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Part 1 - Chapter 4 - Note 26


The portions of the following texts that are the most relevant to the book appear in bold.


Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 32b

R. Eleazar said: prayer is more efficacious even than good deeds, for there was no-one greater in good deeds than Moses our Master, and yet he was answered only after prayer, as it says, Speak no more unto Me,1 and immediately afterwards, Get thee up into the top of Pisgah.2

    R. Eleazar also said: Fasting is more efficacious than charity. What is the reason? One is performed with a man's money, the other with his body.

    R. Eleazar also said: prayer is more efficacious than offerings, as it says, To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me,3 and this is followed by, And when ye spread forth your hands.4 R. Johanan said: A priest who has committed manslaughter should not lift up his hands [to say the priestly benediction], since it says [in this context], ‘Your hands are full of blood’.

    R. Eleazar also said: From the day on which the Temple was destroyed the gates of prayer have been closed, as it says, Yea, when I cry and call for help He shutteth out my prayer.5 But though the gates of prayer are closed, the gates of weeping are not closed, as it says, Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; keep not silence at my tears.6 Raba did not order a fast on a cloudy day because it says, Thou hast covered Thyself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.7

    R. Eleazar also said: Since the day that the Temple was destroyed, a wall of iron has intervened between Israel and their Father in Heaven, as it says, And take thou unto thee an iron griddle, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city.8

    R. Hanin said in the name of R. Hanina: If one prays long his prayer does not pass unheeded. Whence do we know this? From Moses our Master; for it says, And I prayed unto the Lord,9 and it is written afterwards, And the Lord hearkened unto me that time also.10 But is that so? Has not R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: If one prays long and looks for the fulfilment of his prayer, in the end he will have vexation of heart, as it says, Hope deferred maketh the heart sick?11 What is his remedy? Let him study the Torah, as it says, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life;12 and the tree of life is nought but the Torah, as it says, She is a tree of life to them that lay hold on her!13 — There is no contradiction: one statement speaks of a man who prays long and looks for the fulfilment of his prayer, the other of one who prays long without looking for the fulfilment of his prayer.14 R. Hama son of R. Hanina said: If a man sees that he prays and is not answered, he should pray again, as it says, Wait for the Lord, be strong and let thy heart take courage; yea, wait thou for the Lord.15

    Our Rabbis taught: Four things require to be done with energy,16 namely, [study of] the Torah, good deeds, praying, and one's worldly occupation. Whence do we know this of Torah and good deeds? Because it says, Only be strong and very courageous to observe to do according to all the law:17 ‘be strong’ in Torah, and ‘be courageous in good deeds. Whence of prayer? Because it says, ‘Wait for the Lord, be strong and let thy heart take courage, yea, wait thou for the Lord’. Whence of worldly occupation? Because it says, Be of good courage and let us prove strong for our people.18

    But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me.19 Is not ‘forsaken’ the same as ‘forgotten’? Resh Lakish said: The community of Israel said before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, when a man takes a second wife after his first, he still remembers the deeds of the first. Thou hast both forsaken me and forgotten me! The Holy One, blessed be He, answered her: My daughter, twelve constellations have I created in the firmament, and for each constellation I have created thirty hosts, and for each host I have created thirty legions, and for each legion I have created thirty cohorts, and for each cohort I have created thirty maniples, and for each maniple I have created thirty camps, and to each camp20 I have attached three hundred and sixty-five thousands of myriads of stars, corresponding to the days of the solar year, and all of them I have created only for thy sake, and thou sayest, Thou hast forgotten me and forsaken me! Can a woman forsake her sucking child [‘ullah]?21 Said the Holy One, blessed be He: Can I possibly forget the burnt-offerings [‘olah] of rams and the firstborn of animals22 that thou didst offer to Me in the wilderness? She thereupon said: Sovereign of the Universe, since there is no forgetfulness before the Throne of Thy glory, perhaps Thou wilt not forget the sin of the Calf? He replied: ‘Yea, "these "23 will be forgotten’. She said before Him: Sovereign of the Universe, seeing that there is forgetfulness before the Throne of Thy glory, perhaps Thou wilt forget my conduct at Sinai? He replied to her: ‘Yet "the I"24 will not forget thee’. This agrees with what R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Oshaia: What is referred to by the text, ‘yea, "these" will be forgotten’? This refers to the sin of the Calf. ‘And yet "the I" will not forget thee’: this refers to their conduct at Sinai.

