[Avodah] keri'ah and berikha

Elazar M. Teitz remt at juno.com
Mon Feb 11 10:54:46 PST 2013

RArie Folger asked:
> The Midrash Rabba Bereishit 39:12 includes a discussion about bowing...
> Rabbi Chiya Rabba her'a kheri'ah lifnei Rebbi venitrape; uvar Sissi her'a
> verikha lifnei Rebbi venifsach velo nitrape.

> Question: what was the likely nature of their injuries? Why was R' Sissi's
> injury worse?

Other than noting that both R. Chiya and Bar Sissi both became lame (the
word "v'nifsach" was inadvertently omitted in the above quote in its
description of what befell R. Chiya), I have no idea what the physical
nature of the disabilities was. It is not clear that Bar Sissi's injury
was worse; all the midrash states is that it wasn't healed, and according
to the commentaries on the Midrash Rabba, the answer is in the g'mara.

We know Bar Sissi better by his given name, Levi, rather than
his patronymic. The m'farshim identify the incident in the midrash
with that related in Ta'anis 25a, that Levi performed kidda in Rebbe's
presence and was lamed. (The m'farshim equate kida -- digging one's toes
into the ground and bending down to kiss the ground -- with b'richa.)
The g'mara says that he was lamed because of a combination of two acts:
the kidda, and for having been "matiach d'varim k'lapei Ma'ala." As the
g'mara says, "Ha v'ha garmu lei." R. Chiya, on the other hand, did not
warrant permanent injury, since all he did was a harmful physical act,
and did not show disrespect k'lapei Ma'ala. .


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