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Essene Worship & Communal Meal

127. Where Two or Three are Gathered
2 Rabbi cHanania ben Teradion said:
--"When two sit together and do not discuss words of Torah,
this case is a session of scoffers, as it is said:
-- 'nor does he sit in the seat of scoffers ' (Ps 1:1).
But when two sit and there are words of Torah between them,
the Presence [Shekinah] dwells among them.
3 Rabbi Simeon (ben Jochai) said:
--"When three eat at one table and words of Torah are not spoken there,
it is as if they ate at the altars of the dead, as it is said:
-- 'For all their tables are full of vomit and waste,
there is no God
(Heb: maqom; lit: "place")...' (Isa 28:8).
But when three eat at one table and bring up words of Torah,
it is as if they ate from the table of God (maqom), blessed be He!,
as it is said:
--'And he said to me:
This is the table that is before the LORD'
(Ezek 41:22)."
  --- Mishna, Aboth 3.2-3

128. Daily Bread
3 "A daily portion on that day..." (Exod 16:4).
Rabbi Eleazar (ben Shammua') used to say:
--"If anyone has something to eat today and says:
--'What will I eat tomorrow?'
See, he lacks faith..."
  Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai used to say:
--"To interpret the Torah is not given except to him who eats manna.
For how is he to sit and interpret
and not know from where he (gets) food and drink
or from where he (gets) clothes and shelter?"
  -- Midrash, Mekilta Wayassa' 3

129. Blessing the Meal
1 Three who are as one are bound to give thanks as one...
3 How are they to give thanks?
When there are three, one says:
--"Let us bless...."
When there are three plus himself, he says:
As his blessing is fitting, so their response is fitting:
--"Blessed be the LORD our God, the God of Israel,
the God of hosts who sits above the cherubim,
for the meal we have eaten."
  --- Mishna, Berakoth 7.1, 3

130. Blessing Wine & Bread
5 A blessing over the wine before the meal frees one from (blessing) the wine after the meal...A blessing over the bread frees one from (blessing) the side dish, but (blessing) the side dish does not free one from (blessing) the bread.
6 (If) they are seated (separately), each one says the blessing for himself.
(If) they are reclining around (a table), one says the blessing for them all.
(If) wine comes to them in the middle of the meal,
each one says the blessing for himself.
(If it comes) after the meal, one says the blessing for them all.
  --- Mishna, Berakoth 6.5-6

131. The Way of Torah
4 This is the way of Torah:
You eat bread with salt and "drink water by measure" (Ezek 4:11);
You sleep on the ground and live a life of pain
and you toil with the Torah.
If you do this: "You shall be happy and it will be well with you" (Ps 138:2).
"You shall be happy..." : in this world;
"and it will be well with you": in the world to come.
  --- Mishna (supplement), Aboth 6.4

132. Price of Loose Discipline
11 Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas said:
"Morning sleep and midday wine, children's whispers
and sitting in houses where worldly people (am ha aretz) meet,
exclude a man from the world to come.
  --- Mishna, Aboth 3.11

133. Aqiba's Cautions
2 (Rabbi Aqiba ben Joseph) used to say:
--"Do not go among heathen, lest you learn from their practices!
Do not break bread with a worldly priest, lest you tread on sacred things!
Do not spread vows, lest you tread on the oaths!
Do not get used to eating at banquets,
lest you end by eating forbidden things!"
  --- Babylonian Talmud (supplement), Aboth de R. Nathan A 26.2

134. Frequent Feasting
  Our rabbis taught:
Every disciple of a sage
* who feasts frequently (and) in every place
will end by ruining his house, widowing his wife and orphaning his young,
forgetting what he has learned
and becoming part of many disputes.
His words will not be heard.
He profanes the Name of Heaven,
the name of his teacher and the name of his father,
and he creates a bad name for himself,
for his children and his children's children
until the end of all generations.
  --- Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 49a


"disciple of a sage" = rabbinic student

135. Preparing for the Real Banquet
16 Rabbi Jacob said:
--"This world is like a vestibule before the world to come.
Prepare yourself in the vestibule for the meeting in the banquet hall!"
17 He used to say:
--"One hour of repentance and good deeds in this world
is better than the whole life of the world to come;
but one hour of comfort in the world to come
is better than the whole life of this world!"
  ---- Mishna, Aboth 4.16-17

136. One who Serves
  When Rabban Gamaliel (I) made a banquet for the sages, all the sages sat reclining but him; Rabban Gamaliel stood and served them.
They said:
-- "We are not right in having Rabban Gamaliel serve us!"
Rabbi Joshua (ben cHananiah) said to them:
-- "It is alright for him to serve!
We find that a greater than Rabban Gamaliel served creatures."
They said to him:
-- "Who (is) he?"
He said to them:
-- "It is our father Abraham, who served the ministering angels;
and he supposed them to be sons of Man [benei Adam],
Arabs who worship idols!
Beside this, how much more should Rabban Gamaliel serve the sages,
who are sons of Torah!."
Rabbi tZadok said to them:
-- "It is alright for him to serve!
We find that (there is one) who serves creatures
(who is) greater than Rabban Gamaliel and (even) our father Abraham!"
They said to him:
-- "Who (is) this?"
He said to them:
-- "The Holy One, blessed be he!
He gives to each and every one what he needs
and to everybody what is wanting ---
and not just to proper people [benei Adam kosherim],
but also to evil people and to people who worship idols.
Beside this, how much more should Rabban Gamaliel serve the sages,
who are sons of Torah!."
  --- Midrash, Mekilta Amalek 3

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