה לו פרה כחושה ובעלת אברים האכילה כרשינין והיתה מבעטת בו אמר לה מי גרם ליך שתהא מבעטת בי אלא כרשינין שהאכלתיך

Similarly, Rabbi Oshaya said: This is comparable to a person who had a lean, but large-limbed cow. At one point, he fed it lupines, a choice food, and soon thereafter the cow was kicking him. He said to the cow: Who caused you to begin kicking me if not the lupines I fed you? Here, too, the sin was caused by an abundance of good.

אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן משל לאדם אחד שהיה לו בן הרחיצו וסכו והאכילו והשקהו ותלה לו כיס על צוארו והושיבו על פתח של זונות מה יעשה אותו הבן שלא יחטא

The Gemara offers another analogy: Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: This is comparable to a person who had a son; he bathed him and anointed him with oil, fed him and gave him drink, and hung a purse of money around his neck. Then, he brought his son to the entrance of a brothel. What could the son do to avoid sinning?

אמר רב אחא בריה דרב הונא אמר רב ששת היינו דאמרי אינשי מלי כרסיה זני בישי שנאמר כמרעיתם וישבעו שבעו וירם לבם על כן שכחוני רב נחמן אמר מהכא ורם לבבך ושכחת את ה׳ ורבנן אמרי מהכא ואכל ושבע ודשן ופנה

On a similar note, Rav Aḥa, son of Rav Huna, said that Rav Sheshet said: That is what people say in a popular maxim: Filling his stomach is a type of sin, as it is stated: “When they were fed and became full they were sated, and their hearts were lifted and they have forgotten Me” (Hosea 13:6). Rav Naḥman said: This principle is derived not from the verse in Hosea, but from here: “And your heart is lifted and you forget the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:14). And the Rabbis say that this principle is derived from here: “And they will have eaten and been sated and fattened, and they will turn to other gods” (Deuteronomy 31:20).

ואי בעית אימא מהכא וישמן ישורון ויבעט אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר רבי יונתן מנין שחזר הקדוש ברוך הוא והודה לו למשה שנאמר וכסף הרביתי להם וזהב עשו לבעל:

And if you wish, say instead that it is derived from here: “And Jeshurun grew fat and kicked” (Deuteronomy 32:15). Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: From where in the Torah is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, ultimately conceded to Moses that the reason for the sin of the Golden Calf was indeed the riches lavished upon Israel? As it is stated: “And I gave them an abundance of silver and gold, which they used for the Ba’al” (Hosea 2:10).

וידבר ה׳ אל משה לך רד מאי לך רד אמר רבי אלעזר אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה משה רד מגדולתך כלום נתתי לך גדולה אלא בשביל ישראל ועכשיו ישראל חטאו אתה למה לי מיד תשש כוחו של משה ולא היה לו כח לדבר וכיון שאמר הרף ממני ואשמידם אמר משה דבר זה תלוי בי מיד עמד ונתחזק בתפלה ובקש רחמים

The Gemara elaborates upon additional aspects of the sin of the Golden Calf. It is stated: “And the Lord said to Moses: Go and descend, for your people whom you have lifted out of the land of Egypt have been corrupted” (Exodus 32:7). What is the meaning of “go and descend”? Rabbi Elazar said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses: Moses, descend from your greatness. Isn’t it only for the sake of Israel, so that you may serve as an emissary, that I granted you prominence; and now that Israel has sinned, why do I need you? There is no need for an emissary. Immediately, Moses’ strength waned and he was powerless to speak in defense of Israel. And once God said to Moses: “Leave Me be, that I may destroy them” (Deuteronomy 9:14), Moses said to himself: If God is telling me to let Him be, it must be because this matter is dependent upon me. Immediately Moses stood and was strengthened in prayer, and asked that God have mercy on the nation of Israel and forgive them for their transgression.

