Talmud Tips

For the week ending 29 July 2017 / 6 Av 5777

Sanhedrin 9 - 43

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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Rabbi Elazar said, "No one achieves greatness unless all of his sins are forgiven."

Rabbi Zeira originally kept a low-profile in order to avoid smicha (rabbinical ordination). This was due to a teaching of Rabbi Elazar that “One who resides in ‘obscurity’ will live long.” However, after he heard Rabbi Elazar also teach, “A person does not rise to a position of greatness unless all of his sins are forgiven” — he then sought to be awarded smicha.

Rashi explains the idea behind the first teaching of Rabbi Elazar as the same idea taught in Tractate Pesachim 87b: “Woe to rulership (rabbanut), for it buries its possessor.” (See the commentary of Maharitz Chiyos who explains why these two statements of Rabbi Elazar are not contradictory, and also see “The Path of the Just”, chapter 22, regarding the trait of humility and how it relates to a position of authority.)

  • Sanhedrin 14a

Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmeni said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan, "Anyone who teaches Torah to another is considered as if he gave birth to him.”

  • Sanhedrin 19b

The Sage Chizkiah said, “How do we know that whoever adds to the words of G-d only detracts from them? Although G-d's command was to refrain from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Chava added that He also prohibited touching the tree, and this led to the serpent tricking her.”

  • Sanhedrin 29a

The Yeshiva of Rabbi Yismael taught, “Like a hammer splitting a rock" is the Prophet Yirmiyahu's poetic description of the Torah. Just as a rock is split (by a hammer) into many parts, so too can one Torah verse be correctly explained in a number of ways.”

  • Sanhedrin 34a

Rabbi Yochanan said, "One who makes the blessing for the New Moon in its proper time is considered as if he has welcomed the Divine Presence.”

  • Sanhedrin 42a

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