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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 5a

Rabbi imposed liability only in the case of a covered-in private domain, for we say that a house is as though it were full,1  but not in one which is uncovered. And should you answer, Here too [in our Mishnah it speaks of] it as covered, [I might retort] that is well of a covered private ground, but is one liable for a covered public ground? Did not R. Samuel b. Judah say in the name of R. Abba in the name of R. Huna in Rab's name: If one carries an article four cubits in covered public ground, he is not liable, because it is not like the banners of the wilderness?2  — Rather, said R. Zera, the authority of this is the 'others.'3  For it was taught: Others say: If he stands still in his place and catches it, he [the thrower] is liable; if he moves from his place and catches it, he [the thrower] is exempt.4  [Now it states], 'If he stands in his place and catches it, he [the thrower] is liable', — but surely there must be depositing on an area four [handbreadths square], which is absent! Hence this proves that we [i.e., 'others'] do not require a place four by four. Yet perhaps only depositing [on such an area] is not required, but removal [from such] may be necessary? And even in respect to depositing too: perhaps it means that he spread out his garment and caught it, so that there is also depositing [on such an area]? — Said R. Zera: Our Mishnah also means that he removes it [the article] from a basket and places it in a basket, so that there is depositing too [in a place four square]. But HIS HAND is stated? — Learn: a basket in HIS HAND. Now, that is well of a basket in a private domain; but a basket in public ground ranks as a private domain?5  Must we then say that it does not agree with R. Jose son of R. Judah? For it was taught: R. Jose son of R. Judah said: If one fixes a rod in the street, at the top of which is a basket, [and] throws [an article] and it comes to rest upon it, he is liable.6  For if it agrees with R. Jose son of R. Judah, WHERE THE MASTER OF THE HOUSE STRETCHES HIS HAND WITHOUT AND PLACES [AN OBJECT] IN THE POOR MAN'S HAND, why is he LIABLE? Surely he [merely] carries it from private ground to private ground! — You may even say [that it agrees with] R. Jose son of R. Judah: There it is above ten [handbreadths];7  here it is below ten.8  This9  presented a difficulty to R. Abbahu: Is then 'a basket in his hand' taught: surely HIS HAND [alone] is stated! Rather, said R. Abbahu, it means that he lowered his hand to within three handbreadths [of the ground] and accepted it.10  But HE STANDS is taught!11  — It refers to one who bends down. Alternatively, [he is standing] in a pit; another alternative: this refers to a dwarf. Raba demurred: Does the Tanna trouble to inform us of all these!12  Rather, said Raba, A man's hand is accounted to him as [an area) four by four. And thus too, when Rabin came,13  he said in R. Johanan's name: A man's hand is accounted to him as [an area] four by four.

R. Abin said in the name of R. Elai in R. Johanan's name: If one throws an article and it alights on his neighbour's hand, he is liable. What does he inform us? [that] a man's hand is accounted to him as [an area] four by four! But surely R. Johanan already stated it once? — You might argue. That is only when he himself accounts his hand such,14  but where he does not account his hand as such,15  I might say [that it is] not [so]. Therefore we are informed [otherwise].

R. Abin said in R. Elai's name in the name of R. Johanan: If he [the recipient stands still in his place and catches it, [the thrower] is liable; if he moves from his place and catches it, he [the thrower] is exempt. It was taught likewise: Others say: If he stands still in his place and catches it, he [the thrower] is liable; if he moves from his place and catches it, he [the thrower] is exempt.16  R. Johanan propounded: What if he throws an article and himself moves from his place, and catches it? What is his problem?17  — Said R. Ada b. Ahaba: His problem concerns two forces in the same man: are two forces in the same man accounted as the action of one man, hence he is liable, or perhaps they count as the action of two men?18  The question stands over.

