The Coming Week's Daf Yomi by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim (original ideas) of Talmudic scholar Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, as published in the Hebrew version of the Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud.
Shabbat 93a-b – Joining with another in an activity prohibited on Shabbat
When two people join together to perform a prohibited act on Shabbat, according to Rabbi Yehudah and Rabbi Shimon, neither of them will be held liable. If, however, one of them could have performed that act entirely on his own, there is an element of liability. The Gemara discusses this ruling on today’s daf (=page).
We learned earlier that the Master said: In a case where this person is capable, and this person is incapable, and they performed it together, everyone agrees that he is liable. The Gemara seeks to clarify: Which of them is liable?
Rav Ĥisda said: The one who is capable of performing the act alone is liable, as if it was the one who is incapable of performing the act alone that was liable, what is he doing that would render him liable? His efforts are inadequate to perform the task.
Rav Hamnuna said to Rav Ĥisda: He is doing quite a bit, as he is assisting him.
He said to him: The assistance provided by one who assists another to perform a task that the other could have performed himself is insubstantial.
The Gemara’s question is difficult to understand. What reason could there be to deem the one who was incapable liable, and the one who is capable exempt? Tosafotrestricts the Gemara’s question to whether or not the one who was incapable is as liable as one who assisted in the performance of the prohibition. The Rashba explains the Gemara differently. According to Rabbi Yehudah and Rabbi Shimon, in a situation where both are capable of performing the act, both are exempt if they perform it together. The reason that they are exempt is because neither one is expending his full effort in its performance. Consequently, in a situation where one is capable and one is not, the one who is capable does not expend his full effort, and therefore he is exempt. In contrast, the one who is incapable would be liable because he is expending his full effort. From the perspective of the one who is incapable, this is tantamount to a case in which both people are incapable and liable.
Shabbat 94a-b – Carrying a person on Shabbat
According to the Mishnah on yesterday’s daf (=page), someone who carries out a living person on a bed is exempt even for carrying out the bed, since the bed is secondary to the person. If, however, he carried out a corpse on a bed he would be liable for carrying on Shabbat.
The Gemara on today’s daf discusses why the individual who carries a living person is not liable. While the Gemara at first suggests that this is an individual opinion, with which the majority of the Sages disagree, ultimately Rava concludes that the disagreement is only about animals. Regarding animals the Sages believe that the animal deadens its weight in an attempt to free itself, but regarding people all agree that “a live person carries himself.” Therefore, one who carries a live person out is exempt according to all opinions.
Tosafotfind this halakhahdifficult and concluded that one who carries a living being is exempt, not because a living being carries itself while others are carrying it, but because it moves independently and is not typically carried. Since in the construction of the Tabernacle no living beings were carried, the prohibition of carrying out on Shabbat does not apply to living beings. The Tiferet Yisrael offers an alternative explanation, based on the teaching that we learned on yesterday’s daf (=page). Perhaps one who carries a living being is exempt because the case falls under the rubric of “this person is capable, and this person is capable,” a case in which both are exempt. Even though, practically speaking, the living being that is being carried is not capable of “carrying himself” while being carried, given that he is neither bound nor ill, and theoretically he is capable of walking, it is as if both the living being and his carrier are participating in performance of the action.
Shabbat 95a-b – Milking on Shabbat
The activity of milking a farm animal on Shabbat was assumed to be forbidden, but the Gemara searches for the source for that prohibition.
The Gemara relates: Rav Naĥman bar Gurya happened to come to Neharde’a. The students asked him:
For what prohibited labor is one who milks liable? He said to them: For milking.
For what prohibited labor is one who sets milk to curdle liable? He said to them: For setting milk to curdle.
For what is a person who makes cheese liable? He said to them: For making cheese.
They said to him: Your teacher was a reed cutter in a swamp who did not know how to explain the Mishnah to his students.
He came and asked those questions in the study hall. They said to him:
One who milks is liable for performing the prohibited labor of extracting, which is a subcategory of threshing, on Shabbat. This is because when one extracts milk from a cow it is similar to the act of threshing, where one removes the desired content from its covering.
One who sets milk is liable for the prohibited labor of selecting because part of the milk is separated and made into congealed milk.
One who makes cheese is liable for building because the cheese within the milk assumes a solid form, which is similar to the process of building.
Regarding the action of milking, even though extracting is not itself a primary category of labor, the Gemara explains the prohibition of milking in terms of extracting. It does not say that one who milks is liable due to threshing because they are completely different. In contrast, milking and extracting are similar (Adderet Eliyahu). Many commentaries found the categorization of milking under the rubric of the primary category of threshing difficult, as most authorities hold that the prohibition of threshing applies only to plants (see Tosafot). Some explained that milking is prohibited by Torah law according to Rabbi Yehudah. However, the halakhahis that it is prohibited only by rabbinic decree (Rashba). Others explained that the extracting mentioned with regard to milking on Shabbat is a subcategory of smoothing, not threshing (Rabbeinu Tam in Sefer HaYashar). Yet other commentaries ruled that since, in certain respects, an animal is considered an item that grows in the ground, milking indeed falls under the rubric of threshing (Ge’onim, Sefer HaHashlama).
