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January 27, 2015 / 7 Shevat, 5775
 
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The Stories Of Rabba Bar Bar Chana


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The Giant Fish

Rabba Bar Bar Chana continued, “Once we were traveling on board a ship and we saw a fish whose back was covered with sand that grew grass. Thinking it was dry land, we descended and baked and cooked upon it. When the back of the fish became hot, it turned over and had not the ship been nearby to enable us to jump on it, we would have drowned.

“Once we traveled on a ship and the ship sailed between two fins of a fish for three days and three nights. The fish was sailing against the wind and we were sailing with the wind. If you think the ship did not sail fast enough, Rabi Dimi, when he came, stated that it covered 60 parasangs in the time it takes to warm a kettle of water. When a horseman shot an arrow at it, the ship outraced it.”

Rabbi Ashi stated that this fish was only one of the small sea monsters that have only two fins.

The Depth Of The Water

Rabba Bar Bar Chana further added, “We traveled once on board a ship and we saw a bird standing in the water while its head reached to the sky. We thought the water was shallow and we were about to bathe there, when a Heavenly Voice rang out, ‘Do not go down there for a carpenter lost his axe here seven years ago and still it has not reached bottom.’ This, however, is not only because of the great depth of the water, but also because of the current that is so strong.”

Rabba Bar Bar Chana concluded, “We were once traveling in the desert and saw geese, whose feathers fell out on account of their fatness. Streams of fat followed under them.

“I said to them, ‘Shall we have a share of your flesh in the world to come when a feast is to be provided for the righteous?’

“One of the geese lifted up its wing and the other lifted up its leg (indicating that this would be his portion in the world to come). When I came and told this to Rabi Elazar he said to me, ‘Israel will be called to account for the sufferings of these geese. (Because of their sins Messiah does not come and the geese must endure their fatness.)’”

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“What could I do? Your wife is hard of hearing,” whispered the poor woman barely able to talk.

“I would appreciate if you could give me some pointers on how to improve my wine,” said the wine merchant eagerly.

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The trial was the next day and he hadn’t as yet told the family what he would do.

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