Saturday, 26 January 2013

Mussar: ... His lips move along in the grave.

From Derech Emet -

Midrash Rabah, Shir HaShirim, chapter 7, paragraph 16:

Rabbi Yochanan ben Torta taught:

[A deceased Torah scholar whose teachings are being quoted in his name,] his lips move along in the grave.


NOTE 1: This cannot be interpreted literally, because the lips of dead people do not move. Rather, this must mean that the soul of the deceased Torah scholar experiences some kind of benefit or satisfaction when living Jews quote his teachings in his name.

NOTE 2: This concept also appears in the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Yebamot, page 97A, on the first lines of that page; but there the concept is taught in the name of Rabbi Yochanan who taught it in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai; there is no explicit mention there of ben Torta in Yebamot 97A.

NOTE 3: The story of Rabbi Yochanan ben Torta is in the Pesikta Rabati, Parsha 14, commentary on Parshat Chukat

Best Regards,

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