Methun means patience and Mathan two hundred. The point lies
either in the application of the term Methun, which means
patience, as if to say, had he been so patient as to have first
ascertained what the woman was, he would have saved his four
hundred zouzim; or in the identity of the sound Mathan, i.e.,
two hundred, which doubled, equals four hundred. This has long
since passed into a proverb, and expresses the value of
From the foregoing extract it would seem that it was not the
fashion among Jewish females to wear head-dresses of a red
color, as it was presumed to indicate a certain lightness on the
part of the wearer; so Rav Adda in his pious zeal thought he was
doing a good work in tearing it off from the head of the
supposed Jewess. "Patience, patience is worth four hundred
Custom among the Jews had then, as now, the force of religion.
The Talmud says, "A man should never deviate from a settled
custom. Moses ascended on high and did not eat bread (for there
it is not the custom); angels came down to earth and did eat
bread (for here it is the custom so to do)." Bava Metzia, fol.
86, col. 2.
In the olden time it was not the fashion for a Jew to wear black
shoes (Taanith, fol. 22, col. 1). Even now, in Poland, a pious
Jew, or a Chasid, would on no account wear polished boots or a
short coat, or neglect to wear a girdle. He would at once lose
caste and be subjected to persecution, direct or indirect, were
he to depart from a custom. Custom is law, is an oft-quoted
Jewish proverb, one among the most familiar of their household
words, as "Custom is a tyrant," is among ours. Another saying we
have is, "Custom is the plague of wise men, but is the idol of
The following anecdotes are related by way of practically illustrating
Ps. ii. 11, "Rejoice with trembling." Mar, the son of Ravina, made a
grand marriage-feast for his son, and when the Rabbis were at the height
of their merriment on the occasion, he brought in a very costly cup,
worth four hundred zouzim, and broke it before them, and this occasioned
them sorrow and trembling. Rav Ashi made a grand marriage-feast for his
son, and when he noticed the Rabbis in high jubilation, he brought in a
costly cup of white glass and broke it before them, and this made them
sorrowful. The Rabbis challenged Rav Hamnunah on the wedding of his son
Ravina, saying, "Give us a song, sir," and he sung, "Woe be to us, for
we must die! Woe be to us, for we must die!" "And what shall we sing?"
they asked in chorus by way of response. He replied, "Sing ye, 'Alas!
where is the law we have studied? where the good works we have done?
that they may protect us from the punishment of hell!'" Rabbi Yochanan,
in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, says, "It is unlawful for a man
to fill his mouth with laughter in this world, for it is said in Ps.
cxxvi., 'Then (but not now) will our mouth be filled with laughter,'"
etc. It is related of Resh Lakish that he never once laughed again all
the rest of his life from the time that he heard this from Rabbi
Yochanan, his teacher.
THE TALMUD, _Berachoth_, fol. 30, col. 2, and fol. 31, col. 1.