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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath
MISHNAH. R. ELIEZER SAID: IF ONE DID NOT BRING AN INSTRUMENT ON THE EVE OF THE SABBATH,1 HE MUST BRING IT ON THE SABBATH UNCOVERED;2 BUT IN [TIMES OF] DANGER3 HE HIDES IT ON THE TESTIMONY OF WITNESSES. R. ELIEZER SAID FURTHER: ONE MAY CUT TIMBER TO MAKE CHARCOAL FOR MANUFACTURING IRON.4 R. AKIBA STATED A GENERAL PRINCIPLE: ANY [MANNER OF] WORK WHICH COULD BE PERFORMED ON SABBATH EVE DOES NOT SUPERSEDE THE SABBATH; BUT THAT WHICH COULD NOT BE PERFORMED ON SABBATH EVE DOES SUPERSEDE THE SABBATH.
GEMARA. The scholars asked: Is R. Eliezer's reason5 out of love for the precept6 or perhaps it is because of suspicions?7 What is the practical difference? Whether it may be brought covered on the testimony of witnesses. If you say it is out of love for the precept, it must be uncovered and not hidden. But if you say it is because of suspicions it is well even if hidden: what then? It was stated, R. Levi said: R. Eliezer ruled thus only out of love for the precept. It was taught likewise: He must bring it uncovered, and he must not bring it covered: this is R. Eliezer's opinion.8 R. Ashi said: Our Mishnah too proves this, because it states, BUT IN TIMES OF DANGER HE HIDES IT ON THE TESTIMONY OF WITNESSES; thus in times of danger only, but not when there is no danger. This proves that it is out of love for the precept: this proves it.
Another [Baraitha] taught: He brings it uncovered, but he must not bring it covered: this is R. Eliezer's view. R. Judah said in R. Eliezer's name: In times of danger it was the practice to bring it hidden on the testimony of witnesses.9 The scholars asked: The witnesses which he mentions, [does it mean] he and another one, or perhaps he and another two? — Come and hear: BUT IN [TIMES OF] DANGER HE HIDES IT ON THE TESTIMONY OF WITNESSES: if you agree to say he and two [others], it is well; but if you say he and another, what witnesses [are there]?10 — Such as are eligible to testify elsewhere.11
R. ELIEZER SAID FURTHER [etc.]. Our Rabbis taught: In R. Eliezer's locality they used to cut timber to make charcoal for making iron on the Sabbath. In the locality of R. Jose the Galilean they used to eat flesh of fowl with milk. Levi visited the home of Joseph the fowler [and] was offered the head of a peacock in milk, [which] he did not eat. When he came before Rabbi he asked him, Why did you not place them under the ban?12 It was the locality of R. Judah b. Bathyra, replied he, and I thought, Perhaps he has lectured to them in accordance with R. Jose the Galilean. For we learnt: R. Jose the Galilean said: It is said, Ye shall not eat any nebelah,13 and it is said, Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk:14 [this teaches,] that which is forbidden on the score of nebelah may not be seethed in milk. Now since a fowl is prohibited when nebelah, you might think that one must not seethe it in milk; therefore it is stated, 'in its mother's milk', hence a fowl is excluded, since it has no mother's milk.
R. Isaac said: There was one town in Palestine where they followed R. Eliezer,15 and they died there at the [proper] time,16 Moreover, the wicked State17 once promulgated a decree against Israel concerning circumcision,18 yet did not decree [it] against that town.
