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Tractate Shabbat: Chapter 7

The general rule concerning the principal acts of labor on Sabbath

The general rule concerning the principal acts of labor on Sabbath

MISHNA I.: A general rule was laid down respecting the Sabbath. One who has entirely forgotten the principle of (keeping) the Sabbath and performed many kinds of work on many Sabbath days, is liable to bring but one sin-offering. He, however, who was aware of the principle of Sabbath, but (forgetting the day) committed many acts of labor on Sabbath days, is liable to bring a separate sin-offering for each and every Sabbath day (which he has violated). One who knew that it was Sabbath and performed many kinds of work on different Sabbath days (not knowing that such work was prohibited), is liable to bring a separate sin-offering for every principal act of labor committed. One who committed many acts all emanating from one principal act is liable for but one sin-offering.

GEMARA: What is the reason that the Mishna uses the expression "a general rule"? Shall we assume that it means to teach us a subordinate rule in the succeeding Mishna, and the same is the case with the Mishna concerning the Sabbatical year, where at first a general rule is taught and the subsequent Mishnas teach a subordinate rule? Why does the Mishna relating to tithes teach one rule and the succeeding Mishna another, but does not call the first rule a "general rule"? Said R. Jose b. Abbin: Sabbath and the Sabbatical years, in both of which there are principals and derivatives, he expresses a general rule; tithes, however, in which there are no principals and derivatives, no general rule was laid down. But did not Bar Kapara teach us a general rule also in tithes? It must be therefore explained thus: The subject of Sabbath is greater than Sabbatical, as the first applies to attached and detached things, while the Sabbatical applies only to attached ones. The subject of the latter, however, is greater than tithes, as it applies to human and cattle food; while tithes applies only to human food. And Bar Kapara teaches a general rule in tithes also, because it is greater than peah (corner tithe), as the former applies also to figs and herbs, which is not the case with peah.

It was taught concerning the statement of the Mishna: He who forgot, etc., that Rabh and Samuel both said: Even a child that was captured by idolaters or a proselyte who remained among idolaters is regarded as one who was aware of the principle, but forgot it and is liable; and both R. Johanan and Resh Lakish said that the liability falls only upon him who was aware, but subsequently forgot; the child and the proselyte in question are considered as if they were never aware, and are free.

An objection was raised from the following: A general rule was laid down concerning the observation of the Sabbath. One who had entirely forgotten the principle of Sabbath, and had performed many kinds of work on many Sabbath days, is liable for but one sin-offering. How so? A child which was captured by idolaters and a proselyte remaining with idolaters, who had performed many acts of labor on different Sabbaths, are liable for but one sin-offering; and also for the blood or (prohibited) fats which he has consumed during the whole time, and even for worshipping idols during the whole time, he is liable for only one sin-offering. Munbaz, however, frees them entirely. And thus did he discuss before R. Aqiba: Since the intentional transgressor and the unintentional are both called sinners, I may say: As an intentional one cannot be called so unless he was aware that it is a sin, the same is the case with an unintentional, who cannot be called sinner unless he was at some time aware that this is a sin (it is true, then, the above must be considered as never having been aware of it). Said R. Aqiba to, him: "I will make an amendment to your decree, as the intentional transgressor cannot be considered as such unless he is cognizant of his guilt at the time of action, so also should not the unintentional transgressor be considered as such unless he is cognizant at the time of action." Answered Munbaz: "So it is, and the more so after your amendment." Thereupon R. Aqiba replied: "According to your reasoning, one could not be called an unintentional transgressor, but an intentional." Hence it is plainly stated: "How so? A child," etc. This is only in accordance with Rabh and Samuel, and it contradicts R. Johanan and R. Simeon b. Lakish. They may say: "Is there not a Tana Munbaz, who freed them? We hold with him and with his reason, namely: It is written [Numb. xv. 29]: "A law shall be for you, for him that acteth through ignorance," and the next verse says [ibid. 30], "but the person that doeth aught with a high hand." The verse compares then the ignorant to him who has acted intentionally; and as the latter cannot be guilty unless he was aware of his sin, the same is the case with the ignorant, who cannot be considered guilty unless he was at some time aware of the sin.

