ולא אסבר להו אפיה בפניא כי הוה מנקט ציבי דרא ציבי ומרא בחד כתפא וגלימא בחד כתפא כולה אורחא לא סיים מסאני כי מטי למיא סיים מסאניה כי מטא להיזמי והיגי דלינהו למניה כי מטא למתא נפקה דביתהו לאפיה כי מיקשטא כי מטא לביתיה עלת דביתהו ברישא והדר עייל איהו והדר עיילי רבנן יתיב וכריך ריפתא ולא אמר להו לרבנן תו כרוכו פלג ריפתא לינוקי לקשישא חדא ולזוטרא תרי
but he did not return their greetings. Toward evening, as he was gathering firewood, he placed the wood and hoe on one shoulder and his cloak on the other shoulder. Along the entire way he did not wear his shoes, but when he reached water he put on his shoes. When he reached an area filled with shrubs and thorns he lifted up his clothes. When he reached the city, his wife came out to greet him, adorned with finery. When he reached his house, his wife entered first, he entered afterward, and afterward the two Sages entered. He sat and ate bread, but he did not say to the Sages: Come and eat, as was customary and polite. He divided bread to his children; to the elder child he gave one piece and to the younger one he gave two.
אמר לה לדביתהו ידענא דרבנן משום מיטרא קא אתו ניסק לאיגרא וניבעי רחמי אפשר דמרצי הקדוש ברוך הוא וייתי מיטרא ולא נחזיק טיבותא לנפשין סקו לאיגרא קם איהו בחדא זויתא ואיהי בחדא זויתא קדים סלוק ענני מהך זויתא דדביתהו כי נחית אמר להו אמאי אתו רבנן אמרו ליה שדרי לן רבנן לגבי דמר למיבעי רחמי אמיטרא אמר להו ברוך המקום שלא הצריך אתכם לאבא חלקיה
Abba Ḥilkiyya said to his wife: I know that these Sages have come due to the rain. Let us go up to the roof and pray for mercy. Perhaps the Holy One, Blessed be He, will be appeased, and it will rain, and we will not receive credit ourselves for the rainfall. They went up to the roof. He stood in one corner and she stood in the other corner. Clouds began to form on that side where his wife stood. When he descended, he said to the Sages: Why have the Sages come? They said to him: The other Sages have sent us to the Master, so that you should pray for mercy for rain. He said to them: Blessed is God, Who did not require you to petition Abba Ḥilkiyya, as the sky has filled with clouds and rain is certainly on its way.
אמרו ליה ידעינן דמיטרא מחמת מר הוא דאתא אלא לימא לן מר הני מילי דתמיהא לן מאי טעמא כי יהיבנא למר שלמא לא אסבר לן מר אפיה אמר להו שכיר יום הואי ואמינא לא איפגר ומאי טעמא דרא מר ציבי אחד כתפיה וגלימא אחד כתפיה אמר להו טלית שאולה היתה להכי שאלי ולהכי לא שאלי
They said to him: We know that the rain has come on the Master’s account. However, let the Master please say and explain to us these aspects of your behavior that are puzzling to us: What is the reason that when we greeted the Master, the Master did not return our greeting? He said to them: I am a day laborer, hired for the day, and I said to myself that I may not delay my work to answer you. They further inquired: And what is the reason that the Master carried the firewood on one shoulder and his cloak on the other shoulder? He said to them: It was a borrowed robe. I borrowed it for this purpose, to wear it, and I did not borrow it for that purpose, to place wood on it.
מאי טעמא כולה אורחא לא סיים מר מסאניה וכי מטי למיא סיים מסאניה אמר להו כולה אורחא חזינא במיא לא קא חזינא מאי טעמא כי מטא מר להיזמי והיגי דלינהו למניה אמר להו זה מעלה ארוכה וזה אינה מעלה ארוכה
The Sages continued to ask Abba Ḥilkiyya about his unusual behavior. What is the reason that the entire way the Master did not wear his shoes, but when he reached water he put on his shoes? He said to them: The entire way I can see and take care where I walk, and therefore there is no need for me to wear out my shoes, but in the water I cannot see. Therefore, I put on my shoes to avoid hurting myself. They asked: What is the reason that when the Master reached shrubs and thorns, he lifted up his clothes? He said to them: This flesh will heal if it is scratched by thorns, but this garment will not heal if it is torn.
