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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 121a

Tebillah in its [due] time is not obligatory,1  hence we seek [it]; whereas R. Jose holds, Tebillah in its [duel time is obligatory, hence we do not seek [it].

Now, does then R. Jose hold, Tebillah in its [due] time is obligatory? Surely it was taught: A zab and a zabah, a male leper and a female leper, he who cohabits with a niddah,2  and he who is defiled through a corpse, [perform] their tebillah by day.3  A niddah and woman in confinement [perform] their tebillah at night.4  A ba'al keri5  must proceed with tebillah at any time of the day.6  R. Jose said: [If the mishap happened] from minhah and beyond he need not7  perform tebillah.8  — [The author of] that is R. Jose son of R. Judah who maintained: [One] tebillah at the end suffices for her.9


GEMARA. R. Ammi said: In the case of a conflagration they [the Rabbis] permitted one to announce, 'Whoever extinguishes [it] will not lose [thereby].' Shall we say that this supports him: IF A GENTILE COMES TO EXTINGUISH, WE DO NOT SAY TO HIM, EXTINGUISH OR DO NOT EXTINGUISH, BECAUSE HIS RESTING IS NOT OUR OBLIGATION: thus we [merely] may not say to him, Extinguish [it],' but we may say, 'Whoever extinguishes [it] will not lose [thereby].' Then consider the second clause: WE DO NOT SAY TO HIM … DO NOT EXTINGUISH but neither may we say to him, 'Whoever extinguishes [it] will not lose [thereby]?'12  Rather no deduction can be made from this.13

Our Rabbis taught: It once happened that a fire broke out in the courtyard of Joseph b. Simai in Shihin, and the men of the garrison at Sepphoris14  came to extinguish it, because he was a steward of the king.15  But he did not permit them, in honour of the Sabbath, and a miracle happened on his behalf, rain descended and extinguished [it]. In the evening he sent two sela' to each of them, and fifty to their captain. But when the Sages heard of it they said, He did not need this, for we learnt: IF A GENTILE COMES TO EXTINGUISH, WE DO NOT SAY TO HIM, 'EXTINGUISH' OR 'DO NOT EXTINGUISH'.

BUT IF A MINOR COMES TO EXTINGUISH, WE DO NOT PERMIT HIM, BECAUSE HIS RESTING IS OUR OBLIGATION. You may infer from this [that] if a minor eats nebeloth,16  it is the duty of Beth din to restrain him?17  — Said R. Johanan: This refers to a minor acting at his father's desire.18  Then by analogy, in respect to the Gentile, he [too] acts at the Jew's desire: is this permitted? — A Gentile acts at his own desire.19


GEMARA. Rab Judah and R. Jeremiah b. Abba and R. Hanan b. Raba visited the home of Abin of Neshikya.22  For Rab Judah and R. Jeremiah b. Abba

