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הוי אומר: מדה טובה מרובה ממדת פורענות.

במדה טובה כתיב (תהלים ע"ח) ויצו שחקים ממעל ודלתי שמים פתח וימטר עליהם מן לאכל, ובמידת פורענות הוא אומר (בראשית ז') וארבת השמים נפתחו.

במידת פורענות כתיב (ישעיהו ס"ו) ויצאו וראו בפגרי האנשים הפשעים בי כי תולעתם לא תמות ואשם לא תכבה והיו דראון לכל בשר.

והלא אדם מושיט אצבעו באור בעולם הזה מיד נכוה אלא, כשם שנותן הקדוש ברוך הוא כח ברשעים לקבל פורענותם - כך נותן הקדוש ברוך הוא כח בצדיקים לקבל טובתן.

רבי עקיבא אומר: אף הקורא בספרים החיצונים וכו'.

תנא: בספרי מינים.

רב יוסף אמר: בספר בן סירא נמי אסור למיקרי.

אמר ליה אביי: מאי טעמא?

אילימא משום דכתב [ביה] לא תינטוש גילדנא מאודניה דלא ליזיל משכיה לחבלא, אלא צלי יתיה בנורא, ואיכול ביה תרתין גריצים.

אי מפשטיה - באורייתא נמי כתב (דברים כ') לא תשחית את עצה.

אי מדרשא - אורח ארעא קא משמע לן, דלא ליבעול שלא כדרכה.

ואלא משום דכתיב בת לאביה מטמונת שוא, מפחדה לא יישן בלילה, בקטנותה - שמא תתפתה, בנערותה - שמא תזנה, בגרה - שמא לא תינשא, נישאת - שמא לא יהיו לה בנים, הזקינה - שמא תעשה כשפים - הא רבנן נמי אמרוה: אי אפשר לעולם בלא זכרים ובלא נקבות, אשרי מי שבניו זכרים, אוי לו למי שבניו נקבות.

אלא משום דכתיב לא תעיל דויא בלבך דגברי גיברין קטל דויא - הא שלמה אמרה: (משלי י"ב) דאגה בלב- איש ישחנה.

רבי אמי ורבי אסי, חד אמר: ישיחנה מדעתו, וחד אמר: ישיחנה - לאחרים, ואלא משום דכתיב מנע רבים מתוך ביתך ולא הכל תביא אל ביתך - והא רבי נמי אמרה, דתניא, רבי אומר: לעולם לא ירבה אדם רעים בתוך ביתו שנאמר (משלי י"ח) איש רעים להתרועע.

אלא משום דכתיב זלדקן - קורטמן, עבדקן - סכסן, דנפח בכסיה - לא צחי.

אמר במאי איכול לחמא - לחמא סב מיניה.

מאן דאית ליה מעברתא בדיקניה - כולי עלמא לא יכלי ליה.

אמר רב יוסף: מילי מעלייתא דאית ביה דרשינן להו: אשה טובה - מתנה טובה, בחיק ירא אלהים תנתן.

אשה רעה - צרעת לבעלה.

מאי תקנתיה - יגרשנה מביתו, ויתרפא מצרעתו.

אשה יפה - אשרי בעלה, מספר ימיו כפלים.

העלם עיניך מאשת חן פן תלכד במצודתה.

אל תט אצל בעלה למסוך עמו יין ושכר, כי בתואר אשה יפיה רבים הושחתו, ועצומים כל הרוגיה.

רבים היו פצעי רוכל המרגילים לדבר ערוה כניצוץ מבעיר גחלת.

(ירמיהו ה') ככלוב מלא עוף כן בתיהם מלאים מרמה.

מנע רבים מתוך ביתך ולא הכל תביא ביתך.

רבים יהיו דורשי שלומך, גלה סודך לאחד מאלף.

(מיכה ז' ה') משוכבת חיקך שמור פתחי פיך.

אל תצר צרת מחר (משלי כ"ז) כי לא תלד מה ילד יום, שמא למחר איננו, ונמצא מצטער על עולם שאינו שלו.

(משלי ט"ו) כל ימי עני רעים, בן סירא אומר: אף לילות.

בשפל גגים גגו, ובמרום הרים כרמו.

ממטר גגים לגגו, - ומעפר כרמו לכרמים.

[סימן: זיר"א רב"א, משרשי"א חנינ"א טובי"ה, ינא"י יפ"ה יוחנ"ן מרח"ם, יהוש"ע מקצ"ר].

אמר רבי זירא אמר רב: מאי דכתיב (משלי ט"ו) כל ימי עני רעים - אלו בעלי תלמוד, וטוב לב משתה תמיד - אלו בעלי

משנה:

רבא אמר איפכא.