משל למלך שכעס על בנו והיה מכהו מכה גדולה והיה אוהבו יושב לפניו ומתירא לומר לו דבר אמר המלך אלמלא אוהבי זה שיושב לפני הרגתיך אמר דבר זה תלוי בי מיד עמד והצילו:

The Gemara says: This is comparable to a king who became angry at his son who had sinned against him, and beat him, administering a severe beating. At that moment, a well-wisher of the king was sitting before him and witnessed the entire event, and was afraid to say anything to the king about the excessive beating. Meanwhile, the king said to his son: Were it not for this well-wisher of mine who is sitting before me, I would have killed you. Upon hearing this, the king’s friend said to himself: This is clearly a sign that this matter, rescuing the son from the hands of his father, is dependent upon me. Immediately he stood and rescued him from the king.

ועתה הניחה לי ויחר אפי בהם ואכלם ואעשה אותך לגוי גדול וגו׳ אמר רבי אבהו אלמלא מקרא כתוב אי אפשר לאומרו מלמד שתפסו משה להקדוש ברוך הוא כאדם שהוא תופס את חבירו בבגדו ואמר לפניו רבונו של עולם אין אני מניחך עד שתמחול ותסלח להם:

In an additional aspect of the sin of the Golden Calf, God told Moses: “Now leave Me be, that My wrath will be enraged against them and I will consume them; and I will make of you a great nation” (Exodus 32:10). Explaining this verse, Rabbi Abbahu said: Were the verse not written in this manner, it would be impossible to utter it, in deference to God. The phrase: Leave Me be, teaches that Moses grabbed the Holy One, Blessed be He, as a person who grabs his friend by his garment would, and he said before Him: Master of the Universe, I will not leave You be until You forgive and pardon them.

ואעשה אותך לגוי גדול וגו׳ אמר רבי אלעזר אמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם ומה כסא של שלש רגלים אינו יכול לעמוד לפניך בשעת כעסך כסא של רגל אחד על אחת כמה וכמה

In the same verse, God promised Moses: “And I will make of you a great nation.” What was Moses’ response? Rabbi Elazar said: Moses said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, if a chair with three legs, the collective merit of the three forefathers, is unable to stand before You in Your moment of wrath, all the more so that a chair with one leg, my merit alone, will be unable to withstand your wrath.

ולא עוד אלא שיש בי בושת פנים מאבותי עכשיו יאמרו ראו פרנס שהעמיד עליהם בקש גדולה לעצמו ולא בקש עליהם רחמים:

Moreover, but I have a sense of shame before my forefathers. Now they will say: See this leader that God placed over Israel. He requested greatness for himself but did not pray for God to have mercy upon them in their troubled time.

ויחל משה את פני ה׳ אמר רבי אלעזר מלמד שעמד משה בתפלה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא עד שהחלהו ורבא אמר עד שהפר לו נדרו כתיב הכא ויחל וכתיב התם לא יחל דברו ואמר מר הוא אינו מיחל אבל אחרים מחלין לו

The Torah continues: “And Moses beseeched [vayḥal] before the Lord” (Exodus 32:11). Many interpretations were given for this uncommon term, vayḥal: Rabbi Elazar said: It teaches that Moses stood in prayer before the Holy One, Blessed be He, until it made him ill [heḥelahu] from overexertion. And Rava said: Moses stood in prayer until he nullified His vow, as the term vayḥal alludes to nullification of an oath. Here it is written vayḥal, and there referring to vows, it is written: “He shall not nullify [lo yaḥel] his word” (Numbers 30:3). And with regard to vows, the Master said: He who vowed cannot nullify his vow, but others, the court, can nullify his vow for him. Here, it is as if Moses nullified the Lord’s vow to destroy Israel.

ושמואל אמר מלמד שמסר עצמו למיתה עליהם שנאמר ואם אין מחני נא מספרך

And Shmuel said: The term vayḥal teaches that Moses gave his life, from the term ḥalal, a dead person, for Israel, as it is stated: “And if not, erase me, please, from Your book” (Exodus 32:32).

אמר רבא אמר רב יצחק מלמד שהחלה עליהם מדת רחמים

Rava, also interpreting this verse, said that Rav Yitzḥak said: The term vayḥal teaches that he caused the Divine Attribute of Mercy to take effect [heḥela] upon them.

