י״א באב ה׳תשע״ד (August 7, 2014)

Megilla 27a-b: Secrets to a Long Life

“By what merit did you live such a long life?”

In a number of places in the Talmud we find this question presented to leading Sages by their students. Although the general principle of the Talmud is that rewards for the performance of mitzvot are received not in this world, but in the world-to-come, nevertheless it appears to have been widely accepted that someone who is particular in his performance of a given mitzva over and above the basic requirements is rewarded with long life. In fact, the commentaries examine each of the answers presented in our Gemara and attempt to show how the particular activity described goes beyond the letter-of-the-law in its performance.

Among the activities that are credited with long life we find:

“I never called someone by their nickname.”

Tosafot explain that even nicknames that did not carry any negative elements were to be avoided. Calling someone by a nickname that was insulting is a very serious matter according to the Talmud (see Bava Metzia 58b). Rabbeinu Yehonatan explains that this refers to a name that carried with it some negative connotation when it was first given to an ancestor years before, but today is no longer an embarrassment.

“I never missed making Kiddush on Shabbat.”

The issue here is whether there is an obligation to make Kiddush on wine, or can it be made on bread. From the Gemara it is clear that this statement refers to the fact that Kiddush was always made over wine, and the Rashba explains that this was done, even though Kiddush could have been made over bread.

“I never used the synagogue as a shortcut.”

Rav Shmu’el ha-Levi in his Ramat Shmu’el suggests that this was true even in a case where it was permissible to do so according to the letter-of-the-law – for example when there was an existing walkway in front of the synagogue that was built for that purpose.

Previous
Next