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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath
HE WHO BORES A HOLE, HOWEVER LITTLE, IS CULPABLE. As for Rab, it is well: it looks like boring a hole for a building. But according to Samuel,1 [surely] this is not a completion of work?2 — The meaning here is that he pierces it with an iron pick and leaves it therein, so that that is the completion of its work.
R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAID: HE TOO IS CULPABLE WHO BEATS WITH THE SLEDGE-HAMMER ON THE ANVIL, etc. What does he do?5 — Rabbah and R. Joseph both say: Because he trains his hand. The sons of Rahabah found this difficult: if so, if one sees a labour [being performed] on the Sabbath and he learns it,6 is he really culpable?7 — But Abaye and Raba both say: Because those who beat out the [metal] plates of the Tabernacle8 did thus.9 It was taught likewise: R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: Also he who beats with the sledge-hammer on the anvil at the time of his work is culpable, because those who beat out the [metal] plates of the Tabernacle did thus.
MISHNAH. HE WHO PLOUGHS, HOWEVER LITTLE, HE WHO WEEDS AND HE WHO TRIMS [TREES],10 AND HE WHO CUTS OFF YOUNG SHOOTS, HOWEVER LITTLE, IS CULPABLE. HE WHO GATHERS TIMBER: IF IN ORDER TO EFFECT AN IMPROVEMENT,11 [THE STANDARD OF CULPABILITY IS] HOWEVER LITTLE; IF FOR FUEL, AS MUCH AS IS REQUIRED FOR BOILING A LIGHT EGG. IF ONE COLLECTS GRASS, IF TO EFFECT AN IMPROVEMENT, [THE STANDARD OF CULPABILITY IS] HOWEVER LITTLE; IF FOR AN ANIMAL['S FODDER], A KID'S MOUTHFUL.
GEMARA. What is it fit for?12 — It is fit for [planting] the seeds of a pumpkin.13 Similarly in respect to the Tabernacle, [such a labour was performed] because it is fit for one stalk of [vegetable] dyes.
HE WHO WEEDS AND HE WHO TRIMS [TREES] AND HE WHO CUTS OFF YOUNG SHOOTS. Our Rabbis taught: He who plucks endives and he who cuts greens [shoots],14 if for [human] consumption, [the standard of culpability is] the size of a dried fig; is for animal [food], a kid's mouthful; if for fuel, as much as is required for boiling a light egg; if in order to improve the soil,15 however little. Are not all in order to improve the soil?16 Rabbah and R. Joseph both say: They [the Sages] learnt this of an uncleared field.17 Abaye said: You may even say [that they spoke] of a field that is not uncleared, but in a case where he has no intention.18 But surely Abaye and Raba both said, R. Simeon admits in a case of, 'cut off his head but let him not die'?19 This holds good only when he works in his neighbour's field.20
MISHNAH. HE WHO WRITES TWO LETTERS, WHETHER WITH HIS RIGHT OR WITH HIS LEFT HAND, OF THE SAME DESIGNATION OR OF TWO DESIGNATIONS21 OR IN TWO PIGMENTS,22 IN ANY LANGUAGE, IS CULPABLE. SAID R. JOSE: THEY DECLARED ONE CULPABLE [FOR WRITING] TWO LETTERS ONLY BECAUSE [HE MAKES] A MARK, BECAUSE THUS DID THEY WRITE ON EACH BOARD OF THE TABERNACLE, TO KNOW WHICH WAS ITS COMPANION.23 R. JUDAH SAID: WE FIND A SHORT NAME [FORMING PART] OF A LONG NAME: SHEM AS PART OF SHIME'ON OR SHEMUEL, NOAH AS PART OF NAHOR, DAN AS PART OF DANIEL, GAD AS PART OF GADDI'EL.24
GEMARA. As for his being culpable on account of his right hand, that is well, since that is the [usual] way of writing; but why on account of his left hand, seeing that it is not the [usual] way of writing? — Said R. Jeremiah, They learnt this of a left-handed person. Then let his left hand be as the right hand of all [other] people, and so let him be liable on account of his left, but not his right hand? — Rather said Abaye: [They learned this] of one who can use both hands. R. Jacob the son of Jacob's daughter25 said: The author of this is R. Jose, who said: THEY DECLARED ONE CULPABLE [FOR WRITING] TWO LETTERS ONLY BECAUSE [HE MAKES] A MARK.26 But since the second clause is R. Jose['s], the first clause is not R. Jose? — The whole is R. Jose.
