by Alfred Edersheim
Extracts from the Babylon Talmud
or Tractate on Benedictions
Berachoth is the first Tractate of the first Seder (Seraim, which consists of eleven Tractates). It contains nine Perakim, which successively explain the duty, the exceptions, the posture, the formulas, and the controversies in regard to prayer. The Tractate exists both in the Jerusalem and in the Babylon Talmud. The great Maimonides has prefaced the Seder Seraim by a General Introduction, which presents a general view of Talmudism, and explains what is of greatest importance to the student. Notwithstanding his vast learning and authority, incompleteness and inaccuracies have, however, been pointed out in his Introduction.
Mishnah what time is the "Shema" said in the evening? From the hour that the priests entered to eat of their therumah * until the end of the first night watch. ** These are the words of Rabbi Eliezer. But the sages say: Till midnight. Rabban Gamaliel says: Until the column of the morning (the dawn) rises. It happened, that his sons came back from a banquet. They said to him: "We have not said the 'Shema.'" He said to them, "If the column of the morning has not come up, you are bound to say it." And not only this have they said, but, wherever the sages have said "till midnight," their command applies till the morning column rises. The burning of the fat and of the members (of sacrifices) is lawful till the morning column rise; *** and so everything which is to be eaten on the same day (on which it has been offered) is allowed to be eaten till the rise of the morning column. If so, why do the sages say, "till midnight?" In order to keep a man far from transgressing.
* The heave-offering given to the priests, which they ate within the Temple.
** The Jews divided the night into three watches.
*** That is, they may be left to consume on the altar from the time of evening sacrifice till then.
Gemara. 3 a. To the end of the night watch. does Rabbi Eliezer mean this? If he means that the night has three watches, he should say till four hours; and if he means that the night has four watches, he should say till three hours. Indeed, he means that the night has three watches, but he indicates by the expression that there are night watches in heaven, as there are night watches upon earth. For we have this doctrine: Rabbi Eliezer says, There are three night watches in the night, and in every one of these night watches the Holy One, blessed be His Name, sits and roars like a lion. For it is written (Jer 25:30), "Jehovah shall roar from on high, from the habitation of His holiness shall He give out His voice; roaring shall He roar on account of His habitation." The signs of this thing are as follows: In the first night watch the ass brays, in the second the dogs bark, in the third the suckling sucks his mother, and the wife speaks to her husband. How does Rabbi Eliezer indicate them? Does he thus indicate the commencement of the night watch? The commencement of the first night watch, what need is there for a sign of it, seeing it is night? Or does he refer to the end of the night watch? For the end of the last night watch, why does he give me a sign, seeing it is day? But he indicates the end of the first night watch and the commencement of the last night watch, and the middle of the middle night watch. And if thou wilt, I will say that he refers in all to the end of the night watches. And if thou sayest, the last does not require it, what is attained by it? The reading of the "Shema" for him who sleeps in a dark house, and does not know the time for saying the "Shema" when it is, so that, when the woman speaks with her husband and the babe sucks its mother, he may rise up and say the prayer.
Rabbi Isaac, the son of Samuel, says, in the name of Rab, "The night has three watches, and in each one of these watches does the Holy One, blessed be His Name, sit and roar like a lion, and say, 'Woe to the children, because on account of their sins I have laid desolate My house, and burned My temple, and have driven them forth among the nations of the world.'"
We have this doctrine: Rabbi Jose said, "On one occasion I was traveling, and I entered into one of the ruins of Jerusalem to pray. Then came Elijah memory be for good waited for me at the door till I had finished my prayer. After that I had finished my prayer, he said to me, 'Peace be to thee, Rabbi'; and I said to him, 'Peace be to thee, Rabbi, and my teacher.' And he said to me, 'My son, why didst thou enter into this ruin?' I said to him, 'In order to pray.' And he said to me, 'Thou mightest have prayed on the road.' And I said to him, 'I was afraid that those who passed on the road might perhaps interrupt me.' He said to me, 'Thou shouldest have prayed a short prayer.' In that hour I learned from him three things. I learned that one may not enter into a ruin, and I learned that one may pray on the road, and I learned that he that prays on the road should pray a short prayer. He also said to me, 'My son, what voice hast thou heard in that ruin?' And I said to him, 'I have heard the "Bath Kol," * which cooed like a dove, and said, "Woe to the children, because on account of their sins I have laid waste My House, and I have burned My Sanctuary, and I have driven them forth among the nations."' And he said to me, 'By thy life, and by the life of thy head, not only at that time did the voice say so, but every day three times does it say so; and not only this, but also at the time when Israel enter the house of prayer and the house of study, and when they say, "Blessed be His great Name"; then the Holy One, blessed be His Name, moves His head, and says, "Happy is the king whom they thus praise in His house." What remains to the father who has driven his children into captivity? and woe to the children who have been driven forth from the table of their father.'"
