Four things require fortitude in the observance:--The law, good works, prayer, and social duties. Respecting the law and good works it is written (Josh. i. 7), "Be thou strong and firm, that thou mayest observe to do all the law;" in which the word "strong" refers to the law, and the word "firm" to good works. Of prayer it is written, "Wait on the Lord; be strong, and He shall make thine heart firm; wait, I say, upon the Lord" (Ps. xxvii. 14). In respect to social duties it is written (2 Sam. x. 2), "Be strong, and let us strengthen ourselves for our people, and for the cities of our God."
Berachoth, fol. 32, col. 2.
There are four signs which tell tales:--Dropsy is a sign of sin; jaundice is a sign of hatred without a cause; poverty is a sign of pride; and quinsy is a sign of slander.
Shabbath, fol. 33, col. 1.
"Unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah," i. e., four (Gen. xxxv. 27). Rabbi Isaac calls it the city of four couples, i. e., Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah. These four couples being buried in Mamre, it was therefore called 'the city of four.'
Eiruvin, fol. 53, col. 1.
The sun makes four quarterly circuits. In April, May, and June, i. e., Nisan, Iyar, and Sivan, his circuit is between the mountains, in order to dissolve the snow; in July, August, and September, i. e., Tamuz, Ab, and Ellul, his circuit is over the habitable parts of the earth, in order to ripen the fruits; in October, November, and December, i. e., Tishri, Marcheshvan, and Kislev, his circuit is over the seas, to evaporate the waters; in January, February,
and March, i. e., Tebeth, Shebat, and Adar, his circuit is over the deserts, in order to protect the seed sown from being scorched. P'sachim, fol. 94, col. 2.
Four persons are intolerable:--A poor man who is proud, a rich man who is a liar, an old man who is incontinent, and a warden who behaves haughtily to a community for whom he has done nothing. To these some add him who has divorced his wife once or twice and married her again.
Ibid., fol. 113, col. 2.
Four things cancel the decrees of Heaven:--Alms, prayer, change of name, and reformation of conduct. Alms, as it is written (Prov. x. 2), "But alms (more correctly, righteousness) delivereth from death." Prayer as it is written (Ps. cvii. 6), "Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses." Change of name, as it is said (Gen. xvii. 15, 16), "As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name." And after this change of name it is written, "And I will bless her, and give thee a son of her." Reformation of conduct, as it is written (Jonah iii. 10), "And God saw their works," and "God repented of the evil," etc. Some say also change of residence has the effect of turning back the decree of Heaven (Gen. xii. 1), "And the Lord said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country;" and then it is said, "I will make of thee a great nation."
Rosh Hashanah, fol. 16, col. 2.
Four things cause an eclipse of the sun:--When a chief magistrate dies and is not mourned over with the due lamentation; when a betrothed damsel calls for help and no one comes to the rescue; when the people commit the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah; and when brother murders brother.
Succah, fol. 29, col. 1.
Four things cause an eclipse among the luminaries of heaven: The writing of false documents; the bearing false witness; the breeding of small cattle, such as sheep and goats, in the land of Israel; and the cutting down of fruit trees.
Ibid., fol. 29, col. 1.
There are four things God repents of having created:--The Captivity, the Chaldeans, the Ishmaelites, and the evil
passion in man. The Captivity, as it is written (Isa. lii. 5), "What have I here, saith the Lord, that my people are taken away for nought?" etc. The Chaldeans, as it is written (Isa. xxiii. 13), "Behold the land of the Chaldeans: this people was not." The Ishmaelites, as it is written (Job xii. 6), "The tents of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure, into whose hand God bringeth abundance" The evil passion, as it is written (Micah iv. 6), "And whom I have caused to be evil."
Succah, fol. 52, col. 2.
There have been four beautiful women in the world:--Sarah, Abigail, Rahab, and Esther.
Meggillah, fol. 15, col. 1.