ורבנן אמרי מלמד שאמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם חולין הוא לך מעשות כדבר הזה

And the Rabbis say that this term constitutes the essence of Moses’ claim: It teaches that Moses said before the Holy One Blessed be He: It is a sacrilege [ḥullin] for You to do something like this.

ויחל משה את פני ה׳ תניא רבי אליעזר הגדול אומר מלמד שעמד משה בתפלה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא עד שאחזתו אחילו מאי אחילו אמר רבי אלעזר אש של עצמות מאי אש של עצמות אמר אביי אשתא דגרמי

And another interpretation of the verse, “And Moses beseeched [vayḥal] before the Lord.” It was taught in a baraita: Rabbi Eliezer the Great says: This term teaches that Moses stood in prayer until he was overcome by aḥilu. Even the Sages were unfamiliar with this term. Therefore, the Gemara asks: What is the meaning of aḥilu? Rabbi Elazar, an amora of Eretz Yisrael, said that aḥilu is fire in the bones. However, this expression was familiar in Eretz Yisrael but not in Babylonia. They asked in Babylonia: What is the disease that they called fire of the bones? Abaye said that is a disease known in Babylonia as eshta degarmei, which in Aramaic means fire of the bones; in other words, a fever.

זכר לאברהם ליצחק ולישראל עבדיך אשר נשבעת להם בך מאי בך אמר רבי אלעזר אמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם אלמלא נשבעת להם בשמים ובארץ הייתי אומר כשם ששמים וארץ בטלים כך שבועתך בטלה ועכשו שנשבעת להם בשמך הגדול מה שמך הגדול חי וקיים לעולם ולעולמי עולמים כך שבועתך קיימת לעולם ולעולמי עולמים:

As Moses continues his prayer, he says: “Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel Your servants, to whom You swore in Your name” (Exodus 32:13). What is the meaning of in Your name? Rabbi Elazar said: Moses said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, had You sworn to them by the heavens and the earth, I would say: Just as the heavens and the earth will ultimately be no more, so too Your oath will be null and void. Now that You swore to them by Your great name, just as Your name lives and stands for all eternity, so too does Your oath live and stand for all eternity.

ותדבר אליהם ארבה את זרעכם ככוכבי השמים וכל הארץ הזאת אשר אמרתי האי אשר אמרתי אשר אמרת מיבעי ליה

In this verse, Moses continues: “And You said to them: I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your offspring that they shall inherit it forever.” The Gemara clarifies a puzzling phrase in this verse. That phrase of which I have spoken, it should have said: Of which You have spoken, as Moses is referring to God’s promise to the forefathers.

אמר רבי אלעזר עד כאן דברי תלמיד מכאן ואילך דברי הרב ורבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר אלו ואלו דברי תלמיד אלא כך אמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם דברים שאמרת לי לך אמור להם לישראל בשמי הלכתי ואמרתי להם בשמך עכשו מה אני אומר להם:

Rabbi Elazar said: To this point, the verse cites the words of the student, Moses; from this point, and all this land of which I have spoken, the verse cites the words of the Master, God. And Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said: These and those are the words of the student; Moses spoke the entire verse. Rather, Moses said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, those matters which You told me to go and say to Israel in My name, I went and told it to them in Your name. I have already told Israel of God’s promise to the forefathers. Now what do I say to them?

מבלתי יכלת ה׳ יכול ה׳ מיבעי ליה

The Gemara moves to a discussion of additional prayers offered by Moses. Moses said that if God fails to bring the Jewish people into Eretz Yisrael, the nations of the world will say: “The Lord did not have the ability [yekholet] to bring this people into the land which He swore to them, and He killed them in the desert” (Numbers 14:16). The Gemara examines this verse closely: The verse should not have utilized the term yekholet, an abstract feminine noun, but rather, it should have said: “The Lord was not able [yakhol],” a masculine verb.

