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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah

Folio 28a

internal sore should not be healed by them. Wherein do these versions differ? — They differ in the case of a swelling of the hand or a swelling of the foot.1  For R. Adda b. Mattena said2  in the name of Rab: A swelling of the hand or a swelling of the foot is to be regarded as [serious as] an internal sore, and the Sabbath may be profaned for it. Said R. Zutra b. Tobiah in the name of Rab: Any sore which requires [medical] opinion3  justifies the profanation of the Sabbath. R. Shaman b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: The inflammatory fever is to be regarded as an internal sore for which the Sabbath may be profaned. Which sore is to be termed internal? R. Ammi explained: [Such as are] on the lip and inward. R. Eleazar asked: How about the gums and the teeth: should they, being hard, be regarded as external; or do we say that, since they are placed within [the mouth], they are to be regarded as internal? — Said Abaye: Come and hear: One who is troubled with his teeth must not rinse them with vinegar [on the Sabbath].4  [Which means that] if he is only 'troubled' he must not [rinse them] but if they hurt him very much it is proper [for him to do it]! — Probably this Tanna would call 'being troubled' even if they hurt very much. Then come and hear this:5  R. Johanan was troubled with scurvy [on his gums] and he went to a certain [heathen] lady6  who attended to him on the Thursday and the Friday. Said he: What about to morrow?7  She replied: You will not need [the treatment]. But what if I do need it? he asked. She replied: Swear unto me that you will not reveal [the remedy]. Said he: I swear, to the God of Israel I will not reveal it. She then divulged it to him and on the morrow he referred to it in the course of lecturing. But did he not swear unto her? — He swore: 'To the God of Israel I will not reveal it,' [implying that] I may reveal it to His people Israel. But is this not a profanation of the Name?8  He mentioned [that proviso] to her originally. Now is it not evident then that [a sore on the gum] is regarded as an internal sore?9  — Said R. Nahman b. Isaac: Scurvy is different, because though starting in the mouth it extends to the intestines. What is its symptom? — If he places anything between his teeth, blood comes from the gums. What brings it on? — The chill of cold wheat-food and the heat of hot barley-food, also the remnant of fish-hash and flour. What did she apply to it? — Said R. Aha the son of Raba: Leaven-water with olive oil and salt. Mar son of R. Ashi said: Geese-fat smeared with a goose-quill. Said Abaye: I did all this but was not cured, until a certain Arab told me to get seeds of an olive not one third ripe and burn them on a new spade and spread [the ashes] on the gums; which I did and was cured. But how came R. Johanan to act as he did: had not Rabba b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan: Any sore for which the Sabbath may be profaned should not be healed by a heathen? — It is different with a distinguished man.10  What about R. Abbahu, who too was a distinguished man,11  yet Jacob the Min prepared for him a medicine for his leg, and were it not for R. Ammi and R. Asi who licked his leg,12  he would have cut his leg off? — The one [who attended] R. Johanan was an expert physician. — So too was that of R. Abbahu, an expert physician! — It was different in the case of R. Abbahu, for Minim adopt the attitude of let me die with the Philistines.13

Said Samuel: An open wound is to be regarded as dangerous for which the Sabbath may be profaned. What is the remedy? — For stopping the bleeding, cress with vinegar; for bringing on [flesh], scraped root of cynodon and the paring of the bramble, or worms form a dunghill.

Said R. Safra: A berry-like excrescence14  is a forerunner of the Angel of Death. What is the remedy for it? — Rue in honey, or parsley in strong wine. In the meantime a berry resembling it [in size] should be brought and rolled over it: white [berry] for a white one, and black for a black one. Said Raba: An abscess is a forerunner of fever. What is the remedy for it? — It should be snapped sixty times with the thumb and then cut open crosswise; that is if it has not been brought to a white head, but if its head is white, it matters not.

R. Jacob was suffering from

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Which is serious enough to justify the waiving of the Sabbath, yet is not an internal sore.
  2. Shab. 109a.
  3. As to whether it is fatal or not.
  4. Lest he be led to grind ingredients on the Sabbath (Shab. 111a).
  5. Yoma 84a.
  6. [The daughter of (a certain) Domitian. J. Shab. XIV. v. Preuss, op. cit., p. 196, n. 3].
  7. When his Sabbath lecture would prevent him from calling on her.
  8. [H], the profanation of the Divine Name by doing anything that may discredit God or Israel was always regarded as a grievous sin, particularly if the misdeed is committed in dealing with a non-Jew. The positive form [H], sanctifying the Name is applied to every act which brings credit upon God and His People (v. p. 137, n. 6).
  9. Since he was prepared to have it treated on the Sabbath.
  10. Such as R. Johanan was; as the heathen would be afraid to commit any foul play.
  11. V. Sanh. 14a and Keth. 17a, where he is spoken of as a familiar figure in the Emperor's court.
  12. [To suck the poison out.]
  13. Judg. XVI, 30, exclaimed by Samson, who readily jeopardised his own life in order to avenge himself on his enemies.
  14. [H], the disease referred to is not clear, Preuss, op. cit., pp. 304 ff.]
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‘Abodah Zarah 28b