Tosephoth asks, "Why was not Eve numbered among these beauties, since even Sarah, in comparison with Eve, was an ape compared to a man?" The reply is, "Only those born of woman are here enumerated."
In fol. 13, col. x, of the same treatise from which the above is quoted, we are informed by Ben Azai that Esther was like the myrtle-tree, neither tall nor short statured, but middle-sized. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korcha states that Esther's complexion was of a yellow or gold color.
One cup of wine is good for a woman, two are disgraceful, three demoralizing, and four brutalizing.
Kethuboth, fol. 65, col. 1.
He who traverses so much as four ells in the land of Israel is sure of everlasting life.
Ibid., fol. 111, col. 1.
To walk even four ells without bowing the bead is an offense to Heaven; for it is written (Isa. vi. 3), "The whole earth is full of His glory."
Kiddushin, fol. 31, col.
There are four who are accounted as dead:--The pauper, the leper, the blind man, and he who has no male children.
Nedarin, fol. 64, col. 2.
Four things mark the characters of men:--He who says what is mine is mine, and what is thine is thine, is, according to some, a moderate man, but, according to others, a child of Sodom; he who says what is mine is thine, and what is thine is mine, is an ignorant man; he who says what is mine is thine and what is thy own is also thine,
is a pious man; he who says mine and thine are both my own, is a wicked man.
Avoth, chap. 5, sec. 16.
There are four kinds of men, according to their degrees of passionateness:--He who is easily provoked and as readily pacified, and who loses more than he gains; he whom it is difficult to rouse and as difficult to appease, and who gains more than he loses; he who is not readily provoked, but easily pacified, who is a pious man; he who is easily provoked and with difficulty appeased, who is a wicked man.
Ibid., chap. 5, sec. 19.
There are four classes of men who give alms, and they are thus distinguished:--He who is willing to give, but unwilling that others should do so, he has an evil eye toward others; he who wishes others to give, but does not do so himself, he has an evil eye toward himself; he who gives, and induces others to give, he is pious; he who gives not, nor wishes others to give he is wicked.
Avoth, chap 5, sec. 19.
There are four marks by which one disciple differs from another:--One learns and does not teach, one teaches and does not learn, one learns and teaches, and one neither learns nor teaches.
Avoth d'Rab. Nathan, chap. 29.
Four things, if kept in view and gravely pondered over, deter from sin:--That a man consider whence he cometh, whither he goeth, who the judge will be, and what the future will bring to pass.
Derech Eretz, chap. 3.
What is the meaning of that which is written (Ps. lxxxvii 2), "The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob?" The answer is, The Lord loveth the gates that are marked with the Halachah more than the synagogues and the schools; and this agrees with what Rabbi Cheeya bar Ami has said, in the name of Ulla, that since the destruction of the Temple nothing else has remained to God in His world but four ells of the Halachah.
Berachoth, fol. 8, col. 1.
Whoso walks even four ells with a proud unbending gait is as though he spurned with his haughty head the feet of the Shechinah; for it is written (Isa. vi. 3), "The whole earth is full of His glory."
Ibid., fol. 43, col. 2.
Four are in duty bound to return thanks to God:--They that have returned from a voyage at sea (Ps. cvii. 23, 24, 31); those who have traveled in the desert (verses 4-8); they who have recovered from a serious illness (verses 17-21); and those that are liberated from prison (verses 10-15).
Berachoth, fol. 54, col. 2.
If one does not walk, say four cubits, before falling asleep after a meal, that which he has eaten, being undigestible, causes foulness of breath.
Shabbath, fol. 41, col.
Four have died in consequence of the seduction of the serpent:--Benjamin, the son of Jacob; Amram, the father of Moses; Jesse, the father of David; and Chileab, the son of David.
Ibid., fol. 55, col. 2.
These four are reckoned to have died on account of original sin, and not solely because of actual transgression, which, says Rashi, they never committed.
