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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 75a

A curtain which was attacked by a moth was torn [round the moth hole] and resewn.

R. Zutra b. Tobiah said in Rab's name: He who pulls the thread of a seam1  on the Sabbath is liable to a sin-offering; and he who learns a single thing from a Magian2  is worthy of death;3  and he who is able to calculate the cycles4  and planetary courses but does not, one may hold no conversation with him.5

As to magianism, Rab and Samuel [differ thereon]: one maintains that it is sorcery; the other, blasphemy. It may be proved that it is Rab who maintains that it is blasphemy. For R. Zutra b. Tobiah said in Rab's name: He who learns a single thing from a magian is worthy of death. Now should you think that it is a sorcerer, surely it is written, thou shalt not learn to do [after the abomination of those nations],6  [implying], but you may learn in order to understand and instruct! This proves it.

R. Simeon b. Pazzi said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi on the authority of Bar Kappara: He who knows how to calculate the cycles and planetary courses, but does not, of him Scripture saith, but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither have they considered the operation of his hands.7  R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in R. Johanan's name: How do we know that it is one's duty to calculate the cycles and planetary courses? Because it is written, for this is your wisdom and understanding in the sight of the peoples:8  what wisdom and understanding is in the sight of the peoples?9  Say, that it is the science of cycles and planets.

CAPTURING A DEER, etc. Our Rabbis taught: He who captures a purple-fish10  and crushes it is liable to one [sin-offering];11  R. Judah said: He is liable to two, for R. Judah maintained: Crushing comes under the head of threshing. Said they to him: Crushing does not come under the head of threshing. Raba observed: What is the Rabbis' reason? They hold that threshing is applicable only to produce from the soil. But let him be culpable too on the score of taking life? — Said R. Johanan: This means that he crushed it when [already] dead.12  Raba said: You may even explain that he crushed it whilst alive: in respect to the taking of life he is but incidentally occupied.13  But Abaye and Raba both maintain: R. Simeon admits in a case of 'cut off his head but let him not die!'14  Here it is different, because he is more pleased that it should be alive, so that the dye should be clearer.15

AND SLAUGHTERING IT. As for him who slaughters, on what score is he culpable? — Rab said: On the score of dyeing;16  while Samuel said: On the score of taking life.

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. If the seam gapes, and he pulls the thread to draw the pieces together. This constitutes sewing.
  2. One of the priestcraft of Ancient Persia.
  3. This is an idiom expressing strong abhorrence, cf. similar expressions in Sanh. 58b and 59a. The Magi were hostile to Jews, and caused them much suffering in various ways; cf. Sanh., Sonc. ed., p. 504, n. 6 and 98a: Yeb. 63b; Git. 17a. This evoked the present remark.
  4. Sc. of the seasons.
  5. The science of astronomy was necessary for the fixing of the calendar, upon which Jewish Festivals depended. In early times this was done by observation, but gradually calculation took its place. Hence Rab's indignation at one who fails to employ such knowledge.
  6. Deut. XVIII, 9.
  7. Isa. V, 12.
  8. Deut. IV, 6.
  9. I.e., which testifies to itself.
  10. Hillazon, v. p. 356, n. 2
  11. Crushing not being a culpable offence.
  12. In order to make the blood exude.
  13. I.e., the taking of life is not his main purpose, but merely follows incidentally; such does not entail culpability.
  14. R. Simeon holds that a labour performed unintentionally in the course of doing something that is permitted is itself permitted, unless it follows inevitably from the latter, when it is the same as any other forbidden labour. Here too it must inevitably die when crushed.
  15. Hence its death is more than unintentional, but actually contrary to his desire.
  16. The blood that gushes forth from its cut throat stains and dyes the flesh.

Shabbath 75b

On the score of dyeing but not on the score of taking life!1  Say, on the score of dyeing too. Rab said: As to this dictum of mine, I will make an observation thereon so that later generations should not come and deride me. Wherein is one pleased with the dyeing? One is pleased that the throat should be stained with blood, so that people may see it2  and come and buy from him.

