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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 48a

Objects of service are deduced from objects of service,1  thus excluding the broken-necked heifer, which is in itself taboo. And why does Abaye not deduce [his ruling] from idol-worship? — He answers you: Normal practices are deduced from normal practices so excluding idol-worship which is not normal.2

(Mnemonic: Veil; Tomb; Hewn. The craftsman's bag.)3

An objection is raised: 'If a veil, which is unclean4  through Midras,5  is designated [as a cover] for the Book [of the law], it is purified from [the uncleanness of] Midras,6  yet may become unclean by direct contact [with the dead]'?7  — Say thus: If it was designated for and wrapped round [the Book].8  But why are both 'designation' and 'wrapping' necessary?9  — This is in accordance with R. Hisda, who said: If a cloth was assigned for wrapping Tefillin therein, and was so used, one may not tie up coins in it. If it was assigned, but not used so, or vice versa,10  one may tie up coins in it.11  But on Abaye's view, viz., that [mere] designation is a material act; if one had assigned the cloth [for the purpose of wrapping up his Tefillin], even though he did not do so, or if he wrapped them in it, and also assigned it [for that purpose], it is so [i.e., the prohibition holds good]; but if he had not assigned it, it is not [forbidden].

Come and hear! 'A tomb12  built for a man still alive, may be used.13 If, however, one added a single row of stones for a dead person,14  no [other] use may be made thereof'?15  — This deals with a case where the corpse had actually been buried there. If so why [teach] particularly 'if one added [etc.]'; even if not, the law would have been the same! — This is only necessary [to teach that the prohibition remains] even if the body has [subsequently] been removed.16

Rafram R. Papa said In R. Hisda's name: If he recognizes that [additional row] he may remove it and the tomb becomes again permissible.

Come and hear! 'If one hews a grave for his [dead] father and then goes and buries him elsewhere, he [himself] may never be buried therein'?17  — Here it is on account of his father's honour.18  That too stands to reason. For the second clause teaches: R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said; Even if one hews stones19  [for a tomb] for his father, but goes and buries him elsewhere, he [himself] may never employ them for his own grave.20  Now, if you agree that it is out of respect for his father, it is correct. But if you say that it is because of designation, does any one maintain that yarn spun for weaving [a shroud is forbidden]?21

Come and hear! A fresh grave may be used. But if an abortion has been laid therein, it is forbidden for use,22  Thus, it is so only if it has actually been laid therein, but not otherwise!23  — The same law holds good even if it [the abortion] was not laid therein;24  and it [the statement, 'if it has been laid therein'] is [only] intended to exclude the view of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, who maintains: Abortions take no possession of their graves.25  He therefore teaches us [otherwise].26

Come and hear! 'The surplus [of a collection] for the dead must be used for [other] dead,27  but the surplus [of a collection] for a [particular] deceased person belongs to his heirs'?28  — This refers to a case [where the money was] collected during [the deceased's] lifetime. But [the Tanna] did not teach thus? For we learnt: The surplus [of a collection] for the dead must be used for [other] dead, but the surplus [of a collection] for a [particular] deceased person belongs to his heirs. Now, it was taught thereon: How so? If it was collected for the dead in general that is where we rule; The surplus [of a collection] for the dead must be used for [other] dead, but if it was collected for a particular dead person, that is where we rule, The surplus [of a collection] for a deceased belongs to his heirs! — But according to your view,29  consider the second section: R. Meir said: It must remain intact until Elijah comes;30  R. Nathan ruled: It is to be expended for a monument on his grave, or sprinkling [aromatic wine] before his bier.31  But Abaye reconciles them32  in accordance with his view, and Raba in accordance with his view.33  'Abaye reconciles them in accordance with his view;' [thus;] all agree that designation is a material act. Now, the first Tanna holds that he [the dead] takes possession34  only of as much as he needs, and not of the surplus;35  R. Meir, however, is doubtful whether he takes possession [of the surplus] or not: consequently it must remain intact until Elijah comes; whereas R. Nathan holds that he certainly takes possession [even of the surplus]; hence it is to be employed for a monument on his grave. 'And Raba in accordance with his view;' [thus:] all agree that assignment is not a material act.36  Now, the first Tanna maintains: Though they humiliated him,37  he forgives his humiliation for his heirs' sake,38  R. Meir, however, is doubtful whether he forgives it or not; therefore it must remain intact etc.; whilst R. Nathan takes the definite view that he does not forgive it, therefore the surplus must be expended on a monument for his grave or for sprinkling [aromatic wine] before his bier.

