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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 69a

and when ye shall err, and not observe all these commandments;1  and it is written, And the soul that doeth aught with a high hand … [that soul shall be cut off]: thus they are all assimilated to idolatry: just as there it is something for the wilful transgression of which kareth2  is incurred, and for the unwitting transgression a sin-offering is incurred,3  so for everything the wilful transgression of which involves kareth, its unwitting transgression involves a sin-offering.4

But according to Monabaz, wherein lies his non-wilfulness?5  E.g., if he was ignorant in respect of the sacrifice.6  But the Rabbis hold that ignorance in respect of the sacrifice does not constitute ignorance.

Now according to the Rabbis, in respect to what is ignorance [required]? R. Johanan said: As long as one errs in respect to kareth, even if he wilfully sins in respect of the negative command;7  while Resh Lakish maintained: He must offend unwittingly in respect of the negative injunction and kareth. Raba said, What is R. Simeon b. Lakish's reason? Scripture saith, [And if any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which the Lord hath commanded] not to be done, and be guilty:8  hence he must err both as to the negative injunction and its attendant kareth.9  And R. Johanan: how does he employ this verse adduced by R. Simeon b. Lakish? — He utilizes it for what was taught: [And if any one] of the common people: this excludes a mumar.10  R. Simeon b. Eleazar said on the authority of R. Simeon:11  [… sin unwittingly in doing any of the things which the Lord hath commanded] not to be done, and be guilty: he who would refrain12  on account of his knowledge, brings a sacrifice for his unwitting offence; but he who would not refrain on account of his knowledge cannot bring a sacrifice for his unwitting offence.13

We learnt: The primary forms of labour are forty less one.14  Now we pondered thereon, Why state the number?15  And R. Johanan replied: [To teach] that if one performs all of them in a single state of unawareness,16  he is liable [to a sin-offering] for each. Now, how is this possible? [Surely only] where he is aware of the Sabbath but unconscious of [the forbidden nature of] his labours.17  As for R. Johanan, who maintained that since he is ignorant in respect of kareth, though fully aware of the negative injunction, [his offence is unwitting], it is well: it is conceivable e.g., where he knew [that labour is forbidden on] the Sabbath by a negative injunction. But according to R. Simeon b. Lakish, who maintained that he must be unaware of the negative injunction and of kareth, wherein did he know of the Sabbath?18  — He knew of [the law of] boundaries,19  this being in accordance with R. Akiba.20

Who is the authority for the following which was taught by the Rabbis: If one is unaware of both,21  he is the erring sinner mentioned in the Torah;22  if one wilfully transgresses in respect of both, he is the presumptuous offender mentioned in the Torah. If one is unaware of the Sabbath but conscious of [the forbidden character of] his labours or the reverse, or if he declares, 'I knew that this labour is forbidden, but not whether it entails a sacrifice or not, he is culpable? With whom does this agree? With Monabaz.23

Abaye said: All agree in respect to an 'oath of utterance'24  that a sacrifice is not incurred on account thereof unless one is unaware of its interdict.25  'All agree': who is that? R. Johanan?26  But that is obvious! When did R. Johanan say [otherwise], where there is [the penalty of] kareth; but here [in the case of an 'oath of utterance'] that there is no [penalty of] kareth, he did not state [his ruling]? — One might argue: Since liability to a sacrifice [here] is an anomaly,27  for we do not find in the whole Torah that for a [mere] negative injunction28  one must bring a sacrifice, whilst here it is brought; hence even if he is unaware of the [liability to a] sacrifice, he is culpable:29