והיינו דאמר רב משרשיא משמיה דרבא: מאי דכתיב (קהלת י') מסיע אבנים יעצב בהם - אלו בעלי משנה, (קהלת י') ובוקע עצים יסכן בם - אלו בעלי תלמוד.

רבי חנינא אומר: כל ימי עני רעים - זה מי שיש לו אשה רעה, וטוב לב משתה תמיד - זה שיש לו אשה טובה, רבי ינאי אומר: כל ימי עני רעים זה אסטניס, וטוב לב משתה תמיד זה שדעתו יפה.

רבי יוחנן אמר: כל ימי עני רעים - זה רחמני, וטוב לב משתה תמיד - זה אכזרי.

רבי יהושע בן לוי אמר: כל ימי עני רעים - זה


Surely the measure of reward is greater than that of punishment, for with respect to the measure of goodness it is written, And he commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, And rained down manna upon them to eat;(1) whilst of the measure of punishment it is written, And the windows of heaven were opened.(2)

Yet, in respect of the measure even of punishment it is written, And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me, for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched: and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.(3)

But if one puts his fingers into th fire in this world, it is immediately burnt!(4) - But just as the Holy One, blessed be He, gives the wicked the strength to receive punishment, so does he give the righteous the capacity to receive reward.(5)

R`AKIBA SAID: ALSO HE WHO READS UNCANONICAL BOOKS etc. A Tanna taught: [This means], the books of the Sadducees.(6)

R`Joseph said: it is also forbidden to read the book of Ben Sira.

Abaye said to him: Why so?

Shall we say because there is written therein, 'Do not strip the skin [of a fish] even from its ear, les thou spoil it, but roast it [all, the fish with the skin] in the fire, and eat therewith two [twisted] loaves'?(7)

Now, if [you object to it in] its literal sense, the Torah too states, Thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof.(8)

Whilst in a metaphorical sense, this teaches good taste,(9) that one should not cohabit unnaturally.

But if you take exception to the passage:(10) A daughter is a vain treasure to her father: through anxiety on her account, he cannot sleep at night.

As a minor, lest she be seduced; in her majority, lest she play the harlot; as an adul lest she be not married;(11) if she marries, lest she bear no children; if she grows old, lest she engage in witchcraft!' But the Rabbis have said the same: The world cannot exist without males and females; happy is he whose children are males, and woe to him whose children are females.

Again if because of the following: 'Let not anxiety enter thy heart, for it has slain many a person!' But Solomon said likewise, Anxiety in the heart of man yashhenna [maketh it stoop].(12)

R`Ammi and R`Assi [differ in its interpretation]: one rendered it, 'let him banish it from his mind,' the other, 'let him relate it to others.'(13) And if because it contains, 'Withhold the multitude from thy house, and bring not every one into thy house!' But Rabbi said the same, for it has been taught, Rabbi said: One should never have a multitude of friends in his house, for it is written, A man that hath many friends bringeth evil upon himself.(14)

But because there is written therein, 'A thin-bearded man is very wise: a thick-bearded one is a fool: he who blows away [the froth] from off his glass [of liquor] is not thirsty; he who says, with what shall I eat my bread? - take the bread away from him;(15) he whose beard is parted will be defeated by none.'(16)

R`Joseph said: [Yet] we may expound to them(17) the good things it contains.(18) E.g. , 'a good woman is a precious gift, who shall be given to the God-fearing man.

An evil woman is a plague to her husband: how shall he mend matters?

Let him banish [i.e., divorce] her from his house: so shall he be healed of his plague.

Happy the man whose wife is beautiful; the number of his days is doubled.

Avert thine eyes from a charming woman, lest thou be caught in her snare.

Turn not in to her husband to drink(19) wine with him, for many have been slain by the countenance of a beautiful woman, and numerous are those slain by her, and many are the blows sustained by itinerant peddlers.(20)

Those who seduce to adultery are as the spark that kindles the ember.

As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit.(21)

Restrain the multitude from entering into thine house, and bring not everyone thereinto.

Let there be many to inquire after thy well-being, yet reveal thy secret to but one in a thousand.

Guard the openings of thy mouth from her who lieth in thy bosom.

Fret not over to-morrow's trouble, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth,(22) and peradventure to-morrow he is no more: thus he shall be found grieving over a world that is not his.'(23)

All the days of the poor(24) are evil.(25)

Ben Sira said: His nights too.

The lowest roof is his roof, and on the highest mountain is his vineyard.

