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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 81a


GEMARA. Shall we say that R. Judah's standard is larger: but we know the standard of the Rabbis to be larger?4  — Said 'Ulla: [It means] the wards of a lock.5

Our Rabbis taught: The wards of a lock are clean;6  [but] when one fits them into the lock, they are [liable to become] unclean.7  But if it [the lock] is of a revolving door,8  even when it is fixed on the door and nailed on with nails, they [the wards] are clean, because whatever is joined to the soil is as the soil.9

GLASS, LARGE ENOUGH FOR SCRAPING [etc.]. A Tanna taught: Glass,10  large enough to break across two threads simultaneously.

A CHIP, OR A STONE, LARGE ENOUGH TO THROW AT A BIRD: R. ELEAZAR [etc.]. R. Jacob said in R. Johanan's name: Providing that it can feel it. And what size is that? It was taught, R. Eleazar b. Jacob said: Ten zuz in weight.11

Zonin entered the Beth Hamidrash [and] said to them [the students]: My masters, what is the standard of the stones of a privy?12  Said they to him: [One] the size of an olive, [a second] the size of a nut, and [a third] the size of an egg.13  Shall one take [them] in a [gold] balance! he objected.14  [Thereupon] they voted and decided: A handful.15  It was taught; R. Jose said: [One] the size of an olive, [another] the size of a nut, and [a third] the size of an egg: R. Simeon b. Jose said on his father's authority: A handful.

Our Rabbis taught: One may carry three smoothly rounded stones16  into a privy. And what is their size? R. Meir said: As [large as] a nut; R. Judah maintained: As [large as] an egg. Rafram b. Papa observed in R. Hisda's name: Even as they differ here, so do they differ in respect to an ethrog.17  But there it is a Mishnah, whereas here it is [only] a Baraitha?18  Rather [say:] Just as they differ in respect to an ethrog, so do they differ here.

Rab Judah said: But not brittle stone [payas].19  What is payas? — Said R. Zera: Babylonian pebbles.20

Raba said: One may not use a chip on the Sabbath [as a suppository] in the same way as one uses it on weekdays. Mar Zutra demurred: Shall one then endanger [his health]? — [It may be done] in a back-handed manner.21

R. Jannai said: If there is a fixed place for the privy,22  [one may carry in] a handful [of stones];23  if not, [only] the size of the leg of a small spice mortar [is permitted].24  R. Shesheth said: If there is evidence upon it,25  it is permitted.26  An objection is raised: Ten things lead to hemorrhoids in a man, and these are they: [i] eating the leaves of reeds; [ii] the leaves of vines; [iii] sprouts of grapevine; [iv] the rough flesh27  of an animal without salt; [v] the spine of a fish; [vi] a salted fish insufficiently cooked; [vii] drinking the lees of wine; [viii] wiping oneself with lime, [ix] with clay. [x] [and] with a chip which one's neighbour has [already] used thus.28  And some say, Suspending oneself in a privy too.29  — There is no difficulty; the one refers to a damp [stone];30  the other to a dry one. Alternatively, here the reference is to the same side [of the stone];31  there, to the other side. Another alternative: the one refers to his own;32  the other, to his neighbour's. Abaye asked R. Joseph: What if rain fell on it and it [the stain] was washed away? If the mark thereof is perceptible, he replied, it is permitted.

Rabbah son of R. Shila asked R. Hisda:

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Jast.: pointed on top and curved at the end.
  2. This is first assumed in the Gemara to mean a lock, which gives a greater standard than that of the Rabbis, but is subsequently translated ward of a lock.
  3. But one does not trouble to throw anything at a bird, which is frightened away with the voice.
  4. v. supra 80a, p. 381. n. 7.
  5. V. note on Mishnah
  6. I.e., they are not susceptible to uncleanness, being unfit for use by themselves (Rashi). Rashi also maintains that the reference is to wards made of bones; Tosaf., to wards made of metal.
  7. For they are now parts of utensils.
  8. It is not the lock of a box or chest, but of something fixed to soil, e.g., the door of a house.
  9. Which cannot become unclean.
  10. Sekukith is a rarer form of the more usual zekukith.
  11. One zuz = 3.585 grammes (J.E., 'Weights and Measures', vol. XII, p. 489 Table 1).
  12. Used for cleansing.
  13. These three together constitute the standard, as they are all required.
  14. For weighing them accurately.
  15. Of stones, no matter what their number.
  16. Jast. Rashi (as emended by Rashal): sharpened stones.
  17. A citron, which is one of the fruits to be taken on the Feast of Tabernacles (v. Lev. XXIII. 40). R. Meir holds that its minimum size must be that of a nut, while R. Judah holds that it must be at least as large as an egg.
  18. And the Mishnah being better known, he surely should have taken that as the point of comparison.
  19. This being unsuited for this purpose. it may not be handled on the Sabbath.
  20. Which are cloddy and brittle.
  21. V. p. 188, n. 2.
  22. Their privies were in the fields. Some were permanent, others were not.
  23. I.e., over a distance of less than four cubits. V., however, R. Han. For those that are left over in the evening may be used in the morning.
  24. This translation follows R. Han and Tosaf.
  25. I.e., a stain of excrements.
  26. To handle it, even if larger than the standard size normally allowed on the Sabbath, since it has already been used for that purpose before.
  27. Rashi. Jast.: the palate.
  28. This contradicts R. Shesheth.
  29. Instead of sitting.
  30. From former use; that is unfit.
  31. That is injurious.
  32. I.e., a stone which he himself has used before; that is permitted.

