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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 9a

across [or, over] himself,1  he is liable.2 — There it does not come to rest [in the place of non-liability], whereas here it does.3

'Others state, A threshold serves as two domains: if the door is open, it is as within; if the door is shut, it is as without.'4  Even if it has no stake?5  But R. Hama b. Goria said in Rab's name: That which lies within the opening requires another stake to permit it.6  And should you answer that [the reference is to a threshold which] is not four square: surely R. Hama b. Goria said in Rab's name: That which lies within the opening, even if less than four square, requires another stake to permit it!-Said Rab Judah in Rab's name: The reference here is to the threshold of an alley, half of which [threshold] is covered and half uncovered, the covering being toward the inner side: [hence] if the door is open, it is as within; if the door is shut, it is as without.7  R. Ashi said: After all, it refers to the threshold of a house, and e.g., where it is covered over with two beams, neither being four [handbreadths wide], and there are less than three [handbreadths] between them, while the door is in the middle: if the entrance is open, it is as within, if shut, it is as without.8

'But if the threshold is ten [handbreadths] high and four broad, it is a separate domain.' This supports R. Isaac b. Abdimi. For R. Isaac b. Abdimi said, R. Meir9  used to teach: Wherever you find two domains which are really one, e.g., a pillar in private ground ten high and four broad, one may not re-arrange a burden thereon, for fear of a mound in a public domain.10

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Rashi: above his hand; i.e., through space more than ten handbreadths from the ground, which is a place of non-liability. R. Han. and Tosaf.: from the right to the left hand, i.e., across his body.
  2. On Rashi's interpretation the difficulty is obvious: carrying an object via a place of non-liability is the same as transferring it from public to private ground by way of a threshold, which is a similar place, yet Raba rules that the former imposes liability, whereas the Baraitha states that the three are exempt. According to R. Han. and Tosaf. the difficulty appears to be this: when a person passes an object from one hand to another, his own body not moving, he is in a similar position to this man who stands on the threshold and takes the one and gives to the other, himself not moving, and its passing his stationary body in the former case is the same as when in the latter case it is laid down on the threshold; so, at least, one might argue. (Tosaf. a.l. s.v. [H] and in 'Er. 98a s.v. [H])
  3. Hence in the case posited by Raba we disregard the method of its passage and condemn him for carrying an object four cubits in the street.
  4. Rashi: this is now assumed to refer to a threshold lying at the opening of a blind alley between it and the public road. An alley was made fit for carrying by planting a stake at the side of the opening, which by a legal fiction was regarded as a complete partition stretching right across, and it is understood that this threshold is excluded from the partitioning influence of a stake, which was fixed at the inner side of the threshold. Tosaf. explains it somewhat differently.
  5. On the outer side; v. preceding note.
  6. 'That which … opening' is understood to mean the threshold, it being assumed that the stake is fixed on its inner side, so that the threshold does not come within its influence and therefore it must be enclosed, as it were, and converted into private ground before carrying therein is permitted. This contradicts the Baraitha.
  7. This alley was rendered fit for carrying not by a stake but by a beam across its front (v. 'Er. 11b); and it was also furnished with a door or gate at its opening. Now, the threshold referred to here lies in front of the door, while the beam overhead covers the inner half of the threshold. If the door is open (it opened inwards) the whole threshold is counted as part of the alley, and so it is permitted; if it is closed, the threshold is shut out, and even the portion under the beam is forbidden.
  8. The entrance was covered over from above; if the cover was a single beam four handbreadths wide, everything beneath it, including the threshold, is permitted, as imaginary partitions are assumed to descend from the sides of the beam parallel to the house and enclose the entrance. But this assumption is not made when the beam is less than four in width. Again, when two beams are less than three handbreadths apart, the whole, including the space, is regarded as one, on the principle of labud, providing that there is nothing between them to break their imaginary unity. Now, the reference here is to a threshold in the middle of which the door is set. If this entrance is open, nothing breaks the unity above, and since the width of the two beams plus the space between is four cubits, the threshold is permitted. But if it is shut, the door coming between the two beams above forbids the assumption that they are united, and by corollary, the imaginary existence of partitions; hence the threshold remains forbidden.
  9. Who is the 'others' mentioned as authors of this teaching, v. supra p. 11, n. 3.
  10. Of the same size; since such constitutes private ground, one may not move an article from it into the street, and so even when situated in private ground it is also forbidden, lest one lead to the other.

