Random Quote #82 topic: hebraic, Translations from the Talmud, Midrashim and Kabbala

The context of the above states a tradition current among the
Jews in reference to Titus, the destroyer of Jerusalem. It is
said that when, after taking the city, he had shamefully
violated and profaned the Temple, he took the sacred vessels of
the sanctuary, wrapped them in the veil of the holy place, and
sailed with them to Rome. At sea a storm arose and threatened to
sink the ship; upon which he was heard reflecting, "It seems the
God of these Jews has no power anywhere but at sea. Pharaoh He
drowned, and Sisera He drowned, and now He is about to drown me
also. If He be mighty, let Him go ashore and contend with me
there." Then came a voice from heaven and said, "O thou wicked
one, son of a wicked man and grandson of Esau the wicked, go
ashore. I have a creature--an insignificant one in my world--go
and fight with it."

This creature was a gnat, and is called insignificant because it
must receive and discharge what it eats by one aperture.
Immediately, therefore, he landed, when a gnat flew up his
nostrils and made its way to his brain, on which it fed for a
period of seven years. One day he happened to pass a
blacksmith's forge, when the noise of the hammer soothed the
gnawing at his brain. "Aha" said Titus, "I have found a remedy
at last;" and he ordered a blacksmith to hammer before him. To a
Gentile for this he (for a time) paid four zuzim a day, but to a
Jewish blacksmith he paid nothing, remarking to him, "It is
payment enough to thee to see thy enemy suffering so painfully."
For thirty days he felt relieved, but after, no amount of
hammering in the least relieved him. As to what happened after
his death, we have this testimony from Rabbi Phineas, the son of
Aruba: "I myself was among the Roman magnates when an inquest
was held upon the body of Titus, and on opening his brain they
found therein a gnat as big as a swallow, weighing two selas."
Others say it was as large as a pigeon a year old and weighed
two litras. Abaii says, "We found its mouth was of copper and
its claws of iron." Titus gave instructions that after his death
his body should be burned, and the ashes thereof scattered over
the surface of the seven seas, that the God of the Jews might
not find him and bring him to judgment. (_Gittin_, fol. 56, col.

"The man with two wives, one young and the other old." Rav Ami and Rav
Assi were in social converse with Rabbi Isaac Naphcha, when one of them
said to him, "Tell us, sir, some pretty legend," and the other said,
"Pray explain to us rather some nice point of law." When he began the
legend he displeased the one, and when he proceeded to explain a point
of law, he offended the other. Whereupon he took up this parable in
illustration of the plight in which their obstinacy placed him. "I am
like the man with the two wives, the one young and the other old. The
young one plucked out all his gray hairs (that he might look young), and
the old wife pulled out all his black hairs (that he might look old);
and so between the one and the other he became bald. So is it with me
between you. However, I've something nice for both of you. It is written
(Exod. xxii. 6), 'If a fire break out and catch in thorns, so that the
stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field be consumed
therewith, he that kindled the fire shall surely make restoration.' The
Holy One--blessed be He!--hath said, 'I must both judge myself and take
upon myself to indemnify the evil of the conflagration I have caused,
for I have kindled a fire in Zion,' as it is written (Lament, iv. 11),
'He hath kindled a fire in Zion, and hath devoured the foundations
thereof.' I must therefore rebuild her with fire, as it is written
(Zech. ii. 5), 'I will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will
be the glory in the midst of her.'"

THE TALMUD, _Bava Kama_, fol. 60, col. 2.


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