Come and hear! If his father and mother are throwing garments upon him,39  it is the duty of others to save them.40

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. I.e., the shroud for the dead and the animal devoted to be sacrificed to an idol are not in themselves taboo, but merely so because they are used in the service of something that is forbidden. In A.Z. 51b the verse referring to idolatry (quoted in n. 4) is interpreted as bearing upon objects used in the service of idols.
  2. 'Normal' is used in the sense of 'sanctioned by law.' I.e., it is a normal (permitted) practice to make a shroud for the dead, likewise to break the neck of a heifer under prescribed conditions. But under no circumstances can idolatry be 'normal' (i.e. — permitted). Therefore, mere designation in connection with idolatry does not impose a prohibition, because, since it is abnormal (forbidden), one may repent and never use it for the purpose. But in the case of the other two, if permitted (or even obligatory), once they are designated for that purpose they will certainly be used, unless unforeseen circumstances intervene. Therefore the mere designation suffices to give them the same status as though they had actually been used.
  3. [On this mnemonic v. Brull. I., Mnemotechnick p. 44.]
  4. Rashi here, and the commentary of R. Samson of Sens on the Mishnah, Kel. XXVIII, 5, understand it literally, i.e., it had actually become unclean. Maim. and Asheri, however, translate (loc. cit.), which is liable to become unclean, but had not, in fact, become so.
  5. [H], a technical term in the laws of purity, from [H] 'to tread', denoting the uncleanness of an object through being used either for sitting on or lying on, i.e., being made to bear the weight of a person with issue. If it is so defiled, it becomes a primary source of uncleanness to men and utensils. A veil is thus liable, since it may be folded up and sat upon, or, when it is being worn on the head, the wearer may lean back on her seat or the wall, and thus cause it to bear her weight.
  6. So according to Rashi and R. Samson. M. and Asheri: it ceases to be liable to the uncleanness of Midras. The reason, according to all interpretations, is that it can no longer be used in such a way.
  7. As all other finished articles which have a definite use (technically, 'utensils'). Rashi translates (with a different reading): yet it retains the uncleanness of touch, i.e., if when the person with issue bore down on it, he also touched it, the uncleanness of Midras disappears, but it retains to the uncleanness of having been touched by him — which is a different degree of impurity', (Kelim XXVIII, 5). This proves that mere designation is a material act which suffices to change the status of an object, and thus contradicts Raba's ruling.
  8. Hence there was not merely designation, but also use; the combination can certainly effect a change.
  9. The use itself should have sufficed for the change.
  10. I.e., Tefillin were wrapped therein, but it had not been previously assigned for that purpose.
  11. I.e., assignment by itself is not a material act. Again, wrapping something in it without having made the assignment is assumed to be merely incidental. The same applies to the veil, and therefore both are required. — Of course, that is only on Raba's view; Abaye will interpret the Mishnah cited quite literally.
  12. [H]. The word actually means a structure built over a tomb, to be used as a grave.
  13. For other purposes.
  14. I.e., the addition was made when the person was actually dead.
  15. Thus proving that mere designation is a material act.
  16. When the prohibition of its use depends on whether a special row of stones was added for the corpse. If not it loses its forbidden character, for it is then like the cloth in which Tefillin were wrapped without its having been previously designated for that purpose.
  17. V. p. 315, n. 12.
  18. That the grave is prohibited to serve as the son's burial place.
  19. From a quarry for the purpose of building a vault.
  20. Lit., 'may never be buried in them.'
  21. None, not even Abaye. For Abaye only maintains that if a shroud is actually woven, and so fit for its purpose, it is forbidden through mere designation. But when yarn is spun, though its ultimate destiny is to be woven into a shroud, it is not forbidden, since as yarn it is useless for its purpose. Similarly, when stones are prepared for building a tomb, they should not become forbidden. Hence the prohibition must be on account of filial respect, not designation.
  22. V. p 316, n. 2.
  23. I.e., if it was merely assigned for an abortion, it is not forbidden, proving that mere assignment is not a material act.
  24. On account of the assignment of the abortion.
  25. I.e., they do not impose a lasting prohibition thereon, to operate even after the graves are cleared.
  26. Therefore the Tanna is particular to mention 'an abortion,' but is not exact in his statement as to what is done for the abortion. But actually, even if the grave is merely designated for an abortion, it is forbidden for use.
  27. If a collection was made for burying the poor, the actual person, however, being unspecified, and at any particular moment there is a balance in hand, it must be kept for other dead. This is so even if, when the collection was made, it was known that it was for certain dead, but they were not specified.
  28. To be used for any purpose, thus proving that designation is not a material act (Mishnah Shek. II. 5).
  29. That assignment is not material.
  30. I.e., Elijah the prophet glorified in the Haggadah as a messenger charged with various tasks, one of which is to be the precursor of the Messiah, when he will solve all questions in doubt. (Cf. B.M. 29b; Pes. 15a).
  31. From this it would seem that since it was designated for the dead, it must be so used, proving that designation is a material act. [The words, 'Or sprinkling … his bier', do not occur in the cited Mishnah, but in Tosef, Shek. I.]
  32. The differences of opinion in the Mishnah.
  33. In such a way that the differing Tannaim may he seen to agree with their (Abaye's and Raba's) views respectively.
  34. I.e., it becomes his peculiar property, in the sense that it may not be used for any other purpose.
  35. Lit., 'of what he does not need.'
  36. And the reasons given by R. Meir and R. Nathan for prohibiting the balance for general use is not that it is actually forbidden, but because the deceased was put to shame when a public collection was made for his funeral.
  37. V. preceding note.
  38. I.e., that they may have the benefit of the surplus.
  39. Their dead son. It was an expression of extreme grief, and a symbol that they were ready to renounce everything left behind, that belonged to him (Rashi).
  40. By removing them from the corpse, as though returning lost property. Now, had assignment been a material act, how could they be saved after being dedicated to the dead?
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Sanhedrin 48b

