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Avodah Zarah, Daf Yod Zayin, Part 4
Reading for Wednesday, October 11

Avodah Zarah 17-4


ת”ר כשנתפסו רבי אלעזר בן פרטא ורבי חנינא בן תרדיון א”ל ר’ אלעזר בן פרטא לרבי חנינא בן תרדיון אשריך שנתפסת על דבר אחד אוי לי שנתפסתי על חמשה דברים

א”ל רבי חנינא אשריך שנתפסת על חמשה דברים ואתה ניצול אוי לי שנתפסתי על דבר אחד ואיני ניצול שאת עסקת בתורה ובגמילות חסדים ואני לא עסקתי אלא בתורה [בלבד] וכדרב הונא דאמר רב הונא כל העוסק בתורה בלבד דומה כמי שאין לו אלוה שנאמר (דברי הימים ב טו, ג) וימים רבים לישראל ללא אלהי אמת [וגו’]. מאי ללא אלהי אמת? שכל העוסק בתורה בלבד דומה כמי שאין לו אלוה.


Our rabbis taught: When R. Elazar b. Perata and R. Hanina b. Teradion were arrested, R. Elazar b. Perata said to R. Hanina b. Teradion: Happy are you, for you have been arrested on one charge; woe is me, for I have been arrested on five charges.

Hanina replied: Happy are you, for you have been arrested on five charges, but you will be saved; woe is me who was arrested on one charge and I will not be saved; for you have occupied yourself with the study of Torah and acts of loving kindness, whereas I occupied myself with Torah alone.

This accords with the opinion of R. Huna. For R. Huna said: He who occupies himself only with the study of the Torah is as if he had no God, for it is said: “Now for many days Israel was without the true God” (II Chronicles 15:3).  What is meant by “without the true God”? It means that he who only occupies himself only with the study of the Torah is as if he had no God.


This is the story of the arrest of R. Elazar b. Perata on five charges (which are not listed here) and the arrest of R. Hanina b. Tradion for only one charge, studying Torah. R. Hanina b. Tradion, despite being arrested for only one charge, will not escape punishment, whereas R. Elazar b. Perata will. This is because R. Hanina only studied Torah and did not occupy himself with “gemilut hasadim.”

The Talmud adds in here a general accusation against a person who only studies Torah and does not occupy himself with “gemilut hasadim.” One who only studies Torah is akin to one who has no God. This is certainly a biting criticism of one who leads this type of imbalanced life.


ובגמילות חסדים לא עסק? והתניא רבי אליעזר בן יעקב אומר לא יתן אדם מעותיו לארנקי של צדקה אלא א”כ ממונה עליו תלמיד חכם כר’ חנינא בן תרדיון


But did he not occupy himself with acts of loving kindness? Surely it has been taught: R. Eliezer b. Jacob says: One should not put his money into a charity-bag, unless it is supervised by a disciple of the sages such as R. Hanina b. Teradion!  


This story makes it sound as if R. Hanina b. Teradion was occupied in the supervision of charity, which seems to be an act that counts as an act of loving kindness.


הימנוה הוא דהוה מהימן מיעבד לא עבד


He was indeed trustworthy, but he did not practice [“gemilut hasadim”].


The potential resolution is that he was indeed trustworthy, but he did not actually practice acts of gemilut hasadim.


והתניא: אמר לו מעות של פורים נתחלפו לי במעות של צדקה וחלקתים לעניים

מיעבד עבד כדבעי ליה לא עבד


But has it not been taught: He said to him: I accidentally mixed up charity collected for Purim with ordinary charity money, so I distributed it to the poor!  

He did indeed practice, but not as much as was required.


The Talmud brings up a statement by R. Hanina concerning charity collection. Somehow he mixed up money collected for Purim, which must be given out that day so that the poor can use it to buy food for the Purim feast, with money collected for general charity. Rashi explains that to compensate for this error, he distributed his own money to the poor for Purim. In any case, it again seems clear that he was occupied with acts of gemilut hasadim.

Again, the Talmud tries to resolve the difficulty. He did engage in acts of lovingkindness, but not at the level required.