Selections from the Jewish Talmud:

On the Sabbath


Text Source:


Chapter 1


[1.1] Removals[1] on the Sabbath are two. Of these removals four are inside a place. And there are two other removals, of which four are outside a place. "How?" "A beggar stands without, and the master of the house within. The beggar reached his hand within, and gave something into the hand of the master of the house, or took something from it and brought it out?" "The beggar is guilty,[2] and the master of the house is free." "The master of the house reached his hand outside and gave something into the hand of the beggar, or took something from it and brought it in?" "The master of the house is guilty, but the beggar is free." "The beggar reached his hand within, and the master of the house took something from it, or gave something into it, and the beggar brought it out?" "Both are free." "The master of the house reached his hand without, and the beggar took something from it, or gave something into it, and the master brought it in?" "Both are free."

[1.2] A man must not sit before the barber near to evening prayer,[3] until he has prayed. He must not enter a bath, nor a tannery, nor eat, nor judge. "But if they began?" "They need not cease." They may cease to read the "Hear,"[4] etc. but they must not cease to pray.

[1.3] A tailor must not go out with his needle near dusk,[3] lest he forget and go (afterward). Nor a scribe go out with his pen. Nor may one search his garments. Nor shall one read at the light of the lamp. In truth they said, "the teacher may overlook when children are reading, but he himself shall not read." Similar to him, one with an issue shall not eat with her who has an issue, because of the custom of transgression.

[1.4] And these following are from the decisions which they mentioned of the upper chamber of Hananiah, the son of Hezekiah, the son of Gorion, when the Sages went up to visit him. The school of Shammai was counted, and was more numerous than the school of Hillel. And eighteen matters were determined on that day.

[1.5] The school of Shammai said, "they must not soak ink, nor paints, nor vetches, unless they be sufficiently soaked while it is yet day." But the school of Hillel allows it

[1.6] The school of Shammai said, "they must not put bundles of flax inside the oven, except it be sufficiently steamed while it is yet day, nor wool into the boiler except it imbibe sufficient dye in the eye of day." But the school of Hillel allow it. The school of Shammai said, "they must not spread nets for beasts, nor birds, not fishes, except they be netted while it is yet day." But the school of Hillel allows it.

[1.7] The school of Shammai said, "they must not sell to a stranger, and they must not lade his ass with him, and they must not load on him, except they have sufficient time to reach a near place before the Sabbath." But the school of Hillel allows it.

[1.8] The school of Shammai said, "they must not give skins to a tanner, nor articles to a strange laundress; except they can be sufficiently done while it is yet day." But all of them the school of Hillel allow "with the sun."

[1.9] Said Rabbi Simon, the son of Gamaliel, "the house of my father used to give white articles to a strange laundress three days before the Sabbath." But both schools agree that "they may carry[5] beams to the oil-press and logs to the wine-press."

[1.10] "They must not fry flesh, onions, and eggs ; except they be sufficiently fried while it is yet day. They must not put bread in the oven at dusk, nor a cake on coals, except its face be sufficiently crusted while it is yet day." Rabbi Eliezer said, "that its under side be sufficiently crusted."

[1.11] "They may hang up the passover[6] offering in an oven at dusk. And they may take a light from the wood pile in the house of burning.[7] And in the suburbs "when the fire has sufficiently lighted the greater part." Rabbi Judah says, "from the coals however little" (kindled before the Sabbath).


Chapter 2


[2.1] "With what may they light (lamps) on the Sabbath?" "And with what may they not light?" "They may not light with cedar moss, nor with unhackled flax, nor with floss silk, nor with a wick of willow, nor with a wick of nettles, nor with weeds from the surface of water, nor with pitch, nor with wax, nor with castor oil, nor with the defiled oil of heave-offering, nor with the tail, nor with the fat." Nahum the Median said, "they may light with cooked fat." But the Sages say, "whether cooked or uncooked, they must not light with it."

[2.2] They must not light with the defiled oil of the heave-offering on a holiday. Rabbi Ishmael said, "they must not light with pitch dregs for the honor of the Sabbath." But the Sages allow all oils, "with sesame oil, with nut oil, with radish oil, with fish oil, with colocynth oil, with pitch dregs and naphtha." Rabbi Tarphon said, " they must only light with olive oil."

