THE PATIENCE OF HILLEL
(Beraisa): One must always be humble like Hillel, and not demanding like Shamai;
Reuven bet Shimon 400 Zuz that he can anger Hillel. It was Erev Shabbos; Hillel was washing his hair. Reuven went by Hillel's door asking 'Who here is Hillel'? Hillel cloaked himself and asked what he can do for him.
Reuven: Why do people of Bavel have round heads?
Hillel: That is an important question - the answer is, because their midwives are unskilled. (Note: Maharsha explains that the questions alluded to Divrei Torah, otherwise one does not bother to answer a fool! The first question was why rich Babylonians lose their wealth; Hillel answered that it was because of haughtiness, which is folly.)
Reuven waited [for Hillel to resume washing his hair] and again went by his door asking 'Who here is Hillel?' Hillel cloaked himself.
Reuven: Why do people of Tarmud have round eyes?
Hillel: That is an important question - the answer is, [so sand will not enter,] for they live amidst the sand. (Note: Maharsha explains that he asked why they stray after their eyes and transgress Arayos; Hillel answered, because they live amidst profane people - the slaves of Shlomo who mingled with them.)
He waited a while and again asked 'Who here is Hillel?' Hillel cloaked himself.
Reuven: Why do Africans have wide feet?
Hillel: That is an important question - the answer is, because they live amidst the swamps. (Note: wide legs prevent them from sinking in; alternatively, they do not wear shoes, which impose their shape on feet. Maharsha explains that the man was asking why these people have a strong lust to gather money; the answer was because they live amidst people that seek dishonest gain.)
Reuven: I have many questions to ask, I fear that you will get angry!
Hillel: Ask whatever you want.
Reuven: Are you Hillel, whom they call Nasi Yisrael? There should not be more like you in Yisrael!
Hillel: Why not?
Reuven: Through you I lost 400 Zuz!
Hillel: It is fitting that you lose 400 Zuz and [do not gain] 400 Zuz, and Hillel should not get angry.
(Beraisa): A case occurred, a Nochri came in front of Shamai; he asked, how many Toros do you have.
Shamai: We have two, written and oral.
The Nochri: I believe you about the written Torah, not about the oral Torah - convert me on condition that you will teach written Torah to me!
Shamai angrily drove him away.
The Nochri came in front of Hillel; Hillel converted him. The first day, Hillel taught him Aleph, Beis, Gimel, Dalet; the next day, Hillel reversed the order of the letters.
The Nochri: Yesterday you taught differently!
Hillel: You rely on me to know the letters - you can also rely on me regarding oral Torah!
Another Nochri came in front of Shamai; he requested conversion on condition that Shamai teach him the entire Torah while standing on one foot - Shamai drove him away with the builder's rod.
The Nochri asked Hillel to convert him [on the same condition].
Hillel: Do not do to your friend what is hateful to you (Rashi - do not transgress Hash-m's words, like you do not like people who transgress your words), the rest is commentary - go learn!
Another Nochri was walking outside a synagogue and heard the Parshah of Bigdei Kohen Gadol read from the Torah; he was told that the Kohen Gadol wears them. He came in front of Shamai; he requested conversion on condition to be appointed come Kohen Gadol - Shamai drove him away with the builder's rod.
The Nochri asked Hillel to convert him [on the same condition]; Hillel did so. (Note: Maharsha explains that Hillel began to teach the Nochri but did not convert him until he realized that he cannot be Kohen Gadol.) Hillel told him, only one who understands kingship is appointed king - go learn about kingship (Kehunah)!
The Nochri was reading the verses that discuss Kehunah - he reached "Veha'Zar ha'Karev Yumas", and asked who is considered a Zar.
Hillel: This applies [to any non-Kohen,] even to David Melech Yisrael!
The Nochri reasoned - Yisrael are called children of Hash-m, out of His love he calls them "Beni Vechori Yisrael", nevertheless "Veha'Zar ha'Karev Yumas" applies to them - all the more so it applies to one who comes to convert with his staff and bag!
The Nochri returned to Shamai and said 'I cannot be Kohen Gadol - "Veha'Zar ha'Karev Yumas" (you should have told me this, instead of driving me away)!
He returned to Hillel and blessed him, for 'Your humility caused me to come under the wings of the Shechinah!'
The three converts met each other; all agreed that Shamai's anger sought to deter them from converting, but Hillel's humility caused them to come under the wings of the Shechinah. (Note: There was no flaw in Shamai's Midos, he held that one must react angrily to words that belittle the honor of Torah; Hillel held that one may pardon the affront to Torah in order to ultimately bring them to convert Lishmah - Rav Yisrael Salanter in Or Yisrael, ch. 28.)
(Reish Lakish): Question: What do we learn from "V'Hayah Emunas Itecha Chosen Yeshu'os Chachmas va'Da'as"?
Answer: (It alludes to the six orders of the Mishnah -) Emunas refers to Seder Zera'im (one plants, relying on Hash-m to make it grow; Maharshal - one may grow in Emunah by testing Hash-m through giving Ma'aseros; Rashi - one must be trustworthy to tithe his produce), Itecha refers to Mo'ed, Chosen refers to [inheritance, i.e. children which come from] Nashim, Yeshu'os refers to Nezikim (it teaches one to beware of damaging, saving him from Chiyuv), Chachmas refers to Kodshim (it is difficult to learn), Da'as (which is greater than Chachmah) refers to Taharos (the hardest Seder);
Nevertheless, "Yir'as Hash-m Hi Otzaro" (it is what enables him to remember all of them).
