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The Babylonian Talmud in Selection, by Leo Auerbach, [1944], at

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Fathers of the Mishna

(Tractate Aboth)


MOSES received the Torah (the Law) at Sinai and passed it on to Joshua, Joshua to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets passed it on to the men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be patient in rendering decisions; bring forth many disciples; and make a fence around the Torah.

Simon the Just was of the last of the Great Assembly. He used to say: The world exists because of three things: the Law, labor, and the performance of good deeds.

Antigonus, a man from Soco, received it from Simon the Just. He used to say: Be not as slaves, who serve the master for the reward that they receive, but be as the servants who wait upon the Rabbi without thought of recompense, and let the fear of the Lord be upon thee.

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Yosi ben Yoezer, a man of Zeredah, and Yosi ben Yohanan, a man of Jerusalem, received it from them. They would say: Let thy house be a meeting place of scholars and let thee be covered with the dust of their feet, and imbibe their words with thirst.

Yosi ben Yohanan of Jerusalem says: Let thy house be open wide and let poor people be members of thy household. Hold not lengthy discourse with the woman: this is said of one's own woman; so much the more does it apply to the woman of another man. Therefore the sages said: All of the time that a man spends in lengthy discourse with a woman, he causes evil unto himself and idles away precious time from the study of the Law, and his end shall be that he shall inherit Hell.

Joshua ben Prahiah and Nathai the Arbelite received it from them. Joshua ben Prahiah says: Take unto thyself a teacher, and acquire a friend, and judge every person in favorable light.

Nathai the Arbelite says: Keep away from a bad neighbor and associate not with an evil man, and despair not of misfortune.

Yehuda ben Tabai and Simon ben Shetah received the Law from them. Yehuda ben Tabai says: Do not constitute thyself an advocate and when litigants appear before thee let them be in thine eyes as evil men, but when they leave let them be in thine eyes as blameless, inasmuch as they have accepted the verdict.

Simon ben Shetah says: Cross-examine the witnesses thoroughly and be cautious with thy words, because from them they may learn to speak falsely.

Shemaiah and Abtalion received it from them. Shemaiah

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says: Love labor, detest officialdom, and seek not the acquaintance of the authorities.

Abtalion says: Scholars, be cautious of your words for they may cause you to be exiled to a place with polluted waters and your disciples who follow you will drink of the water and die, and the name of the Lord will be profaned.

Hillel and Shamai received the Law from them. Hillel says: Be of the disciples of Aaron; love peace and pursue peace, love humanity and bring them nearer to the Law.

He would say: A man who misuses his name shall soon lose his reputation. He who does not increase his knowledge shall lose it. He who abandons learning deserves death. He who curries favor of the Crown shall vanish.

He used to say: If I be not for myself, who shall be for me; and if I am by myself what am I? and if not now—when?

Shamai says: Make of your study a permanent habit. Say little and do much, and receive every person with courtesy.

Rabban Gamaliel used to say: Appoint a teacher for thyself, and eliminate doubt.

His son Simon says: Throughout my whole life I grew up amidst scholars and have found nothing more precious than silence; nor is the speech of importance, but the deed; and he who increases words causes sin.

Rabbi Simon ben Gamaliel says: The world exists because of three things: truth, justice, and peace, as is said: (Zechariah viii, 16) Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates.

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RABBI says: Which is the right road that a man should select for himself? That which is glory to its maker, and will bring honor to him from men; and be just as careful with a minor precept as with a major one, because thou knowest not the worth of a precept to reckon its loss against its worth, and the reward as against the loss. Be aware of three things and thou shalt keep away from sin: know what there is above thee;—an eye that sees, and an ear that hears, and all thy deeds are inscribed in a book.

Rabban Gamaliel, the son of Yehuda the Prince, says: The study of the Torah goes well with worldly occupation, for absorption in both fields keeps a man away from sin; and all learning with no menial occupation will avail a man naught and will cause him to sin. Those who occupy themselves with community affairs must do so in the name of the Lord. The glory of their fathers sustains them, and their righteousness shall endure forever. And as for you, I bestow upon you many rewards as if you yourself had accomplished it.

