If the Temple service which is of high importance and supersedes the Sabbath1 is itself superseded by [a death sentence for] murder, as it is said, Thou shalt take him from Mine altar, that he may die,2 how much more reasonable is it that the Sabbath which is superseded by the Temple service should be superseded by [a death sentence for] murder'. How, then, could it be said, 'Or it might rather [etc.]'?3 — He means this: The burial of a meth mizwah4 might prove [the contrary], since it supersedes the Temple service5 and does not nevertheless supersede the Sabbath.6 Then7 he argued: It might be inferred a minori ad majus that the burial of a meth mizwah should supersede the Sabbath, [thus]: If the Temple service which super sedes the Sabbath is superseded by the burial of a meth mizwah, by deduction from Or for his sister,8 how much more should the Sabbath which is superseded by the Temple service be superseded by the burial of a meth mizwah; hence it was explicitly stated, Ye shall kindle no fire.9 [etc].10
According to our previous assumption, however, that a positive precept supersedes a prohibition, what is meant by, 'Or it might rather [etc.]'?11 — It is this that was meant: 'As regards the application of the text, Every one that profaneth it12 shall surely be put to death,13 it might have been said to apply to the several kinds of labour other than the execution of a judicial death sentence, but that a judicial death sentence does supersede the Sabbath, for a positive precept14 supersedes the prohibition. Then15 he argued: It might be suggested that a positive precept supersedes a prohibition in the case of a mere prohibition only; has it, however, been heard to supersede a prohibition which involves kareth? Then he concluded: 'Even where16 a positive precept supersedes a prohibition, is not the prohibition of a more serious nature than the precept?17 And yet the positive precept comes and supersedes the prohibited; on what grounds, then, should a distinction be made between a minor and a major prohibition?18 Hence it was explicitly stated, Ye shall kindle no fire9 [etc.].'19
But20 [this is the reason why a specific text] was needed:21 It might have been assumed that this [case of a] brother's wife should be regarded as a subject which was included in a general proposition22 and was subsequently singled out in order to predicate another law,23 the predication of which is not intended to apply to itself alone but to the whole of the general proposition. For it was taught: 'A subject which was included in a general proposition and was subsequently singled out, etc. How [is this to be understood]? But the soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace-offerings [that pertain unto the Lord], having his uncleanness upon him;24 were not peace-offerings included among the other holy things?25 Why, then, were they subsequently singled out? In order that [the others] may be compared to them, and in order to tell you that as peace-offerings are distinguished by being consecrated objects of the altar so must also all other things26 be consecrated objects of the altar, the objects consecrated for Temple repair only being excluded.'27 Similarly here it might have been argued:28 Since a brother's wife was included among all the other forbidden relatives, why was she singled out? In order that [the others] may be compared to her, and in order to tell you that as a brother's wife is permitted29 so also are all the other forbidden relatives permitted.30
Are these, however, similar? There,31 both the general proposition32 and the particular specification24 relate to a prohibition, but here33 the general proposition relates to a prohibition while the particular specification relates to something which is permitted!34 This, surely, is rather to be compared to an object that was included in a general proposition and was subsequently singled out in order to be made the subject of a fresh statement, which you cannot restore to the restrictions of the general proposition unless Scripture specifically restores it; for it was taught: Anything which was included in a general proposition and was subsequently excluded in order to be made the subject of a fresh statement, cannot be restored to the restrictions of the general proposition unless Scripture has explicitly restored it.35 How36 [may this principle be illustrated]? And he shall kill the he-lamb in the place where they kill the sin-offering and the burnt-offering in the place of the Sanctuary; for as the sin-offering is the priest's so is the guilt-offering.37 Now since there was no need to state, 'As the sin-offering so is the guilt-offering.'38 why did Scripture explicitly state. As the sin-offering so the guilt-offering? Because seeing that the guilt-offering of the leper was singled out39 in order to impart a new law concerning the thumb of the right hand and the great toe of the right foot,40 it might have been assumed that it required no application of blood to, and no burning of the prescribed portions of the sacrifice upon the altar;
hence it was explicitly stated, 'As the sin-offering so is the guilt-offering': As the sin-offering1 requires application of the blood to, and burning of the prescribed portions upon the altar, so does the guilt-offering also require application of the blood to, and burning of the prescribed portions upon the altar.2 Had Scripture not restored it,3 however, it would have been assumed that it was singled out only in respect of what was explicitly specified but not in any other respect;4 so also here,5 I would assume, only a brother's wife who was explicitly mentioned [can be said] to be permitted6 but not any of the other forbidden relatives!7
But8 it might have been assumed that the law of a wife's sister9 should be deduced from what has been found in the case of a brother's wife; as a levir may marry his brother's wife so he may also marry his wife's sister.10
Are, however, the two cases11 similar? In the one case12 there is only one prohibition; in the other13 there are two prohibitions!14 — It might have been assumed that since she15 was permitted16 [in respect of one prohibition]17 she was also permitted [in the case of the other].18 And whence is it derived that we assume that 'since something was permitted [in one respect] it was also permitted [in the other]'? — From what was taught: In the case of a leper whose eighth day [of purification]19 fell on the Passover eve,20 and who, having observed a discharge of semen on that day,21 had taken a ritual bath, the Sages said: Although no other tebul yom22 may enter [the Temple mount],23 this one24 may enter, for it is better that the positive precept,25 the non-observance of which involves kareth, shall supersede a positive precept26 the infringement of which involves no kareth.27 And in connection with this R. Johanan said: According to the Torah, not even [the infringement of] a positive precept is involved,28 for it is said, And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah … before the new court.29 What is meant by the new court? Rabbi30 replied: That they enacted therein new laws, ordaining that a tebul yom31 must not enter the camp of the Levites.32 And 'Ulla said: 'What is the reason?'33 Since he was given permission34 in respect of his leprosy,35 permission was also given to him in respect of his discharge of the semen.36 But is this case37 similar to that of 'Ulla?
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