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Ibid. 22; in Hor. 8a it is deduced that this refers to idolatry.
  2. I.e., cutting off.
  3. V. v. 27.
  4. But where wilful transgression involves a lesser penalty than kareth, an unwitting offence does not involve a sin-offering.
  5. When the offender has knowledge at the time of his action.
  6. He knew that the wilful offence involved kareth, but not that the unwitting transgression involved a sin-offering.
  7. I.e., he knows that it is forbidden by a negative injunction but not that its penalty is kareth. This constitutes sinning in ignorance, and involves a sin-offering.
  8. Lev. IV, 27.
  9. Not to be done after 'sin unwittingly' implies that he is ignorant that it is forbidden at all.
  10. One who is professedly antagonistic to Jewish law. If he sins unwittingly, he cannot offer a sacrifice, even if he desires. This is deduced from the partitive of the common people, expressed in the original by the letter mem ( n ), which is regarded as a limitation.
  11. I.e., R. Simeon b. Yohai.
  12. Lit., 'turn back'.
  13. For the verse implies that he acted solely through his ignorance; only then can he atone with a sacrifice. R. Simeon too teaches the exclusion of a mumar, but deduces it differently.
  14. Infra 73a.
  15. Since they are enumerated by name.
  16. Of their forbidden nature.
  17. For in the reverse case he incurs only one sin-offering (v. Mishnah 67b). Now awareness of the Sabbath implies that he knows at least one of the labours forbidden, for otherwise the Sabbath is the same to him as any other day, and he cannot be said to be aware thereof. But in the present passage he appears to have known none at all: how then can we regard him as being aware of the Sabbath? This the Talmud proceeds to discuss.
  18. Seeing that he was ignorant of all the forbidden labours.
  19. That one may not go on the Sabbath more than a certain distance beyond the town limits. Infringement of this law does not entail a sacrifice.
  20. Who maintains that the limitation of boundaries is Biblical. The Rabbis dispute this.
  21. I.e., of the Sabbath and that this labour is forbidden on the Sabbath.
  22. He certainly falls within this category.
  23. Supra.
  24. E.g., 'I swear that I will eat', or, 'I swear that I will not eat', and then broken, cf. Lev. V, 4.
  25. I.e., the offender must have forgotten his oath at the time of breaking it, so that he is unaware that his action is interdicted by his oath. A sacrifice for a broken oath is decreed in Lev. V, 4 seq.
  26. For Abaye cannot mean by 'all' that even Monabaz agrees that it is insufficient that he shall merely be ignorant that a vain oath entails a sacrifice. For how can this be maintained? On the contrary, the reverse follows a fortiori: if Monabaz regards unawareness of the liability to a sin-offering elsewhere as true unawareness, though such liability is in accordance with the general principle that where kareth is incurred for a wilful offence a sin-offering is incurred for an unwitting transgression, how much more so here, seeing that the very liability to a sacrifice is an anomaly unexpected, for the deliberate breaking of an oath does not entail kareth. Hence Abaye must refer to R. Johanan's view on the ruling of the Rabbis.
  27. Lit., 'a new thing' — something outside the general rule.
  28. Which does not entail kareth.
  29. Even on the views of the Rabbis.

Shabbath 69b

hence he [Abaye] informs us [otherwise].

An objection is raised: What is an unwitting offence in respect of an 'oath of utterance' relating to the past?1  Where one says, 'I know that this oath is forbidden,2  but I do not know whether it entails a sacrifice or not,' he is culpable?3  — This agrees with Monabaz. (Another version: Who is the authority for this? Shall we say, Monabaz? But then it is obvious! seeing that in the whole Torah, where it [liability to a sacrifice] is not an anomaly, Monabaz rules that unawareness of the sacrifice constitutes unawareness, how much more so here that it is an anomaly!4  Hence it must surely be the Rabbis, and this refutation of Abaye is indeed a refutation.)5

Abaye also said: All agree in respect to terumah that one is not liable to [the addition of] a fifth unless he is unaware of its interdict.6  'All agree': who is that? R. Johanan: But that is obvious: when did R. Johanan say [otherwise], where there is the penalty of kareth, but here that there is no penalty of kareth, he did not state [his ruling]? — You might argue: death stands in the place of kareth,7  and therefore if one is ignorant of [this penalty of] death, he is culpable; hence he informs us [otherwise]. Raba said: Death stands in the place of kareth, and the fifth stands in the place of a sacrifice.8

R. Huna said: If one is travelling on a road or9  in the wilderness and does not know when it is the Sabbath, he must count six days and observe one.10  Hiyya b. Rab said: He must observe one11  and count six [weekdays]. Wherein do they differ? One Master holds that it is as the world's Creation;12  the other Master holds that it is like [the case of] Adam.13

An objection is raised: If one is travelling on a road and does not know when it is the Sabbath, he must observe one day for six. — Surely that means that he counts six days and observes one? No: he keeps one day and counts six. If so, [instead of] 'he must observe one day for six,' he should state, 'he must observe one day and count six'? Moreover, it was taught: If one is travelling on a road or in a wilderness and does not know when it is the Sabbath, he must count six and observe one day.' This refutation of Hiyya b. Rab is indeed a refutation.

