The Jewish Babylonian Talmud – Section Moed – Tract Sabbath – Regulations concerning the Sabbath and Hanukah Light.
REGULATIONS CONCERNING THE SABBATH AND ‘HANUKAH LIGHT.
MISHNA I.: What shall and what shall not be used for lighting (the Sabbath light)? The light shall not be made with (wicks of) cedar hast, raw flax, silk fibre, weeds growing upon the water, and ship-moss. 1 Nor shall pitch, wax, cotton-seed oil, oil of rejected heave-offerings, 2 fat from the tail of a sheep, and tallow be used.
Nahum the Modait says melted tallow maybe used for lighting; the schoolmen, however, prohibit melted and raw tallow alike.
GEMARA: Rabbin and Abayi were sitting before Rabbanah Ne’hemiah, the brother of the Exilarch (after the death of his brother he became Exilarch under the name Ne’hemiah the Second), and they saw that he was dressed in a mantle of μ (raw silk). Said Rabbin to Abayi: “This is called in our Mishna khlakh.” 3 And he answered: “In our city it is called Shira Peranda (ferandinis).” The same (Rabbin and Abayi) happened to be in the valley of Tamruritha, and they saw a kind of willow, and Rabbin said to Abayi: “This is edan mentioned in our Mishna”; and he rejoined: “This is only common wood; how could a wick be made of it?” He peeled off one of them and showed him a kind of woolly substance between the bark and the stem.
The rabbis taught: All that which was prohibited for the Sabbath lamp may be used in fires that are kept up for heat or even for constant light, whether (such fires are built) upon the ground or in the hearth; as the materials are prohibited only for use as wicks for the Sabbath lamp.
Rabba said: The wicks which the rabbis forbade the use of in the Sabbath lamp are prohibited because they give a flickering light. The oily substances were prohibited because they do not adhere to the wick.
Abayi questioned Rabba: Would it be permitted to mix oil with these prohibited fats and then use them for the Sabbath lamp? Or is even that prohibited as a precaution lest one use those fats without the addition of oil? Rabba answered: It is prohibited. Why so? Because they do not give a right light.
Abayi objected to him from the following: “R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: ‘In my father’s house they wound the wick around a nut and lighted it’; hence you see that it may be lighted.” Said Rabba: “Instead of contradicting me with the saying of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, support my view with the decision of the first Tana” (of our Mishna). This would not do, as the record of an act is
incontrovertible. Still the record of the master remains contradictory. The Mishna is not complete, and should read thus: “If one has wound a thing that may be used (as a wick) around a thing that may not be used, be is not permitted to light it. This is the case when the two (substances) are to serve the purpose of a wick, but if the prohibited substance is used merely to support the permissible (the combination) is allowed, as so said R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, ‘In my father’s house,'” etc.
But, after all, it is not so. Did not R. Beruna teach in the name of Rabh: To melted tallow or fish fat one may add some oil and use it for the Sabbath lamp? These substances adhere to the wick in themselves. But the rabbis had prohibited melted tallow or fish fat as a precaution, lest (if the melted substance be allowed) one use it raw also for light. Why did they not enact the prohibition to use these substances with the admixture of some oil as a precaution lest they be used without the admixture of oil? This itself is a precautionary measure; shall we enact another as a safeguard to it?
R. Huna said: The wicks and fats which the sages have prohibited for the Sabbath lamp cannot be used for the ‘Hanukah lamp either on the Sabbath night or on week nights. Said
[paragraph continues] Rabba: The reason of R. Huna’s theory is because he holds that if the (‘Hanukah lamp) is extinguished (by accident) it must be relighted, and also that its light may be used to work by. R. Hisda, however, maintains that it can be fed (with these fats) on week nights, but not on the Sabbath night. Because he holds that if it is extinguished, one is not in duty bound (to light it again), and as long as it burns it may be used to work by.
R. Zera in the name of R. Mathna, according to others in the name of Rabh, said: The wicks and fats which the sages prohibited for the Sabbath lamp may be used for the ‘Hanukah lamp, both during the week and on the Sabbath night. Said R. Jeremiah: The reason of Rabh’s decision is because he holds that if it is extinguished he need not relight it, and its light is prohibited to be used.” The rabbis declared this before Abayi, in the name of R. Jeremiah, and he would not accept it; when Rabbin came from Palestine he declared the same before Abayi in the name of
R. Johanan, and he accepted it and said: “Had I been worthy, I would have accepted this teaching before.”
It is said in the name of Rabh: “If it is extinguished, it is not needed to relight it.” Is this not contradicted by the following: “The proper ordinance is for (the ‘Hanukah light) to last from sunset until footsteps are no longer heard in the street”? 1 Does this not mean that if extinguished it must be relighted? Nay, the time appointed is only for the purpose of determining when the light is to be lit, or a light should be made which will last for the appointed time.
The rabbis taught: The law of ‘Hanukah demands that every man should light one lamp for himself and his household. Those who seek to fulfil it well have a lamp lit for every member of the household. Those who seek to fulfil the law in the best possible manner should light
according to Beth Shamai the first night eight flames, and every following night one flame
less. And according to Beth Hillel the reverse–the first night one lamp, and be increased by one on each succeeding night. Said Rabba b. b. Hana in the name of R. Johanan: “There were two sages in Zidon; one did according to the decision of Shamai’s school, and gave the reason that the ‘Hanukah lamp is to be lit in the same manner as the sacrifices of the feast were offered, 1 and the other according to the school of Hillel, with the reason that holy actions should show (emblemize) increase and not reduction.
The rabbis taught: It is a merit to put the ‘Hanukah lamp on the outside door of the house; and he who lives in an attic puts it in a window that opens into the street. In time of danger, however, 2 it is sufficient if the lights are on the table. Said Rabha: In the latter case another light is required to work by; but if there is a hearth-fire in the house, it is not necessary. However, if the man is of high standing (and not in the habit of working by the hearth-light) he must have another lamp.
What is ‘Hanukah? The rabbis taught: “On the twenty-fifth day of Kislev ‘Hanukah commences and lasts eight days, on which lamenting (in commemoration of the dead) and fasting are prohibited. When the Hellenists entered the sanctuary, they defiled all the oil that was found there. When the government of the House of Asmoneans prevailed and conquered them, oil was sought (to feed the holy lamp in the sanctuary) and only one vial was found with the seal of the high priest intact. The vial contained sufficient oil for one day only, but a miracle occurred, and it fed the holy lamp eight days in succession. These eight days were the following year established as days of good cheer, on which psalms of praise and acknowledgment (of God’s wonders) were to be recited.
R. Kahana said: R. Nathan b. Manyomi in the name of R. Tanhum lectured: “A ‘Hanukah lamp becomes disqualified if it is put higher than twenty ells (from the ground), just like a Sukkah (booth) and like the side beam of an alley.”
Rabba said: The merit of the ‘Hanukah lamp is that it be put within a span of the house door.
And on which side? R. A’ha b. Rabha said to the right, R. Samuel of Diphti said to
R. Jehudah in the name of R. Assi said: It is not allowed to count money by the ‘Hanukah light. When this was cited before Samuel, he said: “Is there any holiness in the light?” R. Joseph retorted: Is there any holiness in the blood of an animal? and yet have we not learned in a Boraitha: It is written: “Then shall pour out the blood . . . and cover it” . . . [Lev. xvii. 13]. From this we infer that he must cover it with the same hand it was shed with, but not with his foot, in order that the fulfilment of the commandment should not be treated with lack of reverence. In our case, too, the light must not be used for anything, in order that the compliance with an ordinance should not evince a lack of reverence.
R. Joshua b. Levi was questioned: May the fruits, hung up in the Sukkah for ornamentation, be used during the seven days of the feast? He answered: Even to the ‘Hanukah light a law was passed prohibiting the counting of money. Said R. Joseph: “Lord of Abraham!” Here he connected a law that was enacted (by the ancient masters) with one that was not discussed by them. The law concerning the Sukkah was biblical, that concerning ‘Hanukah was not biblical but rabbinical. Therefore said R. Joseph: The precedent of all these cases is the law concerning the blood (which was cited above).
