Sunday, 28 June 2009

In Memory of Rabbi Jacobs - on the occasion of his third Yartzheit

We have a new PhD written on Jacobs by Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove. I want to look in some depth at the section on the late 1940s and 50s, Jacobs as a very young man, long before he came to London, long before the Jacobs Affair is even a glimmer in the eye, long long before the foundation of this very special community. I’m very grateful to Rabbi Cosgrove for the opportunity to rely on his researches.

 

As a young man Laibl Jacobs, as he was known, wanted more intense Jewish study than he could find in his native Manchester. He thought of travelling to Lithuania, home of the most intense Yeshivot, in the 1930s, thankfully these plans were cancelled and instead Jacobs made the shorter trip to Gateshead, the closest thing in England to a classic Lithuanian Yeshiva. Despite the fact that the young Laibl had never studied in an environment like this he excelled almost instantly. The Yeshiva director, the famed Eliyahu Dessler, wrote of the young Jacobs;

 

There is one young man, a product of Manchester (he is the only native product) and it is no exaggeration for me to say that hitherto, I have never seen an ilui [genius in Talmud] of such great depth together with other strengths in anyone … he truly is a great one.[1]

 

It’s clear Jacobs was to be groomed to be a great leader in the classic Lithuanian mold, but something about the all-immersive experience of Lithuanian scholarship failed to move Jacobs. His diary from the time reads as follows

 

I had a discussion Rabbi Dessler as to how far we are bound to the ideas and outlook of life of the Talmudic Giants of Lithuania and Poland. It seemed to me that although they were the great scholars, many of their ideas are rather unpleasant and unsatisfactory. For example their attitude to secular studies…I know from personal experience that one can get a great deal of sound common sense, a more vivid outlook on life and a greater appreciation of the depth and wonder of life from secular studies. The outlook of many of the [Lithuanian masters] as expressed to me is altogether too na├»ve and unsophisticated for the twentieth century world. The term “narrow minded” has been much abused but I cannot help feeling that their outlook fails to enhance every aspect of life and it seems to narrow everything down to the four cubits of halakha. I know [Jacobs continues] the Talmudic saying of the rabbis “God only has the four cubits of Halakha,” but I feel that this has some other, wider interpretation than even that of Rabbi Dessler.[2]

 

You can feel Jacobs pulling against the reins of a suffocating system, he leaves Gateshead and heads back to Manchester where, one gets the sense that he enjoyed being someone who refused to fit simply into a pigeon hole. Too frum to be considered secular, but too secular to be considered frum. In his autobiography Jacobs writes of this time that he used to teach a regular Talmud shiur in a Hassdic shul.

 

I certainly enjoyed [the teaching] immensely and I believe they [enjoyed the learning] too, even though I was suspect because I was clean-shaven and worse, wore my hair long in front, which is utterly wrong in Hasidic eyes both because it is said to be evidence of arrogance and vanity and, more especially, because long hair in the place of the head tefillin is said to [present a problem]. Perhaps … they were amazed to find an ordinary boy with a working-class background sufficiently familiar with the Talmud to teach it at a Hasidic synagogue.[3]

 

You can see, even in the mid 1940s, Jacobs’ non-conformity shining through. As well as teaching in strictly orthodox environments he also teaches at Bnei Akiva, modern orthodox, Zionist, anathema to the Lithuanians. He writes in his diary that one of the local ultra-orthodox leaders expresses concern that he is teaching at Bnei Akiva.

 

‘I am told [a local] Gadol remarked with severe disapproval of my teaching at the Bnai Akiba. It is so very difficult to be a “Yid” [Jew] with everyone and I see no reason to try to do so. I suppose that according to our Torah every man should do “what is right in his own eyes” and not care for what others ‘think.’ On the other hand I don’t know if it is very wise for me in my present position to awaken the distrust of the ultra-orthodox elements. Perhaps it would be more prudent and far wiser to watch my step especially when people like G.H. are about, but on the other hand I don’t know.’[4]

 

Jacobs is training himself as a man who will not back down from doing what he feels is right, he is emerging as a man who is seeking for truths wherever they may be found, with a great love of Judaism, but open-minded. He feels something is missing from the Lithuanian approach, and so he applies for a degree, in London, and moves to this great city. Here he finds culture, the like of which he hadn’t found in Manchester. He takes a position as assistant to Rabbi Eli Munk in a shul where, according to the autobiography,

 

Every Sunday afternoon, the congregation’s intelligentsia would meet for philosophical discussions on Judaism … The discussions ranged far and wide. I did not know at what to be more astonished and admiring: their erudition, their faith or their thorough acquaintance with Western mores. It was an experience for Shula and me in beautiful homes to be served tea poured from silver tea-pots and delicious kosher pastries from exquisite china services.

