Once upon a time, there were two heretics, named Sasson and Simcha. Sasson said to Simcha, "I'm better than you. Even Yeshaya HaNavi agrees so; he put my name first, as it says, 'They will get Sasson and Simcha' (Yeshaya 35:10)."

Simcha retorted, "You wanna bet? My name also appears first, as it says, 'The Jews had Simcha and Sasson' (Esther 8:17)."

Sasson shot back, "Well, guess what? The Jews are just going to make a messenger out of you, as it says, 'With Simcha shall they go forth' (Yeshaya 55:12)."

Simcha countered, "Oh yeah? It's still better than your fate; they're going to use you to draw water, as it says, 'You will draw water with Sasson' (Yeshaya 12:3)."

Another heretic, whose name also happens to be Sasson, said to R' Avahu, "In the future you're going to serve me water, as it says, 'You will draw water be-Sasson.'"

R' Avahu smiled and replied, "That would be the case had the passuk said 'le-Sasson,' for Sasson. But the passuk says 'be-Sasson,' with Sasson. Obviously, then, the passuk means we're going to skin you and use your skin as a water bucket."

All of this can be found in Sukkah 48b.

So... Is this just the earliest Purim Torah, or is there something serious going on here that's going right over my head?

(Yes, I'm exaggerating my translation in Purim Torah style, but those were their arguments.)

  • You know, for a bunch of heretics, they really know their way around Nach. Also, that last part about be-Sasson versus le-Sasson would seem to be a stirah against this answer. Okay, I'm having too much fun with this Gemara....
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 21:21
  • I have to view the Gemarrah to see this. But, I highly doubt the Gemarrah uses terms like "Oh yeah?", "Guess what?" and such. So, to me, this does sound like a Purim shpiel. I'm assuming that the gist of your story is in Succah as you mentioned? Your translation makes me doubtful.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 21:26
  • 1
    Yes, those are my additions, but the arguments remain the same. Simcha brought those pesukim to claim he was better, Sasson brought his pesukim, and R' Avahu brought that interpretation of the passuk against Sasson II.
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 21:29
  • I feel that these sugyot just show that haza"l were very human and had their lighter side as well.
    – Epicentre
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 5:48
  • 1
    Here's another take on the issue: ohr.edu/6926 Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 6:15

2 Answers 2


Rabbi Belovski has a shiur on this here. The Shem Mishmuel has a detailed explanation where I think the sugya is discussing the relationship between momentary joy and long term inculcated happiness, with the conclusion something like that neither is great without using them as part of a life of service and fear of God.

  • Do you happen to have a copy of this Shem MiShmuel?
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 22:15
  • It's the main text in Rabbi Belovski's sources - just follow the link.
    – JeremyR
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 22:17
  • Okay, thanks. :) That makes things a lot less like Purim Torah.
    – DonielF
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 1:51

Quite often, a min refers to an early Christian, who were initially Jews and considered themselves Jews.

At least in terms of Rabbi Abahu, the pasuk in Yeshaya 12 continues with the idea of salvation / Yeshuah.

וּשְׁאַבְתֶּם-מַיִם, בְּשָׂשׂוֹן, מִמַּעַיְנֵי, הַיְשׁוּעָה.

"Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."

Some quick Googling reveals that Christians make much of this pasuk in Yeshaya. I think there is likely something deeper than Purim Torah here, but conversely, once you say something is deep and metaphorical, it can readily become a canvas upon which a brilliant and creative person can paint their own ideas. Rather than something deep about momentary vs. long term inculcated happiness, I would suggest that the true deeper answer lies with the understanding that this is an anti-early-Christian polemic. The precise details though would need to be worked out.

  • Interesting. Following this approach, perhaps "Simcha" represents a different heretical sect.
    – Fred
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 21:09

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