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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath
[they may supersede the Sabbath] because if their time passes they are annulled!1 Rather this is R. Eliezer s reason: Because Scripture saith, and in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised,2 [implying] even on the Sabbath.3 Then let the Divine Law write it in connection with circumcision, and these [others] can come to be deduced thence? Because one can refute [the analogy]: as for circumcision, that is because thirteen covenants were made in connection therewith.4
Now, the Rabbis disagree with R. Eliezer only in respect of the preliminaries of circumcision; but as for circumcision itself, all hold that it supersedes the Sabbath: whence do we know it? Said 'Ulla, It is a traditional law;5 and thus did R. Isaac say, It is a traditional law.
An objection is raised: How do we know that the saving of life supersedes the Sabbath? R. Eleazar b. 'Azariah said: If circumcision, which is [performed on but] one of the limbs of man, supersedes the Sabbath, the saving of life, a minori, must supersede the Sabbath. Now if you think that it is a traditional law, can one argue a minori from a traditional law? Surely it was taught, R. Eleazar said to him: Akiba! [That] a bone [of a corpse] the size of a barley grain defiles6 is a traditional law, whereas [that] a quarter [log] of blood [of a corpse] defies is [deduced by you] a minori,7 and we do not argue a minori from a traditional law! — Rather said R. Eleazar: We learn 'a sign' [written in connection with circumcision from] 'a sign' [written in connection with the Sabbath].8 If so, let Tefillin, in connection with which 'sign'9 is written, supersede the Sabbath?10 — Rather 'covenant' is learnt from, 'covenant'.11 Then let [the circumcision of] an adult, in connection with whom 'covenant' is written,12 supersede the Sabbath?13 — Rather 'generations' is learnt from 'generations'.14 Then let fringes, in connection with which 'generations' is written,15 supersede the Sabbath?16 Rather said R. Nahman b. Isaac: We learn 'sign,' 'covenant' and 'generations' from 'sign,' 'covenant' and 'generations,' thus excluding the others in connection with each of which only one is written.
R. Johanan said: Scripture saith, in the [eighth] day, 'in the day' [implying] even on the Sabbath.17 Resh Lakish objected to R. Johanan: If so, those who lack atonement,18 in connection with whom 'in the day' is written,19 do they too supersede the Sabbath?20 — That is required [for teaching], by day but not by night.21 But this too22 is required [for teaching], by day but not by night? That is deduced from, and he that is eight days old.23 But this too can be derived from, in the day that he commanded [the children of Israel to offer their oblations, etc.]?24 — Though it may be derived from, in the day that he commanded, [etc.]', yet it [the other verse] is necessary: you might argue, Since the Merciful One had compassion upon him, [permitting him] to bring [a lesser sacrifice] in poverty, he may bring [it] at night too: hence we are informed [otherwise]. Rabina demurred: If so,25 let a zar and an onen26 be eligible for them?27 Surely Scripture brought him back.28
R. Aha b. Jacob said, Scripture saith, 'the eighth', [intimating] the eighth, even if it is the Sabbath. But this 'eighth' is required to exclude the seventh? — That follows from, 'and the that is eight days old'. Yet they are still required, one to exclude the seventh and the other to exclude the ninth, for if [we deduced] from one [verse only] I might say, only the seventh is excluded, since its time [for circumcision] has not [yet] arrived, but from the eighth onward that is the [right] time? Hence it is clear [that it must be explained] as R. Johanan.
It was taught in accordance with R. Johanan and not as R. Aha b. Jacob: '[And in] the eighth [day the flesh of his foreskin] shall be circumcised': even on the Sabbath. Then to what do I apply, every one that profaneth it shall surely be put to death?29 To labours other than circumcision. Yet perhaps it is not so, but [it includes] even circumcision, whilst to what do I apply 'in the eighth... shall be circumcised': [To all days] except the Sabbath? Therefore 'in the day' is stated, [teaching], even on the Sabbath.
