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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 139a

a clear halachah or a clear Mishnah1  in any place.2

It was taught. R. Jose b. Elisha said: If you see a generation overwhelmed by many troubles, go forth and examine the judges of Israel, for all retribution that comes to the world comes only on account of the Judges of Israel, as it is said, Hear this, I pray you ye heads of the house of Jacob, and rulers of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, etc.3  They are wicked, but they place their confidence in Him Who decreed, and the world came into existence.4  Therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, will bring three punishments upon them answering to the three sins which they cultivate,5  as it is said, Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.6  And the Holy One, blessed be He, will not cause His Divine presence to rest upon Israel until the wicked judges and officers cease out of Israel, for it is said, And I will turn my hand upon thee, and thoroughly purge away thy dross, and will take away all thy tin. And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning, etc.7

'Ulla said: Jerusalem shall be redeemed only by righteousness,8  as it is written, Zion shall be redeemed with judgement, and her converts with righteousness.9

R. Papa said: When the haughty cease to exist [in Israel], the magi10  shall cease [among the Persians]. When the judges cease to exist [in Israel], the chiliarchi11  shall cease. 'When the haughty cease to exist [in Israel], the magi shall cease [among the Persians]'; as it is written, And I will surely purge away thy haughty ones.12  When the judges cease to exist [in Israel], the chiliarchi shall cease, as it is written, The Lord hath taken away thy judgements, he hath cast out thine enemy.13

R. Melai14  said in the name of R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon: What is meant by the verse, The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, the sceptre of the rulers?15  'The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked' refers to the judges who become a staff for their sheriffs;16  'the sceptre of the rulers' refers to the scholars in the families of the judges.17  Mar Zutra said: This refers to the scholars who teach the laws of the public18  to ignorant judges.19

R. Eleazar b. Melai said in the name of Resh Lakish: What is meant by the verse, For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue muttereth wickedness?20  'For your hands are defiled with blood': this refers to the judges: 'and your fingers with iniquity', to the judges' scribes;21  'your lips have spoken lies' to the advocates of the judges;22  'your tongue muttereth wickedness' — to the litigants.

R. Melai also said in the name of R. Isaac of Magdala: From the day that Joseph departed from his brothers he did not taste wine, for it is written, [The blessings of thy father...shall be on the head of Joseph]. And on the crown of the head of him who was a nazirite [since his departure] from his brethren.23  R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: They too did not taste wine, for it is written, And they drank, and drank largely with him:24  which implies [that they did] not [drink] until then. And the other?25  — There was no extensive drinking,26  yet there was [moderate] drinking.27

R. Melai also said: As a reward for, and when he seeth thee, he shall be glad in his heart,28  he was privileged to wear the breastplate of judgment upon his heart.

The citizens of Bashkar29  sent [a question] to Levi: What about [setting up] a canopy [on the Sabbath]; what about cuscuta in a vineyard?30  what about a dead man on a Festival?31  By the time he [the messenger] arrived [at Levi's home] Levi had died. Said Samuel to R. Menashia, If you are wise, send them [an answer]. [So] he sent [word] to them: 'As for a canopy, we have examined it from all aspects and do not find any aspect by which it can be permitted'. But let him send them [a permissive ruling] in accordance with Rami b. Ezekiel?32  [He did not do this] because they were not learned in the law.33  'Cuscuta in a vineyard is a [forbidden] mixture'. But let him send them [a reply] in accordance with R. Tarfon. For it was taught: As for cuscuta, R. Tarfon maintains: It is not kil'ayim34  in a vineyard; while the Sages rule: It is kil'ayim in a vineyard. And it is an established principle: The view of him, who is lenient in respect to Palestine,35  is halachah without Palestine? — [Likewise] because they were not learnt in the law. Rab announced: He who wishes to sow cuscuta in a vineyard, let him sow.36  R. Amram the pious would ban [a person] for this. R. Mesharsheya would give a perutah37  to a Gentile child to sow it for him.38  Then let him give it to an Israelite child? — He would come to adhere [to this practice when he grew up]. Then let him give it to an adult Gentile? … He might come to substitute an Israelite for him.