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Even an obligatory tebillah need not be performed just when it is due.
  2. Which defiles him — such coition is strictly forbidden.
  3. The seventh day from their defilement. They can perform tebillah any time after dawn, even if it is not yet seven full days of twenty-four hours each from the time of defilement, and even if this falls on the Day of Atonement.
  4. The evening following the day which completes their period of uncleanness, the full period being required in their case. This holds good even if the evening belongs to the Day of Atonement.
  5. Lit., 'one whom a mishap has befallen' — a euphemism for one who discharged semen. By Rabbinical law he requires tebillah before he can engage in the study of Torah.
  6. Lit., 'the whole day'. Even if he discharged semen in the late afternoon of the Day of Atonement, he may perform tebillah on the same day and need not wait for the evening, because tebillah in its right time is obligatory. [A non-obligatory bath is prohibited on the Day of Atonement.]
  7. [Var. lec. he may not, v. Tosaf. a.l.]
  8. Because tebillah at its right time is not obligatory, which is the point of the objection. The circumstances here are that be has already recited all the prayers of the day (Tosaf.), or at least minhah, while the ne'ilah (concluding) service may be recited at night.
  9. The reference is to a woman who gave birth without knowing exactly when, what, and whether it was with or without a gonorrhoeic discharge. The first view is that all possibilities must be taken into account and she must perform tebillah at the due times posited by these. R. Jose b. R. Judah, however, rules that a single tebillah, performed at the end of the whole period that is in doubt, is sufficient, though actually the right time may have been earlier, for in any case tebillah at the time when it becomes due is not obligatory.
  10. Lit., 'their obligation'. It is not the duty of Israelites to see that he rests on the Sabbath, hence we need not forbid him. On the other hand by Rabbinical law one must not instruct a Gentile to work — hence we may not tell him to extinguish the fire.
  11. Lit., 'we do not hearken to him'.
  12. For the second clause merely states that it is unnecessary to stop him, which implies, however, that one must not give him a hint to extinguish.
  13. For one clause of the Mishnah must be exact, even in respect of its implication, whereas the other clause is not to be stressed so far, and it is not known which is exact.
  14. [The Acropolis mentioned in Josephus, Vita 67].
  15. [Agrippa II, v. Klein, S., Beitrage p. 66, n. 1 and Graetz, MGWJ, 1881, p. 484].
  16. V. Glos.; i.e., any forbidden food.
  17. Lit., 'to keep him away'. — In Yeb. 114a this is in doubt.
  18. But where he acts entirely of his own accord it may not be so.
  19. Though he knows that the Jew too desires it, be may nevertheless act on his own accord. But a minor is more likely to be directly influenced by what he understands to be his father's wish.
  20. [Near Sepphoris, v. Klein Beitrage P. 75].
  21. Since the snake was not pursuing him, his action may constitute trapping, which involves a sin-offering.
  22. A town in Babylonia.

Shabbath 121b

couches were brought; for R. Hanan b. Raba none was brought.1  Now, he found him reciting to his son, AND OVER AN INFANT'S EXCREMENT, on account of the infant.2  Said he to him, 'Abin! a fool recites nonsense to his son:3  surely that itself is fit for dogs!4  And should you say that it was not fit for him from yesterday,5  surely it was taught: Flowing rivers and gushing springs are as the feet of all men?6  Then how shall I recite it? — Say: Over the excrement of fowls, on account of an infant.7  But deduce it8  because it is [as] a vessel for excrements.9  And should you answer, The vessel of excrements is only [permitted] in virtue of the utensil,10  yet that itself may not [be carried out], — but a mouse was found in R. Ashi's spices, and he said to them [his servants], 'Take it by the tail and throw it out?'11  — This refers to a dung heap.12  But what business has an infant with a dung heap?13  — It is in the courtyard.14  But in a courtyard too it is a vessel of excrements? — It refers to a dung heap in the courtyard.

AND OVER A SCORPION, THAT IT SHOULD NOT BITE. R. Joshua b. Levi said: All [animals, etc.] that cause injury15  may be killed on the Sabbath. R. Joseph objected: Five may be killed on the Sabbath, and these are they: the Egyptian fly, the hornet of Nineweh, the scorpion of Adiabene,16  the snake in Palestine, and a mad dog anywhere. Now, who [is the authority?] Shall we say, R. Judah? Surely he maintains, One is guilty on account of a labour not required for itself?17  Hence it must be R. Simeon, and only these are permitted, but not others? — Said R. Jeremiah, And who tells us that this is correct: perhaps it is corrupt? Said R. Joseph: I recited it and I raised the objection, and I can answer it: This is where they are pursuing him, and is unanimous.18

A tanna recited before Rabbah son of R. Huna: If one kills snakes or scorpions on the Sabbath, the spirit of the pious19  is displeased with him. He retorted, And as to those pious men, the spirit of the Sages is displeased with them. Now, he disagrees with R. Huna, for R. Huna saw a man kill a wasp. Said he to him, 'Have you wiped them all out?'20

Our Rabbis taught: If one chances upon snakes and scorpions, and he kills them, it is manifest that he had chanced upon them in order to kill them; if he does not kill them, it is manifest that he had chanced upon them that they should kill him, but that a miracle was performed by Heaven on his behalf. 'Ulla said: — others state, Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in R. Johanan's name — That is when they hiss at him.21

