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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 130a



GEMARA. The scholars asked: Is R. Eliezer's reason5  out of love for the precept6  or perhaps it is because of suspicions?7  What is the practical difference? Whether it may be brought covered on the testimony of witnesses. If you say it is out of love for the precept, it must be uncovered and not hidden. But if you say it is because of suspicions it is well even if hidden: what then? It was stated, R. Levi said: R. Eliezer ruled thus only out of love for the precept. It was taught likewise: He must bring it uncovered, and he must not bring it covered: this is R. Eliezer's opinion.8  R. Ashi said: Our Mishnah too proves this, because it states, BUT IN TIMES OF DANGER HE HIDES IT ON THE TESTIMONY OF WITNESSES; thus in times of danger only, but not when there is no danger. This proves that it is out of love for the precept: this proves it.

Another [Baraitha] taught: He brings it uncovered, but he must not bring it covered: this is R. Eliezer's view. R. Judah said in R. Eliezer's name: In times of danger it was the practice to bring it hidden on the testimony of witnesses.9  The scholars asked: The witnesses which he mentions, [does it mean] he and another one, or perhaps he and another two? — Come and hear: BUT IN [TIMES OF] DANGER HE HIDES IT ON THE TESTIMONY OF WITNESSES: if you agree to say he and two [others], it is well; but if you say he and another, what witnesses [are there]?10  — Such as are eligible to testify elsewhere.11

R. ELIEZER SAID FURTHER [etc.]. Our Rabbis taught: In R. Eliezer's locality they used to cut timber to make charcoal for making iron on the Sabbath. In the locality of R. Jose the Galilean they used to eat flesh of fowl with milk. Levi visited the home of Joseph the fowler [and] was offered the head of a peacock in milk, [which] he did not eat. When he came before Rabbi he asked him, Why did you not place them under the ban?12  It was the locality of R. Judah b. Bathyra, replied he, and I thought, Perhaps he has lectured to them in accordance with R. Jose the Galilean. For we learnt: R. Jose the Galilean said: It is said, Ye shall not eat any nebelah,13  and it is said, Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk:14  [this teaches,] that which is forbidden on the score of nebelah may not be seethed in milk. Now since a fowl is prohibited when nebelah, you might think that one must not seethe it in milk; therefore it is stated, 'in its mother's milk', hence a fowl is excluded, since it has no mother's milk.

R. Isaac said: There was one town in Palestine where they followed R. Eliezer,15  and they died there at the [proper] time,16  Moreover, the wicked State17  once promulgated a decree against Israel concerning circumcision,18  yet did not decree [it] against that town.

It was taught, R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: Every precept which they accepted with joy, e.g., circumcision, as it is written, I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil,19  they still observe with joy. While every precept which they accepted with displeasure,20  e.g., the forbidden degrees of consanguinity, as it is written, And Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families,21  [i.e.,] on account of the affairs of their families,22  they still perform them with strife, for there is no marriage settlement which does not contain a quarrel.23

It was taught, R. Simeon b. Eleazar said: Every precept for which Israel submitted to death at the time of the royal decree, e.g., idolatry and circumcision,24  is still held firmly in their minds. Whereas every precept for which Israel did not submit to death at the time of the royal decree, e.g., tefillin, is still weak in their hands.25  For R. Jannai said: Tefillin demand a pure body, like Elisha-the-man-of-the-wings. What does this mean? — Abaye said: That one must not pass wind while wearing them; Raba said: That one must not sleep in them. And why is he called 'the man-of-the-wings'? Because the wicked State once proclaimed a decree against Israel that whoever donned tefillin should have his brains pierced through; yet Elisha put them on and went out into the streets. A quaestor saw him: he fled before him, and the latter gave pursuit. As he overtook him, he [Elisha] removed them from his head and held them in his hand, 'What is that in your hand?' he demanded, 'The wings of a dove,' was his reply. He stretched out his hand and the wings of a dove were found therein. Hence he is called 'Elisha-the-man-of-the-wings.' And why did he tell him the wings of a dove rather than that of other birds? Because the Congregation of Israel is likened to a dove, as it is said, as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her pinions with yellow gold:26  just as a dove is protected by its wings, so with the Israelites, their precepts protect them.27

