1. A. "Speak to the children of Israel [and say to them, when any man of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of cattle from the herd or from the flock]" (Lev. 1:2).
B. "Is Ephraim a precious son to me? [Is he a child that is dandled? For as often as I speak of him, I still keep mentioning him]" (Jer. 31:20).
C. Ten were called precious, and these are they: Torah, prophecy, understanding, knowledge, folly, riches, the righteous, the death of the faithful, faithfulness, and Israel.
D. Torah, whence? "It [wisdom] is more precious than rubies" (Prov. 3:15).
E. Prophecy, whence? "And the word of the Lord was precious in those days" (1 Sam. 3:1).
F. Understanding, whence? "That which is precious of the spirit of man is understanding" (Prov. 17:27).
G. Knowledge, whence? "The lips of knowledge are a precious jewel" (Prov. 20:15).
H. Folly, whence? "A little folly is more precious than wisdom and honor" (Qoh. 10:1).
I. Riches, whence? "Precious is the capital of a diligent man" (Prov. 12:27).
J. The righteous, whence? "How precious are your friends to me, O God" (Ps. 139:17).
K. The death of the faithful, whence? "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of the faithful ones" (Ps. 116:15).
L. Faithfulness, whence? "How precious is your faithfulness, O God" (Ps. 36:8).
M. Israel, whence? "Is Ephraim [=Israel] not a precious son to me?" (Jer. 31:20).
2. A. Under ordinary circumstances, if a thousand people start [to study]
Scripture, a hundred succeed. If a hundred start [to study] the Mish-nah, ten succeed. [If] ten go on to Talmud, one succeeds. That is in line with the following verse of Scripture: "One man among a thousand have I found [M'LP, one who teaches, with the same consonants reads, 'out of a thousand'] but a woman among all those have I not found" (Qoh. 7:28).
B. "One man among a thousand have I found" refers to Abraham.
C. "But a woman among all those have I not found"—even Sarah.
D. Another possibility: "One man among a thousand have I found" refers to Amram.
E. "But a woman among all those have I not found"—even Jochebed.
F. Another possibility: "One man among a thousand have I found" refers to Moses.
G. "But a woman among all those have I not found" refers to the women of the generation of the wilderness. . . .
3. A. Said the Holy One, blessed be he, "I place a high price on Israel."
C. R. Abba bar Kahana said, "Had Pharaoh demanded the equivalent of the weight of each Israelite in precious stones and pearls, would the Holy One, blessed be he, not have paid it to him?"
D. Said R. Isaac, "Now did [God] not take them out for a price? [He sent] swarms and swarms of vermin, swarms and swarms of evil beasts. Are these not a price [to be paid]?"
E. Accordingly: "I place a high price on Israel."
Was this article helpful?