אמר רבי אלעזר אמר משה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם עכשיו יאמרו אומות העולם תשש כחו כנקבה ואינו יכול להציל אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה והלא כבר ראו נסים וגבורות שעשיתי להם על הים אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם עדיין יש להם לומר למלך אחד יכול לעמוד לשלשים ואחד מלכים אינו יכול לעמוד

Rabbi Elazar said: Moses phrased it that way because he said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, now the nations of the world will say that His strength weakened like a female and He is unable to rescue the nation of Israel. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses: And did the nations of the world not already see the miracles and the mighty acts that I performed on behalf of Israel at the Red Sea? Moses said before Him: Master of the Universe, they can still say: The Lord can stand up to a single king like Pharaoh and defeat him, but He is unable to stand up to the thirty-one kings in the land of Canaan.

אמר רבי יוחנן מנין שחזר הקדוש ברוך הוא והודה לו למשה שנאמר ויאמר ה׳ סלחתי כדבריך תני דבי רבי ישמעאל כדבריך עתידים אומות העולם לומר כן

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, ultimately conceded to Moses? As it is said: “And the Lord said: I have forgiven according to your word” (Numbers 14:20). The Sages of the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: According to your word, it will be, as indeed in the future the nations of the world will say this.

אשרי תלמיד שרבו מודה לו

The Gemara concludes: Happy is the student whose teacher concedes to him as the Lord conceded to Moses.

ואולם חי אני אמר רבא אמר רב יצחק מלמד שאמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה משה החייתני בדבריך:

Explaining the next verse, “Nevertheless, as I live, and the glory of the Lord fills the entire world” (Numbers 14:21), Rava said that Rav Yitzḥak said: This teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Moses: Moses, you have given Me life with your words. I am happy that on account of your arguments, I will forgive Israel.

דרש רבי שמלאי לעולם יסדר אדם שבחו של הקדוש ברוך הוא ואחר כך יתפלל מנלן ממשה דכתיב ואתחנן אל ה׳ בעת ההיא וכתיב ה׳ אלהים אתה החלת להראות את עבדך את גדלך ואת ידך החזקה אשר מי אל בשמים ובארץ אשר יעשה כמעשיך וכגבורותיך וכתיב בתריה אעברה נא ואראה את הארץ הטובה וגו׳:

Based on Moses’ prayers, Rabbi Simlai taught: One should always set forth praise of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and then pray for his own needs. From where do we derive that one should conduct himself in this manner? From Moses, as it is written in his prayer: “And I beseeched the Lord at that time” (Deuteronomy 3:23). And immediately afterward in his prayer, it is written: “Lord, God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand, for what God is there in the heavens or on earth who can perform deeds such as Yours and Your might” (Deuteronomy 3:24)? Here, Moses began with praise of God, and it is only thereafter that it is written: “Please, let me pass over and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and the Lebanon” (Deuteronomy 3:25). Only after his praise did Moses make his personal request.

סימן מעשים צדקה קרבן כהן תענית מנעל ברזל:

The Gemara prefaces the next discourse with a mnemonic symbol: Deeds, charity, offering, priest, fast, shoe, iron.

אמר רבי אלעזר גדולה תפלה יותר ממעשים טובים שאין לך גדול במעשים טובים יותר ממשה רבינו אף על פי כן לא נענה אלא בתפלה שנאמר אל תוסף דבר אלי וסמיך ליה עלה ראש הפסגה:

Rabbi Elazar said: This story proves that prayer is greater than good deeds without prayer (Tosafot), as there was none greater in the performance of good deeds than Moses our teacher; nevertheless, his request was granted, albeit in a limited manner, in his request to enter Eretz Yisrael, only through prayer, when God permitted him to climb the mountain and look out over the land. As, initially it is stated: “Speak no more to Me,” juxtaposed to which is: “Go up to the summit of the mountain.”

ואמר רבי אלעזר גדולה תענית יותר מן הצדקה מאי טעמא זה בגופו וזה בממונו:

After comparing and contrasting prayer and good deeds, the Gemara explores another comparison. Rabbi Elazar said: A fast is greater than charity. What is the reason that fasting is greater? Because a fast is a mitzva performed with one’s body as he afflicts himself, while charity is performed only with one’s money.