Be careful in your dealings with authorities—they do not befriend you unless for their own sake; they appear as friends when it suits them, but forsake one as soon as good fortune fails him.

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He would say: Make the Lord's will thy will, so that He will make your wish His wish; sacrifice your will before His will so that He shall sacrifice the will of others for yours.

Hillel says: Do not stand aloof in thy community, and do not trust in thyself till the day of thy death, and do not judge thy friend until thou findest thyself in his position. Do not say a thing can not be understood which could be understood later. Say not, I shall study later when I am at leisure, because thou mayest not have the opportunity later.

He would say: A boor does not fear to commit sin; an ignorant man cannot be pious; he that is bashful shall not learn; he that is impatient cannot teach; he that is entirely taken up with trade cannot be wise; and in a place where there does not seem to be a man, endeavor thou to be a man.

He saw a skull floating upon the surface of the water and exclaimed to it: Since thou hast drowned, someone has drowned thee, and those who are responsible for thy drowning shall be drowned in turn.

He would say: He that increases his flesh, increases vermin; he that accumulates possession increases worry; he that increases his womenfolk increases witchcraft; he that increases maidservants increases whoring; he that increases slaves increases thievery; he that increases learning increases life; he that increases study increases wisdom; he that increases council increases understanding; he that increases charity increases peace; he has secured for himself a good name, he has secured for himself the teachings of the Law and has secured life in the world to come.

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Rabban Yohanan ben Zakai received the Law from Hillel and from Shamai. He used to say: If thou hast devoted much time to learning do not pride thyself upon it, because for that purpose thou hast been created. Rabban Yohanan ben Zakai had five disciples and they were: Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurcanus, Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah, Rabbi Yosi Hacohen, Rabbi Simon ben Nathaniel and Rabbi Eleazer ben Arack. He would recount their praise: Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurcanus is a plastered cistern that loses not a drop; Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah brought happiness to his bearer; Rabbi Yosi is pious; Rabbi Simon ben Nathaniel is without sin; and Rabbi Eleazer is like a spring that gathers force. He used to say: If one puts all the sages of Israel on one side of the scale and Eliezer ben Hurcanus on the other side, he will outweigh them all. Aba Saul says in his name: If you put all of the sages of Israel on one side of the scale and Eliezer ben Hurcanus be among them, and Eleazer ben Arack on the other side, he will outweigh them all.

He said to them: Go forth and see which is the right road for a man to choose? Rabbi Eliezer says: A good eye. Rabbi Joshua says: A good companion. Rabbi. Yosi says: A good neighbor. Rabbi Simon says: He that can foresee the outcome of things. Rabbi Eleazer says: A good heart. He answered them: I prefer the words of Eleazer ben Arack, for his words contain all the words of every one of you. Then he said to them: Go forth and see which is wrong, which a man should shun? Rabbi Eliezer says: An evil eye. Rabbi Joshua says: A bad colleague. Rabbi Yosi says: An evil neighbor. Rabbi Simon says: He who borrows and does not repay, for he is as if he had borrowed from the Lord, as it

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was said: (Psalms xxxvii, 21) The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again; but the righteous showeth mercy and giveth. Rabbi Eleazer says: An evil heart. He said to them: I prefer the words of Eleazer ben Arack, for his words contain all of your words.

They said three things. Rabbi Eliezer says: Let the honor of thy friend be as dear to thee as thy own. Arouse not thy anger easily. Repent a day before thou diest. Warm thyself by the light of wise men, but be cautious of their glow, lest thou be scourged; their bite is the bite of a fox; their sting is the sting of a scorpion; their hiss is the hiss of a serpent, and all their words are as burning coal.

Rabbi Joshua says: An evil eye and an evil impulse, and the hatred of mankind, put a man out of the world.

