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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 154a

R. Zebid recited it thus: Rami b. Hama said: If one leads a laden ass on the Sabbath: if unwittingly, he does not incur a sin-offering: if deliberately, he is liable to stoning. Raba objected: He who desecrates the Sabbath by an offence for which, if unwitting, a sin-offering is incurred, if deliberate he is liable to stoning. Hence if one does not incur a sin-offering when it is unwitting, there is no stoning when it is deliberate? — Does he [the Tanna] then teach, 'Hence if one does not incur a sin-offering,' etc.? [Surely] he says thus: [Every] offence for which, if unwitting, one is liable to a sin-offering, if deliberate he is liable to stoning. Yet there is an offence for which, if unwitting, a sin-offering is not incurred, nevertheless if deliberate one is liable to stoning. And what is it? Leading a laden ass.

Raba, the brother of R. Mari b. Rachel, others state, the father of R. Mari b. Rachel — (on the second version there is the difficulty that Rab declared R. Mari b. Rachel eligible [to hold office] and appointed him one of the collectors of Babylonia?1  — perhaps there were two men of the name of Mari b. Rachel)2  recited this discussion in R. Johanan's name, teaching non-culpability. [Thus:] R. Johanan said: If one drives a laden animal on the Sabbath he is not culpable at all. If it is unwitting he does not incur a sin-offering, because the whole Torah is assimilated to idolatry. If deliberate he is not culpable, because we learnt: He who desecrates the Sabbath [is stoned], provided that it is an offence for which a sin-offering is incurred if it is unwitting and stoning if it is deliberate:3  hence if the unwitting offence does not involve a sin-offering, the deliberate offence does not involve stoning. Neither is he liable for [the violation of] a negative precept,4  because it is a negative precept for which a warning of capital punishment at the hands of Beth din may be given, and for such there is no flagellation.5

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. V. Yeb., Sonc. ed., p. 297 and notes. Such positions were only open to men of Jewish parentage, yet Rab declared him eligible because It was sufficient that his mother was a Jewess. That contradicts the present statement that his father too was a Jew.
  2. BaH deletes the bracketed passage, and the same appears from Rashi and Tosaf.
  3. This is the reading in cur. edd., and must be retained if the introductory phrase, 'we learnt', which always precedes a Mishnah, is correct, the Mishnah being that on Sanh. 66a (quoted supra 153b bottom). BaH however emends the text thus: if it is an offence for which a sin-offering is incurred if unwitting, stoning is incurred when deliberate. This suits the context better, this being the Baraitha quoted by Raba supra. But in that case the introductory phrase must be emended to 'it was taught'.
  4. The penalty for which is flagellation.
  5. I.e., the offender could be formally warned against driving a laden ass on the grounds that it is punishable by death; in such a case there is no flagellation even if the death penalty is not imposed.

Shabbath 154b

And even on the view that we do flagellate [in such a case],1  let the Divine Law write, 'Thou shalt not do any work nor thy cattle': why state 'thou'? [To teach:] only [when] he personally [works] is he liable, but [if] his animal works, he is not liable.

WHEN HE REACHES THE OUTERMOST COURTYARD, etc. R. Huna said: If his animal is laden with glassware, he brings mattresses and pillows, places [them] under it, unties the cords, and the sacks fall off. But we learnt: HE REMOVES THE OBJECTS WHICH MAY BE HANDLED ON THE SABBATH?2  — R. Huna spoke of surgeon's horns,3  which are not fit for him.4  But he makes a utensil lose its readiness [for use]?5  — The reference is to small bags.6

An objection is raised: If one's animal is laden with tebel or glass balls,7  he must untie the cords and the sacks fall off, though they are broken? — There it treats of glass lumps.8  This may be proved too, for it is taught analogous to tebel: just as tebel is of no use to him, so here too [it means something] that is of no use to him. Then why state, 'though they are broken'?9  — You might say that they [the Sages] were concerned even about a trifling loss: hence he informs us [otherwise].

It was taught R. Simeon b. Yohai said: If the animal is laden with a bag of corn,10  one places his head under it and moves it to the other side, so that it falls off automatically. R. Gamaliel's ass was laden with honey, but he would not unload it until the termination of the Sabbath. On the termination of the Sabbath it died. But we learnt: HE REMOVES THE OBJECTS WHICH MAY BE HANDLED?11  — It had gone rancid. If it had gone rancid, of what use was it?12  — For camels' sores.13  Then he should have untied the cords so that the sacks would fall off? — The gourds [containers] would burst — Then he should have brought mattresses and pillows and placed them beneath them? — They would become soiled14  and he would deprive a utensil of its readiness [for use]. But there was suffering of dumb animals? — He holds that the suffering of dumb animals is [only] Rabbinically [forbidden].15