ואמר רבי אלעזר גדולה תפלה יותר מן הקרבנות שנאמר למה לי רב זבחיכם וכתיב ובפרשכם כפיכם

In another comparison, Rabbi Elazar said: Prayer is greater than sacrifices, as it is stated: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me, says the Lord. I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not desire the blood of bulls and sheep and goats” (Isaiah 1:11). And several verses later it is written: “And when you spread forth your hands I will hide My eyes from you, and even if you increase your prayer, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:15). Not only Israel’s sacrifices, but even their prayers, which are on a higher spiritual level, will not be accepted.

אמר רבי יוחנן כל כהן שהרג את הנפש לא ישא את כפיו שנאמר ידיכם דמים מלאו:

Speaking of that verse in Isaiah, the Gemara cites that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Any priest who killed a person may not lift his hands in the Priestly Blessing as it is stated: “And when you spread forth your hands I will hide My eyes from you…your hands are full of blood.” Here we see that the Priestly Blessing, performed with hands spread forth, is not accepted when performed by priests whose “hands are full of blood.”

ואמר רבי אלעזר מיום שחרב בית המקדש ננעלו שערי תפלה שנאמר גם כי אזעק ואשוע שתם תפלתי ואף על פי ששערי תפילה ננעלו שערי דמעה לא ננעלו שנאמר שמעה תפלתי ה׳ ושועתי האזינה אל דמעתי אל תחרש

On the subject of prayer, Rabbi Elazar also said: Since the day the Temple was destroyed the gates of prayer were locked and prayer is not accepted as it once was, as it is said in lamentation of the Temple’s destruction: “Though I plead and call out, He shuts out my prayer” (Lamentations 3:8). Yet, despite the fact that the gates of prayer were locked with the destruction of the Temple, the gates of tears were not locked, and one who cries before God may rest assured that his prayers will be answered, as it is stated: “Hear my prayer, Lord, and give ear to my pleading, keep not silence at my tears” (Psalms 39:13). Since this prayer is a request that God should pay heed to the tears of one who is praying, he is certain that at least the gates of tears are not locked.

רבא לא גזר תעניתא ביומא דעיבא משום שנאמר סכתה בענן לך מעבור תפלה:

With regard to the locking of the gates of prayer, the Gemara relates that Rava did not decree a fast on a cloudy day because it is stated: “You have covered Yourself in a cloud, through which prayer cannot pass” (Lamentations 3:44). The verse indicates that clouds are a bad omen, indicating that God has averted His face (Rav Hai Gaon).

ואמר רבי אלעזר מיום שחרב בית המקדש נפסקה חומת ברזל בין ישראל לאביהם שבשמים שנאמר ואתה קח לך מחבת ברזל ונתת אותה קיר ברזל בינך ובין העיר:

And Rabbi Elazar said: Since the day the Temple was destroyed an iron wall separates Israel from their Father in heaven, as it is stated to the prophet Ezekiel, instructing him to symbolize that separation: “And take for yourself an iron griddle, and set it as an iron wall between yourself and the city…it will be a sign for the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 4:3).

אמר רבי חנין אמר רבי חנינא כל המאריך בתפלתו אין תפלתו חוזרת ריקם מנא לן ממשה רבינו שנאמר ואתפלל אל ה׳ וכתיב בתריה וישמע ה׳ אלי גם בפעם ההיא

The Gemara cites other statements in praise of prayer: Rabbi Ḥanin said that Rabbi Ḥanina said: Anyone who prolongs his prayer is assured that his prayer does not return unanswered; it will surely be accepted. From where do we derive this? From Moses our teacher, as it is stated that Moses said: “So I fell down before the Lord the forty days and forty nights that I fell down; and I prayed to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 9:26–27), and it is written thereafter: “And the Lord heard me that time as well, the Lord would not destroy you” (Deuteronomy 10:10).

