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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 116a

that this is not its place. Rabbi said: It is not on that account,1  but because it ranks as a separate Book. With whom does the following dictum of R. Samuel b. Nahmani in R. Jonathan's name agree: She [Wisdom] hath hewn out her seven pillars:2  this refers to the seven Books of the Law? With whom? With Rabbi.3  Who is the Tanna that disagrees with Rabbi? It is R. Simeon b. Gamaliel. For it was taught, R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: This section is destined to be removed from here and written in its [right place].4  And why is it written here? In order to provide a break between the first [account of] punishment and the second [account of] punishment.5  What is the second [account of] punishment? — And the people were as murmurers, [etc.].6  The first [account of] punishment? — And they 'moved away from the mount of the Lord,7  which R. Hama b. R. Hanina expounded [as meaning] that they turned away from following the Lord. And where is its [rightful] place? — In [the chapter on] the banners.8

The scholars asked: The blank spaces of a Scroll of the Law, may we rescue them from fire or not? — Come and hear: 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,' we must save it; if not, we may not save it. But why so? conclude [that it may be saved] on account of its blank space?9  That which is decayed is different.10  Come and hear: If a Scroll of the Law is effaced, if eighty-five letters can be gathered therein, such as the section, 'and it came to pass when the ark set forward,' we must save it; if not, we may not save it. But why so: conclude [that we must save it] on account of its blank space?11  — As for the place of the writing, I have no doubt, for when it was sanctified it was on account of the writing, [and] when its writing goes its sanctity goes (too]. My problem is only in respect of [the blank spaces] above and below, between the sections, between the columns, [and] at the beginning and the end of the Scroll. Yet conclude [that it must be saved] on that account?12  — It may mean [there] that one had cut off [the blank spaces] and thrown them away.

Come and hear: The blank spaces above and below, between the sections, between the columns, at the beginning and at the end of the Scroll, defile one's hands.13  — It may be that [when they are] together with the Scroll of the Law they are different.14  Come and hear: The blank spaces15  and the Books of the Minim16  may not be saved from a fire, but they must be burnt in their place, they and the Divine Names occurring in them. Now surely it means the blank portions of a Scroll of the Law? No: the blank spaces in the Books of Minim. Seeing that we may not save the Books of Minim themselves, need their blank spaces be stated? — This is its meaning: And the Books of Minim are like blank spaces.


Dilling discussion of highlighted text
    It was stated in the text: The blank spaces and the Books of the Minim, we may not save them from a fire. R. Jose said: On weekdays one must cut out the Divine Names which they contain, hide them,17  and burn the rest. R. Tarfon said: May I bury my son if I would not burn them together with their Divine Names if they came to my hand. For even if one pursued me18  to slay me, or a snake pursued me to bite me, I would enter a heathen Temple [for refuge], but not the houses of these [people], for the latter know (of God] yet deny [Him], whereas the former are ignorant and deny [Him], and of them the Writ saith, and behind the doors and the posts hast thou set up thy memorial.19  R. Ishmael said: [One can reason] a minori: If in order to make peace between man and wife the Torah decreed, Let my Name, written in sanctity, be blotted out in water,20  these, who stir up jealousy, enmity, and wrath between Israel and their Father in Heaven, how much more so;21  and of them David said, Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? And am I not grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate then with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.22  And just as we may not rescue them from a fire, so may we not rescue them from a collapse [of debris] or from water or from anything that may destroy them.

R. Joseph b. Hanin asked R. Abbahu: As for the Books of Be Abedan,23  may we save them from a fire or not? — Yes and No, and he was uncertain about the matter.24  Rab would not enter a Be Abedan, and certainly not a Be Nizrefe;25  Samuel would not enter a Be Nizrefe, yet he would enter a Be Abedan. Raba was asked: Why did you not attend at the Be Abedan? A certain palm-tree stands in the way, replied he, and it is difficult for me [to pass it].26  Then we will remove it? — Its spot will present difficulties to me.27  Mar b. Joseph said: I am one of them28  and do not fear them. On one occasion he went there, [and] they wanted to harm him.29

Imma Shalom, R. Eliezer's wife, was R. Gamaliel's sister. Now, a certain philosopher30  lived in his vicinity,