Another objection was raised from a Mishna farther on: "Forty less one are the principal acts of labor." And deliberating for what purpose the number is taught, said R. Johanan: For that, if one performed them all through forgetfulness, he is liable for each of them. How is such a thing (as utter forgetfulness) to be imagined? We must assume that although cognizant of the (day being) Sabbath, one forgot which acts of labor (were prohibited). And this is correct only in accordance with R. Johanan, who holds: "If one is ignorant of what acts of labor constitute (sin punishable with) Karath (being 'cut off'), and commits one of those acts even intentionally, he is bound to bring a sin-offering only." And such an instance can be found in case one knows that those acts of labor were prohibited, at the same time being ignorant of that punishment which is Karath. But according to R. Simeon b. Lakish, who holds that one must be totally ignorant of both the punishment of Karath and what acts are prohibited on Sabbath, how can the above case be found? He was aware that Sabbath must be kept. But what was he aware of in the observance of Sabbath? He only knew of the law governing the going outside of the boundaries of the city.

But who is the Tana of the following Boraitha? The scriptural passage, "Him that acteth through ignorance," refers to one who was ignorant both of the (principle of) Sabbath and the prohibition of the acts of labor. One who was cognizant of both is referred to by the Scriptures as "the person that doeth aught with a high hand." If one, however, was cognizant of the (principle of) Sabbath, but not of the prohibition of the acts of labor, or vice versa, or even if he knew that the acts of labor were prohibited, but did not know that they involved culpability requiring a sin-offering (while he is not the scriptural man "that acteth through ignorance"), still he is culpable of a transgression requiring a sin-offering? It is Munbaz mentioned above.

R. Huna said: One who has been travelling in a desert and does not know what day is Sabbath, must count six days from the day (on which he realizes) that he has missed the Sabbath, and observe the seventh. Hyya b. Rabh said: He must observe that very day and then continue his counting from that day. And what is the point of their differing? The former holds that one must act in accordance with the creation (which commenced six days before the Sabbath), while the latter holds that one must be guided by Adam's creation (on the eve of Sabbath). An objection was made: "If a man while travelling in a desert forgot when the Sabbath arrives, he must count 'one day to six' and then observe the seventh. Does this not mean he must count six days and then observe the seventh?" Nay; it may be said that it means that very day, and continue his counting from that day. If this be the case, why are we taught "he must count one to six"? It should be taught (plainly) he must observe a day and continue counting from that day. Moreover, we were taught in a Boraitha: "If one while travelling in the desert forgot when the Sabbath arrives, he must count six days and observe the seventh." The objection to R. Hyya b. Rabh is sustained.

Rabha said (referring to the traveller who forgot the Sabbath): "On every day, except the one on which he realizes that he has missed the Sabbath, he may perform enough labor to sustain himself." But one that should do nothing and die (of hunger)? Nay; only in case he provided himself with his necessaries on the preceding day. Perhaps the preceding day was Sabbath. Therefore read: he may labor even on that day to sustain himself. In what respects is that day, then, to be distinguished from other days? By means of Kiddush and Habhdalah. 1

Said Rabha again: "If he only recollects the number of days he has been travelling, he may labor all day on the eighth day of his journey, in any event" (for he surely did not start on his journey on a Sabbath). Is this not self-evident? Lest one say that one would not only not start out on the Sabbath, but also not on the day before Sabbath; hence, if he went out on the fifth day of the week, he is permitted to work on both the eighth and ninth days of his journey. Therefore he comes to teach us that only on the eighth day of his journey would he be permitted to work, for frequently one comes upon a caravan on Friday and starts out even on that day.

