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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath
the trimming of vegetables is permitted. Nuts may be cracked and pomegranates scraped from the [time of] minhah and onwards, on account of one's vexation.1 The household of Rab Judah trimmed cabbage. Rabbah's household scraped pumpkins. Seeing that they were doing this [too] early,2 he said to them, A letter has come from the west in R. Johanan's name [to the elect] that this is forbidden.3
MISHNAH. ALL SACRED WRITINGS4 MAY5 BE SAVED FROM A FIRE,6 WHETHER WE READ THEM OR NOT;7 AND EVEN IF THEY ARE WRITTEN IN ANY LANGUAGE, THEY MUST BE HIDDEN.8 AND WHY DO WE NOT READ [CERTAIN OF THE SACRED WRITINGS]? BECAUSE OF THE NEGLECT OF THE BETH HAMIDRASH.9
GEMARA. It was stated: If they are written in Targum10 or in any [other] language, — R. Huna said: They must not be saved from a fire; while R. Hisda ruled: They may be saved from a fire. On the view that it is permissible to read them,11 all agree that they must be saved. They differ only according to the view that they may not be read. R. Huna says: We may not save [them], since they may not be read. R. Hisda says: We must save [them], because of the disgrace to Holy Writings.12 We learnt: ALL SACRED WRITINGS MAY BE SAVED FROM THE FIRE, WHETHER WE READ THEM OR NOT, and even if they are written in any language. Surely WHETHER WE READ THEM refers to the Prophets, whilst OR NOT refers to the Writings, AND EVEN IF THEY ARE WRITTEN IN ANY LANGUAGE, though they may not be read [publicly], yet he [the Tanna] teaches that they MAY BE SAVED, which refutes R. Huna? — R. Huna can answer you: Is that logical? Consider the second clause: THEY MUST BE HIDDEN: seeing that they must be saved,13 need hiding be mentioned?14 But R. Huna explains it in accordance with his view, while R. Hisda explains it according to his. R. Huna explains it in accordance with his view. WHETHER WE READ THEM, [i.e.] the Prophets; OR NOT, [i.e.,] the Writings. That is only if they are written in the Holy Tongue [Hebrew], but if they are written in any [other] language, we may not save them, yet even so they must be hidden. R. Hisda explains it according to his view: WHETHER WE READ THEM, [i.e.,] the Prophets, OR NOT, [i.e.,] the Writings; EVEN IF THEY ARE WRITTEN IN ANY LANGUAGE, we must still save them. And this is what he states: And [even] their worm-eaten [material] MUST BE HIDDEN.
An objection is raised: If they are written in Targum or in any [other] language, they may be saved from the fire: this refutes R. Huna? — R. Huna answers you: This Tanna holds, They may be read. Come and hear: If they are written in Egyptian,15 Median, a trans[-Euphratean]16 Aramaic, Elamitic,17 or Greek, though they may not be read, they may be saved from a fire: this refutes R. Huna? — R. Huna can answer you: It is [a controversy of] Tannaim. For it was taught: If they are written in Targum or in any language, they may be saved from a fire. R. Jose said: They may not be saved from a fire. Said R. Jose: It once happened that my father Halafta visited R. Gamaliel Berabbi18 at Tiberias and found him sitting at the table of Johanan b. Nizuf with the Targum of the Book of Job in his hand19 which he was reading. Said he to him, 'I remember that R. Gamaliel, your grandfather, was standing on a high eminence on the Temple Mount, when the Book of Job in a Targumic version was brought before him, whereupon he said to the builder, "Bury it under the bricks."20 He [R. Gamaliel II] too gave orders, and they hid it.'21 R. Jose son of R. Judah said: They overturned a tub of mortar upon it. Said Rabbi: There are two objections to this: Firstly, how came mortar on the Temple Mount?22 Moreover, is it then permitted to destroy them with one's own hands? For they must be put in a neglected place to decay of their own accord.23 Which Tannaim [differ on this question]?24
Shall we say the first Tanna and R. Jose, — but perhaps they differ in this: one Master holds, It is permitted to read them; while the other holds, It is not permitted to read them?1 Rather [they are] R. Jose and the Tanna [who taught the law] about the Egyptian [script].
Our Rabbis taught: Benedictions and amulets, though they contain letters of the [Divine] Name and many passages of the Torah, must not be rescued from a fire but must be burnt where they lie,2 they together with their Names. Hence it was said, They who write down Benedictions are as though they burnt a Torah.3 It happened that one was once writing in Sidon. R. Ishmael was informed thereof, and he went to question him [about it]. As he was ascending the ladder, he [the writer] became aware of him, [so] he took a sheaf of benedictions and plunged them into a bowl of water. In these words4 did R. Ishmael speak to him: The punishment for the latter [deed] is greater than for the former.
The Resh Galutha5 asked Rabbah son of R. Huna: If they are written with paint [dye], sikra,6 gum ink, or calcanthum,7 in Hebrew, may they be rescued from a fire or not? This is asked whether on the view that we may save8 or that we may not save. It is asked on the view that we may not save: that may be only if they are written in Targum or any [other] language; but here that they are written in Hebrew, we may rescue [them]. Or perhaps even on the view that we may save [them], that is only when they are written in ink, which is lasting; but here, since it [the writing] is not permanent, [we may] not [rescue them]? — We may not save [them], answered he. But R. Hamnuna recited, We may save [them]? — If it was taught, it was taught, replied he.9 Where was it taught? — Said R. Ashi, Even as it was taught: The only difference between the [other] Books10 and the Megillah11 is that the Books can be written in any language, whereas a Megillah must be written in Assyrian,12 on a Scroll, and in ink.13
R. Huna b. Halub asked R. Nahman: A Scroll of the Law in which eighty-five letters cannot be gathered,14 such as the section, And it came to pass when the Ark set forward [etc.],15 may it be saved from a fire or not? — Said he, Then ask about the section, 'and it came to pass, etc.,'itself!16 — If the section, 'And it came to pass, etc.,' is defective [through effacing], I have no problem, for since it contains the Divine Name, even if it does not contain eighty-five letters we must rescue it. My only problem is about a Scroll of the Law wherein [this number] cannot be gathered: what then? We may not save it, he answered.
He refuted him: If Targum is written as Mikra,17 or Mikra is written in Targum or in Hebrew characters,18 they must be saved from a fire, and the Targum in Ezra, Daniel and the Torah [the Pentateuch] go without saying. Now, what is the Targum in the Torah? [The words], Yegar sahadutha;19 and though it does not contain eighty-five letters [it must be saved]? — That was taught in respect of completing [the number].20
The scholars asked: These eighty-five letters, [must they be] together or [even] scattered? R. Huna said: [They must be] together; R. Hisda said: Even scattered. An objection is raised: If a Scroll of the Law is decayed, if eighty-five letters can be gathered therein, such as the section, 'and it came to pass when the ark set forward etc.,' we must save it; if not, we may not save it. This refutes R. Huna?21 — R. Hisda expounded it on the basis of R. Huna's [ruling as referring] to words.22
Our Rabbis taught: 'And it came to pass when the ark set forward that Moses said, [etc.]': for this section the Holy One, blessed be He, provided signs above and below,23 to teach
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