[2.3] "They must not light with anything that grows from wood, except flax. And all that grows from wood does not contract the uncleanness of tents,[8] except flax." A wick of cloth folded but not singed?" Rabbi Eliezer says, "it contracts uncleanness, and they must not light it." Rabbi Akiba says, "it is clean, and they may light it."

[2.4] A man must not perforate an eggshell, and fill it with oil, and put it on the mouth of the lamp, because it drops, even though it be of pottery. But Rabbi Judah "allows it." "But if the potter joined it at first?" "It is allowed, since it is one vessel." A man must not fill a bowl of oil, and put it by the side of the lamp, and put the end of the wick into it because it imbibes. But Rabbi Judah "allows it."

[2.5] "Whoever extinguishes the lamp because he fears the Gentiles, or robbers, or a bad spirit, or that the sick may sleep?" "He is free." "He spares the lamp?" "He spares the oil?" "He spares the wick?" "He is guilty." But Rabbi Jose frees in all cases except the wick, because "it makes coal."

[2.6] For three transgressions women die in the hour of childbirth: when they neglect times, and the dough offering,[9] and lighting the Sabbath lamp.

[2.7] Three things are necessary for a man to say in his house on the eve of the Sabbath at dusk. "Have you taken tithes?" "Have you prepared erub?"[10] "Light the lamp." "It is doubtful if it be dark or not?"[11] "They must not tithe that which is certainly untithed, and they must not baptize vessels and they must not light the lamps. But they may take tithes of the doubtful heave-offering, and prepare erub, and cover up hot water."


Chapter 3


[3.1] "A cooking oven which was heated with stubble or brushwood?" "They may place on it cookery." "With oil-dregs and with wood?" "They must not place it, till the coals are raked out, or ashes put in." The school of Shammai say, "hot water, but not cookery." But the school of Hillel say, "hot water and cookery." The school of Shammai say, "they may take it off, but not place it back." But the school of Hillel say, "they may place it back."

[3.2] "A cooking stove, which was heated with stubble or brushwood?" "They must not place anything either inside or upon it." "A bake oven, which was heated with stubble or brushwood?" "It is as a cooking oven." "With oil-dregs or with wood?" "It is as a cooking stove."

[3.3] They must not put an egg beside a boiler, lest it be boiled. And they must not wrap it in towels. But Rabbi Jose allows it. And they must not hide it in sand, or in the dust of the roads, lest it be roasted.

[3.4] It happened that the men of Tiberias arranged, and introduced a pipe of cold water into a canal of the hot springs. The Sages said to them, "if it be Sabbath, it is as if hot waters were heated on Sabbath, they are forbidden for washing and drinking. But if on a holiday, as if hot waters were heated on a holiday, they are forbidden for washing but allowed for drinking." "A skillet with attached brazier?" "If one rake out the coals (on Friday evening), persons may drink its hot waters on Sabbath." "A pan with double bottom?" "Even though the coals are raked out, they must not drink of it."

[3.5] "The boiler which is set aside (from the fire)?" "They must not put into it cold water to be warmed; but they may put into it - or into a cup - cold water to make it lukewarm." "A saucepan or an earthen pot, which they took off boiling?" They must not put into it spices, but they may put them into a bowl or into a plate." Rabbi Judah says, "they may put them into all vessels, excepting a thing in which there is vinegar or fish-brine."

[3.6] They must not put vessels under a lamp to catch the oil. "But if they place them, while it is still day?" "It is allowed." But they must not use it, because it is not purposely prepared (for Sabbath use). They may remove a new lamp, but not an old one. Rabbi Simon says, " all lamps may be removed, except the lamp lighted for the Sabbath." They may put a vessel under the lamp to catch sparks, but they must not put water into it, as it quenches.


Chapter 4


[4.1] "With what may they cover up (pots to retain the heat)?" "And with what may they not cover them up?" "They may not cover them up with oil-dregs, or dung, or salt, or lime, or sand either fresh or dry, or straw, or grapeskins, or woollen, or herbs when they are fresh, but they may cover up with them when they are dry. They may cover up with garments, and fruits, with doves' wings, with carpenters' sawdust, and with tow of fine flax." Rabbi Judah forbids "fine," but allows "coarse."

