THE 'PRAYER'. [It may be recited in any language because] it is only supplication, and one may pray in any language he wishes. But may the 'prayer' be recited in any language? Behold Rab Judah has said: A man should never pray for his needs in Aramaic. For R. Johanan declared: If anyone prays for his needs in Aramaic, the Ministering Angels4 do not pay attention to him, because they do not understand that language! — There is no contradiction, one referring to [the prayer] of an individual and the other to that of a Congregation.5 And do not the Ministering Angels understand Aramaic? Behold it has been taught: Johanan, the High Priest, heard a Bath Kol6 issue from within the Holy of Holies announcing, 'The young men who went to wage war against Antioch7 have been victorious.8 It also happened with Simeon the Righteous9 that he heard a Bath Kol issue from within the Holy of Holies announcing, 'Annulled is the decree which the enemy intended to introduce into the Temple'. Then was Caius Caligula10 slain and his decrees annulled. They noted down the time [when the Bath Kol spoke] and it tallied.11 Now it was in Aramaic that it spoke! — If you wish I can say that it is different with a Bath Kol since it occurs for the purpose of being generally understood;12 or if you wish I can say that it was Gabriel who spoke; for a Master has declared: Gabriel came and taught [Joseph] the seventy languages.13
THE GRACE AFTER MEALS. [That this may be recited in any language is derived from] the text: And thou shalt eat and be full, and thou shalt bless the Lord thy God14 — in any language wherein thou utterest a benediction.
THE OATH CONCERNING TESTIMONY. [That this may be uttered in any language is derived from] the text: And if any one sin, in that he heareth the voice of adjuration15 — in whatever language he hears it.
THE OATH CONCERNING A DEPOSIT. [That this may be uttered in any language] is derived from the analogous use of the phrase 'if any one sin' in the oath concerning testimony.16
THE FOLLOWING ARE RECITED IN THE HOLY TONGUE: THE DECLARATION MADE AT THE OFFERING OF THE FIRST-FRUITS, THE FORMULA OF HALIZAH, etc. down to: WHENCE IS IT THAT THE DECLARATION MADE AT THE OFFERING OF THE FIRST-FRUITS [MUST BE IN HEBREW]? [IT IS STATED], AND THOU SHALT ANSWER AND SAY BEFORE THE LORD THY GOD, AND ELSEWHERE IT IS STATED, AND THE LEVITES SHALL ANSWER AND SAY; AS THE LATTER MUST BE IN THE HOLY TONGUE, SO MUST THE FORMER BE IN THE HOLY TONGUE. But whence have we it of the Levites themselves [that they used Hebrew]? — It is derived from the analogous use of the word 'voice' in connection with Moses. Here it is written with a loud voice,17 and elsewhere it is written: Moses spake and God answered him by a voice;18 as in the latter passage it was in the holy tongue, so also in the other passage it means in the holy tongue.
WHENCE IS IT THAT THE FORMULA OF HALIZAH etc. What, then, do the Rabbis make of the word 'thus'?19 — They require it to indicate that each act20 invalidates [the ceremony by its omission]. And R. Judah?21 — From the use of 'Kakah' instead of koh.22 And the Rabbis? — They draw no inference from the use of 'Kakah' instead of koh.
Sotah 33bWhat, then, does R. Judah make of the phrase 'and she shall answer and say'?1 — He requires it for the purpose of deducing that the Levites [must pronounce the blessings and curses] in the holy tongue.2 But let him derive that from the analogous use of the word 'voice' in connection with Moses! — He had learnt [from his teacher] to draw an inference from the analogous use of the word 'answer' but not from 'voice'.3 It has been similarly taught: R. Judah says: Wherever [in Scripture the words] 'thus', both in the form of 'koh' and 'kakah', or 'answer and say' occur, [what has to be spoken] must only be in the holy tongue. The word 'koh' is found in 'Thus ye shall bless',4 'kakah' in connection with Halizah, and 'answer and say' with the Levites.
HOW WERE THE BLESSINGS AND CURSES [PRONOUNCED]? WHEN ISRAEL CROSSED THE JORDAN etc. Our Rabbis taught: Are they not beyond Jordan?5 [This means] on the other side of the Jordan and beyond; such is the statement of R. Judah. Behind the way of the coming of the sun6 — the place where the sun dawns.7 In the land of the Canaanites which dwell in the Arabah6 — i.e., mount Gerizim and mount Ebal where the Cutheans8 dwell. Over against Gilgal6 — [this means] near Gilgal.9 Beside the terebinths of Moreh6 — [this means] Shechem. Elsewhere it states: And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem unto the terebinth of Moreh;10 as the terebinth of Moreh mentioned in this latter verse is Shechem, so in the former verse it means Shechem.
It has been taught:11 R. Eleazar son of R. Jose said: In this connection I proved the Samaritan Scriptures12 to be false. I said to them, 'You have falsified your Torah13 but you gained nothing thereby.14 You declare that 'the terebinths of Moreh' means Shechem; we too admit that 'the terebinths of Moreh' means Shechem. We learnt this by an inference from analogy;15 but how have you learnt it!'16
R. Eleazar said: 'Are they not beyond the Jordan'? [This means] near the Jordan; because if it signified on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, is it not written: And it shall be when ye are passed over Jordan!17 'Behind the way of the coming of the sun' — [this means] the place where the sun sets.18 'In the land of the Canaanites' — i.e., the land of the Hivites. 'Which dwell in the Arabah' — but do they not dwell among mountains and hills!19 'Over against Gilgal' — but they could not see Gilgal!20 — R. Eliezer b. Jacob says: Scripture has here only the intention of pointing out to them the route for the second [part of the journey] as it had pointed out to them the route for the first [part of the journey].21 'The way' — [this means], Proceed along the high-road and not through fields and vineyards. 'Which dwell' — [this means], Pass through inhabited territory and not through deserts. 'In the Arabah' — [this means], Pass through the plain and not through mountains and hills.
Our Rabbis taught: How did Israel cross the Jordan? Each day [during the journey in the wilderness] the ark journeyed behind two standards,22 but on this day [of crossing] it journeyed in front; as it is said: Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you.23 Each day the Levites carried the ark, but on this day the priests carried it; as it is said: And it shall come to pass, when the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord etc.24 — It has been taught: R. Jose says: On three occasions the priests carried the ark: when they crossed the Jordan, when they walked round Jericho,25 and when they deposited it in its place.26 —
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