Bar Ma’jan – calling all Talmud experts!

For a paper that I am writing, I am trying to locate the following story, which is widely cited as appearing somewhere in the Palestinian Talmud (also called Palestinian Talmud or Talmud of Palestine). Usually this is no trouble, but this particular source is proving to be a bit fiendish to locate. Here’s the story as reproduced online without citation:

A rich tax-gatherer called Ma’jan had done many evil deeds. In the same city, lived a young. poor student of the Torah. They both died and had funerals on the same day. Ma’jan’s was splendid. Work stopped throughout the city as the townspeople followed him to his final resting place. However, no-one took any notice of the death of the student, let alone his funeral. Why should this be?

The answer is this …. Ma’jan had arranged a banquet to which he invited the city councillors – unsurprisingly, they refused to attend and eat with a tax-gatherer, and so, to show his contempt for them, Ma’jan invited all the poor, sick and beggars of the city to attend instead. As he presided over this magnificent charitable act, death overtook him, and all his evil deeds were forgotten by the people because of the good deed in which he was engaged at the moment of his death.

Now, one of the student’s friends had a dream, in which he saw the fate of the two souls after their death. The student was in paradise, the garden of the King, enjoying its beauty and the richness of its vegetation and streams. The man who had been rich in his life, Ma’jan, was also standing on the banks of the stream, trying to reach the water, but unable to do so.

Joachim Jeremias gives this reference for the story: j. Sanh. 6.23c par. J Hagh. 2.77d; critical edition of the text in G. Dalman, Aram. Dialektproben, Leipzig, 1927, pp. 33 f.

j. Sanh = Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin

Tractate Sanhedrin 6:9 in the Jerusalem Talmud is referred to as 23c – I’m supposing that it is folio 23c. There are many reference all over the place to Sanhedrin 23c, and yet Sanhedrin only goes as high as 6:10, so this explains it. I was very pleased to find that I can read Tractate Sanhedrin in the Yerushalmi (the Hebrew name for the Jerusalem Talmud) thanks to Google Books! “The Talmud of the land of Israel By Jacob Neusner” is available there, so I have been looking at it. Confirming the fact that this story is connected to Sanhedrin 23 is the fact that 6:9 is indeed about funerals. OK, so I’m getting close.

Here’s how close I am now. My reference that I started with is j. Sanhedrin. 6.23c par. J Haghadah. 2.77d. I have bolded the part of the puzzle that I have solved, for I have found Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 6.23c. The finer detail will involve locating this Haggadah, which, alas, is not included in the edition I am able to read. But at least I know what I am looking for.

Are there any Talmud experts out there who might be able to provide a full bibliographical reference for an actual copy of the edition of the Jerusalem Talmud that contains this passage? Even better would be a scan of the actual page(s). Use the contact page or email me, info at

Many many thanks for any and all help!

Go to Source

Comments on this entry are closed.