On the ninth day of the month Ab (about August) both the first Temple and the second were destroyed.
Rosh Hashanah, fol. 18, col. 2.
In 2 Kings xxv. 8, the seventh of Ab is the date given for the first of these events, whereas Jeremiah (lii. 12) mentions the tenth as the fatal day. Josephus (Wars of the Jews, Book vi. chap. 4, sec. 15) coincides with the latter.
On the ninth of Ab one must abstain from eating and drinking, and anointing one's self, and wearing shoes, and matrimonial intercourse. He may not read the Bible, the Talmud, the Midrash, the Halachoth, or the Haggadoth, excepting such portions as he is not in the habit of reading, such he may then read. The Lamentations, Job, and the hard words of Jeremiah should engage his study. Children should not go to school on this day, because it is said (Ps. xix. 8), "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart."
Taanith, fol. 30, col. 1.
Nowadays, on the date referred to, Jews do not wear their tallith and phylacteries at morning prayer; by this act laying aside the outward signs of their covenant with God; but, contrary to custom, they put them on in the evening, when the fast is nearly over.
He who does any work on the ninth of Ab will never see even a sign of blessing. The sages say, whoso does any work on that day and does not lament over Jerusalem will never see her joy; for it is said (Isa. lxvi. 10), "Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her; rejoice for joy, all ye that mourn for her."
Taanith, fol. 30, col. 2.
If there be nine shops all selling the meat of animals which have been legally butchered, and one selling the meat of animals which have not, and if a person who has bought meat does not know at which of these shops he bought it, he is not entitled to the benefit of the doubt; the meat he has purchased is prohibited.
Kethuboth, fol. 15, col. 1.
A woman prefers one measure of frivolity to nine measures of Pharisaic sanctimoniousness.
Soteh, fol. 20, col. 1.
The Talmud has much to say, and does say a great deal, about women. And although what it says tends rather to discountenance than to promote their development, it is not insensible to what they might become under refinement of culture, and occasionally enforces the duty of attending to their higher education. In proof of both positions we appeal to the following quotations:--
In the Mishna, from which the above quotation is taken, we are told that Ben Azai (the son of impudence) says, a man is bound to instruct his daughter in the law, although Rabbi Eliezer, who always assumes an oracular air, and boasts that the Halachah is always according to his decision (Bava Metzia, fol. 59, col. 2), insists, on the other hand, that he who instructs his daughter in the law must be considered as training her into habits of frivolity; and the saying above ascribes to the sex such a power of frivolity as connects itself evidently with the foregone conclusion that they are by nature incapable of being developed into any solidity of worth or character. The Gemara,
Tosephoth, and Rashi as well all support Rabbi Eliezer in laying a veto on female education, for fear lest, with the acquisition of knowledge, women might become cunning, and do things on the sly which ought not to be done by them. Literally the saving is:--For from it (i. e., the acquisition of knowledge) she comes to understand cunning, and does things on the quiet.
Soteh, fol. 21, col. 2, Rashi.
Another good reason for neglecting female education those who take the Talmud as an authority find in these words: women are light-minded, i. e., of shallow natural endowment, on which any serious discipline would be thrown away.
Kiddushin, fol. 80, col. 2.
Another argument to the same effect is, that there is no distinct command in the law of Moses inculcating the duty; for in Deut. xi. 19 it is merely said, "And ye shall teach them to your children," a command which, as it passes refracted through the Rabbinic medium, becomes your sons, but not your daughters.
Ibid., fol. 29, col. 2.
As the immediately preceding command, so interpreted, cannot be carried out by any one not favored with male children, the well-known Talmudic dictum acquires force and point, "Blessed is the man whose children are sons, but luckless is he whose children are daughters."
Bava Bathra, fol. 16, col. 2.
A man prefers one measure obtained by his own earning to nine measures collected by the exertion of his neighbor.
Bava Metzia, fol. 38, col. 1.
Nine have entered alive into paradise, and these are they:--Enoch, the son of Jared; Elijah; the Messiah; Eliezer, the servant of Abraham; Hiram, king of Tyre; Ebed Melech, the Ethiopian; Jabez, the son of Rabbi Yehuda the prince; Bathia, the daughter of Pharaoh; and Sarah, the daughter of Asher. Some say also Rabbi Yoshua, the son of Levi.
Derech Eretz Zuta, chap. 1.
As the last-mentioned personage, Rabbi Yoshua, entered paradise "not by the door," but some "other way," it may be interesting to not a few to know how he succeeded, and here accordingly we
append the story of the feat. As Rabbi Yoshua's earthly career drew to a close, the angel of death was instructed to wait upon him, and at the same time show all respect for his wishes. The Rabbi, remarking the courteous demeanor of his visitant, requested him, before he despatched him, to favor him with a glimpse of the place he was to occupy in paradise above, and meantime commit to him his sword, as a gage that he would grant his petition and not take advantage of him on the journey. This request being granted and the sword delivered up, the Rabbi and his attendant took the road, pacing along till they halted together just outside the gates of the celestial city. Here the angel assisted the Rabbi to climb the wall, and proceeded to point out the place he would occupy some day in the future, when deftly throwing himself over, he left the angel standing outside and holding him fast by the skirt of his garment. When pressed to return, he swore he would not go back, protesting that, as he had never sought to be relieved of the obligation of his oath on earth, he would not be cajoled or coerced into an act of perjury within the precincts of heaven. He declined at first to give up the sword of the angel, and would have stood to his point but for the echo of a voice which peremptorily ordered its immediate restoration. (See Kethuboth, fol. 77, col. 2.)
