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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 11a

[lasted] twenty-six [years], as it is written, Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and thirteen years they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year, etc.1

Raba b. Mehasia also said in the name of R. Hama b. Goria in Rab's name: Every city whose roofs are higher than the synagogue will ultimately be destroyed, as it is said, to exalt the house of our God, and to repair the ruins thereof.2  Yet that refers only to houses; but as for towers and turrets, we have no objection. R. Ashi said: I achieved for the town of Mehasia3  that it was not destroyed.4  But it was destroyed!5 — It was not destroyed as a result of that sin.

Raba b. Mehasia also said in the name of R. Hama b. Goria in Rab's name: [Let one be] under an Ishmaelite but not under a 'stranger';6  under a stranger but not under a Gueber;7  under a Parsee but not under a scholar; under a scholar but not under an orphan or a widow.8

Raba b. Mehasia also said in the name of R. Hama b. Goria in Rab's name: Rather any complaint, but not a complaint of the bowels; any pain, but not heart pain; any ache, but not head ache; any evil, but not an evil wife!

Raba b. Mehasia also said in the name of R. Hama b. Goria in Rab's name: If all seas were ink, reeds pens, the heavens parchment, and all men writers, they would not suffice to write down the intricacies of government. Said R. Mesharshia, What verse [teaches this]? The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.9

Raba b. Mehasia also said in the name of R. Hama b. Goria in Rab's name: Fasting is as potent against a dream as fire against tow.10  Said R. Hisda: Providing it is on that very day. R. Joseph added: And even on the Sabbath.11

R. Joshua son of R. Idi chanced on the home of R. Ashi. A third grown calf12  was prepared for him and he was invited, 'Master, partake somewhat.' 'I am engaged in a fast,' he replied. 'And do you not accept Rab Judah's ruling in Rab's name: One may borrow his fast and repay it?13  'It is a fast on account of a dream,' he answered, 'and Raba b. Mehasia said in the name of R. Hama b. Goria in Rab's name: Fasting is as potent against a dream as fire against tow; and R. Hisda said, Providing it is on that very day; and R. Joseph added: And even on the Sabbath.'

YET IF THEY BEGAN, THEY NEED NOT BREAK OFF. ONE MUST BREAK OFF FOR THE READING OF THE SHEMA', [BUT NOT FOR PRAYER]. But the first clause teaches, THEY NEED NOT BREAK OFF? — The second clause refers to study.14  For it was taught: If companions [scholars] are engaged in studying, they must break off for the reading of the shema', but not for prayer. R. Johanan said: This was taught only of such as R. Simeon b. Yohai and his companions, whose study was their profession; but we15  must break off both for the reading of the shema' and for prayer. But it was taught: Just as they do not break off for the service, so do they not break off for the reading of the shema'? — That was taught in reference to the intercalation of the year.16  For R. Adda b. Ahabah said, and the Elders of Hagrunia17  recited likewise: R. Eleazar b. Zadok said: When we were engaged in intercalating the year at Yabneh,18  we made no break for the reading of the shema' or prayer.


GEMARA. We learnt elsewhere: One must not stand in private ground and drink in public ground, or on public ground and drink in private ground;26  but if he inserts his head and the greater part [of his body] into the place where he drinks, it is permitted;

