How Many Wicked there are in the World who Engender more Virtuous Children than the Righteous!

by tillerofthesoil

“[David said:] There are three signs by which this people [Israel are recognized]: [They are] compassionate, bashful, and generous. ‘Compassionate,’ as is written, And give you compassion, and be compassionate to you and make you multiply… (Deuteronomy 13:18). ‘Bashful [or: shamefaced],’ as is written, That His fear be upon your faces, [so that you do not offend] (Exodus 20:20). ‘Generous [lit., render kindnesses],’ as is written, That he will charge his sons and his household after him [to keep the way of YHWH to do righteousness and justice…] (Genesis 18:19). Anyone with these three signs is worthy of cleaving to this people” (BT Yevamot 79a, cf. BT Pesaḥim 113b: “Three the blessed Holy One loves: he who does not get angry, he who does not get drunk, and he who does not insist on his rights”).

“Ten different genealogical classes went up from Babylon [to the Land of Israel in the days of Ezra]: Priests, Levites, Israelites, [priests who became] profaned, converts, the emancipated, bastards, Gibeonites, children of unknown paternity, and foundlings. Priests, Levites and Israelites may intermarry with one another. Levites, Israelites, [priests who became] profaned, converts and emancipated slaves may intermarry with one another. Converts, the emancipated, bastards, Gibeonites, children of unknown paternity, and foundlings are permitted to intermarry with one another. That daughters of priests, however, [may be married to priests who became] profaned was not mentioned [therefore, apparently they are forbidden to each other]” (BT Yevamot 85a, cf. M Qiddushin 4:1; BT Qiddushin 69a).

“A priest takes precedence over a Levite, a Levite over an Israelite, an Israelite over a bastard, a bastard over a descendant of Gibeonites, a descendant of Gibeonites over a convert, and a convert over an emancipated slave. When is this so? When they are all equal. However, if the bastard is a scholar and the High Priest an ignoramus—the bastard scholar takes precedence over the ignorant High Priest” (M Horayot 3:8).

“Ze’iri was evading Rabbi Yoḥanan, who was urging him, ‘Marry my daughter’ [however, Ze’iri being a Babylonian, and Rabbi Yoḥanan being of the Land of Israel, he did not wish to marry his daughter, since the Babylonians are of purer birth]. One day they were winding down the road, when they came to a pool of water. He lifted Rabbi Yoḥanan on his shoulders and carried him across. He said to him: ‘Our teaching is fit but our daughters are not fit? What is your opinion? If we say the reason is because we learned, ‘Ten different genealogical classes went up from Babylon: Priests, Levites…’ (M Qiddushin 4:1)? Is that to say all of the priests, Levites and Israelites went up? Just as some of these were left, so were some of those left [in Babylon, so that both are equal].’ [However, Rabbi Yoḥanan] overlooked what Rabbi El’azar said: Ezra did not go up from Babylon until he made it like pure fine flour: then he went up [accordingly, the people who remained in Babylon were all of untainted lineage].

‘Ulla visited Rav Yehudah in Pumbedita. Seeing that Rav Yitsḥaq, the son of Rav Yehudah, was grown up, yet unmarried, he asked him, ‘Why have you not taken a wife for your son?’ ‘Do I know where to take one?’ he replied [i.e., ‘I desire a wife for my son with untainted lineage’]. He said, ‘What do we know? Perhaps [we are] from those of whom is written: They ravished the women in Zion, and the young women in the cities of Judah (Lamentations 5:11). And should you answer: If a heathen or slave has intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite, the issue is fit—then perhaps [we are descended] from those of whom is written, [youthat lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch yourselves upon your couches (Amos 6:4). Now, Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: This refers to people who urinate before their beds naked [since they are bereft of any sense of modesty]. But Rabbi Abbahu ridiculed this: If so, see what is written: Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, [and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed] (ibid., 7)—because they urinate before their beds naked they shall go captive with the first that go captive! Rabbi Abbahu said, But this refers to people who eat and drink together, join their beds, exchange their wives and make their beds foul with semen that is not theirs.’ Rav Yehudah said, ‘What shall we do [i.e., how can I discern which families are of untainted lineage]?’ ‘Go after the silence,’ [Ulla] replied. As the children of the West [in the Land of Israel] make a test: When two quarrel with each other, they see which becomes silent first, and say: This one is of superior birth [cf. M Avot 3:17: ‘Rabbi Akiva said: silence is a fence for wisdom’].

Rav said: Silence in Babylon, is [the sign of] pure birth. But is it so? For Rav visited the house of a vinegar strainer and examined them; surely that means as to their genealogy?—no, by silence. He said this to them: Examine whether they become silent or not. Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: If you see two families [continually] feuding, there is a blemish of unfitness in one of them, and they are prevented [by Heaven] from cleaving to each other.

