Rebbe Zecharia, the son-in-law of Rabbi Levi, would tell this story:

Rebbe Meir would teach Torah on Friday nights in the synagogue in Chamat, a small town near Tiberius, and there was a woman who used to listen to his lectures. One night, Rebbe Meir spoke for longer than usual, and the woman stayed until he finished. By the time she got home, the candles had already burned down. “Where were you?!” demanded her husband.

“I was listening to a Torah lecture,” she answered.

Her husband, a scoffer, said to her, “I swear that you will not enter my house until you go spit in the face of the rabbi who was lecturing.”

Not knowing what to do, she stayed outside, until her neighbors said to her, “Come, let’s go together to the rabbi.”

When Rebbe Meir saw them coming, G‑d gave him insight into the problem. He immediately pretended that his eye hurt him.

“I need someone to spit in my eye, to cure it! Can one among you do it?” he asked.

Her friends nudged her forward.

“Spit in my eye seven times and I’ll be cured,” Rebbe Meir told her.

When she did, he told her, “Go home and tell your husband, ‘You said I should spit once, but I spit seven times!’”

His students were appalled, and asked, “Rebbe, how could you let people disgrace you like that? When they disgrace a Torah scholar, they disgrace the Torah! If you’d told us to, we’d have forced her husband to let her come home!”

Rebbe Meir answered, “The honor of Meir is not greater than the honor of G‑d! If the Torah tells us to erase the name of G‑d for the sake of peace between a husband and wife in the case of a sotah (wayward wife),1 surely Meir can be dishonored for the same reason!”