Where is it taught that when ten join together in prayer the Shechinah is with them? In Ps. lxxxii. i, where it is said, "God standeth in the congregation of the mighty."
Berachoth, fol. 6, col. 1.
According to Rabbinic law, it takes at least ten men to constitute a legally convened congregation. Nearly a thousand pounds were expended every year by the synagogues of the metropolis to hire (minyan) men to make up the congregational number, and thus ensure the due observance of this regulation.
When the Holy One--blessed be He!--enters the synagogue, and does not find ten men present, His anger is immediately stirred; as it is said (Isa. 1. 2), "Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? When I called, there was none to answer?"
Ibid., fol. 6, col. 2.
The passion of anger here ascribed to God is by not a few regarded as an attribute wholly alien to the proper nature of the Deity. Such, however, is evidently not the judgment of the Talmudists. Nor is this surprising when we see elsewhere how boldly they conceive and how freely they speak of the Divine Majesty. The Rabbis are not in general a shamefaced generation, and are all too prone to deal familiarly with the most sacred realities. The excerpts which follow amply justify this judgment.
God is represented as roaring like a lion. etc., etc.
Berachoth, fol. 3, col. 1. See chap. iii. No. 1, supra.
God is said to wear phylacteries.
Berachoth, fol. 6, col. 1.
This is referred to in the morning service for Yom Kippur, where it is said He showed "the knot of the phylacteries to the meek one" (i. e., Moses).
He is said to pray; for it is written (Isa. lvi. 7), "Them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in the house of my prayer." It is thus He prays: "May it please me that my mercy may overcome my anger, that all my attributes may be invested with compassion, and that 1 may deal with my children in the attribute of kindness, and that out of regard to them I may pass by judgment."
Ibid., fol. 7, col. 1.
He is a respecter of persons; as it is written (Num. vi. 26), "The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee."
Ibid., fol. 20, col. 2.
When accused by Elijah of having turned Israel's heart back again (1 Kings xviii. 37), He confesseth the evil He had done (Micah iv. 6).
Ibid., fol. 31, col. 2.
God, when charged by Moses as being the cause of Israel's idolatry, confesseth the justice of that accusation by saying (Num. xiv. 20), "I have pardoned according to thy word."
Ibid., fol. 32, col. 1.
He drops two tears into the ocean, and this causes the earth to quake.
Ibid., fol. 59, col. 1.
He is represented as a hairdresser; for it is said He plaited Eve's hair (and some have actually enumerated the braids as 700).
Eiruvin, fol. 18, col. 1.
In a Hagada (see Sanhedrin, fol. 95, col. 2), God is conceived as acting the barber to Sennacherib, a sort of parody on Isaiah vii. 20.
He is said to have created the evil as well as the good passions in man.
Berachoth, fol. 61, col. 1.
God weeps every day.
Chaggigah, fol. 3, col. 2.
He dresses Himself in a veil and shows Moses the Jewish liturgy, saying unto him, "When the Israelites sin
against me, let them copy this example, and I will pardon their sins."
Rosh Hashanah, fol. 17, col. 2.
God is said to have regretted creating certain things.
Succah, fol. 52, col. 2.
God is represented as irrigating the land of Israel, but leaving the rest of the earth to be watered by an angel.
Taanith, fol. 10, col. 1.
It is said that He will make a dance for the righteous, and as He places Himself in the centre, they will point at Him with their fingers, and say (Isa. xxv. 9), "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him; . . . we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."
Ibid., fol. 31, col. 1.
God is said to have prevaricated in making peace between Abraham and Sarah, which is not so surprising; for while one Rabbi teaches that prevarication is under certain circumstances allowable, another asserts it absolutely as a duty; for it is written (1 Sam. xvi. 2), "And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take a heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord."
Yevamoth, fol. 65, col. 2.
This teaching may be easily matched by parallels from heathen literature, but we have room only for two or three examples:--Maximus Tyrius says, "There is nothing (essentially) decorous in truth, yea, truth is sometimes hurtful and lying profitable." Darius is represented by Herodotus (Book iii., p. 191) as saying, "When telling falsehood is profitable, let it be told." Menander says, "A lie is better than an annoying truth."
God utters a curse against those who remain single after they are twenty years of age; and those who marry at sixteen please him, and those who do so at fourteen still more.
Kiddushin, fol. 29, col. 2.
Elijah binds and God flogs the man who marries an unsuitable wife.
Ibid., fol. 70, col. 1.
God acknowledges His weakness in argument, "My children have vanquished me! my children have vanquished me!" He exclaims. "They have defeated me in argument."
Bava Metzia, fol. 59, col. 2.
God's decision was controverted by the Academy in heaven, and the matter in debate was finally settled by a Rabbi, who had to be summoned from earth to heaven expressly to adjudicate in the case.
Bava Metzia, fol. 86, col. 1.
The classical student will recognize in this a parallel to the Greek myth in which the Olympian divinities refer their debate in the matter of the apple of discord to the judgment of Paris. May there not in both fables lie a dim forefeeling of the time when justice shall transfer her seat from the skies, so that whatever her ministers bind on earth may be bound in heaven?
God will bear testimony before all the nations of the earth that His people Israel have kept the whole of the law.
Avodah Zarah, fol. 3, col. 1.
God is occupied for twelve hours every day in study, at work, or at play.
Ibid., fol. 3, col. 2.
God does not act without first consulting the assembly above; as it is said (Dan. iv. 17), "This matter is by the decree of the watchers and the demand of the word of the Holy One," etc.
Sanhedrin, fol. 38, col. 2.
God Himself is described as exacting an atonement for His own miscreations; as, for instance, His diminishing the size of the moon.
Shevuoth, fol. 9, col. 1.