Random Quote #57 topic: hebraic, Translations from the Talmud, Midrashim and Kabbala
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We may here repeat the story of the execution of the eighty
women here alluded to, as that is told by Rashi on the preceding
page of the Talmud. Once a publican, an Israelite but a sinner,
and a great and good man of the same place, having died on the
same day, were about to be buried. While the citizens were
engaged with the funeral of the latter, the relations of the
other crossed their path, bearing the corpse to the sepulchre.
Of a sudden a troop of enemies came upon the scene and caused
them all to take to flight, one faithful disciple alone
remaining by the bier of his Rabbi. After a while the citizens
returned to inter the remains they had so unceremoniously left,
but by some mistake they took the wrong bier and buried the
publican with honor, in spite of the remonstrance of the
disciple, while the relatives of the publican buried the Rabbi
ignominiously. The poor disciple felt inconsolably distressed,
and was anxious to know for what sin the great man had been
buried with contempt, and for what merit the wicked man had been
buried with such honor. His Rabbi then appeared to him in a
dream, and said, "Comfort thou thy heart, and come I will show
thee the honor I hold in Paradise, and I will also show thee
that man in Gehenna, the hinge of the door of which even now
creaks in his ears. (Which were formed into sockets for the
gates of hell to turn in.) But because once on a time I listened
to contemptuous talk about the Rabbis and did not check it, I
have suffered an ignoble burial, while the publican enjoyed the
honor that was intended for me because he once distributed
gratuitously among the poor of the city a banquet he had
prepared for the governor, but of which the governor did not
come to partake." The disciple having asked the Rabbi how long
this publican was to be thus severely treated, he replied,
"Until the death of Simeon the son of Shetach, who is to take
the publican's place in Gehenna." "Why so?" "Because, though he
knows there are several Jewish witches in Askelon, he idly
suffers them to ply their infernal trade and does not take any
steps to extirpate them." On the morrow the disciple reported
this speech to Simeon the son of Shetach, who at once proceeded
to take action against the obnoxious witches. He engaged eighty
stalwart young men, and choosing a rainy day, supplied each with
an extra garment folded up and stowed away in an earthern
vessel. Thus provided, they were each at a given signal to
snatch up one of the eighty witches and carry her away, a task
they would find of easy execution, as, except in contact with
the earth, these creatures were powerless. Then Simeon the son
of Shetach, leaving his men in ambush, entered the rendezvous of
the witches, who, accosting him, asked, "Who art thou?" He
replied, "I am a wizard, and am come to experiment in magic."
"What trick have you to show?" they said. He answered, "Even
though the day is wet, I can produce eighty young men all in dry
clothes." They smiled incredulously and said, "Let us see!" He
went to the door, and at the signal the young men took the dry
clothes out of the jars and put them on, then starting from
their ambush, they rushed into the witches' den, and each
seizing one, lifted her up and carried her off as directed. Thus
overpowered, they were brought before the court, convicted of
malpractices and led forth to execution.

_Sanhedrin_, fol. 44, col. 2.

(Exod. xxiii. 35), "And I will take away sickness from the midst of
thee." It is taught that sickness (Machlah) means the bile. But why is
it termed Machlah? Because eighty-three diseases are in it. Machlah by
Gematria equals eighty-three; and all may be avoided by an early
breakfast of bread and salt and a bottle of water.

THE TALMUD, _Bava Kama_, fol. 92, col. 2.



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