Megillah, Daf Vav, Part 5



Today’s section contains additional statements of R. Yitzchak.



ואמר רבי יצחק, אם יאמר לך אדם: יגעתי ולא מצאתיאל תאמן, לא יגעתי ומצאתיאל תאמן, יגעתי ומצאתיתאמן.

הני מיליבדברי תורה. אבל במשא ומתןסייעתא הוא מן שמיא.

ולדברי תורה לא אמרן אלא לחדודי, אבל לאוקמי גירסאסייעתא מן שמיא היא.


R. Yitzchak also said: If one says to you, I have toiled and not found, do not believe him. If he says, I have not toiled but still have found, do not believe him. If he says, I have toiled and found, believe him.

This is true in respect of words of Torah, but in respect of business, all depends on the assistance of heaven.

And even for words of Torah this is true only of penetrating to the meaning, but for remembering what one has learnt, all depends on the assistance of heaven.


R. Yitzchak’s statement here is in a similar pattern to the earlier statement. He expresses a tight correlation between effort and reward. With effort, reward is guaranteed. Without effort, reward is impossible.

The anonymous commenter limits R. Yitzchak’s statement. First of all, when it comes to business luck is involved. People work hard and don’t succeed, and people don’t work so hard and nevertheless are successful.

And even when it comes to Torah, some people are blessed with great memory and others are not. It is not something someone can toil for. The gift of good memory is in the hands of heaven.


ואמר רבי יצחק: אם ראית רשע שהשעה משחקת לואל תתגרה בו, שנאמר +תהלים ל"ז+ אל תתחר במרעים, ולא עוד אלא שדרכיו מצליחין, שנאמר +תהלים י‘+ יחילו דרכו בכל עת, ולא עוד אלא שזוכה בדין, שנאמר מרום משפטיך מנגדו, ולא עוד אלא שרואה בשונאיו שנאמר כל צורריו יפיח בהם.


R. Yitzchak also said: If you see a wicked man being favored by fortune, do not contend with him, as it says, "Do not contend with evildoers" (Psalms 37:1). Moreover, he will prosper, as it says, "His ways prosper at all times" (Psalms 10:5). Moreover, but he may even be declared right, as it says, "Your judgments are far above out of his sight." Moreover, he may even triumph over his enemies, as it says, "As for all his adversaries, he hisses at them."


R. Yitzchak uses a midrash on Psalms 37 and Psalms 10 to sadly point out that the wicked do often triumph and are not even judged for their wickedness.


איני? והאמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יוחי: מותר להתגרות ברשעים בעולם הזה, שנאמר +משלי כ"ח+ עזבי תורה יהללו רשע ושמרי תורה יתגרו בם.

ותניא, רבי דוסתאי בר מתון אמר: מותר להתגרות ברשעים בעולם הזה, ואם לחשך אדם לומר אל תתחר במרעים ואל תקנא בעשי עולהמי שלבו נוקפו אומר כן.

אלא: אל תתחר במרעיםלהיות כמרעים, ואל תקנא בעשי עולהלהיות כעושי עולה.

ואומר +משלי כ"ג+ אל יקנא לבך בחטאים וגו‘.


Is this so? But did not R. Yohanan say in the name of R. Shimon b. Yohai: It is permitted to contend with the wicked in this world, as it says, "They that forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them" (Proverbs 28:4). Also it has been taught: R. Dostai b. Maton says: It is permitted to contend with the wicked in this world. And if one should whisper to you saying, "Do not contend with evildoers, neither be envious against those that do acts of unrighteousness," one whose conscience smites him is saying this. Rather, the meaning is, "Do not contend with the evildoer" to be like evildoers, "Neither be envious of those that do acts of unrighteousness" and so it says also, "Let your heart not be envious of sinners" (Proverbs 23:17)?


In this section R. Yohanan quotes a series of verses that proves the opposite. One should contend with evildoers. Verses that seem to imply that one should not contend with them really mean that one should not be envious of them. So this section contradicts the words of R. Yitzchak above.



לא קשיא: האבמילי דידיה, האבמילי דשמיא.

ואיבעית אימא: הא והא במילי דידיה, ולא קשיא: האבצדיק גמור, האבצדיק שאינו גמור. דאמר רב הונא: מאי דכתיב +חבקוק א‘+ למה תביט בוגדים תחריש בבלע רשע צדיק ממנוצדיק ממנובולע, צדיק גמוראינו בולע.

ואי בעית אימא: שעה משחקת לו שאני.


There is no contradiction; the one [piece of advice] refers to one’s own affairs the other to religious matters.

Or if you like I may say that both refer to one’s own affairs, and still there is no contradiction: the one is addressed to one who is wholly righteous, and the other to one who is not wholly righteous, as R. Huna said: What is the meaning of the verse, "Why do you look upon those who deal treacherously, and are silent when the wicked swallows up the man that is more righteous than he?" (Habbakuk 1:13). He can swallow up one that is more righteous than himself, he cannot swallow up one that is completely righteous. Or if you like I can say that when fortune is smiling on him, the case is different.


There are three answers to the contradiction.

1)     One can contend with wicked when it comes to religious matters, but one should not contend with the wicked when it comes to one’s own affairs.

2)     One who is totally righteous is strong enough to contend with the wicked. But not one who is not totally righteous is not strong enough to contend with the wicked..

3)     When fortune is favoring a wicked man, one should not contend with him. But under normal conditions, this is not inadvisable.


אמר עולא: איטליא של יון זה כרך גדול של רומי. והויא תלת מאה פרסה על תלת מאה פרסה, ויש בה שלש מאות ששים וחמישה שווקים כמנין ימות החמה, וקטן שבכולם של מוכרי עופות, והויא ששה עשר מיל על ששה עשר מיל. ומלך סועד בכל יום באחד מהן. והדר בה אף על פי שאינו נולד בהנוטל פרס מבית המלך, והנולד בה אף על פי שאינו דר בהנוטל פרס מבית המלך. ושלשת אלפים בי בני יש בו, וחמש מאות חלונות מעלין עשן חוץ לחומה. צדו אחד ים וצדו אחד הרים וגבעות, צדו אחד מחיצה של ברזל, וצדו אחד חולסית ומצולה.


Ulla said: Greek Italy is the great city of Rome which covers an area of three hundred parasangs by three hundred. It has three hundred and sixty five markets corresponding to the number of days of the solar year. The smallest of them is that of the poultry sellers, which is sixteen mil by sixteen. The king dines every day in one of them. Everyone who resides in the city, even if he was not born there, receives a regular portion of food from the king’s household, and so does everyone who was born there, even if he does not reside there.

There are three thousand baths in it, and five hundred windows let smoke out of the walls. One side of it is bounded by the sea, one side by hills and mountains, one side by a barrier of iron, and one side by pebbly ground and swamp.


This is a description of the great size and wealth of Rome, which is interestingly enough called "Greek Italy."