איני והא אמר רבי חייא בר אבא אמר רבי יוחנן כל המאריך בתפילתו ומעיין בה סוף בא לידי כאב לב שנאמר תוחלת ממשכה מחלה לב מאי תקנתיה יעסוק בתורה שנאמר ועץ חיים תאוה באה ואין עץ חיים אלא תורה שנאמר עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה לא קשיא הא דמאריך ומעיין בה הא דמאריך ולא מעיין בה

The Gemara raises an objection: Is that so? Didn’t Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba say that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Anyone who prolongs his prayer and expects it to be answered, will ultimately come to heartache, as it will not be answered. As it is stated: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). And what is the remedy for one afflicted with that illness? He should engage in Torah study, as it is stated: “But desire fulfilled is the tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12), and tree of life is nothing other than Torah, as it is stated: “It is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it, and those who support it are joyous” (Proverbs 3:18). This is not difficult. This, Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba’s statement that one will suffer heartache refers to one who prolongs his prayer and expects it to be answered; that, Rabbi Ḥanin’s statement that one who prolongs his prayer is praiseworthy refers to one who prolongs his prayer and does not expect it to be answered.

אמר רבי חמא ברבי חנינא אם ראה אדם שהתפלל ולא נענה יחזור ויתפלל שנאמר קוה אל ה׳ חזק ויאמץ לבך וקוה אל ה׳:

On a similar note, Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: A person who prayed and saw that he was not answered, should pray again, as it is stated: “Hope in the Lord, strengthen yourself, let your heart take courage, and hope in the Lord” (Psalms 27:14). One should turn to God with hope, and if necessary turn to God again with hope.

תנו רבנן ארבעה צריכין חזוק ואלו הן תורה ומעשים טובים תפלה ודרך ארץ

Connected to the emphasis on the need to bolster one’s effort in prayer, the Gemara notes that the Sages taught in a baraita: Four things require bolstering, constant effort to improve, and they are: Torah, good deeds, prayer, and occupation.

תורה ומעשים טובים מנין שנאמר רק חזק ואמץ מאד לשמר ולעשות ככל התורה חזק בתורה ואמץ במעשים טובים

For each of these, a biblical proof is cited: From where is it derived that Torah and good deeds require bolstering? As it is stated in the instruction to Joshua: “Only be strong and be extremely courageous, observe and do all of the Torah that Moses My servant commanded you; do not deviate to the right or to the left, that you may succeed wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7). In this verse, observe refers to Torah study and do refers to good deeds (Maharsha); the apparently repetitive language is not extraneous. The Gemara derives: Be strong in Torah and be courageous in good deeds.

תפלה מנין שנאמר קוה אל ה׳ חזק ויאמץ לבך וקוה אל ה׳

From where is it derived that prayer requires bolstering? As it is said: “Hope in the Lord, strengthen yourself, let your heart take courage, and hope in the Lord.”

דרך ארץ מנין שנאמר חזק ונתחזק בעד עמנו וגו׳:

From where is it derived that occupation requires bolstering? As it is stated: “Be strong and we will be strong for the sake of our nation and for the cities of our God” (II Samuel 10:12). All of one’s labor requires bolstering.

ותאמר ציון עזבני ה׳ וה׳ שכחני היינו עזובה היינו שכוחה אמר ריש לקיש אמרה כנסת ישראל לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם אדם נושא אשה על אשתו ראשונה זוכר מעשה הראשונה אתה עזבתני ושכחתני

The Gemara cites a midrash on the following verse from Isaiah, relating to the sin of the Golden Calf and Moses’ supplication for forgiveness: “But Zion said: The Lord has forsaken me and the Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman forget her suckling baby, that she would not have compassion for the child of her womb? These may forget, but you I will not forget” (Isaiah 49:14–15). The Gemara seeks to clarify: Forsaken is the same as forgotten. They are synonymous; why repeat the same idea twice? Reish Lakish said: The community of Israel said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, even when a man marries a second wife after his first wife, he certainly recalls the deeds of his first wife. Yet You have not only forsaken me, but You have forgotten me as well.