It was taught: Rabh said,: It is not allowed to light one ‘Hanukah light with the other; Samuel permits this. Rabh prohibited Tzitzith (show-threads) to be taken out of one garment and put into another; Samuel permits also this. He also said that the Halakha does not prevail in accordance with R. Simeon regarding dragging across the floor (which will be explained farther on); and Samuel maintains it does. 2
Said Abayi: “My master followed the decisions of Rabh in all questions except the three mentioned above, which he decided according to Samuel.”
One of the rabbis in the presence of R. Ada b. Ahba said:
Rabh’s reason for prohibiting these acts was to prevent irreverence in the compliance with the law.” Said R. Ada to the scholars present: “Hear him not; Rabh’s reason was to prevent stinginess in the fulfilment of laws.” And what is the difference between the two? It is in the lighting of one ‘Hanukah lamp with another. He who says that irreverence was the reason cannot prohibit this; but he who holds stinginess to be the reason, prohibits even this rightfully.
How is this question to be decided? Said R. Huna b. R. Joshua: “Let us sec whether the act of lighting the lamp constitutes merit, or whether it is the act of putting it in its proper place”; this question having been already propounded by the schoolmen (the answer, when given, will serve for the above also).
Come then and hear the following: R. Joshua b. Levi says: “A lantern (that was lit for ‘Hanukah on Friday night) and kept burning the whole following day must, at the close of the Sabbath, be extinguished and then relighted.” Now if we say that the lighting constitutes compliance with the commandment, this teaching is correct; but if we say that the placing of the lamp in its proper place constitutes the merit, it should be said: “It should be extinguished, raised up, put in its proper place, and then lit.” And also, since we pronounce the benediction, “Blessed art Thou, etc., who hast commanded us to light the ‘Hanukah lamp,” it becomes clearly apparent the lighting constitutes compliance. And so it is. Now that we come to the conclusion that the act of lighting constitutes the merit, it is understood that if this was done by a deaf-mute, an idiot, or a minor, the act is not valid; a woman, however, may surely light it, as R. Joshua b. Levi said: “Women are in duty bound to light the ‘Hanukah lamp, for they were included in miracle.”
R. Shesheth said: A guest (at a stranger’s house) is obliged to light the ‘Hanukah lamp. Said R. Zera: When I was studying at the school of Rabh, I contributed my share towards maintaining and lighting the lamp with mine host. Since I am married, I say, I surely need not light it now,
for it is lit for me at my house.
R. Joshua b. Levi said: “All fats are good for the ‘Hanukah lamp, but olive oil is the best.” Abayi said: “My master always sought for poppy-seed oil, because, said he, it burns slowly (and
the light lasts longer), but when he heard the saying of R. Joshua b.. Levi, he sought for olive oil, for that gives a clearer light.”
Hyya b. Ashi in the name of Rabh said: He who lights the ‘Hanukah lamp must pronounce a benediction. R. Jeremiah said: He who perceives it must pronounce a benediction. R. Jehudah said: He who perceives a ‘Hanukah lamp on the first day must pronounce two benedictions, and the one that lights it on the first day, three; 1 after the first day, the one that lights it must pronounce two benedictions and the one that perceives it one.
What benediction would he omit? The benediction of time. But why not omit the benediction of the miracle? Because the miracle was continued every day (of the eight). And what is the (special) benediction? “Blessed be, etc., who hallowed us with His commands and ordained that we shall light the ‘Hanukah lamp.” But where did He ordain this? Said R. Avya: (This command is included in) “Thou shalt not depart,” etc. [Deut. xvii. 11]. R. Nehemiah, however, from the following said: “Ask thy father and he will tell thee; thine elders, and they will inform
thee” [ibid. xxxii. 7].
R. Huna said: A house that has two doors must have two lamps. Said Rabha: This is only in case when the two doors are in two different sides of the house; but if they both open on the same side it is not necessary. Why so? Because the townsmen may pass by the side which has no lamp and suspect the owner of the house of not having lit any at all. And where is it taken from that one must endeavor to avoid suspicion? From a Tosephtha in Peah, Chap. L, which states plainly that every one must do so.
R. Isaac b. Rediphah in the name of R. Huna said: “A lamp with two mouths (so that two wicks can be lit in it) is sufficient for two men.”
Rabha said: If one has filled a dish with oil, put wicks all around the brim, and covered it with a vessel (so that each wick yields a separate flame), it is sufficient for many persons; but if he has not covered it, he makes it appear as one flame of fire, and it is not valid, even for one person.
The same said again: If one (possessing only means enough
to light one lamp) must choose between using this light for a house-light 1 (on Friday night) or a ‘Hanukah light, he should use it for a house-light in order to preserve his domestic peace. If, again, his choice must be between (purchasing) the house-light and (the wine necessary for the celebration) of the holiness of Sabbath, the house-light is to be preferred and for the same reason; however, it is doubtful to me what must be chosen between the ‘Hanukah light and the
goblet for qiddush. When one cannot afford both, which must he prefer?” “Is the latter to be preferred because it is of regular occurrence. 2 or is the ‘Hanukah light preferable, in order to proclaim the miracle (which it commemorates)?” After deliberating he decided himself that the proclaiming of the miracle has the preference.
R. Huna said: he who makes a practice of lighting many lamps (which the law requires for festive occasions) will be rewarded with scholarly sons. He who is particular about his Mezuzah will be blessed with a fine dwelling. He who is particular about his show-threads (Tzitziths) will be blessed with fine garments. He who is particular to pronounce the benediction of Sabbath over a goblet of wine shall live to have his cellar well stocked.
R. Huna was wont to pass by the house of R. Abbin, the carpenter. He noticed that the latter lit a great many lamps on the Sabbath night. Said he: “Two great men will come forth from this house.” And they were R. Jidi and R. Hyya b. Abhin.
R. Hisda was wont to pass by the house of the master (father or father-in-law) of R. Shezbi; he noticed many lights every Sabbath. Said he: “A great man will come forth from this house.” This great man was R. Shezbi.
The wife of R. Joseph was accustomed to light her (Sabbath) lamp late. Said he unto her: There is a Boraitha: It is written: “The pillar of cloud did not depart by day nor the
pillar of fire by night” [Ex. xiii. 22]. From this we infer that the two pillars always closely followed each other. She then wanted to light up too early. Said a certain old man to her: “There is another Boraitha, however, that (whatever is to be done) should be done neither too early nor too late.”
Rabha. said: “He who loves scholars, will have sons that are scholars; he who respects them, will have scholarly sons-in-law; he who fears scholars, will become a scholar himself, and if he is not fit for this, his words will be respected like those of an ordained scholar.”
“Oil of rejected heave-offering,” etc. What is that? Said Rabba: It means oil of heave-offering which became defiled. It is called oil for burning, because it must be destroyed in fire, and the Mishna speaks here of a Friday that happens to fall on a feast day, and the prohibition to light (the Sabbath lamp) with it is because consecrated things that have been defiled must not be burned on a feast day. Said R. Hanina of Sora: “This should be corrected in our Mishna: Why shall one not make a light with the defiled oil? Because defiled things must not be burned on a feast day. And so also we have learned in a Boraitha: All material which must not be used for lighting, on the Sabbath, may be lit on a feast day, save the oil for burning.”
The schoolmen propounded a question: Should the ‘Hanukah incident be mentioned in the benediction after meals? Shall we assume that because it is rabbinical it is unnecessary? or, for the sake of the proclamation of the miracle, it should? Said Rabba in the name of R. S’haura, quoting R. Huna: “It is not necessary; however, if one wishes to do it, he should incorporate it in the thanksgiving part.”
