Aher mutilated the shoots.11 Of him Scripture says: Suffer not thy mouth to bring thy flesh into
guilt.12 What does it refer to? — He saw that permission was granted to Metatron13 to sit and write down14 the merits of Israel. Said he: It is taught as a tradition that on high15 there is no sitting16 and no emulation, and no back,17 and no weariness.18 Perhaps, — God forfend! — there are two divinities! [Thereupon] they led Metatron forth, and punished him with sixty fiery lashes,19 saying to him: Why didst thou not rise before him when thou didst see him? Permission was [then] given to him to strike out the merits of Aher. A Bath Kol20 went forth and said: Return, ye backsliding children21 — except Aher.22 [Thereupon] he said: Since I23 have been driven forth from yonder world,24 let me go forth and enjoy this world. So Aher went forth into evil courses.25 He went forth, found a harlot and demanded her. She said to him: Art thou not Elisha b. Abuyah? [But] when he tore a radish26 out of its bed on the Sabbath and gave it to her, she said: It is another [Aher].27 After his apostasy, Aher asked R. Meir [a question], saying to him: What is the meaning of the verse: God hath made even the one as28 well as the other?29 He replied: It means that for everything that God created He created [also] its counterpart. He created mountains, and created hills; He created seas, and created rivers. Said [Aher] to him: R. Akiba, thy master, did not explain it thus, but [as follows]: He created righteous, and created wicked; He created the Garden of Eden,30 and created Gehinnom.31 Everyone has two portions, one in the Garden of Eden and one in Gehinnom. The righteous man, being meritorious,32 takes his own portions and his fellow's portion in the Garden of Eden. The wicked man, being guilty,33 takes his own portion and his fellow's portion in Gehinnom. R. Mesharsheya said: What is the Biblical proof for this? In the case of the righteous, it is written: Therefore in their land34 they shall possess double.35 In the case of the wicked it is written: And destroy them with double destruction.36
Our Rabbis taught: Once Aher was riding on a horse on the Sabbath,42 and R. Meir was walking behind him to learn Torah43 at his mouth. Said [Aher] to him: Meir, turn back, for I have already measured by the paces of my horse that thus far extends the Sabbath limit.44 He replied: Thou, too, go back! [Aher] answered: Have I not already told thee that I have already heard from behind the Veil: ‘Return ye backsliding children’ — except Aher. [R. Meir] prevailed upon him and took him, to a schoolhouse. [Aher] said to a child: Recite for me thy verse!45 [The child] answered: There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.46 He then took him to another schoolhouse.47 [Aher] said to a child: Recite for me thy verse! He answered: For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord God48 . He took him to yet another schoolhouse, and [Aher] said to a child: Recite for me thy verse! He answered: And thou, that art spoiled, what doest thou, that thou clothest thyself with scarlet, that thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, that thou enlargest thine eyes with paint? In vain dost thou make thyself fair etc.1 He took him to yet another schoolhouse until he took him to thirteen schools: all of them quoted in similar vein. When he said to the last one, Recite for my thy verse, he answered: But unto the wicked God saith: ‘What hast thou to do to declare My statutes etc.?2 That child was a stutterer, so it sounded as though he answered: ‘But to Elisha3 God saith’. Some say that [Aher] had a knife with him, and he cut him up and sent him to the thirteen schools: and some say that he said: Had I a knife in my hand I would have cut him up.
When Aher died,4 they said:5 Let him not be judged, nor let him enter the world to come. Let him not be judged, because he engaged in the study of the Torah; nor let him enter the world to come, because he sinned. R. Meir said: It were better that he should be judged and that he should enter the world to come. When I die I shall cause6 smoke to rise from his grave.7 When R. Meir died, smoke rose up from Aher's grave. R. Johanan said: [What] a mighty deed to burn his master! There was one amongst us, and we cannot save him;8 if I were to take him by the hand, who would snatch him from me! [But] said he:9 When I die, I shall extinguish the smoke from his grave.10 When R. Johanan died, the smoke ceased from Aher's grave. The public mourner11 began [his oration] concerning him12 thus: Even the janitor13 could not stand before thee, O master!
