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Rav Amram and the Beautiful Captive

Rav Amram and the Beautiful Captive


One time, some Jewish women who had been kidnapped and then released were brought to the city of Naharda'ah, in Babylonia. They were taken to the attic of Rav Amram the pious, and the ladder was taken away so that no men could climb up to bother them. One of the women was exceptionally beautiful. Rav Amram took the ladder—which was so heavy that ordinarily it would take 10 men to move it—and picked it up all by himself so that he could climb up. When he was halfway up, he braced himself and shouted, “There’s a fire in Rav Amram’s house!”

His students came running, and when they saw what he meant, they said, “We’re ashamed at seeing our teacher so consumed with physical desires!”

Rav Amram said, “It’s better for you to be ashamed by Amram in this world so that you won’t be ashamed by him in the next world.” He managed to expell his desire, which appeared in the form of a towering inferno. Said he to it, “Look, you are fire and I’m just flesh, but I am stronger than you.”

Talmud, Kiddushin 81a
Translated by Esther Rabi.
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