 

And the sense is of a Rabbi who is becoming increasingly proud of the English nature of his Rabbinate. At UCL Jacobs is exposed to critical methodologies, his mind is trained to see how society and history impact of Jewish life. Even studying Talmud, even without entering into the far more contentious areas of who wrote the Bible Jacobs is developing an eye for Judaism’s history and development, it’s about human beings living in human societies, it’s not a burst of heavenly prophecy.

 

Jacobs goes back to Manchester to finish his PhD and finds himself caught in the middle of a power struggle between the Lithuanian style ultra-orthodox Dayan JJ Weiss and the more cosmopolitan Head of the Rabbinic Court, Alexander Altmann. Altmann, educated in Berlin, wanted to set up a series of steps to improve the decorum of High Holyday services in Manchester, nothing too obviously controversial; fixing the number of people to be called to the Torah, an allowance to read the Prayer for the Royal Family in English and the like. Weiss responded by forming ‘The Committee to Fight Reform’ and attacking these changes as harbingers of a Reform agenda. And Jacobs comes to the support of Altmann with an article entitled ‘Organic Growth vs Petrification,’ it doesn’t take much imagination to work out which side of his argument Jacobs comes out in favour of. And he takes up the cudgels on behalf of Judaism as an evolving, developing religion, he even writes in support of reciting Hallel on Israel Independence Day – it’s 1952. Judaism needs to change to keep up to date, says Jacobs, indeed it has always been thus. It’s a remarkable paper, and it ends with a truly remarkable analogy.

 

A year or two ago a process was discovered by means of which the paintings of the old masters in the National Gallery could be cleaned. At first there were shocked outcries of “sacrilege.” Many of those who protested seem to have considered the very grime that had accumulated through the ages to be an essential part of the pictures. The protest went unheeded, the pictures were cleaned, the grime removed, and new beauties formerly obscured, were revealed to the eye. We should keep this in mind in our approach to the renewal of Jewish life. We must never identify the dust of the ages with the living Jewish faith; but as traditional Jews, while attempting to remove this dust, we must ever be on our guard not to wreak irreparable damage to the picture of Judaism by removing its paint with our too vigorous cleansing.[5]

 

More than the point Rabbi Jacobs makes, is the idiom he uses to make it. Minhag Anglia, explained with reference to the National Gallery.

 

Rabbi Jacobs’ Judaism, the Judaism which begat New London was a Judaism of its time and of this place. It was a Judaism which demanded a sensitivity to our tradition and the evolution of Judaism in dialogue with the societies in which Jews found themselves. It was a Judaism which required one to distance themselves from the great Torah scholars of the Lithuanian mould, blind as they were to anything outside the four cubits of halachah. And it was a Judaism that was dangerous, in the eyes of the Ultra-Orthodox. And it was a Judaism that Rabbi Jacobs defended with pride.

 

How little has changed as the decades tick by. We remain, even these years after the passing of our founder, a community dedicated to living our Jewish life here, in England, not Lithuania. We remain a community dedicated to living our life in dialogue with the broader society which surrounds us, inspired and grounded in our faith, but open-minded to learn from our surroundings. And we remain a community perceived as dangerous by the Ultra-orthodox. And we remain fiercely proud of our take on Judaism and fiercely proud of the legacy we have learnt from our founder Rabbi. This is our narrative, this is the story we seek to continue to tell and ketanti – small as I am – this is the story I commit myself to continuing to tell into the future.

 

To our founder Rabbi, Louis Jacobs, HaRav haGaon laibl ben

 

Yehiye Zichrono Livracha

May his memory be a blessing

 

 



[1] Miktav Eliyahu (1963) p. 166

[2] Teyku, PhD Dissertation of Elliot Cosgrove, p. 41 (slightly reworded)

[3] Helping With Enuqiries p.77

[4] Teyku p. 44

[5] Teyku p.79

Friday, 26 June 2009

Yartzheit of Rabbi Louis Jacobs z'tl

This week we commemorate the Yartzheit of our founding Rabbi, Louis Jacobs of blessed memory. On Sunday, of course, there will be the Memorial Lecture and I hope many of you will be able to join us.