— There [it is done] solely out of grief.1  If so, how explain what was taught regarding this: R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: When is this so? Only if they [the garments] have not [actually] touched the bier, but if they have, they are forbidden [for use]?2  — 'Ulla interpreted this as referring to a bier which is buried with him,3  [the garments being forbidden] because they might be confused with the vestments of the dead.4

Come and hear! 'One may not put money in a bag which was made to hold Tefillin.5  But if one [incidentally] put Tefillin in a bag, he may afterwards put money therein'?6  — Let us put it thus: If a man made it [for Tefillin] and placed Tefillin therein, it is forbidden to put money in it: and this is in accordance with R. Hisda.7

Come and hear! 'If one says to a craftsman, Make me a sheath for a Scroll [of the Law], or a receptacle for Tefillin,' before they are actually used for their sacred purposes, they may be employed for secular requirements; but once used for their sacred purposes they may not be put to secular use!'8  — There is here a dispute among Tannaim for it has been taught: If one overlaid them [the Tefillin] with gold or covered them with the hide of an unclean beast, they are unfit.9  If with the hide of a clean beast, they are permissible, even though it was not dressed for the purpose. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: Even if covered with the hide of a clean beast, they are unfit, unless it was not specially dressed for the purpose.10

Rabina said to Raba: Is there any place where the dead lie while the shroud is being woven?11  Yes, he answered; e.g., it is so with the dead of Harpania.12  Meremar said in a lecture: The law rests with Abaye. But the Rabbis say: The law rests with Raba. In fact the law is as Raba says.

