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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 14a

but does not defile?1 — Said Rabbah b. Bar Hanah, It is R. Joshua. For we learnt: R. Eliezer said: One who eats food of the first degree is [himself defiled in] the first degree; of the second degree, is [defiled in] the second degree, of the third degree, is [defiled in] the third degree.2  R. Joshua said: One who eats food of the first or of the second degree is [defiled in] the second degree;3  of the third degree, [he enters] the second degree in respect of hekdesh,4  but not in respect of terumah,5  this referring to hullin subjected to the purity of terumah.6

When one eats food of the first or of the second degree, why did the Rabbis decree uncleanness in his case? Because one may sometimes eat unclean food [hullin] and take a liquid of terumah and put it in his mouth and thus render it unfit.7  When one drinks unclean liquid, why did the Rabbis decree uncleanness in his case? — Because he may sometimes drink unclean liquid and take food of terumah and put it in his mouth, and thus render it unfit. But it is the same thing!8 — You might argue, The first is usual but not the second:9  therefore he informs us [that it is not so].

And one who comes with his head and the greater part of his body] into drawn water, why did the Rabbis decree uncleanness in his case? — Said R. Bibi in R. Assi's name: Because originally people performed tebillah10  in collected pit water, which was stagnant [noisome], and so they poured drawn water upon them selves.11  [But when] they began to make this a fixed [law], the Rabbis imposed uncleanness thereon. What is meant by 'a fixed [law]?'Abaye said: They maintained, Not this [pit water] purifies, but both together purify. Said Raba to him, Then what did it matter, seeing that they did perform tebillah in this [the pit water]? But, said Raba, they maintained, Not this [the pit water] purifies but that [the drawn water].12

And a clean person upon whose head and the greater part of his body there fell three logs of drawn water, why did the Rabbis decree uncleanness in his case? For if not this, the other would not stand.13

And why did the Rabbis impose uncleanness upon a Book? Said R. Mesharsheya: Because originally food of terumah was stored near the Scroll of the Law, with the argument, This is holy and that is holy.14  But when it was seen that they [the Sacred Books] came to harm,15  the Rabbis imposed uncleanness upon them.16

'And the hands'? — Because hands are fidgety.17  It was taught: Also hands which came into contact with a Book18  disqualify terumah, on account of R. Parnok['s dictum]. For R. Parnok said in R. Johanan's name: One who holds a Scroll of the Law naked19  will be buried naked. 'Naked!' can you really think so? Rather said R. Zera, [It means] naked without good deeds.20  'Without good deeds!' can you really think so?21  Rather say, naked, without that good deed [to his credit].22

Which was first enacted? Shall we say that the former was first enacted?23

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. 4. P. 55, n. 5.
  2. Hence, when he eats defiled food in the first degree, he defiles terumah, not merely renders it unfit (v. p. 55, nn. 5, 6).
  3. Hence in both cases he merely renders terumah unfit.
  4. Flesh of sacrifices.
  5. If he touches hekdesh he defiles it in the third degree, being regarded himself as second degree in respect thereto; but he does not affect terumah at all.
  6. People (particularly perushim, v. p. 51, n. 1) voluntarily treated hullin as terumah; then it could become unfit in the third degree, but not otherwise (v. p. 55, n. 6), and this is the only way in which it is possible for a person to eat hullin of the third degree, v. Hul. 33b.
  7. For it may touch the food still in his mouth. Unfit terumah may not be eaten.
  8. Both being based on the same reason, the second is a corollary of the first and need not be stated.
  9. So that a Rabbinical measure is not required in the second case.
  10. I.e., took a ritual bath to be purified of defilement.
  11. The correct reading appears to be: three logs of drawn water; v. Marginal Gloss to cur. edd.
  12. This would lead to the neglect of proper tebillah.
  13. A general measure had to be enacted that three logs of drawn water defiled a person, whether it came upon him by his intention or accidentally. Had the Rabbis drawn a distinction, the former too would have remained unobserved.
  14. Hence it is fitting that they be placed together.
  15. The food attracted mice, which naturally injured the Books too.
  16. To put an end to the practice.
  17. They are active and apt to touch things. Hence unless their owner has taken care that they should not touch a ritually unclean object after he washed them, they are treated as unclean.
  18. Lit., 'which come on account of a Book.'
  19. Without its wrapping.
  20. ) As though he had never performed a good deed or fulfilled a precept.
  21. Surely that act does not nullify all his meritorious deeds!
  22. If he took it for Study or to wrap it up after the public reading likewise a 'good deed'-it is not accounted to him (Tosaf.). Tosaf. also observes that presumably this applies to any of the Books of the Bible.-The reference is to the actual parchment; but there is no objection to the modern practice of elevating the uncovered Scroll whilst holding it by the rollers on which it is wound. The Sephardi Jews, i.e., the descendants of the Spanish Jews, have the entire parchment of the Scroll from end to end shielded with silk or cloth.
  23. Viz., that hands in general are unclean.
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Shabbath 14b

But since this was first enacted, why was the other too needed? — Rather the latter was first decreed, and then it was enacted in respect of all hands.

'And a tebul yom.' But the law of tebul yom is Biblical, for it is written, and when the sun is down, he shall be clean; [and afterwards he shall eat of the holy things,1  i.e., terumah]? — Delete tebul yom from here.

