The Tosephoth in Bava Bathra (fol. 113, col. 1) ingenuously
admits that the Rabbis were occasionally ignorant of the letter
of Scripture. The above quotation may be taken as a sample of
several in corroboration.
The Rabbis have taught that when pestilence is abroad no one should walk
along the middle of the road, for there the angel of death would be sure
to cross him. Neither when there is pestilence in a town should a person
go to the synagogue alone, because there, provided no children are
taught there, and ten men are not met to pray there, the angel of death
hides his weapons. The Rabbis have also taught that (like the Banshee of
Ireland), the howling of dogs indicates the approach of the angel of
death, whereas when they sport it is a sign that Elijah the prophet is
at hand, unless one of them happen to be a female, for it is her
presence among them, and not any super-natural instinct, that is to be
understood as the cause of the demonstration.
THE TALMUD, _Bava Kama_, fol. 60, col. 2.