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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin

Folio 60a

who are to be called up? He did not know what to reply, so he went and asked R. Isaac Nappaha. who said to him: After them are called up the scholars who are appointed Parnasim1  of the community, and after them scholars who are qualified to be appointed Parnaasim of the community, and after them the sons of scholars whose fathers had been appointed Parnasim of the community and after them heads of synagogues2  and members of the general public.

The Galileans sent to inquire of R. Helbo: Is it permissible to read separate humashin [of each book of the Torah]3  in the synagogue in public? He did not know what to answer, so he inquired in the Beth Hamidrash. They settled the question in the light of what R. Samuel b. Nahmani had said in the name of R. Johanan, that a scroll of the Law which is short of one flap may not be read from. This, however, is not conclusive: in that case something essential was lacking, in this case nothing essential is lacking. Rabbah and R. Joseph both concurred in ruling that separate humashin should not be read from out of respect for the congregation. Rabbah and R. Joseph also concurred in ruling that a scroll containing only the haftarahs4  should not be read from on Sabbath. What is the reason? Because it is not proper to write [sections of the prophets separately]. Mar son of R. Ashi said: It is forbidden also to carry them on Sabbath, for the reason that they are not fitting to be read from.5  This, however, is not correct: it is permitted to carry them and it is permitted to read from them. For R. Johanan and R. Simeon b. Lakish used to look through a book of Aggada on Sabbath. Now Aggada is not meant to be written down?6  We say, however, that since this cannot be dispensed with,7  when it is a time to work for the Lord, they break thy Torah.8  Here too, since it cannot be dispensed with,9  we say, 'when it is a time to work for the Lord, they break the law.'

Abaye asked Rabbah: Is it permitted to write out a scroll [containing a passage] for a child to learn from? This is a problem alike for one who holds that the Torah was transmitted [to Moses] scroll by scroll,10  and for one who holds that the Torah was transmitted entire. It is a problem for one who holds that the Torah was transmitted scroll by scroll: since it was transmitted scroll by scroll, may we also write separate scrolls, or do we say that since it has all been joined together it must remain so? It is equally a problem for one who holds that the Torah was transmitted entire: since it was transmitted entire, is it improper to write [separate scrolls], or do we say that since we cannot dispense with this we do write them? — He replied: We do not write. What is the reason? — Because we do not write.11  He then raised an objection: 'She12  also made a tablet of gold on which was written the section of the Sotah'?13  — R. Simeon b. Lakish had [already] explained in the name of R. Jannai: Only the first letters14  [of each word were written there]. He then raised [the following objection]: 'As he15  writes he looks at the tablet and writes what is written in the tablet'? — Read, 'He writes according to what is written in the tablet.' He then raised [the following objection]: 'As he writes he looks at the tablet and writes what is written in the tablet, If one lay, if one did not lie.'16  — What is meant is that it was written irregularly.17  On this point Tannaim differ [as we were taught]: 'A scroll should not be written for a child to learn from; if, however, it is the intention of the writer to complete it, he may do so. R. Judah says: He may write from Bereshith18  to [the story of the generation of the] Flood, or in the Priests' Law19  up to, And it came to pass on the eighth day.'20

R. Johanan said in the name of R. Bana'ah: The Torah was transmitted in separate scrolls, as it says, Then said I, Lo I am come, in the roll of the book it is written of me.21  R. Simeon b. Lakish said: The Torah was transmitted entire, as it says, Take this book of the law.22  What does the other make of this verse 'Take etc.'? — This refers to the time after it had been joined together. And what does the other [Resh Lakish] make of the verse, 'in a roll of the book written of me'? — That is [to indicate] that the whole Torah is called a roll, as it is written, And he said unto me, what seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll.23  Or perhaps [it is called roll] for the reason given by R. Levi, since R. Levi said: Eight sections were given forth24  on the day on which the Tabernacle was set up. They are: the section of the priests,25  the section of the Levites,26  the section of the unclean,27  the section of the sending of the unclean [out of the camp],28  the section commencing 'After the death',29

