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 142a-b – Clothing on Shabbat
While it is forbidden to carry in a public area that has no eiruv on Shabbat, clearly a person can wear clothing without concern for this prohibition. The explanation for this is that clothing become batel (=nullified) with respect to the person who is wearing the clothing.
On yesterday’s daf (=page) we learned:
Rava said: If one carried out a living baby to the public domain on Shabbat, and a purse was hanging around the baby’s neck, he is liable for carrying out the purse.
The Gemara asks: And let him be liable for carrying out the baby as well.
The Gemara responds: Rava holds in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Natan, who said: A living being carries itself. Therefore, one who carries a living being from one domain to another is not liable.
The Gemara asks: And let the purse be negated relative to the baby; and he should be exempt for carrying out the purse as well. Didn’t we learn in a Mishnah: One who carries out a living person on a bed is exempt even for carrying out the bed, because the bed is secondary to the person? The same should be said with regard to the purse, relative to the baby.
The Gemara answers: In a case where a bed is relative to a living being, the living being negates it, as the bed is needed to carry the person and is secondary to him. However, in a case where a purse is relative to a baby, the baby does not negate it, since it is independently significant.
On today’s daf the Gemara applies this reasoning to cases of wearing clothing:
It was taught in a baraita in accordance with the opinion of Rava: On Shabbat, one who carries out his clothes to the public domain while they are folded and placed on his shoulder, and his sandals on his feet and his rings in his hand, not on his fingers, is liable. And if he was wearing them, he is exempt for all of them, as they are negated relative to him. One who carries out a person with his garments on him, and his sandals on his feet, and his rings on the fingers of his hands, i.e., wearing all of his clothes and jewelry in the typical manner, is exempt, whereas if he carried them out as they are, i.e., the person was holding his clothes in his hands, he is liable for carrying out the clothes, just as Rava said.
Shabbat 143a-b – Squeezing on Shabbat
The twenty-second perek (=chapter) of MassekhetShabbat begins on today’s daf (=page) and its main concern revolves around different types of prohibitions subsumed under the category of shevut (=a Rabbinic prohibition). Here, too, there is no single theme that unites all the topics addressed, although most of them deal with food preparation on Shabbat.
One of these issues relates to the laws of squeezing on Shabbat. Squeezing is not listed as a primary category of prohibited labor. Its prohibition is not based on the act of squeezing alone; indeed, squeezing can be a subcategory of at least two primary categories of labor, depending on the circumstances: It can be a subcategory of the labor of threshing, which is defined abstractly as removing the desired contents from within an unwanted wrapping or shell, and it can be a subcategory of the labor of whitening, when the squeezing is performed in the process of washing.
The relationship between squeezing and threshing is not completely clear and uniform. For example, in the practical discussions regarding milking animals on Shabbat, the question arises as to the extent to which one should understand milking as a form or subcategory of squeezing or threshing. This leads to the question of whether milking should be viewed as a Torah prohibition or a rabbinic decree. Similarly, it is necessary to delineate the fine differences between types of squeezing that can be viewed as a subcategory of threshing and other types of squeezing that are externally similar to the first type but differ with regard to the intent of the person squeezing or the purpose of the act itself.
One of the cases that appear in the first Mishnah is this law:
One may not squeeze fruits on Shabbat in order to extract liquids from them. And if liquids seeped out on their own, it is prohibited to use them on Shabbat. Rabbi Yehudah says: If the fruits were designated for eating, the liquid that seeps from them on Shabbat is permitted. There is no concern lest one purposely squeeze liquids from fruit that is designated for eating. And if the fruits were originally designated for liquids, the liquids that seep from them on Shabbat are prohibited.
Shabbat 144a-b – Squeezing onto food
Recommended practice on Shabbat is to refrain from squeezing a lemon into tea, although it would be acceptable to squeeze lemon onto sugar, which will then be placed in the tea. What is the explanation for this halakhah?