Our Rabbis taught: The property of those executed by the State13  belongs to the King: the property of those executed by the Beth din belongs to their heirs. R. Judah said: Even the property of those executed by the State goes to their heirs. Said they to R. Judah: But it is not written, Behold he [Ahab] is in the vineyard of Naboth whither he is gone down to take possession of it?14  — He answered: He [Naboth] was his [the King's] cousin,15  and therefore he [Ahab] was his legitimate heir.16  But he [Naboth] had many sons! — He [the King] slew both him and his sons, he replied, as it is written, Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons.17  And the Rabbis?18  — They refer to his potential sons.19  Now, on the view that their property belongs to the King, it is correct: hence it is said, Naboth did curse God and the King.20  But on the view that their estate belongs to their heirs,21  why mention and the King?22  — But even according to your reasoning,23  why state, 'God'?24  Hence [it must have been added] in order to increase the anger [of the judges].25  So here too,26  it [the mention of the King] was made in order to increase the anger [of the judges].27  Now, on the view that the estate belongs to the King, it is correct: hence it is written, And Joab fled unto the tent of the Lord and caught hold of the horns of the Altar;28  and it is further written, And he said Nay, but I will die here.29  But on the view that their estate belongs to their heirs, what difference did it make to him? — [It would serve] to prolong his life for a while.30

And Benaiah brought back word unto the King saying, thus said Joab and thus he answered me:31  He [Joab] had said to him: Go and tell him [the King]: Thou canst not inflict a twofold punishment upon me:32  if thou slayest me, thou must submit to the curses which thy father uttered against me;33  but it thou art unwilling [to submit thereto], thou must let me live and suffer from thy father's curses against me. And the King said unto him, Do as he hath said,34  and fall upon him and bury him.35

Rab Judah said in Rab's name; All the curses wherewith David cursed Joab were fulfilled in David's own descendants. [It is written:] Let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, or that is a leper, or that leaneth on a staff, or that falleth by the sword, or that lacketh bread.36  'He that hath an issue' [was fulfilled] in Rehoboam,37  for it is written, And king Rehoboam made speed38  to get him up to his chariot to flee to Jerusalem;39  whilst it is elsewhere written, And what saddle soever he that hath the issue rideth upon shall be unclean.40  'A leper' — Uzziah,41  for it is written, But when he was strong his heart was lifted up so that he did corruptly, and he trespassed against the Lord his God, for he went unto the Temple of the Lord to burn the incense upon the altar of incense;42  and it is further written, And the leprosy broke forth on his forehead.43  'He that leaneth on a staff' — Asa,44  for it is written, Only in the time of his age he was diseased in his feet:45  concerning which Rab Judah said in Rab's name: He was afflicted with gout.46  Mar Zutra the son of R. Nahman asked R. Nahman; What is it [this complaint] like? — He answered: Like a needle in the raw flesh. But how did he [R. Nahman] know that? — Either because he himself suffered with it; alternatively, he had a tradition from his teacher; or again [he knew it] because, The secret47  of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and His covenant to make them know it.48  'He that falleth by the sword,' — Josiah,49  for it is written, And the archers shot at king Josiah:50  concerning which Rab Judah said in Rab's name: They riddled his body like a sieve. 'That lacketh bread' — Jechoniah,51  for it is written, And for his allowance, there was a continual allowance given him [by the king].52  Rab Judah said in Rab's name: Thus people say,