R. JUDAH SAID: WE FIND, [etc.] Then according to R. Judah, one is culpable only on account of two letters of two designations,27 but not two letters of the same designation? But surely it was taught: [If a soul shall sin unwittingly against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done,] and shall do of one [of them]:28 I might think that one must write the whole noun or weave a whole garment or make a whole sieve [before he is guilty]; hence 'of one' is stated. If 'of one', I might think that even if one writes only one letter or weaves a single thread or makes only one mesh of a sieve, [he is culpable];
therefore 'one' is stated. How is this [to be reconciled]? One is liable only if he writes a short noun [as part] of a long noun: SHeM as part of SHiMe'oN or SHeMU'eL, NoaH as part of NaHoR, DaN as part of DaNI'eL, GaD as part of GaDDI'eL.1 R. Judah said: Even if one writes two letters of the same designation, he is liable: e.g., SHeSH, TeTH, RaR, GaG, HaH.2 Said R. Jose: Is he then guilty on account of writing? Surely he is guilty only on account of [making] a mark, because marks were made on [each of] the boards of the Tabernacle to know which was its companion. Therefore if one draws one line across two boards, or two lines on one board, he is culpable. R. Simeon said: 'And shall do one': I might think that one must write the whole noun or weave a complete garment or make a whole sieve [before he is liable]; therefore it is written, 'of one'. If of one, I might think that even if one writes one letter only, or weaves one thread only, or makes one mesh only in a sieve, [he is guilty]: therefore 'one' is stated. How is this [to be reconciled]? One is liable only when he performs an action the like of which stands [on its own].3 R. Jose said: 'And shall do one, and shall to them': sometimes one sacrifice is incurred for all of them, at others one is liable for each separately.4 Now it is incidentally taught, R. Judah said: Even if one only writes two letters of the same designation, he is liable? — There is no difficulty: one is his own [view], the other is his teacher's. For it was taught: R. Judah said in R. Gamaliel's name: Even if one only writes two letters of the sanie designation, he is liable, e.g., SHeSH, TeTH, RaR, GaG, HaH.
Now R. Simeon, is he not identical with the first Tanna? And should you answer, they differ in respect of the a'a of a'azzereka:5 the first Tanna holding, [for writing] the a'a of a'azzereka one is not liable:6 while R. Simeon holds, Since it is contained in charms in general,7 he is culpable, — shall we then say that R. Simeon is more stringent? Surely it was taught: He who bores, however little,8 he who scrapes,9 however little, he who tans, however little, he who draws a figure on a vessel, however little, [is culpable]. R. Simeon said: [He is not culpable] unless he bores right through or scrapes the whole of it [the skin] or tans the whole of it or draws the whole of it!10 Rather R. Simeon comes to teach us this: [one is not guilty] unless he writes the whole word. But can you say so? Surely it was taught, R. Simeon said: 'And shall do one': you might think that one must write the whole word; therefore 'of one' is stated? — Answer and say thus: You might think that one must write a complete sentence, therefore 'of one' is stated.
R. Jose said: 'And shall do one, and shall do them': sometimes one sacrifice is incurred for all of them, at others one is liable for each separately. Said R. Jose son of R. Hanina, What is R. Jose's reason? 'One', 'of one', 'them', 'of them': [this implies] one may be the equivalent of many, and many may equal one. 'One', [i.e.,] SHiMe'oN; 'of one', [i.e.,] SHeM [as part] of SHiMe'oN; 'them' [i.e.,] the principal labours; 'of them:', the derivative labours. 'One is the equivalent of many' — awareness of the Sabbath coupled with unawareness of [the forbidden nature of his] labours. 'Many may equal one' unawareness of the Sabbath coupled with awareness [of the forbidden nature of his] labours.11
R. JUDAH SAID: WE FIND A SHORT NAME [FORMING PART] OF A LONG NAME. Are they then similar: the mem of SHeM is closed, whereas that of SHiMe'oN is open?12 — Said R. Hisda: This proves that if a closed [mem] is written open,13 it is valid.14 An objection is raised: U-kethabtam:15 it must be kethibah tammah [perfect writing];16 thus one must not write the alef as an 'ayyin, the 'ayyin as an alef, the beth as a kaf, or the kaf as a beth, the gimmel as a zadde or the zadde as a gimmel,17 the daleth as a resh or the resh as a daleth, the heh as a heth or the heth as a heh, the waw as a yod or the yod as a waw, the zayyin as a nun or the nun as a zayyin, the teth as a pe or the pe as a teth, bent letters straight or straight letters bent,18 the mem as a samek or the samek as a mem, closed [letters] open or open letters closed.19 An open section [parashah] may not be written closed, nor a closed section open.20 If one writes it as the 'Song', or if one writes the 'Song' as the general text,21 or if one writes it without ink, or if one writes the 'Names'22 in gold, they [the Scrolls thus written] must be 'hidden'.23 — He [R. Hisda] holds with the following Tanna. For it was taught, R. Judah b. Bathyra said: In reference to the second [day] 'We-niskehem [and their drink-offerings]' is stated; in reference to the sixth, 'u-nesakehah [and the drink-offerings thereof]'; in reference to the seventh, 'ke-mishpatam [after the ordinance]':24 this gives mem, yod, mem25 [i.e.,] mayim [water], whence we have a Biblical intimation of the water libation.26 Now since if an open letter is written closed, it is valid,27 a closed [letter] is the same, [viz.,] if a closed letter is written open, it is fit. But how compare! If an open [letter] is written closed,
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