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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath
on Tuesday he informed them of the order to set boundaries,1 and on Wednesday they separated themselves [from their wives].2 But the Rabbis hold: New Moon was fixed on Monday, and on that day he said nothing to them on account of their exhaustion from the journey. On Tuesday he said to them, and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests; on Wednesday he informed them of the order to set boundaries, and on Thursday they separated themselves. An objection is raised: And sanctify them to-day and to-morrow:3 this is difficult in the view of R. Jose?4 — R. Jose can answer you: Moses added one day of his own understanding.5 For it was taught, Three things did Moses do of his own understanding, and the Holy One, blessed be He, gave His approval:6 he added one day of his own understanding, he separated himself from his wife,7 and he broke the Tables. 'He added one day of his own understanding': what [verse] did he interpret? To-day and to-morrow: 'to-day' [must be] like 'tomorrow: just as to-morrow includes the [previous] night, so 'to-day' [must] include the [previous] night, but the night of to-day has already passed! Hence it must be two days exclusive of to-day. And how do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, gave his approval? — Since the Shechinah did not rest [upon Mount Sinal] until the morning of the Sabbath.8 And 'he separated himself from his wife': What did he interpret? He applied an a minori argument to himself, reasoning: If the Israelites, with whom the Shechinah spoke only on one occasion and He appointed them a time [thereof], yet the Torah said, Be ready against the third day: come not near a woman: I, with whom the Shechinah speaks at all times and does not appoint me a [definite] time, how much more so! And how do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, gave his approval? Because it is written, Go say to them, Return to your tents,9 which is followed by, But as for thee, stand thou here by me. Some there are who quote, with him [sc. Moses] will I speak mouth to mouth.10 'He broke the Tables': how did he learn [this]? He argued: If the Passover sacrifice, which is but one of the six hundred and thirteen precepts, yet the Torah said, there shall no alien eat thereof:11 here is the whole Torah, and the Israelites are apostates, how much more so!12 And how do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, gave His approval? Because it is said, which thou brakest,13 and Resh Lakish interpreted this: All strength to thee14 that thou brakest it.
Come and hear: And be ready against the third day: this is a difficulty according to R. Jose?15 — Surely we have said that Moses added one day of his own understanding!
In respect of what is [the first] 'the third' [mentioned]? — [In respect] of that which was taught: And Moses reported the words of the people unto the Lord;18 and it is written, And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord.19 Now, what did the Holy One, Blessed be He, say unto Moses, what did Moses say unto Israel, what did Israel say to Moses, and what did Moses report before the Omnipotent?20 This is the order of setting boundaries:21 that is the view of R. Jose son of R. Judah. Rabbi said: At first he explained the penalties [for non-observance], for it is written, 'And Moses reported [wa-yasheb]', [which implies] things which repel [meshabbebin] one's mind.22 But subsequently he explained its reward, for it is said, 'And Moses told [wa-yagged]', [which means,] words which draw one's heart like a narrative [aggadah]. Some there are who maintain, At first he explained the reward it confers, for it is written, 'And Moses reported [wa-yasheb]', [which means,] words which appease [meshibin] one's mind. Whilst subsequently he explained its penalties, for it is written, 'and Moses told [wa-yagged'], [meaning], words as hard [unpleasant] to man as worm-wood [giddin].
Come and hear: The sixth, the sixth day of the month and the sixth day of the week [Friday]: this is a difficulty according to the Rabbis?23 — This too agrees with R. Jose. In respect of what is [the first] 'the sixth' [mentioned]? — Raba said:
[In respect] of their encamping.1 R. Aha b. Jacob said: [In respect] of their journeying.2 Now, they disagree about [the precept of] the Sabbath [as communicated to them at at Marah, for it is written, [Observe the Sabbath day …] as the Lord my God commanded thee,3 whereon Rab Judah commented in Rab's name: As he commanded thee at Marah.4 One Master holds: They were commanded concerning the Sabbath [in general], but not concerning tehumin.5 Whilst the other Master holds: They were commanded concerning tehumin too.6
Come and hear: As to the Nisan in which the Israelites departed from Egypt, on the fourteenth day they slaughtered their Passover sacrifices, on the fifteenth they went forth, and in the evening the first-borns were smitten. 'In the evening': can you think so!7 Rather say, The first-borns having been smitten the [previous] evening, and that day was a Thursday. Now, since the fifteenth of Nisan was on a Thursday, the first of Iyar was on the Sabbath,8 and the first of Siwan was on a Sunday,9 which is a difficulty according to the Rabbis? — The Rabbis answer you: Iyar in that year was indeed made full.10
Come and hear that they did not make it full! As to the Nisan in which the Israelites departed from Egypt, on the fourteenth they killed their Passover sacrifices, on the fifteenth they went forth, and in the evening the first-borns were smitten. 'In the evening' can you think so! Rather, say, The first-borns having been smitten since the [previous] evening, and that day was a Thursday. Nisan was a full month, so that [the first of] Iyar fell on the Sabbath. Iyar was defective, so that [the first of] Siwan fell on a Sunday. This is a difficulty according to the Rabbis? — That agrees with R. Jose.
R. Papa observed, Come and hear: And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin … on the fifteenth day of the second month.11 Now that day was the Sabbath, for it is written, and in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord,12 and it is written, six days ye shall gather it.13 Now, since the fifteenth of Iyar was on the Sabbath, the first of Siwan was on a Sunday, which is a difficulty according to the Rabbis? — The Rabbis can answer you: Iyar of that year was made full.
R. Assi14 of Hozna'ah15 said to R. Ashi, Come and hear: And it came to pass in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up;16 [and with reference to this] a Tanna taught: That day took ten crowns.17 It was the first of the Creation,18 the first for the princes,19 the first for the priesthood,20 the first for [public] sacrifice, the first for the fall of fire [from Heaven],21 the first for the eating of sacred food,22 the first for the dwelling of the Shechinah in Israel, the first for the [priestly] blessing of Israel,23 the first for the interdict of the high places,24 [and] the first of months. Now, since the first of Nisan of that year was on a Sunday, that of the previous year must have been on a Wednesday. For it was taught: Others say, Between one 'Azereth25 and another, and between one New Year['s day] and another, there can be a difference of only four days,26 and in a leap year, five [days].27 Hence the first of Iyar must have fallen on the eve of the Sabbath [Friday], and the first of Siwan on the Sabbath, which is a difficulty according to both R. Jose and the Rabbis? — In R. Jose's view, seven months were declared defective;28
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