 

On Shabbat I will be sharing some thoughts on Rabbi Jacobs’ life based on a recently completed dissertation by my colleague Elliot Cosgrove, currently Rabbi of the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York. Dr Cosgrove’s thesis is that if one understands the life of Rabbi Jacobs up to the point of the publication of We Have Reason to Believe one will already know all one needs to know about the way the Jacobs’ Affair plays out.

 

Dr Cosgrove’s dissertation also contains some wonderful material including an extract from the diary of Shula, written the evening after their first date in December 1943. It’s an extract I have discussed with Louis’ son, Ivor, and daughter, Naomi and I have their blessing to share it here. Not only is it remarkably touching, it’s also an extraordinary insight into what made Rabbi Jacobs such an important figure in Anglo-Jewry, an explanation into the unique character and role of the Synagogue Louis went on to lead and a signpost directing our attention to our way forward.

 

“During the walk all I can say is I was absolutely enthralled being entertained by my head being filled with magical Chassidic tales and the like. I must have appeared quite ignorant in opposition to his brain, but it did not seem to worry him at all. Suddenly, here was a Yeshiva Bochur, a Rabbi, and I always thought of Rabbis in terms of dull, pious and old in ways, not knowing anything modern, was just the opposite. Together with a tale for every question, joked and seemed like a normal Manchester English young man. He wasn’t pompous; certainly did not parade his religiousness. Talked of literature and poetry and he even liked jazz! (Well, I was not so sure about that). He was refreshing to talk to, and yet he gave me the impression of being the spiritual type, which I admired anyway and seemed to me right away that he was Mr. Right!”

 

I miss both Louis and Shula, may their memories always serve as a blessing

 

Shabbat shalom,

 

Rabbi Jeremy

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Thoughts on a Road Accident

 

As many of you will know my son, Carmi, took one look at a cat playing on the pavement and followed the cat into the road where he was hit by a passing, and thankfully not a speeding, car.

 

He’s fine, he’s broken his leg and is not sleeping so well.

But considering how much worse it could have been – we’ll take a broken leg and not sleeping so well.

 

Language, of course, reveals so much.

What do you say about a three year old who chases a cat into the road and breaks his leg, ‘thank God.’ ‘baruch hashem’?

Is it good news or bad news?

Is it a blessing from God, a curse or a stark warning? Or just chance.

 

And how do you handle sitting in a hospital chair at three in the morning looking around the scarily named ‘paediatric high-dependency ward,’ knowing that, in the other three beds and on the other chairs, are three sicker kids and three more desperate parents.

 

I know only too well that we are a community with a member who was hit in a road traffic accident over a year ago, whose recovery is proving far, far more painful and troubling than Carmi’s green-stick fracture and a loss of sleep.

 

Odd really that this is community founded around a theological alleged blasphemy on the subject of how the Torah came to be written. All the words and all the pages and all the sermons stack up no taller than a pin on whose head some vague number of angels may or may not dance when you come face-to-face with this questions on the nature of pain and suffering.

 

It’s not an easy thing to speak about, but I want today, to share three reflections on this subject with you.

 

The first clear response finds it’s origins in the Talmudic tractate Brachot.[1]

There is, we are told, a blessing to be said on hearing bad news. And a different blessing to be said on hearing good news.

How do you bless, asks the Talmud, if a flood sweeps across your land destroying all in its path. The good news is that the flood will bring increased fertility to the soil in the years to come, the bad news is that right now there has been destruction.

The answer is that you bless the blessing on hearing bad news.

As Jews we are not supposed to transcend the sufferings of the moment.

There is a Buddist notion that perceived suffering, perceived bad news need to be sublimated away into nothingness.

That’s not Jewish. We are allowed to weep, to cry, to cry out, to be scared, to feel loss. We are allowed, even more than this, we are commanded to experience suffering as suffering.

 

Again, in Talmud Brachot, we are told the Rabbis asked, what is suffering?

They said, losing the life of a child during the life of a parent. They agreed this was suffering.

They said, suffering from an illness. They agreed this was suffering.

They said putting your hand in your pocket expecting to find two coins and only finding one coin, They agreed this was suffering.

