Talmud - Mas. Yoma 9b

    Why was the first Sanctuary destroyed? Because of three [evil] things which prevailed there: idolatry, immorality, bloodshed. Idolatry, as it is written: For the bed is too short for a man to stretch himself and the covering too narrow when he gathereth himself up.3 What is the meaning of ‘For the bed is too short for a man to stretch himself’? R. Jonathan said: It is: This bed4 is too short for two neighbours to stretch themselves. And [what is the meaning of] ‘the covering too narrow when he gathereth himself up’? — R. Samuel b. Nahmani said: When R. Jonathan [in his reading] came to this passage, he would cry and say: To Him , concerning Whom it is written, He gathereth the waters of the sea together like a heap,5 the cover became too narrow! Immorality [prevailed] as it is written: Moreover the Lord said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and make a tinkling with their feet.6 ‘Because the daughters of Zion are haughty’, i.e., they used to walk with proud carriage. ‘And wanton eyes’ i.e., they filled their eyes with kohl.7 ‘Walking and mincing as they go’, i.e. , they used to walk with the heel touching the toe. ‘And make a tinkling with their feet’, R. Isaac said: They would take myrrh and balsam and place it in their shoes8 and when they came near the young men of Israel they would kick, causing the balsam to squirt at them and would thus cause the evil desire to enter them like an adder's poison.

    Bloodshed [prevailed] as it is written: Moreover Manaseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another.9 They were wicked, but they placed their trust in the Holy One, blessed be He.10 For it is written, The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord and say ‘Is not the Lord in the midst of us? No evil shall come upon us’.11 Therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, brought them three evil decrees as against the three evils which were their own:12 Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest. But why was the second Sanctuary destroyed, seeing that in its time they were occupying themselves with Torah, [observance of] precepts, and the practice of charity? Because therein prevailed hatred without cause. That teaches you that groundless hatred is considered as of even gravity with the three sins of idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed together . And [during the time of] the first Sanctuary did no groundless hatred prevail? Surely it is written: They are thrust down to the sword with my people; smite therefore upon my thigh,13 and R. Eleazar said: This refers to people who eat and drink together and then thrust each other through with the daggers of their tongue! — That [passage] speaks of the princes in Israel, for it is written , Cry and wail, son of man; for it is upon my people,13 etc. [The text reads] ‘Cry and wail, son of man’. One might have assumed [it is upon] all [Israel], therefore it goes on, Upon all the princes of Israel.

    R. Johanan and R. Eleazar both say: The former ones whose iniquity was revealed14 had their end15 revealed, the latter ones whose iniquity was not revealed have their end still unrevealed.

    R. Johanan said: The fingernail of the earlier generations16 is better than the whole17 body of the later generations. Said Resh Lakish to him: On the contrary, the latter generations are better,18 although they are oppressed by the governments, they are occupying themselves with the Torah .- He [R. Johanan] replied: The Sanctuary will prove [my point] for it came back to the former generations, but not to the latter ones.

    The question was put to R. Eleazar: Were the earlier generations better, or the later ones? — He answered: Look upon the Sanctuary! Some say he answered: The Sanctuary is your witness [in this matter].19
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(3) Isa. XXVIII, 20.
(4) Manasseh the faithless king, introduced idols into the very Sanctuary. There was no room for the God of Israel, together with an idol, in his one Sanctuary.
(5) Ps. XXXIII, 7. The ad hoc exposition here is either: ‘On his cover (the idol) became His rival,’ or ‘The cover itself, used for idolatrous purposes, thus became His rival,’ the cover here standing for the Sanctuary.
(6) Isa. III, 16.
(7) A powder used for painting the eyelids, stibium (Jastrow).
(8) Bah interpolates here: and walking around in the streets of Jerusalem and when they came near etc., v. D.S.
(9) II Kings XXI, 16.
(10) The text as it stands is in need of correction. The present rearrangement based on text in parallel passages (v. D.S.) is adopted by Bah. [Cur. edd. insert: ‘This refers to the first Sanctuary’. This, on the rearrangement of the text adopted (v. n. 5), is evidently superfluous. V. D.S.]
(11) Micah III, 11.
(12) Ibid. 12.
(13) Ezek. XXI, 17.
(14) ‘Who did not hide their misdeeds’ (Rashi).
(15) I.e., the end of their captivity. Jer. XXIX, 10: For thus saith the Lord: After seventy years are accomplished in Babylon, I will remember you and perform My good word to you, in causing you to return to this place.
(16) The earlier generations are, of course, those of the first Temple, the later ones Israel since the second destruction.
(17) Lit. , ‘the belly’.
(18) Or ‘better off’. There is a slight shift in the argument. R. Johanan had referred to their value, Resh Lakish to their political and moral condition.
(19) It came back to them after the first destruction, it has not come back to us as yet. There is only a slight difference in Hebrew between the two versions
ofhbhg and ofhshg.


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