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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 129a

'I need it' or 'I do not need it,' we may not desecrate the Sabbath for her:1  that is how R. Ashi recited it. Mar Zutra recited it thus: Rab Judah said in Samuel's name: If a woman is in confinement, as long as the uterus is open, whether she says, 'I need it' or 'I do not need it,' we desecrate the Sabbath for her. If the uterus is closed, if she says, 'I need it,' we desecrate the Sabbath for her; if she does not say, 'I need it,' we do not desecrate the Sabbath for her.2  Rabina asked Meremar: Mar Zutra recited it in the direction of leniency, [while] R. Ashi recited it in the direction of stringency; which is the law? — The law is as Mar Zutra, replied he: where [a matter of] life is in doubt we are lenient.

From when is the opening of the uterus? — Abaye said: From when she sits on the seat of travail. R. Huna son of R. Joshua said: From when the blood slowly flows down; others state, From when her friends carry her by her arms.3  For how long is the opening of the uterus? — Abaye said: Three days: Raba said in Rab Judah's name: Seven; others maintain: Thirty.

The scholars of Nehardea said: A lying-in woman [has three periods: from] three [days after confinement], seven [days], and thirty [days]. From three [days], whether she says, 'I need it' or she says, 'I do not need it,'4  we desecrate the Sabbath for her. [From] seven [days], if she says 'I need it,' we desecrate the Sabbath for her; if she says, 'I do not need it,' we do not desecrate the Sabbath for her. [From] thirty days, even if she says, 'I need it,' we may not desecrate the Sabbath for her,5  yet we may do so by means of a Gentile,6  as R. 'Ulla the son of R. Ilai, who said: All the requirements of an invalid may be done by means of a Gentile on the Sabbath, and as R. Hamnuna, who said: In a matter entailing no danger [to life], one bids a Gentile and he does it.

Rab Judah said in Samuel's name: For a woman in confinement [the period is] thirty days. In respect of what law? The scholars of Nehardea said: In respect of a ritual bath.7  Raba observed: We said this only if her husband is not with her;8  but if her husband is with her, he makes her warm. Even as R. Hisda's daughter performed tebillah within thirty days in her husband's absence,9  caught a chill, and was carried in a bed to Raba at Pumbeditha.

Rab Judah said in Samuel's name: We may make a fire for a lying-in woman on the Sabbath [in the winter].10  Now it was understood from him, only for a lying-in woman, but not for an invalid; only in winter, but not in summer. But that is not so: there is no difference between a lying-in woman and any [other] invalid, and summer and winter are alike. [This follows] since it was stated, R. Hiyya b. Abin said in Samuel's name: If one lets blood and catches a chill, a fire is made for him even on the Tammuz [summer] solstice.11  A teak chair was broken up for Samuel;12  a table [made] of juniper-wood was broken up for Rab Judah. A footstool was broken up for Rabbah, whereupon Abaye said to Rabbah, But you are infringing, thou shalt not destroy?13  'Thou shalt not destroy' in respect of my own body is more important to me, he retorted.

Rab Judah said in Rab's name: One should always sell [even] the beams of his house and buy shoes for his feet. If one has let blood and has nothing to eat, let him sell the shoes from off his feet and provide the requirements of a meal therewith. What are the requirements of a meal? — Rab said: Meat; while Samuel said: Wine. Rab said meat: life for life. While Samuel said, Wine: red [wine] to replace red [blood].

(Mnemonic: SHeNiMSaR.)14  For Samuel on the day he was bled15  a dish of pieces of meat was prepared; R. Johanan drank until the smell [of the wine] issued from his ears; R. Nahman drank until his milt swam [in wine]; R. Joseph drank until it [the smell] issued from the puncture of bleeding.16  Raba sought Wine of a [vine] that had had three [changes of] foliage.17

R. Nahman b. Isaac said to his disciples: I beg of you, tell your wives on the day of blood-letting, Nahman is visiting us.18  Now, all artifices are forbidden, save the following article, which is permitted. Viz., if one is bled and cannot [buy wine],19  let him take a bad zuz20  and go to seven shops until he has tasted as much as a rebi'ith.21  But if not,22  let him eat seven black dates, rub his temples with oil, and sleep in the sun. Ablat23  found Samuel sleeping in the sun. Said he to him, O Jewish Sage! can that which is injurious be beneficial? It is a day of bleeding, replied he.24  Yet it is not so, but there is a day when the sun is beneficial for the whole year, [viz.,] the day of the Tammuz [summer]25  solstice, and he said to himself, I will not reveal it to him.26

