Mishnah Eruvin 10:1

Mishnah Eruvin 10:1

May 9, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

Our Sages considered it proscribed labor to carry any burden of value from one domain to another on Shabbat. As we noted last time, it is not the weight of an item that constitutes its significance in the Rabbinic mind, but the value that people ascribe to it. Some items have value because of their utility (food, for example), while others have value due to their sacred nature. One such sacred item is a pair of tefillin. In this mishnah, we see that one is prohibited from carrying tefillin from one domain to another (here, from the outdoors to indoors) on Shabbat, even to protect them from harm. Rather, the mishnah suggests, put on the tefillin and walk indoors. In this way, one preserves the sacred object without violating Shabbat.

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Mishnah Shabbat 7:3

Mishnah Shabbat 7:3

May 2, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

I mentioned last week, in passing, that one violates the prohibition of carrying from domain to domain on Shabbat if one carries an object of value. How do we measure the value of objects?

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 153a

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 153a

Apr 25, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

If I am traveling on Friday afternoon and am unable to reach my home before Shabbat begins, what am I to do with my burdens? I am not allowed to carry in a public domain on Shabbat, as we have seen previously. As far as the Talmud is concerned, carrying anything of value constitutes labor. So, should I lay my burdens down and lose all the valuables I was carrying when Shabbat began? Is this some kind of “punishment” for not having planned my trip more carefully? 

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 2b

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 2b

Apr 18, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

The Tosefta above is an odd text. It tells us that there are four Shabbat domains. We are prohibited from carrying from one type of domain to another on Shabbat. For instance, we may not carry anything of significance from our house (a “private domain”) to a major street (a “public domain”) on Shabbat. So far, so good. The odd thing here is that the Tosefta seems to provide only two of its four domains. Are there not two more domains that the Tosefta omits?

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 133a

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 133a

Apr 11, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

Some mitzvot require us to violate Shabbat and festivals. For instance, the Torah requires that brit milah, the covenant of circumcision, take place on the eighth day of an Israelite boy’s life. The eighth day is its required time, even though that day may fall on Shabbat or a festival. The same is true with regard to the mitzvah of bringing the Paschal sacrifice—our Israelite ancestors were required to slaughter their Paschal lambs and offer their blood upon the altar on the fourteenth of the Hebrew month of Nisan and eat them on the night of the fifteenth, no matter whether one of these days was Shabbat or not.

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 141a

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 141a

Apr 4, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

We have learned that one is not allowed to carry from a private space (such as a home or synagogue) to a public space (such as a street or walkway) on Shabbat. A range of complex Torah and Rabbinic prohibitions and exceptions are wrapped up in this general mitzvah. Here, Rava presents his vision of one such exception. In his view, the Torah does not prohibit carrying children in and out of doors on Shabbat. However, one may not strap a diaper bag to the child and claim to merely be carrying the child, with the bag along for the ride. Carrying the bag in and out of doors is prohibited, says Rava, regardless of the child’s role. If one carries the child without the bag, one has not violated the Torah’s vision of Shabbat.

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 128b

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 128b

Mar 28, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

As Jews, what are our responsibilities to our animals? The Torah requires that we preserve not only our own animals from pain, but our enemies’ animals as well (Exod. 23:5). Other obligations aside, we are not to pass by a struggling animal without giving assistance. What are the limits of this obligation to prevent animal suffering on Shabbat and festivals? We have seen that we may violate Shabbat for the sake of human life. May we do so for animal life as well?

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 122b

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 122b

Mar 21, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

Shemuel visited Avin of Turan’s house. A non-Jewish [acquaintance of Avin’s] came and lit the lamp [on Shabbat]. Shemuel turned his face away [from the light]. When he saw that [the non-Jew] had brought a document and was reading it, [Shemuel] said, “He lit it for his own benefit!” So he turned his face back towards the lamp.

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Mishnah Yoma 8:5

Mishnah Yoma 8:5

Mar 14, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

This passage comes from Yoma, the tractate dealing with the laws of Yom Kippur. The prohibitions against work on Yom Kippur are very similar to the prohibitions against work on Shabbat. The forbidden labors for both of these days are divided into the thirty-nine Torah-prohibited categories we saw in Mishnah Shabbat 7:3 called אבות מלאכות (avot melakhot). Excavating a ruin would ordinarily be forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Kippur. The specific category under which it would be forbidden might vary, depending on the intent of the excavator (as we have seen in our discussions of intent). If one is actually doing the demolishing, it would fall under the category of soter (סותר or demolishing). If one were cleaning or leveling an already demolished building, it would fall under the category of boneh(בונה or building).

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Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 103a

Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 103a

Mar 7, 2009 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Text Study

I have mentioned previously that the thirty-nine Torah-prohibited categories of labor (the avot melakhot) assume their meaning based on conventional definitions of the act they describe. For example, though cooking is prohibited as one of these thirty-nine categories, frying an egg on the hood of a car on a hot summer day would not be a Torah-prohibited act, since people do not conventionally define this as an act of cooking.

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