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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 22a

If a Hanukkah lamp is placed above twenty cubits [from the ground] it is unfit, like sukkah and a cross-beam over [the entrance of] an alley.1

R. Kahana also said, R. Nathan b. Minyomi expounded in R. Tanhum's name: Why is it written, and the pit was empty, there was no water in it?2  From the implication of what is said, 'and the pit was empty', do I not know that there was no water in it; what then is taught by, 'there was no water in it'? There was no water, yet there were snakes and scorpions in it.

Rabbah said: The Hanukkah lamp should be placed within the handbreadth nearest the door.3  And where is it placed? — R. Aha son of Raba said: On the right hand side: R. Samuel4  of Difti5  said: On the left hand side.6  And the law is, on the left, so that the Hanukkah lamp shall be on the left and the mezuzah7  on the right.

Rab Judah said in R. Assi's name:8  One must not count money by the Hanukkah light. When I state this before Samuel, he observed to me, Has then the lamp sanctity?9  R. Joseph demurred: Does blood possess sanctity? For it was taught: he shall pour out [the blood thereof], and cover it [with dust]:10  wherewith he pours out, he must cover,11  i.e., he must not cover it with his foot,12  so that precepts may not appear contemptible to him. So here too13  it is that precepts may not appear contemptible to him.

R. Joshua b. Levi was asked: Is it permitted to make use of the booth decorations during the whole of the seven days?14  He answered him [the questioner], Behold! it was said, One must not count money by the Hanukkah light.15  God of Abraham! exclaimed R. Joseph, he makes that which was taught dependent upon what was not taught: [of] booths it was taught, whereas of Hanukkah it was not. For it was taught: if one roofs it [the booth] in accordance with its requirements, beautifies it with hangings and sheets, and suspends therein nuts, peaches, almonds, pomegranates, grape clusters, garlands of ears of corn, wines, oils and flours; he may not use them until the conclusion of the last day of the Feast; yet if he stipulates concerning then,16  it is all according to his stipulation. — Rather, said R. Joseph: The basis17  of all is [the law relating to] blood.18

It was stated: Rab said: One must not light from lamp to lamp;19  but Samuel maintained, You may light from lamp to lamp. Rab said: Fringes20  may not be detached21  from one garment for [insertion in] another, but Samuel ruled, Fringes may be detached from garment to garment. Rab said, The halachah is not as R. Simeon in respect to dragging; but Samuel maintained, The halachah is as R. Simeon in respect to dragging. Abaye said: In all matters the Master [Rabbah] acted in accordance with Rab, except in these three, where he did as Samuel: [viz.,] one may light from lamp to lamp; one can detach [the fringes] from one garment for [insertion in] another; and the halachah is as R. Simeon in respect to dragging. For it was taught: R. Simeon said: One may drag a bed, seat, or bench,22  provided that he does not intend to make a rut.

One of the Rabbis sat before R. Adda b. Ahabah and sat and said: Rab's reason23  is on account of the cheapening of the precept. Said he to them, Do not heed him: Rab's reason is because he impairs the precept.24  Wherein do they differ? — They differ where he lights from lamp to lamp:25  on the view that it is because of the cheapening of the precept, one may light from lamp to lamp;26  but on the view that it is because he impairs the precept, even from lamp to lamp is forbidden.

R. Awia objected: As to a sela'27  of

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. A sukkah (q.v. Glos.) built higher than twenty cubits, or a cross-beam which permits carrying in a side street (v. p. 30, n. 5 and 'Er. 2a) placed higher than twenty cubits from the ground, is unfit. Similarly a Hanukkah lamp, because it is too high to be noticed and does not advertise the miracle.
  2. Gen. XXXVII, 24.
  3. On the outside, as stated on 21b. But if it is placed further away, there is nothing to show that it was set there by the owner of the house.
  4. In She'eltoth, Wa-yishlah, 26 the reading is R. Jeremiah.
  5. V. p. 35, n. 5.
  6. Both meaning as one enters the house.
  7. V. Glos.
  8. Cur. ed. adds: in Rab's name: Rosh omits it, and it appears to be absent from Rashi's text too.
  9. Surely not.
  10. Lev. XVII, 13. This refers to a beast or a fowl killed for food.
  11. Sc. with this hand.
  12. Kicking the dust over it.
  13. Viz., the Hanukkah lamp.
  14. The booths which were erected for the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. XXIII, 42) were adorned with fruit suspended from the roofs.
  15. Being dedicated to a religious observance, it must not be put to secular use. The same applies here.
  16. the prohibition is regarded as coming into force at twilight of the first day when they become dedicated to their religious purpose. The stipulation whereby the prohibition is lifted is: 'I will not hold aloof from them throughout the period of twilight', so that it does not become dedicated them,
  17. Lit. 'the father'.
  18. As stated above: things taken for religious purposes must not be treated slightingly.
  19. One Hanukkah lamp must not be lit from another. Or, when a lamp with several branches is used, in accordance with the practice of the 'most zealous' (supra 21b; this too is the modern usage), one branch must not be lit from another.
  20. V. Num. XV, 38.
  21. Lit.,'untied'.
  22. Over an earthen floor on the Sabbath.
  23. For ruling that one must not kindle one lamp from another.
  24. It looks like taking light away from one lamp and giving it to another.
  25. Directly, without an intermediary chip.
  26. There is nothing degrading when it directly lights another lamp for the same religious purpose.
  27. V. Glos.