Rabbi Yosi says: Let the money of thy friend be as valuable to thee as thy own, and set thyself to learn the Law which is not thy heritage, and all thy deeds shall be for the sake of Heaven.

Rabbi Simon says: Be careful in the reading of the Shema (Hear, Oh Israel) and in thy prayers, and when thou sayest thy prayers make not thy prayer a routine, but pray with compassion and supplication before the Lord, as was said: (Jonah iv, 2) Thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. And be not wicked in thine own eyes.

Rabbi Eleazer says: Be diligent in thy study of the Law, and know what to answer to the unbeliever, and know for whom thou strivest, and be confident of thy master that he will reward thee for thy effort.

Rabbi Tarphon says: The day is short, and the task

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is great; the workers are lazy; the fee is large, and the master is persistent.

He would say: It is not for thee to complete the work, but neither art thou free to abandon it. If thou hast learned much of the Torah thou shalt be rewarded for it; thy master is sure to reward thee justly for thy work, and know that the reward of the righteous is in the future to come.

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AKABIAH ben Mahalalel says: Consider three things before thou committest a transgression: whence cometh thou, and whither art thou going, and before Whom thou shalt give an accounting. Whence cometh thou? from a putrid drop; and where art thou going? to dust and vermin; and before Whom shalt thou give an accounting? before the King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

Rabbi Hanina the priest says: Pray for peace of the rulers, because if it were not for the fear of them, each would devour the other alive. Rabbi Hanina ben Tardion says: Two who sit without words of learning between them are as a session of scoffers, as was said: (Psalms i, 1) Nor sitteth in the seat of the scoffers. But two who sit and entertain words of the Torah,—the spirit of the Lord rests among them, as was said: (Malachi iii, 16) Then they that feared the Lord spake often, one to the other and the Lord hearkened, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name. Of two it is spoken, but even one who sits by himself and studies the Law, the Lord, blessed be He, designates his reward, as was said: (Lamentations iii, 28) He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.

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Rabbi Simon says: Three that ate at a table and spoke not the words of the Law are as if they ate of the sacrificial offerings of the death, as it was spoken: (Isaiah xxviii, 8) For all the tables are full of vomit and filthiness so there is no place clean. But three who are at one table and spoke the words of the Torah there, are as if they ate from the table of the Lord, as was said: (Ezekiel xli, 22) And he said unto me, "This is the table that is before the Lord."

Rabbi Haninah ben Hachinai says: He that awakens in the night, who walketh on the road alone and turns his heart to vanity, he is liable with his life.

Rabbi Nehonia ben Hachinah says: He who accepts upon himself the burdens of the Law receives exoneration from the duties of the Government and the duties of worldly care.

Rabbi Halafta from the village of Haniniah says: Ten that sit and study the Torah, the spirit of the Lord hovers among them, as was spoken: (Psalms lxxii, 1) God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; And even if five, as was said: (Amos lx, 6) And hath founded his troops in the earth; and even if three, as is said: (Psalms lxxxii, 1) He judgeth among the gods; and even if two, as is said: (Malachi iii, 16) Then they that feared the Lord spoke often to one another and the Lord hearkened and heard it; and even if one, as is said: (Exodus xx, 24) In all places where I record my name I will come unto thee and I will bless thee.

Rabbi Eleazar from Bartutha says: Give unto Him of His own, because thou and all thou possess are from Him; and thus spoke David: (I Chronicles xxix, .14) For all things come of Thee and of Thine own have we 

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given Thee. Rabbi Simon says: He that walketh in the road and interrupts his study and says, "How beautiful is this tree and how beautiful are these fields," the Scriptures reckon it as if he were liable with his life.

Rabbi Dostai ben Rabbi Jana says in the name of Rabbi Meir: He that forgets one word of his studies brings upon himself the Scriptures as if he were guilty of his life, as is said: (Deuteronomy iv, 9) Only take heed to thyself and keep thy soul diligently lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen. Does this refer to one even if his study was too difficult for him? The Scriptures say: (Deuteronomy iv, 9) Lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life.

