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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah
It has been stated: R. Huna said: [Pickled herring is not considered as minced] so long as the head and backbone are recognisable. R. Nahman said: Either the head or the backbone. R. 'Ukba b. Hama objected: [We learnt] with regard to fish, only such as have fins and scales [may be eaten]!2 — Abaye said: The Mishnah deals with the skate and pelamys3 the heads of which resemble those of unclean fish.4
Rab Judah said in the name of 'Ulla: The difference of opinion [between R. Huna and R. Nahman is over the permissibility] to dip [bread] in the brine, but as regards eating the chopped herring, all agree that it is prohibited unless both the head and backbone are recognisable. R. Zera said: At first I used to dip [bread] in the brine;5 but when I heard the statement of Rab Judah in the name of 'Ulla, viz., the difference of opinion is over the permissibility to dip [bread] in the brine but as regards eating the chopped herring all agree that it is prohibited unless both the head and backbone are recognisable, I would not also dip in it.6
R. Papa said: The legal decision is that both the head and backbone of each fish must be recognisable. An objection is raised: Pieces of fish are all permitted so long as a mark [that the fish was of the clean species] is found in the whole of it or a portion of it, even a hundredth part of it. And it once happened that a heathen brought a barrel containing pieces of fish and a mark [of the clean species] was found in one of them; thereupon Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel declared the whole barrel to be permitted! — R. Papa gave this explanation: [Such a decision is correct] when the pieces are alike.7 If this be so, why mention it!8 — You might argue that we are concerned lest [that fish which had the mark of cleanness] happened [to fit in] by chance;9 so he informs us [that we need have no such fear].
A boat-load of zahanta once came to Sikara.10 R. Huna b. Hinnena went to inspect it and, noticing scales [on the sides of the boat], declared the fish to be permitted. Raba said to him: How is it possible to give permission in a place where [fish with] scales are common!11 So Raba issued an announcement prohibiting the fish, whereupon R. Huna b. Hinnena issued an announcement that they were permitted. R. Jeremiah of Difti12 said: R. Papi told me that R. Huna b. Hinnena only allowed the brine but not the eating of the fish. R. Ashi said: R. Papa told me that R. Huna b. Hinnena even allowed the fish to be eaten; but as for myself, I cannot prohibit it after what R. Papa told me, nor can I permit it in view of what Rab Judah declared in the name of 'Ulla,13 viz., the difference of opinion is over the permissibility to dip [bread] in the brine, but as regards eating the fish all agree that it is prohibited unless both the head and backbone are recognisable in each one.
R. Hinnena b. Idi was sitting in the presence of R. Adda b. Ahabah; and while sitting there he said: If a heathen brought a boat laden with barrels [of fish-brine] and a kalbith-fish is found in one of them, should they be open barrels they are all permitted,14 but if closed that barrel is permitted and the rest are prohibited. [R. Adda] asked him: Whence have you this? — [He replied:]I heard it from three eminent scholars,15 viz., Rab, Samuel and R. Johanan.
R. Berona said in the name of Rab: Fish-entrails and roe should only be bought of a reliable man. 'Ulla remarked to R. Dosthai of Berai:16 Since Rab mentioned that fish-entrails and roe should only be bought of a reliable man, it follows that unclean fish have roe; but against this I quote: Unclean fish are viviparous, whereas clean fish eject eggs! — [He replied:] Then strike out the word roe'! R. Zera said to him: Do not strike out the word because they both eject eggs; but whereas [the clean species] breed [by ejecting eggs which mature in the sand of the river-bed] the other is actually viviparous. Why, however, is it necessary [to buy the roe] from a reliable man? Surely we could examine the marks [which differentiate the clean and unclean species]; for it has been taught: The marks of [clean birds'] eggs are the same as those of [clean] fish.17 But how can such a thought enter your mind since Scripture mentions fins and scales as the marks of [clean] fish!18 The meaning is: The marks of [clean birds'] eggs are the same as those of fish-roe [which may be eaten]; and the following are the marks of [clean] birds' eggs: Such as are arched and rolling, I.e., one end is rounded and the other pointed, are clean; if both ends are pointed or round ed 'they are unclean; if the yolk is outside and the white inside the egg is unclean; if the white is outside and the yolk inside the egg is clean; if the white and yolk are mixed up it is a reptile's egg! — Raba said: [Rab's statement that it must only be bought of a reliable person refers to when the roe] has been pressed.19 But as for R. Dosthai of Berai who said that the word 'roe' should be struck out,
‘Abodah Zarah 40bsurely it has been taught: The marks of [clean birds'] eggs are the same as those of fish-roe [which may be eaten]!1 — Must not [this Baraitha at all events] be explained?2 Read, therefore, thus:3 'Are the same as fish entrails.' But where is it found that the marks of fish-entrails are rounded and pointed?4 — This is actually found with the fish-bladder.