Aher's daughter [once] came before Rabbi and said to him: O master, support me! He asked her: ‘Whose daughter art thou?’ She replied: I am Aher's daughter. Said he: Are any of his children left in the world? Behold it is written: He shall have neither son nor son's son among his people, nor any remaining in his dwellings.14 She answered: Remember his Torah15 and not his deeds. Forthwith, a fire came down and enveloped Rabbi's bench.16 [Thereupon] Rabbi wept and said: If it be so on account of those who dishonour her,17 how much more so on account of those who honour her!
But how did R. Meir learn Torah at the mouth of Aher? Behold Rabbah b. Bar Hana said that R. Johanan said: What is the meaning of the verse, For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts?18 [This means that] if the teacher is like an angel of the Lord of hosts, they should seek the Law at his mouth, but if not, they should not seek the Law at his mouth! — Resh Lakish answered: R. Meir found a verse and expounded it [as follows]: Incline thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thy heart unto my knowledge.19 It does not say, ‘unto their knowledge’, but ‘unto my knowledge’.20 R. Hanina said, [he decided it] from here: Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also
thine own people, and thy father's house etc.21 The verses contradict one another!22 There is no contradiction: in the one case Scripture refers to an adult,23 in the other to a child. When R. Dimi came [to Babylon] he said: In the West,24 they say: R. Meir ate the date and threw the kernel25 away.
Raba expounded: What is the meaning of the verse: I went down to the garden of nuts, to look at the green plants of the valley etc.?26 Why are the scholars likened to the nut? To tell you that just as [in the case of] the nut, though it be spoiled with mud and filth, yet are its contents not contemned, so [in the case of] a scholar, although he may have sinned, yet is his Torah not contemned.
Rabbah b. Shila [once] met Elijah.27 He said to him: What is the Holy One, blessed be He, doing? He answered: He utters traditions in the name28 of all the Rabbis, but in the name of R. Meir he does not utter. Rabbah asked him, Why? — Because he learnt traditions at the mouth of Aher. Said [Rabbah] to him: But why? R. Meir found a pomegranate; he ate [the fruit] within it, and the peel he threw away! He answered: Now29 He says: Meir my son says: When a man suffers,30 to what expression does the Shechinah give utterance? ‘My head is heavy, my arm is heavy’.31 If the Holy One, blessed be He, is thus grieved over the blood of the wicked, how much more so over the blood of the righteous that is shed
Our Rabbis taught: When the Nasi13 enters, all the people rise and do not resume their seats until he requests them to sit. When the Ab-beth-din14 enters, one row rises on one side15 and another row on the other [and they remain standing] until he has sat down in his place. When the Hakam16 enters, every one [whom he passes] rises and sits down [as soon as he passed] until the Sage has sat down in his place.
R. Johanan said: That instruction28 was issued29 in the days of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel [II], when R. Simeon b. Gamaliel was the President, R. Meir the Hakam,30 and R. Nathan the Ab-beth-din.31 Whenever R. Simeon b. Gamaliel entered all the people stood up for him; when R. Meir and R. Nathan entered all the people stood up for them also. Said R. Simeon b. Gamaliel: Should there be no distinction between my [office] and theirs? And so he issued that ordinance.32
R. Meir and R. Nathan were not present on that day. Coming on the following day and seeing that the people did not rise for them as usual, they inquired as to what had happened.33 On being told that R. Simeon b. Gamaliel had issued that ordinance, R. Meir said to R. Nathan, 'I am the Hinkam and you are the Ab-beth-din, let us retaliate.34 Now, how are we to proceed against him? — Let us request him to discourse35 upon the tractate of 'Ukzin with which he is unfamiliar,36 and as he will be unable to discourse upon it37 we shall tell him: Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord; make all His praise to he heard;38 for whom is it becoming to express the mighty acts of the Lord? For him who can make all his praise to he heard. We shall then depose him and I shall become Ab-beth-din and you the Nasi.'