R. Hunah b. Jehudah visited the house of Rabha. He was about to mention it in (the prayer part under the heading of) “the One who builds up Jerusalem.” Said R. Shesheth: Nay; it should be mentioned in the thanksgiving part of the benediction after the meal, as it is mentioned in the same part in the prayer of the eighteen benedictions. 1
The schoolmen propounded a question: Should the New-Moon day be mentioned in the benediction after meals? Shall we assume that the New-Moon day is more important than Hanukah because its observation is enjoined in the Scriptures,
or need it not be mentioned because manual labor is not prohibited on that day? Rabh maintains it may; R. Hanina maintains it may not. Said R. Zerika: “Hold to Rabh’s opinion, for R. Oshia holds to the same; as R. Oshia taught: On the days on which additional sacrifices (Musaph) are offered in the sanctuary, like New-Moon days and the middle days of a feast, one must at evening, morning, and afternoon services recite the regular eighteen benedictions and insert in the thanksgiving part of the day’s service a passage referring to the subject of the day. And if he has failed to do so, he should be made to repeat them; however, no benediction over a goblet of wine, though a remembrance of their significance must be made in the prayer after meals. On days requiring no additional sacrifice, like the first Monday, Thursday and Monday (after a biblical feast), fast days, and the days (devoted to prayer by) commoners, 1 one must recite the eighteen benedictions at evening, morning, and afternoon services, and insert a paragraph referring to the subject of the day in the prayer division; and if he forgot the latter he need not repeat them, nor any remembrance of them in the benediction after meals. The Halakha, however, does not prevail with all that was said above. It remains as decreed by R. Joshua b.
Levi: If the Day of Atonement happens to fall on a Sabbath day, mention of the Sabbath must be made even in the Neilah prayer (the last of the four different prayers of the Day of Atonement). Why so? Because the Sabbath and the Day of Atonement are now one, and four prayers are indispensable to the services of the day.
MISHNA II.: The lamp used on a (biblical) feast-night shall not be fed with oil of rejected heave-offerings. R. Ishmael said: The Sabbath lamp shall not be fed with tar, out of honor for the Sabbath. The sages, however, allow all fatty substances for this purpose: poppy-seed oil, nut oil, fish oil, radish oil, wild-gourd oil, tar, and naphtha. R. Tarphin said: It shall be lighted with nothing but olive oil.
GEMARA: “R. Ishmael said, “etc. Why so? Said Rabha: Because it emits a bad odor (and the Tana prohibits it) as a precaution,
lest one light it and leave the house. Said Abayi: Let him go (what harm is there in that?). Rejoined Rabha: Because I hold that the Sabbath light is a duty, as R. Na’hman b. R. Zabda or b. Rabha said in the name of Rabh. The (enjoyment of) Sabbath light is an obligation. The washing of hands and feet in warm water toward evening (on Friday) is optional. And I say it is a meritorious act. Why so? Because R. Jehudah said in the name of Rabh: “It was the custom of
R. Jehudah bar Ilayi to bathe his face, hands, and feet in warm water, that was brought to him in a trough every Friday toward evening; after that he wrapped himself in a pallium with Tzitzith
(show-threads) and thus assumed an angelic appearance.”
It is written: “My soul was deprived of peace” [Lam. iii. 17]. What does this mean? Said R. Abuhu: It means (being deprived of the pleasure of) lighting the Sabbath lamp. “I forgot the good.” [ibid.]. What does this mean? Said R. Jeremiah: This refers to (the deprivation of) a bath.
R. Johanan, however, said: It refers to the washing of hands and feet with warm water. R. Isaac of Naph’ha said: It refers to a good bed and comfortable bedding. R. Aba said: It refers to an arranged bed and an elegantly robed wife for scholarly men.
The rabbis taught: “Who may consider himself rich?” One who enjoys his riches, is the opinion of R. Meir. R. Tarphon says: He who has a hundred fields, a hundred vineyards, and a hundred slaves at work in them. R. Aqiba said: He who has a wife adorned with good virtues. R. Jose said: He who has a place for man’s necessity in his house. 1
We have learned in a Boraitha: R. Simeon b. Elazar said: “The Sabbath lamp shall not be fed with aromatic balsam.” Why so? Rabba said: Because it yields a fine fragrance, it was feared lest one use it (taking it out while the lamp is burning). Said Abayi to him: “Why does not the master say because it is volatile?” Aye, he means this and the other also; the balsam is prohibited because it is volatile, and also for fear lest it be used.
There was a mother-in-law who hated her son’s wife, and told her to perfume herself with aromatic oil. When the daughter-in-law had done this, she ordered her to go and light the candle. While complying with this order, she caught fire and was burned.
The rabbis taught: A lamp shall not be fed with defiled
[paragraph continues] “Tebhel” 1 even on week days, and the less so on the Sabbath. In a similar manner, white naphtha shall not be used to feed a lamp with on week days, much less on Sabbath, because it is volatile.
In the Boraitha it was said that aromatic balsam shall not be used; so also did R. Simeon b. Elazar teach: Aromatic balsam is nothing but resin, that comes forth from aromatic trees.
R. Ishmael said: The (Sabbath) lamp shall not be fed with anything that comes from the trunk of a tree. R. Ishmael b. Beroqa said: It shall be lighted only with such substances as come from fruit. R. Tarphon, however, said: It shall be fed only with olive oil. R. Johanan b. Nuri then arose and said; “What shall the people of Babylonia do, who have nothing but poppy-seed oil? What shall the people of Media do, who have nothing but nut oil? What shall the people of Alexandria do, who have nothing but radish oil? and what shall the people of Cappadocia do, who have no oil of any kind, nothing but tar?” Nay; we have no choice but to accept the decree of the masters as to substances which should not be used. Even fish oil and resin maybe used. R. Simeon Shezori said: Oil of wild gourds and naphtha may be used. Symmachos said: No animal fat save fish oil may be used.
MISHNA III.: No substance that comes from a tree shall be used (as a wick) save flax. In like
manner no substance that comes from a tree becomes defiled when serving as a tent (in which a dead body lies) save flax.
GEMARA: Whence do we know that flax is called a tree? Said Mar Zutra: From what is written: “She took them up to the roof, and hid them in the flax trees” [Josh. ii. 6].
“No substance, etc., save flax.” Whence is this deduced? Said R. Elazar: From the analogy of expressions “tent,” which is mentioned in the case of the tabernacle, and in the case of death [Ex. xl. 19 and Numb. xix. 14]. As the tent of the tabernacle was made only of flax, so also in our case, if a tent is made of flax only, it is also called a tent, and is liable to become defiled.
MISHNA IV.: A piece of cloth that was rolled together, but not singed, said R. Eliezer, becomes defiled (when it is in the same tent with a dead body), and shall not be used (as a
wick) for Sabbath. R. Aqiba, however, said: It remains pure and may be used.
GEMARA: What is the point of their differing? Said R. Elazar in the name of R. Oshia, and so also said R. Ada b. Ahba: The piece of cloth in question is exactly three fingers square, and the lighting is to be done on a feast day, which happens on a Friday. All agree with the opinion of R. Jehudah, who said that (on a feast day) fire may be made with good cloth (or vessels), but not with such as have been spoiled (the same day). Again, all agree with the opinion of Ula, who said that the lighting must be on the largest part of the wick that protrudes from the lamp. Now
R. Eliezer holds that the rolling up (of the piece of cloth) does not improve the position (i.e., it is still an object to which the term “cloth” or vessel applies); as soon as it is slightly burned it becomes spoiled material; fire, being applied further, is naturally generated with spoiled material (which is prohibited). R. Aqiba, on the other hand, holds that folding does improve the condition and the cloth is no longer a vessel; hence he puts fire to a simple piece of wood (which is allowed).
Rabha, however, said: The reason of R. Eliezer’s (prohibition) is that the Sabbath lamp is not allowed to be lighted with a wick or rag that has not been singed.
R. Jehudah in the name of Rabh said: Fire may be made (on a feast day) with vessels, but not with broken vessels. So is the decree of R. Jehudah. R. Simeon permits it. Fire may be made with dates, but after having eaten them fire is not to be fed with their granum. A fire may be made with nuts, but after having eaten the kernel one must not feed the fire with the shells, according to R. Jehudah; R. Simeon, however, permits both.
The statement credited to Rabh in the foregoing paragraph was not made by him plainly, but was merely implied from the following act. While in Palestine, one day Rabh was eating dates and threw the pits into the fireplace, upon which R. Hyya said to him: “Descendant of nobles, on a (biblical) feast day this would be prohibited!” Did Rabh accept this or not? Come and hear.
