One in Messiah Congregation


Talmud - Mas. Sukkah 52a

Two Messiahs?


And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart.


1 Is it not, they said, an a fortiori argument? If in the future

2 when they will be engaged in mourning and the Evil Inclination will have no power over them,

3 the Torah

4 nevertheless says, men separately and women separately, how much more so now

5 when they are engaged in rejoicing and the Evil Inclination has sway over them.


6 What is the cause of the mourning [mentioned in the last cited verse]?1 — R. Dosa and the Rabbis differ on the point. One explained, The cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph ,

7 and the other explained, The cause is the slaying of the Evil Inclination. It is well according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph , since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse, And they shall look upon me because they have thrust him through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son ;


8 but according to him who explains the cause to be the slaying of the Evil Inclination, is this [it may be objected] an occasion for mourning? Is it not rather an occasion for rejoicing? Why then should they weep? — [The explanation is] as R. Judah expounded: In the time to come

9 the Holy One, blessed be He, will bring the Evil Inclination and slay it in the presence of the righteous and the wicked. To the righteous it will have the appearance of a towering hill, and to the wicked it will have the appearance of a hair thread. Both the former and the latter will weep; the righteous will weep saying, ‘How were we able to overcome such a towering hill!’ The wicked also will weep saying, ‘How is it that we were unable to conquer this hair thread!’ And the Holy One, blessed be He, will also marvel together with them, as it is said, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, it shall

10 also be marvellous in My eyes.

11 R. Assi stated, The Evil Inclination is at first like the thread of a spider, but ultimately

12 becomes like cart ropes, as it is said, Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart-rope.

13 Our Rabbis taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, will say to the Messiah, the son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days!), ‘Ask of me anything, and I will give it to thee’, as it is said, I will tell of the decree etc. this day have I begotten thee, ask of me and I will give the nations for thy inheritance.

14 But when he will see that the Messiah the son of Joseph is slain , he will say to Him, ‘Lord of the Universe, I ask of Thee only the gift of life’.’As to life’, He would answer him, ‘Your father David has already prophesied this concerning you’, as it is said, He asked life of thee, thou gavest it him, [ even length of days for ever and ever].

15 R. ‘Awira or, as some say, R. Joshua b. Levi, made the following exposition: The Evil Inclination has seven names. The Holy One, blessed be He, called it Evil, as it is said, For the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.

16 Moses called it the Uncircumcised, as it is said, Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart.

17 David called it Unclean, as it is said, Create me a clean heart, O Lord,

18 which implies that there is an unclean one. Solomon called it the Enemy, as it is said, If thine enemy

19 be hungry, give him bread

20 to eat and if he be thirsty give him water to drink.

21 For thou wilt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord will reward thee;

22 read not, ‘will reward thee’

23 but ‘will cause it to be at peace with thee.’

24 Isaiah called it the Stumbling-Block, as it is said, Cast ye up, Cast ye up, clear the way, take up the stumbling-block out of the way of my people.

25 Ezekiel called it Stone, as it is said, And I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh.

26 Joel called it the Hidden One, as it is said, But I will remove far off from you the hidden one.

27 Our Rabbis taught: ‘But I will remove far off from you the hidden one’,27 refers to the Evil Inclination which is constantly hidden in the heart of man; and will drive him into a land barren and desolate

28 means, to a place where there are no men for him to attack; with his face toward the eastern sea,28 [implies] that he set his eyes against the First Temple

29 and destroyed it and slew the scholars who were therein; and his hinder part toward the western sea28 [implies] that he set his eyes against the Second Temple and destroyed it and slew the scholars who were therein. That his foulness may come up and his ill-savour may come up28 [means] that he leaves the other nations in peace and attacks only Israel.

30 Because he hath done great things.28 Abaye explained, Against scholars

31 more than against anyone;

32 as was the case when Abaye heard a certain man saying to a woman, ‘Let us arise betimes and go on our way’. ‘I will’, said Abaye, ‘follow them in order to keep them away from transgression’ and he followed them for three parasangs across the meadows. When they parted company

33 he heard them say, ‘Our company is pleasant, the way is long’.

34 ‘If it were I’,

35 said Abaye, ‘I could not have restrained myself’, and so went and leaned in deep anguish against a doorpost, when a certain old man

36 came up to him and taught him: The greater the man, the greater his Evil Inclination. R. Isaac stated, The [Evil] Inclination of a man grows stronger within him from day to day, as it is said, Only evil all the day.


(1) Zech. XII, 12.

(2) The time alluded to in the text cited.

(3) So that levity is least to be expected.

(4) Sc. Scripture, in the statement ‘and their wives apart’.

(5) At the festivities of the Water-Drawing.

(6) And undue levity is most likely.

(7) The precursor of the Messiah ben David, the herald of the true Messianic age.

(8) Zech. XII, 10.

(9) The Messianic age.

(10) E.V., ‘Should it’.

(11) Zech. VIII, 6.

(12) If the man continues to yield to temptation.