* Literally "Daughter Voice" voice from heaven.
The Rabbis teach: On account of three things a ruin is not to be entered. On account of suspicion, * and on account of falling in (of the wall), and on account of evil spirits. On account of suspicion it not suffice on account of falling in? (Would that not have been alone a sufficient ground?) Fol. 3 b. Not if it is recent. ** But would it not suffice: On account of evil spirits? Not when there are two. *** If there are two, does not the ground of suspicion cease? Not if the two are impudent...
* Of secret sin.
** If it has only lately become a ruin, since then there would be no immediate danger.
*** Because where there are two, they need not fear evil spirits.
The Rabbis taught: The night has four watches. These are the words of Rabbi (Jehudah the Holy). Rabbi Nathan says: Three. What is the reason of Rabbi Nathan? Because it is written (Judg 7:19), "So Gideon came, and the hundred men that were with him, unto the outside of the camp, in the beginning of the middle watch. He taught: 'There is no middle, unless there is one before and one after it. And Rabbi, What is the meaning of the "middle?"' (He replied) 'One of the middle ones among the middle ones.' And Rabbi Nathan, 'Is it written: "The middle of the middle ones?" It is only written the middle one.'" But what ground has Rabbi? Rabbi Serika said, that Rabbi Ami said, that Rabbi Joshua, the son of Levi, said: In one place it is said (Psa 119:62), "At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto Thee, because of Thy righteous judgments." And in another place it is said (v 148), "Mine eyes prevent the night watches." How is this? Because the night has four watches. And Rabbi Nathan? He interprets it just as Rabbi Joshua. For we have this teaching: Rabbi Joshua says, "To three hours (into the day the 'Shema' may be said); for this is the way of kings, to rise at three hours (after daybreak). Six hours of the night (from midnight to dawn are six hours) and two by day make together two night watches" (each of four hours). Rabbi Ashi says: "A night watch and a half might also be called night watches." *
* All this is intended to establish Rabbi Nathan's view, that there are only three watches in the night.
Rabbi Serika also said, that Rabbi Ami said, that Rabbi Joshua, the son of Levi, said: "You must not speak before the dead anything but the words of the dead." Rabbi Aba, the son of Cahana, said: "They do not say this except in reference to the words of the law (because every one is bound to take part in such conversation); but as to ordinary conversation it does not matter." And some say, Rabbi Aba, the son of Cahana, said, "They do not say this merely concerning the words of Scripture, but much more also concerning ordinary conversation."