The traveler who is overtaken with the approach of Sabbath-eve before he has completed his journey should hand over his purse to a Gentile to carry; and if there be no Gentile at hand, let him stow it away on his ass. As soon as the nearest halting-place is reached, those burdens which may be lifted on the Sabbath should then be removed, and then the cords should be slackened that the rest may slip off of its own accord.
Ibid., fol. 153, col. 1.
Here the Gemara very graciously appends a direction as to the disposal of the purse, in case the traveler should happen to be on foot and have no Gentile attendant. He may take care of it himself, provided he halt at every other step and deposit it on the ground, for at least a distance of four cubits.
A master is bound to rehearse a lesson to his pupil four times.
Eiruvin, fol. 54, col. 2.
Alas for the power which prepares a grave for its possessor, for there is not a prophet who hath not in his lifetime witnessed the decadence of four kings; as it is said (Isa. i. 1), "The vision of Isaiah . . . in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Abaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (see also Hosea i. 1).
P'sachim, fol. 87, col. 2.
Once Rav Pappa and Rav Hunnah partook together of a common meal, and as the latter ate only one morsel the former ate four. After this, when Rav Hunnah and Ravina ate together, the latter devoured eight portions to the other's one, upon which Rav Hunnah jocularly remarked, "A hundred (Rav) Pappas to one Ravina."
P'sachim, fol. 89, col. 2.
No food may be eaten on Passover-eve from the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice (in order, i. e., that abstinence may whet the appetite for the Matsoth). Even the poorest in Israel may not break his fast till the hour of reclining; nor is he to partake of less than four glasses of wine, even though he has been reduced so low as to subsist on the porridge doled out by public charity.
Ibid., fol. 99, col. 2,
There are four things the doing of which by man brings judgment upon his own head:--If he turn in between a wall and a date-palm; if he turn in between two date palms; if he drink borrowed water; and if he step across spilt water, such even as his own wife may have thrown away. (All these doings, says Rashi, are bound to annoy the evil genii.)
Ibid., fol. 111, col. 1.
Four precepts did our holy Rabbi (Yehudah Hakadosh) urge upon his children:--Not to choose Shechentzia as a dwelling-place, for scoffers resided there; not to use the bed of a Syrian odalisque; not to shirk the payment of fiscal dues, lest the collector should confiscate all their property; not to face an ox when he came up (ruffled) from the cane-brake, for Satan sported betwixt his horns.
P'sachim, fol. 112, col. 2.
Whosoever prieth into the four things in the matter of the chariot in Ezekiel's vision--what is above, what is, beneath, what is before, or what is behind--it were better for him if he had never been born.
Chaggigah, fol. 11, col. 2.
The work or matter of the chariot, the Rabbinic term for the Vision of Ezekiel, ranks among the Arcana Judaica, which are not to be told save to the initiated.
Four men entered Paradise--these are their names:--Ben Azai, Ben Zoma, Acher, and Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi
62 THE TALMUD
Akiva thus warned his companions: "When you come across pavements of pellucid marble, do not cry out 'Water! water!' for it is said (Ps. ci. 7), 'He that uttereth falsehood shall not dwell in my sight." Ben Azai looked and died; concerning him the Scripture says (Ps. cxvi. 15), 'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Ben Zoma looked and went out of his mind; of him the Scripture says (Prov. xxv. 16), "Hast thou found honey? eat only so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith and vomit it." Acher cut the plants. Only Akiva departed in peace.
Chaggigah, fol. 14, col. 2.
Rashi explains this by saying these men went up to heaven; but Maimonides much more rationally teaches that the Paradise or garden here is merely the retreat of profound philosophic meditation. These five intuitions were;--(1.) To know that there is a God; (2.) to ignore every other beside Him; (3.) to feel His unity; (4.) to love His person; and (5.) to stand in awe of His Majesty (see Yad Hachaz, chap. 4, sec. 19). Deep thought in these matters was spoken of by the Rabbis as promenading in the garden.