"One who has entirely forgotten," etc. Whence is this deduced? Said R. Na'hman in the name of Rabba b. Abuhu: "There are two verses in the Scripture, viz. [Exod. xxxi. 16]: 'And the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath,' and [Lev. xix. 3]: 'And my Sabbaths shall ye keep.' How is this to be explained?" The first means the observance of the commandment of Sabbath generally, and the second means one observance of the commandment for each Sabbath.

"One who knew (the principle of) Sabbath." What is the reason of a difference between the former and the latter part of the Mishna? Said R. Na'hman: For what transgression does the Scripture make one liable for a sin-offering? For what is done through ignorance? In the former part of the Mishna the case of one who was not aware that it was Sabbath is dealt with, and hence only one sin-offering is imposed, while in the latter the case dealt with is of one who was aware that it was Sabbath, but ignorant as to the acts of labor, hence a sin-offering for each act is prescribed.

"Liable for a sin-offering," etc. Whence do we deduce the distinction between acts of labor? Said Samuel: It is written [Exod. xxxi. 14]: "Every one that defileth it shall be surely put to death." We see, then, that the Scripture has provided many deaths 1 for defiling the Sabbath. But does not the verse refer to one who violates the Sabbath wantonly? As it cannot be applied to an intentional violator, for it is already written [Exod. xxxv. 2]: Whosoever doeth work thereon shall be put to death"; therefore apply it to an unintentional sinner. How, then, will you explain the words "put to death"? That is only the pecuniary equivalent (of being put to death) (viz., he shall bring a sin-offering which costs money). Why not advance the distinction between the acts of labor, as R. Nathan (does elsewhere)? Samuel is not of the opinion of R. Nathan, but of R. Jossi, who says that the additional commandment not to kindle a fire on the Sabbath was taught additionally for the special purpose of conveying to us that one who does kindle a fire is not to be punished either with Karath or stoning; for we have learned in a Boraitha: The additional commandment not to kindle a fire on the Sabbath was taught additionally for the special purpose of conveying to us that one who kindles a fire on the Sabbath is not to be punished either with Karath or stoning. Such is the opinion of R. Jossi. R. Nathan says it is written for the sake of separation (from other acts). Let then the separation of acts of labor be adduced whence R. Jossi adduces them--in the following Boraitha: It is written [Lev. iv. 2]: "And do (of) any (one) of them," as follows: Sometimes one is only bound to bring one sin-offering for all transgressions, and sometimes one is bound to bring a sin-offering for each and every transgression separately.

Said R. Jossi b. Hanina: "Why does R. Jossi explain that passage thus? The verse should read 'one of them' (Achath mehenoh), but in reality it reads 'of one of them' (Meachath mehenoh), or it should read 'of one them' (Meachath henoh), but it reads 'of one of them.' Therefore he explains that 'sometimes one is equal to many and sometimes many equal one.'"  1

Rabha questioned R. Na'hman: "How is it if one is ignorant of both (of the day being Sabbath and the prohibition of the acts of labor on that day)? Answered R. Na'hman: "Take one instance at a time. You say he was ignorant of the day being Sabbath; then he is bound to bring a sin-offering. How would it be if, on the contrary, I had said that he was ignorant of the prohibition of the acts of labor first? Would you say that he becomes liable to a sin-offering for each and every act performed?" Said R. Ashi: "Let us see from the man's actions. How would it be if one came to him and reminded him of its being Sabbath (without calling his attention to the fact that he was working)? If the man immediately stopped his work, it is clear that he had actually forgotten that it was Sabbath. If, however, the man was reminded by a third party that he was working (without having his attention called to the fact that it was Sabbath), and he immediately quit his work, it is evident that he was not cognizant of the prohibition of the acts of labor; hence he would become liable to bring a sin-offering for each and every act performed. Said Rabbina to R. Ashi: "What difference does it make? If one is reminded that it is Sabbath and he quits work, he becomes aware that it is Sabbath, and if he is reminded of his working he also becomes aware that the day is Sabbath; hence it makes no difference."