While in Babylonia, one feast day Rabh was eating dates and threw the pits to some cattle (for food). Must we not assume that these dates belonged to the class known as “Parsiassa” (a ripe, delicious, free-stone fruit), and if Rabh fed cattle with the pits of this fruit, it was because
they may be used for fuel also, and thus the statement of R. Hyya is contradicted? Nay; it may be the pits that fed the cattle by Rabh were from dates known as “Armiassa” (an inferior fruit, the pits of which cling to the meat). The pits of this latter class of dates, in consequence of the meat still clinging to them, are regarded as dates themselves, and may be handled on the Sabbath. Hence it is obvious that they may also be fed to cattle, and Rabh therefore does not contradict R. Hyya.
MISHNA V.: One shall not bore a bole in an egg-shell, fill it with oil, and put it upon the (Sabbath) lamp, so that the oil drip into it; and even if it was a clay one. R. Jehudah permits it. If, however, the potter had attached it to the lamp when he made it, it is allowed to do this, for (together with the lamp) it forms one vessel. A man shall not fill a dish with oil, put it beside the lamp, and dip the (unlighted) end of the wick into it, in order that it should draw. R. Jehudah permits also this.
GEMARA: “If the potter had attached it,” etc. A Boraitha in addition to it states: If he himself has attached it with mortar or clay, it is allowed. Does not our Mishna say “the potter” (from which it may be inferred that if the owner did it, is it not allowed for use)? Nay; “the potter” means in the manner of the potter.
We have learned in a Boraitha, R. Jehudah said: “Once we kept Sabbath in the attic of Beth Nitza in Lydda. We procured an egg-shell, filled it with oil, and placed it on the lamp. R. Tarphon and the aged scholars were there, and they made no objection to our action.” They answered him. “Wilt thou prove by this (that this is allowed)? Beth Nitza is quite a different case, for the men there were very careful.”
Abhin of Ziphoris dragged a chair (along the floor on a Sabbath) in the marble hall in the presence of R. Itz’hak b. Elazar. Said the latter: “If I should be silent toward thee (although this floor being marble, no depression can be made by the chair, and thou art not guilty of wrongdoing) as the colleagues were silent toward R. Jehudah, my silence might be misconstrued (and people might think that this can be done on any floor; therefore I say that) this is prohibited in the marble hall as a precautionary measure, lest one do it in any other hall.” The head man of the assembly room of Bazra dragged a chair in the presence of Jeremiah the Great. Said the latter to him: “According to whose decision dost thou this?” “According to R.
[paragraph continues] Simeon.” “R. Simeon, however, allowed large things only (to be dragged) if they could not be lifted; but we have never heard from him that he would allow this also with small ones?” This teaching, however, differs with Ulla’s theory, who says the dispute was only concerning small things, for as to large ones there was no objection from any one.
sleep, he is free. If he does this, however, to prevent damage to the lamp, or to save the oil or the wick, he is culpable. R. Jose declares the man free even in the latter cases, excepting (if he extinguished the lamp to save the wick), for in that case he caused a cinder to be formed.
GEMARA: From the fact that the second part of the Mishna declares the man (who had extinguished the lamp to prevent damage, etc.) culpable, it is evident that this regulation was made by R. Jehudah. 3 Now, how is the first part to be understood? If it speaks of a sick person, whose illness is dangerous, it should not say (that the man who extinguishes the lamp to afford him rest) is “free,” but should say that he is “allowed to do it” (even intentionally). And if it speaks of one whose illness is not dangerous, (the one who extinguished the lamp for him) ought to be declared in duty bound to bring a sin-offering? Of a verity, the Tana speaks of a case of dangerous illness, and should have said “it is allowed to do so,” but he used the term “free” merely (for the sake of euphony), because in the latter part (of the Mishna) the expression “culpable” was necessary; therefore he taught in the first part of the Mishna, also free. But have we not learned, R. Oshia said, that “in order that a sick person may be able to sleep, one should not extinguish (the lamp on the Sabbath); and if he did so he is not held culpable, though it is not allowed (to be done intentionally)”? The teaching of R. Oshia refers to sickness that is not dangerous, and is in accord with the opinion of R. Simeon.
The question, “Is it allowed to extinguish a lamp for the
sake of a sick person on the Sabbath?” was propounded to Tan’hum of Navi.
He began thus: 1 “O thou Solomon! Where is thy wisdom? Where is thy folly? Thy words contradict not only the words of thy father, but also thine own utterance. Thy father David said, ‘The dead do not praise God’ [Ps. cxv. 17], and thou sayest, ‘I praise the dead that died long ago’ [Eccl. iv. 2] and then again, ‘A living dog fareth better than a dead lion’ [ibid. ix. 4]. [This presents no difficulty. That which David said, ‘The dead do not praise God,’ means this: One must always occupy himself with study and with meritorious acts before his death; for as soon
as he dies he is free of both, and the Holy One, blessed be he, receives no more praise from him. And the saying of Solomon, ‘I praise the dead,’ etc., means: When Israel sinned in the desert, Moses stood up before the Lord and offered many prayers and propitiating invocations; but he received no answer. As soon, however, as he said: ‘Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Thy servants’ [Ex. xxxii. 13], he was answered forthwith. Now did not Solomon say well: ‘I praise the dead that have died long ago’? In another way (this can be explained as follows): The custom is, if a man of flesh and blood issues a decree, it is doubtful whether the people will comply with it or not. If they comply with it while he lives they may disregard it after his death. Moses, our master, on the other hand, has issued many decrees and established many enactments, which stand unshaken forever and aye, Now, did not Solomon say well: ‘I praise the dead,’ etc.?
Another explanation to the above verse may refer to the following legend, which was told by R. Jehudah in the name of Rabh: It is written [Psalms, lxxxvi. 17]: ‘Display on me a sign for good, that those who hate me may see it, and be ashamed.’ So said David before the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘Lord of the Universe, forgive me the certain sin (with Bath-Sheba’, II Samuel, xi. 3).
And the Lord said: ‘It is forgiven.’ He prayed again: ‘Display on me a sign to make it known.’ And the Lord said: ‘This will not be done while you are alive, but it will be made known in the time of your son Solomon.’ After Solomon had built the Temple and was about to enter the ark into the Holy of Holiness, the doors shut. Solomon had prayed twenty-four
prayers with song, and was not answered. He then began [Psalms, xxiv. 7]: ‘Be raised wide . . . and let the King of Glory enter!’ The doors then ran after him and wanted to swallow him, saying: ‘Who is the King of Glory?’ And he said: ‘The Lord strong and mighty.’ He then said: [ibid., ibid. 9, 10]. And still was not answered. Then he said [II Chron. vi. 42]: ‘O Lord God! . . . remember the pious deeds of David thy servant’; he was answered at once, and the faces of his enemies became as black as the outside of a pot; and Israel and all the people were then certain that the above-mentioned sin was forgiven to David. Hence did not Solomon say well: ‘I praise the dead,’ etc.? And this is what is written [I Kings, viii. 66]: ‘On the eighth day . . . and they went unto their tents joyful,’ etc.] And as to the above question, 1 I say this: A lamp is called ‘Ner,’ and the soul of man is called ‘Ner.’ 2 Let rather the Ner which man has made (the lamp) be extinguished, than the ‘Ner’ (the soul) which belongs to the Holy One, blessed is He.”
It was said in the name of Rabh: The sages wanted to conceal the Book of Ecclesiastes because of its contradictory sayings. And it was not so done, because it begins with sound religious teachings and ends with similar teachings. It begins with the words: “What profit hath man by all his toil under the sun?” [Eccl. i. 3]. Whereupon the school of R. Janai said, “Under the sun” there is no profit, but there surely is “beyond the sun.” And it ends with the words: “The conclusion of the matter is, Fear God and observe his commands, for this is all (there is) for man” [Eccl. xii. 13]. What does it mean? Said R. Elazar: (It means) the whole world was created only for the sake of his fear of God. R. Aba b. Kahana said: The God-fearing man outweighs (in importance) the whole world. Simeon b. Azai, others say b. Zoma, said: The whole world was created only to provide him with assistance.
