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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath
An article whose function is a forbidden labour is permitted when required for itself.
Abaye raised an objection to Rabbah: A mortar,1 if containing garlic, may be moved;2 if not, it may not be moved?3 — The author of this is R. Nehemiah, he replied, who maintains, A utensil may be handled only for the purpose of its [normal] use.4 He objected to him: Yet both hold alike that if he has [already] cut meat upon it, it may not be handled?5 — He thought of answering him that this agrees with R. Nehemiah, but when he heard R. Hinena b. Shalmia's dictum in Rab's name: All agree in respect of the dyer's pins, tubs, and beams:6 since one is particular about them he appoints a [special] place for them; so here too one appoints a special place for it [the pestle].7
It was stated, R. Hiyya b. Abba said in R. Johanan's name: We learnt [in our Mishnah] of a goldsmith's hammer; R. Shaman b. Abba said: We learnt of a spice hammer. He who says a spice [hammer], all the more so a goldsmith's [hammer].8 He who says a goldsmith's, — but one is particular about a spice [hammer].9
A REED OR A WHORL, etc. Our Rabbis taught: If an unripe fig was hidden in straw,10 or a cake which was hidden in live coals,11 and part thereof is uncovered, it may be handled;12 but if not, it may not be handled. R. Eleazar b. Taddai said: One impales them on a reed or a whorl, and they [the straw or coals] are shaken off of their own accord. R. Nahman said: The halachah is as R. Eleazar b. Taddai. Shall we say that R. Nahman holds, Indirect13 handling is not designated handling?14 Surely R. Nahman said: 'A radish, if it is the right way up, is permitted; if it is reversed,15 it is forbidden.16 — R. Nahman retracted from that [ruling].
A SMALL NEEDLE TO REMOVE A THORN, etc. Raba son of Rabbah sent to R. Joseph: Let our Master teach us, What of a needle from which the eye or the point has been removed?17 We have learnt it, he replied: A SMALL NEEDLE TO REMOVE A THORN: now, what does it matter to the thorn whether it has an eye or not? He [thereupon] put an objection to him: If the eye or the point of a needle is removed, it is clean?18 — Said Abaye: You oppose defilement to the Sabbath! [For] defilement we require a working utensil,19 [whereas] in respect to the Sabbath we require anything that is fit, and this too is fit for removing a splinter. Raba observed, He who raises the objection does so rightly: since it is not a utensil in respect to defilement, it is not a utensil in respect to the Sabbath.
An objection is raised: A needle, whether with or without an eye, may be handled on the Sabbath, while one with an eye was specified only in respect to defilement?20 — Abaye interpreted it on the view of Raba as referring to unfinished utensils, for sometimes he may decide to use it thus and make it rank as a utensil; but if the eye or point is removed one throws it away among the rubbish.21
on the Sabbath.1 And R. Shesheth?2 — There it is unnatural, whereas here it is natural3 R. Shesheth said, Whence do I rule thus? Because we learnt: A SMALL NEEDLE TO REMOVE A THORN.4 And R. Nahman? — There it is [externally] deposited,5 whereas here it is not [externally] deposited.6
GEMARA. Why so? It is a flat wooden utensil, and these are not susceptible to uncleanness; what is the reason? We require [something] similar to a 'sack'?9 — It was taught in R. Nehemiah's name: When he turns the olives he reverses it and looks at it.10
MISHNAH. R. JOSE SAID: ALL UTENSILS MAY BE HANDLED, EXCEPT A LARGE SAW AND THE PIN OF A PLOUGH.11
Our Rabbis taught: At first they [the Sages] ruled, Three utensils may be handled on the Sabbath: A fig-cake knife,14 a pot soup ladle,15 and a small table-knife. Then16 they permitted [other articles], and they permitted again [still more], and they permitted still further, until they ruled: All utensils may be handled on the Sabbath except a large saw and the pin of a plough. What is meant by 'then they permitted [other articles], and they permitted again [still more], and they permitted still further'? — Said Abaye: [First] they permitted an article whose function is for a permitted purpose, provided it was required for itself;17 then they further permitted an article whose function is for a permitted purpose, even when its place is required; then they further permitted an article whose function is for a forbidden purpose, provided it was required for itself,18 but not when its place is required. Yet still [these might be handled] with one hand only, but not with two hands,19 until they [finally] ruled, All utensils may be handled on the Sabbath even with both hands. Raba observed to him, Consider: he [the Tanna] teaches, they permitted [other things], what difference is it whether they are required for themselves or their place is needed?20 Rather said Raba: [First] they permitted an article whose function is for a permitted purpose, both when required itself or when its place is required; then they further permitted [it to be moved] from the sun to the shade;21 then they further permitted an article whose function is for a forbidden purpose [to be moved] only when it is required for itself or when its place is required, but not from the sun to the shade. Yet [it might] still [be moved] by one person only, but not by two,22 until thy ruled: All utensils may be handled on the Sabbath, even by two persons.
Abaye put an objection to him: A mortar containing garlic may be handled; if not, it may not be handled?23 — We treat here of [moving it] from the sun to the shade. He refuted him: And both hold alike that if he had cut meat upon it it may not be handled?24 Here too it means from the sun to the shade.
R. Hanina said: This Mishnah25 was taught in the days of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah, for it is written, In those days I saw in Judah some treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves.26
R. Eleazar said: [The laws about] canes, staves, fastenings, and mortar27 were all learnt before the permission re [the handling of] utensils. 'Canes', for we learnt: Neither the placing of the canes nor their removal supersedes the Sabbath.28 'Staves, as we learnt: There were thin smooth staves there, which one placed on his shoulder and his fellow's shoulder, then he suspended [the sacrifice upon them] and skinned it.29 R. Eleazar said: If the fourteenth [of Nisan] fell on a Sabbath, one placed
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