(13) Isa. V, 18.

(14) Ps. II, 7 and 8.

(15) Ps. XXI, 5.

(16) Gen. VIII, 21.

(17) Deut. X, 16; the heart is the supposed seat of the Evil Inclination.

(18) Ps. LI, 12.

(19) The Evil Inclination.

(20) Sc. the study of the Torah.

(21) Sc. the study of the Torah.

(22) Prov. XXV, 21 and 22.

(23) Yeshalem lak.

(24) Yashlimenu lak.

(25) Isa. LVII, 14.

(26) Ezek XXXVI, 26.

(27) Joel II, 20; E.V., ‘northern one’.

(28) Ibid.

(29) Synonymous with sea (cf. Rashi).

(30) Lit., ‘the enemies of Israel’, a euphemism.

(31) Who are ‘great’ men.

(32) Does the Evil Inclination act.

(33) Each one having had to go in a different direction.

(34) Sc. much as they would have liked to go together they must part company since they had to go in different directions.

(35) Lit., ‘he who hates me’, euphemism.

(36) Tradition identifies the anonymous old man with the spirit of Elijah.


Talmud - Mas. Sukkah 52b


1 R. Simeon b. Lakish stated, The Evil Inclination of a man grows in strength from day to day and seeks to kill him, as it is said, The wicked watcheth the righteous and seeketh to slay him;2 and were it not that the Holy One, blessed be He, is his help, he would not be able to withstand it, as it is said, The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor suffer him to be condemned when he is judged.3


The school of R. Ishmael taught, If this repulsive wretch4 meets thee, drag him to the Beth Hamidrash.5 If he is of stone, he will dissolve, if of iron he will shiver into fragments. ‘If he is of stone he will dissolve’,for it is written, Ho, every one that thirsteth come ye to the water6 and it is written, The waters wear the stones.7 ‘If he is of iron, he will shiver into fragments’, for it is written, Is not my word like as fire? Saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?8


R. Samuel b. Nahmani citing R. Johanan stated, The Evil Inclination entices man in this world and testifies against him in the world to come, as it is said, He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become a manon9 at the last,10 for according to the Atbah11 of R. Hiyya a witness12 is called13 manon.14 R. Huna pointed out an incongruity: It is written, For the spirit of harlotry hath caused them to err,15 but is it not also written, [For the spirit of harlotry] is within them?16 First it only causes them to err, but ultimately it enters into them. Raba observed, First he17 is called a passer-by, then he is called a guest, and finally he is called a man,18 for it is said, And there came a passer-by17 to the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the guest17 and then it is written, but took the poor man's lamb and dressed it for the man17 that was come to him.19


R. Johanan remarked, There is a small organ in man which satisfies him when in hunger and makes him hunger when satisfied,20 as it is said, When they were starved21 they became full etc.22


R. Hana b. Abba stated: It was said at the schoolhouse, There are four things of which the Holy One, blessed be He, repents that He had created them, and they are the following: Exile, the Chaldeans, the Ishmaelites and Evil Inclination. ‘The Exile’, since it is written, Now, therefore, what do I here, saith the Lord, seeing that My people is taken away for naught etc.;23 ‘the Chaldeans’, since it is written, Behold the land of the Chaldeans — this is the people that was not;24 ‘the Ishmaelites’, since it is written, The tents of the robbers25 prosper, and they that provoke God are secure since God brought them with His hand;26 ‘the Evil Inclination’, since it is written, [And I will gather her that is driven away] and her that I have afflicted.27


R. Johanan remarked, Were it not for [the declarations in] the following three Scriptural verses,28 the feet of the enemies of Israel29 would have sunk. One is the verse, And her that I have afflicted;30 the other is the verse, Behold, as the clay in the potter's hand, so are ye in My hand, O House of Israel;31 and the third, And I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.32 R. Papa observed, [This may be derived] from the following verse also, And I will put My spirit into you.33


And the Lord showed me four craftsmen.34 Who are these ‘four craftsmen’? — R. Hana b. Bizna citing R. Simeon Hasida replied: The Messiah the son of David, the Messiah the son of Joseph, Elijah and the Righteous Priest.35 R. Shesheth objected,36 If so, was it correct to write, These37 are the horns which scattered Judah,38 seeing that they came to turn [them] back?39 — The other answered him, Go to the end of the verse: These then are come to frighten them, to cast down the horns of the nations, which lifted up their horns against the Land of Judah, to scatter it40 etc. Why, said R. Shesheth to him, should I argue with Hana in Aggada?41


And this shall be peace: when the Assyrian shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise up against him seven shepherds and eight princes among men.42 Who are the ‘seven shepherds’? — David in the middle, Adam, Seth and Methuselah43 on his right, and Abraham, Jacob and Moses44 on his left. And who are the ‘ eight princes among men’? — Jesse, Saul, Samuel, Amos, Zephaniah, Zedekiah, the Messiah , and Elijah.45


FOUR LADDERS etc. A Tanna taught, the height of a candlestick was fifty cubits.


