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  • SKETCHES IN JEWISH SOCIAL LIFE - APPENDIX 2 - C
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    Ameimer, and Mar Sutra, and Rabbi Ashi were sitting all together. They said: "Would that each one might say something which had not been heard by his companion." Then began one among them, and said: "If any one has seen a dream, and does not know what he has seen, let him place himself before the priests of his time, while they spread their hands (in blessing), and let him say thus: 'Lord of the world, I am Thine, and my dreams are Thine. I have dreamt a dream, and I know not what it is, whether I have dreamed for myself, or whether my companions have dreamt of me, or whether I have dreamt of others. If they be good (dreams) confirm them, and strengthen them, like the dreams of Joseph; and if they need healing, heal them, as the waters of Marah by the hands of Moses, our teacher, and as Miriam from her leprosy, and as Hezekiah from his sickness, and as the waters of Jericho by the hands of Elisha. And as Thou hast turned into blessing the curse of Balaam, the wicked one, so turn all my dreams for me to good.' And let him finish with the priests, that the congregation may say, 'Amen.' And if not, let him say thus: 'Mighty One in the heights, Who dwellest in strength, Thou art peace, and Thy name is peace. May it please Thee to dispense to us peace.'" The next one began, and said: "If any one enters into a city, and is afraid of the evil eye, let him take the thumb of his right hand into his left, and the thumb of his left hand into his right hand, and let him say thus: 'I, such an one, the son of such an one, descend from the seed of Joseph, over whom an evil eye can have no power, as it is written (Gen 49:22), "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well," and so on.'" Read not: "by a well" but "transcending the eye." * Rabbi Jose, the son of Rabbi Chaninah, said: "From this (Gen 48:16), 'And let them grow' (like fishes). ** As fishes, which inhabit the waters, are covered by them, and no evil eye has power over them, so also the seed of Joseph, no evil eye has power over it. But if he is afraid of his own evil eye, let him look on his left nostril." And the third commenced and said: "If any one is sick, let him not make it known the first day, lest he make his fate worse. But after that and onwards let him make it known. So it was with Raba when he was ill, the first day he did not make it known. From that and onwards he said to his servant: 'Go outside, and cry, Raba is sick; he that pitieth me, let him ask for me pity, and he that hateth me, let him rejoice over me.'" And it is written (Prov 24:17,18), "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him."

    * There is a play here upon the words.

    ** Another play upon the words.

    Samuel, when he had seen an evil dream, said (Zech 10:2): "For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and the dreams speak false things." And when he saw a good dream he said: "And should dreams indeed speak falsehood seeing it is written (Num 12:6), 'I will speak in a dream to him?'" Raba asked: "It is written, 'In a dream I will speak to him'; and it is written, 'And dreams speak falsehood.'" That is no question--for the one is by an angel and the other by an evil spirit.

    Rabbi Bisna, the son of Sabda, said, Rabbi Akiba said, Rabbi Panda said, Rabbi Nahum said, Rabbi Birim said in the name of an aged man--and who is he? Rabbi Banah: "There were four-and- twenty interpreters of dreams in Jerusalem. Once I dreamed a dream, and I went before them all, and what the one interpreted to me the other did not interpret to me, and yet all were fulfilled to me, in order to fulfil what is written, 'All dreams go after the mouth.' But is this Scripture, 'All dreams go after the mouth?'" Yes, and according to Rabbi Elasar. For Rabbi Elasar said, "Whence this, that all dreams go after the mouth?" Because it is said (Gen 41:13), "And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was." Raba said: "But this only, if he interpret to be according to the contents of the dream, as it is written (Gen 41:12), 'To each man according to his dream he did interpret'; (Gen 40:16), 'And the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good.'" Whence did he know it? Rabbi Elasar said: "This teaches, that each one of them saw the dream and the interpretation of the dream of his companion."

    Rabbi Jochanan said: "If one rises, and a verse comes into his mouth, behold this is like a little prophecy." And Rabbi Jochanan said: "Three dreams are fulfilled--a morning dream, a dream which one's companion has dreamed, and a dream which is interpreted in the middle of the dream" (or by a dream). And some say also, a dream which is repeated, as it is said (Gen 41:32), "And for that the dream was doubled," and so on. Rabbi Samuel, the son of Nachmeni, said, Rabbi Jonathan said: "Nothing else is shown to a man but what is in the thoughts of his heart." For it is said (Dan 2:29), "As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed." And if thou wilt, I shall say: from this (Dan 2:30), "That thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart." Raba said: "Thou canst know it, for there is not shown to a man either a golden palm tree, nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle." ...

