Page 27 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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7
A
gnon
— H
ebrew
A
uthors
and
H
oly
W
riting
T
he
T
a lmud
When Mar bar Rav Ashi, who lived in Babylon, began to com-
pile and arrange the Talmud, he set himself between two great
mountains and summoned the clouds to witness; whereupon four
clouds encompassed him from all sides. He then charged the
winds to transport air from the Holy Land; and only when the
entire vicinity was saturated with the holy atmosphere did he
proceed to edit the Talmud. For this reason, anyone engaged in
studying the Gemara, even though he resides outside the Holy
Land, is regarded as though living in the Land of Israel. (Pit-
gamin Kadishin)
P
roper
S
tudy
A man who appeared before Rabbi Baruch of Medziboz (18th
century) was asked by the master what was his occupation. “I
occupy myself with the study of Torah,” he replied, “and I ’ve
already gone through the entire Talmud.” Said the rabbi, “Ex-
cellent, but tell me, has the Talmud gone through you?”
H
alakhah
and
A
ggadah
While Rav Ami and Rav Assi were sitting before Rabbi Isaac
the Smith, one of them said to him, “Will the Master kindly
instruct us in some halakhic point?” while the other said, “Will
the Master please give us some aggadic instruction?” When
Rabbi Isaac embarked upon an aggadic discourse, he was deterred
by one; and when he began a halakhic presentation the other
deterred him. Whereupon he said to them, “Let me cite you a
parable. This is comparable to a man with two wives—one young
and the other old; the young wife would pluck out his white
hair and the old one his black hair. As a consequence, he became
completely bald.” (Baba Kamma 60b)
M
idrash
The devout Rabbi Moses of Kobrin (19th century), of blessed
memory, was known to say that only one man in each generation
was able to understand the Zohar; but as for the Midrash, not
even one could fathom its contents; it remained a tightly sealed
book to all. This is explained by the fact that the holy Zohar
was unsealed by the Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria—16th century), of
blessed memory, while the closed gate of the Midrash will not be
opened until the advent of the Messiah—may he come speedily
in our day! (Or le-Yesharim 12)