A Initial Look at the Nine “May My Portion Be With”s of Rabbi Yose (Shabbat 118b)
The Babylonian Talmud not infrequently records collections of statements from amora’im, starting off with one that connects with the immediately preceding discussion, but then continues on with other similar statements by that particular sage. One such semi-famous collections of statements is that of nine statements of Rabbi Yose, as recorded on bShabbat 118b, wherein he states various aspirations for his life (and death):
אמר רבי יוסי יהא חלקי מאוכלי שלש סעודות בשבת
אמר רבי יוסי יהא חלקי מגומרי הלל בכל יום
אמר רבי יוסי יהא חלקי ממתפללים עם דמדומי חמה
ואמר רבי יוסי יהא חלקי ממתי בחולי מעיים
ואמר רבי יוסי יהא חלקי ממתי בדרך מצוה
ואמר רבי יוסי יהא חלקי ממכניסי שבת בטבריא וממוציאי שבת בצפורי
ואמר רבי יוסי יהא חלקי ממושיבי בית המדרש ולא ממעמידי בית המדרש
ואמר רבי יוסי יהא חלקי מגבאי צדקה ולא ממחלקי צדקה
ואמר רבי יוסי יהא חלקי ממי שחושדין אותו ואין בו
Rabbi Yose said: “May my portion be of those who eat three meals on Shabbat.”
Rabbi Yose said: “May my portion be of those who recite the entire Hallel every day.”
Rabbi Yose said: “May my portion be of those who pray with the red glow of the sun.”
Rabbi Yose said: “May my portion be of those who die with bowel trouble.”
Rabbi Yose said: “May my portion be of those who die on the way to the performance of a religious duty.”
Rabbi Yose said: “May my portion be of those who welcome Shabbat in Tiberias and who let it depart in Sepphoris.”
Rabbi Yose said: “May my portion be of those seaters of the study house, and not of those standers of the study house.”
Rabbi Yose said: “May my portion of those who collect charity, but not of those who distribute charity.”
Rabbi Yose said: “May my portion be of those who are suspected whilst innocent.”
In a broad overview of this collection of statements of Rabbi Yose’s, there seem to be some statements around similar topics, such as Shabbat (eating three meals and welcoming it in Tiberias and letting it depart in Sepphoris), death (with bowel trouble and on the way to performing a religious duty), and praying (reciting the entire Hallel every day and with the red glow of the sun), as well as some assorted others.
Some of these are more easily accomplishable than others (eating three meals on Shabbat and reciting the entire Hallel every day) and some allow for less control than others (such as the death statements or being suspected), although it’s not clear why he would want his portion to be amongst these various people – does he want to be such a person or simply receive the portion of what such a person might receive? And, furthermore, what is a portion and why would he want that portion?
Also, it does not seem that he is saying that he is actively engaged in accomplishing these things (praying with the redness of the sun or beginning in Tiberias at the outset of Shabbat and winding up in Sepphoris at its departure), but merely aspirational statements. For instance, he may choose to collect charity but not distribute it, but may end up having to take on the latter role. Additionally, he may say that he would like to have such an experience as those who sit in the study hall and not amongst those standing around there. And, death, that’s another matter altogether.
I hope to be able to look into these aspirational statements further in the future.