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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath
it['s sanctity] is enhanced, for R. Hisda said: The mem and the samek which were in the Tables stood [there] by a miracle.1 But as for a closed letter which is written open, it['s sanctity] is diminished, for R. Jeremiah-others state, R. Hiyya b. Abba-said [The double form of] manzapak2 was declared by the Watchmen [prophets].3 (But, is that reasonable: surely is is written, These are the commandments,4 [teaching] that a prophet may henceforth [i.e., after Moses] make no innovations! — Rather they were in existence, but it was not known which were [to be used] medially and which finally, and the Watchmen came and fixed [the mode of their employment]). But still, 'these are the commandments' [teaches] that a prophet may henceforth make no innovations?5 — Rather they had forgotten them, and they [the Watchmen] reinstituted them.6
It was stated above, R. Hisda said: The mem and the samek which were in the Tables stood [there] by a miracle. R. Hisda also said: The writing of the Tables could be read from within and without,7 e.g., nebub [hollow] would be read buban; — behar [in the mountain] [as] rahab; saru [they departed] [as] waras.8
The Rabbis told R. Joshua b. Levi: Children have come to the Beth Hamidrash and said things the like of which was not said even in the days of Joshua the son of Nun. [Thus:] alef Beth [means] 'learn wisdom [alef Binah];9 Gimmel Daleth, show kindness to the Poor [Gemol Dallim]. Why is the foot of the Gimmel stretched toward the Daleth? Because it is fitting for10 the benevolent to run after [seek out] the poor. And why is the roof11 of the Daleth stretched out toward the Gimmel? Because he [the poor] must make himself available to him.12 And why is the face of the Daleth turned away from the Gimmel? Because he must give him [help] in secret,13 lest he be ashamed of him. He, Waw, that is the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He;14 Zayyin, Heth, Teth, Yod, Kaf, Lamed: [this sequence teaches,] and if thou doest thus, the Holy One, blessed be He, will sustain [Zan] thee, be gracious [Hen] unto thee, show goodness [meTib] to thee, give thee a heritage [Yerushah], and bind a crown [Kether] on thee in the world to come. The open Mem and the closed Mem [denote] open teaching [Ma'amar] and closed [esoteric] teaching.15 The bent Nun and the straight Nun: the faithful [Ne'eman] if bent [humble], [will ultimately be] the faithful, straightened.16 Samek, 'ayyin: support [Semak] the poor ['aniyyim]. Another interpretation: devise ['aseh] mnemonics [Simanin] in the Torah and [thus] acquire [memorize] it.17 The bent pe and the straight pe [intimate] an open mouth [peh], a closed mouth.18 A bent zadde and a straight zadde: the righteous [zaddik] is bent [in this world]; the righteous is straightened [in the next world].19 But that is identical with the faithful bent [and] the faithful straightened? — The Writ added humility20 to his humility;21 hence [we learn that] the Torah was given under great submissiveness.22 Kuf [stands for] Kadosh [holy]; Resh [for] Rasha' [wicked]: why is the face of the Kuf averted from, the Resh? The Holy One, blessed be He, said: I cannot look at the wicked. And why is the crown of the Kuf23 turned toward the Resh? The Holy One, blessed be He, saith: If he repents, I will bind a crown on him like Mine. And why is the foot of the Kuf suspended?24 [To show] that if he repents, he can enter and be brought in [to God's favour] through this [opening]. This supports Resh Lakish, for Resh Lakish said: What is meant by, Surely he scorneth the scorners, But he giveth grace unto the lowly?25 If one comes to defile himself, he is given an opening;26 if one comes to cleanse himself, he is helped. SHin [stands for] SHeker [falsehood]; Taw [for] emeTH [truth]: why are the letters of SheKeR close together, whilst those of 'eMeTH are far apart?27 Falsehood is frequent, truth is rare.28 And why does falsehood [stand] on one foot, whilst truth has a brick-like foundation?29 Truth can stand, falsehood cannot stand. AT BaSh:30 he that rejects Me [othi Ti'ew], shall I desire [eTh'aweh] him? BaSH: he that delighteth not in Me [Bi lo haSHak], shall My Name [SHemi] rest upon him? GaR: he has defiled his body [Gufo] — shall I have mercy [arahem] upon him? DaK: he has closed My doors [Dalthothay] shall I not cut off his horns [Karnaw]?31 Thus far is the exegesis for the wicked, but the interpretation for the righteous is: AT BaSH: If thou are ashamed [to sin] [aTTah BoSh], then GaR DaK [i.e.,] dwell [GuR] in heaven [DoK]. HaZ WaF: there will be a barrier [HaZiZah] between thee and wrath [aF]. Za' HaS TaN: nor wilt thou tremble [miZda' aZe'a] before Satan [SaTaN]. YaM KoL: the prince of Gehenna said to the Holy One, blessed be He, Sovereign of the Universe! To the sea [YaM] let all [KoL] be consigned.32 But the Holy One, blessed be He, replieth, AHaS, BeTa, GiF.33 I [ani] spare [HaS] them, because they have spurned [Ba'aTu] sensual pleasures [GiF]. DaKaZ: they are contrite [Dakkim]; they are true [Kenim]; they are righteous [Zaddikim]. HaLaK: thou hast [LaK] no portion [HeLeK] in them. UMaRZaN SHeTH: the Gehenna cried out before Him, Sovereign of the Universe! My Lord [MaRi]! Satiate me [ZeNini] with the seed of SHeTH.34 [But] He retorted, aL BaM [thou hast nought in them]; GaN DaS: Whither shall I lead them? to the Garden [GaN] of myrtles [haDaS].35 Ha! WaF: the Gehenna cried out before the Holy One, blessed be He, Sovereign of the Universe! I am faint ['ayeF] [with hunger]. [To which He replied,] ZaZ HaK: these are the seed [Zar'o] of Isaac [YiZHaK]. TaR YeSH KaT: Wait [TaR]! I have [YeSH] whole companies [KiToth] of heathens whom I will give thee.