Raba observed: Why was this Tanna content at first, and what was his difficulty eventually?30 — He argues thus: '[in] the eighth shall be circumcised': even on the Sabbath. Then to what do I apply, every one that profaneth it shall be put to death'? To labours other than circumcision, but circumcision supersedes it. What is the reason? It [follows] a minori. If leprosy, which suspends the sacrificial service,31
whilst the sacrificial service supersedes the Sabbath,1 yet circumcision supersedes it:2 then the Sabbath, which is superseded by the sacrificial service, surely circumcision supersedes it. And what is the 'or perhaps it is not so' which he states? — He then argues [thus]: yet whence [does it follow] that leprosy Is more stringent? Perhaps the Sabbath is more stringent, since there are many penalties and injunctions in connection therewith. Further, whence [does it follow] that it3 is because leprosy is more stringent, perhaps it is because the man is not fit;4 whilst to what do I apply, 'in the eighth... shall be circumcised', [to all days] except the Sabbath? Therefore 'in the day' is stated, teaching, even on the Sabbath.
Our Rabbis taught: Circumcision supersedes leprosy, whether [performed] at its [proper] time5 or not at its [proper] time; it supersedes Festivals only [when performed] at its [proper] time. How do we know this? — Because our Rabbis taught: 'The flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised', even if a bahereth6 is there it must be cut off. Then to what do I apply, 'Take heed in the plague of leprosy'?7 To other places, but excluding the foreskin. Or perhaps it is not so, but [it includes] even the foreskin, while how do I apply, 'the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised', when it does not contain a bahereth! Therefore 'flesh' is stated, intimating even when a bahereth is there. Raba observed: This Tanna, why was he content at first, and what was his difficulty eventually? He argues thus: 'The flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised': even if a bahereth is there. Then to what do I apply: 'Take heed in the plague of leprosy'? To other places, excluding the foreskin, yet circumcision supersedes leprosy. What is the reason? Because it is inferred a minori: if circumcision supersedes the Sabbath, which is stringent, how much more so leprosy. And what is the 'or perhaps it is not so which he states? He then argues: how do we know that the Sabbath is more stringent: perhaps leprosy is more stringent, since it supersedes the sacrificial service, while the sacrificial service supersedes the Sabbath? Therefore flesh is stated, intimating, even when a bahereth is there. Another version: circumcision supersedes leprosy: what is the reason? Because a positive command8 comes and supersedes a negative command.9 Then what is the 'or is it not so' which he states? He then argues: Perhaps we rule that a positive command comes and supersedes a negative command [only in the case of] a negative command by itself but this is a positive command plus a negative command.10 Then how do I apply, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised? When it does not contain a bahereth. Therefore flesh is stated, intimating, even when a bahereth is there.
Now, this is well of an adult, in connection with whom 'flesh' is written; of an infant too 'flesh is written; but whence do we know one of intermediate age?11 Said Abaye, It is inferred from the other two combined:12 it cannot be inferred from an adult [alone], Since there is the penalty of kareth13 [in his case]; it cannot be inferred from an infant [eight days old], since [there] it is circumcision at the proper time. The feature common to both is that they must be circumcised and they supersede leprosy: so all who must be circumcised supersede leprosy.
Raba said: [That] circumcision at the proper time supersedes [leprosy] requires no verse, [for] it is inferred a minori: If it supersedes the Sabbath, which is [more] stringent, how much more so leprosy! Said R. Safra to Raba: How do you know that the Sabbath is [more] stringent, perhaps leprosy is [more] stringent, seeing that it supersedes the sacrificial service, whilst the sacrificial service supersedes the Sabbath? — There it is not because leprosy is more stringent but because the person is unfit. Why so? Let him cut off the bahereth and perform the service? — He [still] lacks tebillah. This is well of unclean eruptions! what can be said of clean eruptions?14 — Rather R. Ashi said: Where do we rule that a positive command comes and supersedes a negative one? E.g., circumcision in [the place of] leprosy, or fringes and kil'ayim,15 where at the very moment that the negative injunction is disregarded16 the positive command is fulfilled;17 but here at the moment that the negative injunction is disregarded the positive command is not fulfilled.18
Now, this [discussion] of Raba and R. Safra
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