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Twelve Thousand.

The tithes from the herds of Elazer ben Azaryah amounted to twelve thousand calves annually.

Shabbath, fol. 54, col. 2.

It is said that Rabbi Akiva had twelve thousand pairs of disciples dispersed about between Gabbath and Antipatris, and all of them died within a short period because they paid no honor to one another. The land was then desolate until Rabbi Akiva came among our Rabbis of the south and taught the law to Rabbis Meir, Yehudah, Yossi, Shimon, and Elazer ben Shamua, who re-established its authority.

Yevamoth, fol. 26, col. 2.

After a lapse of twelve years, he returned accompanied by twelve thousand disciples, etc.

Ravah bar Nachmaini was impeached for depriving the revenue of the poll-tax on twelve thousand Jews, by detaining them annually at his academy for one month in the spring, and for another month in the autumn; for great multitudes from various parts of the country were wont, at the two seasons of the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, to come to hear him preach, so that when the king's officers came to collect the taxes they found none of them at home. A royal messenger was accordingly despatched to apprehend him, but he failed to find him, for the Rabbi fled to Pumbeditha, and from thence to Akra, to Agmi, Sichin, Zeripha, Ein d'Maya, and back again to Pumbeditha. Arrived at this place, both the royal messenger and the fugitive Rabbi happened to put up at the same inn. Two cups were placed before the former on a table, when, strange to say, after he had drunk and the table was removed, his face was forcibly turned round to his back. (This was done by evil spirits because he drank even numbers--against which we are earnestly warned in P'sachim, fol. 110, col. 1.) The inn-keeper, fearing the consequences of such a misfortune happening to so high an official at his inn, sought advice of the lurking Rabbi, when the latter suggested that the table be placed again

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before him with one cup only on it, and thus the even number would become odd, and his face would return to its natural position. They did so, and it was as the Rabbi had said. The official then remarked to his host, "I know the man I want is here," and he hastened and found him. "If I knew for certain," he said to the Rabbi, "that thy escape would cost my life only, I would let thee go, but I fear bodily torture, and therefore I must secure thee." And thereupon he locked him up. Upon this the Rabbi prayed, till the prison walls miraculously giving way he made his escape to Agma, where he seated himself at the root of a tree and gave himself up to meditation. While thus engaged he all at once heard a discussion in the academy of heaven on the subject of the hair mentioned in Lev. Xiii. 25. The Holy One--blessed be He!--declared the case to be "clean," but the whole academy were of a different opinion, and declared the case to be "unclean." The question then arose, "Who shall decide?" "Ravah bar Nachmaini shall decide," was the unanimous reply," for he said, 'I am one in matters of leprosy; I am one in questions about tents; and there is none to equal me.'" Then the angel of death was sent for to bring him up, but he was unable to approach him, because the Rabbi's lips never ceased repeating the law of the Lord. The angel of death thereupon assumed the appearance of a troop of cavalry, and the Rabbi, apprehensive of being seized and carried off, exclaimed, "I would rather die through that one (meaning the angel of death) than be delivered into the hands of the Government!" At that very instant he was asked to decide the question in dispute, and just as the verdict 'clean' issued from his lips his soul departed from his body, and a voice was heard from heaven proclaiming, "Blessed art thou, Ravah bar Nachmaini, for thy body is clean. 'Clean' was the word on thy lips when thy spirit departed." Then a scroll fell down from heaven into Pumbeditha announcing that Ravah bar Nachmaini was admitted into the academy of heaven. Apprised of this, Abaii, in company with many other Rabbis, went in search of the body to inter it, but not knowing the spot where he lay, they went to Agma, where they noticed a

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great number of birds hovering in the air, and concluded that the shadow of their wings shielded the body of the departed. There, accordingly, they found and buried him; and after mourning three days and three nights over his grave, they arose to depart, when another scroll descended threatening them with excommunication if they did so. They therefore continued mourning for seven days and seven nights, when, at the end of these, a third scroll descended and bade them go home in peace. On the day of the death of this Rabbi there arose, it is said, such a mighty tempest in the air that an Arab merchant and the camel on which he was riding were blown bodily over from one side of the river Pappa to the other. "What meaneth such a storm as this?" cried the merchant, as he lay on the ground. A voice from heaven answered, "Ravah bar Nachmaini is dead." Then he prayed and fled, "Lord of the universe, the whole world is Thine, and Ravah bar Nachmaini is Thine! Thou art Ravah's and Ravah is Thine; but wherefore wilt Thou destroy the world?" On this the storm immediately abated, and there was a perfect calm.

Bava Metzia, fol. 86, col. 1.

The above seems to be a Rabbinical satire on the Talmud itself although the orthodox Jews believe that every word in it is historically true. Well, perhaps it is so; and we outsiders are ignorant, and without the means of judging.

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