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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 13a

An objection is raised: R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: School children used to prepare their [Biblical] portions and read by lamplight?1  — There is no difficulty: I can answer either [that it means] the beginnings of the sections; or that children are different: since they are in awe of their teacher, they will not come to tilt it.

SIMILARLY … A ZAB MUST NOT DINE, [etc.]. It was taught, R. Simeon b. Eleazar said: Come and see how far purity has spread in Israel! For we did not learn, A clean man must not eat with an unclean woman, but A ZAB MUST NOT DINE TOGETHER WITH A ZABAH, AS IT MAY LEAD To SIN.2  Similarly, a zab, a parush3  may not dine with a zab, who is an 'am ha-arez,4  lest he cause him to associate with him. But what does it matter if he does cause him to associate with him? Rather say [thus]: lest he offer him unclean food to eat. Does then a zab who is a parush not eat unclean food?5 — Said Abaye: For fear lest he provide him with unfit food.6  Raba said: The majority of the 'amme ha-arez do render tithes, but [we fear] lest he associate with him and he provide him with unclean food in the days of his purity.7

The scholars propounded: May a niddah8  sleep together with her husband, she in her garment and he in his?9 — Said R. Joseph, Come and hear: A fowl may be served together with cheese at the [same] table, but not eaten [with it]: this is Beth Shammai's view. Beth Hillel rule: It may neither be served nor eaten [together]!10 — There it is different, because there are no [separate] minds.11  It is reasonable too that where there are [separate] minds it is different, because the second clause teaches, R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: Two boarders12  eating at the same table, one may eat meat and the other cheese, and we have no fear.13  But was it not stated thereon, R. Hanin b. Ammi said in Samuel's name: This was taught only when they do not know each other;14  but if they do, they are forbidden? And here too they know each other!-How compare! There we have [separate] minds but no unusual feature;15  but here there are [separate] minds and an unusual feature.16

Others state, Come and hear: R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: Two boarders may eat at the same table, one meat and the other cheese. And it was stated thereon, R. Hanin b. Ammi said in Samuel's name: This was taught only if they do not know each other, but if they do, it is forbidden; and these two know each other! — [No.] There we have [separate] minds but nothing unusual, whereas here there are [separate] minds and an unusual feature.

Come and hear: A ZAB MUST NOT DINE TOGETHER WITH A ZABAH, LEST IT LEAD TO SIN!17  — Here too there are [separate] minds but nothing unusual.

Come and hear: And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour's wife, neither hath come near to a woman who is a niddah:18  thus a woman who is a niddah is assimilated to his neighbour's wife: just as his neighbour's wife, he in his garment and she in hers is forbidden, so if his wife is a niddah, he in his garment and she in hers is forbidden. This proves it. Now, this disagrees with R. Pedath. For R. Pedath said: The Torah interdicted only intimacy of incestuous coition, as it is said, None of you, shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness.19

'Ulla, on his return from the college,20  used to kiss his sisters on their bosoms; others say, on their hands. But he is self-contradictory, for 'Ulla said, Even any form of intimacy is forbidden,21  because we say, 'Take a circuitous route, O nazirite, but do not approach the vineyard.'22

[It is taught in the] Tanna debe Eliyahu:23  It once happened that a certain scholar who had studied much Bible and Mishnah24  and had served scholars much,25  yet died in middle age. His wife took his tefillin and carried them about in the synagogues and schoolhouses and complained to them, It is written in the Torah, for that is thy life, and the length of thy days:26  my husband, who read [Bible], learned [Mishnah],

