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In Rav Albo's Sefer HaIkkarim-Maamar 4.30.10 we read:

"The second opinion is that though the perfectly righteous get material reward in this world, yet since their number is small, and the great majority of righteous men do not get corporeal reward in this world, there should be in the next world corporeal as well as spiritual reward. This comes, they say, after the resurrection when the soul and the body will exist in conjunction, but without food and drink, as Moses lived forty days and forty nights with body and soul without eating and drinking. This is what, according to them, the Rabbis call the world to come, when they say concerning the righteous that they are prepared for the life of the world to come. They believe at the same time that the human soul does not die when the body dies, but that there is a stage of existence called Gan Eden (Paradise) where, immediately after death, the souls of the righteous are kept until they rise in resurrection and obtain the life in the world to come after the resurrection. This is what the Rabbis mean when they relate concerning Rabban Simon ben Gamaliel that he said to Rabbi Ishmael, who was weeping when he was condemned to die: Master, why weepest thou? In a brief moment thou wilt be placed in Gan Eden in the community of the righteous. We are also told that Rabbah bar Rab Huna said concerning Rabbah bar Shela, who died a short time before him: He preceded me in Gan Eden by a brief hour. This is the opinion of Nahmanides, of R. Meir Halevi, and a number of modern writers who follow them, may they all be blessed".

Do you know what sources Rav Albo draws from for the two aforementioned episodes of Rabban Simon ben Gamaliel and Rabbi Ishmael on the one hand, and Rabbah bar Rab Huna and Rabbah bar Shela on the other?

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  • "It does not seem to me that such passages are present in the two Talmudim or in the Midrashim." - why? It may be true that our versions don't have these stories as quoted, but where are you getting your information from? Did you see someone already say that these passages don't appear in the Talmudim and Midrashim (certainly not Rabbi Albo himself; he names his sources in the original Hebrew text even though they don't appear to be there as he quotes them)?
    – b a
    May 6 at 18:49
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The translation you are quoting from by Prof. Isaac Husik is replete with footnotes providing citations and explanations. Unfortunately, the version on Sefaria that you appear to be using does not contain the footnotes. Here is the paragraph reproduced with the footnotes:

This is what the Rabbis mean when they relate concerning Rabban Simon ben Gamaliel that he said to Rabbi Ishmael, who was weeping when he was condemned to die: Master, why weepest thou? In a brief moment thou wilt be placed in Gan Eden in the community of the righteous.1 We are also told2 that Rabbah bar Rab Huna said concerning Rabbah bar Shela, who died a short time before him: He preceded me in Gan Eden by a brief hour.


1. Semahot, ch. 8. Albo's text differs considerably from the talmudic.

2. These words are said to have been uttered by the leader of the Pharisees at the time of the Maccabean revolt. Cf. Bereshit Rabbah LXVI, end, where our texts have בשעה, but Midrash Tehillim XI, end, has לשעה. [Ginzberg].

Interestingly, the citation to Bereshit Rabbah appears to be off by one section, as the relevant incident is described at the end of LXV. Also, the translation skips the Hebrew phrases wherein the author provides his own citations. These phrases are:

וזהו שאמרו רבותינו ז"ל במסכת שמחות

And this is what the Rabbis said in Tractate Semahot

(My translation)

And:

ואמרו גם כן במסכת נדה

And they said as well in Tractate Niddah

(My translation)

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In regard to Rabban Shimon Gamliel and Rabbi Yishmael it is coming from Semachot 8:8 as listed on Sefaria, which says:

חוכשבאו רשב"ג ורבי ישמעאל גזרו עליהם שיהרגו והיה רבי ישמעאל בוכה ור"ש אמר אברך בשתי פסיעות אתה נתן בחיקם של צדיקים ואתה בוכה

I haven't seen a proof of this concerning Rabbah bar Shela but based upon the expression that Rabbah bar Bar Huna is quoted as saying, לשעה קלה הקדימני לגן עדן, this appears to referencing the nephew of Rabbi Yossi ben Yoezer of Tzareida who is given the nickname Ish Tzarurot. Rabbi Yossi lived at a time of severe persecution by the Greeks and may himself have been executed Al Kiddush HaShem.

The details of this reference can be found in Bereshit Rabbah 65:22 and also in the much later text, Magen Avot at the end of 4:17:1. They appear to be about Jews who assimilated and then later died sanctifying G-d's name.

It is possible that Rabbi Albo had a variant text of these two accounts.

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