(Rava): The verse also alludes to six things a person is asked when brought to judgment [after death]:
Were your business dealings be'Emunah (honest)?
Did you fix Itim (times) for Torah?
Did you engage in Peru u'Rvu (Chosen)?
Did you anticipate Yeshu'ah (salvation)?
Did you delve deeply into Chachmah?
Did you understand one matter through another [to attain greater Da'as]?
Nevertheless, "Yir'as Hash-m Hi Otzaro" - if one fears Hash-m, good (these attributes will persist) - if not, not.
A parable - Reuven asked Shimon 'Bring my wheat up to the attic'; Shimon did so.
Reuven: Did you put with it a Kav (a small measure) of Chumtin (sand or salty dirt, to retard spoilage)?
Reuven: It would have been better had you not brought it up!
(Tana d'vei R. Yishmael - Beraisa): (Normally, one who sells may not add fillers to produce, but) one may mix a Kav of Chumtin with a Kor (180 Kavim) of grain.
(Rabah bar Rav Huna): One who has Torah but not Yir'as Shamayim is like a treasurer who was given keys to the treasury inside, but not keys to the outer gates - he cannot enter!
(R. Yanai): Woe to one who lacks a Chatzer, and he toils to make a gate for a Chatzer! (Torah will not help one who lacks Yir'as Shamayim, it is merely a gate for it.)
(Rav Yehudah): Hash-m made the world solely in order that people will fear Him - "V'Ha'Elokim Asah she'Yir'u mi'Lfanav".
R. Yakov bar Acha passed in front of R. Simon and R. Elazar - one of them suggested standing up for him, for he fears sin.
The other: We should stand up for him, for he is a great Chacham!
The first: I say that we should honor him for Yir'as Chet, and you say on account of Torah (which is less important)!
Conclusion: The following shows that R. Elazar suggested standing up on account of Yir'as Chet:
(R. Elazar citing R. Yochanan): Hash-m has only [desire for] Yir'as Shamayim in His world - "Mah Hash-m Elokecha Sho'el me'Imach Ki Im l'Yir'ah...", and it says "Hen Yir'as Hash-m Hi Chachmah"
In Yevanis, 'Hen' means 'one' (it is the only Chachmah).
Question (Rav Ula): "Al Tirsha Harbeh" - is it permitted to do a little evil?!
Answer: Rather, one who ate garlic and gives off an offensive smell, should he eat more garlic and give off more smell?! (One who sinned a little should not sin more!)
Question (Rabah bar Rav Ula): Question: What does it mean "Ki Ein Chartzubos l'Mosam u'Vari Ulam"?
Answer: Hash-m says, not only are Resha'im not sad [about their past] and unafraid of the day of death - more than this, their hearts are clear (Maharsha - they expect to have everything nice in this world,) like the opening to the Ulam (the biggest opening in the Mikdash, 40 Amos by 20 Amos)!
(Rabah): "Zeh Darkam Kesel Lamo" - Resha'im know that they go on the path of death, yet they have Chelev on their kidneys (insulation from considering changing their ways)!
Suggestion: Perhaps they forget about their end!
Rejection: "V'Achareihem b'Fihem Yirtzu Sela" (they talk about their end, yet they do not change).
LIABILITY FOR EXTINGUISHING
(Mishnah): If he extinguished to save the Ner, oil or wick, he is liable (R. Yosi is Mechayev if he intended to save the wick).
Question: Whom does R. Yosi hold like [regarding Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah]?
If he holds like R. Yehudah, he should be Chayav in all cases; if he holds like R. Shimon, he should be exempt even if he intended to save the wick!
Answer #1 (Ula): He holds like R. Yehudah; he holds that Soser (destroying) is liable only if he intends to build [it better] in the same place (for then the Stirah is constructive - likewise, extinguishing makes a better wick, but it does not improve the Ner or oil).
Question (Rabah): We learn Melachos from the Mishkan - they would Soser (dismantle) the Mishkan or rebuild it elsewhere!
Answer (Ula): Since it says "Al Pi Hash-m Yachanu", it is like Stirah in order to rebuild in the same place (it is a Mitzvah to set up the Mishkan in the new encampment, therefore the Stirah is constructive).
Answer #2 (R. Yochanan): He holds like R. Shimon - a wick is different, like Rav Hamnuna taught:
(Rav Hamnuna): The case is, the wick needs to be singed (it was not singed before Shabbos) - R. Shimon admits that one is liable, for this makes a Kli.
Support (Rava): It says 'for he [now intentionally] makes a singed wick' - it does not say, for it becomes a singed wick (i.e. on account of Binyan, even if it was singed before Shabbos).
SPECIAL MITZVOS OF WOMEN
(Mishnah): Women die when giving birth on account of three transgressions - they are not careful about Nidah, Chalah, and lighting Neros [Shabbos].
(Gemara) Question: Why do they die on account of Nidah?
Answer #1 (R. Yitzchak): She sinned regarding something inside her womb, therefore she is stricken through something inside her womb.
Objection: This does not explain dying on account of Chalah and lighting Neros (presumably, there is a common reason for all three)!
Answer #2 (Rav Chisda): Hash-m said, I put a Revi'is of blood in you (this is considered the minimal Shi'ur necessary for life) - I commanded you about Dam [Nidah];
I called you Reishis ("Reishis Tevu'asah"), I commanded you about Reishis [Arisoseichem, i.e.Chalah];
I gave you a Neshamah that is called Ner ("Ner Hash-m Nishmas Adam" - Mishlei 20:27), I commanded you about Ner;
If you will fulfill these [three Mitzvos], good - if not, I will take back the Neshamah I gave!