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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 89a

idol worship? Again what is written therein? Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy:1  do ye then perform work, that ye need to rest? Again what is written therein? Thou shalt not take [tissa] [the name … in vain]:2  is there any business [massa] dealings among you?3  Again what is written therein, Honour thy father and thy mother;4  have ye fathers and mothers? Again what is written therein? Thou shall not murder. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou Shall not steal;5  is there jealousy among you; is the Evil Tempter among you? Straightway they conceded [right] to the Holy One, blessed be He, for it is said, O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is thy name, etc.6  whereas 'Who has set thy glory upon the heavens' is not written.7  Immediately each one was moved to love him [Moses] and transmitted something to him, for it is said, Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast taken spoils [the Torah]; Thou hast received gifts on account of man:8  as a recompense for their calling thee man [adam]9  thou didst receive gifts. The Angel of Death too confided his secret to him, for it is said, and he put on the incense, and made atonement for the people;10  and it is said, and he stood between the dead and the living, etc.11  Had he not told it to him, whence had he known it?

R. Joshua b. Levi also said: When Moses descended from before the Holy One, blessed be He, Satan came and asked Him, 'Sovereign of the Universe! Where is the Torah? 'I have given it to the earth.' answered He to him. He went to the earth and said to her, 'Where is the Torah?' 'God understandeth the way thereof, etc.'12  she replied. He went to the sea and it told him, 'It is not with me.' He went to the deep and it said to him, 'It is not in me,' for it is said. The deep saith, It is not in me: And the sea saith, It is not with me. Destruction and Death say, We have heard a rumour thereof with our ears.13  He went back and declared before Him, 'Sovereign of the Universe! I have searched throughout all the earth but have not found it!' 'Go thee to the son of Amram. answered He. [So] he went to Moses and asked him, 'Where is the Torah which the Holy One, blessed be He, gave unto thee?' 'Who am I then,' he retorted, 'that the Holy One, blessed be He, should give me the Torah?' Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Moses, 'Moses, art thou a liar!' 'Sovereign of the Universe!' he replied, 'Thou hast a stored-up treasure in which Thou takest delight every day: shall I keep the benefit for myself?'14  'Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Moses, 'Moses, since thou hast [humbly] disparaged thyself, it shall be called by thy name, as it is said, Remember ye the law of Moses my servant.15

R. Joshua b. Levi also said: When Moses ascended on high, he found the Holy One, blessed be He, tying crowns on the letters [of the Torah].16  Said He to him, 'Moses, is there no [greeting of] Peace in thy town?'17  'Shall a servant extend [a greeting of] Peace to his Master!' replied he: 'Yet thou shouldst have assisted Me,'18  said He. Immediately19  he cried out to Him, And now, I pray thee, let the power of the Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken.20

R. Joshua b. Levi also said: Why is it written; And when the people, saw that Moses delayed [boshesh] [to come down from the mount]?21  'Read not boshesh' [delayed] but ba'u shesh [the sixth hour had come]. When Moses ascended on high, he said to Israel, I will return at the end of forty days, at the beginning of the sixth hour.22  At the end of forty days Satan came and confounded the world. Said he to them: 'Where is your teacher Moses?' 'He has ascended on high,' they answered him. 'The sixth [hour] has come,' said he to them, but they disregarded him. 'He is dead' — but they disregarded him. [Thereupon] he showed them a vision of his bier, and this is what they said to Aaron, for this Moses, the man, etc.,23

One of the Rabbis asked R. Kahana: Hast thou heard what the mountain of Sinai [connotes]? The mountain whereon miracles [nissim] were performed for Israel, he replied. Then it should be called Mount Nisal? But [it means] the mountain whereon a happy augury [siman] took place for Israel. Then it should be called, Mount Simanai? Said he to him, Why dost thou not frequent [the academy of] R. Papa and R. Huna the son of R. Joshua, who make a study of aggadah. For R. Hisda and Rabbah the son of R. Huna both said, What is [the meaning of] Mount Sinai? The mountain whereon there descended hostility [sin'ah] toward idolaters.24  And thus R. Jose son of R. Hanina said: It has five names: The Wilderness of Zin, [meaning] that Israel were given commandments there;25  the Wilderness of Kadesh, where the Israelites were sanctified [kadosh], the Wilderness of Kedemoth, because a priority [kedumah] was conferred there;26  the Wilderness of Paran,