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. [Plur. of Parnas. In Galilee the office of Parnas was connected with the political organization of the town and its title denoted usually a general leader of the people and sometimes also a member of the council. Elsewhere the function of the Parnas was that of a charity overseer. V. Buchler, Sepphoris, pp. 14ff.]
  2. [The archisynagogos, the supreme authority over the synagogues in the town. V. Sot. (Sonc. ed,) p. 202, n. 5.]
  3. Plur. of Humesh, one of the five books of the Pentateuch. In olden days these too were written on scrolls.
  4. The portions from the prophets read after the weekly portion of the Law.
  5. On the principle that what may not be used on Sabbath may not be carried.
  6. According to the rule laid down infra.
  7. As otherwise the Aggada might be forgotten.
  8. Ps. CXIX, 126. E.V. 'It is a time to work for the Lord, for they have broken thy commandments.'
  9. Since some congregations cannot obtain a complete copy of the Prophets.
  10. I.e., as each section was transmitted to Moses, he wrote it down, and in the end joined all the sections together.
  11. I.e., there is no reason, it is a tradition.
  12. Queen Helena of Adiabene, v. Yoma 37a, and Nazir 119b.
  13. Unfaithful wife. V. Num. V, 11ff. This proves that separate sections may be written.
  14. Lit., 'Alphabetically'.
  15. The priest who transcribes the section of the Sotah.
  16. This should be, If thou hast gone aside … if thou hast nor gone aside. Ibid. 19, 20.
  17. Only the beginnings of the verses were in full and the later words with first letter only.
  18. 'In the beginning'. Gen. I, 1.
  19. Leviticus.
  20. Lev., IX, 1. I.e., the whole of the rules of the sacrifices, and so with any other complete section.
  21. Ps. XL, 8. According to the Rabbis, this is a reference to the story of Lot and his daughters, to which David here appeals as a proof against his calumniators that his coming was heralded in the Torah, he being descended from Ruth the Moabite.
  22. Deut. XXXI, 26.
  23. Zech. V, 2. This is interpreted by the Rabbis to refer to the Torah.
  24. And written by Moses on separate rolls, before the writing down of the whole Torah.
  25. Lev. XXI, containing the rules of uncleanness for the priests.
  26. Num. VIII, 5-26. The Levites were required for the service of song on that day.
  27. Who would be required to keep the Passover in the second month, Num. IX, 9-14.
  28. Ibid. V, 1-4. This also had to take place before the Tabernacle was set up.
  29. Lev. XVI, dealing with the service of the Day of Atonement, which, as stated in the text, was transmitted immediately after the death of the two sons of Aaron.
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Gittin 60b

the section dealing with the drinking of wine [by priests],1  the section of the lights2  [of the candlestick], and the section of the red heifer.3

R. Eleazar said: The greater portion of the Torah is contained in the written Law4  and only the smaller portion was transmitted orally,5  as it says, Though I wrote for him the major portion of [the precepts of] my law, they were counted a strange thing.6  R. Johanan. on the other hand, said that the greater part was transmitted orally and only the smaller part is contained in the written law, as it says, For by the mouth of these words.7  But what does he make of the words, 'Though I write for him the major portion of my law'? — This is a rhetorical question: Should I have written for him the major portion of my law? [Even now] is it not accounted a strange thing for him? And what does the other make of the words, 'For by the

    mouth of these words'? — That implies that they are difficult to master.8

R. Judah b. Nahmani the public orator9  of R. Simeon b. Lakish discoursed as follows: It is written, Write thou these words,10  and it is written, For according to the mouth of these words.11  'What are we to make of this? — It means: The words which are written thou art not at liberty to say by heart, and the words transmitted orally thou art not at liberty to recite from writing. A Tanna of the school of R. Ishmael taught: [It is written] These:12  these thou mayest write, but thou mayest not write halachoth.13  R. Johanan said: God made a covenant with Israel only for the sake of that which was transmitted orally, as it says, For by the mouth of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.14

AN 'ERUB SHOULD BE PLACED IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN PLACED, IN THE INTERESTS OF PEACE. 'What is the precise reason?15  Shall we say it is out of respect for the owner of the room? Then what of the shofar16  which at first was in the house of Rab Judah and later in that of Rabbah and then in the house of R. Joseph and then in the house of Abaye and finally in the house of Raba? — The real reason is, so as not to excite suspicion.17