    THE PIOUS MEN OF OLD USED TO WAIT AN HOUR. On what is this based? — R. Joshua b. Levi said: On the text, Happy are they that dwell in Thy house.25 R. Joshua b. Levi also said: One who says the Tefillah should also wait an hour after his prayer, as it says, Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto Thy name, the upright shall sit in Thy presence.26 It has been taught similarly: One who says the Tefillah should wait an hour before his prayer and an hour after his prayer. Whence do we know [that he should wait] before his prayer? Because it says: ‘Happy are they that dwell in Thy house’. Whence after his prayer? Because it says, ‘Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto Thy name, the upright shall dwell in Thy presence’. Our Rabbis taught: The pious men of old used to wait for an hour and pray for an hour and then wait again for an hour. But seeing that they spend nine hours a day over prayer, how is their knowledge of Torah preserved and how is their work done? [The answer is] that because they are pious, their Torah is preserved27 and their work is blessed.28

    EVEN IF A KING GREETS HIM HE SHOULD NOT ANSWER HIM. R. Joseph said: This was meant to apply only to Jewish kings, but for a king of another people he may interrupt. An objection was raised: If one was saying Tefillah and he saw a robber29 coming towards him or a carriage coming towards him, he should not break off but curtail it and clear off! — There Is no contradiction: where it is possible for him to curtail [he should curtail, otherwise he should break off].30

    Our Rabbis taught: It is related that once when a certain pious man was praying by the roadside, an officer came by and greeted him and he did not return his greeting. So he waited for him till he had finished his prayer. When he had finished his prayer he said to him: Fool!31 is it not written in your Law, Only take heed to thyself and keep thy soul diligently,32 and it is also written, Take ye therefore good heed unto your souls?33 When I greeted you why did you not return my greeting? If I had cut off your head with my sword, who would have demanded satisfaction for your blood from me? He replied to him: Be patient and I will explain to you. If, [he went on], you had been standing before an earthly king and your friend had come and given you greeting, would you

Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 33a

have returned it? No, he replied. And if you had returned his greeting, what would they have done to you? They would have cut off my head with the sword, he replied. He then said to him: Have we not here then a fortiori argument: If [you would have behaved] in this way when standing before an earthly king who is here today and tomorrow in the grave, how much more so I when standing before the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, who endures for all eternity? Forthwith the officer accepted his explanation, and the pious man returned to his home in peace.

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(1) Ibid. 26. The meaning is apparently that his good deeds did not avail to procure him permission to enter the land, but his prayer procured for him the vision of Pisgah.
(2) Ibid. 27.
(3) Isa. I, 11.
(4) Ibid. 15. Since spreading of hands is mentioned after sacrifice, it must be regarded as more efficacious.
(5) Lam. III, 8.
(6) Ps. XXXIX, 13. This shows that the tears are at any rate observed.
(7) Lam. III, 44.
(8) Ezek. IV, 3. This wall was symbolical of the wall separating Israel from God.
(9) Deut. IX, 26. This seems to be quoted in error for, And I fell down before the Lord forty days and forty nights, in v. 18; v. MS.M.
(10) Ibid. 19.
(11) Prov. XIII, 12.
(12) Ibid.
(13) Ibid. III, 18.
(14) V. B.B. (Sonc. ed.) p. 717, n. 8.
(15) Ps. XXVII, 14.
(16) Lit., ‘require vigour’.
(17) Joshua I, 7.
(18) II Sam. X, 12.
(19) Isa. XLIX, 14.
(20) These terms are obviously taken from Roman military language. There is, however, some difficulty about identifying rahaton (cohorts) and karton (maniples) in the text.
(21) Ibid. 25.
(22) Lit., ‘opening of the womb’.
(23) Referring to the golden calf incident when Israel exclaimed ‘These are thy gods’, Ex. XXXII, 4’
(24) Referring to the revelation at Sinai when God declared, ‘I am the Lord Thy God’. This incident will not be forgotten. R.V. ‘Yet will I not forget thee’.
(25) Ps. LXXXIV, 5.
(26) Ibid. CXL, 14.
(27) I.e., they do not forget it.
(28) I.e., a little goes a long way.
(29) The Heb. annes usually means ‘a man of violence’. Some suppose that it is here equivalent to hamor, ass, which is actually found in J.T.
(30) Alfasi reads: In the one case it is possible for him to curtail, in the other it is not possible; where he can curtail he should, otherwise he may break off.
(31) Raka; v. supra p. 133, n. 3.
(32) Deut. IV, 9.
(33) Ibid. 15. ‘Soul’ in these texts is taken to mean ‘life’.