On today’s daf (=page) we learn:
Rav Yehudah said that Shmuel said: A person may squeeze a cluster of grapes on Shabbat into a pot with food in it, and it is not considered squeezing a liquid but rather adding one food to another; however, he may not squeeze the liquid into an empty bowl.Rav Ĥisda said: From the statement of our Rabbi, Shmuel, we learn that one may milk a goat into a pot of food on Shabbat, because it is not considered to be the manner of squeezing that is prohibited as a subcategory of the labor of threshing; however, one may not do so into an empty bowl. The Gemara deduces: Apparently, he holds that liquid that comes into food is not considered liquid, but rather, it is food.
The commentaries explain that the prohibition against squeezing juice, which is a subcategory of the labor of threshing, primarily involves separating food from waste. However, the parts of the grapes that remain after juicing are considered waste only if the intent was to use the grapes exclusively for their juice. Therefore, if one squeezes juice from grapes into another food, it is merely considered a form of food preparation in which one transfers food, i.e., the grapes, into another dish. The difference between squeezing juice into a pot or into a bowl is that there is food in the pot. When the juice is squeezed into a pot of food, the juice becomes part of that food. It is considered food that was merely separated from its original source. On the other hand, if one squeezes the juice into an empty bowl (or into a liquid, like tea), it is clear that the purpose is to remove the liquid from the fruit, which is prohibited.
Shabbat 145a-b - Testimony permitting a priest to eat a firstborn animal
As a segue from the Gemara’s discussion about squeezing on Shabbat the discussion turns to hearsay testimony. It is clear that in limited cases (e.g., when a woman’s ability to get married depends on it) such testimony is accepted. Can it be accepted to determine the status of a blemished firstborn animal?
The Torah commands one to give the firstborn offspring of kosher animals to a priest. During the Temple period, unblemished firstborn animals were offered as sacrifices, and their meat would be eaten by the priests. Blemished firstborn animals also belonged to the priests, and the priests could eat them as non-sacred meat once experts determined that the blemish is permanent.
Priests were suspected of purposely causing blemishes to firstborn animals so that they would be allowed to eat them. Consequently, the Sages decreed that priests could not eat the meat of a firstborn animal without testimony to the cause of the blemish. Since this testimony was required only to alleviate suspicion, the Sages were lenient with regard to its requirements.
We learn in the Gemara:
A dilemma was raised before the Sages about a related matter: With regard to hearsay testimony in testimony permitting a priest to eat a firstborn animal, what is the halakhah?
After the destruction of the Temple, the Sages decreed that if a priest has the firstborn offspring of a kosher animal and it becomes blemished, he must bring witnesses to testify that he did not cause the blemish. As noted, priests were suspected of violating the prohibition against inflicting a wound on firstborn animals to enable them to eat the animals. The question here pertains to a case in which there is no one available who can testify that he saw firsthand how the animal was blemished, but there is someone who heard from an eyewitness how the blemish was caused.
The Gemara teaches that Rav Ami prohibited accepting hearsay testimony in this case, and Rav Asi permitted doing so.
Shabbat 146a-b – Opening packaging on Shabbat
It is generally accepted that it is permissible to open packaging in order to get access to food or other products that are needed for Shabbat. What is the source for this leniency?
The Mishnah on today’s daf (=page) teaches:
A person may break a barrel on Shabbat in order to eat gerogerot (=dried figs) from it, provided he does not intend to make a vessel. And one may not perforate the plug of a barrel to extract wine from it; rather, one must remove the plug entirely to avoid creating a new opening for the barrel. This is the statement of Rabbi Yehudah. And the Rabbis permit puncturing the plug, but they too restrict this leniency and say that one may not perforate the plug of the barrel on its side.
There is a dispute with regard to the rationale for the leniency that allows the barrel to be broken on Shabbat. Rashi explains that it is based on the fact that breaking a barrel is a destructive act that does not constitute a violation of Torah law. The Ran and other commentaries add that destructive acts are only permitted ab initio in cases of this kind, where one performs the act to fulfill a Shabbat need. As noted in the Mishnah, one important exception is a situation where opening the package will create a vessel, e.g., where it will now be used for storage. This would be considered a creative act, which is forbidden on Shabbat.
