The Cornerstone Talmud

Cornerstone Talmud

The native would be in the earth and the stranger in the highest heavens? Yes, the like has found his like and is aroused.

– Babylonian Talmud, Mo’ed II, ‘Erubin 9a

Two dwelt [in a house], one above ∆ and one below Ñ. Now, the plaster [on the ceiling between the two] became broke, so that when the one above ∆ washed with water, it dripped down, causing damage to the one below Ñ.  Now, who must repair? – R. Hiyya b. Abba said: The upper dweller ∆; R. Elai said on the authority of R. Hiyya son of R. Jose: The lower one Ñ. Now, the sign thereof is, And Joseph was brought down to Egypt.  Baba Mezi’a 117a

A Tanna taught: The hornet did not pass over [Jordan] with them; but behold it is written: And I will send the hornet before thee!7  – R. Simeon b. Lakish said: It stood by the bank of the Jordan and injected a virus [into the Canaanites] which blinded their eyes above and castrated them below; as it is said: Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above ∆ and his roots from beneath Ñ etc – Sotah 36a

It has been taught. R. Eliezer b. Jacob says: It is impossible to declare that Levi [was stationed] below since it is stated that he was above, and it is impossible to declare that he was above since it is stated that he was below; so how was it? The elders of the priests and Levites were below Ñ and the rest above ∆. R. Joshiyah said: All [the Levites] who were qualified to serve [as bearers of the ark] were below Ñ and the rest above ∆. Rabbi says: Both [the priests and Levites] and also [the Israelites] were standing below Ñ. They turned their faces towards mount Gerizim and opened with the blessing, and then towards mount Ebal and opened with the curse; – Sotah 37a

GEMARA. Rab said: BELOW means actually below Ñ and ABOVE means actually above ∆. Samuel, however, said: BELOW means beneath Ñ the binding and ABOVE means above ∆ the binding,  the one as well as the other being round the neck.
so R. Judah. R. Ishmael said: He does not rend his clothes in the manner of other people, but he rends from below Ñ while an ordinary priest rends from above ∆!  – Horayoth 12b

the governor of Beth-peor [the message], ‘Shew us where Moses is buried’. When they stood above ∆, it appeared to them to be below Ñ; when they were below Ñ, it appeared to them to be above ∆. They divided themselves into two parties; to them who were standing above ∆ it appeared below Ñ, and to those who were below Ñ it appeared above ∆. This is in fulfilment of what is said: ‘No man knoweth of his sepulchre’. R. Hama son of R. Hanina said: Even Moses our teacher does not know where he is buried; it is written here, – Sotah 14a

Who [is the Tanna here described as the] Sages? – It is R. Jose. For R. Hiyya and R. Simeon b. Rabbi once sat together, when one of them began as follows: A man who offers up his prayers must direct his eyes towards [the Temple]  below Ñ, for it is said, And Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there perpetually. And the other said: The eyes of him who offers up prayers shall be directed towards [the heavens] above ∆, for it is said Let us lift up our heart with our hand.  In the meanwhile they were joined by R. Ishmael son of R. Jose. ‘On what subject are you engaged?’ he asked them. ‘On the subject of prayer’, they replied. ‘My father’, he said to them, ‘ruled thus: A man who offers up his prayers must direct his eyes to the [Sanctuary] below Ñ and his heart towards [the heavens] above ∆ so that these two Scriptural texts may be complied with.’ While this was going on, Rabbi entered the academy.15  They, being nimble, got into their places quickly. R. Ishmael son of R. Jose, however, owing to his corpulence  could only move to his place with slow steps. ‘Who is this man, cried Abdan out to him, ‘who strides over the heads  of the holy people!’ The other replied. ‘I am Ishmael son of R. Jose who have come to learn Torah from Rabbi’.  ‘Are you, forsooth, fit’, the first said to him, ‘to learn Torah from Rabbi?’ – ‘Was Moses fit’, the other retorted, ‘to learn Torah from the lips of the Omnipotent!’ ‘Are you Moses indeed!’ the first exclaimed. – ‘Is then your Master a god!’ the other retorted. R. Jose remarked: Rabbi got what he merited when the one said to the other ‘Your Master’ and not ‘my Master’. While this was proceeding a sister-in-law came before Rabbi.  ‘Go out’, said Rabbi to Abdan, ‘and have her examined’.  After the latter went out, R. Ishmael said to him:  Thus said my father, ‘In the Pentateuchal section man is written;  [but as to] a woman, whether she is of age or a minor [her halizah is valid]’. ‘Come back’, he  cried after him, ‘you need not [arrange for any examination]; the grand old man  has already given his decision [on the subject]’.
Abdan now came back picking his steps, when R. Ishmael son of R. Jose exclaimed, ‘He of whom the holy people is in need may well stride over the heads of the holy people; but how dare he of whom the holy people has no need stride over the heads of the holy people!’ ‘Remain in your place’, said Rabbi to Abdan.
It was taught: At that instant Abdan became leprous, his two sons were drowned and his two daughters-in-law made declarations of refusal.30  ‘Blessed be the All Merciful’, said R. Nahman b. Isaac, ‘who has put Abdan to shame in this world’. – Yebamoth 105b

