Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Chassid who slept in the Cemetery


The Gemara (rabbinic discussions) in the Talmud Tractate Berachot 18b teaches us about a Chassid who slept in a cemetery. One day before Rosh HaShana, the Chassid gave away a large amount ot money and his wife got angry. That night, the Chassid preferred to sleep in the cemetery.

The Gemara is asking the question how the man could have been a Chassid when sleeping on a cemetery. Doesn’t the same Talmud Tractate (daf 43b) teach that a Talmid Chacham should not go out alone at night ?

The Kisei Rachamim said that the Chassid didn’t sleep on the cemetery but nearby. 

The Talmud commentator Maharsha explained that the Chassid never went to the cemetery but experienced the entire scene in a dream.

Rabbi Israel Salanter commentated that the Gemara didn’t directly intend to say that the Chassid’s wife was angry at her husband. However, she made her husband angry. As it was one day before Rosh HaShana (a Jewish holiday when the whole world is being judged), the Chassid preferred sleeping on the cemetery in order to keep the anger at his wife low. Otherwise G – d may have judged her too harsh.

The Gemara continues that the Chassid suddenly heard spirits discussing the afflictions the world would receive in the new year. However, the Talmud teaches at a different section that the Heavenly Court is judging only during the day and not at night (Talmud Rosh HaShana 8). How then could the Chassid hear the voices of the Heavenly Court ?

The Vilna Gaon commentated that the Chasid slept in the cemetery on the night preceding the second day of Rosh Hashanah, after the decree had been issued on the first day.

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