מאי טעמא כי מטא מר למתא נפקא דביתהו דמר כי מיקשטא אמר להו כדי שלא אתן עיני באשה אחרת מאי טעמא עיילא היא ברישא והדר עייל מר אבתרה והדר עיילינן אנן אמר להו משום דלא בדקיתו לי
They further inquired: What is the reason that when the Master reached the city, the Master’s wife came out adorned in her finery? He said to them: She dresses that way so that when I walk through the city I will not set my eyes upon another woman. They asked: What is the reason that she entered first, and afterward the Master entered, and only afterward we entered? He said to them: Because you have not been checked by me. I cannot be sure how you will act, and therefore I did not want you to be alone with my wife.
מאי טעמא כי כריך מר ריפתא לא אמר לן איתו כרוכו משום דלא נפישא ריפתא ואמינא לא אחזיק בהו ברבנן טיבותא בחנם מאי טעמא יהיב מר לינוקא קשישא חדא ריפתא ולזוטרא תרי אמר להו האי קאי בביתא והאי יתיב בבי כנישתא
The Sages were not done with their questions. What is the reason that when the Master ate bread, you did not say to us: Come and eat? He replied: Because there is not enough bread for guests, and I said to myself that I should not gain credit from the Sages for nothing, by offering you food I cannot serve you. They asked: What is the reason that the Master gave the older child one piece of bread and the younger child two? He said to them: This older child stays at home, and if he is hungry he can eat at any time, but this younger child sits and studies in the synagogue, and therefore he is hungrier.
ומאי טעמא קדים סלוק ענני מהך זויתא דהוות קיימא דביתהו דמר לעננא דידיה משום דאיתתא שכיחא בביתא ויהבא ריפתא לעניי ומקרבא הנייתה ואנא יהיבנא זוזא ולא מקרבא הנייתיה אי נמי הנהו ביריוני דהוו בשיבבותן אנא בעי רחמי דלימותו והיא בעיא רחמי דליהדרו בתיובתא ואהדרו
The two Sages had one final set of queries for Abba Ḥilkiyya. And what is the reason that the clouds began to form on that side where the Master’s wife stood before your own side? He explained: Because my wife is frequently at home, and she gives bread to the poor, and therefore her provision of benefit to the needy is immediate, i. e., soon after the rains fall she is able to provide the needy with provisions. Accordingly, her prayers are answered without delay. In contrast, I give money to the poor, and consequently, the benefit of my gift is not immediate, i. e., it takes a lot of time before the rainfall results in my ability to give money to the poor. Alternatively, her prayers may have been answered first because when certain hooligans [biryonei] were living in our neighborhood, I prayed that they should die, but she prayed that they should repent. And indeed, they repented.
חנן הנחבא בר ברתיה דחוני המעגל הוה כי מצטריך עלמא למיטרא הוו משדרי רבנן ינוקי דבי רב לגביה ונקטי ליה בשיפולי גלימיה ואמרו ליה אבא אבא הב לן מיטרא אמר לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם עשה בשביל אלו שאין מכירין בין אבא דיהיב מיטרא לאבא דלא יהיב מיטרא ואמאי קרי ליה חנן הנחבא מפני שהיה מחביא עצמו בבית הכסא
§ The Gemara relates another story about a descendant of Ḥoni HaMe’aggel. Ḥanan HaNeḥba was the son of Ḥoni HaMe’aggel’s daughter. When the world was in need of rain, the Sages would send schoolchildren to him, and they would grab him by the hem of his cloak and say to him: Father, Father, give us rain. He said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, act on behalf of these children, who cannot distinguish between their Father in Heaven, Who can provide rain, and the father who cannot provide rain. The Gemara asks: And why was he called Ḥanan HaNeḥba? Because he would hide [maḥbi] himself in the lavatory so that people would not bestow honor upon him.
