Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Angels judge and kill

 Tanis (21a) Ilfa and R. Johanan studied together the Torah and they found themselves in great want and they said one to another, Let us go and engage in commerce so that of us may be fulfilled the verse, Howbeit there shall be no need among you. They went and sat down under a ruinous wall and while they were having their meal two ministering angels came and R. Johanan overheard one saying to the other, Let us throw this wall upon these people and kill them, because they forsake life eternal and occupy themselves with life temporal. The other angelreplied: Leave them alone because one of them has still much to achieve. R. Johanan heard this but Ilfa did not. Whereupon R. Johanan said to Ilfa, Master, have you heard anything? He replied: No. Thereupon R. Johanan said to himself: Seeing that I heard this and Ilfa has not, it is evident that I am the one who still has much to achieve. R. Johanan then said to Ilfa: I will go back, that of me may be fulfilled, For the poor shall never cease out of the land. Thereupon R. Johanan went back but Ilfa did not. When at last Ilfa returned, R. Johanan was already presiding over the school, and the scholars said to him: Had you remained here and studied the Torah you might have been presiding. Ilfa then suspended himself from the mast of a ship and exclaimed, If there is any one who will ask me a question from the Baraithas of R. Hiyya and R. Hoshaiah and I fail to elucidate it from the Mishnah then I will throw myself down and be drowned in the sea. And an old man came forward and cited the following Baraitha: If a man in his last will and testament declares, Give a shekel weekly to my sons, but actually they needed a sela’ then they should be given a sela’; but if he declared, Give them a shekel only, then they should be given a shekel. If, however, he declared, On their death others should inherit their allowance in their stead, then whether he has declared ‘give’ or ‘give only’ they are given a shekel only. He replied: This is in accordance with the view of R. Meir who said: It is a duty to carry out the will of a dying man.

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