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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 138a

Rather said Abaye: It is [forbidden] by Rabbinical law, in order that one should not act in the very way he acts on weekdays.

Abaye collected some general principles of Baraithas, and he recited: One must not stretch out a leather bag,1  a strainer, a canopy,2  or a camp chair;3  and if he does he is not culpable. but it is forbidden. One must not make a permanent tent, and if he does he is liable to a sin-offering. But a bed, chair, three-legged stool, and a footstool may be set up at the very outset.4

NOR POUR [WINE] THROUGH A SUSPENDED (STRAINER] ON THE SABBATH. The scholars asked: What if one does strain [wine]? — R. Kahana said: If one strains he incurs a sin-offering. R. Shesheth demurred: Is there aught for which the Rabbis impose a sin-offering whereas R. Eliezer permits it at the very outset? To this R. Joseph demurred: Why not? Surely there is a 'golden city',5  where R. Meir imposes a sin-offering. while R. Eliezer gives permission at the very outset. What is this? For it was taught: A woman must not go out with a 'golden city', and if she does go out, she is liable to a sin-offering: this is R. Meir's view: but the Sages rule: She may not go out [with it]. yet if she goes out she is not culpable. R. Eliezer maintained: A woman may go out with a 'golden city' at the very outset! — Said Abaye to him, Do you think that R. Eliezer refers to R. Meir, who rules that she is liable to a sin-offering? He refers to the Rabbis, who maintain that there is no culpability. though it is forbidden; whereupon he said to them, It is permitted at the very outset.6

On what grounds is he warned?7  — Rabbah said: On the grounds of selecting;8  R. Zera said: On the score of sifting.9  Rabbah said, Reason supports my view: What is usual in selecting? One takes the edible matter and leaves the refuse, so here too he takes the edible [the wine] and leaves the refuse. R. Zera said, Reason supports my view: what is usual in sifting? The refuse [remains] on top whilst the edible matter [falls] below, so here too, — the refuse [remains] on top whilst the edible matter [drops] below.

Rami b. Ezekiel recited: One must not spread a doubled-over sheet;10  yet if he does he is not culpable,11  but it is forbidden. If a thread or a cord was wound about it,12  it may be spread at the very outset. R. Kahana asked Rab: What about a canopy?13  A bed too is forbidden. What about a bed? A canopy too is permitted, he replied. What about a canopy and a bed? A canopy is forbidden, replied he, while a bed is permitted. Yet there are no contradictions: when he said, A bed too is forbidden, [he meant one] like that used by the Carmanians.14  When he said to him, A canopy too is permitted, [he referred to] one like Rami b. Ezekiel['s].15  A canopy is forbidden while a bed is permitted refers to one like ours.16  R. Joseph said: I saw the canopy beds of R. Huna's house stretched out at night and thrown down in the morning.17

Rab said in R. Hiyya's name: A [door] curtain may be hung up and taken down.18  And Samuel said in R. Hiyya's name:

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Gud is a broad leather bag into which wine or milk was poured. It was stretched out at night tent-wise for the liquid to cool in the night air.
  2. Rashi: whose top is a handbreadth in width. Alfasi and Maim.: whose top is less than a handbreadth in width.
  3. Jast. Tosaf.: a framework over which the leather seat was stretched; this is like the making of a tent.
  4. If they have fallen. The covers or tops of these are permanently spread, so no 'tent' is made.
  5. This was a kind of ornamental headdress containing a picture of Jerusalem; v. supra 59b.
  6. Abaye's reasoning is difficult to follow unless he means that R. Eliezer was altogether ignorant of R. Meir's view (Tosaf. and marginal Gloss.).
  7. A deliberate offence is not punishable unless the transgressor is previously warned that his proposed action is forbidden on such and such a score; in the case of the violation of the Sabbath he must be advised under what category of labour his action is prohibited. The selection here is in regard to the straining of wine.
  8. He is warned that straining is tantamount to selecting.
  9. V. supra 73a for these two labours.
  10. Tent-wise over a pole. the ends being fastened to the ground, so that the whole forms a tent under which he can lie (R. Han.).
  11. Because the top or roof of this improvised tent is less than a handbreadth in width.
  12. The sheet was already on the pole from before the Sabbath, and a thread or cord was attached thereto by means of which it might be pulled down. When it is pulled down one merely adds to a temporary or improvised tent, and this Baraitha permits it-.
  13. V. supra p. 695, n. 6.
  14. Inhabitants of Carmania, a province of the ancient Persian empire, with the capital Carmana. Others: a frame used by vendors of linen garments. On both translations the frameworks were such that they were taken apart and then set up; this constitutes a forbidden labour.
  15. I.e., one about which a cord was wound, and which he permits in this passage.
  16. V. p. 695, n. 8.
  17. Which shows that they may be taken apart — he was speaking of the Sabbath — and in the same way they may be set up
  18. It is not a 'tent', since it has no roof.

Shabbath 138b

A bridal bed may be set up and it may be dismantled.1  R. Shesheth son of R. Idi said: That was said only where its roof is not a handbreadth [in width],2  but if its roof is a handbreadth, it is forbidden. And even if the roof is not a handbreadth, this was said only where there is not [the width of] a handbreadth within three [handbreadths] from the top; but if there is a handbreadth within three from the top. it is forbidden. And this is said only if its slope is less than a handbreadth, but if its slope is a hand breadth, the slopes of tents are as tents.3  And it was said only if it does not descend a handbreadth below the bed; but if it descends a handbreadth below the bed, it is forbidden.