'And food which was defiled through liquid'. Through liquid of which [uncleanness]?2  Shall we say, through liquid which was defiled by a [dead] reptile:3  then its law is Biblical,4  for it is written, and all drink that may be drunk [in every such vessel shall be unclean]?5  _ Rather it means through liquid defiled by the hands, and it is a preventive measure on account of liquid defiled by a reptile.6

'And vessels which were defiled by liquid'. Vessels which were defiled by liquid of which [uncleanness]?7  Shall we say, By the liquid of a zab? But that is Biblical, for it is written, and if the zab spit upon him that is clean; [then he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water],8  [meaning] what is in the clean man's hand have I declared unclean unto thee!9  Rather it refers to liquid defiled by a reptile, and it is a preventive measure on account of the fluid of a zab.10

'And the hands'. Did then the disciples of Shammai and Hillel11  decree this: [Surely] Shammai and Hillel [themselves] decreed it! For it was taught, Jose b. Jo'ezer of Zeredah12  and Jose b. Johanan of Jerusalem13  decreed uncleanness in respect of the country of the heathens and glassware.14  Simeon b. Shetah instituted the woman's marriage settlement15  and imposed uncleanness upon metal utensils.16  Shammai and Hillel decreed uncleanness for the hands. And should you answer, [It means] Shammai and his band and Hillel and his band [of scholars];17  surely Rab Judah said in Samuel's name: They enacted eighteen measures, and they differed on eighteen measures,18  whereas Hillel and Shammai differed only in three places; for R. Huna said, in three places they differed, and no more! And should you answer, They [Hillel and Shammai] came and decreed that it be suspended,19  while their disciples came and decreed that it be burnt:20  surely Ilia said: The original decree concerning hands was for burning? — Rather, they [Hillel and Shammai] came and decreed it, yet it was not accepted from them; then their disciples came and decreed, and it was accepted from them.21

But still, Solomon decreed it? For Raba Judah said in Samuel's name, When Solomon instituted 'erubin22  and the washing of the hands, a Heavenly Echo came forth and declared, 'My son, if thine heart be wise; My heart shall be glad, even mine';23  and 'My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, That I may answer him that reproacheth me'?24

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Lev. XXII, 7.
  2. I.e., how did this liquid itself become unclean?
  3. Lit., 'which come on account of a reptile'.
  4. Sc. that this food disqualifies terumah.
  5. Ibid. XI, 34. Though that refers to a liquid defiled through an earthenware vessel, the Talmud deduces in Pes. 18b that the same holds good if it is defiled by a reptile. Now, the latter is original ('father of') uncleanness; the fluid is first degree, and the food is second degree, and therefore it renders terumah the third degree, i.e., unfit (v. p. 55, n. 6), and all this is Biblical law, not a Rabbinical enactment.
  6. The latter is Biblical; but if the former were not declared unclean, it would be thought that the latter is not unclean either.
  7. How did the liquid itself become unclean?
  8. lbid. XV, 8.
  9. This interpretation is not really germane to the difficulty which arises directly from the verse; v. Rashi. Since the clothes are to be washed etc., the saliva must rank as original ('father of') uncleanness, for only such defiles garments and man. The vessels therefore defiled by the saliva (or any fluid emanating from a zab) are unclean in the first degree, and defile terumah by Biblical law.
  10. The former is unclean in the first degree, and by Biblical law does not (defile vessels (v. previous note); nevertheless the Rabbis enacted that it shall defile vessels, which in turn render terumah unfit, lest it might be confused with the fluid of a zab, which will also be held incapable of defiling vessels.
  11. As is implied by the terms Beth Shammai, Beth Hillel.
  12. A town in Persia; Neub. Geogr. p. 275.
  13. Two Rabbis of the early Maccabean period (second century B.C.E.); together they formed the beginning of the Zugoth (duumvirate) which governed Jewish religious life until Hillel and Shammai. It may be observed that the title 'Rabbi' is not prefixed to their names: the famous letter of Sherira Gaon to Jacob b. Nissim, quoted by Nathan b. Jehiel in the Aruk (s.v. [H]) declares that this title dates from the time of R. Johanan b. Zakkai only.
  14. The former, to stem the emigration of Jews from Palestine consequent upon the troublous times of the Maccabees; and the latter probably because glassware was manufactured in those countries, or because they learnt at that time that its manufacture was similar to that of earthenware; Weiss, Dor. 1, 105
  15. When a woman married, she brought a dowry to her husband, which was returnable if he divorced her. Originally the security for the return of the dowry was deposited with her father. This went through a number of changes until Simeon b. Shetah enacted that the husband should trade with the dowry and mortgage all his effects for its repayment, the purpose being to make divorce more difficult. This is the meaning of the present passage, not that he actually instituted the marriage settlement itself, J, Keth. end of chapter VIII, and Weiss, Dor. 1, 144 and note a.l.
  16. This is discussed below.
  17. I.e., enacted the eighteen measures.
  18. I.e., these eighteen measures which they enacted jointly were originally subjects of controversy between them (Rashi).
  19. I.e., that the hands are only suspected of uncleanness, and if they touch terumah it is 'suspended', and may neither be eaten, as clean, nor burnt as unclean.
  20. Ruling that the hands are definitely unclean, not merely suspected.
  21. The need for renewing some of the early Rabbinical enactments, to which reference is made in the present discussion, arose through the interdict which the Sadducees laid upon their observance; Weiss, Dor, I, 143f; cf. Halevi, Doroth, I, 3, pp. 584 seq.
  22. V, Glos. and p. 18, n. 7.
  23. Prov. XXIII, 15.
  24. Ibid. XXVII, 11.
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