Avodah Zarah 37 - How Lenient Can a Court Be?
Rabbi Yehudah Nesiah (grandson of Rabbi Yehudah the Prince) was leaning on the shoulder of his attendant Rabbi Simlai, while going on the way. He said, "Simlai! You were not in the study hall yesterday, when we permitted the oil of idol worshippers." Said Rabbi Simlai, "Due to the hardships that the people are having, you should have permitted also the bread of idol worshippers!" Replied Rabbi Yehudah, "Were we to do so, they would call us 'a permitting court'!" He gave an example of Rabbi Yose ben Yoezer, who testified that the "ayal" species of grasshoppers was kosher, that the liquids in the Temple were considered ritually pure, and that one who touched someone who had in turn touched a corpse was pure - and they called him "Yosef The Permitter."
And Rabbi Simlai, what does he think? That Yose ben Yoezer permitted three things, but Rabbi Yehudah Nesiah - only two. And Rabbi Yehudah? He says that they have already issued a second permissive decree.
Art: Abraham de Pape - Lady seated in front of a fireplace with ham and bread on a table