There is no contradiction between sneezing and sneezing either; in the one case it is above, in the other below.  For R. Zera said: This dictum was casually imparted to me in the school of R. Hamnuna, and it is worth all the rest of my learning: If one sneezes in his prayer it is a good sign for him, that as they give him relief below Ñ [on earth] so they give him relief above ∆ [in heaven]. – Berakoth 24b

Those sacrifices whose blood is to be sprinkled above ∆ and was sprinkled below Ñ,  those whose blood is to be sprinkled below Ñ and was sprinkled above ∆, – Niddah 40b

The disciples of R. Johanan b. Zakkai asked him why the Torah was more severe on a thief than on a robber He replied: The latter puts the honour of the slave  on the same level as the honour of his owner,  whereas the former  does not put the honour of the slave on the same level as the honour of the master [but higher], for, as it were, he acts as if the eye of Below  would not be seeing and the ear of Below would not be hearing, as it says: Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?  Or as it is written: And they say, The Lord will not see, neither will the God of Jacob give heed; or, as again it is written, For they say, the Lord hath forsaken the earth and the Lord seeth not.  – Baba Kamma 79b

R. Tanhum b. Hanilai said: One should never break away from custom. For behold, Moses ascended on High ∆ and ate no bread, whereas the Ministering Angels descended below Ñ and ate bread.  ‘And ate’ – can you really think so! – But say, appeared to eat and drink. – Baba Mezi’a 86b

So also did R. Simeon state: The Sages have indicated in [the physical development of] a woman three marks below and corresponding ones above. If, namely, she is like an unripe fig above, it may be taken for granted  that she has not yet grown two hairs. If she is above like a fig in its early ripening, it may be taken for granted  that she has already grown two hairs. If she is like a ripe fig above it may be taken for granted that the mons veneris has grown lower. What is meant by mons veneris? – R. Huna replied: There is a rounded eminence above that place, and as the girl grows in age it steadily grows lower. – Niddah 47b

The Jew signed first below thinking that another Jew would sign above, but the lender got the signature of a Samaritan instead. – Gittin 10b

A favourite saying of Abaye was: A man should always be subtle in the fear of heaven. A soft answer turneth away wrath, and one should always strive to be on the best terms with his brethren and his relatives and with all men and even with the heathen in the street, in order that he may be beloved above ∆ and well-liked below Ñ and be acceptable to his fellow creatures. It was related of R. Johanan b. Zakkai that no man ever gave him greeting first, even a heathen in the street. -Berakoth 17a

Our Rabbis taught: One who passes through a place infested with beasts or bands of robbers says a short Tefillah. What is a short Tefillah? – R. Eliezer says: Do Thy will in heaven above ∆, and grant relief to them that fear Thee below Ñ and do that which is good in Thine eyes. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who hearest prayer – Berakoth 29b

Hadst thou prepared thy prayer before thy trouble came?  R. Eleazar said: One should always offer up prayer before misfortune comes; for had not Abraham anticipated trouble by prayer between Beth-el and Ai, there would not have remained of Israel’s sinners a remnant or a survivor.  Resh Lakish said: He who devotes his strength to prayer below Ñ, has no enemies [to overcome] above ∆. R. Johanan said: One should ever implore mercy that all [sc. Heavenly beings] may support his effort [in prayer] so that he may have no enemies on high ∆. – Sanhedrin 44b

Surely it was taught: How do we know that the castration of a man is forbidden? From the verse, neither shall ye do thus in your land: [this means], ye shall not do [thus] to yourselves: the words of R. Hanina! – Shabbath 110b

So that the snake cannot attack him either from below Ñ or above ∆. -Shabbath 110a

Our Rabbis taught: It is related of King Monobaz  that he dissipated all his own hoards and the hoards of his fathers in years of scarcity. His brothers and his father’s household came in a deputation to him and said to him, ‘Your father saved money and added to the treasures of his fathers, and you are squandering them.’ He replied: ‘My fathers stored up below Ñ and I am storing above ∆, as it says, Truth springeth out of the earth and righteousness looketh down from heaven. My fathers stored in a place which can be tampered with, but I have stored in a place which cannot be tampered with, as it says, Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of his throne.  My fathers stored something which produces no fruits, but I have stored something which does produce fruits, as it is written, Say ye of the righteous [zaddik] that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat of the fruit of their doings.  My fathers gathered treasures of money, but I have gathered treasures of souls, as it is written, The fruit of the righteous [zaddik] is a tree of life, and he that is wise winneth souls.  My fathers gathered for others and I have gathered for myself, as it says, And for thee it shall be righteousness [zedakah]. My fathers gathered for this world, but I have gathered for the future world, as it says, Thy righteousness [zedakah] shall go before thee, and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.’ – Baba Bathra 11a

Once a man becomes poor in friends below on earth, he becomes poor above ∆ in heaven -Sanhedrin 103b

Solomon was in a different category, because he ruled over the denizens of the upper world as well as of the lower.

– Babylonian Talmud, Mo’ed IV, Megillah 11b

31 Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above.  32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 37:31-32


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