אמר לה הקדוש ברוך הוא בתי שנים עשר מזלות בראתי ברקיע ועל כל מזל ומזל בראתי לו שלשים חיל ועל כל חיל וחיל בראתי לו שלשים לגיון ועל כל לגיון ולגיון בראתי לו שלשים רהטון ועל כל רהטון ורהטון בראתי לו שלשים קרטון ועל כל קרטון וקרטון בראתי לו שלשים גסטרא ועל כל גסטרא וגסטרא תליתי בו שלש מאות וששים וחמשה אלפי רבוא כוכבים כנגד ימות החמה וכולן לא בראתי אלא בשבילך ואת אמרת עזבתני ושכחתני

The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel: My daughter, I created twelve constellations in the firmament, and for each and every constellation I have created thirty armies, and for each and every army I have created thirty legions [ligyon], and for each and every legion I have created thirty infantry division leaders [rahaton], and for each and every infantry division leader I have created thirty military camp leaders [karton], and for each and every military camp leader I have created thirty leaders of forts [gastera], and on each and every leader of a fort I have hung three hundred and sixty-five thousand stars corresponding to the days of the solar year. And all of them I have created only for your sake; and you said the Lord has forsaken me and the Lord has forgotten me?

התשכח אשה עולה אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא כלום אשכח עולות אילים ופטרי רחמים שהקרבת לפני במדבר אמרה לפניו רבונו של עולם הואיל ואין שכחה לפני כסא כבודך שמא לא תשכח לי מעשה העגל אמר לה גם אלה תשכחנה

The verse goes on to say: “Can a woman forget her suckling baby, that she would not have compassion for the child of her womb? These may forget, but you I will not forget.” The meaning of this verse is that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the community of Israel: Have I forgotten the ram offerings and firstborn animals that you offered before Me in the desert? The community of Israel replied to Him: Master of the Universe, since there is no forgetfulness before the Throne of Your Glory, perhaps you will not forget my sin of the Golden Calf? God responded to Israel: “These [elu] too shall be forgotten.” “These” is a reference to the sin of the Golden Calf, regarding which Israel said: “These [elu] are your gods.”

אמרה לפניו רבונו של עולם הואיל ויש שכחה לפני כסא כבודך שמא תשכח לי מעשה סיני אמר לה ואנכי לא אשכחך

The community of Israel said before Him: Master of the Universe, since there is forgetfulness before the Throne of Your Glory, perhaps You will also forget the events revolving around the revelation at Sinai? God said to Israel: I [anokhi] will not forget you the revelation at Sinai, which began with: “I [anokhi] am the Lord your God.”

והיינו דאמר רבי אלעזר אמר רב אושעיא מאי דכתיב גם אלה תשכחנה זה מעשה העגל ואנכי לא אשכחך זה מעשה סיני:

The Gemara notes: That is what Rabbi Elazar said that Rav Oshaya said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “These too will be forgotten”? That is the sin of the Golden Calf. And what is the meaning of I will not forget you? Those are the events that transpired at Sinai.

חסידים הראשונים היו שוהין שעה אחת:

We learned in the mishna that the early generations of pious men would wait one hour in order to achieve the solemn frame of mind appropriate for prayer.

מנא הני מילי אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי אמר קרא אשרי יושבי ביתך

The Gemara asks: From where are these matters derived? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: This is alluded to when the verse states: “Happy are those who dwell in Your House” (Psalms 84:5), immediately after which it is said: “They will yet praise You, Selah.”

ואמר רבי יהושע בן לוי המתפלל צריך לשהות שעה אחת אחר תפלתו שנאמר אך צדיקים יודו לשמך ישבו ישרים את פניך

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who prays must also wait one hour after his prayer, as it is stated: “Surely the righteous will give thanks unto Your name, the upright will sit before You” (Psalms 140:14), meaning that after thanking God through prayer, one should stay and sit before Him.