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Ibid. XIV, 4f. During the twelve years of servitude, the thirteen of rebellion, and the fourteenth of war, they were not at peace; this leaves 26 years of peace before its destruction.
  2. Ezra IX, 9. Thus, when 'the house of our God' is exalted, the ruins are repaired; the present saying is its converse.
  3. A famous town near Sura on the Euphrates (Obermeyer, p. 188) which possessed an academy of which R. Ashi was the principal.
  4. By not permitting houses to be built higher than the Synagogue.
  5. There is evidence that Mehasia was still standing in the second half of the seventh; consequently the destruction mentioned here must have been a partial one; ibid. p. 290.
  6. Var. lec.: Edomite. Jast.: rather under Arabic dominion than under Byzantium.
  7. Parsee, v. Git., Sonc. ed., p. 63, n. 2.
  8. A scholar is quick to punish; and God himself punishes an affront to an orphan or widow.
  9. Prov. XXV, 3.
  10. Dreams were believed portents foreshadowing the future, though, as seen here, the evil they foretold might be averted. Cf. Ber. 55-58. B.B. 10a; Yoma 87b et passim. Though R. Meir said,' Dreams neither help nor harm,' (Hor. 13b) we find that he was warned against a certain innkeeper in a dream (Yoma 38b).
  11. Though otherwise fasting is forbidden on the Sabbath, a dream-fast is permitted.
  12. So Rashi in 'Er. 63a.
  13. If one vows to fast, he may 'borrow,' i.e., postpone it and subsequently 'repay,' i.e., keep it later.
  14. Lit., 'words of Torah.'
  15. Who interrupt our studies for business.
  16. The Jewish year consists of twelve lunar months. As this is about eleven days shorter than the solar year, an additional month was periodically intercalated, and when the Intercalatory Board deliberated the question of prolonging the year, they did not interrupt themselves for the shema or the service.
  17. A town in immediate proximity to Nehardea on the Euphrates. By the middle of the fourth century Nehardea was already on the decline and many scholars preferred to live in Hagrunia, as shown by the phrase, the Elders (i.e., the leading scholars) of Hagrunia. Obermeyer, pp. 265-267.
  18. The famous town N.W. of Jerusalem which R. Johanan b. Zakkai made the chief academical centre and the seat of the Sanhedrin after the fall of the Jewish state in 70 C.E.
  19. Of the Sabbath.
  20. In the evening.
  21. Lest the light flickers and he tilts the lamp that the oil should flow more freely, which is forbidden on the Sabbath.
  22. Lit., 'supervisor.' In the Talmudic period the word did not denote synagogue reader, as in modern times, but was applied to various functionaries, e.g., the person who supervised children's studies in the synagogue, the beadle, the court crier, and the janitor at academical debates. Possibly the same man combined a number of these functions. V. Sot., Sonc. ed., p. 202, n. 4.
  23. V. Gemara.
  24. On zab and zabah v. Glos.
  25. Viz., intimacy, which is forbidden.
  26. On the Sabbath. He must not put his head into the other domain, lest he draw the drinking cup to himself, thus transferring an object from one domain to another.

Shabbath 11b

and the same applies to a wine vat.1  The scholars propounded: What of a karmelith?2 — Abaye said: It is precisely the same. Raba said: That itself3  is only a preventive measure:4  are we to arise and enact a preventive measure5  to safeguard6  another preventive measure!7

Abaye said, Whence do I say it? Because it is taught, and the same applies to a wine vat. Now what is this wine vat? If private ground, it has [already] been taught: if public ground, it has [also] been taught. Hence it must surely refer to a karmelith. Raba said: 'And the same applies to a wine vat' is [stated] in reference to tithes; and R. Shesheth said likewise, 'And the same applies to a wine vat' refers to tithes. For we learnt: One may drink [wine] over the vat in [a dilution of] both hot or cold [water], and is exempt [from tithing]: this is R. Meir's view. R. Eleazar son of R. Zadok holds him liable. But the Sages maintain: For a hot [dilution] he is liable; for a cold one he is exempt, because the rest is returned.8

We learnt: A TAILOR MUST NOT GO OUT WITH HIS NEEDLE NEAR NIGHTFALL, LEST HE FORGET HIMSELF AND GO OUT. Surely that means that it is stuck in his garment?9 — No: it means that he holds it in his hand.10  Come and hear: A tailor must not go out with a needle sticking in his garment. Surely that refers to the eve of Sabbath? — No; that was taught with reference to the Sabbath. But it was taught, A tailor must not go out with a needle sticking in his garment on the eve of the Sabbath just before sunset? — The author of that is R. Judah, who maintained, An artisan is liable [for carrying out an object] in the manner of his trade.11  For it was taught: A tailor must not go out with a needle stuck in his garment, nor a carpenter with a chip behind his ear,12  nor a [wool] corder with the cord in his ear, nor a weaver with the cotton13  in his ear, nor a dyer with a [colour] sample round his neck, nor a money-changer with a denar14  in his ear; and if he does go forth, he is not liable, though it is forbidden: this is R. Meir's view.15  R. Judah said: An artisan is liable [for carrying out an object] in the manner of his trade, but all other people are exempt.

