Anger and Other Destructive Acts

Daf 166-172 (Shabbat 103a-109b)


Morsels to explore:

  • A mishnah dealing with an ambidextrous person.
  • R’Yochanan ben Nuri comparing anger to idolatry.
  • The debate over whether circumcision is a destructive act.
  • Abaye’s protest: “Are you telling me to learn the tradition for no purpose, that it should be like a song?”
  • The question of whether one is permitted to write tefillin on the skin of a bird or the skin of a kosher fish.


Daf 166 (Shabbat 103a-103b)

The sons of Rachquah ask, “If someone observed the performance of a craft on the Sabbath and learned it, is it also that he is liable?” (Answer: No.)

Mishnah. Here is the rule on the prohibition to plow on Shabbes.

Gemara. The gemara seeks to define the area of the smallest land that it would be a violation to plow.

Mishnah. Here is the rule on the prohibition to write on Shabbes. (“One who writes two letters . . .”)

Gemara. The gemara inquires why writing is prohibited with the left hand (which is not considered “normal”). R’Yirmiyah replies, “They taught this ruling with regard to a left-handed person.” The gemara objects, “But his left hand should be considered like everyone else’s right hand.” Abaye says, “The mishnah is dealing with an ambidextrous person.”

The gemara then inquires if one who writes the same letter twice is liable for writing two letters. It considers if there is only liability in such cases if the repetition of the letter creates an actual word or a recognized abbreviation of an actual word.

Daf 167 (Shabbat 104a-104b)

The esoteric meaning hidden in the shapes of the letters becomes a subject of speculation.

Mishnah. Here are rules related to the prohibition to write two characters on Shabbes, including “if someone wrote one letter as an abbreviation, R’Yehoshua ben Beseira holds him liable, but the Sages exempt him.”

Gemara. While some would exempt one who adds only one letter, all would hold him liable if the letter completes a book.

Daf 168 (Shabbat 105a-105b)

The esoteric meanings of acronyms spelled forward and backward becomes a subject for speculation.

Mishnah. Here is the rule for liability when the two letters are written during two lapses of awareness at different times on the same day.

Gemara. Rabban Gamliel protests, “There is no awareness for half a measure.”

Perek 13. Mishnah. “One who sews two stitches and one who tears in order to sew two stitches is liable.”

Gemara. The gemara seeks to determine if the thickness of the thread must be taken into account.

Mishnah. “One who tears in his anger or for his dead, and all who act destructively, are exempt.”

Gemara. The gemara considers whether the mishnah only applies when the tearing for mourning is not an obligation (“those for whom he is not subject to mourning”).

The mishnah’s rule on anger is questioned. The gemara asks, “Is this type of behavior permitted?” R’Yochanan ben Nuri compares anger to idolatry.

Daf 169 (Shabbat 106a-106b)

The exemption to make an offering for a destructive act in some cases is because of the greater penalty for desecrating the Sabbath (it is a capital offense). A “dead man” is not required to make an offering. Circumcision is another “destructive act” for which one is not liable (but R’Yehudah does not agree that circumcision is destructive).

Mishnah. Here are the rules limiting trapping on Shabbes.

Gemara. The gemara compares this mishnah to the rules limiting trapping on holidays. Abaye seeks to determine whether Rav Yosef understands the law solely as interpreted by Rav Yehudah, or if Rav Yehudah’s understanding is in accordance with the Sages. Rav Yosef does not think Abaye’s question is relevant. Abaye protests, “Are you telling me to learn the tradition for no purpose, that it should be like a song?”

Mishnah. Here is the rule for how to respond if a deer enters a house on Shabbes.

Gemara. “If one traps a lion on the Sabbath, he is not liable.”

Mishnah. Here are additional rules regarding the deer.

Daf 170 (Shabbat 107a-107b)

Gemara. “If a bird entered under the flaps of one’s garment and cannot escape, he may sit and guard it until it gets dark.” The gemara inquires if the status of the bird may be compared to the status of the deer. Three cases of activities that are exempt and permitted on Shabbes are identified; all other activities that are exempt are prohibited (rabbinically).

Perek 14. Mishnah. Here are the rules of trapping animals compared to the rules regarding bruising.

Gemara. The gemara seeks to determine if the rules for bruising are limited to animals that have hides, and if the bruise must be irreversible (i.e., permanent). It argues over whether lice reproduce.

Daf 171 (Shabbat 108a-108b)

“Uprooting something from its place of growth” is shown to apply even to entities that are not “attached to the ground.” The gemara seeks to determine whether it is acceptable to write tefillin on the skin of a bird or the skin of a kosher fish. (Answer: “We will know the law if Elijah comes and tells it to us.”)

Mishnah. Here is a rule prohibiting the making of salt water on Shabbes. This may apply to brine or perhaps it applies to all forms of salt water except brine.

Gemara. The gemara seeks to understand.

Daf 172 (Shabbat 109a-109b)

One should not touch one’s face with one’s hands in the morning before washing them. The gemara specifies cures for those who have carelessly violated this prohibition. It then considers whether certain medical treatments are permitted on Shabbes.

Mishnah. Here are specific treatments that are permitted or forbidden on Shabbes.

Gemara. The gemara seeks to determine the exact composition of a food the mishnah characterizes as “not a food of healthy people” before reviewing remedies for various other ailments.

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