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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath
If a Hanukkah lamp is placed above twenty cubits [from the ground] it is unfit, like sukkah and a cross-beam over [the entrance of] an alley.1
R. Kahana also said, R. Nathan b. Minyomi expounded in R. Tanhum's name: Why is it written, and the pit was empty, there was no water in it?2 From the implication of what is said, 'and the pit was empty', do I not know that there was no water in it; what then is taught by, 'there was no water in it'? There was no water, yet there were snakes and scorpions in it.
Rabbah said: The Hanukkah lamp should be placed within the handbreadth nearest the door.3 And where is it placed? — R. Aha son of Raba said: On the right hand side: R. Samuel4 of Difti5 said: On the left hand side.6 And the law is, on the left, so that the Hanukkah lamp shall be on the left and the mezuzah7 on the right.
Rab Judah said in R. Assi's name:8 One must not count money by the Hanukkah light. When I state this before Samuel, he observed to me, Has then the lamp sanctity?9 R. Joseph demurred: Does blood possess sanctity? For it was taught: he shall pour out [the blood thereof], and cover it [with dust]:10 wherewith he pours out, he must cover,11 i.e., he must not cover it with his foot,12 so that precepts may not appear contemptible to him. So here too13 it is that precepts may not appear contemptible to him.
R. Joshua b. Levi was asked: Is it permitted to make use of the booth decorations during the whole of the seven days?14 He answered him [the questioner], Behold! it was said, One must not count money by the Hanukkah light.15 God of Abraham! exclaimed R. Joseph, he makes that which was taught dependent upon what was not taught: [of] booths it was taught, whereas of Hanukkah it was not. For it was taught: if one roofs it [the booth] in accordance with its requirements, beautifies it with hangings and sheets, and suspends therein nuts, peaches, almonds, pomegranates, grape clusters, garlands of ears of corn, wines, oils and flours; he may not use them until the conclusion of the last day of the Feast; yet if he stipulates concerning then,16 it is all according to his stipulation. — Rather, said R. Joseph: The basis17 of all is [the law relating to] blood.18
It was stated: Rab said: One must not light from lamp to lamp;19 but Samuel maintained, You may light from lamp to lamp. Rab said: Fringes20 may not be detached21 from one garment for [insertion in] another, but Samuel ruled, Fringes may be detached from garment to garment. Rab said, The halachah is not as R. Simeon in respect to dragging; but Samuel maintained, The halachah is as R. Simeon in respect to dragging. Abaye said: In all matters the Master [Rabbah] acted in accordance with Rab, except in these three, where he did as Samuel: [viz.,] one may light from lamp to lamp; one can detach [the fringes] from one garment for [insertion in] another; and the halachah is as R. Simeon in respect to dragging. For it was taught: R. Simeon said: One may drag a bed, seat, or bench,22 provided that he does not intend to make a rut.
One of the Rabbis sat before R. Adda b. Ahabah and sat and said: Rab's reason23 is on account of the cheapening of the precept. Said he to them, Do not heed him: Rab's reason is because he impairs the precept.24 Wherein do they differ? — They differ where he lights from lamp to lamp:25 on the view that it is because of the cheapening of the precept, one may light from lamp to lamp;26 but on the view that it is because he impairs the precept, even from lamp to lamp is forbidden.
R. Awia objected: As to a sela'27 of
second tithe,1 one may not weigh by it gold denarii,2 even to redeem therewith other second tithe. Now, it is well if you say that Rab and Samuel differ [over direct lighting] from lamp to lamp, yet with a chip Samuel admits that it is forbidden: then this is not a refutation.3 But if you [on Samuel's view] say that it is permitted even with a chip, then this is a refutation? — Rabbah answered: It is a preventive measure, lest he does not find his weights exact and leaves4 them hullin.5
R. Shesheth objected: Without the vail of testimony … shall [Aaron] order it:6 does He then require its light: surely, during the entire forty years that the Israelites travelled in the wilderness they travelled only by His light! But it is a testimony to mankind7 that the Divine Presence rests in Israel. What is the testimony?8 — Said Rab: That was the western branch [of the candelabrum] in which the same quantity of oil was poured as into the rest, and yet he kindled [the others] from it and ended therewith.9 Now here, since the branches are immovable, it is impossible other than that he take [a chip] and kindle [it];10 which is a difficulty both on the view that it is because of the cheapening of the precept and on the view that it is because of the impairing of the precept? — R. Papa reconciled it [thus: it is lit] by long wicks.11 Yet after all, on the view that it is because of the impairing of precepts there is a difficulty? That is [indeed] a difficulty.
What is our decision thereon? — R. Huna, the son of R. Joshua, said: We consider: if the lighting fulfils the precept, one may light from lamp to lamp:12 but if the placing [of the lamp] fulfils the precept,13 one may not light from lamp to lamp.14 For the scholars propounded: Does the kindling or the placing constitute the precept? — Come and hear: For Raba said, If one was holding the Hanukkah lamp and thus standing, he does nothing:15 this proves that the placing constitutes the precept! — [No:] There a spectator may think that he is holding it for his own purposes.16 Come and hear: For Raba said: if one lights it within and then takes it outside, he does nothing. Now, it is well if you say that the kindling constitutes the precept; [for this reason] we require the kindling to be [done] in its proper place,17 [and] therefore he does nothing. But if you say that the placing constitutes the precept, why has he done nothing? — There too an observer may think that he lit it for his own purposes.
Come and hear: For R. Joshua b. Levi said,
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