(Mnemonic: Sparingly, wind, taste, tarry.) Rab and Samuel both Say: If one makes light of the meal after bleeding his food will be made light of by Heaven, for they Say; He has no compassion for his own life, shall I have compassion upon him! Rab and Samuel both say: He who is bled, let him, not sit where a wind can enfold [him], lest the cupper drained him [of blood] and reduced it27  to [just] a rebi'ith,28  and the wind come and drain him [still further], and thus he is in danger. Samuel was accustomed to be bled in a house [whose wall consisted] of seven whole bricks,29  and a half brick [in thickness]. One day he bled and felt himself [weak]; he examined [the wall] and found a half-brick missing.

Rab and Samuel both say: He who is bled must [first] partake of something and then go out; for if he does not eat anything, if he meets a corpse his face will turn green; if he meets a homicide he will die; and if he meets

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. As there is no danger of life. Asheri, however, reads: If she says, 'I need it', we desecrate (the Sabbath); if she does not say, 'I need it', we do not desecrate.
  2. Asheri reads: If she says, 'I do not need it', we do not desecrate (the Sabbath); if she does not say. 'I do not need it'. we do desecrate.
  3. I.e., when she cannot walk.
  4. Var. lec.: or she does not say, 'I need it'; similarly infra.
  5. For she certainly does not need it and is in no danger.
  6. Lit., 'Syrian'.
  7. Which she must not take until thirty days for fear of a cold.
  8. After the ritual bath, which she takes in order to eat terumah, etc.
  9. Lit., 'not in her husband's presence'.
  10. Lit., 'in the rainy season'. This is bracketed in the text.
  11. Tammuz is the fourth month of the year, corresponding to about July.
  12. For a fire, other wood being unavailable.
  13. Deut. XX, 19. q.v.; this is understood as a general prohibition of wasteful destruction of any sort.
  14. V. p. 110, n. 1. SH=SHemuel (Samuel); N=R. Johanan; M=R. Nahman; S=R. Joseph; R=Raba.
  15. Lit., 'when he did the thing'.
  16. I.e., the hole made in his flesh when he was bled. Jast. s.v. [H] translates: until the puncture was healed up.
  17. I.e., wine in its third year.
  18. That they may prepare substantial meals!
  19. Having no money.
  20. I.e., a worn-out one which is not accepted as current coin.
  21. A quarter of a log. Wine was tasted before buying; at each shop he would taste the wine and then proffer the coin, which, of course, would be refused.
  22. He does not even possess such a coin.
  23. A Persian sage and friend of Samuel, v. A.Z. 30a.
  24. And I require heat.
  25. Var. lec. Tebeth (winter).
  26. Samuel possessed medical knowledge and did not wish to reveal trade secrets.
  27. Lit., 'set it'.
  28. Which was held to be the minimum quantity of blood which can sustain life.
  29. A whole brick is three handbreadths,
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Shabbath 129b

a swine,1  it [the meeting] is harmful in respect of something else.2

Rab and Samuel both say: One who is bled should tarry awhile and then rise, for a Master said: In five cases one is nearer to death than to life. And these are they: When one eats and [immediately] rises, drinks and rises, sleeps and rises, lets blood and rises, and cohabits and rises.

Samuel said: The correct interval for blood-letting is every thirty days; in middle age3  one should decrease [the frequency];4  at a [more] advanced age5  he should again decrease [the frequency]. Samuel also said: The correct time for bloodletting is on a Sunday Wednesday and Friday, but not on Monday or Thursday, because a Master said: He who possesses ancestral merit may let blood on Monday and Thursday, because the Heavenly Court and the human court are alike then.6  Why not on Tuesday? Because the planet Mars rules at even-numbered hours of the day.7  But on Friday too it rules at even-numbered hours? Since the multitude are accustomed to it,8  'the Lord preserveth the simple.'9

Samuel said: A Wednesday10  which is the fourth [of the month], a Wednesday which is the fourteenth, a Wednesday which is the twenty-fourth a Wednesday which is not followed by four [days]11  — [all] are dangerous.12  The first day of the month and the second [cause] weakness; the third is dangerous. The eve of a Festival [causes] weakness; the eve of Pentecost is dangerous, and the Rabbis laid an interdict upon the eve of every Festival on account of the Festival of Pentecost, when there issues a wind called Taboah,13  and had not the Israelites accepted the Torah it would absolutely have killed them.14