If there be no reliable man,5 what then? — Rab Judah said: So long as he declares, 'I salted the fish,'6 it is permitted — R. Nahman said: He must be able to declare, 'These are the fish and these their entrails.'7 Rab Judah instructed Adda, the attendant, 'So long as he declares, "I salted the fish," it is permitted.'
A LEAF OF ASAFOETIDA. Obviously [it may be eaten]!8 It would not have been necessary to mention it except for the drops which may be attached to the leaf. You might argue that we must be concerned lest [a heathen] bring [other drops of asafoetida which he had cut from the root with his knife] and mix them with it. Hence he informs us that [the drops which are found on the leaf] detached themselves [without cutting] and came off together with it.
AND ROLLED OLIVE-CAKES. Obviously they may be eaten! — No, it is necessary to mention [that they may be eaten] even when they are very soft. For you might argue that [the heathen] put wine on them.9 Hence he informs us that their softness is due to the oil.
R. JOSE SAYS: THOSE OLIVES HAVING STONES READY TO DROP OUT [SHELAHIN] ARE PROHIBITED. What is to be understood by shelahin! — R. Jose b. Hanina said: Those olives whose kernels drop out as soon as one takes them in his hand.
LOCUSTS WHICH COME etc. Our Rabbis taught: Locusts, capers and leeks10 which come from the warehouse, the stock or from a ship are permitted; but those sold on the counter in front of a shop are prohibited because [the shopkeeper] sprinkles wine upon them. Similarly the apple-cider of a heathen taken from the warehouse, the stock or a basket is permitted; but if it is sold on the counter it is prohibited because they mix wine with it.
Our Rabbis taught: Rabbi once suffered from a disorder of the bowels and said, 'Does anyone know whether apple-cider of a heathen is prohibited or permitted?' R. Ishmael son of R. Jose replied, 'My father once had the same complaint and they brought him apple-cider of a heathen which was seventy years old; he drank it and recovered.' He said to him, 'You had this information all this time and let me suffer!' They made inquiry and found a heathen who possessed three hundred jars of apple-cider seventy years old. [Rabbi] drank some of it and recovered; whereupon he exclaimed, 'Blessed be the All-present Who delivered His Universe into the keeping of guardians!'11
THE SAME RULE APPLIES TO THE HEAVE-OFFERING. How is this phrase to be understood? — R. Shesheth said: [It means that] the same rule applies to a priest who is suspected of selling his portion of the heave-offering12 as though it were common food. If it is in front of him, it is prohibited [to buy it]; but if it comes out of a warehouse or the stock or a basket,13 it is permitted because he would be afraid [to include the heave-offering among the wares] thinking that should the Rabbis hear of it they would deprive him of the lot.
MISHNAH. ALL IMAGES ARE PROHIBITED14 BECAUSE THEY ARE WORSHIPPED ONCE A YEAR. SUCH IS THE STATEMENT OF R. MEIR; BUT THE SAGES DECLARE: [AN IMAGE] IS NOT PROHIBITED EXCEPT ONE THAT HAS A STAFF OR BIRD OR ORB15 IN ITS HAND. RABBAN SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAYS: ALSO ANY [IMAGE] WHICH HAS ANYTHING IN ITS HAND [IS PROHIBITED].
GEMARA. If they are worshipped once a year, what is the reason of the Rabbis?16 — R. Isaac b. Joseph said in the name of R. Johanan: In the place where R. Meir lived, [the heathens] used to worship each image once a year; and since R. Meir takes a minority into consideration,17 he decreed [against the use of images] in the other places on account of the place [where they are worshipped]. The Rabbis, on the other hand, who do not take a minority into consideration, did not decree [against the use of images] in the other places on account of the place [where they are worshipped].
Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: The teaching of the Mishnah refers to the royal statues.18 Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan: The teaching of the Mishnah only applies [to these statues] when they stand at the entrance of a city.19
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