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Ibid. 8.
  2. Ibid. 7.
  3. This connects tissa with massa. [Or, to involve you in a false oath.]
  4. Ibid. 12.
  5. Ibid. 13-15.
  6. Ps. VIII, 10.
  7. Showing that they no longer demanded that the Torah be kept in Heaven.
  8. Ps. LXVIII, 19.
  9. I.e.. for their disparaging reference to thee as a mere mortal created from the dust (adamah); cf. Gen. II, 7, where the Hebrew for 'Man' and 'ground' are adam and adamah respectively.
  10. Num. XVI, 47.
  11. Ibid. 48.
  12. Job. XXVIII, 23.
  13. Ibid. 14, 22.
  14. Surely it was not given to me alone!
  15. Mal. III, 22.
  16. The 'crowns' or 'Taggin', as they are generally designated, are three small strokes (ziyyunim = daggers) which are written on the top of the letters [H]. For a discussion of their origin and purpose v. J.E. art. Taggin.
  17. Shalom (peace) is the usual greeting in Hebrew.
  18. By wishing Me success in My labours.
  19. At a later ascent (Rashi).
  20. Num. XIV, 17.
  21. Ex. XXXII, 1.
  22. I.e., at midday.
  23. Ibid.
  24. They showed their unworthiness by rejecting the Torah.
  25. Zin being connected with ziwah, 'he commanded'.
  26. I.e., Israel was made pre-eminent by his acceptance of the Torah. [Or, the Torah which preceded Creation, v. Pes. 54a.]

Shabbath 89b

because Israel was fruitful [paru] and multiplied there; and the Wilderness of Sinai, because hostility toward idolaters descended thereon. Whilst what was its [real] name? Its name was Horeb. Now they disagree with R. Abbahu, For R. Abbahu said: its name was Mount Sinai, and why was it called Mount Horeb? Because desolation [hurbah] to idolaters descended thereon.

HOW DO WE KNOW THAT A CRIMSON-COLOURED STRAP IS TIED, etc., [Instead of] ka-shanim [like scarlet threads], kashani [like a scarlet thread] is required?1  Said R. Isaac, The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: [Even] if your sins be like these years [ka-shanim] which have continued in ordered fashion from the six days of the Creation until now,2  yet they shall be as white as snow.3

Raba lectured: What is meant by, Go now, and let us reason together, shall say the Lord.4  [Instead of] 'Go now', Come now, is required: [instead of] 'shall say the Lord', saith the Lord, is required?5  in the time to come the Holy One, blessed be He, shall say unto Israel, 'Go now to your forefathers, and they will reprove you.'6  And they shall say before Him, 'Sovereign of the Universe! To whom shall we go? To Abraham, to whom Thou didst say, Know of a surety [that thy seed shall be a stranger … and they shall afflict them …],7  yet he did not entreat mercy for us? To Isaac, who blessed Esau, And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt have dominion,8  and yet he did not entreat mercy for us? To Jacob, to whom Thou didst say, I will go down with thee into Egypt,9  and yet he did not entreat mercy for us? To whom then shall we go now? [Rather] let the Lord state [our wrongs]!'10  The Holy One, shall answer them, Since ye have made yourselves dependent upon Me, 'though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow'.