R. Shesheth son of R. Idi also said: A peaked cap4  is permitted. But it was stated: a peaked cap is forbidden? — There is no difficulty: in the one case it is a handbreadth [in size];5  in the other it is not a handbreadth. If so, if one lets his cloak protrude a handbreadth,6  is he too culpable?7  — Rather [say] there is no difficulty: here it is tightly fitted [on his head]; there it is not tightly fitted.8

Rami b. Ezekiel sent to R. Huna: Tell us, pray. those well-favoured dicta which you told us [formerly] in Rab's name, two about the Sabbath and one about Torah. He sent [back] to him: As to what was taught, It is permitted to stretch the leather bag9  by its thongs,10  Rab said: They learnt this only of two men; but [if done] by one man, it is forbidden.11  Abaye said: But a canopy. even [if stretched] by ten men, is forbidden, [for] it is impossible that it shall not be somewhat stretched.

What is the other [dictum]? If one of the shafts of a stove falls off, it [the stove] may be handled; if both [fall off], it may not be handled,12  Rab said: Even if one [falls out] it is forbidden, lest he [re]fix it.13

'[And one about] Torah': for Rab said: The Torah is destined to be forgotten in Israel, because it is said, Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful:14  now, I do not know what this wonder is, but when it is said, Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a wonderful work among this people, even a wonderful work and a wonder [and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish],15  it follows that this wonder refers to Torah.

Our Rabbis taught: When our Masters entered the vineyard at Yabneh,16  they said, The Torah is destined to be forgotten in Israel, as it is said, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. And it is said, And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.17  'The word of the Lord' means halachah,' 'the word of the Lord' means 'The End';18  'the word of the Lord' means prophecy. And what does 'they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord' mean? Said they, A woman is destined to take a loaf of terumah and go about in the synagogues and academies to know whether it is unclean or clean, and none will know19  whether it is clean or unclean. But that is explicitly stated, All food which may be eaten [...shall be unclean]?20  Rather to know whether it is a first degree or a second degree [of uncleanness],21  and none will know. But that too is a Mishnah. For we learnt: If a [dead] creeping thing22  is found in an oven, the bread within it is a second, because the oven is a first?23  — They will be in doubt over what R. Adda b. Ahabah asked Raba: Let us regard this oven as though it were filled with uncleanness,24  and let the bread be a first? He replied, We do not say. Let us regard this oven as though it were filled with uncleanness. For it was taught: You might think that all utensils become unclean in the air space of an earthen vessel: therefore it is stated, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean … all food therein which may be eaten: food and liquids become unclean in the air space of an earthen vessel.25  It was taught. R. Simeon b. Yohai said: Heaven forfend that the Torah be forgotten in Israel, for it is said, for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed.26  Then how do I interpret, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it? They will not find

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. v. p. 696. n. 6; also T.A. II, p. 457. n. 311, where it is understood as a sedan chair or litter.
  2. It being spread over a very narrow pole.
  3. Hence it is forbidden. By 'its slope' is meant the distance at the base from the vertical. Obviously such is unfit for use, and Rashi observes that a bridal bed was not for sleeping. This is unsatisfactory, and Tosaf. suggests other interpretations but rejects them too as equally unsatisfactory. V. 'Er. 102a (Sonc. ed., p. 709. n. 15).
  4. Jast.: A felt cap with a shade in front.
  5. It may not be worn on the Sabbath, as it technically forms a tent.
  6. He winds it about his head so as to protrude this distance.
  7. Read with Asheri, is it too forbidden'?
  8. Rashi: In the latter case a peaked cap is forbidden, not as a 'tent' but lest the wind blow it off and he come to carry it.
  9. V. p. 695. n. 5.
  10. The interdict supra a is only where it is unprovided with thongs or straps.
  11. Rashi: two men do not stretch it well; but one person is forced to tie one end to a stake, stretch it, and then tie the other end to another stake, whereby it becomes a tent. Rashi however is dissatisfied with this explanation and states that he does not understand it, nor are other commentators more satisfactory.
  12. The shafts are the four feet upon which it stands.
  13. Which is labour. But the first view is that it can stand well enough with one shaft missing to make this fear unlikely.
  14. Deut. XXVIII, 59.
  15. Isa. XXIX, 14.
  16. Whither R. Johanan b. Zakkai transported or founded an academy after the destruction of the second Temple. Vineyard' is a metaphor for the academy, because the scholars sat in rows like vines, J. Ber. IV, 1. The time referred to here is probably that of the Hadrianic persecutions.
  17. Amos VIII, 11f
  18. The designated time of redemption, when the Messiah will appear. Tosaf. finds the analogy for this interpretation in Ezra I.
  19. Lit., 'understand'.
  20. Lev. XI, 34. Surely the Written Law will be available.
  21. V. p. 55. n. 6.
  22. Sherez, which defiles utensils and food.
  23. The sherez touches the oven, which in turn touches the bread, The Rabbis could not imagine complete forgetfulness even of the Mishnah.
  24. For immediately the sherez enters the air space of the oven, even before it actually touches it, it defiles, hence one should regard the sherez as though completely filling it.
  25. But if the sherez were regarded as completely filling the oven, utensils therein too should be unclean, as though they touched the sherez, for direct contact therewith does defile them. Thus in the future it will be doubtful whose view, R. Adda b. Ahabah's or Raba's, is correct.
  26. Deut. XXXI, 21.