[4.2] They may cover up with hides, and remove them - with woollen fleeces, but they must not remove them. "How does one do?" "He takes off the cover, and they fall down." Rabbi Eleazar, the son of Azariah, says "the vessel is inclined on its side, and he takes them away." "Perhaps he took them away and cannot return them?''[12] But the Sages say "he may take them away, and return them." "He does not cover it, while it is yet day?" "He must not cover it, when it begins to be dark." "He covered it, and it opened?" "It is allowed to cover it again." A man may fill the goblet, and put it under the pillow or under the bolster (to warm it).


Chapter 5


[5.1] "With what is a beast led forth, and with what is it not led forth?"[13] One may lead forth the camel with a head-stall, and the she-camel with a nose-ring, and the Lydda,[14] asses with a bridle, and a horse with a halter, and all animals that wear a halter they may lead forth with a halter, and they are held with a halter, and, if unclean, they may sprinkle water upon them, and baptize them in their places.

[5.2] The ass one may lead forth with a pack-saddle when it is bound on it. Rams go forth tied up. Ewes go forth with tails bound back, doubled down, or put in a bag. The goats go forth bound tightly. Rabbi Jose "forbids all, excepting ewes, to have their tails in a bag." Rabbi Judah says "the goats go forth bound tightly to dry up their udders, but not to guard the milk."

[5.3] "And with what must they not go forth?" "A camel must not go forth with a rag bound as a mark to its tail, nor fettered, nor with fore-foot tied doubled up, and so with the rest of all beasts; a man must not bind camels one to another, and lead them, but he may take their ropes into his hand, and hold them, guarding that they be not twisted.[15]

[5.4] One must not bring forth an ass with a pack-saddle, when it is not tied upon him before the Sabbath; nor with a bell, even though it be muffled, nor with a ladder[16] on its throat, nor with a strap on its leg; nor may cocks and hens be led forth with twine or straps on their legs. Nor may rams be led forth with a gocart under their tails, nor ewes with John wood.[17] And the calf must not be led forth with a muzzle, nor a cow with the skin of the hedgehog,[18] nor with a strap between her horns. The cow[19] of Rabbi Eleazar, the son of Azariah, used to go out with a strap between her horns, but not with the will of the Sages.


Chapter 6


[6.1] "With what may a woman go out?" And "with what may she not go out?" "A woman may not go out with laces of wool, nor with laces of flax, nor with straps on her head, and she cannot baptize herself in them till she unloose them; nor with frontlets, nor temple fillets, unless sewn to her cap, nor with a headband, into the public street, nor with a golden crown in the form of Jerusalem, nor with a necklace, nor with nose-rings, nor with a ring without a seal, nor with a needle without an eye; but, if she go out, she is not guilty of a sin-offering."

[6.2] A man must not go out with hobnailed sandals,[20] nor with one sandal when there is no sore on his other foot, nor with phylacteries, nor with an amulet unless it be of an expert, nor with a coat of mail, nor with a helmet, nor with greaves; but, if he go out, he is not guilty of a sin-offering.

[6.3] "A woman must not go out with an eyed needle, nor with a signet ring, nor with a spiral head-dress, nor with a scent-box, nor with a bottle of musk; and if she go out she is guilty of a sin-offering." The words of Rabbi Meier. But the Sages "absolve the scent-box and the bottle of musk."

[6.4] The man must not go out with sword, nor bow, nor shield, nor sling, nor lance; and if he go out he is guilty of a sin-offering. Rabbi Eleazar said, "they are his ornaments." But the Sages say, "they are only for shame, as is said, 'And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.'"[21] Garters are clean, and they may go forth in them on Sabbath. Anklets[22] contract uncleanness, and they must not go out in them on Sabbath.

[6.5] A woman may go out with plaits of hair whether they be her own, or her companion's, or a beast's hair, with frontlets and temple fillets, when they are sewn to her cap, with a headband or a stranger's curl into the courtyard, with wool in her ear, and wool in her shoe, and wool prepared for her separation with pepper, or with a grain of salt,[23] or with anything which she will put inside her mouth, except that she shall not put it in for the first time on the Sabbath, and if it fall out she must not put it back. "A false tooth or a tooth of gold?" Rabbi "allows it." But the Sages "forbid it."

