THE HARSHNESS OF R. YOSI FROM YUKRAS
R. Yosi bar Avin left R. Yosi from Yukras to study before R. Ashi.
One day R. Yosi heard R. Ashi citing Shmuel that one who takes a fish from the sea on Shabbos has transgressed as soon as an area of its skin the size of a Sela has dried.
R. Yosi said that he should note that it is only if this area is between its fins.
R. Ashi replied that that is the opinion of R. Yosi bar Avin.
R. Yosi bar Avin replied that he was that man.
R. Ashi asked why he had left R. Yosi of Yukras, and he replied that someone who did not pity his son and daughter would not pity him.
The incident with his son was that when he was delayed from bringing food to his workers, his son prayed that the tree should produce figs for them.
When his father, who had been delayed for a mitzvah, arrived, he said that since he caused the tree to give fruit in the wrong time, he should die before his time.
The incident with his daughter was that he caught someone staring at her beauty.
He said that she should die rather than cause others to sin.
When he hired out his donkey, it would return by itself with the exact rental on its back. If the hirer put on too much or too little, it refused to go.
Once the hirer left a pair of shoes on its back, and it wouldn't move until he removed them.
THE CHARITABLE ELAZAR OF BIRTA
The charity-collectors would hide from Elazar of Birta as he would give them everything he had.
Once when he went to buy his daughter's wedding dress he noticed them and forced them to tell him what they were collecting for.
When they said that it was for orphans, he said that they took precedence.
He gave them all his money except one Zuz, with which he bought wheat.
When his wife looked in their grain store, she saw that it was bursting with wheat.
When his daughter told him of the miracle, he said that it was all Hekdesh, and they were entitled to no more than a pauper would be.
ACTIONS THAT MERIT RAIN
R. Yehudah the Nasi decreed a fast when there was no rain, but his prayers were not answered.
He bemoaned that he was so much less than Shmuel haRamasi who was successful at this.
He was disheartened, and then rain fell (because of his contrition).
The Nasi once decreed a fast and only told R. Yochanan and Resh Lakish on that morning.
Resh Lakish was worried that they had not accepted it in advance, but R. Yochanan said that since the Nasi had decreed it, that was not necessary.
The Nasi once decreed a fast, but no rain fell.
Oshiya the Younger noted that the Jewish people are like a bride; if her eyes (i.e. the leaders) are in bad shape, her whole body needs checking.
The Nasi's servants began to throttle him.
The townsfolk told them to leave him alone; he bothered them, too, but they ignored him, as he acted for the sake of Heaven.
Rebbi decreed a fast and was not answered, but the rain fell when Ilfa said so.
His merit was that he made Kiddush and Havdalah for a town that could not afford wine.
Rav decreed a fast and was not answered, but the rain fell when the Shali'ach Tzibur said so.
His merit was that he was a schoolteacher who would teach poor children together with wealthy ones, not taking money if they could not afford it.
He would also bribe reluctant students into learning with fish from his pond.
R. Nachman decreed a fast but no rain fell. He said that he should be thrown off a wall, and was disheartened, and rain fell.
Rabah decreed a fast but was not answered.
The people challenged him that R. Yehudah was successful at it.
He replied that if it was due to study, his generation was superior, as they studied all six Sedarim and not just Nezikin.
Furthermore, R. Yehudah considered sections of Uktzin to be as difficult as the questions of Rav and Shmuel, whereas Rabah's group had studied it thirteen times.
Yet nevertheless, R. Yehudah could take off his shoe and rain would fall, whereas Rabah could pray all day unsuccessfully.
He concluded that it was because the generation was less worthy.
R. Yehudah saw two people throwing bread, concluded that there was abundance, and caused an Ayin Hara which brought famine.
His Shamash was told to persuade him to visit the market and see the famine.
When he saw people crowding for food, he told his Shamash to remove his shoes to prepare to pray for rain.
As soon as he took off one shoe, rain fell.
When he came to take off the other shoe, Eliyahu told him that Hash-m would destroy the world if he did so.
MAKING USE OF MIRACLES
Rav Mari saw Malachim in the guise of sailors filling their boat with sand, which turned into flour.
When people thronged to buy it, he told them not to, as it was the work of miracles.
The next day, a boat of grain arrived.
Rava decreed a fast in Hegronia, but no rain fell, so he extended it overnight.
The next day he asked if anyone had had a dream; one person did have a dream which was a greeting from Above.
Rava interpreted this to mean that it was a fortuitous time to pray, and he was answered.
A man, sentenced to lashes in Rava's court for having relations with a non-Jew, died in the process.
Shavur Malka wanted to punish Rava, but his mother Ifra Hurmiz warned him not to mess with the Jews as Hash-m grants their wishes, such as when they request rain.
He challenged them to produce rain in the height of summer.
Rava prayed, but no rain came. He pleaded that Hash-m should perform miracles as he did for their ancestors, and rain fell in torrents.
Rava's father appeared to him in a dream and told him that he was in trouble for having bothered Hash-m, and he should sleep elsewhere.
The next day he found his bed scratched by knives.
ACTIONS THAT MERIT RAIN
R. Papa decreed a fast, but no rain came.
Feeling faint, he ate some porridge before praying again, and still no rain came.
R. Nachman teased him that he should eat some more porridge; he was embarrassed, and rain fell.
R. Chanina b. Dosa was walking along when rain fell.
He said, "Everyone is benefiting, and I am in distress!?" and the rain stopped.
Arriving home, he said, "Everyone is in distress, and I am benefiting!?" and the rain continued.
(R. Yosef): Compared to his prayers, those of the Kohen Gadol are worthless:
(Mishnah): The Kohen would pray that if the year is hot, it should be wet, and Hash-m should ignore the prayer of travelers that it should not rain.
The prayer would conclude that the rulership should not depart from Beis Yehudah, and that Yisrael should not need to rely on each other for sustenance.