I. Re-cap and Introduction
R. Yochanan said: There are three kinds of people whose praise the Holy One, blessed be He, proclaims every day: A bachelor who lives in a large city and does not yield to the temptations of immorality; a poor person who returns a lost article to its owner; and a wealthy person who tithes his produce in private.
1. Explain each set of circumstances as to why God praises people who face them.
2. What does this wisdom teach us about the virtue of self-control?
Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: Whoever is conceited, if he is a sage, his wisdom leaves him; if he is a prophet, his prophecy leaves him.
Resh Lakish said: Anyone who gets angry, if he is a sage, his wisdom leaves him; if he is a prophet, his prophecy leaves him.
1. What is it about conceit and anger that cause prophecy to leave a prophet afflicted by these emotions?
2. How do conceit and anger hurt us as well as those upon whom we inflict ourselves when we’re gripped by these emotions?
C. [The Gemara asks:] But why was the second Temple destroyed, inasmuch as they were engaging in Torah, mitzvot, and acts of kindness?
[The Gemara answers:] There was baseless hatred among them. This teaches that baseless hatred is as serious a sin as the three sins of idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed put together.
1. What’s the difference between baseless hatred and hatred grounded in truth?
2. Why is baseless hatred so very dangerous?
(As an explanation of Proverbs 17:14 – “Releasing water is the beginning of strife…”), Rav Huna said: Discord is comparable to a channel formed by a gush of water from an overflowing river. Once the channel widens, it will certainly continue to widen.
Abaye Kashisha said: (Discord is) compared to a plank in a new bridge. Once it becomes firm it remains firm.
There was a man who walked along saying: “Fortunate is one who hears his own denigration without responding, and becomes accustomed to this. Through his silence, a hundred misfortunes that would have befallen him as a result pass him by.”
Shmuel said to Rav Yehudah: This is written in a verse: Releasing water is the beginning of strife, which, on a homiletic level, teaches: Discord is the beginning of a hundred misfortunes.
1. Silence in the face of criticism or denigration is certainly admirable and maybe worthwhile, but is it always the right approach? What if we’ve been abused, hurt, or treated unfairly?
2. Where in an argument should we cut it off to avoid strife?
E. Rava said to Rabbah bar Mari: From where can we learn a source for what the Rabbis say: “If your friend calls you a donkey, take a saddle off a donkey and put it on your back?”
Rabbah bar Mari replies: For it is written: The angel said: “Hagar, maidservant of Sarai, from where have you come and where are you going? And she said: “I am running away from Sarai my mistress.”
Bava Kamma 92b
1. Explain why this strategy may be as practical as it is decent?
2. How does Rabbah bar Mari get to the Hagar story to explain this wisdom?
Wrap-up and Take-aways.