Farm animals that must be milked on Shabbat present a challenge in the modern world that religious kibbutzim have dealt with in a variety of different ways. See, for example, one suggestion here - http://www.zomet.org.il/eng/?CategoryID=252&ArticleID=127&Page=1
Shabbat 96a-b – Throwing from one domain to another
Although previous chapters of tractate Shabbatdealt with the laws of carrying out, the discussion is completed in Chapter 11, which begins on today’s daf (=page), not only with regard to details but also with regard to many fundamental questions. Until this point, two aspects of carrying out were distinguished: Carrying out an object from one domain to another, and transporting an object more than four cubits in the public domain. In this chapter, an additional group of halakhotis discussed: The laws of throwing and extending an object from one domain to another via an intervening domain.
Although the laws of throwing and extending are closely related to other details of carrying out, they nevertheless have a certain unique quality. A biblical decree [gezeirat hakatuv] distinguishes between throwing and extending, on the one hand, and the more common methods of carrying out, on the other. This distinction carries with it some implications that are lenient and others that are stringent.
There is another question that is intrinsic to the very essence of throwing. While transporting an object is an action that is continuous over a period of time, throwing is one instantaneous act. The labor category of carrying out is contingent upon the transportation of an object from one point to another, based on lifting up [akira] and placing down [hanaha]. As a result, questions arise with regard to the connection between the act of throwing and the landing of the object in its place. Additionally, it is necessary to determine the extent to which the intention of the thrower is significant at each point in the flight of the object.
In the course of the clarification of these particularly unique halakhot, an explication of basic principles is reached. A fundamental scriptural basis for all of the laws of carrying out is discovered, the underlying foundations of which are the flags in the wilderness, the configuration of the children of Israel as they made their way through the desert, and the method by which they transported the utensils of the Tabernacle and its walls. Based on this underlying foundation, it then becomes necessary to determine what can be derived from the biblical verses, which conclusions can be reached using a logical approach, and which matters we must accept on the basis of the traditions of the Oral Law.
Shabbat 97a-b – The sin of the wood gatherer
While discussing the laws of carrying out on Shabbat, Rav Yehudah quotes Rav as identifying the sin of the mekoshesh eitzim – the wood gatherer in the desert – as carrying the wood. The Gemara continues by quoting a baraita:
The wood gatherer mentioned in the Torah was Zelophehad, and it says: “And the children of Israel were in the desert and they found a man gathering wood on the day of Shabbat” (Bamidbar 15:32), and below, in the appeal of the daughters of Zelophehad, it is stated: “Our father died in the desert and he was not among the company of them that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but he died in his own sin, and he had no sons” (Bamidbar 27:3). Just as below the man in the desert is Zelophehad, so too, here, in the case of the wood gatherer, the unnamed man in the desert is Zelophehad; this is the statement of Rabbi Akiva.
Rabbi Yehudah ben Beteira said to him: Akiva, in either case you will be judged in the future for this teaching. If the truth is in accordance with your statement that the wood gatherer was Zelophehad, the Torah concealed his identity, and you reveal it. And if it the truth is not in accordance with your statement, you are unjustly slandering that righteous man.
On today’s daf (=page) the Gemara asks:
However, didn’t Rabbi Akiva derive this by means of a verbal analogy? The Gemara answers: he did not learn a verbal analogy. Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira had no tradition of this verbal analogy from his teachers, and therefore he disagreed with Rabbi Akiva’s conclusion.
Rabbeinu Ĥananel explained this passage differently: Rabbi Akiva did not actually learn this verbal analogy from his teachers. He arrived at it on his own. Since the tradition was not transmitted by previous generations, Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira did not accept it. This explanation resolves several difficulties raised by other commentaries.
Shabbat 98a-b – The beams of the Tabernacle
The laws of Shabbat are derived from the various activities of the Tabernacle. The source for the laws of transporting from one domain to another is the case of loading the beams of the Tabernacle on wagons when it was time for the Children of Israel to move in the desert. This discussion leads to an examination of the beams themselves and their arrangement.
The Sages taught: The Tabernacle beams were one cubit thick at the bottom, and they narrowed to a fingerbreadth as they reached the top, as it is stated: “And they shall match at the bottom, and together they will be ended [tamim] at the top toward a single ring; so shall it be for them both, they shall form the two corners” (Shemot 26:24). And below, when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, it says: “And those who went down toward the Sea of Arava at the Dead Sea came to an end [tamu]” (Yehoshua 3:16). Tam means finished or terminated. Here, too, the beams narrowed as they reached the top until they were virtually terminated; this is the statement of Rabbi Yehudah. Rabbi Neĥemya says: Just as they were one cubit thick at the bottom, so too, they were one cubit thick at the top, as it is stated: “Together.”
