04 agosto 2008

whilst the entire Heavenly Academy maintained ...

Now, they were disputing in the Heavenly Academy thus: If the bright spot preceded the white hair, he is unclean; if the reverse, he is clean. If [the order is] in doubt — the Holy One, blessed be He, ruled, He is clean; whilst the entire Heavenly Academy maintained, He is unclean. Who shall decide it? said they. — Rabbah b. Nahmani; for he said, I am pre-eminent in the laws of leprosy and tents. A messenger was sent for him, but the Angel of Death could not approach him, because he did not interrupt his studies [even for a moment]. In the meantime, a wind blew and caused a rustling in the bushes, when he imagined it to be a troop of soldiers. ‘Let me die,’ he exclaimed, ‘rather than be delivered into the hands of the State. As he was dying, he exclaimed, ‘Clean, clean!’ when a Heavenly Voice cried out, ‘Happy art thou, O Rabbah b. Nahmani, whose body is pure and whose soul had departed in purity!’ A missive fell from Heaven in Pumbeditha, [upon which was written,] ‘Rabbah b. Nahmani has been summoned by the Heavenly Academy.

Baba Metzia 86a