Rabbi Haninah ben Dosa says: He that puts the fear of sin above his wisdom, his wisdom will endure, but he that puts his wisdom above the fear of sin, his wisdom will not endure. He would say: He whose deeds are greater than his wisdom, his wisdom will endure, but he whose wisdom is greater than his deeds, his wisdom will not endure.

He used to say: He that gives satisfaction to men, satisfied the Lord, but he with whom mankind is not satisfied, does not satisfy the Lord. Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinus says: Morning sleep, midday wine, childish talk, and sitting in the company of ignorant men, put a man out of the world.

Rabbi Eleazar of Modeim says: He that desecrates that which is holy, that profanes the feast days and shames his fellowman in public, that breaks the covenant of our father Abraham; he that interprets the Law not in accordance with the statutes—even if he possesses

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learning and good deeds—shall not have a share in the world to come.

Rabbi Ishmael says: Be swift before a superior, be kind to the young, and receive every person with cheerfulness.

Rabbi Akiba says: Laughter and light-headedness bring a man to lewdness. Tradition is a fence around the Law. Taxes (Tithes) are a fence around riches, vows are a fence around purity; a fence around wisdom is silence.

He would say: Blessed is man because he was born in the image of the Lord; blessed, indeed, is man because he was born in the Image, as is said: (Genesis ix, 6) For in the image of God, made he man. Beloved are the children of Israel because they were called children of the Lord, as was said: (Deuteronomy xiv, 1) Ye are the children of the Lord, your God. A greater love is bestowed upon them because they were favored with a precious instrument. It is known to them that they were given an instrument with which the world was created. As it is said: (Proverbs iv, 2) For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not My law.

All is foreseen but freedom of choice is granted, and the world is judged with charity and all is measured by the number of good deeds.

He would say: All is given against a pledge and a net is spread over all living, and the shop is open, and the storekeeper allows credit, and the ledger is open, and the hand inscribes, and whosoever wants credit shall come and borrow. But the collectors make their rounds regularly each day and exact payment from each man whether he is aware of it or not, and they have the things on

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which to rely, and the judgment is a true judgment, and everything is ready for the banquet.

Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah says: If there is no learning, there is no good breeding. If there is no good breeding, there is no learning. If there is no wisdom, there is no fear. If there is no fear, there is no wisdom. If there is no understanding, there is no knowledge. If there is no knowledge, there is no understanding. If there is no bread, there is no learning; and if there is no learning, there is no bread. He used to say: He whose wisdom is in excess of his deeds is likened to the tree whose branches are many and its roots are few. A wind comes and uproots it and turns it over, as is said: (Jeremiah xvii, 6) For he shall be like the heat in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, and in a salt land and not inhabited. But he whose deeds are in excess of his wisdom is like a tree whose branches are few but its roots are many. Though all the winds of the world may come and blow at it, they shall not stir it from its place, as is said: (Jeremiah xvii, 8) For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green and shall not be careful in the year of draught, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Rabbi Eliezer ben Hisma says: Nests, and the onset of menstruation: those are the essentials of law; calculations of the calendar and geometry are the sweetmeats of wisdom.

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BEN Zoma says: Who is wise? He who learns from every man, as was said: (Psalms cxix, 99) I am learned beyond any of my teachers. Who is mighty? He who can master his passions, as was said: (Proverbs xvi, 32) He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. Who is rich? He that is happy with his portion, as was said: (Psalms cxxviii, 2) For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands, happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Happy in this world and happy in the world to come. Who is honored? He that honors his fellowman, as was said: (I Samuel ii, 30) For them that honor Me, I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

Ben Azzai says: Run to fulfill a minor precept as if it were a major precept, and run away from transgression, for a precept draws another precept, and a transgression draws another transgression. The reward of a precept is another precept, and the reward of a transgression is another transgression.

He used to say: Despise no one and discriminate not against a thing; for there is not a man but has his hour, and there is not a thing but has its place.