It was taught, R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: Every precept which they accepted with joy, e.g., circumcision, as it is written, I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil,19 they still observe with joy. While every precept which they accepted with displeasure,20 e.g., the forbidden degrees of consanguinity, as it is written, And Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families,21 [i.e.,] on account of the affairs of their families,22 they still perform them with strife, for there is no marriage settlement which does not contain a quarrel.23
It was taught, R. Simeon b. Eleazar said: Every precept for which Israel submitted to death at the time of the royal decree, e.g., idolatry and circumcision,24 is still held firmly in their minds. Whereas every precept for which Israel did not submit to death at the time of the royal decree, e.g., tefillin, is still weak in their hands.25 For R. Jannai said: Tefillin demand a pure body, like Elisha-the-man-of-the-wings. What does this mean? — Abaye said: That one must not pass wind while wearing them; Raba said: That one must not sleep in them. And why is he called 'the man-of-the-wings'? Because the wicked State once proclaimed a decree against Israel that whoever donned tefillin should have his brains pierced through; yet Elisha put them on and went out into the streets. A quaestor saw him: he fled before him, and the latter gave pursuit. As he overtook him, he [Elisha] removed them from his head and held them in his hand, 'What is that in your hand?' he demanded, 'The wings of a dove,' was his reply. He stretched out his hand and the wings of a dove were found therein. Hence he is called 'Elisha-the-man-of-the-wings.' And why did he tell him the wings of a dove rather than that of other birds? Because the Congregation of Israel is likened to a dove, as it is said, as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her pinions with yellow gold:26 just as a dove is protected by its wings, so with the Israelites, their precepts protect them.27
R. Abba b. R. adda said in R. Isaac's name: they once forgot to bring a knife on Sabbath eve, so they brought it on the Sabbath through roofs and courtyards,28
[this being] against the will of R. Eliezer. R. Joseph demurred: [You say] 'against the will of R. Eliezer'! on the contrary, it is R. Eliezer' who permits it even through the street;1 but only with the consent of the Rabbis, who forbid [it to be carried] through the street yet permit it through roofs, courtyards, and enclosures,2 — yet is this permitted? Surely it was taught: Just as one may not bring it through the street, so may one not bring it through roofs, through enclosures, or through courtyards? — Said R. Ashi: It was not with the consent of R. Eliezer and his opponent[s], but with the consent of R. Simeon. For we learnt, R. Simeon said: Roofs, enclosures and courtyards are all one domain3 in respect of utensils which spent the Sabbath therein,4 but not in respect of utensils which rested in the house.5
R. Zera asked R. Assi: In the case of an alley in which they [its residents] have not become partners,6 what about carrying in the whole of it?7 do we say it is like a courtyard: just as a courtyard, even if an 'erub has not been made, it is permitted to carry in the whole of it,8 so this too, though they have not become partners in it,9 it is permitted to carry in the whole of it; or perhaps it is unlike a courtyard; for a courtyard has four walls [partitions], whereas this has not four walls; alternatively, a courtyard has tenants,10 whereas this has no tenants? He was silent and said nothing to him. On a subsequent occasion he [R. Zera] found him [R. Assi] sitting and stating: 'R. Simeon b. Lakish said in the name of R. Judah the prince: They once forgot to bring a knife on Sabbath eve, so they brought it on the Sabbath. Now this matter was difficult for the Sages [to understand]: how could they abandon the opinion of the Sages and act as R. Eliezer: firstly, since R. Eliezer was [a follower] of Beth Shammai;11 and further, [where an individual and many [are in dispute], the halachah is as the many? Whereupon R. Oshaia said: I asked R. Judah the circumciser, and he told me, It was an alley wherein they [its residents] had not become partners, and they brought it [the knife] from one end to the other. Said he to him: Do you then hold that in the case of an alley in which they had not become partners, it is permitted to carry in the whole of it? Yes, he replied.' Said he [R. Zera] to him [R. Assi], But I once asked [it of] you and you did not answer me: perhaps in the rapid course [of your review] your tradition sped [back] to you?12 Yes, he replied; in the course of my review my tradition sped [back] to me.
It was stated, R. Zera said in Rab's name: In the case of an alley in which no partnership had been made, one may not carry therein save within four cubits. Abaye observed, R. Zera stated this law but did not explain it, until Rabbah b. Abbuha came and explained it. For R. Nahman said in Rabbah b. Abbuha's name in Rab's name: In the case of an alley in which no partnership has been made, if the courtyards13 are combined with the houses,14 one may not carry therein [the alley] save within four cubits; [but] if the courtyards are not combined with the houses, one may carry over the whole of it.15 R. Hanina Hoza'ah16 said to Rabbah: Why does it differ when the courtyards are combined with the houses? [presumably] because the courtyards have been transformed17 and are become houses,18 Rab being consistent with his view; for Rab said: An alley does not become permitted [for carrying] through a stake and a beam unless
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