“I praise mirth” [Eccl. viii. 15]. This means the righteous man rejoices when he performs a meritorious act. “And of joy, what doth this do?” [Eccl. ii. 2] alludes to rejoicing that comes not through a Heaven-pleasing deed. This teaches that the divine presence (Shekhina) comes not by sadness, by indolence,
by hilarity, by levity, by gossip, or by senseless talk, but through rejoicing in a meritorious deed; as it is written: “Now bring me a minstrel; and when the minstrel played, the power of the Lord was upon him” [II Kings, iii. 15]. Rabba said: The same (should be done) in order to enjoy good dreams. R. Jehudah says: The same (should be done) to predispose one’s self for legislative work, as Rabba did: Before commencing to expound a Halakha he introduced it with a simile and caused the masters to become joyful; afterward, he sat down in the fear of the Lord and began to expound the Halakha.
It was taught that in the same time they also wanted to conceal the Book of Proverbs on account of its contradictory sayings. And it was not done, because, they said: “Have we not scrutinized the Book of Ecclesiastes and found the meaning (of its contradictory sayings)? Let us then search deeply here (in the Book of Proverbs) also.”
Which are the contradictory sayings? It says: “Answer not the fool according to his folly” [Prov.
xxvi. 4]; and then again: “Answer the fool in his folly” [ibid. v. 5]. Yet this is no contradiction; the latter refers to a subject of learning, the former saying to a subject of indifferent talk. How is the subject of learning here to be understood? In the following manner. R. Gamaliel lectured: In the future, woman will bear a child every day, for thus it is written: “She conceived and gave
birth at a time. [Jer. xxxi. 7]. A disciple laughed at this and said: “There is no new thing under the sun” [Eccl. i. 9]. Said R. Gamaliel: Come, I will show thee such a thing in the world; and he showed him a hen. The same rabbi lectured: In the future trees will bear every day, for it is written: “It will produce branches and bear fruit” [Ezek. xvii. 231. “As branches are produced for every day, so also will fruit be brought forth every day.” Again the disciple laughed and said: “There is no new thing under the sun.” Said the master to him: “Come, I will show thee a thing of this kind in the world; and he showed him a caper tree.” He lectured also: “The land of Israel will in the future produce ready cakes and garments,” explaining the first part of verse 16 of Psalm lxxii. to that effect.
The disciple again laughed at him; but he showed him that ready meats are produced in the shape of mushrooms, and ready garments grow in the shape of many-colored fibres that cover the young date trees.
The rabbis taught: A man should always be as modest as Hillel, and not as impulsive as Shamai. It once happened that two men laid a wager of four hundred zuz, which would be won by him who could provoke Hillel to anger, but lost if he failed in the attempt. This happened on Friday, while the sage was bathing his head. The man who undertook the task went to Hillel’s door and cried: “Who is Hillel here? Who is Hillel here?” 1 The rabbi threw a mantle over his shoulders and went out to meet him. “What desirest thou, my son?” he asked. “I have a question to ask,” the man replied. “Ask, my son, ask,” said the rabbi. “Why are the Babylonians round-headed?” asked the man. “This is an important question, my son. The reason is that they have no skilled midwives in Babylon,” answered Hillel. An hour later the man came again calling: “Who is Hillel here? Who is Hillel here?” The rabbi came out again and said: “What desirest thou, my son?” “I have a question to ask,” the man said. “Ask, my son, ask,” said Hillel. “Why have the Tarmudites oval eyes?” “This is a very important question, my son. (The Tarmudites) live in a sandy land and must always keep their eyes half closed.” An hour later the man came again in his insolent manner, and said again that he had a question to ask. Hillel in his quiet manner again encouraged him. “Why do the Africans have large feet?” he asked. “Because they live in a swampy land,” answered Hillel. “I have many more questions to ask, but I am afraid lest thou get angry,” continued the man. Hillel wrapped himself in his mantle and sat down, saying: “Ask, my son, all the questions thou desirest.” “Art thou Hillel, who is titled a prince in Israel?” asked the man. “Yes, my son,” answered the rabbi. “If thou art the man, may there not be many like thee in Israel?” “Why so, my son?” “Because thou makest me lose four hundred zuz.” Said Hillel to him: “Take care of thy temper. A Hillel is worthy that twice that amount be lost through him; a Hillel must not get excited.”
The rabbis taught. A Gentile once came before Shamai and asked: “How many laws have you?” “Two laws: the written and the oral law,” answered Shamai. “I believe thee as regards the written law, but I do not believe thee as to the oral
law,” said the Gentile. “I will be converted to Judaism on condition that thou teach me the written law.” Shamai rebuked him and drove him away.
He then came to Hillel with the same plea, and Hillel accepted him. He began teaching him the alphabet in regular sequence. The next day he taught him the letters backward. “You did not teach me so yesterday,” the man objected. “Aye, aye, my son; must thou not repose confidence in me? Thou must likewise repose confidence in the oral law (which appears at first sight different from the written law).”
Another Gentile came to Shamai saying: “Convert me on the condition that thou teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Shamai pushed him away with the builders’ measure he held in his hand. He thereupon came to Hillel, and the latter accepted him. He told him: “What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow; this is the whole law. All the rest is a commentary to this law; go and learn it.”
Another Gentile once heard a Jewish teacher instructing his class about the vestments of the high priest. He took a fancy to that, and thought he would accept Judaism in order to be made a high priest. Thus he appeared before Shamai and said: “Convert me on the condition that I be made a high priest.” Shamai pushed him away with the builders’ measure he held in his hand. He came to Hillel (with the same request), and the latter accepted him. Said Hillel to him: “Do people select a king unless he knows the laws of their government? Thou must study the laws of our government (if thou wilt become a high priest).” The convert began studying Torah. When he came to the passage: “A stranger who comes near (to the vessels of the sanctuary) shall
die” [Numb. i. 51], he asked: “To whom does this passage refer?” Hillel answered: “To any one (who is not a descendant of Aaron the high priest), even if he would be David, the king of Israel.” Then the proselyte made the following deduction: If the people of Israel, who are called the children of the Lord, so that out of love to them the Omnipotent said: “My first-born son is Israel” [Ex. iv. 22]–if of them it is written, “a stranger that comes nigh shall die,” the more so must it be with an insignificant stranger, who is come (within the pale of Judaism) merely with his staff and his bag. He went before Shamai and said: “Am I qualified to become a high priest? Is it not written [Numb. iii. 10]: ‘A stranger that comes nigh shall die’?” He then appeared before
Hillel and said: “For thy equanimity of temper, O Hillel! may blessings be upon thy head, for thou hast gathered me in under the wings of the Shekhina.” The three converts met some time later, and said: “The impulsiveness of Shamai came near sending us adrift in the world (outside of the pale of religion); Hillel’s equanimity of temper gathered us in under the wings of the Shekhina.
Resh Lakish said: What does the verse, “The trust of thy times shall be the strength of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge,” etc. [Isa. xxxiii. 6]–what does this mean? (I think that this can be a biblical support to the six divisions of the Mishna which we possess. 1) “The trust” comes within the section of “Zeraim” (seeds); “thy times” in “Moed” (festivals); “strength” in
“Nashim” (women); “salvation” in “Nezikin” (jurisprudence); “wisdom” in
Rabha said: When a man comes before the (divine) judgment, he is asked: “Hast thou traded in good faith? Mist thou apportioned regular times for study? Hast thou produced children? Didst thou hope for salvation? Hast thou discussed subjects of wisdom? Hast thou formed (logical)
conclusions from the things thou hast learned?” After all this (if he can affirm all these questions), if he possessed the fear of the Lord, it was well; if not, it was not so. This is like a man who ordered his agent to store a measure of wheat in the attic. The agent did so. Then the man asked him whether he had mixed some dry dust with the wheat (for protection against weevils), and he answered nay. “It were better,” said the merchant, “if thou hadst not stored it.”
Rabba b. R. Huna said: “A man who possesses learning,
but has no fear of Heaven, is like the manager (of a palace) who has the keys to the inside apartments, but lacks the one which opens the outside gate. How can he enter?”
