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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 74a

even if there are [labours] similar thereto, is counted [separately].1  Then let him also enumerate pounding [wheat]?2  — Said Abaye: Because a poor man eats his bread without pounding.3  Raba said: This agrees with Rabbi, who said: The primary labours are forty less one; but if pounding were enumerated, there would be forty.4  Then let one of these be omitted and pounding be inserted? Hence it is clear [that it must be explained] as Abaye [does].

Our Rabbis taught: If various kinds of food lie before one, he may select and eat, select and put aside; but he must not select, and if he does, he incurs a sin-offering. What does this mean? — Said 'Ulla, This is its meaning: He may select to eat on the same day, and he may select and put aside for the same day; but he must not select for [use on] the morrow, and if he does, he incurs a sin-offering. R. Hisda demurred: Is it then permitted to bake for [use on] the same day, or is it permitted to cook for the same day?5  Rather said R. Hisda: He may select and eat less than the standard quantity, and he may select and put aside less than the standard quantity;6  but he must not select as much as the standard quantity, and if he does, he incurs a sin-offering. R. Joseph demurred: Is it then permitted to bake less than the standard quantity?7  Rather said R. Joseph: He may select by hand and eat, or select by hand and put aside; but he may not select with a reed-basket or a dish; and if he does, he is not culpable, nevertheless it is forbidden.8  He may not select with a sieve or a basket-sieve, and if he does he incurs a sin-offering.9  R. Hamnuna demurred: Are then a reed-basket and a dish mentioned? — Rather said R. Hamnuna: He may select and eat, [taking the] eatable from the non-eatable, and he may select and put aside, [taking] the eatable from the non-eatable. But he must not select the non-eatable out of the eatable, and if he does, he incurs a sin-offering.10  Abaye demurred: Is it then taught, 'the eatable from the non-eatable'? Rather said Abaye: He may select and eat immediately, and he may select and put aside for immediate use;11  but he may not select for [later consumption on] the same day, and if he does, it is regarded as though he were selecting for [making] a store, and he incurs a sin-offering.12  The Rabbis reported this to Raba. Said he to them, Nahmani13  has said well.

If two kinds of food lie before a person, and he selects and eats or selects and puts aside,14  — R. Ashi learnt: He is not culpable: R. Jeremiah of Difti15  learnt: He is culpable, 'R. Ashi learnt: He is not culpable'! but it was taught:16  'He is culpable'? — There is no difficulty: the one treats of a reed-basket and a plate;17  the other refers to a sieve and a basket-sieve.

When R. Dimi came,18  he related: It was R. Bibi's Sabbath,19  and R. Ammi and R. Assi chanced to be there. He cast a basket of fruit before them,20  and I do not know whether it was because he held that it is forbidden to pick out the eatable from the noneatable, or whether he wished to be generous.21

Hezekiah said: One who picks lupines [after boiling] out of their husks22  is culpable. Shall we say that Hezekiah holds that it is forbidden to select the eatable from the non-eatable? [No.] Lupines are different,

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. What constitutes primary labours is learnt from the Tabernacle (v. 49b). All these labours were needed for the Tabernacle in the wilderness; hence they are counted separately.
  2. In a mortar, to remove the husk. Drugs were pounded in connection with the Tabernacle for dyes.
  3. Hence it is omitted, for the Tanna evidently follows the general order of making bread, and bread for the poor is prepared with the husk of the wheat. But it is certainly a primary labour forbidden on the Sabbath.
  4. Rabbi deduces even the number of labours from Scripture (v. infra 97b).
  5. Surely not! And since you say that selecting for use on the next day entails a sin-offering, it is a forbidden labour in the full sense of the term, and hence prohibited even if required for the same day.
  6. For which a penalty is incurred, viz., as much as a dried fig.
  7. Granted that there is no penalty, it is nevertheless forbidden, and the same applies here.
  8. There is no liability, because this is not the proper mode of selecting; nevertheless it is forbidden, because it is somewhat similar to selecting by means of a sieve.
  9. Because this is the usual mode of sifting, and it is therefore a primary labour, as stated in the Mishnah. For a description of the nafah v. Aboth, Sonc. ed., p. 69, n. 10.
  10. The former is not the ordinary mode of sifting, while the latter is.
  11. I.e., immediately he finishes putting aside he will consume what is eatable.
  12. But the former does not constitute sifting and is entirely permissible.
  13. A familiar name of Abaye, because he was brought up in the house of Rabbah b. Nahmani. V. however, Git., Sonc. ed., p. 140, n. 6.
  14. For another to eat. The two kinds were mixed up, and he selected the kind he desired.
  15. v. p. 35, n. 5.
  16. Supra.
  17. When the selecting is done by these, he is not culpable.
  18. V. p. 12, n. 9.
  19. It was his turn that Sabbath to wait on the scholars.
  20. [H] denotes to put down with some violence. He did this instead of first separating the leaves from the fruit, as they would fall away automatically through the force of his setting it down.
  21. Hence placed a large quantity before them.
  22. Lit., 'refuse'.

Shabbath 74b

because they are boiled seven times, and if one does not remove it [the edible portion], it goes rancid, hence it is like [picking] the non-edible out of the edible.1

GRINDING. R. Papa said: He who cuts up beets very fine is liable on account of grinding. R. Manasseh said: He who cuts chips [for fuel] is liable on account of grinding. Said R. Ashi: If he is particular about their size, he is liable on account of cutting.2

KNEADING AND BAKING. R. Papa said: Our Tanna omits the boiling of ingredients [for dyes],3  which took place in [connection with] the Tabernacle, and treats of baking!4  — Our Tanna takes the order of [making] bread.5

R. Aha son of R. Awira said: He who throws a tent peg into a stove6  is liable on account of cooking. But that is obvious? — You might say, His intention is to strengthen [harden] the article,7  therefore we are informed that it [first] softens and then hardens.8

Rabbah son of R. Huna said: He who boils pitch is liable on account of cooking. But that is obvious? — You might argue, Since it hardens again, I might say [that he is] not [liable]. Hence he informs us [otherwise].