R. Abin said in R. Johanan's name: If he puts his hand into his neighbour's courtyard and receives [some] rain, and then withdraws it, he is liable. R. Zera demurred: What does it matter whether his neighbour loads him19  or Heaven loads him; he himself did not effect removal? — Do not say, he [passively] receives rain, but, he catches it up.20  But removal must be from a place four [square], which is absent? — Said R. Hiyya son of R. Huna: E.g., he catches it up [as it rebounds] from the wall. But even on the wall, it does not rest there?21  — It is as Raba22  said [elsewhere], It refers to a sloping wall; so here too it refers to a sloping wall. Now, where was Raba's [dictum] said? — In connection with the following. For we learnt:

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Of articles — i.e., it is accounted as though lacking air space entirely, and immediately an object enters therein, we regard it as lying on the ground.
  2. It is stated infra 49b and 96b that the definition of what constitutes forbidden work on the Sabbath is dependent on the work that was done in connection with the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Carrying was necessary, and so carrying an article four cubits is work. But there it was done under the open sky; hence Rab's dictum, and the same applies here. By 'banners of the wilderness' is meant the whole disposition and encampment of the Israelites, and they did not have any covered-in public ground.
  3. In Hor. 13b 'others' is identified with R. Meir.
  4. If A throws an article in the street to B, and B catches it while standing in his place, A is liable, because he is regarded as having both removed and deposited it. But if B moves away and catches it, A did not effect its deposit, since it does not lie where it would have done on account of his throw.
  5. Why then should he be liable in respect of carrying out?
  6. For it ranks as private ground, v. infra 101a.
  7. Then it ranks as private ground.
  8. Then it is public ground.
  9. Explanation of R. Abba.
  10. Everything within three handbreadths is regarded as the ground itself on the principle of labud (v. Glos), and thus the hand becomes a place four square.
  11. And he would have to be sitting for his hand to be so low.
  12. Surely he does not state a law which requires all these conditions. He should rather have taught: If the poor man spreads out his garment, etc.
  13. From Palestine to Babylon. Rabin and R. Dimi were two Palestinian amoraim who travelled between the Palestinian and the Babylonian academies to transmit the teachings of one to the other.
  14. If one intentionally deposits an article in his neighbour's hand, or takes an article into his own, in each case he accounts the hand as a resting place, i.e., an area four square.
  15. I.e., when it merely chances to alight on a man's hand.
  16. V. supra 5a notes.
  17. On what grounds should be he exempted: did he not remove it from one place and deposit it in another?
  18. The throw is one manifestation of his force: the catch arrests that force and is in the nature of a counter act; hence they may be regarded as performed by two people, which involves no liability.
  19. In which case the Mishnah declares him exempt.
  20. Actively. This is assumed to mean that he intercepts the flow of rain, beating it with one hand into the other.
  21. The side of a wall — it being assumed that an ordinary vertical one is meant — affords no resting place for the rain, whereas removal must be from a place where it can stay.
  22. Rashal reads: Rabbah.

Shabbath 5b

If he is reading a scroll on a threshold, and it rolls out of his hand,1  he may rewind it to himself.2  If one is reading on the top of a roof,3  and the scroll rolls out of his hand, — before it comes within ten handbreadths [of the ground] he may wind it back himself;4  if it comes within ten handbreadths, he must turn the written side inwards.5  Now, we pondered thereon: why must he turn the written side inwards, surely it did not come to rest?6  and Raba answered: This refers to a sloping wall.7  Yet may it not be urged that Raba said this [only] of a scroll, whose nature it is to rest [where it falls]; but is it the nature of water to rest?8  Rather, said Raba, [R. Johanan spoke of a case] where he collected [the rain] from the top of a [water] hole. 'A hole'! But then it is obvious? — You might argue, Water upon water is not at rest;9  [therefore] he [R. Johanan] informs us [that it is].

Now Raba follows his opinion. For Raba said: Water [lying] upon water, that is its [natural] rest; a nut upon water, that is not its [natural] rest.10  Raba propounded: If a nut [lies] in a vessel, and the vessel floats on water,11  do we regard the nut, which is at rest,12  or the vessel, which is not at rest, since it is unstable? The question stands over.