Rabbi Levitas of Yabne says: Be lowly in spirit, for the expectation of a man is but the worm. Rabbi Yohanan

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ben Berocca says: Whosoever profanes the name of God in secret, shall have the penalty exacted from him in public. Whether one errs, or whether one profanes deliberately.

Rabbi Ishmael says: He who learns in order to teach is given the opportunity to learn and to teach. He who learns in order to practice is given the opportunity to learn, to teach, to observe and to practice.

Rabbi Zaddok says: Make not thy learning a crown wherewith to boast of thyself, and make it not a spade wherewith to dig, for Hillel used to say: He who maketh use of the crown shall vanish. Thou mayest know that he that benefits from his learning removes his life from the world.

Rabbi Yosi says: He that honors the Torah is honored by mankind. He that profanes the Torah shall be scorned by mankind.

His son, Rabbi Ishmael says: He who refrains from passing judgments avoids enmity, robbery and false swearing; and he who is ill-mannered is a fool, wicked and haughty.

He used to say: Pass not judgment by yourself; there is only One who may; and say not: Accept my opinion; for they may do it, but not thee.

Rabbi Jonathan says: Whosoever fulfills the Torah in poverty, shall finally fulfill it in riches; and whosoever neglects the Torah in riches shall finally neglect it in poverty.

Rabbi Meir says: Occupy thyself less with trade, and devote thyself to the Torah. Be meek before all men. If thou hast neglected the Law many things shall be

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neglected for thee, but if thou hast labored for the Torah, many rewards are in store for thee.

Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob says: Whosoever fulfills one precept secures for himself one defender. Whosoever commits one transgression secures for himself one accuser. Repentence and good deeds are a shield against misfortune.

Rabbi Yohanan, the shoemaker, says: A society that has been consecrated in the name of the Lord shall endure, but a society that is not consecrated in the name of the Lord shall not endure.

Rabbi Eleazar ben Shamua says: Let the honor of thy disciple be as dear to thee as thine honor, and the honor of thy colleague as respected as thy teacher's, and the honor of thy teacher's as respected as the honor of the Lord.

Rabbi Yehuda says: Be careful in thy studies, for errors in study cause presumptuousness.

Rabbi Simon says: There are three crowns: the crown of the Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingdom; but the crown of a good name is greater than any of them.

Rabbi Nehorai says: Exile thyself to a place of learning and say not that the Torah will follow thee, that thy colleagues will establish it for thee; and rely not on thine own judgment.

Rabbi Yanai says: It is not in our power to explain the security of the wicked, nor the suffering of the righteous.

Rabbi Mathia ben Heresh says: Be first to every man; and be a tail unto the lion, and be not a head to the fox.

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Rabbi Jacob says: This world is like a vestibule before the world to come. Prepare thyself in the vestibule, so that thou mayest enter the banquet hall.

He would say: One hour of repentence and good deeds in this world is worth more than all life in the world to come; and better is one hour of contentment in the world to come than all life in this world.

Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazer says: Pacify not thy friend in the moment of his anger, and comfort him not while his deceased lies before him; question him not while he is making his vow, and endeavor not to see him at the moment of his disgrace.

Samuel the Younger says: (Prov. xxiv, 17) Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him and he turn away his wrath from him.

Elisha ben Abuyah says: He that learns as a child is like ink written on new paper, he that learns while he is old is like ink written on a blotted paper.

Rabbi Yosi bar Yehuda from Kfar-Babli says: He who learns from the young is like one who eats unripe grapes and drinks wine out of the wine press. He who learns from the old is like one who eats ripe grapes and drinks old wine. The Rabbi says: Look not at the jug but at what it contains. There may be a new jug that containeth old wine, and an old jug that containeth not even new wine.

Rabbi Eleazar Hakappar says: Envy, lust and ambition put a man out of the world.