Tanach - Deuteronomy (Devarim) Chapter 4

1. Now therefore give heed, O Israel, to the statutes and to the judgments, which I teach you, to do them, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers gives you.
2. You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish nothing from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
3. Your eyes have seen what the Lord did because of Baal-Peor, to all the men who followed Baal-Peor; the Lord your God has destroyed them from among you.
4. But you who held fast to the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day.
5. Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do so in the land where you go to take possession of it.
6. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, who, when they shall hear all these statutes, shall say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
7. For what nation is there so great, who has God so near to them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
8. And what nation is there so great, who has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this Torah, which I set before you this day?
9. Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but teach them to your sons, and to your grandsons;
10. The day when you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, Gather the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
11. And you came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.
12. And the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice.
13. And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tablets of stone.
14. And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might do them in the land where you go over to possess it.
15. Take therefore good heed to yourselves; for you saw no manner of form on the day when the Lord spoke to you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire;
16. Lest you corrupt yourselves, and make you an engraved image, the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17. The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air,
18. The likeness of any thing that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth;
19. And lest you lift up your eyes to the skies, and when you see the sun, and the moon, and the stars, all the host of the skies, should you be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord your God has allotted to all nations under the whole sky.
20. But the Lord has taken you, and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be for him a people of inheritance, as you are this day.
21. And the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and swore that I should not go over the Jordan, and that I should not go into that good land, which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance;
22. But I must die in this land, I must not go over the Jordan; but you shall go over, and possess that good land.
23. Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you an engraved image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord your God has forbidden you.
24. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
25. When you shall father children, and grandchildren, and you shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make an engraved image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord your God, to provoke him to anger;
26. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that you shall soon completely perish from the land which you are going over the Jordan, to possess; you shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall completely be destroyed.
27. And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and you shall be left few in number among the nations, where the Lord shall lead you.
28. And there you shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
29. But if from there you shall seek the Lord your God, you shall find him, if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
30. When you are in distress, and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days, if you turn to the Lord your God, and shall be obedient to his voice;
31. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not forsake you, nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which he swore to them.
32. For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether there has been any such thing as this great thing is, or has been heard of?
33. Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live?
34. Or has God ventured to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35. To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other beside him.
36. From heaven he made you hear his voice, that he might instruct you; and upon earth he showed you his great fire; and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire.
37. And because he loved your fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought you out, he himself being present, with his mighty power, out of Egypt;
38. To drive out nations from before you greater and mightier than you are, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.
39. Know therefore this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath; there is no other.
40. You shall keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command you this day, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days upon the land, which the Lord your God gives you, forever.
41. Then Moses set apart three cities on this side of the Jordan toward the rising sun;
42. That the slayer, who killed his neighbor unintentionally, and did not hate him in times past, might flee there; and that by fleeing to one of these cities he might live;
43. Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.
44. And this is the Torah which Moses set before the people of Israel;
45. These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spoke to the people of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt,
46. On this side of the Jordan, in the valley opposite Beth-Peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon, whom Moses and the people of Israel defeated, after they came out of Egypt;
47. And they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, who were on this side of the Jordan toward the rising sun;
48. From Aroer, which is by the bank of the brook Arnon, to Mount Sion, which is Hermon,
49. And all the Arabah on this side of the Jordan eastward, to the sea of the Arabah, under the slopes of Pisgah.


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