Abaye found Rabbah letting his son glide down the back of an ass.16  Said he to him, You are making use of dumb creatures [on the Sabbath]? — It is but on the sides [of the animal], he replied, and in that case the Rabbis did not impose an interdict.17  How do you know it? — Because we learnt: HE UNTIES THE CORDS AND THE SACKS FALL OFF AUTOMATICALLY. Does that not refer to a pair of coupled haversacks?18  No: a balanced load is meant;19  alternatively, it means where [the sacks are fastened] by a bolt.20

He raised an objection: If two [walls] are [made] by man and a third is on a tree, it is valid, but one must not ascend [enter] therein on the Festival.21  Does that not mean that one made grooves on the tree,22  so that it is the sides [only that would be used], and thus the sides are forbidden? — No: It means that he bent over [the branches of] the tree and placed the roofing — upon it, so that he makes use of the tree. If so, consider the second clause: If three are made by man and a fourth is in a tree, it is valid, and one may ascend therein on the Festival. But if he bent over the tree, why may he ascend therein on the Festival?23  — Then what would you: that the sides are forbidden,24  — then still the question remains: why may one ascend therein on the Festival? But there it treats of spreading branches, and the tree itself was merely made a wall.25  This may be proved too, for he states, This is the general rule: wherever it [the sukkah] can stand if the tree were removed, one may ascend therein on the Festival.26  This proves it.

Shall we say that this is dependent on Tannaim? [For it was taught.] One may not ascend therein on the Festival; R. Simeon b. Eleazar said in R. Meir's name: One may ascend therein on the Festival. Is that not [to be explained] that they differ in this, viz., one Master holds: The sides are forbidden; while the other Master holds: The sides are permitted?27  — Said Abaye, No: All hold that the sides are forbidden, but here they differ in respect of the sides of the sides:28  one Master holds: The sides of the sides are forbidden; while the other Master holds: The sides of the sides are permitted.

Raba maintained: He who forbids the sides forbids the sides of the sides too, while he who permits the sides of the sides permits the sides too. R. Mesharsheya raised an objection to Raba: If one drives

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. V. Mak. 13b.
  2. Glassware may be handled.
  3. Used in bleeding.
  4. For handling on the Sabbath.
  5. V. supra 43a. These pillows, etc. may be handled, but not when the sacks fall upon them.
  6. The pillows can be pulled away from under them — which is permitted — without hurt, as they have not far to fall.
  7. The word denotes lumps of glass. lanterns, etc.
  8. Which may be broken without loss.
  9. Seeing that no loss is incurred.
  10. Of tebel.
  11. Which includes honey.
  12. Why did he trouble to bring it at all?
  13. Caused by the chafing of the saddle.
  14. If any of the honey were spilt.
  15. This may seem non-humane, but it must be borne in mind that this was held long before other peoples gave the slightest consideration to animals. Cf. p. 640, n. 2 and p. 577, n. 6.
  16. To amuse him.
  17. It is not the normal way of employing an animal.
  18. Coupled or tied together by a cord, a sack hanging down from each side of the animal. To make them fall one would have to lift them off and lean and rub against the animal in doing so which is making use of its sides. Hence this shows that it is permitted.
  19. Each sack being separately attached to a ring by a hook; a slight jerk would suffice. to unhook it, and he would not make use of the animal. V. Jast s.v. [H]j.
  20. A wooden cross-bar which can easily be pulled out, letting the sacks drop.
  21. V. Suk. 22a. A sukkah (q.v. Glos.) requires three walls only. Now if two are erected in the normal fashion, whilst the third is made of a tree (this may mean either that the tree constitutes the third wall or that the third wall is fastened to the tree), the sukkah is valid. Nevertheless, one may not enter it on the Festival itself but only during the intermediate days. For the roof is attached to the tree and various utensils, etc., were hung on the roof; thus indirectly one would be using the tree itself, which is forbidden on Festivals. 'Ascending' is mentioned because the sukkah was often built above the ground, e.g., on a roof (Rashi).
  22. 'Wherein he fitted the third wall. — This assumes the second of the two meanings in n. 1.
  23. He still makes use of the tree, in spite of the other three walls.
  24. You wish to adhere to your original hypothesis, whence this follows.
  25. I.e., the thick branches were allowed to form a fourth wall, the sukkah coming right up to them, but the roofing rested on the three other walls, not on the branches. The previous answer could have been retained, viz., that he bent over the branches of the tree, but rested the roofing on the other three walls. Since however a fourth wall is not required at all, it is assumed that one would not go to this trouble unless he meant the roofing to rest upon it (Rashi).
  26. That is the reason of the second clause quoted above. Hence it must be assumed that the sukkah is so made that the roofing does not rest on the tree at all, as otherwise it could not stand if the tree were removed.
  27. Assuming that grooves were made in the tree etc., as above.
  28. The laths or canes fitted in the grooves are the sides, whilst the roofing which rests on the laths are the sides of the sides. I.e., they differ as to whether one may make indirect use of the sides.