As for a corpse. he sent [word to them]: Neither Jews nor Syrians [non-Jews] may occupy themselves with a corpse, neither on the first day of a Festival nor on the second.39  But that is not so? For R. Judah b. Shilath said in R. Assi's name: Such a case happened in the synagogue of Ma'on40  on a Festival near the Sabbath,

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. I.e., an absolute and definite ruling. completely intelligible and not subject to controversy.
  2. Lit., 'in one place'. I.e., in any of the places whither they shall wander (Maharsha).
  3. Mic. III, 9-11.
  4. This phrase is now liturgical.
  5. Lit., 'which is in their hand'.
  6. Ibid. 12.
  7. Isa. I, 25f.
  8. I.e., through the exercise of righteousness.
  9. Isa. I, 27.
  10. The Guebres, who caused the Jews much suffering under the Sassanians, cf. Sanh., Sonc. ed., p 504, n. 6.
  11. [H] (Pers. Wezirpat, a ruler, Funk, Schwarz, Festschrift, p. 432) the name of a class of oppressive Persian officers.]
  12. Deriving [H] from [H], great, haughty.
  13. Zeph. III, 15.
  14. MS.O.: Simlai.
  15. Isa. XIV, 5.
  16. They support their underlings in evil; or, support them in their refusal to summon the defendant to court or to enforce the court verdict unless they are well-paid for it (Rashi).
  17. I.e., unfit judges appointed by the scholars of their family.
  18. [H]. Probably laws concerning communal matters, the imposts of levies for communal and charitable purposes v. Herzog, The Main Institutions of Jewish Law. Vol. 1, XXIII.
  19. Rashi: the judges being appointed in reliance that these scholars would guide them in law, whereas they subsequently act of their own accord in many cases.
  20. Isa. LIX, 3.
  21. Who record verdicts falsely.
  22. Rashi: who instruct the litigants how to plead. V, Aboth, Sonc. ed., p. 6, n, 1.
  23. Gen. XLIX, 26. E.V.: 'of him that was separate from his brethren'. A nazirite is forbidden wine, Num. VI, 2-3.
  24. Gen. XLIII, 34.
  25. R. Melai: why does he omit the brothers?
  26. Lit., 'no drunkenness'. During the period of separation.
  27. On the part of the brothers.
  28. Ex. IV, 14 — the reference is to Aaron.
  29. Caskar, the chief town in the Mesene region. on the right bank of the old Tigris; directly opposite, on the left bank, lay Wasit, and the two are to some extent identified; v. Obermeyer. pp. 91-3.
  30. Does it infringe the prohibition against divers plants being sown together? v. Deut. XXII, 9.
  31. What arrangements are permissible for handling him, the funeral, etc.
  32. Who permits its spreading when it is furnished with cords, v. supra 138a.
  33. They would go still further.
  34. V. Glos.
  35. Lit., 'the land' par excellence.
  36. V. Halevy. Doroth, I, 3, p. 137 ([H]).
  37. A small coin.
  38. He agreed with Rab, nevertheless he did it in an unusual manner, so as not to encourage laxity.
  39. Though the second is only a Rabbinical institution.
  40. A town near Tiberias.
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Shabbath 139b

though I do not know whether it preceded or followed it,1  and when they went before R. Johanan, he said to them: Let Gentiles occupy themselves with him [the dead]. Raba too said: As for a corpse,2  on the first day of Festivals Gentiles should occupy themselves with him; on the second day of Festivals Israelites may occupy themselves with him, and even on the second day of New Year, which is not so in the case of an egg?3  [Here too] because they were not learned in the law.

R. Abin b. R. Huna said in R. Hama b. Guria's name: A man may wrap himself in a canopy sheet and [tie it] with its cords to go out into the street on the Sabbath without fear.4  How does this differ from R. Huna's [dictum]. for R. Huna said in Rab's name: If one goes out on the Sabbath wearing a garment not provided with [proper] fringes as required by law, he is liable to a sin-offering?5  — Fringes are important in relation to the cloak, hence they are not merged [therein]; these are not of [separate] importance, and [so] are accounted as nought.