Raba said: Every day he does sufficient for his requirements [only],14  except on that day. And on that day he is to die? — He prepared double his requirements on the previous day. But perhaps the previous day was the Sabbath? But every day he does sufficient for his requirements, and even on that day. Then wherein may that day be recognized? By kiddush and habdalah.15

Raba said: If he recognizes the relationship to the day of his departure,16  he may do work the whole of that day.17  But that is obvious? — You might say, Since he did not set out on the Sabbath, he did not set out on the eve of the Sabbath either;18  hence this man, even if he set out on Thursday. it shall be permitted him to do work on two days. Hence he informs us that sometimes one may come across a company and chance to set out [on a Friday].

HE WHO KNOWS THE ESSENTIAL LAW OF THE SABBATH. How do we know it? — Said R. Nahman in the name of Rabbah b. Abbuha, Two texts are written: Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath;19  and it is written, and ye shall keep my Sabbaths.20  How is this to be explained?21  'Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath' [implies] one observance for many Sabbaths;22  [whereas] 'and ye shall keep my Sabbaths' [implies] one observance for each separate Sabbath.23  R. Nahman b. Isaac demurred: On the contrary, the logic is the reverse: Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath [implies] one observance for each separate Sabbath; [whereas] 'and ye shall keep my Sabbaths' [implies] one observance for many Sabbaths.24


Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. I.e., where one falsely swears that he has eaten.
  2. Knowing that he is swearing to an untruth.
  3. This contradicts Abaye.
  4. V. n. 2.
  5. The passage 'Another … refutation' is bracketed in the edd., and Rashi deletes it. For in fact the ruling is necessary according to Monabaz too. For whereas elsewhere ignorance is constituted by unawareness either of the forbidden nature of the act or of the sacrifice it entails, here the former does not constitute ignorance, and there must be unawareness of the liability to a sacrifice. This does not follow from Monabaz's other ruling and so must be stated.
  6. If a non-priest eats terumah unwittingly. he must indemnify the priest for its value and add a fifth (Lev. XXII, 14). Abaye states that he must have been unaware of its forbidden nature, i.e., thinking it to be ordinary food.
  7. If terumah is knowingly eaten by a non-priest, he is liable to death inflicted by Heaven.
  8. Death and the addition of a fifth for the conscious and unconscious eating of terumah respectively are the equivalent of kareth and a sacrifice in the case of other transgressions. Hence according to R. Johanan on the basis of the ruling of the Rabbis one is liable to the addition of a fifth if he eats terumah in ignorance that the conscious offence is punishable by death at the hands of Heaven.
  9. Alfasi, Asheri, Maim., Tur and J.D. omit 'on a road or'.
  10. From the day that he discovers that he has forgotten when it is the Sabbath.
  11. The first after his discovery.
  12. Where the Sabbath followed six working days.
  13. He was created on the sixth day; thus his first complete day was the Sabbath.
  14. But no unnecessary work, since each day may be the Sabbath.
  15. Kiddush =sanctification; habdalah=distinction. The former is a prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath; the latter is recited at the end thereof, and thanks God for making a distinction between the sanctity of the Sabbath and the secular nature of the other days of the week.
  16. On the day that he discovers that he has forgotten when it is the Sabbath, he nevertheless remembers how many days it is since he set out. The passage may also possibly be translated: if he recognizes a part, viz., the day on which he set out.
  17. Viz., on the seventh after he set out, without any restrictions, since he certainly did not commence his journey on the Sabbath.
  18. As it is unusual.
  19. Ex. XXXI, 16.
  20. Lev. XIX, 3.
  21. Sc. the employment of the sing. in one verse and the plural in the other.
  22. In the sense that if one desecrates many Sabbaths he fails in a single observance and is liable to one sin-offering only.
  23. Viz., that the desecration of each Sabbath entails a separate sacrifice. It then rests with the Rabbis to decide where each shall apply.
  24. R. Nahman b. Isaac agrees that the distinctions of the Mishnah follow from these texts, but he reverses their significance.