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. But without seriously intending to devote the garments to the dead. Therefore it is not regarded as designation at all.
  2. But seeing that the act is done only out of grief and there is no assignment to the dead at all, why should they be forbidden?
  3. Such was the custom in those days.
  4. I.e., the permission given to use the garments might be taken as applying also to the vestments, seeing that they come in contact with one another. Otherwise they might have been permitted for use, not because assignment is not material, but because in this case it was only an expression of grief.
  5. Although it had not actually been used for that purpose.
  6. Hence assignment is material.
  7. Who holds that both designation and actual use are needed for prohibition. Cf. supra 48a.
  8. V. Tosef Meg. II. This definitely proves that use and not designation is material, and contradicts Abaye.
  9. Cf. Shab. 108a on the verse in Ex. XIII, 9, That the law of the Eternal may be in thy mouth, — they (the Tefillin) should be made out of objects permissible for food.
  10. Men. 42b. Git. 45b. thus, the first Tanna considers designation as immaterial, whereas R. Simeon B. Gamaliel holds it to be a material act. Hence Raba agrees with the first Tanna; Abaye is with R. Simeon b. Gamaliel.
  11. I.e., surely one does not wait for a person to die and delay the funeral while a shroud is being woven. In that case, the dispute of Abaye and Raba, whether a shroud woven for the dead (which means when the person is actually dead) may be used for other purposes, is entirely an imaginary one, such circumstances being inconceivable.
  12. [Or Neharpania (v. D.S. a.l.), a town in Babylon in the Mesene district, v. Obermeyer, op. cit., p. 197.] According to Rashi, its inhabitants were so poor that they could not afford to prepare the shrouds beforehand, and only after a death occurred was a public collection made, and a shroud hastily woven. [According to Obermeyer, op. cit., p. 201, the corpse in the meantime was lying naked in accordance with the Zoroastrian practice which the Jews of that town seemed to have adopted which forbade the covering or dressing of a corpse with any cloth but one that had been specially woven and prepared for the purpose.]
  13. The reference is to the Jewish State, e.g., those executed for treason against the King.
  14. So God said to Elijah. I Kings XXI, 18. The expression 'take possession' (from the verb 'to inherit') indicates that he took legitimate possession, as an heir.
  15. Lit., 'the son of his father's brother.'
  16. This statement has no Biblical source.
  17. II Kings IX, 26.
  18. How could they urge the fact that he had sons in face of the definite statement that they were slain?
  19. Lit., 'to the sons that should have issued from him.' — A murderer is held guilty not only of his victim's death, but also for the frustration of the lives of his potential descendants for all time. (Cf. Mishnah. supra 37a). But in their view, Ahab did not slay his actual sons.
  20. I Kings XXI, 13, pointing to his culpability for treason to the King in addition to blasphemy, which is punished by the Beth din; hence his estate would fall to the crown.
  21. So that Ahab took possession of the vineyard as heir.
  22. Since blasphemy itself was sufficient for conviction, why needlessly add a false indictment?
  23. That treason was punished by death and royal confiscation.
  24. The charge of blasphemy being in itself superfluous.
  25. I.e., they might have been inclined to think that a charge of treason alone was trumped up, but when blasphemy was added, they assumed it to be genuine. So Rashi. Kimhi maintains that the judges knew the testimony to be false, but that the accusation was made stronger in order to keep the people from revolting against the execution.
  26. I.e., even if he held that their estate did not belong to the King.
  27. I.e. to make the crime appear more heinous.
  28. I Kings II, 28.
  29. Ibid. 30. I.e., he declined to be tried by the King so that his estate might not be confiscated.
  30. He wished to gain the time which it would require to take his message to the King and bring back an answer.
  31. Ibid. This gives the impression that Benaiah had had a long conversation with Joab.
  32. Lit., 'that man.'
  33. For the murder of Abner. V. II Sam. Ill, 29: The curse is quoted in the text. — That curse then was to be Joab's punishment. But if Solomon executed him, the curse would be transferred to Solomon himself.
  34. And kill him where he is.
  35. I Kings II, 31. Thus Solomon accepted the curses.
  36. II Sam. III, 29.
  37. Solomon's only son. V. I Kings XIV, 21.
  38. Lit., 'used effort'.
  39. I Kings XII, 18.
  40. Lev. XV, 9. The deduction is made from a comparison of the uses of the expression 'to ride' in both verses. According to Kimhi, however, it is deduced from the fact that he had to use an effort to mount his chariot.
  41. Son of Amaziah, called also Azariah, Cf. II Kings XV, 1.
  42. II Chron. XXVI, 16.
  43. Ibid. 19.
  44. Son of Abijah, King of Judah. II Kings XV, 8.
  45. I Kings XV, 23.
  46. Podagra, gout in the feet, in consequence of which he had to lean on a staff.
  47. E.V. 'The counsel.'
  48. Ps. XXV, 14, — i.e., as a Divine revelation.
  49. Son of Amon, II Kings XXII, 1.
  50. II Chron. XXXV, 23.
  51. Grandson of Josiah.
  52. Of Babylon, II Kings XXV, 30.
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