Doing Hard Time on Shabbes

Daf 103-109 (Shabbas 40a-46b)


Muktzeh prohibitions are a can of worms. Are they “merely” rabbinical as Rashbam asserts, or Biblical as Rashi asserts? Clearly, in the seven dapim this week, opinion among the rabbis is all over the place, with no clear agreement on which objects are prohibited for use, which objects are permitted for uses other than their primary use, and which objects are prohibited only because the appearance of using them on Shabbes might be misunderstood by the casual observer. Some acts may be permitted if they are unintended, but there is an ongoing concern that the transgressor will lie about his intention. Our hands are tied lest our tongues spew lies when untied. These are the laws of Shabbes observance that would drive me crazy if I took them seriously. Fulfilling the command to rest has never been as stressful than in this crazy Jewish space/time of Shabbes!

Daf 103 (Shabbas 40a-40b)

In cases of a dispute between two Sages, does the law always follow the opinion of the mediator?

Although one is prohibited from washing his entire body in hot water all at once, may he wash one limb at a time or only his face, hands, and feet?

baraisa notes that “as sinners proliferated, the Sages began to forbid steam-bathing.” The gemara questions the meaning of the phrase as sinners proliferated. Rava explains, “Anyone who violates even a Rabbinical prohibition intentionally– it is permitted to call him a sinner.”

According to the Tanna Kamma, the rules for warming oil on Shabbes are more lenient than the rules for warming water because “unlike water, oil is not subject to cooking.” R’Yehudah and Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel disagree. Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak insists that the Tanna Kamma is even more prohibitive with oil than he is with water.

Rebbi prevents a transgression in a bathhouse, prompting the gemara to observe that even though thinking about Torah in a bathhouse (or lavatory) is prohibited, “preventing a transgression is different.”

Daf 104 (Shabbas 41a-41b)

R’Zeira said, “I observed R’Abahu, when bathing in a river, place his hand over his lower face, but I do not know whether he touched his male member or not.” The gemara is certain that R’Abahu did not touch it, declaring, “For it was taught in a baraisa: R’Eliezer says: Whoever holds his male member while urinating is considered as if he is bringing a flood onto the world.” Abaye suggests that it is different when fear may come into play, for at such a time he would not have improper thoughts while touching himself.

Mishnah. Laws regulating whether one may drink heated waters from certain vessels on Shabbes.

Gemara. The gemara defines the vessels.

Mishnah. Laws regulating warming water by pouring it into a vessel that was heated in advance.

Gemara. It is clear that a large quantity of water will not be “cooked” in the vessel, but is it possible that the hot vessel itself will be “hardened” by pouring cold water into it? R’Shimon says, even so, it is permitted when the hardening is unintended. R’Yehudah, however, does not permit even that which is unintended.

Daf 105 (Shabbas 42a-42b)

The gemara continues to debate whether or not an unintended act is permitted. Then, it compares a wash basin to a bathtub– documenting the disagreement over whether or not they are treated in the same manner.

Mishnah. Adding spices to a frying pan removed from the fire is forbidden, but spices may be added to hot food in a bowl.

Gemara. The gemara seeks to determine if salt is subject to the same rule as spices.

Mishnah. A vessel may not be placed under a lamp on Shabbes (to catch dripping oil), but the vessel may be placed under the lamp in advance.

Gemara. Different precautions are permitted when a commonplace loss is anticipated than in the case of anticipating an uncommon loss.

Daf 106 (Shabbas 43a-43b)

The gemara continues to wrestle with how to respond to situations where loss will occur on Shabbes if objects or articles one is generally forbidden to handle (muktzeh) would need to be handled to prevent loss.

Perhaps Rav Huna’s teaching points to an answer? “Rav Huna said: We may erect an  awning for the sake of protecting a corpse from the sun if we erect it also on behalf of a living person; but we may not erect an awning for the sake of protecting a corpse if we erect it solely on behalf of the corpse. (ArtScroll: “A corpse is intrinsically muktzeh, since it may not be used for any purpose.”) This leads the gemara to inquire if perhaps there is a permissible way to move the corpse out of the sun on Shabbes. The gemara also debates whether one may save a corpse from a fire. The latter case moves the rabbis to grant a special dispensation “since a person is likely to be extremely distressed about the possibility of losing his relative’s corpse to a fire if you do not permit him to move it when it is in danger of being burned and he may come to extinguish the fire in order to save it.” (And extinguishing the fire is a desecration of Shabbes.)

Daf 107 (Shabbas 44a-44b)

Mishnah. A new (unused) lamp may be moved on Shabbes. R’Shimon says any lamp not burning may be moved.

Gemara. The gemara wonders if a cup, bowl, or beaker that is used as a lamp may be moved once the flame has gone out. The answer may depend on whether it had been expected to burn until Shabbes was over. This is compared to the case of a bed that had been designated to store money but never used for that purpose,

Daf 108 (Shabbas 45a-45b)

Additional situations are considered to refine understandiong the limits of muktzeh— specifically objects that are fit for use but are set aside and objects that are not fit for use but also not set aside.

Daf 109 (Shabbas 46A-46b)

The gemara seeks to determine which rabbis permitted moving a lamp that had gone out and, if so, whether the movement would be permissible for all manner of lamps or only for a subset. Numerous disagreements are recorded, but not resolved. “R’Abahu, when visiting the locale of R’Yehoshua ben Levi, would move a lamp that had gone out on the Sabbath, but when visiting the locale of R’Yochanan would not move such a lamp.” The gemara puzzles over this inconsistent behavior, deciding that R’Yehoshua ben Levi holds that the lamp may be moved but refrained from doing so when visaiting R’Yochanan out of respect.

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