R. Janai proclaimed: “Alas for him who has no dwelling, yet strives to make the door of a dwelling!” R. Jehudah said: The Holy One, blessed be He, created the world only for the purpose that man should fear Him, for it is written: “God hath so made it, that (men) should fear him” [Eccl. iii. 14].
R. Simon and R. Elazar were sitting together as R. Jacob b. Aha came passing by. Said one of them: “Come, let us arise before him, for he is a man that fears sins.” Said the other: “Aye; let us arise before him, for he is a son of enlightenment (a scholar).” Said the former: I tell thee that he is a man that is afraid of sins, and thou sayest he is a scholar. Thou shouldst be mindful of what
R. Elazar said: The Holy One, blessed be He, has nothing better in the world than (men who possess) the fear of Heaven, for thus it is written: “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God” [Deut. x. 12].
R. Ulla lectured: What does the passage mean, “Be not wicked over much” [Eccl. vii. 17]. Is it allowed to be wicked at all? Nay, but the passage means this: If one has eaten garlic and has acquired a bad odor, he must not eat more garlic because the bad odor is (about him) already. Rabba b. R. Ulla lectured: It is written: For there are no fetters in them, but their strength is firm [Psalms, lxxiii. 4]. The Holy One, blessed be He, said: “It is not enough that the wicked do not trouble for nor fear the day of their death, but that their heart within them is as strong as a strong fortress.” Which is similar to Rabba’s explanation of the passage: “This is their way; their
folly” [ibid. xlix. 14]. The wicked know that their manner (of living) leads them to death, and still their kidneys wax fat (implying their blindness to the fact). Perhaps thou wilt attribute this to their forgetfulness? Therefore it is written: “What will happen after their lives is the subject of their sayings,” whence we conclude that while they do not repent, they continually speak of their death.
“To spare the lamp,” etc. With whom does R. Jose agree? If he agrees with R. Jehudah, he should declare culpable even these; and if he agrees with R. Simeon, he should declare free even (the man who extinguishes the lamp) for the purpose of saving the wick. Said Ulla: By all means
R. Jose agrees with
[paragraph continues] R. Jehudah, but he holds that if one destroys in order to rebuild in the same place, he is guilty (of the act) of breaking; but if one destroys, not intending to rebuild in the
same place, he is not (guilty of) breaking. R. Johanan, however, maintains that he holds as R. Simeon; but in the case of this wick it is different, as R. Hamnunah or R. Ada b. A’haba interpreted our Mishna that it reads “from a wick which needs singeing,” and it is such a case. R. Simeon also agrees that it is prohibited because it is considered that he repairs a vessel. Said Rabha: It seems that this explanation is right, as the Mishna states “to be formed,” and not a cinder is formed (already).
MISHNA VII.: For three sins women die of childbirth: for negligence (of the laws) during their menstruation, neglect of separating the first dough, and for neglecting to light the (Sabbath) lamp.
GEMARA: Why so? Thus a Galilean master lectured before R. Hisda: The Holy One, blessed be He, says: I have created you with power of blood; I have warned you concerning blood; I have called you “the first produce” [Jer. ii. 3], and charged you to sacrifice the “first of your dough” [Numb. xvi. 21]; the soul that I gave you is called a light, and I have charged you concerning the (Sabbath) light. If you observe these things, it is well; if not, I shall take your souls. But why should this happen at the time of childbirth? Said Rabha: When the ox falls or is felled, it is time to sharpen the knife. 1
And when are the sins of men passed upon? Said Resh Lakish: When they pass a dangerous place that is like a bridge (which is unsafe). Rabh would not embark on a ship that carried an idolater. Said he: “His time to be punished may come, and I (being on the same vessel) may have to suffer with him.” Samuel, however, would go to sea only on a vessel which carried idolaters, saying: “Satan hardly ever metes out punishment to two people” (of different beliefs).
R. Janai always examined a vessel before he embarked. This he did in conformity with his own theory elsewhere, for thus he taught: “A man should never place himself in danger, expecting that a miracle will be wrought for him; for it may be that no such miracle will be wrought, and if a miracle is wrought for him, it will be deducted from the reward due his merits in the
world to come.” And R. Hanin said: “Where is this to be found in the Scripture?” From the verse: “I am not worthy of all thy kindness and of all thy truth” [Gen. xxxii. 11]. R. Zera would never walk under date trees in stormy weather. R. Itz’hak b. R. Jehudah said: A man must always pray that he should not become sick, for if sickness befall him, he must be possessed of special virtues in order to get well again. And to the question of Mar Uqba: Is this to be found in the Scripture? He was told that the school of R. Ishmael maintains the passage in question is to be taken from Deut. xxii. 8–viz.: “Peradventure one may fall down from there.” The word “Hanofel,” which is in the past tense and implies that he has fallen down, although such a case had not happened as yet, is simply a matter of conjecture on the part of this school, which considered a predestined thing as a matter that had already occurred, because the fall was already predestined for the guilty person; as it is said: The reward of virtue is, however, brought about by a meritorious person, while the chastisement for sin is dealt out through a sinner (and his not making a railing around his roof constitutes him a guilty person). [See Deut. xxii. 8.]
The rabbis taught: He who becomes sick, death approaching should be told to confess his sins, for all those who are to suffer the death penalty must make a confession. When a man goes out to a market (where there are always dangerous people in the crowd), he should consider himself like one arrested by a sergeant. When his head aches, he should consider himself as one put in
prison. If he cannot rise from his bed, he should consider himself as one indicted before Gardom (a criminal court); if be has good advocates to defend him, he may go free; if not, he cannot be saved. The defending attorneys of a man (before divine justice) are penitence and good deeds. If there should be nine hundred and ninety-nine accusers against him and only one to plead in his favor, he is saved, as it is written: “If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand to show unto man his uprightness, then He is gracious unto him,” etc. [Job xxxiii. 23].
R. Eliezer b. R. Jose the Galilean said: Even if only one thousandth part of one advocate out of a thousand plead in the man’s favor, although the rest speak against him, he is saved; because it is said “one” defender out of a thousand suffices.
There is a Boraitha: R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: “The laws of holy offerings, heave-offerings, and tithes are integral
parts of the Torah, and yet their observance was intrusted to the common people.”
Another Boraitha states: R. Nehemiah said: The penalty for the sin of hating without cause is strife at home, the wife (of the sinner) gives birth before her time, his sons and daughters die young.
R. Elazar b. Jehudah says: The penalty for the sin of neglecting the first dough is: no blessing in the harvest, high prices (for necessities), the consumption of the seed by strangers; but if this portion is given, blessings will surely follow, as it is written: “The first of your dough shall you give to the priest, to cause a blessing to rest on thy house” [Ez. xliv. 30]. The penalty for the sin of neglecting heave-offerings and tithes is: the sky withholds rain and dew; dearth comes on, there are no profits, and men run about to earn a livelihood, but they do not succeed. But if these offerings are given, blessings will come, as it is written: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, etc., and prove me but herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until there be more than enough” [Mal.
iii. 10]. The penalty for the sin of robbery is: locust pestilence, famine comes, and the people feed on the flesh of their children, as it is written [Amos, iv. 1-7, q. v.] For the sins of curbing, perverting, and polluting justice, and of neglecting the law, the sword comes on, (enemies take) much spoil, the people eat and are never satisfied, and they must weigh the bread they eat (i.e., eat in small portions, for fear that nothing be left for the next meal), as it is written [Leviticus,
xxvi. 25]: “Avenging the quarrel of my covenant,” and covenant is synonymous with the Law, as it is written [Jeremiah, xxxiii. 25]: “Thus hath said the Lord,” etc. For the sins of unnecessary and false swearing, perjury, blasphemy, and desecration of the Sabbath, many wild beasts come and domestic cattle are destroyed, the population decreases, and the roads are bare (without travellers), as it is written [Lev. xxvi. 18 to the end of the paragraph].
