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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
from the impossible.1 Let Beth Hillel, then, make the inference from Moses! — They can answer you: Moses did it with His consent.2 For it was taught: Moses did three things on his own initiative and his opinion coincided with that of the Omnipresent. He separated himself from his wife,3 broke the Tables of Testimony4 and added one day.5
'He separated himself from his wife'; what exposition did he make?6 — He said, 'If to the Israelites, with whom the Shechinah spoke only for a while and for whom a definite time was fixed, the Torah nevertheless said, Come not near a woman,7 how much more so to me, who am liable to be spoken to at any moment and for whom no definite time has been fixed'. And his view coincided with that of the Omnipresent; for it is said, Go say to them: Return ye to your tents; but as for thee, stand thou here by Me.8
'He broke the Tables of Testimony'; what exposition did he make?6 — He said, 'If of the Paschal lamb, which is only one of the six hundred and thirteen commandments, the Torah said, There shall no alien eat thereof,9 how much more should this apply to the entire Torah when all Israel are apostates'. And his view coincided with that of the Omnipresent; for it is written, Which thou didst break10 and Resh Lakish explained: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, 'I thank you for breaking them'.11
'He added one day' on his own initiative. What exposition did he make?12 — 'As it is written, And sanctify them to-day and to-morrow13 [It implies that] to-day shall be the same as to-morrow; as to-morrow includes the previous night14 so to-day must include the previous night. As, however, to-day's previous night has already passed away,15 it must be inferred that two days exclusive of to-day must be observed'. And his view coincided with that of the Omnipresent, for the Revelation did not take place16 before the Sabbath.17
It was taught: R. Nathan stated: Beth Shammai ruled: Two males and two females;18 and Beth Hillel ruled: A male and a female.18 Said R. Huna: What is the reason which R. Nathan assigns for the opinion of Beth Shammai? Because it is written, And again she bore his brother Abel19 [which20 implies:] Abel and his sister; Cain and his sister.21 And it is also written, For God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel;22 for Cain slew him.23 And the Rabbis? She was merely expressing her gratitude.24
Said Raba: What is the reason which R. Nathan assigns for the view of Beth Hillel? — Because it is said, He created it not a waste, He formed it to be inhabited,26 and he27 has obviously helped it to be inhabited.
It was stated: If a man had children while he was an idolater and then he became a proselyte, he has fulfilled, R. Johanan said, the duty of propagation of the race; and Resh Lakish said: He has not fulfilled the duty of propagation of the race. 'R. Johanan said: He has fulfilled the duty of propagation', since he had children. 'And Resh Lakish said: He has not fulfilled the duty of propagation' because one who became a proselyte is like a child newly born.
And they28 follow their views.29 For it was stated: If a man had children while he was an idolater and then he became a proselyte, he has, R. Johanan said, no firstborn in respect of inheritance,30 since he already had31 the first-fruits of his strength.32 Resh Lakish, however, said: He has a firstborn son in respect of inheritance, for a man who became a proselyte is like a child newly born.
And [both statements33 were] necessary. For if the first only had been stated [it might have been assumed that] only in that state- ment did R. Johanan maintain his view, since formerly he34 was also subject to the obligation of propagation,35 but in respect of inherit- ance, since [the proselyte's former children] are not entitled to heirship, it might have been presumed that he agrees with Resh Lakish. And were only the second stated [it might have been assumed that] only in that did Resh Lakish maintain his view but that in the former he agrees with R. Johanan. [Hence both were] necessary.
R. Johanan raised an objection against Resh Lakish. At that time Berodach-baladan the son of Baladan, King of Babylon etc.!36 — The other replied: While they are idolaters they have legally recognized ancestry, but when they become proselytes they have no longer any legally recognized ancestry.
An objection was raised: Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants!41 — R. Aba b. Jacob replied: Like a young bullock.42 If so, [the same reply could be given] there also!43 — There it is different, since Scripture mentioned his44 own name as well as his father's45 name, while here46 [the son's names] were not specified. If you prefer I might say: They47 were elsewhere ascribed to their father and their father's father; as it is written, And King Asa sent them to Ben-hadad, the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, the King of Aram, that dwelt at Damascus, saying.48
It was stated: If a man had children and they died, he has fulfilled, said R. Huna, the duty of propagation. R. Johanan said: He has not fulfilled it. 'R. Huna said: He fulfilled' because [he follows the tradition] of R. Assi. For R. Assi49 stated: The Son of David50 will not come before all the souls in Guf51 will have been disposed of, since it is said, For the spirit that unwrappeth itself is from Me etc.52 And 'R. Johanan said: He has not fulfilled the duty of propagation' because we require [the fulfilment of the text] He formed it to be inhabited,53 which is not the case here.54
An objection was raised:
An objection was raised: Grandchildren are like children. If one of them died or was found to be a saris3 the father has not fulfilled the duty of propagation.4 Is not this a refutation against R. Huna?5 — It is indeed a refutation.