תניא נמי הכי המתפלל צריך שישהא שעה אחת קודם תפלתו ושעה אחת אחר תפלתו קודם תפלתו מנין שנאמר אשרי יושבי ביתך לאחר תפלתו מנין דכתיב אך צדיקים יודו לשמך ישבו ישרים את פניך

That opinion was also taught in a baraita: One who prays must wait one hour before his prayer and one hour after his prayer. From where is it derived that one must wait one hour before his prayer? As it is stated: “Happy are those who dwell in Your House.” And from where is it derived that one must stay one hour after his prayer? As it is written: “Surely the righteous will give thanks unto Your name, the upright will sit before You.”

תנו רבנן חסידים הראשונים היו שוהין שעה אחת ומתפללין שעה אחת וחוזרין ושוהין שעה אחת וכי מאחר ששוהין תשע שעות ביום בתפלה תורתן היאך משתמרת ומלאכתם היאך נעשית

The Sages taught in a baraita with regard to waiting before and after prayer: The early generations of pious men would wait one hour, pray one hour, then wait one hour again. This raises the question: Since the early pious men would spend nine hours per day engaged either in prayer or the requisite waiting periods before and after prayer, three hours each for the morning, afternoon, and evening prayers, how is their Torah preserved? There was little time remaining to review their studies. And how was their work accomplished?

אלא מתוך שחסידים הם תורתם משתמרת ומלאכתן מתברכת:

The Gemara answers: Rather, because they were pious they merited that their Torah is preserved and their work is blessed.

אפילו המלך שואל בשלומו לא ישיבנו:

Additionally, we learned in the mishna: Even if the king greets him while he is praying, he should not respond to him as one may not interrupt his prayer.

אמר רב יוסף לא שנו אלא למלכי ישראל אבל למלכי אומות העולם פוסק

In limiting application of this principle, Rav Yosef said: They only taught this mishna with regard to kings of Israel, as a Jewish king would understand that the individual did not fail to respond to his greeting due to disrespect for the king. However, with regard to kings of the nations of the world, he interrupts his prayer and responds to their greeting due to the potential danger.

מיתיבי המתפלל וראה אנס בא כנגדו ראה קרון בא כנגדו לא יהא מפסיק אלא מקצר ועולה

The Gemara raised an objection to Rav Yosef’s statement: One who is praying and saw a violent person, feared by all, coming toward him, or a carriage coming toward him and he is in the way, he should not stop his prayer but rather abridge it and move out of the way.

לא קשיא הא דאפשר לקצר יקצר ואם לאו פוסק

The Gemara responds: This is not difficult. Rather, this that teaches to abridge one’s prayer rather than stopping, refers to a case where it is possible to abridge his prayer and complete it in time, in which case he should abridge it. And if it is not a situation where he can abridge his prayer, he interrupts his prayer.

תנו רבנן מעשה בחסיד אחד שהיה מתפלל בדרך בא הגמון אחד ונתן לו שלום ולא החזיר לו שלום המתין לו עד שסיים תפלתו לאחר שסיים תפלתו אמר לו ריקא והלא כתוב בתורתכם רק השמר לך ושמר נפשך וכתיב ונשמרתם מאד לנפשתיכם כשנתתי לך שלום למה לא החזרת לי שלום אם הייתי חותך ראשך בסייף מי היה תובע את דמך מידי

The Sages taught: There was a related incident, involving a particular pious man who was praying while traveling along his path when an officer [hegmon] came and greeted him. The pious man did not pause from his prayer and did not respond with a greeting. The officer waited for him until he finished his prayer.
After he finished his prayer, the officer said to him: You good for nothing. You endangered yourself; I could have killed you.
Isn’t it written in your Torah: “Take utmost care and guard yourself diligently” (Deuteronomy 4:9)?
And it is also written: “Take therefore good heed unto yourselves” (Deuteronomy 4:15)? Why did you ignore the danger to your life?
When I greeted you, why did you not respond with a greeting?
Were I to sever your head with a sword, who would hold me accountable for your spilled blood?

אמר לו המתן לי עד שאפייסך בדברים אמר לו אילו היית עומד לפני מלך בשר ודם ובא חברך ונתן לך שלום היית

The pious man said to him: Wait for me until I will appease you with my words.
He said to him: Had you been standing before a flesh and blood king and your friend came and greeted you, would you
return his greeting?

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