Shabbath 81b

Is it permissible to carry them up [the stones] after one to the roof?1  Human dignity is very important, he replied, and it supersedes a negative injunction of the Torah.2  Now, Meremar sat and reported this discussion, [whereupon] Rabina raised an objection to Meremar: R. Eliezer said: One may take a chip [lying] before him to pick his teeth therewith;3  but the Sages maintain: He may take only from an animal's trough?4  How compare! There, one appoints a place for his meal;5  but here, does one appoint a place for a privy?6

R. Huna said: One may not obey the call of nature on a ploughed field on the Sabbath. What is the reason? Shall we say, because of treading down?7  Then the same holds good even on weekdays? Again, if it is on account of the grasses,8  — surely Resh Lakish said: One may cleanse himself with a pebble whereon grass has sprouted, but if one detaches [the grass] thereof on the Sabbath, he incurs a sin-offering? Rather [the reason is] lest he take [a clod] from an upper level9  and throw it below,10  and he is then liable on account of Rabbah's [dictum], for Rabbah said: If one has a depression and fills it up, — if in the house, he is culpable on account of building; if in the field, he is culpable on account of ploughing.

[To revert to] the main text: Resh Lakish said: One may cleanse himself with a pebble whereon 'grass has sprouted; but if one detaches [the grass] thereof on the Sabbath, he incurs a sin-offering. R. Pappi said: From Resh Lakish you may infer that one may take up a parpisa.11  R. Kahana demurred: If they said [that it is permitted] in case of need,12  shall they say [thus] where there is no need!13

Abaye said: As for parpisa, since it has come to hand, we will state something about it. If it is lying on the ground and one places it upon pegs, he is culpable on the score of detaching; if it is lying on pegs and one places it on the ground, he is liable on the score of planting.14

R. Johanan said: One must not cleanse oneself with a shard on the Sabbath. What is the reason? Shall we say on account of danger?15  Then on weekdays too [let it be forbidden]? Again if it is on account of witchcraft:16  it may not [be done] even on weekdays too? Again, if it is on account of the tearing out of hair, — but surely that is unintentional? — Said R. Nathan b. Oshaia to them: [Since] a great man has stated this dictum, let us give a reason for it. [Thus:] it is unnecessary [to state] that it is forbidden on weekdays;17  but on the Sabbath, since it bears the rank of a utensil, [I might think that] it is permitted:18  therefore he informs us [otherwise].

Raba recited it on account of the tearing out of hair, and found R. Johanan to be self-contradictory. [Thus:] did then R. Johanan say, One must not cleanse oneself with a shard on the Sabbath, which shows that what is unintentional is forbidden? Surely R. Johanan said: The halachah is as [every] anonymous Mishnah, and we learnt: A nazirite may cleanse [his hair] and part it, but he must not comb it.19  But it is clear that it is as R. Nathan b. Oshaia.

What is [the reference to] witchcraft? — R. Hisda and Rabbah son of R. Huna were travelling in a boat, when a certain [non-Jewish] matron said to them, 'Seat me near you,' but they did not seat her. Thereupon she uttered something [a charm] and bound the boat;20  they uttered something, and freed it. Said she to them, 'What shall I do to you,

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Since he could have carried them up there on the eve of Sabbath, Tosaf.
  2. I.e., it is permitted. v. infra 94b.
  3. Though not designated for this purpose beforehand, it is not regarded as mukzeh (q.v. Glos.).
  4. There it is regarded as standing ready for use, but otherwise it is mukzeh, and human dignity, viz., the necessity to clean one's teeth, does not negative this prohibition.
  5. Beforehand, and at the same time he could have prepared his toothpicks too. Hence the prohibition retains its force.
  6. Surely not! (Cf. p. 386. n. 7).
  7. The loose ploughed soil, thus spoiling it, the reference being to a neighbour's field.
  8. Which sprout on the loose, moist earth, and in picking up a clod for cleansing one may involuntarily detach the grass.
  9. E.g.. a mound or any other protuberance.
  10. Into a depression; he thus levels them.
  11. Rashi: a perforated pot. Though the earth in it might be regarded as attached to the ground in virtue of the perforation which permits the sap or moisture to mount from the one to the other, yet just as Resh Lakish rules that the pebble is treated as detached in spite of the grass which has grown on it, which is only possible through its lying on the soil, so is this pot too regarded thus. Jast.: a lump of earth in a bag of palm-leaves (v. Rashi in name of [H]).
  12. Sc. for cleansing, which is necessary.
  13. Surely not!
  14. Cf. n. 3. 'Culpable' here merely denotes that the action is forbidden, but does not imply liability to a sin-offering, as usual (Rashi and Tosaf.).
  15. He may cut himself.
  16. As below.
  17. Since one can just as easily take a chip or a pebble, to which no suspicion of danger or witchcraft attaches.
  18. Being preferable to a chip or a pebble, which are not utensils, and in general it is permitted to handle a utensil sooner than that which is not a utensil.
  19. v. supra 50b for notes.
  20. So that it could not proceed further.