The Gemara asks: Isn’t it written: Tamim? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Neĥemya explains that this word teaches that they should bring whole beams and they should not bring planks and attach them. The Gemara asks: And according to the other opinion, Rabbi Yehudah’s opinion, isn’t it written: “Together”? The Gemara answers: That comes to teach that they should not be positioned askew from each other; rather, they should be perfectly aligned.
The Gemara asks further: Granted, according to the one who said: Just as they were one cubit thick at the bottom, so too, they were one cubit thick at the top, it is understandable why it is written: “And for the back of the Tabernacle westward you shall make six beams. And you shall make two beams for the corners of the Tabernacle in the back” (Shemot 26:22-23). This means that the width of these beams comes and covers the remaining thickness of those. However, according to the one who said that they were one cubit thick at the bottom and they narrowed to a fingerbreadth as they reached the top, they would not be perfectly aligned, as at the corners this beam goes in and this beam goes out. Part of the beam would protrude out of the Tabernacle. The Gemara answers that it was not only the thickness of the beam that narrowed. One pared the width of the beams as well so they were sloped like mountains and did not protrude.
According to Rabbi Neĥemya, the beams were of equal width for their entire length. When they were then arranged along the length and width of the Tabernacle, two open spaces were created, one at each corner, where additional beams were inserted. According to Rabbi Yehudah, who says that the beams narrowed, there also remained an open space in the corners of the Tabernacle between the length and the width of the structure. It was necessary to insert a specially crafted beam that was slanted on two sides, marked in red, to fill the opening.
According to the Me’iri, the initial assumption was that all of the beams were sloped on both ends. Therefore, it would have been difficult to place an additional beam that would leave the corners of the Tabernacle evenly closed on all sides. The answer of the Gemara is that the beams were sloped like a mountain, i.e., sloped on only one side.
Shabbat 99a-b – The beams of the Tabernacle
The laws of Shabbat are derived from the various activities of the Tabernacle. The source for the laws of transporting from one domain to another is the case of loading the beams of the Tabernacle on wagons when the Children of Israel had to move. We learned in the Mishnah (daf, or page, 96a) that:
If there are two balconies [gezuztra’ot] that are private domains opposite each other on either side of the public domain, one who passesor throws an object from the one on this side to the one on that side is exempt. However, if the balconies were on the same level on the same side
of the public thoroughfare, and the public domain separated the two, one who passes from one to the other is liable, and one who throws is exempt, as that method, passing, was the service of the Levites who carried the beams of the Tabernacle.
The Gemara on today’s daf discusses the service of the Levites carrying the beams by means of special wagons built for this purpose.
Rava said: The area on the sides of the wagon between the wagon and the wheel and the thickness of the wheel together equaled the full width of the wagon (Tosafot). And how much was the width of the wagon? It was two and a half cubits. The Gemara asks: Why do I need the wagon to be two and a half cubits wide? A cubit and a half would suffice. The Gemara answers: So that the beams would not teeter. Ten-cubit beams on a one-and-a-half-cubit wide surface would be unstable.
Each wagon, i.e., the frame on which the beams were placed, was two and a half cubits wide, and its wheel mechanism was two and a half cubits wide on either side. According to these measurements, each wagon took up a space of seven and a half cubits in width, and two wagons side by side, according to the opinion that beams were laid across two wagons, were, therefore, fifteen cubits in width. There was an additional cubit for the Levite who accompanied the wagon.
According to most of the commentaries, the wagons traveled two abreast, with some beams supported by both wagons. This is not at all similar to the halakhahof two balconies. In that case liability is incurred only when passing from one balcony to another along the length of the public domain and not across its width. According to Rav Hai Gaon, there is no real difference between the length and width of the public domain. Rather, the halakhah is derived from the Levites’ wagons. Wherever there are two private domains capable of being aligned on a single level, as in the case of the Levites’ wagons, the halakhah prohibiting passing applies. On the other hand, the Rashba states: Since there is no way to join two balconies on either side of a public domain, the halakhah prohibiting passing does not apply. The Me’iriexplains that in order to expedite the process of loading the wagons, the Levites passed the beams from one wagon to another that was positioned behind it, similar to the case of balconies on the same side of the public domain.
In addition to his monumental translation and commentary on the Talmud, Rabbi Steinsaltz has authored dozens of books and hundreds of articles on a variety of topics, both Jewish and secular. For more information about Rabbi Steinsaltz's groundbreaking work in Jewish education, visit www.steinsaltz.org or contact the Aleph Society at 212-840-1166.