The Battle of the Generation - Day 69
Our weekly excerpt from the book "The Battle of the Generation"
The Gemara continues with stories of people who overcame challenges and were granted miracles:
A noblewoman approached Rabbi Chanina Bar Pappi and tried to persuade him to sin with her. He said some incantations and his body became full of boils. She said some incantations of her own and the boils disappeared. Rabbi Chanina ran away, hiding in a bathhouse that was haunted by dangerous demons. The next day, he emerged unscathed.
The Rabbis asked him, “Who watched over you and protected you from the demons?”
“Two of Caesar’s guards protected me all night,” he answered.
Realizing this was a miracle, they told him, “Perhaps you were tested with immorality and held back from sinning, as it was taught in a Beraisa, ‘Anyone who is challenged with a matter of ervah (licentiousness) and doesn’t sin merits that they perform a miracle for him.’”
The Gemara continues: The posuk says: “Mighty and strong ones who do Hashem’s command to follow His word.” An example of this is Rabbi Tzadok and his contemporaries. A noblewoman approached Rabbi Tzadok and tried to force him to sin with her. He told her, “I am too weak. Is there anything to eat?”
She answered, “Only a piece of nonkosher food.”
“What do we learn from this? That one who does this act deserves to eat this food,” he replied.
Not getting the message, she lit the oven to put the food inside. Rabbi Tzadok got up and sat in the oven.
“What are you doing?!” she blurted out.
“One who does this [acts of immorality] falls into this [referring to the fire of Gehenom- Rashi],” he responded.
She told him, “Had I known how severe this is to you, I wouldn’t have bothered you.”
In this story, Hashem performed an open miracle for Rabbi Tzadok that the flames of the oven didn’t burn him. This story demonstrates the great strength of Rabbi Tzadok, and shows that Hashem does miracles for those who conquer their temptations.