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Rabbi Yehuda bar Ila’i’s Glowing Face

Rabbi Yehuda bar Ila’i’s Glowing Face

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A rich and elegant Roman woman noticed that Rabbi Yehuda bar Ila’i’s face was glowing. She called to him, “Old man! Old man! Are one of the following three things true about you? Are you drunk? Are you rich from lending money on interest? Or are you a swine farmer?”

He answered, “I swear that none of these three things are true about me. I don’t loan money at interest because it says in the Torah, ‘Don’t charge your brother interest when you loan him money.’1 I don’t raise pigs because it’s forbidden for a Jew to raise pigs. I’m not drunk, since I only taste wine when I make Kiddush on Shabbat, and Havdalah after Shabbat, and when I drink the four cups on Passover.”

“So then why does your face shine?” she asked.

“It’s the Torah that lights up my face, as it says, ‘A man’s wisdom lights up his face.’2

Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbos 8:1; Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 49b; Koheles Rabbah 8:1
Translated by Esther Rabi.
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