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Bablyonian Talmud, Book 5: Tracts Aboth, Derech Eretz-Rabba, Eretz-Zuta, and Baba Kama (First Gate), tr. by Michael L. Rodkinson, [1918], at


ONE who enters his neighbor's house shall do what he is told by the host (provided it is legitimate). And it happened that guests came to the house of Simeon b. Antiptaris, and he invited them to eat and drink, and they vowed by the Torah that they would not do so. Nevertheless, they afterwards ate and drank; but when they were about to depart, he punished them with stripes. When this came to the ears of R. Johanan b. Zakkai and the sages, they became angry, and said, "Who will go and inform him of our displeasure?" Said R. Jehoshua: "I will go and investigate." When he came there he found him on the threshold of his house, and he greeted him, saying: "Peace to you, master"; and he answered, "Peace to you, my master and teacher." Then Rabbi Jehoshua said: "I need shelter." And he answered: "Take it here in peace." They then occupied themselves with the study of the Law until evening. In the morning he told him: "Rabbi, I would like to take a bath." And he rejoined: "Do as you please." R. Jehoshua, however, was afraid that he would beat him. When he returned from the bath, they ate and drank. When he desired to leave, he said: "Who will accompany me?" And the host said: "I will." R. Jehoshua then thought

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to himself: "What information can I give to the sages who sent me here?" He then looked backward, and when he asked him: "Rabbi, what are you looking for?" he answered: "I would like to question you about one thing. Why did you beat others who came to your house with stripes, and you did not do so to me?" He rejoined: "You are my master. You are a great sage, and of course your manners are refined. The other men, however, that came to me, I told to eat and drink, and they vowed by the Torah that they would not, and afterwards they disregarded their vow; and I have heard from the sages that one who vows by the Torah and disregards his vows is to be punished with forty stripes." He then answered: "Be thou blessed by Heaven, that thou hast done so. I swear by thy life that he who thus conducts himself deserves that thou give him forty stripes in thy name, and another forty in the name of the sages who sent me to investigate thy method." R. Jehoshua then came back and informed the sages of what he had discovered in Simeon Antiptaris.

A man shall never be angry at his meals. It happened with Hillel the First that he invited a man to a meal. In the meantime a poor man came and stood at his door, and said to his wife: "I am to marry to-day, and I have nothing in my house." His wife then took the meal she had prepared for the house, and gave it to him. She then kneaded a new dough, and cooked other dishes, and served them before her husband and the guest. Hillel said then to her: "My child, what is the reason of the delay?" And she related to him what happened. He then remarked: "My daughter, I have also judged you from the favorable side, because it is known to me that all that you do is for the sake of Heaven."

Corner-tithe for the poor is not set aside in the cooking-pot, but in the dish. It happened with R. Jehoshua, etc. (See Erubin, pp. 120, 121, for the whole legend repeated here.)

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Always shall a man try to agree with the majority of the people (this is explained in Khethuboth, p. 16b, and will be translated there). For the first meal-benediction, the hard part and not the soft part of the bread is to be used. Never shall a man hold a slice of bread of the size of an egg and bite from it, and one who does so is called a glutton; and one shall not drain his cup of wine at a draught (see Pesachim, p. 171), and if he does so he is considered a glutton. But how shall he do? If he does it in two draughts, it is respectable; if in three. it is considered putting on airs.

One shall not begin to eat the heads, but the leaves of garlic or onions. If he does so, he also is called a glutton. One shall not drink two cups of wine before the after-meal benediction (and subsequently pronounce the benediction without a goblet, but he shall leave one goblet for the benediction. The commentaries explained this otherwise, the reason being that there should be no "pairs"--see Betzah, p. 49--but we cannot agree with them); if he do so, he can be taken for a glutton.

Next: Chapter VII.