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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 59a

[The reason is] because they1  are fit for beating on an earthen utensil.2  It was stated likewise: R. Jose son of R. Hanina said: [The reason is] because they are fit for beating on an earthen utensil. R. Johanan said: Because they are fit for giving a child a drink of water therein.

Now, does not R. Johanan require [that it shall be fit for] a usage of its original nature?3  Surely it was taught: And everything whereon he sitteth [shall be unclean];4  I might think that if he [the zab] overturns a se'ah5  and sits upon it, or a tarkab6  and sits upon it, it is unclean: hence it is stated, 'whereon he sitteth', teaching, [only] that which is appointed for sitting, excluding this, where we say to him, 'Get up, that we may do our business!'7  R. Eleazar said: In cases of midras8  we say. 'Get up, that we may do our business'; but we do not say in the case of the defilement of the dead, 'Get up, that we may do our business!'9  But R. Johanan maintained: In the case of defilement through the dead too we say. 'Get up, that we may do our business!'10  — Reverse the former.11  But what [reason] do you see to reverse the former; reverse the latter?12  — Because we know R. Johanan to require [fitness for] usage of its original nature For we learnt an animal's shoe, [if] of metal, is unclean.13  For what is it fit? — Rab said: It is fit for drinking water therein in battle.14  R. Hanina said: It is fit for anointing oneself with oil from, it in battle.15  R. Johanan said: When one is fleeing from the field of battle, he places this [shoe] on his [own] feet and runs over briars and thorns.16  Wherein do Rab and R. Johanan differ? — Where it is repulsive.17  R. Johanan and R. Hanina differ where it is [too] heavy.18

NOR WITH A GOLDEN CITY, what is meant by, WITH A GOLDEN CITY? — Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in R. Johanan's name: A golden Jerusalem.19

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. The bells that had their clappers removed.
  2. Then they produce a bell-like sound just as when they have a clapper. Hence It is a utensil like before, and so remains unclean. But when the parts of a shears or of a plane are separated, they cannot be used at all.
  3. Where a utensil is damaged or divided, does not R. Johanan hold that in order to remain unclean or susceptible to defilement it must still be fit for the same usage as before, it being insufficient that it shall merely be fit for some purpose?
  4. Lev. XV, 6. The reference is to a zab, q.v. Glos.
  5. A measure of capacity. V. Glos.
  6. Half a se'ah.
  7. I.e., the zab would be told that the measure is needed for its main purpose; hence it is not unclean. This shows that as a general principle every article is regarded from the point of view of its original and primary function.
  8. Lit., 'treading'. The uncleanness caused by a zab's treading, leaning against, or weighing down upon an article, even if he does not actually touch it with his body. This includes sitting.
  9. I.e., in respect of an article's defilement through a corpse, or by a person who was himself defiled by a corpse, we do not say that in order to become unclean or remain unclean it shall be fit for its main purpose, but even if one has to say to the person using it, 'Get up, that we may do our business' it is still subject to the laws of uncleanness.
  10. Thus he insists that it shall be fit for its original function. Rashi maintains that this can refer only to a utensil which is broken or divided after becoming defiled; it does not remain unclean unless fit for a usage of its original nature. R. Han. holds that it refers to its defilement from the very outset.
  11. Transpose the reasons given by R. Jose b. Hanina and R. Johanan.
  12. Transpose the views of R. Johanan and R. Eleazar.
  13. I.e., liable to become unclean.
  14. On a field of battle where no other utensils may be available, one can take up water in the cavity of the shoe into which the animal's foot fits.
  15. This is a necessary part of one's toilet in the hot eastern countries; v. T.A., I, 229-233. The shoe might serve as an improvised oil pot.
  16. Thus R. Johanan justifies its uncleanness only because it is still fit for a usage of the original nature.
  17. For drinking. Hence, on Rab's view it is not subject to defilement, but on R. Hanina's it is. Rab disregards its possible use as an oil container, holding that soldiers dispense with oil on a field of battle.
  18. For running. According to R. Hanina it is nevertheless susceptible to defilement, but not according to R. Johanan.
  19. An ornament with the picture or the engraving of Jerusalem; v. T.A., I, p. 662, n. 961.

Shabbath 59b

such as R. Akiba made for his wife.1

Our Rabbis taught: A woman must not go out with a golden city, and if she does, she incurs a sin-offering: this is R. Meir's view. The Sages maintain: She may not go out [therewith], but if she does, she is not liable. R. Eliezer ruled: A woman may go out with a golden city at the very outset. Wherein do they differ? — R. Meir holds that it is a burden; while the Rabbis hold that it is an ornament, [and it is forbidden only] lest she remove it to show [to a friend], and thus come to carry it [in the street];2  but R. Eliezer reasons: Whose practice is it to go out with a golden city? [That of] a woman of rank; and such will not remove it for display.

As for a coronet,3  Rab forbids it;4  Samuel permits it. Where it is made of cast metal, all agree that it is forbidden;5  they differ about an embroidered stuff:6  one Master holds that the cast metal [sewn on to it] is the chief part;7  while the other Master holds that the embroidered stuff is the chief part.8  R. Ashi learnt it in the direction of leniency. As for an embroidered stuff, all agree that it is permitted. They differ only about what is made of cast metal: one Master holds [that it is forbidden] lest she remove it in order to show, and [thus] come to carry it; while the other Master holds: Whose practice is it to go out with a coronet? That of a woman of rank; and such will not remove it for display.