AND FOUR YOUTHS DRAWN FROM THE PRIESTLY STOCK IN WHOSE HANDS WERE HELD JARS OF OIL CONTAINING ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY LOG. It was asked: Were there one hundred and twenty log for46 all of them or one hundred and twenty log for each? — Come and hear: With jars of oil in their hands, each of thirty log making a total of one hundred and twenty log.


A Tanna taught, And they47 were superior48 to the son of Martha the daughter of Boethus.49 It was said of the son of Martha the daughter of Boethus, that he50 could take51 two sides of a huge ox which cost one thousand zuz and walk with them,52 heel to toe,53 but the Sages would not permit him to do so because In the multitude of the people is the King's glory.54 In what respect, however, were they55 superior? If you will say because of the weight do not those56 weigh more?57 — The fact is that in that case there was an ascent every four [cubits length of which rose only to a height of about one cubit]58 so that it was far from being perpendicular, while here there were ladders which were almost perpendicular.59




(1) Gen. VI, 5; as the days go on the evil increases.

(2) Ps. XXXVII, 32.

(3) Ibid. 33.

(4) The Evil Inclination.

(5) The schoolhouse, i.e., overcome it by your application to study.

(6) Isa. LV, 1; sc. the Torah.

(7) Job XIV, 19.

(8) Jer. XXIII, 29. [This can also be rendered: ‘like the hammer which the (granite) rock (against which it is struck) breaketh; the Evil Inclination being compared to an iron hammer and the Beth Hamidrash to a granite rock, v. Tosaf.].

(9) iubn E.V., ‘master’.

(10) Prov. XXIX, 21.

(11) A form of arrangement of the letters of the alphabet in groups of two, each group corresponding to the numerical value of ten (e.g. y"t,v"c) or a hundred (e.g. m"h, p"f) while nun which in the tens has no corresponding letter is grouped with he which in the units has no corresponding letter.

(12) vsvx sahadah.

(13) Since the letters n and u correspond to x and s and each b corresponds to a v.

(14) iubn. n = x, b = v, u = s, i = v.

(15) Hos. IV, 12; the cause of the error thus being external.

(16) Ibid. V, 4; i.e., internal.

(17) Sc. the Evil Inclination.

(18) Sc. an inmate, an occupier of the house.

(19) II Sam. XII, 4.

(20) The more one yields to one's passions the more mastery they gain. Cf. ‘the appetite comes with the eating’.

(21) Kemar'itham, apparently compared with the rt. of ra'ab (‘to hunger’) or ra’ (‘bad’, ‘lean’). E.V. ‘fed’.

(22) Hos. XIII, 6.

(23) Isa. LII, 5.

(24) Ibid. XXIII, 13; i.e., it were better if they had never existed.

(25) Identified with the Arabs (Ishmaelites) who dwell all their lives in tents.

(26) Job XII,6 E.V., ‘in whatsoever God bringeth into their hand’.

(27) Mic. IV, 6; by creating the Evil Inclination.

(28) Which imply that God is responsible for the sins of His people.

(29) Euphemism for Israel.

(30) Mic. IV, 6; by creating the Evil Inclination.

(31) Jer. XVIII, 6.

(32) Ezek. XXXVI, 26.

(33) Ibid. 27.

(34) Zech. II, 3.

(35) Identified in Gen. R. XLIII with Melchizedek. [MS.M. reads: Melchizedek. He represented the best type of Monotheist of the non-Jewish race].

(36) [Read with MS.M.: demurred, vk ;he,n ].

(37) Presumably ‘the craftsmen’.

(38) Zech. II, 4, Which shows that it refers to enemies of Israel.

(39) MS.M.: to rehabilitate them.

(40) Zech. ibid., which shows that the ‘horns’ refer to the enemies of Israel and not to the craftsmen.

(41) He admitted defeat at the hands of an expert in homiletics.

(42) Mic. V, 4.

(43) Non-Jews.

(44) Jews.

(45) The Yalkut and Ein Jacob have Elijah before Messiah. Cf. Mal. III, 23.

(46) Cf. Bah.

(47) The youths, who were able to carry the heavy weight of oil mentioned.

(48) In strength.

(49) Boethus was the High Priest whose daughter Martha married Joshua b. Gamala, the institutor of the school system in Palestine, and who with her wealth bribed Agrippa II to appoint him High Priest, c. 64. She was a widow when she married Joshua and the reference here may be to a son of her first marriage.

(50) Who was a priest.

(51) Up the ascent to the altar.

(52) Despite their heavy weight.

(53) I.e., in a stately and slow manner.

(54) Prov. XIV, 28; one ox had to be carried by twenty-four priests (cf. Yoma 26b).

(55) The youths, who were able to carry the heavy weight of oil mentioned.

(56) The two sides of an ox.

(57) Than thirty log.

(58) The total length of the ascent being thirty-two cubits and the height of the altar only nine cubits.

(59) Needing greater physical effort to ascend them even though the weight one carried was less.

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