Once when Shemuel was crossing a river in a ferryboat, a man lent a
sustaining hand to prevent him from falling. "What," said the Rabbi,
"have I done for thee, that thou art so attentive with thy services?"
The man replied, "I have a lawsuit before thee." "In that case," said
Shemuel, "thy attention has disqualified me from judging in thy
Ameimar was once sitting in judgment, when a man stepped forward and
removed some feathers that were clinging to his hair. Upon this the
judge asked, "What service have I done thee?" The man replied, "I have a
case to bring up before thee, my lord." The Rabbi replied, "Thou hast
disqualified me from being judge in the matter."
Mar Ukva once noticed a man politely step up and cover some saliva which
lay on the ground before him. "What have I done for thee?" said the
Rabbi. "I have a case to bring before thee," said the man. "Thou hast
bribed me with thy kind attention," said the Rabbi; "I cannot be thy
Rabbi Ishmael, son of Rabbi Yossi, had a gardener who regularly brought
him a basket of grapes every Friday. Bringing it once on a Thursday, the
Rabbi asked him the reason why he had come a day earlier. "My lord,"
said the gardener, "having a lawsuit to come off before thee to-day, I
thought by so doing I might save myself the journey to-morrow." Upon
this the Rabbi both refused to take the basket of grapes, though they
were really his own, and declined to act as judge in the process. He,
however, appointed two Rabbis to judge the case in his stead, and while
they were investigating the evidence in the litigation he kept pacing up
and down, and saying to himself, if the gardener were sharp he might say
so-and-so in his own behalf. He was at one time on the point of speaking
in defense of his gardener, when he checked himself and said, "The
receivers of bribes may well look to their souls. If I feel partial who
have not even taken a bribe of what was my own, how perverted must the
disposition of those become who receive bribes at the hands of others!"
THE TALMUD, _Kethuboth_, fol. 105, col. 1.