And David rose at midnight (as before quoted). Did he not rise in the evening? since it is written (v 147), "I prevented the gloaming, and cried." And how do we know that this gloaming was that of the evening? Because it is written (Prov 7:9): "In the gloaming, in the evening of the day, in the denseness of the night and of darkness." Rabbi Oshja said, that Rabbi Acha said, So spake David: "Never has the middle of the night passed over me in sleep." Rabbi Seira said, "To the middle of the night he was sleeping like a horse; from that time and afterwards he strengthened himself like a lion." Rabbi Ashi said, "To the middle of the night he occupied himself with the words of the law; from that and afterwards with psalms and hymns." And the gloaming is that of the evening. Is there not also a gloaming of the morning? As it is written (1 Sam 30:17): "And David smote them from the gloaming even to the evening of the next day." Is it not so, from that of the morning to that of the evening? No, from the evening again to the evening. If this were so, it would have been written, "From the gloaming to the gloaming," or else, "From the evening to the evening." Also Raba said: "There are two gloamings, the gloaming of the night, and then comes the morning, and the gloaming of the day, and then comes the night." And David, How did he know the middle of the night when it was, since Moses our teacher did not know it? For it is written (Exo 11:4), "About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt." What is it "about midnight?" If it should be said that the Holy One, blessed be His Name, said to him "about the middle" there be any doubting in heaven? But he said to him "at midnight." Then came he and said "about midnight" (that is, Moses said so, because he did not know exactly when midnight was). Accordingly he was in doubt; and David, should he have known? David had a sign, for Rabbi Acha, the son of Bisna, said that Rabbi Simeon, the pious, said: "A harp was hung up above the bed of David, and when the middle of the night came, the north wind arose and blew over it, and it sounded of itself. Immediately he rose up and studied in the Thorah till the morning column arose. As soon as the morning column arose, the sages of Israel went to him. They said to him: 'Our Lord, O King! thy people Israel require to be supported.' He said to them, 'Support yourselves one of the other.' They said to him, 'A handful does not satisfy a lion, and a pit is not filled with its own sand.' He said to them, 'Go and spread your hands in the army (make wars of conquest).' Immediately they took counsel with Ahithophel and thought over it in the Sanhedrim, and inquired at the Urim and Thummim." Rabbi Joseph said: "What else should this Scripture be (1 Chron 27:34): 'And after Ahithophel was Benajahu, the son of Jehoiada (the reading is here different from that of our text), and Abiathar; and the general of the king's army was Joab.' Ahithophel, he was the counsellor, and so it is said (2 Sam 16:23), 'And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God.' Benajahu, the son of Jehoiada, that is the Sanhedrim, * and Abiathar; these are the Urim and Thummim. And so it is said (2 Sam 20:23), 'And Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, was over the Cherethites, and over the Pelethites.' And why was their name called Cherethites and Pelethites? Cherethites, because they cut short their words, and Pelethites, because they were wonderful in their words. ** And after these was Joab, the general of the king." Rabbi Isaac, the son of Idi, said, "Some say, what else *** means the Scripture (Psa 57:8), 'Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp; I myself will wake the morning?'" Rabbi Seria said, "Moses knew it (the midnight hour), and so also did David know it. But if David knew it, for what was the harp? To awaken him from sleep. And if Moses knew it, why did he require to say, 'about midnight?' Moses thought, perhaps, the astronomers of Pharaoh may err, and then say, 'Moses is a liar.' For the Master says, 'Teach thy tongue to say, I do not know; perhaps thou mayest be regarded as inventing, and be seized.'" Rabbi Ashi said, "It was in the middle of the night of the thirteenth, after which the fourteenth dawns"; and so Moses said to Israel, "The Holy One, blessed be His Name, says, 'To-morrow, about midnight, as now, I shall go out in the midst of Egypt.'"
* Whose chief he is supposed to have been.
** There is here a play on the words.
*** Referring again to the saying of Rabbi Simeon, the pious, mentioned earlier.
Fol. 16 b. Rabbi Elazar said: "What is it that is written (Psa 63:4), 'Thus will I bless Thee while I live; I will lift up my hands in Thy Name?' 'I will bless Thee while I live': that is saying the 'Shema.' 'I will lift my hands in Thy Name': that is prayer; if he does so, of him does the Scripture say, 'My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness.' And not only this, but he inherits two worlds world and the world to come, as it is written, 'And my mouth shall praise Thee with lips of joys.'" *
* The plural indicating the two worlds.
Rabbi Elazar, after he had finished his prayer, said thus: "May it please Thee, O Lord our God, that Thou wouldest cause to dwell in our lot love and brotherhood, peace and friendship, and increase our possession with disciples, and gladden our end with a happy end, and with hope, and place our portion in Paradise. Order us in good fellowship, and with the inclination for good in this world, that we may rise and find our hearts in the fear of Thy Name, and that the desire of our souls may come before Thee for good." *
* This and the following are prayers at night.
Rabbi Jochanan, after he had finished his prayer, said thus: "May it please Thee, O Lord our God, that Thou mayest look upon our shame and see our sorrows, and that Thou clothe thyself with mercy, and that Thou cover Thyself with Thy might, and that Thou robe Thyself with Thy grace, and that Thou gird Thyself with favour, that there come before Thee the measurement of Thy goodness and of Thy condescension."