R. Samuel b. Bar Hanah said to R. Joseph: You explicitly told us in Rab's name that a coronet is permitted.9

Rab was told: A great, tall, and lame man has come to Nehardea, and has lectured: A coronet is permitted. Said he: Who is a great tall man who is lame? Levi. This proves that R. Afes is dead10  and R. Hanina [now] sits at the head [of the Academy], so that Levi has none for a companion,11  and therefore he has come hither.12  But perhaps R. Hanina had died, R. Afes remaining as before, and since Levi [now] had no companion he had come hither? — Had R. Hanina died, Levi would indeed have subordinated himself to R. Afes.13  Moreover, it could not be that R. Hanina should not rule.14  For when Rabbi was dying he ordered, 'Let Hanina son of R. Hama sit at the head.' And of the righteous men it is written, Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee.15

Levi lectured in Nehardea: A coronet is permitted; [whereupon] there went forth twenty-four coronets from the whole of Nehardea. Rabbah b. Abbuha lectured in Mahoza:16  A coronet is permitted: [whereupon] there went forth eighteen coronets from a single alley.17

Rab Judah said in the name of R. Samuel:18  A girdle [kamra] is permitted.19  Some say, That means of embroidered stuff,20  and R. Safra said: It may be compared to a robe shot through with gold.21  Others say, It means of cast metal; whereon R. Safra observed: It may be compared to a royal girdle.22  Rabina asked R. Ashi: What about wearing a kamra over a [plain] girdle [HEMYANA]? — You ask about two girdles! he replied.23  R. Ashi said: As for a piece of a garment, if it has fringes, it is permitted;24  if not, it is forbidden.

NOR WITH A KATLA. What is a KATLA? — A trinket holder.25

NEZAMIM. [That is] ear-rings.

NOR WITH A FINGER-RING THAT HAS NO SIGNET. This [implies that] if it has a signet, she is liable;26  hence it proves that it is not an ornament. But the following contradicts this: Women's ornaments are unclean.27  And these are women's ornaments: Necklaces, ear-rings and finger-rings, and a finger-ring, whether it has a signet or has no signet, and nose-rings? — Said R. Zera, There is no difficulty: one agrees with R. Nehemiah; the other with the Rabbis. For it was taught: If it [the ring] is of metal and its signet is of coral, it is unclean; if it is of coral while the signet is of metal, it is clean.28  But R. Nehemiah declares it unclean. For R. Nehemiah maintained: In the case of a ring, follow its signet; in the case of a yoke, go by its carved ends;29

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. V. Ned. 50a.
  2. Thus it is only Rabbinically forbidden, and involves no sacrifice.
  3. A wreath or chaplet worn on the forehead. Some were entirely of gold or silver; others of silk shot through with gold or silver.
  4. To be worn by a woman in the street on the Sabbath.
  5. This being very costly, a woman is more likely to remove it to show to her friends.
  6. I.e., where the chaplet or coronet is of a stuff with gold or silver embroidery, which would contain pieces of cast metal too.
  7. And therefore a woman may be tempted to remove and show it.
  8. And that is not worth showing. The translation follows what seems to be Rashi's interpretation. Jast.: they differ in respect of what is made of beaten, wrought metal, opp. to cast metal. One Master holds that what is made of cast metal is original (or perhaps, reading [H], v. MS.M., more precious), while the other holds the reverse.
  9. Hence R. Ashi's version must be correct, for on the other version there is no case where Rab permits it.
  10. Lit., 'his soul has gone to rest'.
  11. Lit., 'to be by his side'. On R. Afes' accession as head of the Academy R. Hanina, who would not recognize him as his superior, pursued his studies outside, where he was joined by Levi; v. Keth. 103b.
  12. Levi being in no way inferior to R. Hanina, he could not accept him as a head, and so he has come hither. Zuri, I. S. Toledoth, First Series, Bk. 2 pp. 137-139 observes that Levi was probably born in Babylon, whither he was now returning to resettle.
  13. Who was his senior.
  14. As head of the academy. Lit., 'there is no way or path that R. Hanina' etc.: i.e., it is impossible.
  15. Job XXII, 28.
  16. The famous town on the Tigris where Raba had his great academy; v. Obermeyer, pp. 161-186,
  17. V. I. S. Zuri, op. cit., Part I, Bk. 3, pp. 19-27 on the significance of numbers. He maintains that eighteen is often used symbolically to denote a large number. — Mahoza was a very wealthy town, owing to its central position and the great caravan and shipping trade that passed through it; this is reflected in the present statement. Obermeyer, p. 173.
  18. Var. lec.: Mar Judah in the name of R. Shesheth, v. D.S.
  19. Kamra was a costly girdle, made either of solid gold or of cloth adorned with gold and precious stones (Rashi).
  20. V. p. 276, n. 7.
  21. There is no fear of either being removed.
  22. Which was likewise made of beaten gold. Rashi: all Israel are princes, and worthy to wear such belts.
  23. Rashi: That is certainly forbidden, for one is superfluous and a burden. Rashi quotes another interpretation to the effect that it is permitted, but prefers the first.
  24. For by their means it can be firmly tied to the wearer, so that it will not fall off and necessitate its being carried in the street.
  25. A band or necklace on which beads, trinkets, etc., are suspended.
  26. The deduction is from the end of the Mishnah.
  27. I.e., susceptible to defilement.
  28. V. supra 52b for notes.
  29. Jast. Rashi: Two rods fitted into the yoke the breadth of an ox's shoulder apart. Jast.: if they are broken off, the yoke ceases to be susceptible to defilement. Rashi: if they are of metal, the yoke is susceptible to defilement. The yoke itself is a straight piece of wood, and wood utensils are not subject to uncleanness unless they possess a cavity which, e.g., can hold water.