In respect to oil floating upon wine R. Johanan b. Nuri and the Rabbis differ. For we learnt: If oil is floating upon wine13  and a tebul yom14  touches the oil, he disqualifies the oil only. R. Johanan b. Nuri said: Both are attached to each other.15

R. Abin said in R. Elai's name in the name of R. Johanan: If one is laden with food and drink and goes in and out all day,16  he is liable only when he stands still.17  Said Abaye: Providing that he stands still to rest.18  How do you know it? — Because a Master said: Within four cubits, if he stops to rest, he is exempt; to shoulder his burden, he is liable. Beyond four cubits, if he stops to rest, he is liable; to rearrange his burden, he is exempt.19  What does he [R. Johanan] inform us — that the original removal was not for this purpose?20  But R. Johanan stated it once. For R. Safra said in R. Ammi's name in R. Johanan's name: If one is carrying articles from corner to corner [in private ground] and then changes his mind and carries them out, he is exempt, because his original removal was not for this purpose? — It is dependent on Amoraim: one stated it in the former version; the other stated it in the latter version.21

Our Rabbis taught: If one carries [an article] from a shop to an open space via a colonnade,22  he is liable; but Ben 'Azzai holds him not liable. As for Ben 'Azzai, it is well: he holds that walking is like standing.23  But according to the Rabbis, granted that they hold that walking is not like standing, yet where do we find liability for such a case?24  — Said R. Safra in the name of R. Ammi in R. Johanan's name:

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Into a public domain skirting it.
  2. This refers, e.g., to a threshold three handbreadths above the ground and four handbreadths square, This constitutes a karmelith (v. p. 6, n. 7), and even if it entirely falls out of his hand it is only Rabbinically prohibited to carry it back; hence here that he retains one end there is not even that.
  3. Which is a private domain. In the East all roofs were flat and put to use; T.A. I, p. 33.
  4. Because only the first ten handbreadths above the street surface count as public ground.
  5. He must not draw it back, since it has entered public ground, so he reverses it, because it is degrading for a scroll to lie open with its writing upward.
  6. Hence he should be permitted to roll it back.
  7. V.'Er., Sonc. ed., p. 697 and notes.
  8. It does not stay even on a sloping wall.
  9. The article must be removed from a place where it may be regarded as naturally at rest, e.g., a stone lying on the ground.
  10. And if one picks it up and carries it without, he is not liable.
  11. And he lifts up both and carries them out.
  12. In the vessel.
  13. Both of terumah.
  14. V. Glos. He renders terumah (q.v. Glos.) unfit for food.
  15. And both become unfit. Thus in respect to the Sabbath too: the Rabbis hold that the oil is not at rest upon the wine, whereas R. Johanan b. Nuri holds that the oil is at rest upon the wine. The same applies to oil floating upon water: wine is mentioned on account of the quotation, as there is no terumah of water.
  16. From private to public ground.
  17. And then goes in or out; this alone constitutes removal. He was laden in the first place to carry the stuff from one part of a private domain to another, and if he goes out instead it is not removal, since when the food was moved at first there was no intention of carrying from a private to a public domain; v. supra 3a.
  18. But if he stops merely to rearrange the burden, it is all part of his walking.
  19. One is liable for carrying an article four cubits over public ground, providing that he himself removes it from the first spot and deposits it on the other. Now, if he stops to rest within the four cubits, that constitutes depositing, and when he restarts there is a fresh removal; consequently, the article was carried four cubits with a single removal and deposit, and so he is exempt. But if he stops to rearrange the burden, it is still part of the first removal; therefore he is liable. Hence if he stops to rest after walking four cubits, he is regarded as depositing the article there, and is liable. But if he stops to rearrange his burden, he is still engaged in walking, and should another relieve him of it before he stops to rest, both are exempt.
  20. Viz., to carry it without, and so he is not liable.
  21. R. Johanan did not teach both, but amoraim reporting his words gave different versions of what he did state.
  22. The shop is private ground, the open space is public ground, and the colonnade ranks as a karmelith, being occupied by stall holders and not frequented as a public thoroughfare.
  23. When he walks through the colonnade it is as though he stood there. Hence he performs two separate actions: (i) carrying an object from private ground to a karmelith; (ii) carrying an object from a karmelith to public ground. Neither of these imposes liability.
  24. In Scripture, by analogy with the Tabernacle (v. p. 11, n. 2) we find liability only for direct transference from private to public ground.