The Gemara relates another story about righteous individuals praying for rain. Rabbi Zerika said to Rav Safra: Come and see what the difference is between the powerful men of Eretz Yisrael and the pious men of Babylonia. This comparison serves to highlight the righteousness of the great men of Eretz Yisrael. By the pious men of Babylonia, I mean Rav Huna and Rav Ḥisda. When the world is in need of rain, these Sages say: Let us assemble together and pray for mercy, and perhaps the Holy One, Blessed be He, will be appeased and bring rain. In this manner, the pious men of Babylonia publicized their prayers for rain.
תקיפי דארעא דישראל כגון רבי יונה אבוה דרבי מני כי הוה מצטריך עלמא למיטרא הוה עייל לביתיה ואמר להו הבו לי גואלקי ואיזיל ואייתי לי בזוזא עיבורא כי הוה נפיק לברא אזיל וקאי בדוכתא עמיקתא דכתיב ממעמקים קראתיך ה׳ וקאי בדוכתא צניעא ומכסי בשקא ובעי רחמי ואתי מיטרא כי הוה אתי לביתיה אמרי ליה אייתי מר עיבורא אמר להו אמינא הואיל ואתא מיטרא השתא רווח עלמא
By contrast, the powerful men of Eretz Yisrael, such as Rabbi Yona, the father of Rabbi Mani, acted differently. When the world was in need of rain, he enters his house and say to his household: Give me my sack [gevalki] and I will go and buy myself a dinar of grain. When he went outside, he went and stood in a low place, as it is written: “ Out of the depths I have called You, O Lord” (Psalms 130:1). And he would stand in a secluded place, and cover himself with sackcloth, and pray for mercy, and rain would come. When he would come home, they would say to him: Did the Master bring grain? He said to them: I said to myself, since rain has now come, there will be relief in the world and prices will soon go down. In this manner, he hid his greatness even from his own household.
ותו רבי מני בריה הוו קא מצערי ליה דבי נשיאה ישתטח על קברא דאבוה אמר ליה אבא אבא הני מצערו לי יומא חד הוו קא חלפי התם אינקוט כרעא דסוסוותייהו עד דקבילו עלייהו דלא קא מצערו ליה
And furthermore, the Gemara relates that Rabbi Mani, Rabbi Yona’s son, was persecuted by members of the house of the Nasi . He prostrated himself upon his father’s grave and said to him: Father, Father, these men are persecuting me. One day, those men were passing there, by the grave, and the legs of their horses became stuck in the ground until they accepted upon themselves not to persecute Rabbi Mani anymore.
And furthermore, the Gemara relates that Rabbi Mani was frequently found before Rabbi Yitzḥak ben Elyashiv, a well-known miracle worker. Once, Rabbi Mani said to him: The wealthy members of my father-in-law’s house are persecuting me. Rabbi Yitzḥak said: May they become poor, so they will no longer lord over you. And indeed, they became poor. Some time later, Rabbi Mani said to his teacher: Now that they are poor they are pressuring me for financial support. Rabbi Yitzḥak said: May they become rich again. And indeed, they became rich.
Rabbi Mani said to his teacher: The members of my household, i. e., my wife, are not acceptable to me, as she is not beautiful. Rabbi Yitzḥak said: What is her name? Rabbi Mana replied: Ḥana. Rabbi Yitzḥak declared: Let Ḥana grow beautiful, and indeed she grew beautiful. After a while, Rabbi Mani said to Rabbi Yitzḥak: She acts haughtily toward me, due to her great beauty. He said to him: If so, let Ḥana return to her homely appearance, and she returned to her homely appearance.
הנהו תרי תלמידי דהוו קמיה דרבי יצחק בן אלישיב אמרו ליה ניבעי מר רחמי עלן דניחכים טובא אמר להו עמי היתה ושלחתיה
The Gemara relates: These two students, who were sitting before Rabbi Yitzḥak ben Elyashiv, said to him: Let the Master pray for mercy on our behalf, that we should become very wise. He said to them: This power was indeed with me at one stage, as I used to be able to pray for matters of this kind, but I sent it away. I took it upon myself never to pray for changes in the world order.
The Gemara cites another story involving a complaint. Rabbi Yosei bar Avin was frequently found before Rabbi Yosei from Yokrat. At some point he left him and came to study before Rav Ashi, who did not recognize him.