 

It’s a provocative text. How can one possibly equate the loss of a child in the life of a parent with putting your hand into a pocket to find less money there than one might expect?

 

The point, I think, is this; there is no experience of loss that the Rabbis are prepared to deny. None of us is, or should feel, commanded to get over our shock, our loss. None of us should feel we should, ‘get over it.’ This is a bold and quite counter-cultural Jewish insight. I’m not sure society at large allows for us to suffer unless some vague threshold of awfulness has been reached. I’m not sure the world out there allows us enough time to experience our individual suffering without chivvying us through our darker moments and dragging us from our experience of loss into normalcy.

 

I often feel this at funerals for those who have passed away at the end of a long life, perhaps a great life, a life full of achievement blighted only in its last years by illness or loss of faculties. So often I hear people expressing relief, which is of course understandable, but then, a month or so later they are in tears, they can’t work out why they are still in pain.  I often feel they’ve been dragged out of being allowed to suffer too quickly, dragged away from being able to be a mourner. We, those of us who suffer, shouldn’t be pulled out of our moments of darkness just because society might think we’ve probably cried enough because society moves too fast and cares too little for our private grief.

 

So this is the first Jewish insight into the nature of bad news.

Suffering and pain should be allowed to be bad, it should not be rushed into being deemed OK.

 

The second clear Jewish insight is this – we must reject the notion that our goodness is in anyway to be seen as cosmically significant in terms of the joys or pains we experience.

As we say in the morning service

Lo al tzidateinu anachnu mpalilim lifanecha – we don’t pray before you because of our righteousness dear God.

Who among us is worthy to suggest they are particularly blame-less, particularly worthy? Certainly not your Rabbi.

There is something in the way in which discourse on matters ecological connects to this idea. We are all, every time we flick on a lightswitch, get in a car, read a newspaper, eat or dress ourselves, chipping away at the resources of the planet. And no matter how hard we try to offset and recycle we are all making net debits.

This is the language, too, of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we don’t ask God to reward us according to our acts of decency and kindness. We ask God to carry away our transgressions, wipe away our sins, fix the scales – none of us could stand before the Great Throne of Justice proud of our successes – we all fail too frequently; Rabbi, congregant, Jew and non-Jew alike.

There is, of course, a blessing to be said when we survive an encounter with mortality – birkat hagomel

It’s an interesting response to being saved from disaster,

It is a blessing in which we thank God for saving us despite our failure to deserve being saved.

 

Carmi survived his run in with the car not because of his goodness, or mine, but because of a grace unknowable and unquantifiable and beyond.

 

Tell me oh God, asks Moses, in the minds of the Rabbis, why good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.

And God dances away, refusing to be pinned down – like some kind of Victorian butterfly exhibit – by our desires to understand more precisely how the whole fabric of reward and punishment, cause and effect operates.

I will be gracious to those I chose to be gracious to, says God

You can see my back, but my face cannot be seen.[2]

 

Sure there are plenty of Biblical passages that suggest warn about impending disasters with a stark and simplistic ‘you had better do this or else’ kind of logic, but, and here I agree with my colleague, friend and teacher, Jonathan Wittenberg, these texts should be understood only as warnings before disasters occur. We are forbidden from using these texts, and the logic they might suggest, after a disaster to try and explain why one child or another did or did not survive, faculties intact. This is to claim a knowledge of the face of God that is beyond human grasp.

 

So this is the second clear Jewish insight into the nature of bad things.

We are to be inured against claiming an insight into why these things happen. We are to be prohibited from claiming that success is anything other than grace and we are to be prohibited from claiming that any suffering is deserved.

 

A third reflection – a reflection on our relationship with an unknowable and impossibly mysterious divinity

Dear God, it’s just not good enough.

I know all about the doctrine of freedom of choice and the Garden of Eden. And I know I, and the other 4.9something billion people on this planet need to take responsibility for our actions, we need to accept the responsibility for holding onto our kids so they don’t run into the road and other things too, but

Dear God, it’s just not good enough.

The doctrine of freedom of choice moves me not at all.

Not if I want to pray to a good and kind God.

A couple of years ago John Humphrys interviewed the Orthodox Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, as part of an short series.

Humphrys couldn’t get past the problem of the seemingly random nature of suffering and Sacks couldn’t find a way to justify a good and kind God and the sorts of experiences that haunted Humphrys.

