Previous Folio / Nedarim Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site

Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nedarim

Folio 39a

GEMARA. What are the circumstances? If the visitor's property is forbidden to the invalid, he may even sit? Whilst if the invalid's property is forbidden to the visitor, he may not even stand?1  — Said Samuel: In truth, it means that the visitor's property is forbidden to the invalid, and applies to a place where a fee is received for sitting [with an invalid], but not for standing.2  How state this definitely?3  — He [the Tanna] teaches us thus: that even where it is customary to take a fee for visiting, one may receive it only for sitting, but not for standing.4  An alternative answer is this: Just as R. Simeon maintained [elsewhere] that it is feared that he may tarry a long time whilst standing,5  so here too it is feared that he may stay a long time if he sits.6  'Ulla said: After all it means that the invalid's property is forbidden to the visitor, for7  he did not vow where it affects his health.8  If so, he may sit too? — Because he can stand.9

An objection is raised: If he fell sick, he may enter to visit him; if his son became ill, he may inquire [after his health] in the street.10  Now this is well according to 'Ulla, who maintains that it means that the invalid's property is forbidden to the visitor, for he did not vow where it affects his own health.11  But on Samuel's explanation, that the visitor's property is forbidden to the invalid, what is the difference between himself and his son? — He can answer you: Our Mishnah means that the invalid may not benefit from the visitor; in the Baraitha, the case Is reversed. How state this definitely?12  — Said Raba:

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. For by standing in his house he is regarded as benefiting.
  2. It was customary to have companions or visitors for invalids, to cheer them up. Therefore if the visitor gives the invalid his company without accepting a fee, he is benefiting him.
  3. That money is paid for sitting and not for standing.
  4. One who sits presumably stays a long time; but one who stands pays only a fleeting visit, and hence may not receive a fee.
  5. V. 42b.
  6. I.e., the Mishnah refers to an invalid who is forbidden to benefit from the visitor. The visitor may not sit, lest he stay a long time, which is certainly a benefit to the invalid.
  7. Generally the Heb. kegon states a particular instance. Here, however, it introduces a general statement. — Rashi, Ran, and Asheri.
  8. The invalid never intended that his neighbour should be so stringently forbidden to benefit from him as not even to stand in his house to cheer him up in his illness.
  9. For the invalid would not have the visitor benefit from him more than is strictly necessary.
  10. But not enter his house.
  11. Therefore, if his son fell sick, the visitor may not enter his house, because it is to be assumed that the question of his son's health did not come into consideration at the time of the vow.
  12. On what grounds is this difference based?
Tractate List / Glossary / / Bible Reference

Nedarim 39b

Our Mishnah presents a difficulty to Samuel: Why particularly teach that he may stand but not sit? Hence it must refer to a case where the invalid is forbidden to benefit from his visitor.1

Resh Lakish said: Where is visiting the sick indicated in the Torah? In the verse, If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men etc.2  How is it implied? — Raba answered: [The verse means this:] If these men die the common death of all men, who lie sick a-bed and men come in and visit them, what will people say? The Lord hath not sent me3  for this [task]. Raba expounded: But if the Lord make a new thing:4  if the Gehenna5  is already created, 'tis well: if not, let the Lord create it. But that is not so, for it was taught: Seven things were created before the world, viz., The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah. The Torah, for it is written, The Lord possessed me [sc. the Torah] in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.6  Repentance, for it is written, Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world … Thou turnest man to destruction, and sayest, Repent, ye sons of men.7  The Garden of Eden, as it is written, And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden from aforetime.8  Gehenna, as it is written, For Tophet9  is ordained of old.10  The Throne of Glory, as it is written, Thy Throne is established from of old.11  The Temple, as it is written, A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.12  The name of the Messiah, as it is written, His name [sc. of Messiah] shall endure for ever, and [has existed] before the sun!13  — But Moses said thus: If a mouth has already been created for it [sc. Gehenna], 'tis well; if not, let the Lord create one. But is it not written, There is no new thing under the sun?14  — He said thus: If the mouth is not near to this spot, let it draw near.