[6.6] A woman may go out with a coin on a sore foot. Little girls may go out with plaits and even splinters in their ears. Arab women go out veiled, and Median women with mantillas; and so may any one, but, as the Sages have said, "according to their custom."

[6.7] A mantilla may be folded over a stone, or a nut, or money save only that it be not expressly folded for the Sabbath.

[6.8] "The cripple may go out on his wooden leg." The words of Rabbi Meier. But Rabbi Jose forbids it. "But if it have a place for receiving rags?" "It is unclean." His crutches cause uncleanness by treading. But they may go out with them on the Sabbath, and they may enter with them into the Temple court. The chair and crutches (of a paralytic) cause uncleanness by treading, and they must not go out with them on the Sabbath, and they must not enter with them into the Temple court. Stilts[24] are clean, but they must not go out with them.

[6.9] The sons may go out with their (father's) girdles. And sons of kings with little bells; and so may anyone, but as the Sages have said, "according to their custom."

[6.10] They may go out with an egg of a locust,[25] and a tooth of a fox,[26] and a nail of one crucified, as medicine."[27] The words of Rabbi Meier. But the Sages say (others read the words of Rabbi Jose and Rabbi Meier) "it is forbidden even on a week day, because of the ways of the Amorites."[28]


Chapter 7


[7.1] The Sages laid down a great rule for the Sabbath: "Everyone who forgets the principle of Sabbath, and did many works on many Sabbaths, is only responsible for one sin-offering. Everyone who knows the principle of Sabbath, and did many works on many Sabbaths, is responsible for every Sabbath. Everyone who knows that there is Sabbath, and did many works on many Sabbaths, is responsible for every principal work.[29] Everyone who has done many works, springing from one principal work, is only responsible for one sin-offering."

[7.2] The principal works are forty, less one - sowing, ploughing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, sifting, grinding, riddling, kneading, baking, shearing wool, whitening, carding, dyeing, spinning, warping, making two spools, weaving two threads, taking out two threads, twisting, loosing, sewing two stitches, tearing thread for two sewings, hunting the gazelle, slaughtering, skinning, salting, curing its skin, tanning, cutting up, writing two letters, erasing to write two letters, building, demolishing, quenching, kindling, hammering, carrying from private to public property. Lo, these are principal works - forty, less one.

[7.3] And another rule the Sages laid down: "All that is worthy of reservation, and they reserve its like - if they carry it out on the Sabbath, they are responsible for a sin-offering; and everything which is not worthy of reservation, and they do not reserve its like - if they carry it out on the Sabbath, none is responsible but the reserver."

[7.4] Whoever brings out straw - a heifer's mouthful; hay - a camel's mouthful; chaff - a lamb's mouthful; herbs - a kid's mouthful; garlic leaves and onion leaves - if fresh the size of a dried fig - if dry, a kid's mouthful; but they must not add one with the other, for they are not equal in their measures. Whoever carries out food the size of a dried fig, is guilty of death. And victuals, they may add one to another as they are equal in thelr measures, excepting their peels and their kernels, and their stalks and the fine and coarse bran. Rabbi Judah says, "excepting the peels of lentils, as they may cook them with them."


Chapter 8


[8.1] One may bring out wine sufficient for the cup,[30] milk sufficient for a gulp, honey sufficient for a bruise, oil sufficient to anoint a small member, water sufficient to moisten the eye-salve, and the rest of all beverages a quarter of a log, and whatever can be poured out[31] a quarter of a log. Rabbi Simeon says, "all of them by the quarter log." And they did not mention these measures save for those who reserve them.

[8.2] "Whoever brings out cord sufficient to make an ear for a tub, bulrush sufficient to hang the sieve and the riddle?" Rabbi Judah said, "sufficient to take from it the measure of a child's shoe; paper sufficient to write on it the signature of the taxgatherers; erased paper sufficient to wrap round a small bottle of balm - is guilty " (of death).