 

Twenty years ago, [said Humphrys] I went up to Lockerbie on that terrible night when the Pan Am aircraft was blown up and the bits fell on Lockerbie, some bits fell on houses and some bits fell on fields, those people who were in the houses were killed. And the thing that struck you walking around that ghastly evening was the entirely arbitrary nature of it, number 17 survived, number 21 did not survive.

 

How could it be possible for a good and kind God to be behind such cruel randomness? And Sacks had no good answer, for he was not prepared to give the answer I feel compelled to give.

I don’t believe in a wholly good and kind God.

I believe in a God, if such human emotions can be ascribed to the God I believe in, who sometimes is good and kind, and sometimes is cruel, and sometimes is recklessly negligent in leaving us humans alone to do our worst. And sometimes walks away, and sometimes over-reacts, and sometimes is there for me and sometimes is not.

My images of God, drawn from throughout the massive, sprawling and uneven history of Jewish discourse can’t be subsumed into a single simplistic deity. There is too much variety in God’s behaviour, too much variety in the tales we tell of God.

 

But this theology prompts this problem – if I, if we, don’t believe in God as wholly good and wholly kind, what are we doing with our prayers?

Why bother with all this fulsome praise if a bit of a plane could fall on our house without warning, without reason, without justice?

 

I had an insight into the answer to this question while in Africa. I was spending six weeks in Ghana, in a very under-developed community with cockerels. And the cockerels crowed at 2am, 3am, 4am, 7am, 9am, midday…

It turns out that cockerels don’t only crow at dawn.

This came as a surprise to me, since the very first blessing we say as part of our Synagogue service is one praising God for giving the cockerel the ability to distinguish between day and night.

Now I might have been surprised, but the Rabbis wouldn’t have been. They would have known, far better than I, the nature of the cockerel.

So why would they institute a blessing, thanking God for giving the cockerel the ability to distinguish night from dawn when the cockerel crows all night and all day?

It must be that the Rabbis want us to pray, not for the world as it is, but for the world we want live in.

It must be that the Rabbis want us to pray, not about the God we experience, but the God we would wish to experience.

A God who orders the chaos of the world, waking us only at dawn with the crow of the cock, and rewarding our efforts and forgiving our trespasses.

It must be that the Rabbis want us to pray about a God who is good and kind in the hope that every time we open our lips and meditate on the praise of the Divine, we fill the earth and heavens with more praise, more kindness and decency and that this somehow helps.

Well I believe that.

 

How could it be, asks the great twentieth century theologian, Franz Rozensweig, that our pouring good and kindness into the world doesn’t result in the world being more full of good and kindness?

It’s difficult to understand Rozensweig on hearing him read, but so beautiful.

 

Love cannot be other than effective [says Rozensweig]. There is no act of neighbourly love that falls into the void. Just because the act is performed blindly, it must appear somewhere, [and this is the effectiveness of prayer]. Prayer, though it has no magic powers as such, nevertheless, by lighting the way for love, arrives at possibilities of magic effects. It can intervene in the divine system of the world. It can provide love with direction toward something not yet ready for love, not yet ripe for endowment with soul.  Thus the prayer … is always in danger of - tempting God.[3]

 

We pray in the direction we want the world to be.

Non-one could pray for the world in which we now live.

A world of comas and cancers, a breakages and loss.

We pray to tempt God and the world in which we live into becoming a more decent, kind and magical place.

Prayer works even if God doesn’t deserve every word of our unadulterated prayer.

Prayer works, as it were, even if it doesn’t snap us out of comas and cure us of cancers at that moment.

 

Three insights into a Jewish relationship with bad and scary news

The first truth is that suffering and pain should be allowed to be bad, it should not be rushed into being deemed OK.

 

The second is we are to be prohibited from claiming that success is anything other than grace and we are to be prohibited from claiming that any suffering is deserved.

 

And the third is that prayer works, even if God is not all good and all kind, even if we fear our words fall into the void.

 

So I should conclude these words with a prayer – the birkat hagomel I spoke of. The prayer to be said when a person has come into contact with the threat of great injury.

Siddur Page – response

Please rise

 

 



[1] 60a

[2] Ex 33

[3] Star of Redemption

Monday, 1 June 2009

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai

Below is the key source for a shiur taught at New London Synagogue.
The plan is to upload the recording of the shiur, but technology is defeating me at the moment. Once I get a URL it will be posted on this blog. Please contact me on rabbi[at]newlondon.org.uk if you want a that link by e-mail.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai

Bavli Shabbat 33a-b - Yerushalmi Shekalim 9:1

 

Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Yosi and Rabbi Shimon Ben Yohai were sitting and Yehuda ben Gerim was sitting beside them.