Rabha said (supposing the following case happened: "One reaped and ground the equivalent (in size) of a fig on a Sabbath, without knowing that it was Sabbath, and on another Sabbath did the same thing, knowing it was Sabbath, but not knowing that such acts of labor were prohibited; then remembered that he had committed a transgression on the Sabbath through ignorance of the day being Sabbath, and took a sheep and set it aside for a sin-offering. Suddenly he recollected that he had also committed a transgression on the other Sabbath, through his ignorance of the prohibition of the acts of labor. What would the law be in such a case? I can say that the sheep set aside for a sin-offering for the first transgression suffices also for the second, although in reality two sin-offerings were required to atone for the second transgression. The one sin-offering would suffice, because it is in truth not brought for forgetting the Sabbath, but for reaping and grinding; the reaping in the first instance carries with it the reaping in the second, as also the grinding in the first instance carries with it the grinding in the second, and one sin-offering atones for all.

Assuming, however, that in the second instance (when he forgot about the prohibition of the acts of labor) he (at some later time) recollected only having reaped (but forgot that he also ground), and having set aside the sin-offering he became liable for on account of his transgression in the first instance (when he forgot about the Sabbath), he atones for the reaping and grinding on the first Sabbath and for the reaping on the second Sabbath, but not for the grinding on the second Sabbath; hence (after also recollecting that he had ground) he must bring an additional sin-offering. Abayi, however, says: The one sin-offering atones for all, because the grinding, which he atones for in the first instance, also carries with it the grinding in the second instance. Why so? For the reason that in both instances the acts atoned for are analogous. (When a sin-offering was brought, a confession was made. In citing the sin committed in the first instance grinding was mentioned and applies also to the grinding in the second instance. Therefore no additional sin-offering is necessary.)

It was taught: If one has eaten tallow (which is prohibited) on two different occasions, and at both times the tallow was the equivalent (in size) of an olive (or larger); and afterward he was reminded of the first occasion, and later on of the second occasion also, what is the law in his case? R. Johanan says: He must bring two sin-offerings. Why so? Because he recollected the transgressions at different times. Resh Lakish, however, says: He need bring only one sin-offering. What is R. Johanan's reason? Because it is written [Lev. iv. 28]: "For his sin, which he hath committed," and he adduces therefrom that for every sin committed one must bring a separate sin-offering, and Resh Lakish holds according to the passage [ibid. 26], "Concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him," and claims that it being one and the same sin, only one sin-offering is sufficient. But what will Resh Lakish do with the verse, "For his sin which he hath committed"? That refers to the sin-offering which had already been brought, and therefore could not apply to a later sin. And what about R. Johanan and the passage, "Concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven"? R. Johanan explains this as follows: If a man ate tallow equivalent (in size) to an olive and a half, and later ate another piece the size of half an olive. Afterward he recollected having eaten tallow, but thought that it was the size of one olive, might some not say that the remaining piece eaten in the first instance should be added to the piece eaten in the second instance, and thus constitute another piece the equivalent (in size) to an olive, and make him liable for another sin-offering? Therefore the passage which means: After once having obtained forgiveness for the transgression on the first occasion the second cannot be counted in with the first.

It was taught: If one intended to pick up a thing detached (for instance, a knife that had fallen in a row of vegetables), and while doing so (accidentally) cut off one of the growing vegetables, he is free. 1 If, however, he intended to cut something lying on (but not attached to) the ground, and instead cut off something growing out of (attached to) the ground, Rabha declares him free, because no intention to cut off the growing object existed in the mind of the man; but Abayi declares him culpable for the reason that, while the man did not intend to cut off what he really did, still the intention to cut was prevalent in the man's mind, and he really did cut; hence he is that the Scriptures refer to as "one who acteth unintentionally."