MISHNAH. IF ONE WRITES TWO LETTERS IN ONE STATE OF UNAWARENESS,1 HE IS CULPABLE. IF ONE WRITES WITH INK, CHEMICALS, SIKRA,2 KUMOS,3 KANKANTUM,4 OR WITH ANYTHING THAT LEAVES A MARK ON THE ANGLE OF TWO WALLS OR ON THE TWO LEAVES [TABLES] OF A LEDGER, AND THEY [THE TWO LETTERS] ARE READ5 TOGETHER, HE IS CULPABLE. IF ONE WRITES ON HIS FLESH, HE IS CULPABLE: HE WHO SCRATCHES A MARK ON HIS FLESH, R. ELIEZER DECLARES HIM LIABLE TO A SIN-OFFERING; BUT THE SAGES EXEMPT HIM. IF ONE WRITES WITH A FLUID, WITH FRUIT JUICE, WITH ROAD DUST,6 OR WITH WRITER'S POWDER,7 OR WITH8 ANYTHING THAT CANNOT ENDURE, HE IS NOT CULPABLE. [IF ONE WRITES] WITH THE BACK OF HIS HAND, WITH HIS FOOT, WITH HIS MOUTH, OR WITH HIS ELBOW; IF ONE WRITES ONE LETTER NEAR [OTHER] WRITING,9 OR IF ONE WRITES UPON WRITING;10 IF ONE INTENDS WRITING A HETH BUT WRITES TWO ZAYYININ; ONE [LETTER] ON THE GROUND AND ANOTHER ON A BEAM; IF ONE WRITES ON TWO WALLS OF THE HOUSE, OR ON TWO LEAVES OF A LEDGER WHICH ARE NOT TO BE READ11 TOGETHER, HE IS NOT CULPABLE. IF ONE WRITES ONE LETTER AS AN ABBREVIATION,12 R. JOSHUA B. BATHYRA HOLDS HIM LIABLE, WHILST THE SAGES EXEMPT HIM.
GEMARA. DYo [ink] is deyutha, SaM [chemical] is samma [orpiment]; SIKRA: Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said, Its name is sekarta. Kumos is Kumma. Kankantum: Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in Samuel's name, The blacking used by shoemakers.13
OR WITH ANYTHING THAT LEAVES A MARK. What does this add?14 — It adds what was taught by R. Hanina: If he writes it [a divorce] with the fluid of taria,15 or gall-nut [juice], it is valid.16 R. Hiyya taught: If he writes it with dust,17 with a black pigment, or with coal, it is valid.
HE WHO SCRATCHES A MARK ON HIS FLESH, [etc.] It was taught. R. Eliezer said to the Sages: But did not Ben Stada bring forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches18 [in the form of charms] upon his flesh?19 He was a fool, answered they, and proof cannot be adduced from fools.20
IF ONE WRITES ONE LETTER NEAR [OTHER] WRITING. Who teaches this? — Said Rabbah son of R. Huna, It does not agree with R. Eliezer. For if [it agreed with] R. Eliezer, — surely he maintained, [for] one [thread] added to woven stuff, he is culpable.21
IF ONE WRITES UPON WRITING. Who teaches this? Said R. Hisda, It does not agree with R. Judah. For it was taught: If one had to write the [Divine] Name,22 but [erroneously] intended to write Judah [YHWDH]23 but omitted the daleth,24 he can trace his reed [writing pen] over it and sanctify it: this is R. Judah's view;25 but the Sages maintain: The [Divine] Name [thus written] is not of the most preferable.
It was taught: If one writes one letter and completes a book26 therewith, [or] weaves one thread and completes a garment therewith, he is culpable. Who is the authority? — Said Rabbah son of R. Huna, It is R. Eliezer, who maintained: [For] one [thread] added to woven stuff, he is culpable. R. Ashi said, You may even say that it is the Rabbis: completing is different.
R. Ammi said: If one writes one letter in Tiberias and another in Sepphoris,27 he is culpable: it is one [act of] writing but that it lacks being brought together. But we learnt: IF ONE WRITES ON TWO WALLS OF A HOUSE, OR ON TWO LEAVES OF A LEDGER WHICH CANNOT BE READ TOGETHER, HE IS NOT CULPABLE? — There the act of being brought together is lacking;28 but here the act of bringing together is not lacking.29
A Tanna taught: If one corrects one letter, he is culpable. Now, seeing that if one writes one letter he is not culpable. if he [merely] corrects one letter he is culpable?30 — Said R. Shesheth: The circumstances here are e.g., that he removes the roof [i.e.. the upper bar] of a heth and makes two zayyin thereof. Raba said: E.g.. he removes the projection of a daleth and makes a resh thereof.31
A Tanna taught: If one intended writing one letter,
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