Rabbi Seira, after he had finished his prayers, said thus: "May it please Thee, O Lord our God, that we may not sin, and not be put to shame, and not be confounded before our fathers."
Rabbi Chija, after he had finished his prayers, said thus: "May it please Thee, O Lord our God, that Thy Thorah be our labour, and that our hearts be not faint, and that our eyes be not darkened."
Rab, after he had finished his prayers, said thus: "May it please Thee, O Lord our God, to give us prolonged life, a life of peace, a life of good, a life of blessing, a life of nourishment, a life of vigorous strength, a life in which there shall be the fear of sin, a life in which there shall be neither shame nor confusion, a life of riches and honour, a life in which there shall be among us love of the Thorah and the fear of heaven, a life in which Thou fulfil in us all the desires of our hearts for good."
Rabbi, after he had finished his prayers, said thus: "May it please Thee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, to preserve us from the daring sinner and from daring sin, from an evil man and an evil accident, from the evil impulse, from an evil companion, from an evil neighbour, from Satan the destroyer, from a severe judgment, and from a severe opponent, whether he be a son of the covenant or not." And this, although the officers stood around Rabbi. *
* He was not deterred by their presence from so praying.
Rabbi Saphra, after he had finished his prayers, said thus: "May it please Thee, O Lord our God, that Thou wilt put peace among the family above (the angels) and in the family below, and between the students who busy themselves with Thy Thorah, whether they busy themselves with it for its own sake or not for its own sake; and with reference to all who busy themselves with it not for its own sake, may it please Thee, that they may busy themselves with it for its own sake."
Rabbi Alexander, after he had finished his prayer, said thus: "May it please Thee, O Lord our God, to place us in a corner of light, and not in a corner of darkness, and let not out heart become faint, nor our eyes become darkened." But some say, it was Rab who prayed this prayer, and that Rabbi Alexander, after he had prayed, said thus: "Lord of the worlds, it is manifest and known before Thee that our pleasure is to do Thy pleasure, and who hinders it? The leaven in the bake-meat and the service of foreign domination. May it please Thee to deliver us from their hands, that we may return to do the laws of Thy good pleasure with a perfect heart."
Raba, when he had finished his prayer, said thus: "Lord, until I was created I was nothing, and now that I am created, I am as if I were not created. Dust I am in life, and how much more when I am dead? Behold I am before Thee like a vessel filled with shame and confusion. May it please Thee, O Lord our God, that I may no more sin, and what I have sinned before Thee, blot out in Thy great mercy, but not through chastisements and evil diseases." And the same was the confession of Rab Hamnuna the Less on the Day of Atonement.
Mar, the son of Rabina, when he had ended his prayer, said as follows: "Lord, keep our tongue from evil, and our lips from speaking guile. And towards those who curse my soul, let me be silent, and let my soul be like the dust towards all. Open my heart in Thy law, and let my soul follow after Thy commandments, and deliver me from an evil accident, from the evil disposition, and from an evil woman, and from all evil which lifts itself up to come into the world. And all who think evil against me, speedily destroy their counsel, and render vain their thoughts. May it please Thee, that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before Thee, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."
Rabbi Sheisheth, when he had fasted, said, after he had finished his prayer: "Lord of the world, it is evident before Thee, that at the time that the Sanctuary stood, a man sinned, and he brought an offering, nor did they offer of it anything but its fat and its blood, and he was forgiven. And now I have remained in fasting, and my fat and my blood have been diminished, may it please Thee, that my fat and my blood which have been diminished be as if I had offered them upon the altar, and be merciful to me."
Rabbi Jochanan, when he had finished the book of Job, said thus: "The end of a man is to die, and the end of an animal is to be slaughtered, and all are appointed to death. Blessed is he who has grown up in the Thorah, and busied himself with the Thorah, and labours to have a quiet spirit towards his Creator, and who has grown big with a good name, and who has departed from this world with a good name. And of him, says Solomon (Eccl 7:1): 'A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.'"
It was customary in the mouth of Rabbi Meir: "Learn with all thy heart and with all thy soul, in order to know My ways, and to grow up by the gates of My Thorah. Keep My Thorah in thy heart, and let My fear be before thine eyes. Keep thy mouth from all sin, and cleanse and sanctify thyself from all transgression and sin, and I shall be with thee in every place."