[paragraph continues] For the sin of bloodshed the sanctuary is laid waste and Shekhina departs from Israel, as it is written [Numbers, xxxv. 34]: “And ye shall not render unclean the land which ye
inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell; for I, the Lord, dwell in the midst of the children of Israel”; which signifies that if ye render it unclean, the Shekhina will depart from the land. For the sins of adultery, idolatry, and disregard of (the laws of) the Sabbatic and jubilee years exile comes, and (other nations) take up the place (of the exiles), as it is written [Lev. xviii. and xxvii.]. For the sin of defiling the mouth (speaking indecent things), great oppressions and evil decrees are (constantly) renewed, young men die, orphans and widows cry (for help), but are not answered, as it is written [Isaiah, ix., end of verse 16]: “For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand still remaineth stretched out,” which is explained by R. Hanan b. Ahba as follows: “All know for what purpose a bride marries; still, he who defiles his mouth (by speaking of its details), even if a happy life of seventy years is decreed for him, the decree is turned aside.” Rabba b. Shila in the name of R. Hisda says: Gehenna is made deep for him who defiles his mouth, as it is written [Proverbs, xxii. 14]. R. Na’hman b. Isaac says: It is made deep even for the one who listens to (indecent talk) and does not protest against it [ibid. 15]. R. Oshia says: He who abuses himself (by masturbation) becomes afflicted with wounds and boils; not only this, but he is punished with dropsy. 1 R. Na’hman b. Itz’hak says dropsy is an evidence of sin.
Samuel the Little took sick with it, and he said: “Lord of the Universe! Who will prove (that I am not guilty, of immoral conduct)?” Hereupon he got well again. Abayi took sick with it. Said Rabha: “I know that the Nahmanite (son of Na’hman) starves himself.”
The rabbis taught: There are four evidences: an evidence of sin is dropsy; an evidence of hate without cause is jaundice; an evidence of pride is poverty; an evidence of calumny (spreading evil reports about others) is croup. The sickness of croup becomes epidemic for (the sin of neglecting to give) tithes; but R. Elazar b. Jose said, only for the sin of calumny.
R. Jehudah, R. Jose, and R. Simeon were sitting and Jehudah, the son of proselytes, sat before them. R. Jehudah opened the conversation, saying: “How beautiful are the
works of this nation (the Romans). They have established markets, they have built bridges, they have opened bathing-houses.” R. Jose said nothing, but R. Simeon b. Johai said: “All these things they have instituted for their own sake. Their markets are gathering-places for harlots; they have built baths for the purpose of indulging themselves in their comforts; they have built bridges to collect tolls from those who cross them.” Jehudah, the son of proselytes, went and reported this conversation, and it came to the ears of the government. Said (the rulers): “Jehudah, who has praised (our doings), shall be promoted; Jose, who said nothing, shall be exiled to Sophoris; Simeon, who spoke disparagingly, shall be put to death.” R. Simeon and his son then went and hid themselves in the college, and their wives brought them every day some bread and a pitcher of water, and they ate. When the decree became imperative, he said to his son: “Women are of a pliant disposition. They (the government agents) will perhaps trouble them, and they (the women) will reveal our whereabouts.” They then went and hid themselves in a cave. A miracle occurred, that a date tree and a spring of water came out for them. They stripped themselves naked and sat down covered with sand up to their necks. Thus they sat all day studying; only at the time of prayer they put on their garments, and after performing their devotion they took them off again for fear they might wear them out. In this wise they spent twelve years in their cave. Elijah then came to the opening of the cave and said: “Who will inform the son of Johai that the Cæsar (governor) is dead and his decree is annulled?” Hereupon they left the cave. They then went forth and saw men who were ploughing and sowing grain.
Said R. Simeon: “These people leave the works which lead to everlasting life and occupy
themselves with worldly things.” After this every place where they chanced to turn their eyes was burned. Suddenly a “Bath-kol” (heavenly voice) was heard, which said unto them: “Have ye come to destroy my world? Go, return to your cave.” They returned and stayed in the cave another twelvemonth, saying the punishment of the wicked in Gehenna only lasts twelve months. At the end of that time came again the heavenly voice and said: “Go out of the cave,” and they came out. And R. Simeon said to his son: “It is enough for this world that I and you are occupied with the study of the Torah and with good deeds.” This happened on a Friday near
sunset. They saw a man hurrying with two bunches of myrtle in his hand. “What are they for? they asked him. “To honor the Sabbath,” was the reply. “Would not one bunch be enough?” “Nay; one is for the command ‘remember,’ 1 the other for the command ‘observe,'” said the man. Said R. Simeon to his son: “Behold, how Israel loves the commands (of God).” This reassured them.
R. Simeon’s father-in-law, R. Pinhas b. Yair, heard (that they were coming) and went to meet them. He took them to the bath-house. While R. Simeon was cleaning his (own) body, R. Pinhas noticed that it was full of blisters; tears ran from his eyes when he saw this, and (the tears falling upon the flesh of his son-in-law) caused R. Simeon pain. Said R. Pinhas: “Woe unto me, that I see thee in this state.” R. Simeon rejoined: “Well unto thee, that thou seest me so, for if thou hadst not seen me in this state thou couldst not find in me (all the learning) that thou canst find in me now.”
MISHNA VIII.: One must say three things in his house on Friday, when it is getting dark.–viz. “Have you set aside the tithes (from the fruit, which is to be eaten on the Sabbath)?” “Have you put up the Erubh?” and “Light ye the lamp.” When one is in doubt whether darkness has set in, he must not separate tithes from (fruit of which he is) certain (that tithes had not been set aside), and he shall not put vessels under process of lavation, 2 and he shall not light a lamp any more. But he may set aside tithes from (fruit of which he is) not certain (that tithes have been set aside), and he may put up the Erubh and also put his victuals into the stove for the purpose of keeping them warm.
GEMARA: Whence is this deduced? Said R. Joshua b. Levi: from [Job, v. 24] “Thou shalt know that peace is in thy tent, and shalt examine thy dwelling, that thou mayest not sin.” Rabba b. R. Huna said: Although the masters have taught that “one must say three things,” etc., yet he ought to say them quietly, in order that (his family) should accept them from him (in good grace). Said
R. Ashi: “I have not heard of this
saying of Rabba b. R. Huna before, yet I have always done so as a matter of common sense.”
Does not the text contradict itself? It states: “One must say three things, etc., when it is getting dark.” This implies that if he is in doubt whether it is getting dark or whether darkness has already set in, he cannot say it any longer. In the latter part, however, it says “if he is in doubt, etc., he may put up an Erubh.”
Said R. Aba in the name of R. Hyya b. Ashi, quoting Rabh: “It presents no difficulty. In the first part it speaks of an Erubh of Techum (that marks the boundary of two thousand ells around the city, where it is allowed for one to walk on Sabbath); in the latter part it speaks of an Erubh by which the neighbors of adjoining courts make common cause.”
Rabba said: The rabbis have prohibited putting victuals among things (that preserve but) that do not increase the heat after dark, for fear lest one find them too cold and be tempted to make them boil. Said Abayi to him: “If such is the case, why did they not enact the same prohibition for (the time) when it is twilight also?” Answered Rabba: “At that time the pots are generally boiling hot.”
Rabba said again: “Why was it said that one must not put victuals among things that increase the heat, when it is yet day, for fear lest one put them in cinders where there are yet live coals?” Said Abayi to him: “What harm is there? let him do so.” And he answered: “It may be feared lest he be tempted to stir the burning coals.” The rabbis taught: “Which is the time of twilight?” When the sun sets and the eastern sky is red; when the lower (edge of a cloud) is dark, while the upper part is not yet dark; but when the upper edge (of such a cloud) is as dark as the lower, night has set in. So says R. Jehudah. R. Nehemiah says: (The duration of twilight) is the time one takes to walk half a mile from the moment the sun sets. R. Jose says: Twilight is like the twinkling of an eye; the one (day) goes out, the other (night) comes in, and it is impossible to determine it. And each of them is in accordance with his theory elsewhere; as it was taught: What is the duration of twilight? Rabba in the name of R. Jehudah, quoting Samuel, said: (The
time it takes to walk) three-quarters of a mile; and R. Joseph said in the name of the same authority: Two-thirds of a mile. The difference between them is half a danka. (The contrary is the case when a bee-hive is concerned;
in that case Rabba said: A bee-hive of two kurs 1 one may move on the Sabbath; of three, one shall not. R. Joseph, however, said that one may move even a hive of three kurs, but one of four is forbidden. Said Abayi: I have inquired of the master at the time of the deed, and he did not even permit me to move one of two kurs.)