R. Samuel b. Nahmani also said in R. Jonathan's name: What is meant by, For thou art our father, though Abraham knoweth is not, and Israel doth not acknowledge us: thou, O Lord, art our father; our redeemer from everlasting is thy name?11  In the future to come the Holy One, blessed be He, will say to Abraham. 'Thy children have sinned against Me.' He shall answer Him, 'Sovereign of the Universe! Let them be wiped out for the sanctification of Thy Name.' Then shall He say, 'I will say this to Jacob, who experienced the pain of bringing up children: peradventure he will supplicate mercy for them. 'So He will say to him, 'Thy children have sinned.' He [too] shall answer Him, 'Sovereign of the Universe! Let them be wiped out for the sanctification of Thy Name.' He shall retort, 'There is no reason in old men, and no counsel in children!' Then shall he say to Isaac, 'Thy children have sinned against me.' But he shall answer Him, 'Sovereign of the Universe! Are they my children and not Thy children. When they gave precedence to "we will do" over "we will hearken" before Thee, Thou calledst them, Israel my son, my firstborn:12  now they are my sons, not Thy sons! Moreover, how much have they sinned? How many are the years of man? Seventy. Subtract twenty, for which Thou dost not punish,13  [and] there remain fifty. Subtract twenty-five which comprise the nights,14  [and] there remain twenty-five. Subtract twelve and a half of prayer, eating, and Nature's calls, [and] there remain twelve and a half. If Thou wilt bear all, 'tis well; if not, half be upon me and half upon Thee. And shouldst Thou say, they must all be upon me, lo! I offered myself up before Thee [as a sacrifice]!' [Thereupon] they shall commence and say, 'For thou [i.e., Isaac] art our father.' Then shall Isaac say to them, 'Instead of praising me, praise the Holy One, blessed be He,' and Isaac shall show them the Holy One, blessed be He, with their own eyes. Immediately they shall lift up their eyes on high and exclaim, 'Thou, O Lord, art our father; our redeemer from everlasting is thy name.'

R. Hiyya b. Abba said in R. Johanan's name: it was fitting for our father Jacob to go down into Egypt in iron chains, but that his merit saved him,15  for it is written, I drew them with the cords of a man, with bands of love; and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat before them.16


GEMARA. [But] we have [already] learnt it once: A reed, (the standard is] as much as is required for making a pen. But if it is thick or crushed, as much as is required for boiling the lightest of eggs beaten up and placed in a stew pot?23  — You might say, [That is only] there, because it is unfit for anything [else], but since wood is fit for the tooth of a key, for no matter how little involved [culpability is]; hence we are informed [otherwise].

[SEASONING] SPICES, AS MUCH AS IS REQUIRED FOR SEASONING A LIGHT EGG. But the following contradicts this: Spices of two or three designations24  belonging to the same species or three [different] species are forbidden,25  and they combine with each other.26  And Hezekiah observed;

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Isaiah should employ the singular, parallel to 'snow' in the other half of the sentence.
  2. I.e., no matter how deeply sin has eaten into you.
  3. Isa. I, 18.
  4. lbid.
  5. E.V. is 'come' and 'saith', but these translations are inexact.
  6. Or, convince you — of your wrong-doing.
  7. Gen. XV, 13.
  8. Ibid. XXVII, 40.
  9. Ibid. XLVI, 4.
  10. Do Thou rebuke us, not they, for they did not show themselves merciful.
  11. Isa. LXIII, 16.
  12. Ex. IV. 22.
  13. Rashi: As we find God did not punish those up to twenty years of age who accepted the report of the spies; v. Num. XIV, 29.
  14. When one sleeps and does not sin.
  15. Lit., 'caused it for him' — that he went down as Joseph's honoured guest.
  16. Hos. XI, 4.
  17. To make up the standard.
  18. V. Sanh., Sonc. ed., p. 330, n. 5.
  19. A sort of soap.
  20. A clay used for cleansing.
  21. A kind of alkali or mineral used as soap.
  22. Caused by a menstruous woman, v. Sanh. 49b.
  23. And obviously the same applies to wood.
  24. Rashi: e.g., black pepper, white pepper, etc. Tosaf.: spices forbidden under various headings, e.g., 'orlah, kil'ayim, etc.
  25. If used for seasoning food, the food is interdicted.
  26. If there is not sufficient in one to impart a flavour but only in combination with each other.