Fol. 55 a. Rabbi Chisda said: "Every dream is without a meaning, but not if one has fasted (on account of it)." Also Rabbi Chisda said: "A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read." Also Rabbi Chisda said: "Neither is there a good dream in which everything comes to pass, nor yet a bad dream in which everything comes to pass." Also Rabbi Chisda said: "An evil dream is better than a good dream." Also Rabbi Chisda said: "An evil dream, its sorrow is sufficient; a good dream, its pleasure is sufficient." Rabbi Joseph said: "A good dream even the joy with me annuls it." * Rabbi Chisda also said: "An evil dream is heavier than a chastisement, for it is written (Eccl 3:14), 'And God doeth it, that men should fear before Him.'" And Rabbah, the grandson of Chanah, said, Rabbi Jochanan said: "This refers to an evil dream. (Jer 23:28), 'The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My Word, let him speak My Word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.' But what have the wheat and the chaff to do with a dream?" But, says Rabbi Jochanan, in name of Rabbi Simeon, the son of Joche, "As wheat alone is not possible without straw, so also is a dream not possible without false things." Rabbi Berachiah said: "A dream, even if a part of it is fulfilled, the whole of it is not fulfilled. Whence have we this? From Joseph, for it is written (Gen 37:9), 'And behold the sun and the moon,' etc. And at that time his mother was no more." Rabbi Levi said: "Let a man always look forward in regard to a good dream, even as long as twenty-two years. Whence have we that? From Joseph, for it is written (Gen 37:2), 'These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph was seventeen years old,' and so on. And it is written (Gen 41:46), 'And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh,' and so on. From seventeen to thirty, how much is it? Thirteen. And seven of plenty, and two of famine, that makes twenty-two."
* This Rabbi was blind.
Rabbi Huna said: "To a good man a good dream is not shown, and to an evil man an evil dream is not shown. We have this doctrine: All the years of David he did not see a good dream, and all the years of Ahithophel he did not see an evil dream. But yet it is written (Psa 91:10), 'There shall no evil befall thee.'"...
Rabbi Huna, the son of Ami, said, Rabbi Pedath said, Rabbi Jochanan said: "He that seeth a dream, and his soul is distressed, let him go and interpret it before three." Let him interpret it? But Rabbi Chisda said: "A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read." But certainly (I mean), that he give a good interpretation before three. He summons three, and he says to them, "I have had a good dream." And they say to him, "Behold, it is good, and it will be good. The Merciful One turn it to good. Seven times let it be decreed upon thee from heaven that it be good, and it will be good." Then they say three turnings, and three deliverances, and three times "Peace." Three turnings (Psa 30:11), "Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness." Again (Jer 31:13), "Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy," and so on. Again (Deu 23:5), "Nevertheless the Lord thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but He turned," and so on. "Three deliverances," as it is written (Psa 55:18), "He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me," and so on; (Isa 35:10), "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return," and so on; (1 Sam 14:45), "And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this salvation in Israel?" "Three times peace," as it is written (Isa 57:19), "I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord," etc.; (1 Chron 12:18), "Then the spirit clothed Amasai," and so on; (1 Sam 25:6), "Thus shall ye say to him that liveth, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house," and so on.