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. [This proves that children may read on Friday night by lamplight? Our Mishnah affords no such proof as it could refer to children who read in disregard of the prohibition, v. Tosaf. a.l.].
  2. But there was no need to interdict the first, because even Israelites ate their food only when it was ritually clean (though under no obligation) and would not dine together with an unclean woman, sc. a niddah (v. Glos.) in any case.
  3. Lit., 'separated,' v. text note.
  4. Lit., 'people of the earth', 'the rural population'; the term is synonymous with ignoramous and law breaker, for living on the land they were only partially accessible to the teachings of the Rabbis, and in particular were negligent of ritual purity and the separation of tithes. Those who held aloof from them (separatists) were known as perushim (sing. parush), who were very particular in matters of purity and tithes; v. also Glos. s.v. haber.
  5. Whatever he eats is unclean, since his contact defiles food.
  6. I.e., food from which the priestly and Levitical dues were not rendered,
  7. If he is a visitor, he will continue even when he becomes clean.
  8. V. Glos.
  9. Taking precaution to avoid all bodily contact. Intimacy, of course, is forbidden: do we fear that this may lead to it?
  10. And the halachah is always as Beth Hillel. They may not be served lest they be eaten together, and by analogy the answer to our problem is in the negative.
  11. There is no one to restrain the diner from eating the fowl and the cheese together. But here each may restrain the other.
  12. Or travellers lodging at an inn.
  13. The assumed reason is that each restrains the other.
  14. Then one does not take from the other.
  15. Lit., 'change'. There is nothing on the table to remind one diner that he must not eat of his neighbour's.
  16. Viz., that they take care to avoid all bodily contact.
  17. And the same applies here.
  18. Ezek. XVIII, 6.
  19. Lev. XVIII, 6. 'Incest' in the Talmud includes adultery. The same applies to a niddah.
  20. The term Be Rab denotes either the great Academy founded by Rab or college in general.
  21. With consanguineous relations, such as a sister.
  22. A nazirite must not eat grapes or drink wine (v. Num. VI, 1-3); as a precaution he is forbidden even to approach a vineyard. The same reasoning holds good here.
  23. This is the Midrash consisting of two parts, 'Seder Eliyahu Rabbah' and 'Seder Eliyahu Zuta'. According to the Talmud Keth. 106a the Prophet Elijah taught this Midrash, the Seder Eliyahu, to R. 'Anan, a Babylonian amora of the third century. Scholars are agreed that the work in its present form received its final redaction in the tenth century C.E., though they are not agreed as to where it was written. V. Bacher, Monatsschrift, XXIII, 267 et seqq.; in R.E.J. XX, 144-146; Friedmann, introduction to his edition of Seder Eliyahu.
  24. Kara refers to the study of the Bible; shanah to the study of the Mishnah.
  25. 'Serving scholars', i.e., being in personal attendance on scholars, was one of the requisites of an academical course.
  26. Deut. XXX, 20.

Shabbath 13b

and served scholars much, why did he die in middle age? and no man could answer her. On one occasion I1  was a guest at her house,2  and she related the whole story to me. Said I to her, 'My daughter! how was he to thee in thy days of menstruation?' 'God forbid!' she rejoined; 'he did not touch me even with his little finger.' 'And how was he to thee in thy days of white [garments]?'3  'He ate with me, drank with me and slept with me in bodily contact, and it did not occur to him to do other.' Said I to her, 'Blessed be the Omnipresent for slaying him, that He did not condone on account of the Torah!4  For lo! the Torah hath said, And thou shalt not approach unto a woman as long as she is impure by her uncleanness.'5  When R. Dimi came,6  he said, It was a broad bed. In the West [Palestine] they said, R. Isaac b. Joseph said: An apron interposed between them.7


GEMARA. Abaye said to R. Joseph: Did we learn, THESE ARE or AND THESE ARE? Did we learn AND THESE ARE [viz,] those that we have stated [in the former Mishnah]; or did we learn THESE ARE [viz.,] those that are to be stated soon?9 — Come and hear: One may not search his garments by the light of a lamp, nor read by the light of a lamp; and these are of the halachoth stated in the upper chamber of Hananiah b. Hezekiah b. Garon. This proves that we learnt, AND THESE ARE;10  this proves it.

Our Rabbis taught: Who wrote Megillath Ta'anith?11  Said they, Hananiah b. Hezekiah and his companions, who cherished their troubles.12  R. Simeon b. Gamaliel observed: We too cherish our troubles, but what can we do? For if we come to write [them down], we are inadequate.13  Another reason is: a fool is not assailed.14  Another reason: the flesh of the dead does not feel the scalpel. But that is not so, for did not R. Isaac say, Worms are as painful to the dead as a needle in the flesh of the living, for it is said, But his flesh upon him hath pain, And his soul within him mourneth?15  Say: The dead flesh in a living person does not feel the scalpel.