He used to say: Those who were born are to die, and those who are dead are to be born again; those who are alive are to be judged, to know, to proclaim, and to

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make known that He is the Lord, the Master, the Creator; He, the Discerner; He, the Judge; He, the Witness; He, the Complainant; and He shall surely judge. Blessed be He. Before Him there is no injustice and no forgetting, nor regard for persons, nor taking of bribes, for all is His, and everything will accord with the reckoning. And let thy impulse not assure thee that the grave is thy refuge, for without thy will hast thou been created, and despite thy will art thou alive and despite thy will shalt thou die, and despite thy will art thou bound to give a reckoning before the King of Kings, the Holy One. Blessed be He.

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WITH ten maxims was the world created. The learned may say: It could have been created with one. This was done in order to punish the wicked who destroy this world that was created with ten maxims, and to give many rewards to the just who sustain this world that was created with ten maxims. There were ten generations from Adam to Noah; to show how patient the Lord is. So many generations had vexed Him till He brought upon them the deluge. There are ten generations from Noah to Father Abraham; to show how patient the Lord is, for ten generations had vexed Him till Father Abraham appeared and received the reward of all of them. Ten times was Father Abraham tried, and came through each time to show how great was the love of the Lord in Abraham. Ten miracles were performed to our fathers in Egypt and ten at the sea. Ten plagues were brought upon the Egyptians and ten at the sea. Ten times have our fathers tempted the Lord in the desert, as was said: (Numbers xiv, 22) And ye have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice. Ten miracles have been performed for our fathers in the temple. No woman has miscarried because of the odor of the sacred flesh, and the sacred flesh never became putrid, and never was a fly seen in the slaughter house, and never has pollution come upon the High Priest

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on the day of Atonement, and the rains have not extinguished the fires of the fuel pile, and no wind has prevailed against the pillar of smoke, no defect was found in the Omer or in the two loaves of bread. People stood together yet prostrated themselves in comfort. And no snake or scorpion ever stung anyone in Jerusalem, and no man ever said to his fellow: (Isaiah xlix, 20) I cannot find lodging in Jerusalem. Ten things were created at twilight on the eve of the Sabbath: the mouth of the earth, the mouth of the well, the mouth of the she-ass, the rainbow, manna, the rod of Moses, the diamond, letters, and writing, and the Tablets. Some say also the evil spirits and the grave of Moses, and the ram of Abraham, our father.

Some say also, the tongs made with tongs.

There are seven types of fool and seven of wise man. A wise man does not speak before one who is greater than he in wisdom and in years, does not interrupt the conversation of his fellows. He is not hasty with his answers, inquires what is pertinent, and answers in accordance with the Law, speaks of the first subject first, and of the last, last. If he does not know, he says: I know it not, and accepts the truth. The opposite are the characteristics of the fool.

Seven kinds of punishments are meted out to the world for seven kinds of transgressions. If some give the tithe, and others do not give it, there comes a famine from drought; some go hungry and some have plenty. When all decide not to give the tithe, a famine, the result of chaos and drought, comes upon the world. If the people set not apart the offering of dough, there comes the famine of extermination.

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Pestilence comes upon the world for capital crimes mentioned in the Torah, that are not referred to the court, and for not letting the ground lie fallow in the seventh year.

The sword comes upon the world when justice is suppressed or perverted. And because of them who teach the Torah not in accordance with the Law. Wild beasts come upon the world because of false swearing and the profanation of the name of the Lord. Exile comes upon the world because of idolatry, for incest, for bloodshed, and for not letting the land lie fallow in the sabbatical year.

At four periods does pestilence increase; at the fourth year, at the beginning and at the end of the seventh, and at the ending of the Fast of Tabernacles each year. At the fourth year, because of the tithe for the poor that is due in the third year. At the seventh because of the tithe for the poor due in the sixth. At the end of the seventh because of the produce from the fields that should have lain fallow. At the conclusion of the Fast because of the stealing of the gifts for the poor.