Rabha saw that Abayi was (one Friday) looking toward the east (to calculate the duration of twilight). Said he to him: “Dost thou think the masters spoke of the sky in the east? They spoke of an object in the east that reflects the red sky (of the west), like a window (placed eastward of the setting sun).
“It takes one to walk half a mile.” Said R. Hanina: “If one wishes to know the time according to
R. Nehemiah’s calculation, he should leave the sun (see it set) on the top of Karmel (a certain mountain peak on the sea-coast), go down, dive into the sea, and go up (the mountain) again; this will give him the exact time.” R. Jehudah, however, in the name of Samuel said: (To know the exact time of twilight may be fixed thus:) “If only one star (can be seen in the sky), it is yet day; if two stars, it is twilight; three stars, it is night.” And so also we have learned plainly in a Boraitha with the addition: Said R. Jose: The stars mentioned do not mean the big stars, that can be seen in daytime, and not the small stars, which cannot easily be seen at night, but stars of medium size.
R. Jose b. R. Zebhida said: If one (unintentionally) performs work on both times of twilight (Friday and Sabbath), he must certainly bring a sin-offering (because at one of both times it was certainly Sabbath).
Rabba said to his servant: “You, who are not an expert in the scholarly calculation of time, must light the Sabbath lamp when you see the (last rays of the) sun on top of the trees. In cloudy weather how shall it be? (The lamp must be lit) in the city when the hens go to roost; in the field, when the ravens fly to roost or when the mallow shrub 2 (inclines its head to the west).
The rabbis taught: Six times was the signal blown on Friday: the first time to stop work in the field, the second to
stop it in the city and in the stores, the third time to light the lamps. So said R. Nathan. R. Jehudah the Prince says that the third time is sounded to take off the phylacteries. Then (the beadle) waits about as long as is required to bake a small fish, or for bread to cleave to the oven, and he sounds again the three tones 1 of the signal in succession for the Sabbath (that is already come). R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: “What shall we do with the Babylonians? They sound the signal first, and then blow the trumpet; from the moment the trumpet is sounded they cease work.” They do so because it is with them a matter of inherited custom.
R. Jehudah taught his son, R. Itz’hak: “The third (sounding was a signal) to light the lamp.” This agrees with the ruling of R. Nathan.
At the school of R. Ishmael it was taught: Six times the signal is sounded on Friday. When the first sounding begins, those who are in the field stop ploughing and harrowing and all field work. At the entrance to the city those who are near must wait until the distant (farmers) come, so that they enter the city all together. The stores are yet open, and the stalls (upon which wares are laid out) are as yet in their places. As soon as the second sounding begins, the stalls are cleared and the stores closed. The warm victuals (prepared for the Sabbath) and the pots are as yet upon the hearth. As soon as the third sounding begins the pots are taken off the hearth, the warm victuals are put in the stove, and the lamps are lighted. Then (the beadle) waits about as long as it is required to bake a small fish or for bread to cleave to the oven, and he sounds trumpets and sounds the signal again and rests. Said R. Jose b. R. Haninah: “I have heard that if one wants to light up after the six signals he may do so, for the rabbis have allowed some time to the beadle to take his Shophar (horn) to the house (after the six signals). Said the schoolmen to him: “If such were the case, the subject would depend on various measurements of time.” Nay, but the beadle has a concealed place upon the roof (where he sounds the Shophar) and puts away his instrument (as soon as he has used it); because neither a Shophar nor a fife may be handled (when the Sabbath is come).
But have we not learned that a Shophar may be handled,
but a fife may not? Says R. Joseph: This is not contradictory. Our case is that of a Shophar belonging to the community; the case adduced treated of one that belongs to a private party
(therefore it is permissible).
Said Abayi: “Why may a Shophar that is private property be handled? Because it is sometimes used for taking up water, to give a child drink; let one that is public property also be allowed to handle, because it may be used in the same manner.” Furthermore, was it not taught: “As a Shophar may be handled, so also may the fife be handled?” According to whose ruling is this? There is no contradiction in all this. The one (that a Shophar may be handled, but not a fife) is according to the ruling of R. Jehudah. The other (that both may be handled) is according to the ruling of R. Simeon. The third (that neither should be handled) is according to the ruling of R. Nehemiah. “And what is a Shophar?” The same as a fife, as R. Hisda says: “Since the sanctuary was destroyed the names have become changed; a Shophar is called a fife, and a fife is called a Shophar.”
31:3 The terms in the Mishna, with which it must not be lighted, are expressed in a mixture of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman names. The Gemara then discusses what is meant by the names, and, probably, some of the Babylonian Amoraim did not understand Greek or Roman, as is seen from the fact that Rabbin did not know of the name metaxa when he saw it on the body of
Ne’hemiah, and exclaimed only, “This is meant by the expression khlakh”; and Abayi answered in broken Roman, Paranda. We, as we have translated the names into English, have omitted the whole discussion in the first edition. In this second edition, however, we are disposed not to omit ant least the historical facts.
35:1 “Mezuzah,” door-post, technical name for the writing which was to be placed on the door- post by the command of Deut. vi. 9 and elsewhere. The rabbis decreed that this was to be placed to the right of the entrance.
37:1 The three benedictions here referred to are: 1st, for the privilege of lighting the ‘Hanukah lamp; 2d, for the miracle which the lamp commemorates; and 3d, for the continuance of life until the season of ‘Hanukah. The second benediction is technically designated as that of the “miracle” and the third as that of “time.”
38:1 “The light for a house-light.” The text does not specify on what night, but Rashi’s commentary adds Friday night, i.e., Sabbath eve. In our opinion that is not the intent of Rashi; for even on workdays the light used by the household should have preference. Proof is: the reason given is for the sake of domestic peace; were it only to apply to Sabbath eve, the reason
given would have been in honor of the Sabbath.
38:2 In all the ordinances to be observed, the rabbis have adopted the rule that if the choice stands between one that recurs at short intervals and one that occurs more seldom, the former is always to be preferred. (“Tadir, vesheaino tadir, tadir kodom.”)
40:1 A division of the people had always to be present at the temple to witness the services. The men of such a division were called “commoners” because there was a special place assigned to them in the temple. All of them not being able to attend, they sent their delegates to represent them, but they assembled in their various cities and villages to perform their devotion. The days
on which this was done were designated as those of “commoners “–“Ma’amadoth.” See Mishna, Ta’anith.
45:3 The inference is made on the strength of a rule laid down by R. Jehudah elsewhere, that every unintentional breach of the Sabbath, which is made not out of personal necessity or habit, must be atoned for by a sin-offering. (Rashi.)
47:1 The liberality of the rabbinical law is evinced by the fact that it regards an act done for the sake of alleviating sufferings on the Sabbath day not wrongful. Every comfort may and should be provided for the sick on the Sabbath day.
51:2 “Trust” comes within the department of “Seeds” because the tithe due the priests and Levites by the farmers was not fixed legally as to quantity, but was trusted to the honesty of the donor. “Thy times” comes within “Festivals” for self-evident reasons. “Strength” comes within “Women,” for the reason that the Hebrew word, “chosen,” also means inheritance, and heirs are
naturally produced by women (this is the opinion of Rashi). “Salvation” in “Jurisprudence”: all laws pertaining to the saving of life and property. “Wisdom” in “Holiness”: the holy sacrifices requiring the exercise of much wisdom. “Knowledge” in “Purity”: the determining of pure and defiled things necessarily demanded thorough knowledge of the subject.
53:1 When the ox is felled the knife should be ready, lest he rise again and cause more trouble; thus it is stated that women die at time of childbirth because, while they are in danger, the punishment for transgressions is also inflicted!
Next: Chapter III: Regulations Concerning Stoves, Hearths, and Ovens