Rab Judah said in Rab's name: In truth, that man, Hananiah son of Hezekiah by name, is to be remembered for blessing:16  but for him, the Book of Ezekiel would have been hidden,17  for its words contradicted the Torah.18  What did he do? Three hundred barrels of oil were taken up to him and he sat in an upper chamber and reconciled19  them.

AND ON THAT DAY THEY ENACTED EIGHTEEN MEASURES. What are the eighteen measures? — For we learnt: The following render terumah unfit:20  one who eats food of the first degree or the second degree, or who drinks unclean liquid;21  one who enters with head and the greater part of his body into drawn water;22  a clean person upon whose head and the greater part of his body there fell three logs23  of drawn water; a Book;24  one's hands;25  a tebul yom;26  and food or utensils which were defiled by a liquid.27

which Tanna [holds that] one who eats food of the first or of the second degree [merely] renders unfit

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Elijah, the supposed author of the Tanna debe Eliyahu; v. n. 1.
  2. Elijah was believed to visit the earth and speak to people.
  3. When a niddah's discharge ceased, she donned white garments and examined herself for seven consecutive days, which had to pass without any further discharge of blood before she became clean. During this time she was forbidden to her husband.
  4. He showed no unfair favoritism because of the man's learning.
  5. Lev. XVIII, 19.
  6. V. p. 12, n. 9.
  7. But they were not actually in bodily contact.
  8. Scholars are divided as to when this took place. Z. Frankel, Darke ha-Mishnah assigns it to the beginning of the division of the two schools. Graetz maintains that it took place about four years before the destruction of the Temple; Weiss favours the last generation before the destruction, not long after the death of Agrippa I. V. also Halevi, Doroth, 1, 3, 580 seq.
  9. Lit., 'before us'. The actual eighteen were forgotten in course of time-hence Abaye's question.
  10. Since the halachoth quoted are given in the previous Mishnah.
  11. 'The scroll of fasting', containing a list of the days on which fasting is forbidden. Thirty five days are listed; on fourteen public mourning was forbidden, whilst fasting was prohibited on all. V. J.E. VIII, 427.
  12. I.e., the days of victorious release from their troubles, and declared the minor festivals.
  13. Every day marks the release from some trouble.
  14. I.e., he does not perceive the troubles which surround him. So we too do not perceive our miraculous escapes.
  15. Job XIV, 22.
  16. Lit., 'for good'.
  17. The technical term for exclusion from the Canon'
  18. E.g. Ezek. XLIV, 31; XLV, 20, q.v.
  19. Lit., 'expounded them'.
  20. For terumah v. Glos. 'Unfit' denotes that it may not be eaten on account of defilement, but does not defile any other terumah by its contact; 'unclean' denotes that it defiles other food too by its touch.
  21. Various degrees of uncleanness are distinguished. The greatest of all is that of a human corpse, called the prime origin (lit., 'father of fathers') of uncleanness; this is followed in successively decreasing stages by 'origin' (lit., 'father') of uncleanness, first, second, third and fourth degrees of uncleanness. When an object becomes unclean through contact with another, its degree of defilement is one stage below that which defiles it. By Biblical law unclean food or drink does not defile the person who cats it; but the Rabbis enacted that it does, and so he in turn renders terumah unfit by contact.-Ordinary unsanctified food (hullin) does not proceed beyond the second degree; i.e., if second degree hullin touches other hullin the latter remains clean; but if it touches terumah, it becomes a third degree. Again, terumah does not go beyond the third degree (hence it is then designated 'unfit', not 'unclean' in respect of other terumah); but if it touches flesh of sacrifices (hekdesh) it renders this unfit, and it is called 'fourth degree'.
  22. Water which had passed through a vessel, as opposed to 'living water', i.e., well water, river water, or rain water collected in a pit.
  23. 1 log = 549.4 cu. centimetres; v. J.E. Weights and Measures.
  24. Any of the Books of the Bible.
  25. Before washing.
  26. V. Glos.
  27. All these render terumah unfit-they are all discussed in the Gemara.