Treatise in the Mishnah, Tosefta, and both Talmuds; devoted chiefly to rules and regulations for the Sabbath. The Scriptural passages that treat of the Sabbath and of the laws for its observance, thus forming the exegetical basis of this treatise, are: Ex. xvi. 22 et seq.; xx. 10; xxiii. 12; xxxiv., 21; xxxv. 2, 3; Num. xv. 32 et seq.; Deut. v. 14; Jer. xvii. 21 et seq.; Amos viii. 5; Neh. x. 31, xiii. 15 et seq. Shabbat is the first treatise in the mishnaic order Seder Mo'ed, and is divided into twenty-four chapters, containing 138 paragraphs in all.Contents.
- Ch. i.: Ways in which things may not be brought from a private domain ("reshut ha-yaḥid") to the public domain ("reshut ha-rabbim") and vice versa on the Sabbath (§ 1); things which may not be done on Friday afternoon or by lamplight on Friday evening (§§ 2-3); rules adopted at the council in the upper chamber of Hananiah b. Hezekiah b. Garon (§ 4); additional particulars concerning things which may not be done on Friday (§§ 5-11).
- Ch. ii.: Illumination on the Sabbath, the kinds of oil which may be used, and the materials which may serve as wicks (§§ 1-3); further details concerning lamps (§ 4); cases in which lamps may be extinguished on the Sabbath (§ 5); the three duties of women neglect of which may cost them their lives (§ 6); the three things of which the master of the house must remind his household at twilight on Friday evening (§ 7).
- Ch. iii. and iv.: Permitted and prohibited methods in which food may be warmed or kept warm on the Sabbath; concerning things which are regarded as set apart ("muḳẓeh") and which one is forbidden to move on that day.
- Ch. v.: With what an animal may be led on the Sabbath (e.g., a halter), and what may be placed on it (e.g., a blanket), and what may not be placed on it, every object not requisite for the health or safety of the animal, or for guarding it, being regarded as a burden, and it being forbidden to load a beast on that day.
- Ch. vi.: Garments which may be worn by men, women, and children, and those which may not be worn; a discussion of the question whether weapons adorn a man, the majority of the sages deciding that they disgrace him who bears them, since they are implements of murder, inasmuch as, according to Isa. ii. 4, the ideal of the future is a time when the nations shall dwell in everlasting harmony and shall change their arms to implements of peace.
- Ch. vii.: The gradations, according to circumstances, of the sin-offering for breaking the Sabbath; enumeration of the thirty-nine chief kinds of work which are forbidden, namely, seven of agriculture, four of cooking, thirteen of tailoring, seven of butchering and tanning, two of writing and erasing, two of building and demolishing, two of kindling and extinguishing fires, one of the hammer-stroke (giving the finishing touch to a thing), and one of carrying an object from the reshut ha-yaḥid to the reshut ha-rabbim and vice versa.
- Ch. viii.: Determination of quantities in the case of various objects which render one guilty of a violation of the Sabbath in carrying them on that day. In the last paragraph (§ 7) of this chapter Isa. xxx. 14 is quoted as a text.
- Ch. ix.: Biblical verses cited as additional proofs or texts (§§ 1-4); further details concerning the quantities of many things that may not be carried on the Sabbath (§§ 5-7).
- Ch. x.: Concerning those cases in which one who transports an object is not guilty of violating the Sabbath (§§ 1-4); cases in which two persons who carry an object together from one place to another are guilty, and those in which they are innocent; on the transportation of a corpse or of a living man (§ 5); on the problem whether one who bites or cuts his nails or plucks out his hair on the Sabbath is guilty of a violation of that day (§ 6).
- Ch. xi.: On throwing objects from one place to another, from one house across the street to another, from the land into the water and vice versa, or from a ship into the sea and vice versa.
- Ch. xii.: Concerning building, hammering, sawing, boring, weeding fields, felling trees, and gathering wood or greens (§§ 1-2); on writing two letters of the alphabet and of writing in general, together with the cases in which one by writing does not violate the Sabbath (§§ 3-6).
- Ch. xiii.: Concerning weaving, spinning, sewing, tearing, washing, dyeing, and hunting.
- Ch. xiv.: Cases in which hunting on the Sabbath does not render one guilty of violation of that day (§ 1); on the preparation of a solution of salt (§ 2); medicines and remedies permitted on the Sabbath, and those which are forbidden (§§ 3-4).
- Ch. xv.: The knots which may be tied on the Sabbath and those which may not be tied (§§ 1-2); on putting clothes away and on making beds (§ 3).
- Ch. xvi.: In case a fire breaks out on the Sabbath, sacred writings and phylacteries ("tefillin") may be rescued, as well as such food as is necessary for that day; non-Jews, but not Jews, may be allowed to extinguish the fire; but a Jew may not urge a non-Jew to do any work for him on the Sabbath.
- Ch. xvii.: Vessels which may be carried on the Sabbath; blinds may be lowered on that day.