•           Rabbi Yehudah opened and said, ‘How pleasant are the works of this people?

o          They have made [tikkun] streets,

o          They have built [tikkun] bridges,

o          They have erected [tikkun] baths.’

•           Rabbi Yosi was silent.

•           Rabbi Shimon Ben Yohai answered and said, ‘All that they made they made for themselves;

o          They built market-places, to place prostitutes there

o          Baths, to pamper themselves;

o          Bridges, to take tolls.’

Now, Yehuda ben Gerim went and retold their words and it became known to the governors. They said;

•           Yehuda who exalted, shall be exalted

•           Yose who was silent shall be exiled to Sepphoris

•           Shimon, who censured, let him be executed.

 

He went with his son went and hid themselves in the Beth Hamidrash.

His wife brought him bread and a mug of water and they ate.

When the decree became more severe be said to his son, Women are of unstable temperament: They may abuse metsari her and expose us

They went and hid in a cave. A miracle happened and a carob-tree and a water-spring were created for them.

They said up to their necks in sand.

By day they sat and studied, and they took off their clothes. When the time came to pray they went out and dressed and covered and went out and prayed and again took off their clothes in order that they not wear out.

They dwelled in a cave for 13 years.

•           Elijah came to the opening of the cave. He said, ‘Who will inform Bar Yohai that the Emperor died and the decree is annulled?’

They went out and they saw men ploughing and sowing.

They said, they forsake life of the world hayei olam and busy themselves with the life of a moment.

Everywhere they turned their eyes was immediately burnt.

•           A heavenly voice went out and said to them, ‘Did you go out to destroy my world? Return to your cave.’

They dwelled for there twelve months.

They said, ‘The sentence of the wicked in Gehinom is twelve months

A heavenly voice went out and said ‘Go out from your cave.’ They went out.

Whatever Elazar [the son] destroyed the Shimon [the father] healed.

He said, ‘My son, you and I are sufficient for the world.’

 

On Shabbat eve they saw an old man holding two bundles of myrtle and running at twilight. What are these for?’ they asked him. ‘They are in honour of the Sabbath,’ he replied. ‘But one would be enough’?-‘One is for “Remember” and one for “Observe.”’

Said he to his son, ‘See how precious are the commandments to Israel!’

Their minds were set at ease.

 

Rabbi Pinhas ben Yair, his son in law went out to meet him.

He took him into the baths and was massaging his flesh.

Seeing the clefts in his body he wept and the tears streamed from his eyes hurting him [metstari]. ‘Woe to me that I see you in such a state!’

Shimon cried out. ‘Happy are you that you see me this way,’ he retorted, ‘for if you did not see me in such a state you would not find me this way.

For originally, when Rabbi Shimon Ben Yohai gave a question, Rabbi Pinhas raised thirteen difficulties. Now when Rabbi Pinhas raised a difficulty Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochia would give him twenty-four answers.

 

He said, ‘Since a miracle has occurred let me go and amend [taken] something, for it is written, and Jacob came whole [shalem] (Gen 33) and Rav interpreted.

o          Bodily whole

o          financially whole,

o          and whole in his learning.

And he was gracious to the city (Gen 33 cont’d) 

o          Rav said: He established [taken] coinage for them

o          Samuel said: He established markets for them

o          Rabbi Yochanan said: He established baths for them.

Is there anything which requires fixing? [takken]

He was told there is a place of doubtful uncleanness and it causes priests trouble [tsara] to go round it

 

He took lupins and sliced and scattered them and wherever there was a corpse it would float and rise to the surface.

A Samaritan seeing him said, let me go and ridicule this Jewish sage.

He took a corpse, went buried it in a place that he had purified.

He then came to Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai and said to him, ‘Have you not purified that place, nonetheless I can produce a corpse for you from here.’

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, perceiving through the holy spirit that he had placed one there said, ‘I decree that those above shall descend [the Samaritan] and that those below [the corpse] shall rise.

And so it happened.

 

He went out to the market and saw Yehuda ben Gerim. ‘Is this one still in the world?’ he set his eyes on him and made him a heap of bones.’

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