The Rabbis

27 09 2006

שמונים תלמידים היו להלל הזקן שלשים מהם ראויין שתשרה עליהם שכינה כמשה רבינו ושלשים מהם ראויין שתעמוד להם השמש כיהושוע ועשרים בינונים גדול שבכלם יונתן בן עוזיאל קטן שבכלם רבן יוחנן בן זכאי. אמרו עליו על רבן יוחנן בן זכאי שלא הניח לא מקרא ולא משנה ולא תלמוד ולא הלכות ולא הגדות ולא דקדוקי תורה ודקדוקי סופרים קלין וחמורין גזרות שוות תקופות וגימטריות וממשלות כובסין וממשלות שועלים שיחת דקלים שיחת שדים שיחת מלאכי השרת דבר גדול ודבר קטן דבר גדול מעשה מרכבה דבר קטן הוייא דאביי ורבא לקיים מה שנאמר ˚להנחיל אוהבי יש ואוצרותיהם אמלא וכי מאחר דקטן שבכולם כן גדול שבכולם על אחת כמה וכמה אמרו עליו על יונתן בן עוזיאל
בשעה שיושב ועוסק בתורה כל עוף שפורח עליו נשרף

“Hillel the Elder had eighty disciples:
Thirty of them were worthy of having God’s presence rest upon them as it had upon Moses, our Master;
Thirty of them were worthy of having the sun stand still for them as it had for Joshua;
And twenty of them were of intermediate stature.
The greatest of all of them was Yonatan ben Uzzi`el;
The least of all of them was Our Master Johanan ben Zakkai.
It is said about Johanan ben Zakkai that he never disregarded Scripture, nor Mishna, nor the commentaries on the Mishna, nor the legal discussions, nor the homiletic interpretations, nor the minutiae of Torah, nor the minutiae of the scribes – both light and heavy matters: exegesis, astronomy, letter permutation, the proverbs of washer-women, the parables of foxes, the conversation of palm trees, the conversation of devils, the conversation of the ministering angels, the “great matter” and the “small matter”.
The “great matter” is the Work of the Divine Chariot [a branch of mysticism concerned with Ezekiel’s vision];
The “lesser matter” is the discussions of Abayyei and Rava.
(This is to fulfil that which is written: ˚[Proverbs 8:21, acc. to JPS] “I endow those who love me with substance; I will fill their treasuries”.)
In the manner of the smallest of all of them, so too is the greatest of all of them – so much and more!
It is said about Yonatan ben Uzzi`el that whenever he sat and laboured in Torah, every bird that flew above him was consumed with fire.”
bB.Bat. 134a

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3 responses

29 06 2007
Eliezer

Check the translation and the math. Only twenty of them, not thirty, were of intermediate stature….

29 06 2007
Simon Holloway

Whoops! Thanks for that, Eliezer. I’ve fixed it up now. (Maths was never a particularly strong point, you know)

17 07 2007
Joel Nothman

I’m a bit late to the chase, but I also think you mistranslated קלין וחמורין, which I think might be “Kal VaChomers” rather than “Kal things” and “Chamur things”.

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