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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Berakoth
but he does defile himself for a meth mizwah. But why should this be? Let us apply the rule, 'There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord?1 — The case is different there, because it is written, 'And for his sister'. Let us then derive a ruling from this [for mixed kinds]? — Where it is a case of 'sit still and do nothing', it is different.2
Said R. Papa to Abaye: How is it that for the former generations miracles were performed and for us miracles are not performed? It cannot be because of their [superiority in] study, because in the years of Rab Judah the whole of their studies was confined to Nezikin, and we study all six Orders, and when Rab Judah came in [the tractate] 'Ukzin [to the law], 'If a woman presses vegetables in a pot'3 (or, according to others, 'olives pressed with their leaves are clean'),4 he used to say, I see all the difficulties of Rab and Samuel here.5 and we have thirteen versions of Ukzin.6 And yet when Rab Judah drew off one shoe,7 rain used to come, whereas we torment ourselves and cry loudly, and no notice is taken of us!8 He replied: The former generations used to be ready to sacrifice their lives for the sanctity of [God's] name; we do not sacrifice our lives for the sanctity of [God's] name. There was the case of R. Adda b. Ahaba who saw a heathen woman wearing a red head-dress9 in the street, and thinking that she was an Israelite woman, he rose and tore it from her. It turned out that she was a heathen woman, and they fined him four hundred zuz. He said to her: What is your name. She replied: Mathun. Mathun, he said to her: that makes four hundred zuz.10
R. Giddal was accustomed to go and sit at the gates of the bathing-place.11 He used to say to the women [who came to bathe]: Bathe thus, or bathe thus. The Rabbis said to him: Is not the Master afraid lest his passion get the better of him? — He replied: They look to me like so many white geese. R. Johanan was accustomed to go and sit at the gates of the bathing place. He said: When the daughters of Israel come up from bathing they look at me and they have children as handsome as I am.12 Said the Rabbis to him: Is not the Master afraid of the evil eye? — He replied: I come from the seed of Joseph, over whom the evil eye has no power, as it is written, Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine above the eye,13 and R. Abbahu said with regard to this, do not read 'ale 'ayin, but 'ole 'ayin'.14 R. Judah son of R. Hanina derived it from this text: And let them multiply like fishes [we-yidgu] in the midst of the earth.15 Just as the fishes [dagim] in the sea are covered by water and the evil eye has no power over them, so the evil eye has no power over the seed of Joseph. Or, if you prefer I can say: The evil eye has no power over the eye which refused to feed itself on what did not belong to it.16
MISHNAH. WOMEN, SLAVES AND MINORS ARE EXEMPT FROM RECITING THE SHEMA'
AND FROM PUTTING ON TEFILLIN. BUT THEY ARE SUBJECT TO THE OBLIGATIONS OF TEFILLAH AND MEZUZAH1 AND GRACE AFTER MEALS.
GEMARA. That they are exempt from the Shema' is self-evident — It is a positive precept for which there is a fixed time?2 You might say that because it mentions the kingship of heaven it is different. We are therefore told that this is not so.
AND FROM PUTTING ON THE TEFILLIN. This also is self-evident?3 You might say that because it is put on a level with the mezuzah4 [therefore women should be subject to it]. Therefore we are told that this is not so.
THEY ARE SUBJECT TO THE OBLIGATION OF TEFILLAH. Because this [is supplication for Divine] mercy. You might [however] think that because it is written in connection therewith, Evening and morning and at noonday,5 therefore it is like a positive precept for which there is a fixed time. Therefore we are told [that this is not so].
AND GRACE AFTER MEALS. This is self-evident? — You might think that because it is written, When the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat and in the morning bread to the full,8 therefore it is like a positive precept for which there is a definite time. Therefore it tells us [that this is not so].
R. Adda b. Ahabah said: Women are under obligation to sanctify the [Sabbath] day9 by ordinance of the Torah. But why should this be? It is a positive precept for which there is a definite time, and women are exempt from all positive precepts for which there is a definite time? — Abaye said: The obligation is only Rabbinical. Said Raba to him: But it says, 'By an ordinance of the Torah'? And further, on this ground we could subject them to all positive precepts by Rabbinical authority? Rather, said Raba. The text says Remember and Observe.10 Whoever has to 'observe' has to 'remember'; and since these women have to 'observe',11 they also have to 'remember'.12
Rabina said to Raba: Is the obligation of women to say grace after meals Rabbinical or Scriptural? — What difference does it make in practice which it is? — For deciding whether they can perform the duty on behalf of others. If you say the obligation is Scriptural, then one who is bound by Scripture can come and perform the duty on behalf of another who is bound by Scripture. But if you say the obligation is only Rabbinical, then [a woman] is not strictly bound to do this, and whoever is not strictly bound to do a thing cannot perform the obligation on behalf of others. What [do we decide]? — Come and hear: 'In truth they did say: A son13 may say grace on behalf of his father and a slave may say grace on behalf of his master and a woman may say grace on behalf of her husband. But the Sages said: A curse light on the man whose wife or children have to say grace for him.'14 If now you say that [the obligation of these others] is Scriptural, then there is no difficulty: one who is bound by the Scripture comes and performs the duty on behalf of one who is bound by the Scripture. But if you say that the obligation is Rabbinic, can one who is bound only Rabbinically come and perform the duty on behalf of one who is bound Scripturally? — But even accepting your reasoning, is a minor subject to obligation [Scripturally]?15 Nay. With what case are we dealing here? If, for instance, he ate a quantity for which he is only Rabbinically bound [to say grace],16 in which case one who is Rabbinically bound17 comes and performs the duty on behalf of one who is only Rabbinically bound.18
R. 'Awira discoursed — sometimes in the name of R. Ammi, and sometimes in the name of R. Assi — as follows: The ministering angels said before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, it is written in Thy law, Who regardeth not persons19 nor taketh reward,20 and dost Thou not regard the person of Israel, as it is written, The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee?21 He replied to them: And shall I not lift up My countenance for Israel, seeing that I wrote for them in the Torah, And thou shalt eat and be satisfied and bless the Lord thy God,22 and they are particular [to say the grace] if the quantity is but an olive or an egg.23
MISHNAH. A BA'AL KERI24 SAYS THE WORDS [OF THE SHEMA']25 MENTALLY26 WITHOUT SAYING A BLESSING EITHER BEFORE OR AFTER. AT MEALS HE SAYS THE GRACE AFTER, BUT NOT THE GRACE BEFORE. R. JUDAH SAYS: HE SAYS THE GRACE BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER.
GEMARA. Said Rabina: This would show that saying mentally is equivalent to actual saying.27 For if you assume that it is not equivalent to actual saying, why should he say mentally?28 What then? [You say that] saying mentally is equivalent to actual saying. Then let him utter the words with his lips! — We do as we find it was done at Sinai.29 R. Hisda said: Saying mentally is not equivalent to actual saying. For if you assume that saying mentally is equivalent to actual saying, then let him utter the words with his lips! What then? [You say that] saying mentally is not equivalent to actual saying? Why then should he say mentally? — R. Eleazar replied: So that he should not have to sit saying nothing while everyone else is engaged saying the Shema'. Then let him read some other section? — R. Adda b. Ahaba said: [He must attend to that] with which the congregation is engaged.
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