It was also taught: One who intended to throw (from private ground into public) only for a distance of two ells, but threw four, is freed by Rabha, for the reason that the original intention was to throw within a permissible distance (throwing for a distance of two ells only was permitted); but Abayi held him culpable, for the reason that the act originally intended was accomplished. If one threw in public ground mistaking it for private, Rabh holds him free (for the same reason as before), and Abayi holds him culpable (also for the same reason as he gave in the previous case). Both instances though analogous are necessary. In the first instance (of cutting), where Rabh holds the offender not culpable, the intention to cut off what was prohibited did not exist, but in the second instance (throwing four ells), it could not be accomplished without (carrying out the intention of) throwing for two ells, and passing the two ells (the object landing at a distance of four). Now, lest one might say that Rabha coincides with the opinion of Abayi, and from the latter instance it might be assumed that the offender intended to throw two, but threw four ells, hence Rabha holds him not culpable, for the intention to throw four ells did not exist; but if one threw four ells in what he thought was private ground, and which turned out to be public ground, the intention was carried out, for the object thrown reached its desired destination, and therefore lest one say that in this case Rabha coincides with Abayi, the two instances are illustrated, and we are informed that not even in this case does Rabha agree with Abayi.

MISHNA II.: The principal acts of labor (prohibited on the Sabbath) are forty less one--viz.: Sowing, ploughing, reaping, binding into sheaves, threshing, winnowing, fruit-cleaning, grinding, sifting, kneading, baking, wool-shearing, bleaching, combing, dyeing, spinning, warping, making two spindle-trees, weaving two threads, separating two threads (in the warp), tying a knot, untying a knot, sewing on with two stitches, tearing in order to sew together with two stitches, hunting deer, slaughtering the same, skinning them, salting them, preparing the hide, scraping the hair off, cutting it, writing two (single) letters (characters), erasing in order to write two letters, building, demolishing (in order to rebuild), kindling, extinguishing (fire), hammering, transferring from one place into another. These are the principal acts of labor--forty less one.

GEMARA: For what purpose is the number (so distinctly) given? (They are enumerated.) Said R. Johanan: If one labored through total ignorance of the (laws governing the) Sabbath, he must bring a sin-offering for every act of labor performed.

"Sowing, ploughing." Let us see: Ploughing being always done before sowing, let it be taught first, The Tana (who taught as in the Mishna) is a Palestinian, and in his country they sow first and then plough. Some one taught that sowing, pruning, planting, transplanting, and grafting are all one and the same kind of labor. What would he inform us thereby? That if one performs many acts of labor, all of the same class, he is liable for but one sin-offering.

Said R. Aha in the name of R. Hyya b. Ashi, quoting R. Ami: "One who prunes is guilty of planting, and one who plants, transplants, or grafts is guilty of sowing." Of sowing and not of planting? I mean to say of sowing also.

Said R. Kahana: One who prunes and uses the branches for fuel is liable for two sin-offerings, one for reaping and one for planting. Said R. Joseph: One who mows alfalfa (hay) is guilty of mowing and planting both. Said Abayi: One who mows clover hay (which sheds its seed when mowed) is liable (for a sin-offering) for mowing and sowing.

"Ploughing." There is a Boraitha: Ploughing, digging, furrowing, are one and the same kind of labor. R. Shesheth said: One who removes a knoll of earth in a house becomes liable for building, and if in a field he is liable for ploughing. Rabha said: Filling up a hole in the house makes one liable for building, and in the field for ploughing. R. Aba said: Digging (the same hole) on Sabbath for the purpose of making use of the earth alone is free even according to R. Jehudah, who said that the performance of an unnecessary act of labor makes one culpable. He refers to labor that improves an object and not to that which spoils it.

"Mowing." There is a Boraitha: Reaping, vintaging, selecting dates, olives, and figs are all one and the same kind of labor.

"Binding into sheaves." Rabha said: One who gathers salt from salt works is guilty of the act of binding into sheaves. Abayi, however, said that binding into sheaves applies only to produce of the soil.

"Threshing." There is a Boraitha: Threshing, carding, and hackling belong to one and the same class of labor.