SALTING AND CURING IT. But salting and tanning are identical?3  — R. Johanan and Resh Lakish both said: Omit one of these and insert the tracing of lines.4  Rabbah son of R. Huna said: He who salts meat is liable on account of tanning [dressing]. Raba said: Curing does not apply to foodstuffs. R. Ashi observed: And even Rabbah son of R. Huna ruled thus only when he requires it for a journey;5  but [when he needs it] for his house, one does not turn his food into wood.

SCRAPING AND CUTTING IT UP. R. Aha b. Hanina said: He who rubs [smooths skins] between columns6  on the Sabbath is liable on the score of scraping. R. Hiyya b. Abba said, R. Ammi told me three things in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: He who planes the tops of beams7  on the Sabbath is culpable on account of cutting.8  He who spreads a poultice [evenly over a sore] on the Sabbath is culpable on the grounds of scraping. And he who chisels round a stone on the Sabbath9  is liable on the score of striking with the hammer.10  R. Simeon b. Bisna said in the name of R. Simeon b. Lakish: He who describes a figure on a utensil, and he who blows in glassware,11  is liable on the score of striking with a hammer. Rab Judah said: He who removes threads12  from garments on the Sabbath is liable on the score of striking with the hammer;13  but that is only when he objects to them.14

WRITING TWO LETTERS. Our Rabbis taught: If one writes one large letter in the place of which there is room for writing two, he is not culpable. If he erases one large letter and there is room in its place for writing two, he is culpable. Said R. Menahem son of R. Jose: And this is the greater stringency of erasing over writing.

BUILDING, PULLING DOWN, EXTINGUISHING, KINDLING, AND STRIKING WITH A HAMMER. Rabbah and R. Zera both say: Whatever comprises the finishing of the work imposes liability on the score of striking with a hammer.15

THESE ARE THE PRIMARY LABOURS. THESE is to reject R. Eleazar's view, who imposes liability on account of a derivative labour [when performed concurrently] with a primary labour.16

LESS ONE. This is to reject R. Judah's view. For it was taught: R. Judah adds the closing up of the web and the beating of the woof.17  Said they to him: Closing up of the web is included in stretching the threads, and beating [the woof] is included in weaving.


GEMARA. 'WHATEVER IS FIT TO PUT AWAY': What does this exclude? — R. Papa said: It excludes the blood of menstruation. Mar 'Ukba said: It excludes the wood of an Asherah.21  He who says the blood of menstruation, certainly [excludes] the wood of an Asherah. But he who says the wood of an Asherah; the blood of menstruation, however, is put away for a cat. But the other [argues]: since she would sicken,22  one would not put it away [for that purpose].

R. Jose b. Hanina said: This does not agree with R. Simeon. For if it were as R. Simeon, surely he maintained: All these standards were stated only in respect of those who put away.23


Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Surely not!
  2. That it is freshly killed.
  3. Salting the hide being the first step in the tanning process.
  4. Before cutting.
  5. It is then salted very much and is thus akin to tanning.
  6. Tosaf. and Jast. Rashi: he who smooths the ground between the columns.
  7. To make them all of the same level.
  8. To measure.
  9. Giving it its final touches.
  10. V. infra.
  11. Where the blowing shapes it.
  12. I.e., anything sticking out of the web, as thread, knots, splinters, etc., which was accidentally woven into the material.
  13. As this completes their labour.
  14. And would not wear the garments otherwise.
  15. Cf. p. 354 n. 7.
  16. Hence it is possible to incur more than thirty-nine sin-offerings, whereas the number stated is to exclude this possibility.
  17. In order to even it.
  18. For later use.
  19. It is large enough to be put away for later use.
  20. If he carries it out, since by putting it away he showed that he attaches a value to it. But for others it is of no account; hence if they carry it out there is no liability.
  21. A tree, or perhaps a post, devoted to idolatry; V. Deut. XVI, 21. It is forbidden to benefit thereof.
  22. It was thought that if an animal consumed blood drawn from any person, that person would lose strength.
  23. v. infra Mishnah VIII, 1. Thus a wealthy man is not liable for carrying out something which he personally would not put away, though most people would. But according to our Mishnah general practice is the decisive factor for all, and the exceptions are ignored.