R. Abba b. R. adda said in R. Isaac's name: they once forgot to bring a knife on Sabbath eve, so they brought it on the Sabbath through roofs and courtyards,28

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. A knife for circumcision.
  2. That all may see it.
  3. When circumcision is forbidden by the State, as during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes before the Maccabean revolt; v. 1 Macc. I, 48, 60, 11, 46. It was again forbidden during the Hadrianic persecution; cf. Mek. Yithro, Ba-Hodesh, VI; Graetz, Geschichte IV, 154.
  4. For a circumcision knife. Thus R. Eliezer permits not only circumcision but even its preparatory adjuncts, though these could have been prepared before the Sabbath.
  5. For requiring the knife to be brought uncovered.
  6. One must show how precious is circumcision that he even desecrates the Sabbath on its account.
  7. That would otherwise attach to the bringer, that he was unlawfully desecrating the Sabbath.
  8. The emphatic repetition shows that it must not be hidden on any account.
  9. 'It was the practice' implies that this is not a mere theoretical ruling but an actual account of what happened in the past. As R. Eliezer died before the Hadrianic wars, this must refer to the days of the persecution by Antiochus. — Weiss, Dor, II, p. 131. n. I.
  10. There is only one, as obviously he cannot be counted.
  11. In truth it may be he and another, nevertheless there are two who know the purpose of his carrying. and they are referred to as witnesses, since two in general can testify. Yet two independent witnesses may not be required, since there is no actual lawsuit.
  12. For infringing the dietary laws.
  13. Deut. XIV, 21.
  14. Ibid. 22 — these laws are stated successively.
  15. In respect of circumcision.
  16. Never prematurely.
  17. Rome.
  18. Forbidding it; v. p. 649, n. 3.
  19. Ps. CXIX, 162. This is understood to refer to circumcision, which is a single 'word', i.e., command, which preceded the bulk of Mosaic legislation (this dating back to Abraham, Gen. XVII, 10), and which the Jew, in virtue of being circumcised, ceaselessly performs.
  20. Lit., 'quarrelling'.
  21. Num. XI, 10.
  22. viz., because they were now interdicted in marriage.
  23. Lit., 'in which they (the parties concerned) throw no discord'.
  24. Cf. p. 649, n. 3. Antiochus demanded idol worship too; later, Caligula made a similar demand; v. Graetz, History (Eng. trans.) Vol. II, pp. 188 seqq.; cf. also Weiss, Dor, II, p. 5.
  25. V. Weiss, op. cit., p. 134.
  26. Ps. LXVIII, 14.
  27. Cf. also supra 49a and notes a.l.
  28. For which no 'erub (q.v. Glos) had been provided. It is normally forbidden to carry through such by Rabbinical law.

Shabbath 130b

[this being] against the will of R. Eliezer. R. Joseph demurred: [You say] 'against the will of R. Eliezer'! on the contrary, it is R. Eliezer' who permits it even through the street;1  but only with the consent of the Rabbis, who forbid [it to be carried] through the street yet permit it through roofs, courtyards, and enclosures,2  — yet is this permitted? Surely it was taught: Just as one may not bring it through the street, so may one not bring it through roofs, through enclosures, or through courtyards? — Said R. Ashi: It was not with the consent of R. Eliezer and his opponent[s], but with the consent of R. Simeon. For we learnt, R. Simeon said: Roofs, enclosures and courtyards are all one domain3  in respect of utensils which spent the Sabbath therein,4  but not in respect of utensils which rested in the house.5