… Our Rabbis taught: Bastards and Gibeonites will become pure in the future: this is Rabbi Yose’s view. Rabbi Meir said: They will not become pure. Rabbi Yose said to him: But was it not already stated: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean (Ezekiel 36:25)? Rabbi Meir replied, When it says further, from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you (ibid.) [it implies] but not from bastard status. Rabbi Yose said to him: When it is said, Then will I sprinkle clean water… you must say: From bastard status too” (BT Qiddushin 71b-72b).

“Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan: All agree that where a slave or a heathen had intercourse with a daughter of an Israelite the child is a bastard. Who is meant by ‘All agree’?—Shim’on the Temanite. For although Shim’on the Temanite said that the offspring of forbidden intercourse under the penalty of flogging is not a bastard, his statement applies only to the offspring of forbidden intercourse under the penalty of flogging, since the betrothal in such a case is valid [cf. BT Yevamot 23a] but here, in the case of a heathen and a slave, since betrothal in their case is invalid [see BT Qiddushin 68b], they are like those whose intercourse is subject to the penalty of כָּרֵת (karet), excommunication [lit., cutting off].

An objection was raised: If a slave or a heathen had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child is a bastard. Rabbi Shim’on son of Yehudah said: A bastard is only he who [is the offspring of intercourse which] is forbidden as incest and is punishable by excommunication [now this Tanna, whose view is exactly the same as that of Shim’on the Temanite, indicates quite clearly that the offspring of intercourse with a heathen or slave is not a bastard!]—rather, Rabbi Yosef said, who [is referred to by] ‘All agree’? It is Rabbi [Yehudah the Prince]. Although Rabbi said, ‘[Cohabitation with a deceased brother’s wife after חֲלִיצָה (ḥalitsah), Loosening, with her rival has not the force of marriage and no divorce is required. The child from such intercourse would consequently be deemed a bastard] these words are applicable only according to the view of Rabbi Akiva who regards a חֲלוּצָה (ḥalutsah), released woman, as a forbidden relative’ [see BT Yevamot 52b], while he himself does not share the same view [but maintains that the child of such intercourse is no bastard], he agrees [with Rabbi Akiva; and the child is consequently a bastard] in the case of a heathen and a slave. For when Rav Dimi came [from the Land of Israel to Babylon] he said in the name of Rav Yitsḥaq son of Avudimi in the name of our Master, ‘If a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child [born from such intercourse] is a bastard.’

Rabbi Aḥa, the officer of the city, and Rabbi Tanḥum son of Rabbi Ḥiyya of Acco village once redeemed some captives who were brought from Armon to Tiberias, [among these] was one who had become pregnant from a heathen. When they came before Rabbi Ammi he told them: It was Rabbi Yoḥanan and Rabbi El’azar and Rabbi Ḥanina who stated that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child born is a bastard.

Rabbi Yosef said: Is it a great thing to enumerate men? [i.e., just as a string of names could be quoted in support of the view that the child is a bastard, an equally imposing number could be quoted in opposition]. Surely it was Rav and Shemu’el in Babylon and Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi and Son of Qappara in the Land of Israel—and some say to remove Son of Qappara and insert the Elders of the South—who said that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with a daughter of an Israelite, the child born is fit!—rather, Rabbi Yosef said, it is [the opinion of] Rabbi [and it is Rabbi’s fame and position, and not the number of comparatively minor authorities that imparted the force of law to this view]. For when Rav Dimi came he said in the name of Rav Yitsḥaq son of Avudimi that it was reported in the name of our Masters that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child [born from such intercourse] is a bastard.

Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said: The child is tainted. In respect of what? If it be suggested in respect of entry into the community, surely Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said that the child was fit! Then it must be in respect of the priesthood; for all Amoraim who declare the child fit admit that he is ineligible for the priesthood. This is inferred by deduction from the case of a widow a fortiori. If in the case of a widow who was married to a High priest, whose prohibition is not equally applicable to all, her son is tainted, how much more should the son of this woman be tainted whose prohibition is equally applicable to all [since the daughters of priests, of Levites and of Israelites are all equally forbidden to marry a heathen or a slave]. The case of a widow who was married to a High Priest may be different, since she herself becomes profaned!—Here also, as soon as cohabitation occurred the woman is disqualified; for Rabbi Yoḥanan stated in the name of Rabbi Shim’on [alt., Rabbi Yishma’el]: From where is it inferred that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of a priest, of a Levite or of an Israelite, he disqualified her? [From eating sacred donations if she is the daughter of a priest. If the daughter of a Levite or an Israelite who was married to a priest and left with children after her husband’s death, she loses her right to the eating of sacred donations (to which she was entitled by virtue of her children) and, of course, becomes ineligible to marry a priest, as soon as intercourse with the heathen or slave had taken place]. It was stated And should a priest’s daughter be married to an outsider, [she shall not eat of the levy of the sacred donations] (Leviticus 22:13); Only in the case of a man in relation to whom widowhood or divorce is applicable; a heathen and a slave are consequently excluded since in relation to them no widowhood or divorce is applicable.