Raba, or as others say, R. Isaac, lectured: What is meant by, The sun and the moon stood still in their zebul?15  What were they doing in the zebul, seeing that they were set in the raki'a?16  This teaches that the sun and the moon ascended from the raki'a to the zebul and exclaimed before Him, 'Sovereign of the Universe! If thou wilt execute judgment for Amram's son,17  we will give forth our light; if not, we will not shine.' In that moment He shot spears and arrows at them. 'Every day,' He rebuked them, 'men worship you, and yet you give your light. For My honour you do not protest, yet you protest for the honour of flesh and blood.' [Since then,] spears and arrows are shot at them every day before they consent to shine,18  as it is written, And at the light of thy arrows they go, etc.19

It was taught: There is no measure for visiting the sick. What is meant by, 'there is no measure for visiting the sick?' R. Joseph thought to explain it: its reward is unlimited. Said Abaye to him: Is there a definite measure of reward for any precept? But we learnt: Be as heedful of a light precept as of a serious one, for thou knowest not the grant of reward for precepts? But Abaye explained it: Even a great person must visit a humble one. Raba said: [One must visit] even a hundred times a day. R. Abba son of R. Hanina said: He who visits an invalid takes away a sixtieth of his pain.20  Said they to him: If so, let sixty people visit him and restore him to health? — He replied: The sixtieth is as the tenth spoken of in the school of Rabbi, and [providing further that] he [the visitor] is of his affinity.21  For it was taught: Rabbi said: A daughter who enjoys maintenance from her brothers' estate receives a tenth of the estate.22  Said they to Rabbi: If so, if a man leaves ten daughters and one son, the latter receives nothing! He replied: The first [to marry] receives a tenth of the estate; the second, a tenth of the residue; the third, a tenth of what remains. [Now, if they all married at the same time], they redivide equally.23

R. Helbo fell ill. Thereupon R. Kahana went and proclaimed:

- To Next Folio -

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. It is certainly true that one who forbids his neighbour to benefit from him does not do so at the cost of his own health. But then he would draw no distinction between standing and sitting, and would desire the visitor to have the benefit of sitting in his house too. Hence on 'Ulla's interpretation the distinction in the Mishnah is wrong; therefore Samuel reverses it.
  2. Num. XVI, 29.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid. 30.
  5. V. p. 19, n. 6.
  6. Prov. VIII, 22.
  7. Ps. XC, 2f. 'Before', etc. applies to 'Repent'.
  8. Gen. II, 8.
  9. Another name for Gehenna.
  10. Isa. XXX, 33.
  11. Ps. XCIII, 2.
  12. Jer. XVII, 12.
  13. Ps. LXXII, 17. Now, according to this, Gehenna was definitely created before the world; how then could Moses be doubtful? — The general idea of this Baraitha is that these things are the indispensable prerequisites For the orderly progress of mankind upon earth. The Torah, the supreme source of instruction, the concept of repentance, in recognition that 'to err is human', and hence, if man falls, he needs the opportunity to rise again; the garden of Eden and the Gehenna symbolising reward and punishment, which, without conceding a purely utilitarian basis for ethical striving, are nevertheless powerful incentives thereto; the Throne of Glory and the Temple, indicating that the goal of creation is that the kingdom of God (represented by the Temple) should be established on earth as it is in Heaven; and finally, the name of Messiah, the assurance that God's purpose shall be eventually achieved.
  14. Ecc. I, 9.
  15. Hab. Ill, 11.
  16. According to tradition, there are seven heavens, zebul being one.
  17. By punishing Korah and his confederates.
  18. Accepting the Almighty's rebuke, they refuse to shine, because of the insult to His glory, until they are forced to.
  19. Ibid.
  20. A variant: his sickness.
  21. As the invalid. Born under the same planetary influence, Asheri; Rashi (and last.) 'of the same age'.
  22. She can, on marriage, demand a tenth of the estate for a dowry and trousseau. V. Keth. 68a.
  23. I.e., after taking one tenth of the estate, and another a tenth of what is left, and a third likewise, etc., they pool the lot together, and divide it equally. — Thus here too, the first visitor with the same affinity takes away a sixtieth of the sickness; the second a sixtieth of the remainder, and so on. Hence he would not be completely cured.
Tractate List / Glossary / / Bible Reference