R. Zera asked R. Assi: In the case of an alley in which they [its residents] have not become partners,6  what about carrying in the whole of it?7  do we say it is like a courtyard: just as a courtyard, even if an 'erub has not been made, it is permitted to carry in the whole of it,8  so this too, though they have not become partners in it,9  it is permitted to carry in the whole of it; or perhaps it is unlike a courtyard; for a courtyard has four walls [partitions], whereas this has not four walls; alternatively, a courtyard has tenants,10  whereas this has no tenants? He was silent and said nothing to him. On a subsequent occasion he [R. Zera] found him [R. Assi] sitting and stating: 'R. Simeon b. Lakish said in the name of R. Judah the prince: They once forgot to bring a knife on Sabbath eve, so they brought it on the Sabbath. Now this matter was difficult for the Sages [to understand]: how could they abandon the opinion of the Sages and act as R. Eliezer: firstly, since R. Eliezer was [a follower] of Beth Shammai;11  and further, [where an individual and many [are in dispute], the halachah is as the many? Whereupon R. Oshaia said: I asked R. Judah the circumciser, and he told me, It was an alley wherein they [its residents] had not become partners, and they brought it [the knife] from one end to the other. Said he to him: Do you then hold that in the case of an alley in which they had not become partners, it is permitted to carry in the whole of it? Yes, he replied.' Said he [R. Zera] to him [R. Assi], But I once asked [it of] you and you did not answer me: perhaps in the rapid course [of your review] your tradition sped [back] to you?12  Yes, he replied; in the course of my review my tradition sped [back] to me.

It was stated, R. Zera said in Rab's name: In the case of an alley in which no partnership had been made, one may not carry therein save within four cubits. Abaye observed, R. Zera stated this law but did not explain it, until Rabbah b. Abbuha came and explained it. For R. Nahman said in Rabbah b. Abbuha's name in Rab's name: In the case of an alley in which no partnership has been made, if the courtyards13  are combined with the houses,14  one may not carry therein [the alley] save within four cubits; [but] if the courtyards are not combined with the houses, one may carry over the whole of it.15  R. Hanina Hoza'ah16  said to Rabbah: Why does it differ when the courtyards are combined with the houses? [presumably] because the courtyards have been transformed17  and are become houses,18  Rab being consistent with his view; for Rab said: An alley does not become permitted [for carrying] through a stake and a beam unless

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. It is a general principle (infra 133a) that where a positive command and a negative command are in question, both should be fulfilled wherever possible; hence it might be argued that R. Eliezer too agrees that it should not be carried through the street, since there is an alternative (Tosaf.). Yet it may be that since R. Eliezer's ruling is largely in order to emphasize the great esteem in which the precept is held (supra a), the Talmud felt that he would require it to be carried through the streets.
  2. Karpifoth; v. supra 7a.
  3. Carrying from one to another is permitted.
  4. I.e., which were there from the beginning of the Sabbath, v. 'Er. 91a.
  5. I.e., which were in the house at the beginning of the Sabbath. — Here the knife belonged to the former category (Tosaf.).
  6. By means of an 'erub; v. supra 23a.
  7. Sc. utensils which were there at the commencement of the Sabbath.
  8. Not from a house into the courtyard or from one courtyard into another, but in that courtyard itself.
  9. This is the technical term in respect of an alley, whereby it all ranks as a single and private domain for its residents.
  10. I.e., the residents of the houses which open into it put it to private use.
  11. So Rashi and Tosaf. on the strength of a statement in J. Sheb. IX, end; this does not mean that he actually belonged to the School of Shammai, but generally adopted their views (v. Weiss, Dor, II, p. 83, n. 2), which were always disregarded in favour of Beth Hillel's. Rashi suggests another meaning: he was under a ban (v. B.M. 59b).
  12. I.e., you recalled it. [Aliter: 'In the rapid course (of your study) your tradition escaped you', i.e., R. Oshaia's statement. V. Strashun].
  13. That open into the alley.
  14. Which give on the courtyards. I.e., all the houses served by the same courtyard are combined by means of an 'erub, so that they may carry to and fro between the houses and the courtyard belonging to same; but the courtyards themselves have not been made common partners in the alley.
  15. Sc. utensils which were in the alley at the beginning of the Sabbath.
  16. Of Be Hozae. V. p. 234, n. 3.
  17. Lit., 'torn away' from their original designation.
  18. I.e., they are now part of the houses and not courtyards at all.