Four times a year is the world subject to an ordeal of judgment:--At Passover, which is decisive of the fruits of the field; at Pentecost, which is decisive of the fruits of the garden; at the feast of Tabernacles, which is decisive in respect of rain; on New Year's Day, when all who come into the world pass before the Lord like sheep, as it is said (Ps. xxxiii. 15), "Who formed their hearts together; who understandeth all their works."
Rosh Hashanah, fol. 16, col. 1.
There are four varieties of cedar:--Erez, Karthom, Etz-Shemen, and Berosh.
Ibid., fol. 23, col. 1.
Ben Kamzar would not teach the art of writing, and yet it is related of him that he could, by taking four pens between his fingers, write off a word of four letters at one stroke.
Yoma, fol. 38, col. 2.
There are four kinds of quails:--Sichli, Kibli, Pisyoni, and the common quail. The first was of superior quality, and the last inferior.
Ibid., fol. 75, col. 2.
A man may obtain forgiveness after the third transgression, but if he repeat the offense a fourth time, he is not
pardoned again; for it is said (Amos ii.. 4), "For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof;" and again (Job xxxiii. 29), "Lo! all these things doth God two or three times" (and so inferentially not four times) "with man to bring back his soul from the pit."
Yoma, fol. 86, col. 2.
For four reasons does their property pass out of the hands of the avaricious:--Because they are backward in paying the wages of their hired servants; because they altogether neglect their welfare; because they shift the yoke from themselves and lay the burden upon their neighbors; and because of pride, which is of itself as bad as all the rest put together whereas of the meek it is written (Ps. xxxvii. 11), "The meek shall inherit the earth."
Succah, fol. 29, col. 2.
"And the Lord showed me four carpenters" (Zech. i, 20). Who are these four carpenters? Rav Chana bar Bizna says that Rabbi Shimon Chassida said they were Messiah the son of David, Messiah the son of Joseph, Elijah, and the Priest of Righteousness.
Ibid., fol. 52, col. 2.
No Synagogue is to be sold except on condition that there be power of re-purchase. These are the words of Rabbi Meir; but the sages say it may be sold unconditionally, except in these four particular cases: that it be not turned into a bath-house, a tannery, a wash-house, or a laundry.
Meggillah, fol. 27, col. 2.
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zachai was once asked by his disciples how he had attained such length of days. "Never once," he said, "in my life have I acted irreverently within four cubits of a place where prayer is offered; never have I called a person by a wicked name; nor have I ever failed to sanctify the Sabbath over a cup of wine. Once my aged mother sold her head-dress to buy the consecration wine for me."
Ibid., fol. 27, col. 2.
When a sage is approaching, one should rise up before he gets within four ells' distance, and remain standing until he has gone as far past. When a chief magistrate is about to pass, one must rise as soon as he comes in sight,
and not resume the seat until he has passed four ells. When a prince passes, one must stand up whenever he appears, and not sit down again until the prince himself is seated; for it is said (Exod. xxxiii, 8), "All the people rose up, . . . and looked after Moses until he was gone into the tabernacle."
Kiddushin, fol. 33, col. 2.
When Nero came to the Holy Land, he tried his fortune by belemnomancy thus:--He shot an arrow eastward, and it fell upon Jerusalem; he discharged his shafts towards the four points of the compass, and every time they fell upon Jerusalem. After this he met a Jewish boy, and said unto him, "Repeat to me the text thou hast learned to-day." The boy repeated, "I will lay my vengeance upon Edom (i. e., Rome) by the hand of my people Israel" (Ezek. xxv. 14). Then said Nero, "The Holy One--blessed be He!--has determined to destroy His Temple and then avenge Himself on the agent by whom its ruin is wrought." Thereupon Nero fled and became a Jewish proselyte, and Rabbi Meir is of his race.
Gittin, fol. 56, col. 1.
