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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath
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:
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
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