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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 47a

leave the lamp, oil, and wicks alone,1  because they become a base for a forbidden thing.2

R. Zera said in R. Assi's name in R. Johananis name in R. Hanina's name in the name of R. Rommanus: Rabbi permitted me to handle a pan with its ashes.3  Said R. Zera to R. Assi: Did R. Johanan say thus? But we learnt: A man may take up his son while he is holding a stone, or a basket containing a stone. Whereon Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in R. Johanan's name: The reference is to a basket filled with fruit. Thus, only because it contains fruit; but if it does not contain fruit, it is not so?4  'He was astonied for a while,'5  then answered, Here too it means that it [the pan] contains [also] some grains [of spice]. Abaye objected: Did grains have any value in Rabbi's house?6  And should you answer, They were fit for the poor, — surely it was taught: 'The garments of the poor for the poor, and the garments of the wealthy for the wealthy'.7  But those of the poor are not [deemed fit] for the purpose of the wealthy?8  But said Abaye, it is analogous to a chamber pot.9  Raba observed: There are two refutations to this. Firstly, a chamber pot is repulsive, while this is not repulsive.10  And secondly, a chamber pot is uncovered, whereas this is covered!11  Rather, said Raba, when we were at R. Nahmanis we would handle a brazier on account of its ashes,12  even if broken pieces of wood were lying upon it.13

An objection is raised: And both14  agree that if it [a lamp] contains fragments of a wick, it may not be handled.15  Said Abaye: They learnt this of Galilee.16

Levi b. Samuel met R. Abba and R. Huna b. Hiyya standing at the door of R. Huna's college. Said he to them: Is it permissible to re-assemble a weaver's frame on the Sabbath?17 — It is well, answered they. Then he went before Rab Judah, who said: Surely Rab and Samuel both rule: If one re-assembles a weaver's frame on the Sabbath, he as liable to a sin-offering.18

An objection is raised: If one puts back the branch of a candelabrum on the Sabbath, he is liable to a sin-offering; as for the joint of a whitewasher's pole,19  it must not be re-inserted, yet if one does re-insert it, he is exempt, but it is forbidden.20  R. Simai said: For a circular horn, one is liable; for a straight horn, one is exempt!21 — They22  ruled as this Tanna. For it was taught: The sockets of a bed,23  the legs of a bed, and the archer's tablets,24  may not be re-inserted, yet if one does re-insert [them], he is not liable [to a sin-offering],

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. They cannot be compared with others.
  2. Sc. the flame. Whilst the lamp is alight everything may be regarded as subsidiary to the flame: R. Simeon admits that such mukzeh is forbidden.
  3. Used for fumigating. This is the meaning as first supposed. Ashes are mukzeh, and it is assumed that he was permitted to move the ashes on account of the pan, which is a utensil.
  4. And the pan is analogous.
  5. Dan. IV, 16.
  6. Surely not! Hence the pan with the ashes may not be handled on their account.
  7. The reference is to the minimum size of material which is liable to defilement as a 'garment'. The smallest size which has any value to a wealthy person is three handbreadths square; if it is less, he throws it away. A poor man, however, endeavours to find a use for it even if it is only three fingerbreadths square, and that accordingly is his minimum (cf. supra 26b seq.). These are the minima for the wealthy and the poor respectively which are technically called garments.
  8. They do not rank as 'garments' when in a wealthy man's possession. The same principle applies here.
  9. Which may be carried away with the excrements, and similarly the pan and ashes.
  10. Hence the former must be removed.
  11. Their shovels or coal pans were covered with a lid or top.
  12. I.e., when the ashes were needed for covering anything. These ashes were counted upon for this from before the Sabbath, and hence the whole might be handled. So here too, R. Romanus states that Rabbi permitted him to handle a fumigating pan on account of the ashes.
  13. The latter might not be handled, and therefore the utensil which contained it likewise, save that it also contained ashes.
  14. R. Judah and R. Simeon.
  15. The same applies to pieces of wood on a brazier. For the lamp also contains oil, just as the brazier contains ashes too.
  16. Owing to the abundance of oil in Galilee the residue of oil in the lamp would be of no value to its owner, and therefore the lamp with the fragments of wick may not be handled on account of its oil (Tosaf. and R. Nissim Gaon).
  17. The frame or loom consisted of jointed parts, which fitted into each other.
  18. If done in ignorance.
  19. The handle of the painter's brush was jointed, to allow of different lengths according to requirements.
  20. A candelabrum is not taken to pieces frequently, and therefore when one inserts its branches he finishes its manufacture; hence he is liable to a sin-offering, it being a general rule that this is incurred for the completion of any utensil. But a painter's brush is continually taken to pieces; therefore the insertion of one of its parts is only temporary and does not complete it.
  21. These are musical instruments into which reeds were inserted to give various notes; v. T.A. III, 96. The putting together of the former was skilled work; hence liability is incurred. But the latter was assembled amateurishly, being frequently taken to pieces; hence no liability is incurred.-The difficulty is presented by the branch of a candelabrum, whose principle is the same as a weaver's frame.
  22. R. Abba and R. Huna b. Hiyya.
  23. Into which the legs of a bed fitted. to prevent them from being rotted by the damp earth.
  24. Rashi: a small wooden plaque inserted in the bow upon which the arrow presses before it is released. Jast. translates: 'the boards on which the straw rests', but does not make it clear what fitting or joining is required there.