[8.3] Leather sufficient for an amulet; parchment polished on both sides, sufficient to write a sign for a door-post; vellum sufficient to write on it a small portion, which is in phylacteries, that is, "Hear, O Israel;" ink sufficient to write two letters; kohl[32] sufficient to paint one eye.

[8.4] Bird-lime sufficient to put on the top of a perch; pitch or sulphur to fill a hole; wax sufficient to fill the mouth of a small hole; brick-clay sufficient to make a mouth of a crucible bellows for goldsmiths - Rabbi Judah says, "sufficient to make a crucible stand;" bran sufficient to put on the mouth of a crucible blow-pipe for goldsmiths: ointment sufficient to anoint the little finger of girls - Rabbi Judah says, "sufficient to make the hair grow;" Rabbi Nehemiah says, "to freshen the temple."

[8.5] Red earth "as the seal of merchants" - the words of R. Akiba; but the Sages say, "as the seal of letters;" dung and fine sand, "sufficient to manure a cabbage stalk," - the words of Rabbi Akiba; but the Sages say, "sufficient to manure a leek; "coarse sand sufficient to put on a full lime-hod; a reed sufficient to make a pen. "But if it be thick or split?" "sufficient to boil with it a hen's egg easy (to be cooked) among eggs, mixed with oil and put in a pan."

[8.6] A bone sufficient to make a spoon, - Rabbi Judah said, "sufficient to make the ward of a key; " glass sufficient to scrape the top of a shuttle; a lump of earth or a stone sufficient to fling at a bird; Rabbi Eliezer said, "sufficient to fling at a beast."

[8.7] "A potsherd?" "Sufficient to put between two beans," -the words of Rabbi Judah; Rabbi Meier says, "sufficient to take away fire with it;" Rabbi Jose says, "sufficient to receive in it the fourth of a log." Said Rabbi Meier, "Although there is no visible proof of the matter, there is an indication of the matter, as is said, "there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth."[33] Rabbi Jose said to him, "thence is the visible proof, 'or to take water out of the pit.'"[33]


References


[1] From private to public property.

[2] Of death.

[3] On Friday evening.

[4] Deut. 6:4.

[5] Though by their weight they continue to press out oil or wine on the Sabbath.

[6] When the eve of the passover and the eve of the Sabbath coincided.

[7] In the Temple. See tract on Measurements, c. 1.

[8] Num. 19:18.

[9] Num. 15:20.

[10] I e., Have you so joined houses that are apart that they may be counted as one on the Sabbath for carrying articles, etc. It is done by persons blessing a piece of dough which is common property.

[11] When three stars are seen, it is dark

[12] As that would involve "labor."

[13] The point to be decided is the difference between what is necessary and what is a burden.

[14] Others think "Lybian" asses.

[15] Through fear of linen and woollen being mixed. Deut. 22:11.

[16] Ladder-shaped piece of wood to prevent it rubbing its throat if it have a sore.

[17] Wood discovered by one John, which when put into sheep's nostrils, caused them to sneeze and the maggots to fall off.

[18] To prevent her being sucked by reptiles.

[19] The Gemara says, the cow was his neighbor's, but as he did not object, the blame was laid on him.

[20] Once a number of Jews took refuge in a cave, and hearing some persons pass, whom they supposed to be enemies, they fell on each other with their hobnailed sandals, and beat each other to death.

[21] Isaiah 11:4; Micah 4:3.

[22] These anklets were a kind of chain used to prevent members of certain families in Jerusalem taking too wide strides in walking.

[23] To cure toothache.

[24] Others translate "masks."

[25] To cure ear-ache.

[26] To cure one who did not sleep enough they used a tooth of a dead fox. For one who slept too much, they used a tooth of a living fox.

[27] To cure ague.

[28] Lev. 18:3.

[29] Works are divided into principal and secondary, or in Rabbinic language fathers and children. And if a man does one principal work and twenty secondary works, they regarded them as one sin, and consequently deserving one punishment.

[30] I.e., one part wine and three parts water.

[31] E.g., foul water.

[32] Henna dust for women's eyes.

[33] Isaiah 30:14.


Copyright (c) 1997 by Bruce J. Butterfield

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