One [Baraitha] taught: A zab must not go out with his pouch;16  yet if he goes out he is not liable, though it is forbidden. And another taught: A zab must not go out with his pouch, and if he goes out he is liable to a sin-offering!-Said R. Joseph, There is no difficulty: the former is R. Meir; the latter R. Judah. Abaye said to him. When have you heard R. Meir [to give this ruling], in respect to something which it is not natural [to carry thus]; but have you heard him in respect to something which demands that mode [of carrying]? For should you not say so, then if an unskilled worker hollows out a measure from a log on the Sabbath, would he indeed be exempt on R. Meir's view?17  Rather, said R. Hamnuna, there is no difficulty; the one refers to a zab who has had two attacks,18  the other to a zab who has had three attacks.19  Now, why does a zab of two attacks differ in that he is liable? [Presumably] because he requires it for examination!20  But then a zab of three attacks also requires it for counting?21  It holds good only for that very day.22  Yet still he needs it to prevent the soiling of his garments? — Said R. Zera, This agrees with the following Tanna, who maintains, The prevention of soiling has no [positive] importance.23  For we learnt: If one overturns a basin on a wall, in order that the basin be washed [by the rain], it falls within [the terms of], 'and if it [water] be put [etc.]'; if in order

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. This is now assumed to mean that one must not stand in either a public or private ground, as the case may be, and drink from the vat.
  2. May one stand in public or private ground and drink in a karmelith, or vice versa?
  3. The prohibition of actually transporting an object between a karmelith and public or private ground.
  4. V. supra 6a on karmelith.
  5. Sc. the prohibition of standing in one domain and drinking in another.
  6. Lit., 'for'.
  7. Surely not.
  8. The vat is the utensil into which the expressed juice of the grapes runs, whence it descends into the pit beneath. Once it is in the pit its manufacture as wine is complete, and it is liable to tithes, before the rendering of which nothing at all may be drunk. But while it is yet in the vat its manufacture is not complete, and so a little wine may be drunk even before the rendering of the tithes. That, however, is only if it is drunk directly over the vat; if it is taken out, that action itself confers upon it the status of finished wine, and the tithes, etc., must first be given. Thus, when it is taught, 'and the same applies to a wine vat', it means that if one drinks wine from the vat, he is regarded as taking it away, unless he has his head and greater part of his body in the vat, and must render the tithes before he drinks.-Wine was not drunk neat, but diluted with water; if it is diluted with cold water, the rest can be poured back into the vat; if with hot water, it cannot, the hot mixture injuring the rest. R. Meir holds that in both cases, since he does not take it away from the vat, he can drink a little without tithing; R. Eleazar b. R. Zadok rejects this view. The Sages agree with R. Meir if it is diluted with cold water; if it is diluted with hot, since the rest cannot be returned into the vat, it is as though it were carried away, and therefore may not be drunk.
  9. Then even carrying it out on the Sabbath is only Rabbinically forbidden as a preventive measure, lest one carry in general, and yet he must also not go out before the Sabbath as a preventive measure lest he go on the Sabbath itself. Thus we have one preventive measure to safeguard another in respect to the Sabbath.
  10. This is Biblically forbidden on the Sabbath.
  11. And this is such; thus he regards it as Biblically forbidden.
  12. Rashi: this was the sign of his trade, and he wore it that he might be recognized and offered employment.
  13. Krauss in T.A. 1. p. 249 and p. 281 a.l. translates: a small distaff, carried behind the ear as an indication of a man's trade.
  14. A coin.
  15. He regards these as unnatural ways of carrying, whereas Scripture prohibits only the natural mode of any particular form of labour.
  16. To receive his discharge.
  17. Because he did not do it in a professional manner? Surely not, for if so only a skilled worker will be liable for doing something of his own trade. Hence it must be that a person is liable for doing any labour in the manner natural to himself, and the same applies to a zab and his pouch.
  18. Lit., 'sights'-of discharge.
  19. When a zab has had three attacks be must bring a sacrifice (Lev. XV, 13-15). Consequently, after two attacks he needs this pouch to see whether he has a third (which otherwise may pass unknown to him), and since he needs it that is the natural way for him to carry it, and therefore he is liable.
  20. As in last note.
  21. After he ceases to discharge he must count seven consecutive days of cleanness, i.e., in which there is no discharge (ibid.): a single attack during this period necessitates counting afresh from the following day. Hence he too needs this pouch for that period.
  22. I.e., he is not liable only if he had the third attack on that Sabbath itself; he does not need the pouch then, as in any case he commences counting only on the next day.
  23. I.e., when a thing is done not for its own sake but to prevent something from being soiled, it is not regarded as a positive act and involves no liability.