Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 22b


תלמוד בבלי, יומא כב:

Original Text:

בשעה שאמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא לשאול (שמואל א:טו) לך והכית את עמלק, אמר: ומה נפש אחת אמרה תורה הבא עגלה ערופה, כל הנפשות הללו על אחת כמה וכמה! ואם אדם חטא - בהמה מה חטאה? ואם גדולים חטאו - קטנים מה חטאו? יצאה בת קול ואמרה לו (קהלת ז) אל תהי צדיק הרבה.


When the Holy Blessed One said to Saul: Now go and smite Amalek, he said: If on account of one person the Torah said: Perform the ceremony of the heifer whose neck is to be broken, how much more [ought consideration to be given] to all these persons! And if human beings sinned, what has the cattle committed; and if the adults have sinned, what have the little ones done? A divine voice came forth and said: "Be not righteous overmuch" (Ecclesiastes 7).
[Soncino translation]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What was God's command? Why did Saul challenge God?
2. How do you understand God's response to Saul?
3. What does not it mean to be too righteous? Can you think of an example?
4. What does this text teach us about the nature of punishment?

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Related Sourcesheets:Texts on Social Change v. Social Action

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