Rabbi Yannai Meets a Peddler

A peddler used to go around Sepphoris, calling out “Who wants to buy a lifesaving potion?” A crowd gathered around him. Rabbi Yannai was sitting in his dining hall and heard the peddler calling out. He said, “Come here, and sell it to me.” The peddler said, “Neither you nor those like you need it.” The rabbi pressured him, and the peddler went and brought out a Book of Psalms and showed him the verse, “Who is the man who desires life?” and immediately after it is written, “Keep thy tongue from evil.” (Psalms 34) Rabbi Yannai said, “Solomon also says likewise, ‘Whoever will keep his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul away from trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23) Rabbi Yannai said, “All my life I have been reading this passage from Psalms but did not know how to explain it until this peddler came and made it clear.”   (Midrash Rabbah Vayikra 16:2)

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