THE PIT WHICH IS NEAREST THE HEAD OF THE WATERCOURSE. It has been stated: ['Where fields] adjoin a river, Rab says that the owners lower down have the right to draw off water first, while Samuel says that the owners higher up have the right to draw off water first. So long as the water is allowed to flow, both agree that no problem arises.18  Where they differ is on the question of damming for the purpose of watering. Samuel says that those above can draw off water first, for they can say 'We are nearer to the source', while Rab holds that those below can draw off first, for they can say 'The river should be allowed to take its natural course'.19  'We have learnt: THE PIT WHICH IS NEAREST TO THE HEAD OF THE WATERCOURSE MAY BE FILLED FROM IT FIRST, IN THE INTERESTS OF PEACE!20  — Samuel explained this on behalf of Rab to refer to a watercourse which passes close to a man's pit.21  If so, what is the point of the remark? — You might think that the others can say to him, 'Close up the mouth of your pit so as to take in water only in due proportion'; we are therefore told [that this is not so].

R. Huna b. Tahalifa said: Seeing that the law has not been determined one way or the other, each must fend for himself.22  R. Shimi b. Ashi presented himself before Abaye with a request that he should give him lessons.23  He replied: I use my time for my own studies. Then, he said, would your honour teach me at night. He said: I have to do some irrigation. Said the other: I will irrigate for your honour by day, and do you teach me by night. Very well, he said. So he went to the people higher up and said to them: The people lower down have the right to draw water first. Then he went to those lower down and said, The people higher up have the right to draw water first. Meanwhile he had dammed the watercourse and irrigated Abaye's fields. 'When he presented himself before Abaye, the latter said to him: You have acted on my behalf according to two contradictory authorities;24  and Abaye would not taste of the produce of that year.

Certain peasants in Be Harmah25  went and dug a trench from the upper waters of the canal Shanwatha and brought it round [their fields] to the lower waters. Those higher up came and complained to Abaye, saying, They are spoiling our river.26  He said to them: Deepen the bed a little [before it reaches them]. They said to him: If we do this, our trenches will be dry.27  He then said to the first set: Leave the river alone.28

[THE TAKING OF] BEASTS, BIRDS AND FISHES. If loose or close nets are used,

- To Next Folio -

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Ibid. X, 8-11.
  2. Num. VIII, 1-4.
  3. Ibid. XIX. These last three injunctions came into force as soon as the Tabernacle was set up.
  4. Either explicitly or implicitly.
  5. I.e., as a pure tradition, without any basis in the written law.
  6. Hos. VIII, 12.
  7. Ex. XXXIV, 27. E.V. 'for by the tenor of these words.'
  8. As if they had not been written down.
  9. The so-called meturgeman. V. Glos.
  10. Ex. XXXIV, 27.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. I.e., the Oral Law.
  14. Ex. XXXIV, 27.
  15. I.e., what reason have we for thinking that this promotes peace and good fellowship?
  16. Which was used for announcing the advent of the Sabbath. According to another explanation it was a receptacle in which were placed the contributions sent on behalf of the students of the Yeshibah.
  17. Lest, if people come into the room where they have been used to see the 'erub and miss it, they will think that the residents of the court have neglected to make an 'erub.
  18. All having an equal right to draw at any time.
  19. Till they have drawn off the water they require.
  20. Which seems to support the opinion of Samuel.
  21. So that he could fill it without damming.
  22. Lit., 'Whoever is stronger (whether by argument or force) prevails.' V. B.B. 34b.
  23. Lit., 'let the Master allow' me to sit for awhile.'
  24. Rab and Samuel.
  25. [Near Pumbeditha. v. Aruch, s.v. [H], in name of Hai Gaon.]
  26. Owing to its longer course, the current of the river was now slower, and the waters above the trench were not carried off and overflowed the adjoining fields.
  27. If there was not much water, the level of the river would fall and it would not flow into the trenches.
  28. Lit., 'depart from there.'
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