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Lit., 'designation'.
  2. Prov. IX, 1.
  3. Since that section is a separate Book, the portions of Numbers preceding and following it are also separate Books; hence there are seven in all.
  4. Viz., in the section dealing with the disposition of the Israelites according to their banners and their travelling arrangements, Num. II.
  5. So as to relieve the gloomy effect that would otherwise be produced.
  6. Num. XI, 1 seq.
  7. Ibid. X, 33.
  8. But in the future, when all evil and its consequent retribution has ceased, this section will be inserted in its right place.
  9. And since we do not reason thus, it follows that the margin may not be saved.
  10. For the parchment of the margins too is perished. The question is where the parchment is quite sound, but the writing is effaced.
  11. Which is now the entire Scroll.
  12. Even if the place of the writing is no longer sacred, if the margins must be saved, the entire Scroll must be saved ipso facto.
  13. Cf. supra 14a. This proves that they have the same sacred character as the rest of the Scroll.
  14. The writing there being sound.
  15. Jast. s.v. [H] translates, the gospels, though observing that here it is understood as blanks. V. Herford, R.T., 'Christianity in the Talmud', p. 155 n.
  16. Sectarians. The term denotes various kinds of Jewish sectarians, such as the Sadducces, Samaritans, Judeo-Christians, etc., according to the date of the passage in which the term is used. The reference here is probably to the last-named. V. J.E., art. Min; Bacher in REJ. XXXVIII, 38. Rashi translates: Hebrew Bibles written by men in the service of idolatry.
  17. v. p. 429, n. 5.
  18. Lit., 'him' — he meant himself but used the third person owing to a reluctance to speak even hypothetically of evil befalling himself.
  19. Isa. LVII, 8; they know of the true God, but have rejected Him, thrusting Him out of sight, as it were.
  20. The reference is to the trial of a wife accused of adultery; v. Num. V, 23f.
  21. Not only do they themselves go astray from God, but lead many others astray from Him.
  22. Ps. CXXXIX, 21f.
  23. The meeting place of early Christians where religious controversies were held (Jast.). Rashi: the books written for the purpose of these controversies; v. also Weiss, Dor, III, p. 166 and n. 13. [The meaning of Be Abedan is still obscure in spite of the many and varied explanations suggested; e.g., (a) House of the Ebionites; (b) Abadan (Pers.) 'forum'; (c) Beth Mebedhan (Pers.) 'House of the chief Magi'; v. Krauss's Synagogale Altertumer, p. 31].
  24. V. supra 113a.
  25. [H]; a meeting place of the Nazarenes, Jewish Christians, where local matters were discussed and religious debates were held. (Levy). [Ginzberg, MGWJ LXXVIII, p. 23 regards it as the name of a Persian house of worship meaning the Asylum of Helplessness].
  26. This of course was merely an evasion.
  27. It will leave a hole and render the road impassable.
  28. I am well acquainted with them.
  29. Uncensored text adds: R. Meir called it (the Gospel) 'Awen Gilyon, the falsehood of blank Paper; R. Johanan called it 'Awon Gilyon, the sin of etc. On the whole passage v. Herford, op. cit., pp. 161-171.
  30. Rashi: min (i.e., sectarian).
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Shabbath 116b

and he bore a reputation that he did not accept bribes.1  They wished to expose him,2  so she brought him a golden lamp, went before him, [and] said to him, 'I desire that a share be given me in my [deceased] father's estate.' 'Divide,' ordered he. Said he [R. Gamaliel] to him, 'It is decreed for us, Where there is a son, a daughter does not inherit.' [He replied], 'Since the day that you were exiled from your land the Law of Moses has been superseded3  and another book4  given, wherein it is written, 'A son and a daughter inherit equally.'5  The next day, he [R. Gamaliel] brought him a Lybian ass. Said he to them, 'Look6  at the end of the book, wherein it is written, I came not to destroy the Law of Moses nor7  to add to the Law of Moses,8  and it is written therein, A daughter does not inherit where there is a son. Said she to him, 'Let thy light shine forth like a lamp.'9  Said R. Gamaliel to him, 'An ass came and knocked the lamp over!'10

AND WHY DO WE NOT READ [THEM], etc. Rab said: They learnt this only for the time of the Beth Hamidrash, but we may read [them] when it is not the time of the Beth Hamidrash. But Samuel said: We may not read them [on the Sabbath] even when it is not the time of the Beth Hamidrash. But that is not so, for Nehardea was Samuel's town, and in Nehardea they closed the prescribed lesson [of the Pentateuch] with [a reading from] the Hagiographa at minhah on the Sabbath?11  Rather if stated it was thus stated: Rab said, They learnt this only in the place of the Beth Hamidrash; but we may read [them] elsewhere than in the Beth Hamidrash. While Samuel said: Whether in the place of the Beth Hamidrash or elsewhere, at the time of the Beth Hamidrash12  we may not read [them]; when it is not the time of the Beth Hamidrash we may read them. And Samuel is consistent with his view, for in Nehardea they closed the prescribed lesson [of the Pentateuch] with13  [a reading from] the Hagiographa. R. Ashi said, In truth, it is as we first stated, Samuel [ruling] according to R. Nehemiah.14  For it was taught: Though they [the Sages] said, Holy writings may not be read, yet they may be studied, and lectures thereon may be given. If one needs a verse, he may bring [a Scroll] and see [it] therein. R. Nehemiah said: Why did they rule, Holy Writings may not be read? So that people may say, If Holy Writings may not be read, how much more so secular documents!15


GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: If the fourteenth [of Nisan] falls on the Sabbath, the Passover sacrifice is flayed as far as the breast:18  this is the view of R. Ishmael son of R. Johanan b. Berokah. But the Sages maintain: We flay the whole of it. As for R. Ishmael son of R. Johanan b. Berokah, it is well, [the reason being] that the requirements for the Sanctuary19  have been fulfilled;20  but what is the reason of the Rabbis? — Said Rabbah b. Bar Hanah in R. Johanan's name: Because Scripture saith, The Lord hath made every thing for his own purpose.21  But what is there here 'for his own purpose?' R. Joseph said: So that it should not putrefy.22  Raba said: So that Divine sacrifices should not lie like a nebelah. Wherein do they differ? — They differ where it is lying on a gold table,23  or if it is a day of the north wind.24  Now R. Ishmael son of R. Johanan b. Berokah, how does he dispose of this [verse], 'The Lord hath made every thing for his own purpose'? — [That teaches] that one must not draw out the emurim25  before the stripping of the skin.26  What is the reason? — Said R. Huna son of R. Nathan: On account of the threads.27

R. Hisda observed in Mar 'Ukba's name: What did his companions answer to R. Ishmael son of R. Johanan b. Berokah? They argued thus with him: If the sheath of a Scroll may be rescued together with the Scroll, shall we then not flay the Passover sacrifice of its skin?28  How compare! There it is [mere] handling, whereas here it is work.29  — Said R. Ashi, They differ in two things, viz., in respect of both handling and labour, and they argue thus with him: If the sheath of a Scroll may be saved together with the Scroll, shall we not handle the skin on account of the flesh.30

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. He was a judge.
  2. Lit., 'make sport of him'.
  3. Lit., 'taken away'.
  4. The reading in Cod. Oxford is: and the law of the Evangelium has been given.
  5. There is no passage in any known Gospel that a son and daughter inherit alike.
  6. Lit., 'descend to'.
  7. Var. lec.: but; v. Weiss, Dor, I, p. 233, n. 1.
  8. Cf. Matt. V, 17 seq.
  9. Alluding to the lamp which she presented him on the preceding day.
  10. This story is discussed in Bacher, Ag. d. Pal. Am. 11, p. 424 n. V. also R.T. Herford, op. cit., pp. 146-154, though his conjecture that the story ends with a covert gibe at Christianity is hardly substantiated.
  11. As a Haftarah (q.v. Glos.) after the Reading of the Law: so Jast. V. Rashi; cf. supra 24a. [Aliter: They expounded a part of Scripture from the Hagiographa etc. V. Bacher, Terminologie s.v. trsx
  12. I.e., when the public lectures are given.
  13. The text should read [H], as above, not [H].
  14. But he does not state his own view there.
  15. E.g., bills, documents relating to business transactions, etc.
  16. I.e., the bag or box in which they are kept.
  17. This is discussed infra.
  18. Starting from the hind legs. One can then remove the fats which 'are to be burnt on the altar (these are called emurim, lit., 'devoted objects'), the burning being permitted on the Sabbath. Since the rest of the skin must be flayed only in order to reach the portion which he himself will eat in the evening, this is regarded as having a secular purpose, and therefore must be left for the evening.
  19. Lit., 'the Most High'.
  20. When it is flayed thus far, as explained supra note 1.
  21. I.e., His honour. Prov. XVI, 4.
  22. One may still fear putrefaction, but it is certainly not lying like a nebelah. Hence according to R. Joseph it must be completely stripped even so, but not according to Raba.
  23. It is not in keeping with the honour due to God that the meat of the sacrifices offered to Him should turn putrid.
  24. Which keeps the meat fresh.
  25. V. n. 1.
  26. As far as the breast.
  27. Of wool, which would otherwise adhere to the fats, etc.
  28. Surely the two are identical, for the sheath too is not sacred, just as the flaying of the skin after the breast has been reached serves a secular purpose only.
  29. Flaying being a principal labour, v. supra 73a.
  30. Rashi: R. Ishmael holding that once the emurim have been drawn out the animal may not be handled because of the skin, while the Rabbis argue that on the contrary since the flesh itself might be handled the skin may be likewise in virtue thereof. According to this they differ where the animal has only been partially flayed. Tosaf. interprets the passage differently.
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