- Ch. xviii.: Things which may be moved on the Sabbath; calves and the foals of asses may be led; a woman may lead her child, though she may not carry it; cattle may be helped when about to give birth; and the Sabbath is not broken by assisting a woman in labor.
- Ch. xix.: Circumcision on the Sabbath; that day is not violated by a circumcision or by the necessary preparations for one.
- Ch. xx.: Wine may be strained and cattle fed on the Sabbath.
- Ch. xxi.: In what manner many objects, regarded as set apart, may be moved and put away (§§ 1-2); the clearing of the table (§ 3).
- Ch. xxii.: On the preparation of food and drink on the Sabbath (§§ 1-4); bathing and anointing with oil on that day (§§ 5-6).
- Ch. xxiii.: Lending, raffling, and distributing food and drink on the Sabbath (§§ 1-2); preparations for the evening of the week-day which may be made on the Sabbath (§§ 3-4); the degree of care for the dead which is permissible on the Sabbath (§ 5).
- Ch. xxiv.: On the case of a traveler overtaken by the Sabbath eve before he reaches a city (§ 1); the feeding of cattle (§§ 2-4); the fulfilment of vows on that day (§ 5).
The catalogue and definition of various tasks, and the lists of garments, utensils, and ornaments, as well as of materials for fuel and illumination, all detailed in the Mishnah, render it especially important for the history of civilization.The Tosefta.
The Tosefta is divided into eighteen chapters, and contains many important maxims and sayings besides additions to and amplifications of the Mishnah. Particularly noteworthy is its enumeration, in ch. vi. and vii., of current customs, usages, and superstitions, some of them being regarded by the scholars as harmless and permissible, while others were forbidden as heathenish and pagan. Certain superstitious views and usages may be mentioned here. In beginning an undertaking the first part of the work should be done by some one deft of touch, as a sign that the completion of the task will not be arduous (vi. 3). When sparks fly fromthe fire and fall on the ground it is a sign that guests may be expected (vi.2). If a hen crows like a cock, she must be stoned (vi. 5). If one turns his shirt inside out when taking it off, he will dream at night. If one kisses a coffin containing a corpse, he will see the dead man in his dreams (vi. 7). If one puts a lamp or a candle on the ground, it angers the dead (vi. 2). If two persons walk together and some one comes between them, the friendship between the pair will be broken (vii. 12).
The following advice given by R. Eliezer b. R. Jose ha-Gelili in the Tosefta is also noteworthy: "If a pious man beginneth a journey which thou also must make, strive thou to go with him; for good angels accompany him. But if a blasphemer beginneth a journey which thou also must make, go thou before him or go thou after him, but beware lest thou be with him; for Satan and evil angels accompany the blasphemer on his way" (xvii. 2-3).The Gemaras.
The Babylonian Gemara to this treatise, besides its explanations and discussions of the Mishnah, contains a large number of stories, legends, and historical accounts, as well as parables, aphorisms, and other haggadic interpretations and utterances, of which a few may be cited: It is declared that the Book of Ezekiel would have been considered apocryphal because of the many passages in it that contradict the Pentateuch, had not Hananiah ben Hezekiah (who outlined the scroll of fasting) taken pains to elucidate it and by his interpretations and explanations succeeded in removing all the contradictions (13b). In like manner, the sages would have declared the books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs apocryphal, since each of them contains passages inconsistent with the other; but they succeeded in interpreting those passages in such a manner as to explain away the contradictions (30b).Origin of Ḥanukkah.
In 21b the origin of Ḥanukkah is described. When the Hasmoneans conquered the Syrians and purified the Temple at Jerusalem, restoring the legal worship, they found only one small jar of oil sealed with the high priest's seal and, therefore, ritually pure. It was apparently sufficient for a single day only; but by a miracle it lasted for eight days, so that the Feast of Ḥanukkah is celebrated for eight days. The mildness of Hillel, as contrasted with the severity of Shammai, is illustrated by several examples; and the saying of Hillel, to the effect that the entire Law is but a commentary on the fundamental principle of love to one's fellow men, is cited (31a). The reprehensibility of indecent conversation and the severe punishment of those who indulge in it are set forth (33a). The story of R. Simeon b. Yoḥai, who was forced to flee on account of his criticisms of Roman institutions, and who lived for twelve years in a cave, is given (33b). The hatred of the Jews felt by other nations is explained as a religious animosity dating from the time when the revelation on Sinai gave Israel a faith which differentiated it from other nations (89b). The legend of the two angels who accompany the Jew from the synagogue to his home on Friday evening is related (119b). A few excellent examples are given to show how men should judge their fellow creatures with gentleness, even though circurmstances are apparently against them (127b); also the parable to illustrate the purity of the soul (152b), and the simile of the royal banquet, showing how needful it is to be ever ready to appear before God.
In the Yerushalmi the Gemara to ch. xxi.-xxiv. is no longer extant.