I. Re-cap and Introduction
One day as Honi was traveling on the road, he saw a man planting a carob tree. He said to him, “Let’s see; it takes seventy years for a carob tree to bear fruit. Are you sure you will live seventy more years so that you will be able to enjoy its fruit?”
The man replied, “When I came into this world I found a carob tree that others had planted for me (even though they did not expect to see the fruit of their labor). Just as my ancestors planted the tree for me, I plant this tree for my descendants.”
Why are we here on earth? Why are we alive? Is it just to enjoy the years we’ve been given? Or is there more? Do we have a more meaningful and enduring purpose? What would that be?
Rava said to Rabbah bar Mari: From where can we learn the source for this thing people say: “Do not throw a clod of earth into a well from which you drink?”
Rabbah bar Mari replied: For it is written: “You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not abhor an Egyptian for you were a sojourner in his land.”
Bava Kamma 92b
What’s the meaning of Rava’s wisdom - both on the surface and at a deeper level? Why would a person throw a clod of earth into a well in the first place? How does the reference to the Edomites help lead us to understanding?
Rava said to Rabbah bar Mari: From where can we learn a source for this thing that people say; “If you will join me in lifting the burden, I will lift it; otherwise, I will not lift it”?
Rabbah bar Mari replied: “For it is written that Barak said to her (Deborah), “if you go with me, I will go; but if you do not go with me, I will not go.”
Bava Kamma 92b
How does this lesson from the Bible help us make decisions in everyday life? Why do you believe this example in leadership isn’t followed more often in today’s society? How would we be advantaged if it were?
Regarding Ruth’s son, it is stated: The neighborhood women gave him a name saying, “A son is born to Naomi.” Ruth 4:17
With a powerful arm You redeemed Your people, the progeny of Jacob and Joseph, selah. Psalms 77:16
These are the progeny of Aaron and Moses…Numbers 3:1
1. I’ve highlighted three names to give you a clue. Do you see the pattern? Where do you think this wisdom is headed? What’s the message?
2. Think back on your knowledge of these Bible stories. What do we remember specifically about Naomi, Joseph, and Moses that fuel the lesson here?
Scripture states: “And the wise will shine like the radiance of the firmament…” This refers to a judge who renders an absolutely truthful judgment. His virtues cause him to shine.
The Gemara expounds upon the end of the verse: “And those who make the many righteous will shine like the stars forever and ever.” This refers to charity collectors, who in the merit of causing the many to be charitable, will shine like the stars.
The Gemara presents a different version of the above: It was taught in a Baraisa:… “those who make the many righteous will shine like the stars forever and ever” refers to teachers of children.
Bava Basra 8b
The Talmud is interested in using Biblical language to describe the worthy impact of honorable judges, charity collectors, and effective teachers. Explain how.
III. Conclusion - what are your best takeaways from our study of Talmudic wisdom over these four weeks?