There are four types of men. The one that says: Mine is mine and thine is thine; this is the common type. And some say this is the attitude of Sodom. The one that says: Mine is thine and thine is mine; this is the ignorant. Mine is thine and thine is thine:—a pious man. Mine is mine and thine is mine; this is the attitude of the wicked.

There are four types of temperament. Quick in anger, and as soon appeased. His gain is voided by his loss. Slow to anger but hard to appease. His loss is voided by his gain. Slow to anger but easy to appease. He is

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kindly. Quick to anger but hard to appease. He is wicked.

There are four types of students. Quick to absorb and quick to forget. His gain is voided by his loss. Slow to absorb and slow to forget. His loss is voided by his gain. Quick to absorb and slow to forget. He is smart. Slow to absorb but quick to forget. This is bad.

There are four ways of giving charity. One wishes to give but wants no one else to give. This is unjust towards others. One wishes others to give but himself refuses. This is evil on his part. One gives and wishes others to give. He is pious. One will not give and wants no one else to. He is wicked.

There are four types who enroll in the House of Study. He that attends but does nothing. He gets the benefit of attendance. He that studies but does not attend. The reward of study is his portion. Attends and studies—he is pious. Attends not and studies not—he is wicked.

There are four types who sit at the feet of the sages; a sponge, a funnel, a strainer and a sieve. The sponge absorbs everything indiscriminately. The funnel takes in at one end and lets out at the other. The strainer lets through the wine and retains the lees. The sieve lets off the bran and retains the flour.

All love based on ulterior motives will cease when the motives cease. But love that depended not on ulterior motives will never cease. Love that is based on ulterior motives is as the love of Amnon and Tamar. Love that is not based on ulterior motives is as the love of David and Jonathan.

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A controversy that is for the sake of the Lord will at the end bring forth something of permanent value. A controversy that is not for the sake of the Lord shall come to naught. What is a controversy for the sake of the Lord? The controversy of Hillel and Shamai. And what is not for the sake of the Lord? That is the controversy of Korah and all of his congregation.

Whosoever bestirs others to do the right, shall himself never cause sin. Whosoever leads others to commit sin, shall himself never find repentance. Moses was righteous and bestirred others to do right. The righteousness of others was added to his account, as was said: (Deuteronomy xxxiii, 21) He executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgment with Israel. Jeroboam sinned and led others to sin. The sin of others is accredited to him, as was said: (1 Kings xv, 30) Because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin.

Whosoever possesses three certain things, is of the disciples of our father, Abraham; whosoever, three other things, is of the disciples of Balaam, the wicked. A benevolent eye, a meek spirit, and a humble heart—is of the disciples of Father Abraham. A wicked eye, a bold spirit, and a proud heart is of the disciples of Balaam, the wicked. What is the difference between the disciples of Father Abraham and the disciples of Balaam, the wicked? The disciples of Father Abraham benefit in this world and shall inherit the world to come, as was said: (Proverbs viii, 21) That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures. But the disciples of Balaam shall inherit Hell and go down to the depths of desolation, as was said:

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[paragraph continues] (Psalms ii, 23) But Thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in Thee.

Yehuda ben Tema says: Be as fierce as the panther, lightwinged as the eagle, swift as the deer and strong as the lion, to do the bidding of thy Father in Heaven.

He used to say: The insolent shall go to Hell and the modest to Heaven. Lord, our God, may it be Thy will to build our City soon in our days, and let our lot be Thy Torah.

He would say: Age of five is for reading, ten for Mishna, thirteen for precepts, fifteen for Talmud, eighteen for marriage, twenty for pursuits, thirty for strength, forty for wisdom, fifty for council, sixty of ripe age, eighty of power, ninety of decline. A man of one hundred is as dead and gone out of this world.

Ben Bag-Bag says: Turn the Law this way and that way, everything can be found therein. Thou shalt get old and gray, but turn not away from the Torah. There is no better rule for thee.

Ben He-He says: The reward is commensurate with the effort.

Next: The Portion of the Poor (Tractate Peah)