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Rabbi Yohanan and Reish Lakish in the NYT’s

In an op-ed piece in the New York Times about the recent skinny dipping episode in the Kinneret, an op-ed writer brings the following episode from the Talmud:

If we look back in history, when people would go down to the lake to bathe, they didn’t wear bathing suits (they hadn’t been invented yet). One of the stories from the Talmud tells of Shimon ben Lakish, a highwayman and former gladiator from the third-century A.D. who became a learned rabbi. One evening, while walking along the shore, he saw a beautiful woman bathing. Being very physical in all senses, he rushed into the water — only to face Rabbi Yochanan (known as a great scholar and to be rather effeminate). To assuage Shimon’s disappointment and anger, the rabbi told him, “if you think of me as beautiful, you should see my sister.” Intrigued, Shimon followed him home, met his sister, and immediately fell for her, and she for him (bad boy syndrome goes way back). Rabbi Yochanan said “Whoa, we can’t have a criminal in the family, you have to study first.” And thus Shimon became his brother-in-law and one of the great rabbis and jurists of his time.

It’s nice to see two important Talmudic rabbis mentioned in the New York Times, but Reish Lakish saw Rabbi Yoḥanan swimming in the Jordan River and not the Kinneret.

One Response to “Rabbi Yohanan and Reish Lakish in the NYT’s”

  1. 1

    Nor does it say anything about her falling for him [a typical liberal attempt to “equitize” the courtship] nor do we find anything of R. Yochanon being “effeminate.” In other words, a dumb article, printed solely b/c the NYT thought it would somehow put the two republicans mentioned in it in a poor light. That paper is very desparate.
    [Did you see the parting letter from its own public editor? He said there is institutional liberal bias that bleeds into everything the paper writes on. A dovor poshut, but intressante to see the paper’s own editor say it.]




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