Shabbath 22b

second tithe,1  one may not weigh by it gold denarii,2  even to redeem therewith other second tithe. Now, it is well if you say that Rab and Samuel differ [over direct lighting] from lamp to lamp, yet with a chip Samuel admits that it is forbidden: then this is not a refutation.3  But if you [on Samuel's view] say that it is permitted even with a chip, then this is a refutation? — Rabbah answered: It is a preventive measure, lest he does not find his weights exact and leaves4  them hullin.5

R. Shesheth objected: Without the vail of testimony … shall [Aaron] order it:6  does He then require its light: surely, during the entire forty years that the Israelites travelled in the wilderness they travelled only by His light! But it is a testimony to mankind7  that the Divine Presence rests in Israel. What is the testimony?8  — Said Rab: That was the western branch [of the candelabrum] in which the same quantity of oil was poured as into the rest, and yet he kindled [the others] from it and ended therewith.9  Now here, since the branches are immovable, it is impossible other than that he take [a chip] and kindle [it];10  which is a difficulty both on the view that it is because of the cheapening of the precept and on the view that it is because of the impairing of the precept? — R. Papa reconciled it [thus: it is lit] by long wicks.11  Yet after all, on the view that it is because of the impairing of precepts there is a difficulty? That is [indeed] a difficulty.

What is our decision thereon? — R. Huna, the son of R. Joshua, said: We consider: if the lighting fulfils the precept, one may light from lamp to lamp:12  but if the placing [of the lamp] fulfils the precept,13  one may not light from lamp to lamp.14  For the scholars propounded: Does the kindling or the placing constitute the precept? — Come and hear: For Raba said, If one was holding the Hanukkah lamp and thus standing, he does nothing:15  this proves that the placing constitutes the precept! — [No:] There a spectator may think that he is holding it for his own purposes.16  Come and hear: For Raba said: if one lights it within and then takes it outside, he does nothing. Now, it is well if you say that the kindling constitutes the precept; [for this reason] we require the kindling to be [done] in its proper place,17  [and] therefore he does nothing. But if you say that the placing constitutes the precept, why has he done nothing? — There too an observer may think that he lit it for his own purposes.

Come and hear: For R. Joshua b. Levi said,

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. The tenth of the produce which was eaten by its owner in Jerusalem. When the actual produce could not be carried, it was redeemed, and the redemption money assumed the sanctity of second tithe and was expended in Jerusalem, v. Deut. XIV, 22-26.
  2. One sela' = four denarii, and the value depended on the weight.
  3. For the gold denarii are not actually sanctified when they are weighed, though that is their purpose. Thus they are similar to the chip which may not be lit at the Hanukkah lamp because it is secular itself.
  4. Lit., 'withdraws'.
  5. The gold denarii may be deficient in weight and not be declared second tithe after all. Thus he will have used the second tithe sela' purely for a secular purpose.
  6. Lev. XXIV, 3; v. 1-4.
  7. Lit., 'those who enter the world'.
  8. How was this a testimony?
  9. Half a log of oil was poured into each branch, which was estimated to burn through the longest night. Thus by the morning they were extinguished. The following evening the priest cleaned out the old wicks, poured in fresh oil, and relit it: yet this western branch was still burning when he came to clean them out, which was done last of all. This miracle testified to the Divine Presence in Israel. On the western branch of the candelabrum v. Men. 78b.
  10. In order to light the others.
  11. Which reached the other branches.
  12. Just as the kindling of the branches of the candlestick in the Temple from the western branch.
  13. I.e., the prime observance of the Hanukkah lamp is not the kindling thereof but placing it in a conspicuous place.
  14. For the lit lamp or branch is already sanctified, as it were, whilst no complete religious observance is fulfilled by the act of lighting the next, on the present hypothesis.
  15. He does not fulfil the precept.
  16. Whereas the essence of the Hanukkah lamp is to advertise the miracle.
  17. Sc. outside; supra 21b.