R. Jacob b. Korshai on hearing this conversation39 said, 'The matter might, God forbid, lead to [the Nasi's] disgrace.' So he went and sat down behind R. Simeon b. Gamaliel's study, expounding [the tractate of 'Uksin], and repeating it again and again. He40 said, 'What could this mean?41 Did anything, God forbid, happen at the college!' He concentrated his attention and familiarized himself with it.
On the following day when they said to him, 'Will the Master come and discourse on 'Uksin', he began and discoursed upon it. After he had finished he said to them, 'Had I not familiarized myself with it, you would have disgraced me!' He gave the order and they were removed from the college.
Thereupon they wrote down scholastic difficulties on slips of paper which they threw into the college.42 That which he43 solved was disposed of44 and as to those which he did not solve they wrote down the answers and threw them in. Said R. Jose to them:45 The Torah is without and we are within! Said R. Simeon b. Gamaliel to them:45 We shall re-admit them46 but impose upon them this penalty, that no traditional statement shall be reported in their names. [As a result] R. Meir was designated 'others', and R. Nathan 'some say'.
But what of Aher?43 — Greek song did not cease from his mouth.44 It is told of Aher that when he used to rise [to go] from the schoolhouse,45 many heretical books46 used to fall from his lap.
Nimos the weaver47 asked R. Meir: Does all wool that goes down into the [dyeing] kettle come up [properly dyed]?48 He replied: All that was clean on its mother49 comes up [properly dyed], all that was not clean on its mother does not come up [properly dyed].
« Une chose fini bien lorsqu’elle commence bien ». Et c’est a mon sujet que cela a été dit, mon père avouyah était uen des hommes les plus riches de jerusalem, et le jours de ma circoncision il a appelle tous les grands riches de jerusalem et il les a rassemble dans une salle, et rabi eliezer et rabi yehoshuah il les a place dans une autre salle, alors que tous le monde mangeait et chantait dansaient et frappaient des mains, rabi yehoshuah et rabi eliezer se sont dit pendant que les autres font ce qu’ils savent faire, occupons nous de nos affaires, ils ont commence a etudier la torah et un feu et decendu du ciel qui les a entoure, avoyah mon père leur a dit « vous etes venu bruler ma maison ? » ils lui on repondu « has vechalom, mais on été en trai d’etudier de la torah vers les prophetes et des prophetes aux agiographes, et les paroles etaient heureuses comme au moment ou elles ont été donnees au mont sinai, ces paroles n’ont-elles pas été donnee dans le feu ?» avoyah a repndu puisque ceci est la force de la torah si mon fils survit je veux qu’il soit consacre a l’etude de la torah, et puisque son intention n’était pas pour le ciel, c’est pour cela que la torah n’a pas tenu en moi
Or, j'enverrai devant toi un mandataire, chargé de veiller sur ta marche et de te conduire au lieu que je t'ai destiné. 21 Sois circonspect à son égard et docile à sa voix; ne lui résiste point! Il ne pardonnerait pas votre rébellion, car ma divinité est en lui. 22 Que si tu es toujours docile à sa voix, si tu accomplis toutes mes paroles, je serai l'ennemi de tes ennemis et je persécuterai tes persécuteurs. 23 Lorsque mon mandataire, guidant tes pas, t'aura introduit chez l'Amorréen, le Héthéen, le Phérézéen, le Cananéen, le Hévéen, le Jébuséen et que je les aurai exterminés, 24 ne te prosterne point devant leurs dieux, ne les sers point et n'imite point leurs rites; au contraire, tu dois les, renverser, tu dois briser leurs monuments. 25 Vous servirez uniquement l'Éternel votre Dieu; et il bénira ta nourriture et ta boisson et j'écarterai tout fléau du milieu de toi.
Ne l’irrite (tamèr) pas Ce verbe exprime l’idée de rébellion, comme dans : « qui se rebellera (yamrè) contre ta parole » (Yehochou‘a 1, 18).
Car il ne pardonnera pas votre transgression Il n’est pas formé à le faire, car il fait partie de ceux qui ne pèchent pas. De plus, il est un messager et ne fait que ce dont il a été chargé.
