Baruch James asked:

Near the end of Kiddushin there is a story about Rabbi Meir being tempted by the Satan who, disguised as a beautiful woman, is on the other side of a river. Rabbi Meir crosses the river on a narrow plank and using a rope to steady himself. Similarly, at the end of Kesubos 112a we have a story about Rabbi Zeira who, in his haste to make aliyah, crosses the river using a narrow plank and a rope. Are there any commentaries who notice the similarity of these stories? If so, what do they have to say?

Baruch James, Silver Spring, MD USA

The Kollel replies:

Though I did not see anyone mention it, the obvious connection between these stories is that both describe situations where people were following their desires when logic would not seem to dictate that they should act this way. This is also clear from the statement of the Tzeduki to Rebbi Zeira (in Kesuvos), and Rebbi Zeira's reply which explained his urgent desire. I would venture to say that the Gemara is alluding that "Zeh l'Umas Zeh Asah ha'Elokim" -- "this opposite this Hash-m made," that just as one can have a seemingly uncontrollable urge from the Yetzer ha'Ra, so too Hash-m made a force in spirituality where one can build up his Yetzer ha'Tov to the point where he is driven to do Mitzvos (similar (but not exactly) to David ha'Melech's statement in the Vayikra Rabah 35:1 that his feet naturally carried him to the Beis ha'Medrash).

All the best,

Yaakov Montrose