"Threshing, winnowing, fruit-cleaning," etc. Is not winnowing, fruit-cleaning, and sifting one and the same class of labor? Abayi and Rabha both said: "Acts of labor executed during the construction of the tabernacle are enumerated separately, though they are of an analogous nature." Let pounding then also be enumerated (as labor, inasmuch as the spices for incense had to be pounded). Said Abayi: (It is true! This is also one of the acts of labor performed at the construction of the tabernacle.) But as the poor people do not pound their grain, generally using it in its natural state, it is not included in the principal acts of labor. Rabha, however, said: "The Mishna should be understood in the sense Rabbi expounded it: The principal acts of labor are forty less one. Should pounding be included, there would be forty even." Let then one of the principal acts (enumerated in the Mishna) be stricken out and substituted by pounding. Hence it is best to accept Abayi's reason.

The rabbis taught: If there are several kinds of food before a man on the Sabbath, he may select such as he desires and even set it aside, but he must not separate the good from the spoilt. If he does this, he is liable for a sin-offering. How is this to be understood? R. Hamnuna explained it thus: "One may select the good from the spoilt for immediate or later consumption, but he must not pick out the spoilt, leaving the good for later consumption. If he does this, he is liable." Abayi opposed: "Is there anything mentioned (in the Mishna) about separating the good from the spoilt?" He therefore explained the Boraitha as follows: "Food may be selected for immediate consumption and setting aside, but not for later consumption. If this is done, it is considered the same as storing it, and involves the liability." This was reported to Rabha by the rabbis, and he said: Na'hmeni (Abayi) has explained it correctly.

When two kinds of food were before a man and he selected part of one kind and ate it, then selected part of the other kind and set it aside, R. Ashi learned in the Boraitha that the man is free, but R. Jeremiah of Diphti learned that he is culpable. Is there not a Boraitha which teaches that he is? This presents no difficulty. R. Ashi refers to food served in a basket or a bowl, but R. Jeremiah learned that the man sifted the food in a sieve.

When R. Dimi came to Babylon he related: It happened on a Sabbath, when R. Bibhi's turn came to entertain the disciples, that R. Ami and R. Assi arrived. R. Bibhi placed before them a basket filled with fruit (together with the leaves and sprigs), and I am not aware what his reason was. Was he of the opinion that it is forbidden to separate food from trash, or was it his liberality?

Hyzkiyah said: "One who shells pressed lupines (on the Sabbath) is culpable." Does this mean to say that it is forbidden to separate food from trash? Nay; there is quite a difference where pressed lupines are concerned; they must be scalded just seven times and immediately shelled, for if they are not immediately shelled they become putrid; therefore to shell them is equal to separating trash from good food.

"Grinding." Said R. Papa: To chop beets is the same as to grind. Splitting wood for kindling is the same as grinding. Said R. Ashi: Splitting leather is the same class of work as cutting by measure (if he is particular about it).

"Kneading, baking." R. Papa said: "The Tana of the Mishna omitted the cooking of spices that took place in the tabernacle and instead of that taught about baking." It is because the Tana follows the order of baking (first comes kneading, then baking, and cooking is included in the latter).

"Wool-shearing, bleaching." Rabba b. b. Hana in the name of R. Johanan said: Spinning wool from a live animal on the Sabbath makes one liable for three sin-offerings; one for shearing, one for carding, and one for spinning. R. Kahana, however, said: This is not the way shearing, carding, and spinning are done (hence he is not at all culpable).

If one plucked quills, cut off their tops, and singed them on both sides, the rabbis taught that he is liable for three sin-offerings.

"Tying, untying." What kind of tying and untying was done at the construction of the tabernacle? Rabha, others say R. Ilayi, said: This is the way of the (snail) fishers; to untie their nets from one load and tie them on another.

"Sewing on with two stitches." But two stitches do not hold (hence it cannot be called work)? Said Rabba b. b. Hana in the name of R. Johanan: Provided two knots are made, one at each end.

"Tearing in order to sew together with two stitches." Was there any tearing done at the tabernacle? Both Rabba and R. Zera said: When a curtain became moth-eaten, they tore out the moth-eaten part and sewed it together.