R. Abba b. Kahana said: One [of them] once fell in the Beth Hamidrash, and a Nabatean22  arose and killed it.23  Said Rabbi: A similar one must have attacked him. The scholars asked: 'A similar one must have attacked him' [means] that he had done well, or not?24  — Come and hear: For R. Abba, son of R. Hiyya b. Abba, and R. Zera were sitting in the anteroom of R. Jannai's academy, [when] something issued from between them.25  [So] they asked R. Jannai: May one kill snakes and scorpions on the Sabbath? Said he to them: I kill a hornet, how much more so snakes and scorpions! But perhaps that is (only] incidentally,26  for Rab Judah said: One can tread down saliva incidentally:27  and R. Shesheth said, One can tread down a snake incidentally, and R. Kattina said, One may tread down a scorpion incidentally.28

Abba b. Martha, who is Abba b. Minyomi, owed money to the house of the Resh Galutha. [So] they brought him [before the Resh Galutha]; he distressed him [and] he29  spat out saliva,30  [whereupon] the Resh Galutha ordered, 'Bring a vessel and cover it.' Said he to them, 'You do not need this, [for] thus did Rab Judah say: One can tread down saliva incidentally.' 'He is a scholar,' remarked he [the Resh Galutha]; 'let him go'.

R. Abba b. Kahana also said in R. Hanina's name: The candlesticks31  of Rabbi's household may be handled on the Sabbath.

R. Zera asked him: [Does that mean] where they can be taken up with one hand, or [even] with two hands?

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. He had to sit on the ground.
  2. To prevent him from dabbling with it.
  3. This rude remark was made in spleen at his host's discourtesy.
  4. Mukeneth, Lit., 'stands prepared'. Hence it may be handled and therefore one can carry it out altogether; why then overturn a dish upon it?
  5. Sc. Friday; thus it is newly-created, as it were, on the Sabbath (technically called nolad v. Glos.), and as such may not be handled.
  6. On the Sabbath or Festival an article may be carried, where carrying is permitted through an 'erub, only where its owner may go, i.e., it is 'as the feet of its owner'. But this does not apply to the water of a flowing river, and every man may carry it whither he himself may go, though not all may go to the same place (v. Bez. 39a). Now, that which comes on the Sabbath from without the tehum (v. Glos.) may not be taken anywhere within the tehum. But although the water of a flowing river does come from without, it may be carried within. This shows that though that particular water was not there on the Friday, it is regarded as fit on the Sabbath, because it was naturally expected. Hence the same applies to the excrement: though it did not exist before the Sabbath, it was expected, and therefore may be handled, seeing that it can be put to a legitimate use.
  7. V. p. 600, n. 9. But this may not be handled itself, because it is not fit for dogs. — He interprets the Mishnah thus.
  8. That one may carry it out.
  9. Which may be cleared away on account of its repulsiveness.
  10. Which contains the excrements.
  11. And a mouse is the same as excrement.
  12. Which stands apart.
  13. Which was usually in the street.
  14. It is now assumed that this refers to the excrement, not the dung heap.
  15. Rashi: that kill.
  16. A district of Assyria between the rivers Lycus and Caprus.
  17. Supra 12a, 31b; the present killing falls within the same category.
  18. I.e., R. Joshua's statement refers to this case. But in the Baraitha they are not pursuing him, and it is taught on R. Simeon's view.
  19. Heb. hasidim. Here probably no particular sect is meant. Weiss, Dor, I. 109, maintains that the early hasidim are probably referred to.
  20. Sarcastically. I.e., you have achieved nothing, and should not have done it on the Sabbath.
  21. Otherwise it is not to be assumed that they were meant to kill him.
  22. Rashi, a Jew from Nabatea.
  23. This was on a Sabbath.
  24. Did Rabbi speak seriously or sarcastically?
  25. Or, the question came up (for discussion) between them.
  26. Lit., 'in one's simplicity' — i.e., not intentionally, but in the course of his walking.
  27. I.e., on Sabbath, despite the possibility of levelling thereby some grooves in the soil.
  28. Thus the question remains unanswered.
  29. Abba.
  30. There happened to be saliva spat out. V. Rashi.
  31. Rashi: a one-piece lamp; v. p. 202., n. 6.