Car mon Nom est en son milieu Cette partie du verset complète son début : « Prends garde à lui car mon Nom lui est associé ! » Nos maîtres ont enseigné que c’est le mètatron, dont le nom est le même que celui de son Maître, et dont la guematria (valeur numérique des lettres qui composent son nom) est la même que celle du mot Chaqqaï (Sanhèdrin 38b).
R. Meir: When I was studying under R. Akiba I used to put vitriol13 into my ink and he told me nothing [against it], but when I subsequently came to R. Ishmael the latter said to me, ‘My son, what is your occupation?’ I told him, ‘I am a scribe’, and he said to me, ‘Be meticulous in your work, for your occupation is a sacred one;16 should you perchance omit or add one single letter, you would thereby17 destroy all the universe’.18 ‘I have’, I replied,19 ‘a certain ingredient called vitriol, which I put into my ink’. — ‘May vitriol’, he asked me, ‘be put into the ink? Has not the Torah in fact stated: "And he shall write",20 "And he shall blot out"20 [to indicate that] the writing [must be] such as can be blotted out?’21 (What [relation is there between] the question of the one22 and the reply of the other?23 It is this that the latter meant: There is no need [for me to assure you] that I would make no mistakes in respect of words that are plene or defective, since I am familiar [with the subject], but [I have even taken precautions] against the possibility of a fly's perching on the crownlet of a daleth and, by blotting it out, turn it into a resh,24 (24) (The difference between the form of the ד and the ר is only the crownlet or small projection on the right of the former. Should the daleth of אחד (one), e.g., in the sentence ‘the Lord is one’ (Deut. VI, 4) be changed into a resh the reading אחר (another) would imply the blasphemy that the Lord is ‘another God’.( for I have a certain ingredient, called vitriol, which I put into the ink).
R. Aha b. Hanina said: It is revealed and known before Him Who spoke and the world came into
existence, that in the generation of R. Meir there was none equal to him; then why was not the halachah fixed in agreement with his views? Because his colleagues could not fathom the depths10 of his mind, for he would declare the ritually unclean to be clean and supply plausible proof,11 and the ritually clean to be unclean and also supply plausible proof.11
One taught: His name was not R. Meir but R. Nehorai. Then why was he called ‘R. Meir’? Because he enlightened12 the Sages in the halachah. His name in fact was not even Nehorai but R. Nehemiah or, as others say: R. Eleazar b. Arak. Then why was he called ‘Nehorai’? Because he enlightened the Sages in the halachah.13
Rabbi14 declared: The only reason15 why I am keener than my colleagues is that I saw the back of R. Meir,16 but had I had a front view of him I would have been keener still, for it is written in Scripture: But thine eyes shall see thy teacher.1
Avodah zara 18
He then went to her warder and said, 'Hand her over to me. He replied, 'I am afraid of the government.' 'Take the tarkab of dinars.' said he, 'one half distribute [as bribe], the other half shall be for thyself.' 'And what shall I do when these are exhausted?' he asked. 'Then,' he replied, 'say, "O God of Meir, answer me!" and thou wilt be saved.' 'But,' said he 'who can assure me that that will be the case?' He replied, 'You will see now.' There were there some dogs who bit anyone [who incited them]. He took a stone and threw it at them, and when they were about to bite him he exclaimed, 'O God of Meir answer me!' and they let him alone. The warder then handed her over to him. At the end the matter became known to the government, and [the warder] on being brought [for judgment] was taken up to the gallows, when he exclaimed, 'O God of Meir answer me.' They took him down and asked him what that meant, and he told them the incident that had happened. They then engraved R. Meir's likeness on the gates of Rome and proclaimed that anyone seeing a person resembling it should bring him there. One day [some Romans] saw him and ran after him, so he ran away from them and entered a harlot's house.1 Others say he happened just then to see food cooked by heathens and he dipped in one finger and then sucked the other. Others again say that Elijah the Prophet appeared to them as a harlot who embraced him. God forbid, said they, were this R. Meir, he would not have acted thus! [and they left him]. He then arose and ran away and came to Babylon. Some say it was because of that incident that he ran to Babylon; others say because of the incident about Beruria