Shabbath 47b

but it is forbidden; nor must they be [tightly] fixed in, and if one does so, he is liable to a sin offering. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: if it is loose, it is permitted.1

At R. Hama's home there was a folding bed, which they used to put up on Festivals. Said one of the Rabbis to Raba: What is your view, that it is building from the side:2  granted that there is no Scriptural prohibition, yet it is Rabbinically forbidden? Said he to him, I agree with R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, who ruled: If it is loose, it is permitted.


GEMARA. But he deprives the vessel of its readiness?3  — Said R. Huna the son of R. Joshua: Sparks are intangible.4

BUT ONE MUST NOT POUR WATER THEREIN, BECAUSE HE EXTINGUISHES [THEM]. Shall we say that we learnt anonymously as R. Jose, who maintained: That which is a cause of extinguishing is forbidden?5  Now, is that logical: granted that R. Jose ruled thus for the Sabbath: did he rule thus for the eve of the Sabbath? And should you say, Here also it refers to the eve of the Sabbath, — surely it was taught: A vessel may be placed under a lamp on the Sabbath to catch the sparks, and on the eve of the Sabbath goes without saying; but one must not pour water therein on the eve of the Sabbath, because he extinguishes [them], and the Sabbath goes without saying? — Rather, said R. Ashi, you may say that it agrees even with the Rabbis: here it is different, because one brings the extinguisher near.6



GEMARA. The scholars propounded: Did we learn, peat of olives, whereas peat of poppy seed is well; or perhaps we learnt peat of poppy seed, and how much more so of olives? — Come and hear: For R. Zera said on the authority of one of the disciples of the School of R. Jannai: A basket in which one put away [food]11  may not be placed on peat of olives. This proves that we learnt peat of olives!-[No.] After all I may tell you that in respect of storing [peat] of poppy seed too is forbidden; [but] as for

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. I.e., if it is so constructed that it need be only loosely joined, it is permitted even at the very outset. R. Abba and R. Huna b. Hiyya likewise refer to branches that sit lightly in their sockets.
  2. The technical term for work not done in a professional and usual way.-I.e., do you think that because it is loosely fitted it does not constitute building?
  3. V. p. 196, n. 5.
  4. V. p. 198, n. 2.
  5. Even if one does not directly extinguish; v. infra 120a.
  6. By pouring water into the vessel, And therefore as a preventive measure it is forbidden, also on the eve of sabbath. But in the case below, q.v., it is indirect extinguishing, because the heat must first cause the jars to burst before the water is released.
  7. When a pot is removed from the fire on the eve of the Sabbath, it may be stored in anything that preserves heat, but not in something that adds heat (supra 34b).
  8. I.e., a pressed, hard mass. The Gemara discusses which mass is meant.
  9. Zebel is foliage piled up for forming manure.
  10. E.g., rags, wool, etc.
  11. For the Sabbath, to preserve its heat.