'Grandchildren are like children'. Abaye intended to say: A grandson for a son and a granddaughter for a daughter, and certainly a grandson for a daughter; but not a granddaughter for a son.6 But Raba said to him: We only require [the fulfilment of the text] He formed it to be inhabited,7 which is the case here.
All, at any rate, agree8 that two children of one9 are not sufficient. But [are they] not? The Rabbis surely said to R. Shesheth,10 'Marry a wife and beget children', and he answered them, 'My daughters' children are mine'! — There he was merely putting them off, because R. Shesheth became impotent owing to the long discourses of R. Huna.11
Said Rabbah to Raba b. Mari: Whence the statement made by the Rabbis that grandchildren are like children? If it be suggested that it is deduced from the Scriptural text, The daughters are my daughters and the children are my children,12 would then [it may be objected] the same [meaning be given to the text] And the flocks are my flocks?12 But [the meaning there is obviously] 'which you have acquired from me', so here also [the meaning may be], 'which you have acquired from me'! The deduction is rather made from the following:13 And afterwards Hezron went to the daughter of Machir the father of Gilead; … and she bore him Segub,14 and it is also written, Out of Machir came down lawgivers,15 and furthermore it is written, Judah is my lawgiver.16
Our Mishnah17 cannot represent the opinion of R. Joshua. For it was taught: R. Joshua said, If a man married in his youth, he should marry again in his old age; if he had children in his youth, he should also have children in his old age; for it said, In the morning18 sow thy seed and in the evening19 withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether they shall both be alike good.20 R. Akiba said: If a man studied Torah in his youth, he should also study it in his old age; if he had disciples in his youth, he should also have disciples in his old age. For it is said, In the morning sow thy seed etc.20
It was said that R. Akiba had twelve thousand pairs of disciples, from Gabbatha21 to Antipatris;22 and all of them died at the same time because they did not treat each other with respect. The world remained desolate23 until R. Akiba came to our Masters in the South and taught the Torah to them. These were R. Meir, R. Judah, R. Jose, R. Simeon and R. Eleazar b. Shammua; and it was they who revived the Torah at that time. A Tanna taught: All of them24 died between Passover and Pentecost. R. Hama b. Abba or, it might be said, R. Hiyya b. Abin said: All of them died a cruel death. What was it? — R. Nahman replied: Croup.25
R. Mattena stated: The halachah is in agreement with R. Joshua.26
R. Tanhum stated in the name of R. Hanilai: Any man who has no wife lives without joy, without blessing, and without goodness. 'Without joy'. for it is written. And thou shalt rejoice, thou and thy house.27 'Without blessing', for it is written, To cause a blessing to rest on thy house.28 'Without goodness', for it is written, It is not good that the man should be alone.29
In the West30 it was stated:31 Without Torah and without a [protecting] wall. 'Without Torah', for it is written. Is it that I have no help32 in me, and that sound wisdom33 is driven quite from me.34 'Without a [protecting] wall', for it is written, A woman shall encompass a man.35
R. Joshua b. Levi further stated: It is a man's duty to pay a visit to his wife when he starts on a journey; for it is said, And thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace etc.37 Is this40 deduced from here? Surely it is deduced from the following:41 And thy desire shall be to thy husband42 teaches that a woman yearns for her husband when he sets out on a journey! — R. Joseph replied: This43 was required only in the case where her menstruation period was near.44 And how near? Rabbah45 replied: Twelve hours.46 And this47 applies only [when the journey is] for a secular purpose, but when for a religious purpose [it does not apply, since then] people are in a state of anxiety.48
Our Rabbis taught: Concerning a man who loves his wife as himself, who honours her more than himself, who guides his sons and daughters in the right path and arranges for them to be married near the period of their puberty, Scripture says, And thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace.49 Concerning him who loves his neighbours, who befriends his relatives, marries his sister's50 daughter,
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