The rain of [other] roofs [drip] on to his, whilst the earth of his vineyard i [borne] on [to other] vineyards.(26)


(Mnemonic: Zera, Raba, Mesharsheya, Hanina, Tobiah, Jannai, Easily suited, Johanan, Merahem, Joshua Mekazer).(27)

R`Zera said in Rab's name: What is meant by, All the days of the afflicted are evil?

This refers to the students(28) of the Talmud; But he that is of a merry heart hath a continuous feast: this refers to students of tMISHNAH:

(29) Raba reversed the interpretation.(30)

And this is what R`Mesharsheya said in Raba's name: What is meant by, whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith?(31)

This refers to the students of the Mishnah; But he that cleaveth wood shall be warmed thereby,(32) - this refers to students of the Talmud.

R`Hanina said: All the days of the afflicted are evil alludes to one who has a bad wife; whilst but he that is of a merry heart hath a continuous feast, - to him who possesses a good wife.

R`Jannai said: All the days of the afflicted are evil refers to one who is over-fastidious;(33) but he that is of a merry heart hath a continuous feast, - to a person who is easily suited.

R`Johanan said: All the days of the afflicted are evil refers to the compassionate; but he that is of a merry heart hath a continuous feast, to the cruel.

R`Joshua B`Levi said: Al the days of the afflicted are evil refers to him


(1) Ps. LXXVIII, 23f.

(2) Gen. VII, 11; 'doors' implies a greater opening than 'windows': I.e., God metes out reward more fully than punishment.

(3) Isa. LXVI, 24.

(4) How then can the bodies of the dead go on burning for ever in the next?

(5) I.e., in both cases they are endowed with abnormal receptiveness.

(6) This probably refers to the works of the Judeo-Christians, i.e., the New Testament. There were no Sadducees after the destruction of the Temple, and so 'Sadducees' is probably a censor's emendation for sectarians or Gentiles (Herford, Christianity in the Talmud, p. 333.) [MS. M. reads, Minim.]

(7) I.e., fish is fit for consumption even if baked or roasted with its skin, and therefore it is wasteful to remove it.

(8) Deut. XX, 19, i.e., one must not wantonly destroy what is fit for use.

(9) Lit., 'way of the earth.'

(10) Ben Sira XLIII, 9-10. ,rduc, vrgb, vbye

(11) V. p. 517 top. The reference is to the three stages: , minority, majority, and ripeness. vbjah

(12) ; Prov. XII, 25. ,gsv jxhv jha

(13) One connects it with () , to discard from one's mind, the other with , to converse: but on either interpretation, the sentiment is the same as Ben Sira's.

(14) Prov. XVIII, 24.

(15) Because he is certainly not hungry - otherwise he would not waste time in considering with what to eat it.

(16) I.e., he is extremely cunning, the parting of his beard being due to incessant stroking whilst brooding over his schemes. - All this is nonsense, and hence R. Joseph's objection to reading it.

(17) I.e., to the masses, in the public lectures. 'ufu uvk ihbhars huv trpx htvk ibcr vuzbds utk ht

(18) [Yad Ramah records a reading confirmed by many MSS. 'Had not the Rabbis hidden this book, we should have expounded them etc.', implying that Ben Sira was hitherto included in the canon; v. J.Q.R., 1891, 686 and 700.]

(19) Lit., 'to dilute'.

(20) These, trading on a petty scale, generally transacted their business with the women-folk, which led to jealousy on the part of their husbands and assaults on the peddlers.

(21) A quotation from Jer. V, 27

(22) Prov. XXVII, 1.

(23) [Ben Sira XXX, 21; XXVI, 1-4; IX, 8-9; XI, 29-34; VI, 6.]

(24) E.V. 'afflicted'.

(25) Prov. XV, 15.

(26) Being poor, he cannot afford a tall building. At the same time, when purchasing a vineyard, he must take one at the top of a mountain, where land is cheaper than in the valley; so that in a storm the earth of his field is carried away to enrich the low-lying lands - thus, whatever happens, he is the loser.

(27) V. p. 387, n. 8.

(28) Lit., 'masters'.

(29) The Talmud, owing to its complexity and difficulty, due to its intricate discussions, is a source of distress to its students; whereas the Mishnah, which is plain and straightforward, brings pleasure to those who study it.

(30) A student of the Talmud may give a definite decision, but not a student of the Mishnah, which is regarded as incomplete without the Talmud. Hence the former sees the fruit of his labours, whereas the latter derives no practical benefit from his studies.

(31) Eccl. X, 9. ifxh ,bfux

(32) Ibid. E.V. translates 'shall be endangered'; for the present rendering of cf. in 1 Kings I, 4.

(33) So that he is worried by the smallest thing which is not exactly to his liking.