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Avodah Zarah, Daf Dalet, Part 4
Reading for Wednesday
, July 12
Avodah Zarah 4-4



א”ר אלעזר אמר להן הקב”ה לישראל עמי ראו כמה צדקות עשיתי עמכם שלא כעסתי עליכם כל אותן הימים שאם כעסתי עליכם לא נשתייר מעובדי כוכבים משונאיהם של ישראל שריד ופליט והיינו דקאמר ליה בלעם לבלק (במדבר כג, ח) מה אקב לא קבה אל ומה אזעם לא זעם ה’.


Elazar said: The Holy Blessed One said to Israel: My people, see how many righteous acts I did for you, in that I did not get angry with you all those days, for had I become angry, none would have remained or been spared of Israel’s enemies. This is what Bilaam said to Balak, “How can I curse, seeing that God has not cursed, and how can I be wrathful, seeing that the Lord has not been wrathful” (Numbers 23:8)?


This statement is here because it again connects with the Bilaam and with God’s wrath. Note that “Israel’s enemies” is a euphemism. The statement should read “none would have remained in Israel.” But the copyist did not even want to write such a terrible statement.


וכמה זעמו? רגע. וכמה רגע? אמר אמימר ואיתימא רבינא רגע כמימריה.

And how long is His wrath? A moment [rega]. And how long is a rega? Amemar said (others say, Ravina): As long as it takes to utter this word.


God’s wrath is brief, as we have seen before.


ומנלן דרגע הוה ריתחיה דכתיב (תהלים ל, ו) כי רגע באפו חיים ברצונו

ואיבעית אימא מהכא (ישעיהו כו, כ) חבי כמעט רגע עד יעבור זעם


And how do we know that His wrath lasts a moment? As it is written, “For He is angry but a moment, and when He is pleased there is life” (Psalms 30:6). Or if you want you can say, from this verse: “Hide yourself for a short moment, until the wrath is past” (Isaiah 26:20).


Two verses are brought to show that God’s wrath lasts only a moment.


אימת רתח? אמר אביי בתלת שעי קמייתא כי חיורא כרבלתא דתרנגולא.

כל שעתא ושעתא מחוור? חיורא כל שעתא אית ביה סורייקי סומקי ההיא שעתא לית ביה סורייקי סומקי


When is He wrathful? Abaye said: During the first three hours, when the comb of the cock is white. But is it not white at all times? At other times it has red streaks, at that time there are no red streaks in it.


Abaye provides a natural phenomenon by which to determine when God’s wrath occurs.


רבי יהושע בן לוי הוה מצער ליה ההוא מינא [בקראי. יומא חד] נקט תרנגולא [ואוקמיה בין כרעיה דערסא] ועיין ביה. סבר כי מטא ההיא שעתא אלטייה. כי מטא ההיא שעתא נימנם. אמר שמע מינה לאו אורח ארעא למיעבד הכי. [ורחמיו על כל מעשיו כתיב]. וכתיב (משלי יז, כו) גם ענוש לצדיק לא טוב


Joshua b. Levi used to be troubled by a min about scriptural verses. One day he took a cock and, placed it between the legs of the bed and watched it, thinking, “When that hour will arrive, I shall curse him.” When that hour did arrive, he was napping. He said: You can learn from this that it is not proper to act thus. “His tender mercies are over all His works” is what is written, and it also says. “Neither is it good for the righteous to punish” (Proverbs 17:26).



Again we hear of a “min” perhaps a Jewish-Christian, who is troubling a rabbi with verses. R. Joshua b. Levi thinks he can curse the min at the exact moment when God’s wrath is let loose. But it does not work—he can’t get the exact time write. So don’t try this at home. Furthermore, a righteous person should not be asking for others to be punished.