Ameimer, and Mar Sutra, and Rabbi Ashi were sitting all together. They said: "Would that each one might say something which had not been heard by his companion." Then began one among them, and said: "If any one has seen a dream, and does not know what he has seen, let him place himself before the priests of his time, while they spread their hands (in blessing), and let him say thus: 'Lord of the world, I am Thine, and my dreams are Thine. I have dreamt a dream, and I know not what it is, whether I have dreamed for myself, or whether my companions have dreamt of me, or whether I have dreamt of others. If they be good (dreams) confirm them, and strengthen them, like the dreams of Joseph; and if they need healing, heal them, as the waters of Marah by the hands of Moses, our teacher, and as Miriam from her leprosy, and as Hezekiah from his sickness, and as the waters of Jericho by the hands of Elisha. And as Thou hast turned into blessing the curse of Balaam, the wicked one, so turn all my dreams for me to good.' And let him finish with the priests, that the congregation may say, 'Amen.' And if not, let him say thus: 'Mighty One in the heights, Who dwellest in strength, Thou art peace, and Thy name is peace. May it please Thee to dispense to us peace.'" The next one began, and said: "If any one enters into a city, and is afraid of the evil eye, let him take the thumb of his right hand into his left, and the thumb of his left hand into his right hand, and let him say thus: 'I, such an one, the son of such an one, descend from the seed of Joseph, over whom an evil eye can have no power, as it is written (Gen 49:22), "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well," and so on.'" Read not: "by a well" but "transcending the eye." * Rabbi Jose, the son of Rabbi Chaninah, said: "From this (Gen 48:16), 'And let them grow' (like fishes). ** As fishes, which inhabit the waters, are covered by them, and no evil eye has power over them, so also the seed of Joseph, no evil eye has power over it. But if he is afraid of his own evil eye, let him look on his left nostril." And the third commenced and said: "If any one is sick, let him not make it known the first day, lest he make his fate worse. But after that and onwards let him make it known. So it was with Raba when he was ill, the first day he did not make it known. From that and onwards he said to his servant: 'Go outside, and cry, Raba is sick; he that pitieth me, let him ask for me pity, and he that hateth me, let him rejoice over me.'" And it is written (Prov 24:17,18), "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him."
* There is a play here upon the words.
** Another play upon the words.
Samuel, when he had seen an evil dream, said (Zech 10:2): "For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and the dreams speak false things." And when he saw a good dream he said: "And should dreams indeed speak falsehood seeing it is written (Num 12:6), 'I will speak in a dream to him?'" Raba asked: "It is written, 'In a dream I will speak to him'; and it is written, 'And dreams speak falsehood.'" That is no question the one is by an angel and the other by an evil spirit.
Rabbi Bisna, the son of Sabda, said, Rabbi Akiba said, Rabbi Panda said, Rabbi Nahum said, Rabbi Birim said in the name of an aged man who is he? Rabbi Banah: "There were four-and-twenty interpreters of dreams in Jerusalem. Once I dreamed a dream, and I went before them all, and what the one interpreted to me the other did not interpret to me, and yet all were fulfilled to me, in order to fulfil what is written, 'All dreams go after the mouth.' But is this Scripture, 'All dreams go after the mouth?'" Yes, and according to Rabbi Elasar. For Rabbi Elasar said, "Whence this, that all dreams go after the mouth?" Because it is said (Gen 41:13), "And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was." Raba said: "But this only, if he interpret to be according to the contents of the dream, as it is written (Gen 41:12), 'To each man according to his dream he did interpret'; (Gen 40:16), 'And the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good.'" Whence did he know it? Rabbi Elasar said: "This teaches, that each one of them saw the dream and the interpretation of the dream of his companion."
Rabbi Jochanan said: "If one rises, and a verse comes into his mouth, behold this is like a little prophecy." And Rabbi Jochanan said: "Three dreams are fulfilled morning dream, a dream which one's companion has dreamed, and a dream which is interpreted in the middle of the dream" (or by a dream). And some say also, a dream which is repeated, as it is said (Gen 41:32), "And for that the dream was doubled," and so on. Rabbi Samuel, the son of Nachmeni, said, Rabbi Jonathan said: "Nothing else is shown to a man but what is in the thoughts of his heart." For it is said (Dan 2:29), "As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed." And if thou wilt, I shall say: from this (Dan 2:30), "That thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart." Raba said: "Thou canst know it, for there is not shown to a man either a golden palm tree, nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle." ...