Raba said: He who makes an [earthenware] barrel is culpable on account of seven sin-offerings.9  [He who makes] an oven is liable on account of eight sin-offerings.10  Abaye said: He who makes a wicker work is liable to eleven sin-offerings,11  and if he sews round the mouth thereof, he is liable to thirteen sin-offerings.12

SHEARING WOOL AND BLEACHING. Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in R. Johanan's name: He who spins wool from off the animal's back on the Sabbath incurs three sin-offerings, one on account of shearing, another on account of hackling, and the third on account of spinning.13  R. Kahana said: Neither shearing, hackling, nor spinning is [done] in this manner.14  But is it not so? Surely it was taught in the name of R. Nehemiah: It was washed [direct] on the goats and spun on the goats:15  which proves that spinning direct from the animal is designated spinning? — Superior skill is different.16

Our Rabbis taught: He who plucks the wing [of a bird], trims it [the feather], and plucks it [the down], is liable to three sin offerings. Said R. Simeon b. Lakish: For plucking [the wing] one is liable on account of shearing; for trimming [the feather] he is liable on the score of cutting; and for plucking [the down] he is liable under the head of smoothing.

TYING AND UNTYING. Where was there tying in the Tabernacle?17  — Said Raba: The tent-pegs were tied. But that was tying with the intention of [subsequent] untying?18  But said Abaye: The weavers of the curtains, when a thread broke, tied it up. Said Raba to him: You have explained tying; but what can be said about untying? And should you answer that when two knots [in the material] chanced to come together, one untied one and left the other knotted:19  [it may be asked], seeing that one would not do thus before a king of flesh and blood, how much more so before the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He?20  Rather said Raba — others state, R. Elai: Those who caught the hillazon21  tied and untied.22

SEWING TWO STITCHES. But it cannot endure?23  — Said Rabbah b. Bar Hanah in R. Johanan's name: Providing that he knots them.24

TEARING IN ORDER TO SEW TWO STITCHES. Was there any tearing in the Tabernacle? — Rabbah and R. Zera both say:

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Which is forbidden.
  2. Sc. Hides to measure; v. Mishnah on erection.
  3. E.g., for the hangings and curtains, v. Rashi 73a, s.v. [H].
  4. Which has nothing to do with the Tabernacle (Rashi).
  5. I.e., he takes bread as an example and enumerates the various principal labours connected with it.
  6. To dry it.
  7. Whereas cooking softens.
  8. The fire heats the moisture in the wood, which softens it, and it is only after it evaporates that the wood hardens. This prior softening partakes of the nature of cooking.
  9. So MS.M., deleting 'on account of' in cur. edd. (i) The clods of earth are first crushed and powdered — this constitutes grinding; (ii) the thicker balls which do not powder well are removed — selecting (iii) it is then sifted; (iv) the powder is mixed with water — kneading; (v) the resultant clay is smoothed when the cast of the vessel is made — smoothing; (vi) the fire is lit in the kiln; and (vii) the vessel is hardened in the kiln — boiling.
  10. The seven foregoing, which are also needed here, and an additional one. For after it is hardened in the kiln, a layer of loam or plaster is daubed on the inside, to enable it to preserve heat. This completes it, and it is stated infra 75b that every special act needed to complete an article falls within the term 'striking with the hammer' (v. Mishnah, 73a). But a barrel needs no special labour to complete it.
  11. It entails this number of labours: (i and ii) cutting the reeds is a two-fold labour: (a) reaping, (b) planting, since it leaves more room for the others to grow (v. supra 73b); (iii) collecting them — binding sheaves, (iv) selecting the best; (v) smoothing them; (vi) splitting them lengthwise into thinner rods — grinding; (vii) cutting them — to measure; (viii) stretching the lengthwise rods; (ix) drawing one cane through these, threading it above and below the lengthwise rods — this is the equivalent of 'the making of two meshes'; (x) plaiting the canes — weaving; and finally (xi) cutting it round after plaiting in order to finish it off, — 'striking with a hammer' (v. n. 7).
  12. The additional two are sewing and then tying up (presumably the unattached lengths of the thread or twine used for same).
  13. Spinning direct from the animal embraces these three labours.
  14. Hence he is not liable at all, for one is liable only when he performs a labour in the usual manner.
  15. The reference is to Ex. XXXV, 26, q.v., which R. Nehemiah translates literally, without adding 'hair' as in E.V., and so he deduces that it was spun directly from the animal.
  16. Scripture emphasizes there the skill that this demanded (v. 25), which shows that normal spinning is different.
  17. V. p. 224, n. 4.
  18. When they struck camp. Such is not Biblically forbidden and is not the tying referred to in the Mishnah.
  19. The two knots together would spoil the evenness of the fabric.
  20. The untying of a knot in the fabric would leave an ugly gap, particularly as the threads were six-stranded. Hence the utmost care would be taken to prevent the thread from knotting in the first place.
  21. A kind of snail or purple-fish whose blood was used for dyeing the tents of the Tabernacle.
  22. The nets.
  23. Two stitches alone will slip out of the cloth. Thus the work is not permanent and entails no punishment.
  24. After sewing, so that they will remain.