Samuel said: If one eats a grain of wheat and [then] lets blood, he has bled in respect of that grain only.15  Yet that is only as a remedy,16  but if it is to ease one,17  it does ease.18  When one is bled, drinking [is permissible] immediately; eating until half a mil.19  The scholars asked: [Does this mean], immediate drinking is beneficial, but after that it is injurious; or Perhaps [after that] it is neither harmful nor beneficial? — The question stands over. The scholars asked: Is eating beneficial only until half a mil, but before or after it is harmful; or perhaps it is [then] neither harmful nor beneficial? The question stands over.

Rab announced: A hundred gourds for one zuz, a hundred heads for one zuz, a hundred lips for nothing.20  R. Joseph said: When we were at R. Huna's academy, on a day that the scholars took a holiday they would say, 'This is a day of lips,' but I did not know what they meant.

WE TIE UP THE NAVEL-STRING. Our Rabbis taught: We tie up the navel-string. R. Jose said: We cut [it] too; and we hide the after-birth, so that the infant may be kept warm. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: princesses hide [it] in bowls of oil, wealthy women in wool fleeces, and poor women in soft rags.

R. Nahman said in Rabbah b. Abbuha's name in Rab's name: The halachah is as R. Jose. R. Nahman also said in Rabbah b. Abbuha's name in Rab's name: The Sages agree with R. Jose in the case of the navel-string of twins, that we cut them. What is the reason? Because they pull upon each other.21

R. Nahman also said in Rabbah b. Abbuha's name in Rab's name: All that is mentioned in the chapter of rebuke22  is done for a lying-in woman on the Sabbath. As it is said, And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to cleanse thee' thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.23  'And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born': hence an infant may be delivered on the Sabbath; 'thy navel was not cut': hence the navel-string is cut on the Sabbath: 'neither wast thou washed in water to cleanse thee': hence the infant is washed on the Sabbath; 'thou wast not salted at all': hence the infant is salted on the Sabbath; 'nor swaddled at all': hence the infant is swaddled on the Sabbath.24

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Lit., 'something else'.
  2. Viz., leprosy, which this may cause.
  3. Lit., "at the middle stages', viz., from forty onwards (Rashi).
  4. The body then begins to lose heat, and frequent bleeding may be injurious.
  5. Rashi: from the age of sixty.
  6. The court used to meet on Mondays and Thursdays, v. B.K. 82a. One's transgressions are punished in a time of natural risk. Cf. supra 32a.
  7. Jast. Ma'adim lit., means the reddener. The hours as well as the months were thought to stand under the influence of planets which moulded their nature. The planet Mars represented war and pestilence and retribution, whilst the even-numbered hours of the day were regarded as particularly susceptible to disaster. This double combination was therefore very dangerous, and bloodletting might have serious results.
  8. Sc. bleeding on Friday.
  9. Ps. CXVI, 6.
  10. Lit., 'fourth' day of the week.
  11. In the same month (Rashi).
  12. For bleeding.
  13. Lit., 'slaughter'.
  14. Lit., 'their flesh and blood.'
  15. I.e., bleeding immediately after a meal serves only to lighten one of that meal, but has no wider effects.
  16. If it is done as a remedy it is ineffective.
  17. E.g., if one suffers from high blood.pressure.
  18. Even if performed immediately after a meal.
  19. I.e., as long as it takes to walk that distance-about nine minutes; v. supra 34b, 35a.
  20. Rashi: gourds and animal-heads are but slightly beneficial, and they are worth having only when a hundred can be bought for one zuz; but the lips of animals are quite worthless. Tosaf., reading with R. Han. [H] instead of [H] translates: a hundred (surgeons') horns (i.e., bleedings) for one zuz, a hundred heads (i.e., hair cuttings) for one zuz, a hundred lips (trimmings of moustaches) for nothing, as this was free if done at the same time as the bleeding or hair cutting. Thus 'a day of lips' became a proverbial description of a day without profit.
  21. Which endangers their lives.
  22. Wherein Ezekiel rebukes the Jews; ch. XVI.
  23. Ezek. XVI, 4.
  24. no note.
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