They whose banquet is accompanied with four kinds of instruments of music bring five calamities on the world; as it is said (Isa. v. 11-15), 'Woe unto those that get up early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink; and continue until late at night, till flushed with wine. And the harp and psaltery, tambourine and flute, and wine are at their carousals."
Soteh, fol. 48, col. 1.
Let him carry the purse, and halt every time he accomplishes less than four cubits forward.
Shabbath, fol. 153, cols. 1, 2.
Rav Yitzchak here explains how the good Jew, belated on Sabbath-eve, may carry his purse himself, and so save his conscience. The traveler is to halt at about every other step, and so measure off the journey in four-cubit stages.
Though ever since the destruction of the Temple the Sanhedrin has ceased to exist, the four kinds of capital punishment have not failed to assert themselves. If a man incurs the penalty of death by stoning, he is in the course of Providence either punished by a fatal fall from a roof or slain by some beast of prey; if he has exposed himself
to the penalty of death by burning, it happens that he is either burned to death in the end or mortally stung by a serpent; if the penalty of the law is that he should be beheaded for his offense, he meets his death either from the Government officer or by the hand of an assassin; if the penalty be strangulation, he is sure to be drowned or suffocated.
Sanhedrin, fol. 37, col. 2.
When a person is in a state of apprehension and cannot make out the cause of it (the star that presided at his birth and his genii know all about it), what should he do? Let him jump from where he is standing four cubits, or else let him repeat, "Hear, O Israel," etc. (Deut. vi. 4); or if the place be unfit for the repetition of Scripture, let him mutter to himself, "The goat at the butcher's is fatter than me."
Ibid., fol. 94, col. 1.
It is written in 2 Chron. xxxiii. 7, "A carved image;" and again it is written in verse 19, "Graven images." Rabbi Yochanan said, "At first he made the image with one face, but afterwards he made it with four--four, so that the Shechinah might see it from every point, and thus be exasperated."
Ibid., fol. 103, col. 2.
Moses uttered four judgments upon Israel, but four prophets revoked them:--(1.) First Moses said (Deut. xxxiii. 28), "Israel then shall dwell in safety alone;" then came Amos and set it aside (Amos vii. 5), "Cease, I beseech thee," etc.; and then it is written (verse 6), "This shall not be, saith the Lord." (2.) First Moses said (Deut. xxviii. 65), "Among these nations thou shalt find no ease;" then came Jeremiah and set this saying aside (Jer. xxxi. 2), "Even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest." (3.) First Moses said (Exod. xxxiv. 7), "Visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children;" then came Ezekiel and set this aside (Ezek. xviii. 4), "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (4.) First Moses said (Lev. xxvi. 38), "And ye shall perish among the heathen" then came Isaiah and reversed this (Isa. xxvii. 13), "And it shall come to pass in that day that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish."
Maccoth, fol. 24, col. 1. 5
When Akavyah ben Mahalalel appeared to four halachahs contradicting the judgment of the wise on a certain important point of law, "Retract," they said, "and we will promote thee to be president of the tribunal." To which he replied, "I would rather be called a fool all the days of my life than be judged wicked for one hour before Him who is omnipresent."
Edioth, chap. 5, mish. 6.
Let thy house be open wide toward the south, the east, the west, and the north, just as Job, who made four entrances to his house, in order that the poor might find entrance without trouble from whatever quarter they might come.
Avoth d'Rav. Nathan, chap. 7.
Rabbah once saw a sea-monster on the day it was brought forth, and it was as large as Mount Tabor. And how large is Mount Tabor? Its neck was three miles long, and where it laid its head a mile and a half. Its dung choked up the Jordan, till, as Rashi says, its waters washed it away.
Bava Bathra, fol. 73, col. 2.
Shemuel said, "We know remedies for all maladies except three:--That induced by unripe dates on an empty stomach; that induced by wearing a damp linen rope round one's loins; and that induced by falling asleep after meals without having first walked a distance of at least four cubits.
Bava Metzia, fol. 113, col. 2.