R. Zutra b. Tobiah in the name of Rabh said: "To rip a seam on the Sabbath makes one liable; to learn from a magician is a sin involving capital punishment; one who knows the science of astronomy and does not make use of it, is not worth being spoken of." What is a magician? Rabh says a "wizard." Samuel says a "blasphemer." R. Simeon b. Pazi in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi said: Whoever knows the science of astronomy, and does not occupy himself with it is the party alluded to [Isaiah, v. 12]: "But the deeds of the Lord they regard not and the works of his hands they behold not." Said Samuel b. Na'hmeni in the name of R. Jonathan: "Whence the adduction that we are bound to learn astronomy?" From the passage [Deut. iv. 6]: "Keep, therefore, and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding before the eyes of the nations." And what kind of wisdom is before the eyes of the nations? You must say that it is astronomy.

"Hunting deer." The rabbis taught: To catch a slug and squeeze it so that it bleed is a transgression involving only a sin-offering. R. Jehudah says, involving two sin-offerings, for R. Jehudah holds that squeezing comes in the class of threshing, but the rabbis told him that squeezing is not threshing. What reason do the rabbis give for their opinion? Said Rabha: Their reason is that threshing can only be applied to produce of the soil.

"Slaughtering." Under which category? Rabh said "dyeing," and Samuel said "taking life." Said Rabh: "I said something which may seem absurd, and so as to prevent future generations from deriding me I will give a reason for what I said: Butchers are in the habit of coloring the throat of the carcasses with blood, in order that people may see (that the meat is still fresh) and be induced to buy."

"Salting the hide," etc. Is not salting a hide preparing it? Both R. Johanan and Resh Lakish said: "Strike out one of them in the Mishna and substitute it with 'marking.'

"Scraping the hair off," etc. R. Aha b. Hanina said: To polish a floor on the Sabbath is a transgression of the same order as scraping off the hair of the hide. Said R. Hyya b. Abba: R. Ashi told me three things in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: Sawing rafters on the Sabbath (that they may be equal in size and pointed) makes one liable the same as "cutting." Daubing a plaster on a piece of cloth makes one liable the same as "scraping hair off." Smoothing a stone makes one culpable of "hammering." R. Simeon b. Kisma in the name of R. Simeon b. Lakish, said: Painting pictures on vessels or blowing out glassware makes one culpable the same as hammering. R. Jehudah said: Removing a border from cloth also makes one as culpable as hammering; but only in case one is particular about having the border remain on his cloth.

"Writing two letters." The rabbis taught: "If one wrote one large letter instead of two small ones, he is not guilty of any transgression; but to erase a large letter, in the place of which two small letters can be written, makes one liable for a sin-offering (for the erasing is done with the intent to write, and two small letters are evidently needed). Said R. Mena'hem b. Jossi: "This is the only case where the law is more rigorous with erasing than with writing."

"Building, demolishing," etc. Both Rabba and R. Zera said: All work which is done in the last stages is considered the same as hammering (which is generally the finishing work).

"These are the principal acts of labor." "These," to exclude a derivation of the same kind as the principal when it is done with the principal together, and as to which R. Eliezer makes one liable for the derivation also.

"Less one," to exclude the extension of the warp or the woof, which R. Jehudah added to the principal acts; but the rabbis said: Extending the warp is included in warping and extending the woof is included in weaving.

MISHNA III.: And there is also another rule which was laid down: Whosoever carries out on the Sabbath such things as are fit and proper to be stored and in such a quantity as is usually stored, is liable; but whatever is not fit and proper to be stored, nor in such a quantity as is generally stored, only he who would store this is liable (because the storing shows that for him it is valuable).

GEMARA: "Whatever is not fit and proper." Said R. Elazar: The latter part of the Mishna is not in accordance with R. Simeon b. Elazar, who said in the following Boraitha: "There is a rule that all which is not fit and proper to be stored nor in such a quantity as is generally stored, if held by one man fit and another man has carried it out, the latter becomes liable for the intention of the owner."