    Fol. 56 a--The son of Hedja was an interpreter of dreams. If any one gave him a reward, he interpreted his dreams for good; if any one did not give him a reward, he interpreted for evil. Abaje and Raba saw a dream. Abaje gave him a susa, and Raba gave him nothing. They said to him: "We read in the dreams (Deu 28:31), 'Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes,' etc." To Raba he said: "Thy business will be ruined, and thou shalt have no desire to eat from sorrow of thy heart." To Abaje he said: "Thy business will be extended, and thou shalt have no desire to eat from the joy of thy heart." They said to him: "We read (v 41), 'Thou shalt beget sons and daughters,' and so on." To Raba he said: "They will be taken captive." To Abaje he said: "Thy sons and thy daughters shall be many, and hence thy daughters shall be married outside the land, so that they will seem to thee as if they had been led captive."We read (v 32): 'Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people.'" To Abaje he said: "Thy sons and thy daughters shall be many. Thou shalt say, to thy relatives (thou wilt wed them), but she (thy wife) shall say: to her relatives, and she will induce thee, that thou wilt give them to her relatives; which are like another nation." To Raba he said: "Thy wife shall die, and her sons and her daughters shall come under the hands of another wife." For Raba said, Rabbi Jeremiah, the son of Aba, said, Rav said: "What is it that is written: 'Thy sons and thy daughters shall I give to another nation.' That is, the wife of the father (step- mother)."We read in the dreams (Eccl 9:7): 'Go, eat thy bread with joy.'" To Abaje he said: "Thy business shall be extended, and thou shalt eat and drink, and read the verse in the joy of thy heart." To Raba he said: "Thy business shall be ruined, thou shalt kill, but shalt not eat nor drink, and shalt read for the sake of comforting thyself." ...

    In the end Raba went alone to him. He said to him: "I have seen that the inner house-door has fallen." He said to him: "Thy wife shall die." He said to him: "I saw that my molar teeth and my teeth fell out." He said to him: "Thy sons and thy daughters shall die." He said to him: "I saw that two doves flew away." He said to him: "Two wives shalt thou divorce." He said to him: "I saw two heads of cabbage." He said to him: "Two boxes on the ear shalt thou swallow." Raba went on that day and sat in the academy all the day. Then he found two blind men who quarrelled with one another. Then Raba went to separate them, and they struck Raba twice; they lifted up to strike another time, and he said, "Hold, I have seen only two."

    In the end Raba came and gave him a reward. He said to him: "I saw that the wall fell." He said to him: "Property without limits shalt thou obtain." He said to him: "I saw the Palace of Abaje that it fell, and its dust covered me." He said to him: "Abaje shall die, and his chair shall come to thee." He said to him: "I saw my own palace that it fell, and then the whole world came and took brick by brick." He said to him: "Thy teaching shall spread through the world." He said to him: "I saw that my head was split and my brain came out." He said to him: "The wool of thy pillow shall come out." He said to him: "I read the Egyptian Hallel in the dream." He said to him: "Miracles shall be done for thee." He went with him upon a ship. He said: "To a man for whom miracles shall be done, what is the use of this?" As he ascended, a book fell from him. Raba found it, and saw that there was written in it: "All dreams go after the mouth." He said to him: "Wicked One, upon thee it depended, and thou hast much afflicted me. Everything I forgive thee, except about the daughter of Rabbi Chisda (who was his wife). May it be the will (of God), that this man be given over into the hands of the government, who have no pity upon him." He said: "What shall I do? for it is ordered, that the curse of a sage, even if it come causeless, shall happen. How much more is this the case with Raba, who has judged me with justice." He said: "I will go and emigrate, for the master said, 'Banishment expiates sin.'" He arose and emigrated to the Romans. He went and sat down at the door of the head treasurer of the king. The head treasurer saw a dream. He said to him: "I saw a dream, that a needle went into my finger." He said to him: "Give me a susa"; but he gave him nothing, and hence he said nothing at all to him. He said to him: "I saw that a worm fell upon two of my fingers." He said to him: "Give me a susa"; but he gave him nothing, and he did not say anything at all to him. He said to him: "I saw that a worm fell upon my whole hand." He said to him: "A worm has come into all the garments" (of the king). They heard this in the house of the king, and they brought the head treasurer in order that they might kill him. He said to him: "Why I? let him be brought who knew it and did not say." They brought the son of Hedja. He said to him: "On account of thy susa have been spoiled the garments of the king." They bound two cedars with rope, and tied one foot to one cedar, and the other foot to the other cedar, and let go the ropes, so that his head was split; for each cedar went back and stood in its place, and he was split and fell in two.

    [And so the interpretation of dreams goes on for other two and a half folio pages. These three specimen extracts may suffice to give examples of the indifferent, the good, and the absurd, which constitute the Talmud. They will show the necessity of discrimination, and how readily the Talmud, as a whole, may be either decried by enemies or unduly exalted by a judicious selection of passages.]

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