Regarding the discussion about dried figs it should be noted that the Hebrew term usually used for dried figs that were pressed together is deveilim. By using the term gerogerot, the Mishnah teaches that even if the figs were only somewhat attached due to their having been packed tightly together, it is permitted to bring a utensil to cut them apart and to open the barrel (Adderet Eliyahu).
Shabbat 147a-b – The dangers of a life of comfort and pleasure
The Mishnah on today’s daf (=page) discusses the laws of bathing on Shabbat, which leads to an aggadic tradition about the dangers of pursuing a life of comfort and pleasure. The Gemara relates:
The wine of Phrygia [Perugaita] and the water of the Deyomset deprived Israel of the ten lost tribes. Because the members of these tribes were attracted to the pleasures of wine and bathing and did not occupy themselves with Torah, they were lost to the Jewish people.
The Gemara relates that once Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh happened to come there, to Phrygia and Deyomset, and he was drawn after them, and his Torah learning was forgotten. When he returned, he stood to read from a Torah scroll and was supposed to read the verse: “This month shall be for you [haĥodesh hazeh lakhem]”(Shemot12:2), but he had forgotten so much that he could barely remember how to read the Hebrew letters, and instead he read:
Have their hearts become deaf [haĥeresh haya libbam], interchanging the similar letters reish for dalet, yod for zayin, and beit for khaf. The Sages prayed and asked for God to have mercy on him, and his learning was restored.
And that is what we learned in a Mishnah that Rabbi Nehorai says: Exile yourself to a place of Torah and do not say that it will follow you, as if you are in a place of Torah, your colleagues will establish it in your hands, and do not rely on your understanding alone. It was taught: Rabbi Nehorai was not his name, but rather Rabbi Neĥemya was his name; and some say that Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh was his name and his statement was based on the personal experience of forgetting his Torah due to his failure to exile himself to a place of Torah. And why was he called Rabbi Nehorai? It was because he would illuminate [manhir] the eyes of the Sages in halakhah.
Rabbi Elazar’s error resulted from the similarity between the letters reish and dalet, yod and zayin, and beit and khaf. The Gemara relates the details of the error to underscore that even Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh, who was likened to an ever-flowing spring, reached so lowly a state when he left the company of the Sages (Maharsha).
Shabbat 148a-b – Prohibiting commercial activity on Shabbat
The twenty-third perek (=chapter) of MassekhetShabbat begins on today’s daf (=page), and its focus is the rabbinic decree against commercial activity on Shabbat.
The prohibition of commercial activity on Shabbat is one of the earliest known decrees enacted by the Sages to protect Torah law. This decree is generally explained as a protective measure to prevent writing on Shabbat, as commercial activity generally requires writing in order to record and approve legally binding transactions. Although Torah law does not prohibit commercial activity itself on Shabbat, commercial transactions often entail numerous activities that are prohibited on Shabbat, such as carrying objects from one domain to another, fixing utensils or completing their production, and handling objects that may not be handled on Shabbat.
As the decree prohibiting commercial activity was already widely known and accepted in talmudic times, this chapter examines the scope of the prohibition and seeks to determine precisely which activities fall under the decree. In addition to prohibiting direct and explicitly formulated business transactions, the decree also encompasses related activities, such as hiring workers and granting or receiving a loan. However, since the source of this prohibition is rabbinic, there are instances where there is room for leniency, such as when the commercial activity is for the sake of a mitzvah or when there is no concern for possible violation of Shabbat.
An example appears in the first Mishnah of the perek:
One may borrow jugs of wine and jugs of oil from another on Shabbat, as long as one does not say the following to him: Loan me. And similarly, a woman may borrow from another loaves of bread on Shabbat. And if the lender does not trust him that he will return them, the borrower may leave his cloak with him as collateral and make the proper calculation with him after Shabbat. And similarly, on the eve of Passover in Jerusalem, when it occurs on Shabbat, one who is procuring a Paschal lamb may leave his cloak with him, i.e., the person from whom he is purchasing it, and take the lamb to bring as his Paschal lamb, and then make the proper calculation with him after the Festival.
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.