Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna, by D. A. Sola and M. J. Raphall, , at sacred-texts.com
§ 1. In places where it is customary to work till noon on the day before Passover. work may be done; but not in places where it is not customary to work thereon. If a person should go from a place where the said custom prevails, to another place where it does not, or the reverse, he will be subject to the rigour of the custom, either of the place he came from, or of that he went to. 1 And it is always proper not to act differently from the established customs of a place, on account of the disputes to which such conduct may lead.
§ 2. Even so, when a person brings fruits of the sabbatical year, from a place where the same are no longer growing in the fields, to another place where they are yet growing, or the reverse, he is bound to remove them: R. Jehudah says, they might say to such a person, "Go thou also, and fetch for thyself similar fruit from the field." 2
§ 3. In places where it is usual to sell small cattle [sheep, goats, &c.] to non-Israelites, it is lawful to do so, but not in places where it is not customary. Large cattle may not be sold to them at
all, 3 neither calves nor foals of asses, either sound or broken [legged]; R. Jehudah permits the sale of the latter, and Ben Beterah that of the horse.
§ 4. In places where it is usual to eat roasted meat on the night of the Passover, it may be eaten, but not in places where this custom does not exist. In places where it is usual to burn a light on the night of the day of atonement, it may be done; but not in places where this custom does not exist. The synagogues and schools [for the study of the law] may, however, be lighted; as also dark alleys, and near sick people.
§ 5. In places where it is usual to work on the 9th of Ab, work may be done; but not where it is not customary. The learned [in the Holy Law] however, must every where abstain from work thereon; Rabbon Simeon, son of Gamaliel, says, "Every one ought, in this respect, to consider himself as a learned man;" the sages say, "It was customary, in the land of Judah, to work till noon on the day preceding the Passover; but in Palestine they did not work at all [on that day];" and with respect to the evening which precedes it, Beth Shammai prohibit to work thereon, 4 but Beth Hillel allow it till [the morrow's] sunrise.
§ 6. R. Meir says, "Every occupation which had been commenced prior to the 14th, may he finished on that day; but no new work may be commenced, although it can be finished thereon. The sages are of opinion that the three following handicrafts may exercise their calling on the day before the Passover, namely, tailors, barbers, and laundresses; Rabbi José, son of Jehudah, says, also the strap-makers. 5
§ 7. Fowls may, on the 14th, be placed in hatching-coops; a brooding-hen which had run away [from her eggs], may be replaced on them [during the middle-days], and if the hen have died another may be put on the eggs to replace her. It is lawful to remove on the 14th, the stable-dung from between the feet of cattle; but it may only be removed to one side [not entirely removed], during the middle-days. It is also permitted to carry on the 14th, to and from
the houses of handicraftsmen, vessels and other articles, although they are not wanted for use during the festival.
§ 8. The inhabitants of Jericho used to do six things; three of which were prohibited to them, and three were not. The following are those riot prohibited: they used to graft palm-trees the whole day of the 14th, they used to read the "Shemang" with hasty involution, 6 and they used to cut down and make heaps of the new corn before the "omer" was offered,—these were not prohibited to them; but the following were: namely, they used to allow themselves the use of plants growing on or near consecrated trees, 7 and also to eat on the Sabbath fruit which had dropt off the trees, 8 and they suffered herbs to stand in the field as peah; 9 all which the sages prohibited to them.
§ 9. The following six things were done by King Hezekiah; three of which were approved of, and three were disapproved:—he caused the bones of his father 10 to be transported on a litter or hurdle of cords [or ropes], 11 and this was approved of; he caused the brazen-serpent to be broken to pieces, 12 and this also was approved of; he secreted the book of medicine, 13 and it was approved. The following
are the three things of which they disapproved:—he cut off [the gold] from the gates of the Temple, and sent it to the king of Assyria; 14 he stopped up the water-course of Gihon; 15 and made the month of Nissan intercalary: 16 all of which were disapproved of.
104:1 That is, he may not work at all. This prohibition, however, is limited to one whose intention is to return to his place; but if he came to settle permanently, he is considered, in this respect, the same as the persons of the place he intends to live in, and may work or not on the 14th, according as it may happen to be customary in that place.
104:2 This Mishna cannot be understood without reference to chap. IX. § 5, of Treatise Shevingith.
105:3 The reason is, lest the heathens may put the animals to work on the Sabbath. This restriction has been subsequently abolished, as appears from Shulchan Aruch, vol. II. chap. 151, § 4.
105:4 This refers alone to the Galileans, and others who were accustomed not to work at all on the 14th of Nissan.
105:5 Namely, those who make leathern straps for sandals, and mend them.
106:6 The solutions given in the Talmud and by commentators of this strange expression of the original וכורכין את שמע are various: according to some, the fault of the inhabitants of Jericho, consisted in not dwelling sufficiently on the last syllable of the word אחד, before commencing the reading of ואהבת and the following verses. According to others, they made this necessary pause, but did not say the verse ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד, before commencing ואהבת,to, thus wrapping or involving the verses together, which are prescribed to be read with a pause between the first verse of the Shemang and the subsequent ones.
106:7 The original expression גמזיות, has also given cause to much interpretation: some understand by it the parasitical plants growing on a tree, and which derive their nourishment and growth from the tree itself (e.g. the mistletoe on the apple-trees or oaks). Others read here גוזיות, and explain it, that they pruned the consecrated trees, and used the wood.
106:8 Fruit which has dropt off a tree on the Sabbath may not be used thereon.
106:9 In order that the poor may not be led into the error of eating it untithed טבל, thinking it to be peah. (See Treatise שביעית.)
106:10 The wicked Ahaz.
106:11 As a mark of dishonour and expiation; also to shew the people his abhorrence of his father's wicked career. (See 2 Chron. xxviii. 27.)
106:12 As mentioned 2 Kings xviii. 4: "And broke to pieces the brazen-serpent that Moses had made, because the children of Israel burned incense to it."
106:13 Because, according to some commentators, the Israelites trusted to it in case of illness, and did not pray for help to God. Maimonides rejects this interpretation, and says, "How could they thus attribute to Hezekiah a motive p. 107 that even the lowest capacity would be ashamed of, and impute folly to the sages of his time who approved of it. The same might be said to a hungry man about to take food to allay his craving; were any to say, 'He ought to trust to God, who can aid him without this:' we would say to such, 'Fools that ye are! Even as we thank God when we eat, that he caused us to find what will allay our natural want, and eat it thankfully: thus also we ought to thank him that he gave us wisdom to find out a cure for our bodily ailments, and use it accordingly.' It is, indeed, a waste of time to argue against so obvious an absurdity, if it were not that the above opinion had been publicly taught. The reason, however, why King Hezekiah secreted this book of medicine was, because it was therein pretended to cure diseases by means of astrological spells, talismans, and other vain and superstitious means, which might lead the people to ignorance and idolatry."
107:14 See 2 Kings xviii.
107:15 15 See 2 Chron. xxxii. 30.
107:16 2 Chron. xxx. 2.