Rabbah6  son of R. Huna said: A man may employ an artifice in connection with a strainer on a festival, suspending it for pomegranates yet straining lees therein.7  Said R. Ashi: Provided he does place pomegranates in it.8  How does it differ from what was taught: One may brew beer on the [intermediate days of a] Festival9  when it is required for the Festival, but if not required for the Festival it is forbidden: [this applies to] both barley beer and date beer. Though one has old [beer]. he may practise an evasion10  and drink of the new? — There the matter is not evident;11  here the matter is evident.12

The scholars said to R. Ashi: See, sir, a Rabbinical disciple. whose name is R. Huna b. Hiwan — others State, R. Huna b. Hilwon — who took peel of garlic,13  placed it in the bung hole of a barrel, and asserted, 'My intention is to put it away [here].'14  He also went and dozed in a ferry and thus crossed to the other side and looked after his fruit, asserting, 'My intention was to sleep.' Said he to them, You speak of an artifice: it is an artifice [in connection with] a Rabbinical [interdict].15  and a disciple of the Rabbis will not come to do this at the very outset.16 


GEMARA. Ze'iri said: One may pour clear wine and clear water into a strainer on the Sabbath without fear,20  but not turbid [liquids]. An objection is raised: R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: One may stir up a barrel of wine, [i.e..] the wine and the lees, and pour it into a strainer on the Sabbath without fear!21  — Ze'iri explained it: They learnt this of the season of the wine pressing.22

WINE MAY BE STRAINED THROUGH CLOTHS. R. Shimi b. Hiyya said: Provided that one does not make a hollow.23

AND THROUGH A BASKET MADE OF PALM TWIGS. R. Hiyya b. Ashi said in Rab's name: Provided he does not lift it [the basket] a handbreadth from the bottom of the vessel.24

Rab said: [Spreading] a rag over half a cask [to cover it] is permitted; over the whole cask, is forbidden.25

R. Papa said: A man must not stuff chips into the mouth of a cask jug.26  because it looks like a strainer. R. Papa's household poured wine slowly from one vessel to another.27  R. Aha of Difti28  objected: But there is the residue?29 — The residue had no value in R. Papa's household.30


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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. I.e., whether the Festival fell on Friday on which day the death occurred, so that it had to be buried on the same day, or whether it fell on Sunday and the death occurred on the Sabbath, so that the burial could not be delayed any longer.
  2. Of a person who died on a Sabbath which was followed by a Festival.
  3. An egg laid on the first day of any Festival except New Year may be eaten on the second day too. But in respect to a corpse New Year is the same as other Festivals.
  4. Of transgression.
  5. The garment has fringes. but since they are not in accordance with the law they are regarded not as part thereof but as a burden which entails a sin offering. Thus here too, since the normal function of the cords is to spread the sheet, not to tie it round a person, they constitute a burden.
  6. Var. lec.: R. Abin.
  7. Lit., to suspend pomegranates therein, but he suspends lees therein.
  8. For some time.
  9. I.e., the intermediate days of Passover and Tabernacles, which enjoy semi-sanctity, being treated as profane in some respects and as holy in others.
  10. Of the law.
  11. The evasion is not obvious, for a person who sees him brew beer does not know that he has sufficient already for the festival.
  12. That he is evading the law, unless he actually puts pomegranates in it, since its usual function is to strain them.
  13. Jast. R. Han.: a head of garlic.
  14. But actually it was to prevent the wine from running out, and thus he repaired the barrel, as it were.
  15. For even if he did these without an artifice he would only violate a Rabbinical, not a Scriptural interdict.
  16. Without an artifice — hence he does nothing wrong.
  17. Rashi: the strainer contains mustard, and when the egg is poured upon it the yolk passes through and the white remains on top. R. Halevi (quoted by Rash): the egg is strained into a dish, not into mustard, but a mustard strainer is specified in order that the action on the Sabbath, though permitted, shall be done differently from what it is on weekdays.
  18. V. Gemara infra.
  19. Larger than a goblet ([H]) but smaller than a barrel ([H]).
  20. Of transgression.
  21. Though the liquid is turbid through the stirring.
  22. All wine is turbid then and drunk thus; hence it is not made fit for drinking (which would be forbidden on the Sabbath) by being put through the strainer.
  23. The cloth must be taut and not form a hollow
  24. Which receives the wine. Otherwise it forms a 'tent', v. p. 694, n. 1.
  25. In the latter case a 'tent' is made.
  26. I.e., a jug used for taking wine out of a cask; the chips act as a strainer.
  27. So as to leave the sediment behind.
  28. V. p. 35, n. 5.
  29. The last drops percolating through the dregs left behind in the first vessel, which shows that their purpose was to strain the wine.
  30. He was a beer brewer (B.M. 65b) and could afford to throw away the little wine left at the bottom together with the chips, thus leaving nothing at all there to show their real motive.
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