a slit in the rectum and R. Ammi — some say R. Assi — directed him to take seven grains of purple coloured alkali, wrap them up in the collar of a shirt, tie it round with a white thread [of cattle-hair], dip it in white naphtha and burn it, and apply [the ashes] to the sore. While preparing this he was to take the kernel of a bramble nut and apply its split side to the slit. That is if there is a slit externally; what [is one to do] if it is internal? One should take some fat of a goat that has not borne any young, melt it and apply it. Else one should take three melon leaves which have faded in the shade, burn them and apply the ashes. In the absence of these, let one apply snail-shells, or else take olive-oil mixed with wax and let him be covered with rag of linen in the summer and cotton wool in the winter.

R. Abbahu had pain in his ear and he was given some directions by R. Johanan — others say, by those in the House of Study. What were the directions? — Similar to those of Abaye1  [who said]: My Mother told me that kidneys were only made to [heal] the ear. So also said Raba: Minyomi the physician told me that any kind of fluid is bad for the ear except the juice from kidneys. One should take the kidney of a 'bald-buck', cut it cross-wise and place it on glowing coals, and pour the water which comes out of it into the ear, neither cold nor hot, but tepid. Else, one should take the fat of a large-size cockchafer, melt it and drip it [into the ear]. Or else, the ear should be filled with oil, then seven wicks should be made out of green blades of wheat-stalks at the one end of which dry garlic ends and some white thread should be set alight while the other end is placed within the ear, the ear should be exposed to the light but care should be taken that no spark falls on it, each wick [when done with] should be replaced by another. Another version is: One should prepare seven wicks of white thread2  and dip them in oil of balsam-wood3  setting light to the one end and placing the other end in the ear, each one, when done with, should be replaced by another, care being taken to avoid any sparks. Or let one take tow cotton which has been dyed but not combed and place it within the ear, which should be placed above a fire, taking precaution against sparks. Another remedy: Take a tube of an old cane [which has been detached from the soil] for about a century and fill it with rock salt, then burn it and apply the ashes [to the sore part]. [Take as] thy mnemonic [to remember how to apply the foregoing,] in liquid form to a dry sore, and in dry form to a wet sore.

Said Raba b. Zutra in the name of R. Hanina: It is permissible to restore the ear into its proper position on the Sabbath. Whereon R. Samuel b. Judah commented: Only with the hand, but not by applying medicines. Some report: By applying medicine, but not with the hand, the reason being that it causes soreness.

Said R. Zutra b. Tobiah in the name of Rab: If one's eye gets out of order, it is permissible to paint it on the Sabbath. He was understood to be of opinion that this only holds good when the medical ingredients had been ground the previous day, but if it is necessary to grind them on the Sabbath and carry them through a public road, it would not be permitted; but one of the Rabbis, R. Jacob by name, remarked to him: It was made plain to me on behalf of Rab Judah that even grinding on the Sabbath and the carrying through the public street are permissible.

Rab Judah declared it as permissible to paint the eye on the Sabbath. Whereupon R. Samuel b. Judah said: He who acts according to Judah profanes the Sabbath. After some time when he himself had a sore eye he sent to ask of Rab Judah: Is it permitted or forbidden? He sent back [the following reply:] 'To everyone else it is permitted — but to you it is forbidden.4  Was it on my own authority [that I permitted it?] It was on that of Mar Samuel'. It once happened to a maid-servant in Mar Samuel's house that her eye became inflamed on a Sabbath; she cried, but no one attended her5  and her eye dropped. On the morrow Mar Samuel went forth and propounded that if one's eye gets out of order it is permissible to paint it on the Sabbath, the reason being because the eyesight is connected with the mental faculties.6

What kind [of disorder]?7  Said R. Judah: Such as discharge, pricking, congestion, watering, inflammation or the first stages of sickness, excluding the last stage of sickness or the brightening of the eyesight in which cases it is not permitted.

Said Rab Judah: The sting of a wasp, the prick of a thorn,8  an abscess, a sore eye or an inflammation — for all these a bath-house is dangerous. Radishes are good for fever, and beets for cold shivers: the reverse is dangerous. Warm things [are good] for a scorpion [bite] and cold things for that by a wasp: the reverse is dangerous. Likewise warm things for a thorn prick and cold

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Kid. 31b.
  2. [So MS.M. (v. Jast.); according to current edd.: wax tapers.]
  3. So according to MSS. and old editions which have [H] instead of [H] (wheat stalks) in current edd.
  4. Since, in opposition to Rab Judah, he declared it as forbidden.
  5. Thinking that it was not serious enough to warrant disregarding the Sabbath.
  6. So Tosaf. a.l. s.v. [H] Rashi's rendering is, The nerves of the eye affect the fat around the heart.
  7. Justifies the medical painting of the eye on the Sabbath.
  8. Lit., 'he who was stung by a thorn', similarly with the other phrases that follow.
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