Shabbath 9b


GEMARA. Near what minhah?5  Shall we say, near the major minhah? But why not, seeing that there is yet plenty of time in the day? But if near the minor Minhah: YET IF THEY BEGAN THEY NEED NOT BREAK OFF? Shall we say that this is a refutation of R. Joshua b. Levi? For R. Joshua b. Levi said: As soon as it is time for the minhah service one may not eat6  anything before he has recited the minhah service. — No. After all [it means] near the major minhah, but the reference is to a hair-cut in the fashion of Ben' Elasah.7  [Similarly.] [NOR MAY HE ENTER] THE BATHS [means] for the complete process of the baths; NOR A TANNERY, for tanning on a large scale; NOR EAT at a long meal [of many courses]:8  NOR FOR A LAWSUIT, at the beginning of the trial.

R. Aha b. Jacob said: After all, it refers to our mode of hair cutting and why must he not sit down [for it] at the very outset? For fear lest the scissors be broken.9  [Similarly] NOR TO THE BATHS [means] merely for sweating; [and] why not [do this] in the first place? For fear lest he faint [there].10  NOR A TANNERY, merely to inspect it:11  [and] why not at the very outset? Lest he see his wares being spoilt, which will trouble him.12  NOR TO EAT [means even] a small meal: [and] why not at the very outset? Lest he come to prolong it. NOR TO A LAWSUIT, for the end of the trial; [and] why not [enter] at the very outset? Lest he see an argument to overthrow the verdict.13

What is the beginning of a hair-cut?14  — Said R. Abin: When the barber's sheet is placed on one's knees. And when is the beginning of a bath? Said R. Abin: When one removes his cloak.15  And when is the beginning of tanning? When he ties [an apron] round his shoulders. And when is the beginning of eating? Rab said: When one washes his hands; R. Hanina said: When he loosens his girdle. But they do not differ: the one refers to ourselves [Babylonians]: the other to them [Palestinians].16  Abaye said: These Babylonian scholars, on the view that the evening service is voluntary,17  once they have undone their girdle [to eat], we do not trouble them;18  but on the view that it is obligatory, do we trouble them? But what of the minhah service, which all agree is obligatory, and still we learnt, YET IF THEY BEGAN, THEY NEED NOT BREAK OFF; whereon R. Hanina said, [That means] when he loosens his girdle?

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. The afternoon service.
  2. Lest he forget about the service. This refers to weekdays, and is taught here because of its similarity to the next Mishnah on 11a.
  3. For the service — providing that there will still be time when they finish.
  4. The Shema'('hear') is the name of the Biblical passages Deut. VI, 4-9; XI, 13-21; Num. XV, 37-41 the first of which commences with that word shema' (Hear O Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is One). The 'prayer' par excellence is the 'Eighteen Benedictions.' Both the shema' and the service must be recited daily, but the former is regarded as a Biblical obligation whereas the latter is a Rabbinical institution (v. Elbogen, Judische Gottesdienst, 27ff; J.E. art. Shemoneh Esreh); hence the activities mentioned in the Mishnah must be interrupted as soon as it is time to recite the shema', even though it can be recited later, but not for the 'service.'
  5. The Talmud distinguished two times for minhah: the major, i.e., first minhah, at 12:30 p.m. and the minor, i.e., the late minhah, from 3:30 to sunset, which was calculated as at 6 p.m. but the service was not generally delayed after the minor minhah, i.e., after 3:30. V. Elbogen, op. cit. pp. 98ff; J. E. XVIII, 59b.
  6. Lit., 'taste'.
  7. The son-in-law of R. Judah ha-Nasi; he cropped his hair closely in the manner of the High Priest, v. Sanh. 22b. This was a long process and if one commenced it even before the major minhah he might be too late for the service.
  8. For descriptions of long meals and short meals v. T.A. III, pp. 28f.
  9. And by the time another pair is procured it may be too late for the service.
  10. Or, be overcome by weakness.
  11. Even not to superintend the whole process.
  12. And make him forget about the service.
  13. Which will necessitate starting afresh.
  14. So that it shall be unneccesary to break it off for the service.
  15. I.e., when he starts undressing.
  16. Rashi: the Babylonians were tightly belted, so they loosened the girdle before eating; but for the Palestinians this was unnecessary. R. Han. reverses it.
  17. It is disputed in Ber. 27b whether the evening service is compulsory or voluntary.
  18. To refrain from their meal until they have prayed.