Random Quote #87 topic: hebraic, Translations from the Talmud, Midrashim and Kabbala

In order to understand aright the grounds on which Rabbi Abhu
would fain excuse Rav Saphra for not caring at all about the
Scriptures, certain passages from both Talmuds should be read,
which, in the usual metaphorical style of the Rabbis, set forth
the respective merits of Scripture and Tradition. The three
times three in Sophrim (chap. 15), in which the Scripture is
compared to water, the Mishna to wine, and the Gemara to mulled
wine, and that in which the Scripture is likened to salt, the
Mishna to pepper, and the Gemara to spice, and so on, are too
well known to need more than passing mention; but far less
familiar and much more explicit is the exposition of Zech. viii.
10, as given in T.B. Chaggigah, fol. 10, col. 1, where,
commenting on the Scripture text, "Neither, was there any peace
to him that went out or came in," Rav expressly says, "He who
leaves a matter of Halachah for a matter of Scripture shall
never more have peace;" to which Shemuel adds, "Aye, and he also
who leaves the Talmud for the Mishna;" Rabbi Yochanan chiming in
with "even from Talmud to Talmud;" as if to say, "And he who
turns from the Babli to the Yerushalmi, even he shall have no
peace." If we refer to the Mishna (chap. 1, hal. 7) of Berachoth
in the last-named Talmud, we read there that Rabbi Tarphon,
bent, while on a journey, on reading the Shema according to the
school of Shammai, ran the risk of falling into the hands of
certain banditti whom he had not noticed near him. "It would
have served you right," remarked one, "because you did not
follow the rule of Hillel." In the Gemara to this passage Rabbi
Yochanan says, "The words of the scribes are more highly valued
than the words of the law, for, as Rabbi Yuda remarks, 'If Rabbi
Tarphon had not read the Shema at all he would only have broken
a positive command,' but since he transgressed the rule of
Hillel he was guilty of death, for it is written, 'He who breaks
down a hedge (the Rabbinic hedge to the law, of course), a
serpent shall bite him'" (Eccles. x. 8). Then Rabbi Chanina, the
son of Rabbi Ana, in the name of Rabbi Tanchum, the son of Rabbi
Cheyah, says, "The words of the elders are more important than
the words of the prophets." A prophet and an elder, whom do they
resemble? They are like two ambassadors sent by a king to a
province. About the one he sends word saying, "If he does not
present credentials with my signature and seal, trust him not;"
whereas the other is accredited without any such token; for in
regard to the prophet it is written (Deut. xiii. 2), "He giveth
thee a sign or token;" while in reference to the elders it is
written (Deut. xvii. 11), "According to the decision which they
may say unto thee shalt thou do; thou shalt not depart from the
sentence which they may tell thee, to the right or to the left."
Rashi's comment on this text is worth notice: "Even when they
tell thee that right is left and left is right." In a word, a
wise man (i.e., a Rabbi) is better than a prophet. (_Bava
Bathra_ fol. 12, col. 1.)

Oved, the Galilean, has expounded that there are thirteen _vavs_ (i.e.,
the letter _vav_ occurs thirteen times) in connection with wine. _Vav_
in Syriac means woe.

THE TALMUD, _Sanhedrin_ fol. 70, col. 1.


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