Fol. 56 a son of Hedja was an interpreter of dreams. If any one gave him a reward, he interpreted his dreams for good; if any one did not give him a reward, he interpreted for evil. Abaje and Raba saw a dream. Abaje gave him a susa, and Raba gave him nothing. They said to him: "We read in the dreams (Deu 28:31), 'Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes,' etc." To Raba he said: "Thy business will be ruined, and thou shalt have no desire to eat from sorrow of thy heart." To Abaje he said: "Thy business will be extended, and thou shalt have no desire to eat from the joy of thy heart." They said to him: "We read (v 41), 'Thou shalt beget sons and daughters,' and so on." To Raba he said: "They will be taken captive." To Abaje he said: "Thy sons and thy daughters shall be many, and hence thy daughters shall be married outside the land, so that they will seem to thee as if they had been led captive." "We read (v 32): 'Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people.'" To Abaje he said: "Thy sons and thy daughters shall be many. Thou shalt say, to thy relatives (thou wilt wed them), but she (thy wife) shall say: to her relatives, and she will induce thee, that thou wilt give them to her relatives; which are like another nation." To Raba he said: "Thy wife shall die, and her sons and her daughters shall come under the hands of another wife." For Raba said, Rabbi Jeremiah, the son of Aba, said, Rav said: "What is it that is written: 'Thy sons and thy daughters shall I give to another nation.' That is, the wife of the father (step-mother)." "We read in the dreams (Eccl 9:7): 'Go, eat thy bread with joy.'" To Abaje he said: "Thy business shall be extended, and thou shalt eat and drink, and read the verse in the joy of thy heart." To Raba he said: "Thy business shall be ruined, thou shalt kill, but shalt not eat nor drink, and shalt read for the sake of comforting thyself." ...
In the end Raba went alone to him. He said to him: "I have seen that the inner house-door has fallen." He said to him: "Thy wife shall die." He said to him: "I saw that my molar teeth and my teeth fell out." He said to him: "Thy sons and thy daughters shall die." He said to him: "I saw that two doves flew away." He said to him: "Two wives shalt thou divorce." He said to him: "I saw two heads of cabbage." He said to him: "Two boxes on the ear shalt thou swallow." Raba went on that day and sat in the academy all the day. Then he found two blind men who quarrelled with one another. Then Raba went to separate them, and they struck Raba twice; they lifted up to strike another time, and he said, "Hold, I have seen only two."
In the end Raba came and gave him a reward. He said to him: "I saw that the wall fell." He said to him: "Property without limits shalt thou obtain." He said to him: "I saw the Palace of Abaje that it fell, and its dust covered me." He said to him: "Abaje shall die, and his chair shall come to thee." He said to him: "I saw my own palace that it fell, and then the whole world came and took brick by brick." He said to him: "Thy teaching shall spread through the world." He said to him: "I saw that my head was split and my brain came out." He said to him: "The wool of thy pillow shall come out." He said to him: "I read the Egyptian Hallel in the dream." He said to him: "Miracles shall be done for thee." He went with him upon a ship. He said: "To a man for whom miracles shall be done, what is the use of this?" As he ascended, a book fell from him. Raba found it, and saw that there was written in it: "All dreams go after the mouth." He said to him: "Wicked One, upon thee it depended, and thou hast much afflicted me. Everything I forgive thee, except about the daughter of Rabbi Chisda (who was his wife). May it be the will (of God), that this man be given over into the hands of the government, who have no pity upon him." He said: "What shall I do? for it is ordered, that the curse of a sage, even if it come causeless, shall happen. How much more is this the case with Raba, who has judged me with justice." He said: "I will go and emigrate, for the master said, 'Banishment expiates sin.'" He arose and emigrated to the Romans. He went and sat down at the door of the head treasurer of the king. The head treasurer saw a dream. He said to him: "I saw a dream, that a needle went into my finger." He said to him: "Give me a susa"; but he gave him nothing, and hence he said nothing at all to him. He said to him: "I saw that a worm fell upon two of my fingers." He said to him: "Give me a susa"; but he gave him nothing, and he did not say anything at all to him. He said to him: "I saw that a worm fell upon my whole hand." He said to him: "A worm has come into all the garments" (of the king). They heard this in the house of the king, and they brought the head treasurer in order that they might kill him. He said to him: "Why I? let him be brought who knew it and did not say." They brought the son of Hedja. He said to him: "On account of thy susa have been spoiled the garments of the king." They bound two cedars with rope, and tied one foot to one cedar, and the other foot to the other cedar, and let go the ropes, so that his head was split; for each cedar went back and stood in its place, and he was split and fell in two.
[And so the interpretation of dreams goes on for other two and a half folio pages. These three specimen extracts may suffice to give examples of the indifferent, the good, and the absurd, which constitute the Talmud. They will show the necessity of discrimination, and how readily the Talmud, as a whole, may be either decried by enemies or unduly exalted by a judicious selection of passages.]