MISHNA IV.: It is forbidden to carry about chopped straw in quantities of a cow's mouthful, stalks in quantities of a camel's mouthful, stubble in quantities of a lamb's mouthful, herbs in quantities of a kid's mouthful, leek and onion leaves, if fresh, equal in size to a dried fig, and if dry in quantities of a kid's mouthful. The different kinds of fodder are, however, not to be counted together, as the prescribed quantities are not equal for all.

GEMARA: "Chopped straw." What kind? Said R. Jehudah: "Pease stalks." When Rabhin came to Babylon he said thus: There is no diversity of opinion concerning the carrying out of straw in quantities of a cow's mouthful for a camel, as all agree that in such a case one is liable; the point of their differing is concerning the carrying out of stalks (which is not fit food for a cow) in quantities of a cow's mouthful for a cow. R. Johanan frees him, as he holds that unfit food cannot be regarded as nutrition; and Resh Lakish makes him liable, as he holds that even such is considered nutrition.

"Stubble in quantities of a lamb's mouthful." But does not a Boraitha state "the size of a dried fig"? Both quantities are equal.

"Leek and onion leaves, if fresh," etc. Said R. Jossi b. Hanina: Inferior food is not to be counted in with superior (in order to make out the prescribed quantity). Superior food, however, may be counted with the inferior (in order to complete the prescribed quantity).

MISHNA V.: The carrying out of an article of food the size of a dried fig makes one liable. And the different kinds of them are to be counted together, for the prescribed quantity is the same for all kinds, with the exception of husks, kernels, and stalks; likewise bran, both coarse and fine. R. Jehudah says that the husks of lentils are not excepted, because they are boiled with the lentils and are counted in the same (as food).

GEMARA: "Except bran," etc. Is not fine as well as coarse bran to be counted in (the same as food)? Is there not a Mishna concerning the separation of the first dough, that one is bound to separate the first dough made of flour mixed with its fine or coarse bran? Answered Abayi: "This is no contradiction. Poor people only generally use such mixed flour (when Sabbath is concerned something possessing real value is always spoken of)."

"The husks of lentils are not excepted," etc. Husks of lentils only, and not of beans? Did not a Boraitha state that R. Jehudah said, "husks of beans and lentils"? This presents no difficulty. The Mishna refers to husks of new lentils and the Boraitha refers to old lentils and beans. And why not old ones? Said R. Abuhu: Because they (the husks of lentils and beans) are black and when dished up look like flies in a bowl (they are not eaten with the food and therefore are not counted in).


130:1 Kiddush and Habhdalah are the benedictions recited at the commencement and termination of the Sabbath, the former over wine or bread and the latter only over some beverage.

131:1 The literal translation of the passage Exod. xxxi. 14 is "Every one that defileth it [the Sabbath], death shall he die."

132:1 In that passage there is a superfluous Mem (the Hebrew prefix meaning of or from). Hence its literal translation is "of one of them."

134:1 In the Tract Kriroth the reason of the man's non-culpability is explained as follows: it is written [Lev. iv. 23], "if now his sin wherein he has sinned come to his knowledge," and this should be supplemented with "but not the sin which he had not in mind to commit at all." Whence we see plainly that the Scriptures designate as an unintentional sinner only one who knows wherein he has sinned; for instance, if he became aware that it was Sabbath, or that the acts performed by him were prohibited. In our case, however, where a man intended to pick up a thing but accidentally cut a thing, it is evident that no intention to cut existed in the man's mind, and the intent of the "wherein he has sinned" in the Scriptures does not apply to him. Rabha goes further and says that even if one actually accomplished an act he had in mind and which was permissible on the Sabbath, but at the same time accidentally committed a prohibited act (as illustrated in the above instance), even in such a case the scriptural "wherein he has sinned" cannot apply, nor can he be accounted the scriptural unintentional sinner who is liable for a sin-offering. Abayi, however, differs with him, as will be seen farther on.

Sources: Sacred Texts