Abayye said to him: What reason do you see for relying upon Rav Dimi? Rely rather on Ravin! For when Ravin came [from the Land of Israel to Babylon] he reported that Rabbi Natan and Rabbi Yehudah the Prince ruled that such a child is fit; and Rabbi Yehudah the Prince is, of course, Rabbi!

And Rav also ruled that the child is legitimate. For once a man appeared before Rav and asked him, ‘A heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite—what is he?’ He said: ‘The child is fit.’ He said, ‘[Then] give me your daughter.’ ‘I will not give [her] to you.’ Shimi son of Ḥiyya said to Rav, ‘People say that in Media [i.e., in foreign lands where wonders occur,] a camel can dance on a [mere] qav; here is the qav, here is the camel and here is Media, but there is no dancing!’ [i.e., Rav had displayed originality and marvelous courage by his ruling, and yet stops short of carrying it into practice]. ‘Had he been equal to Joshua son of Nun I would not have given him my daughter,’ the Master replied. He said, ‘Had he been like Joshua son of Nun others would have given him their daughters, if the Master had not given him his; but with this man, if the Master will not give him, others also will not give him’ [since they would regard the Master’s refusal as an indication that the man is actually unfit]. He would not go away, [thus Rav] fixed his eyes upon him and he died” (BT Yevamot 44b-45b).

“Our Rabbis taught: Let a man always sell all he has and marry the daughter of a disciple of a sage. If he does not find the daughter of a disciple of a sage, let him marry the daughter of [one of] the great men of the generation. If he does not find the daughter of [one of] the great men of the generation, let him marry the daughter of the head of the congregation. If he does not find the daughter of the head of congregation, let him marry the daughter of a charity treasurer. If he does not find the daughter of a charity treasurer, let him marry the daughter of a schoolteacher, but let him not marry the daughter of עַם הָאָרֶץ (‘am ha-arets), people of the land [i.e., ignorant country folk], because they are detestable and their wives are vermin, and of their daughters it is said, Cursed be he who lies with any beast (Deuteronomy 27:21)…

Rabbi El’azar said [of the] ignorant country folk: It is permitted to stab him [even] on the Day of Atonement which falls on the Sabbath. His disciples said to him, Master, say to slaughter him [ritually]? He replied: This [ritual slaughter] requires a blessing, whereas that [stabbing] does not require a blessing. Rabbi El’azar said: One must not join company with ignorant country folk on the road, because it is said, for it [Torah] is your life and your length of days (Deuteronomy 30:20): [seeing that] he has no care for his own life [in that he forsakes Torah], how much the more for the life of his companions! Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name: One may tear ignorant country folk like a fish! Said Rabbi Shemu’el son of Yitsḥaq: And [this means] along his back.

It was taught, Rabbi Akiva said: When I was of the ignorant country folk I said: If I only had a disciple of a sage [before me], and I would maul him like a donkey. His disciples said to him, Rabbi, say like a dog! The former bites and breaks the bones, while the latter bites but does not break the bones, he answered them.

It was taught, Rabbi Meir used to say: Whoever marries his daughter to ignorant country folk, is as though he bound and laid her before a lion: just as a lion tears [his prey] and devours it and has no shame, so ignorant country folk strike and cohabit and have no shame.

It was taught, Rabbi Eli’ezer said: Only that we are necessary to them for trade, [otherwise] they would kill us! Rabbi Ḥiyya taught: Whoever delves in Torah in front of ignorant country folk, is as though he coupled with his betrothed in his presence [so great is the affront which they feel when Torah is studied in their presence (Rashi)], for it is said, A teaching did Moses charge us, a heritage for Jacob’s assembly! (Deuteronomy 33:4): do not read מוֹרָשָׁה (morashah), heritage, but מְאוֹרָסָה (me’orasah), the betrothed.

Greater is the hatred of ignorant country folk for the disciples of the sages than the hatred of heathens for Israel, and their wives [hate even] more than they. It was taught: He who has studied and then abandoned [Torah] [hates the disciples of the sages] more than all of them. Our Rabbis taught: Six things were said of ignorant country folk: We do not commit testimony to them; we do not accept testimony from them; we do not reveal a secret to them; we do not appoint them as guardians for orphans; we do not appoint them stewards over charity funds; and we must not join their company on the road. Some say, We do not announce their lost articles [he who finds lost property is obligated to announce it; if the owner is of the ignorant country folk, he is not obligated to announce it]. But the first Tanna [why does he omit this]?—virtuous seed may sometimes issue from him, and they will enjoy it, as is said, What the wicked will prepare, the righteous will wear (Job 27:17)” (BT Pesaḥim 49b).

“For Rabbi Abba has said, ‘How many wicked there are in the world who engender more virtuous children than the righteous!’” (Zohar 2:12b).

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