Shabbat 55 - The cow of Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah

Continuing the list of items that an animal may not wear in a public area on Shabbat - because it would be carrying these items for the needs of its owner - chicken may not go out with cords or straps on their legs. A cow may not go with a hedgehog skin around its udder (made as protection against rodents), nor can it have a strap between its horns. The cow of Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah used to go out with a strap between her horns, and it was against the will of the Sages.

Now this last fact is strange: Rabbi Elazar ben Arayah's tithe alone constituted twelve thousands calves yearly, so he surely had more than one cow! - In truth, it was a cow of his female neighbor, and because he did not stop her, the ruling ascribes the transgression to him.

In general, one has an obligation to improve not only himself, but other people as well. If one can improve the people of his family but does not, he is held accountable for them. The same is true for his town, and even the whole world. However, if one knows that he won't be listened to, he has an obligation to be silent, for otherwise they may do the opposite, on purpose.

Before the destruction of the Jerusalem, God told angel Gabriel to put a letter "tav" in black on the foreheads of the righteous (for "tihye" - he will live), and the letter "tav" in red n the foreheads of the bad ones (for "tamut" - he will die). However, the attribute of Strict Justice asked, "How are two different?" God replied, "Clearly, these are righteous, and they have fulfilled all the laws of the Torah, from the letter aleph to the letter tav, but the others are not!" The Strict Justice, however, said, "The righteous should have stopped the bad!" God said, "They would not listen, I know." The Attribute of Justice then said, "You know, but how do they know?" and the decree was reversed, and the righteous were killed first.

Art: Jehan Georges Vibert - The Reprimand