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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah

Folio 30a

the possibility that he might exchange it — since there is one seal, he would not take the trouble to falsify it.

Our Rabbis taught: Boiled wine or alontith of a heathen is forbidden, but prepared alontith1  is permitted. What is alontith? — As it has been taught in connection with Sabbath:2  We may make anomalin3  but not alontith.4  What is 'anomalin' and what is 'alontith'? 'Anomalin' [is a mixture of] wine, honey and pepper; 'alontith', of old wine, clear water and balsam, which is used [as a cooling drink] in the bath-house.

Rabbah and R. Joseph both of them said that diluted wine5  does not become forbidden through being left uncovered;6  nor is boiled wine to be suspected of idolatrous use. The question was asked: Is boiled wine rendered forbidden by being left uncovered or is it not so? — Come and hear: R. Jacob b. Idi testified in regard to boiled wine that it is not rendered forbidden by being left uncovered.

R. Jannai b. Ishmael was sick and R. Ishmael b. Zirud and other Rabbis called to enquire about him. As they sat, the question was asked of them: Does the objection to remaining uncovered apply to boiled wine or not? — To which R. Ishmael b. Zirud replied: Thus said R. Simeon b. Lakish on behalf of a great man — namely, R. Hiyya: Boiled wine is not rendered unfit by being left uncovered. On their asking, 'Shall we rely on it?' R. Jannai b. Ishmael motioned [as if to say], 'Upon my responsibility.'7

Samuel and Ablet8  were sitting together when boiled wine was brought up for them and [the latter] withdrew his hand,9  but Samuel said to him: Behold, it has been said that boiled wine is not to be suspected of idolatrous use! R. Hiyya's maid-servant found that some boiled wine had been left uncovered. She came [to ask about it] of R. Hiyya, who told her that it had been declared that boiled wine is not rendered unfit by being left uncovered. The servant of R. Adda b. Ahaba found that some diluted wine had been left uncovered. [His master] however told him that it had been stated that diluted wine is not rendered unfit by being left uncovered. R. Papa said: This has only been said [of wine] that is well diluted; but if it is only slightly diluted [a snake] might indeed drink it. But does it indeed drink wine that is slightly diluted? — [What about] Rabbah son of R. Huna who was travelling in a boat and had some wine with him? Observing that a snake, cutting through the water, was approaching, he said to his attendant, 'Turn it away,'10  and the attendant took some water and was pouring it into the wine; whereupon the snake turned back! — [This may only show that] for pure wine [the snake] will even endanger its life, while for diluted wine it will not face danger.11  And does it not face danger for diluted wine? — What about R. Jannai who was at 'Akbara12  (some say it was Bar-Hadaya13  that was at 'Akbara) where people were sitting and drinking diluted wine, and as there was some of it left in the cask they tied a shred over it? He then saw a snake carrying water which it poured into the cask till the cask was so filled that the wine came above the shred, and [the snake then] drank! — It may be said that what [the snake] itself dilutes it will drink, but it will not drink what others dilute. Said R. Ashi (some say, R, Mesharsheya): What an answer [to give in a matter] where danger [to life is involved]!14

Raba said: The law is that diluted wine is rendered unfit by being left uncovered and is to be suspected of idolatrous use, but boiled wine does not become unfit by being left uncovered nor is it suspected of idolatrous use.

The attendant of R. Hilkiah b. Tobi [found that] a tank of water had been left uncovered, though he had been sitting and slumbering close to it. He came to [ask about it of] R. Hilkiah b. Tobi, who said to him: It has been stated that snakes are afraid of a sleeping person; this, however, only applies in day time but not at night. But this is not the case; it is not to be assumed that they are afraid of a sleeping person either by day or by night.

Rab did not drink water of an Aramean's house, saying that they do not mind if it is kept uncovered. He, however, drank that of a widow's15  house, saying: She is sure to follow her husband's practice. Samuel [on the other hand] would not drink water of the house of a widow. In the absence of the fear of a husband, he said, she will not necessarily keep the water covered. He, however, drank that of the house of an Aramean. Even if they are not particular about [the prohibition relating to] uncovered liquids, they are particular about cleanliness.16  Some report that Rab would not drink the water of an Aramean's house, but would drink that of a widow's house, while Samuel would not drink the water of either the house of an Aramean or that of a widow.

R. Joshua b. Levi said: There are three kinds of wine to which the prohibition through being left uncovered does not apply, namely: Strong, Bitter, and Sweet. 'Strong' is the acrid tila17  which makes the wine-skin burst; 'Bitter' is wine made of unripe grapes; 'Sweet' is wine made of grapes sweetened [by the heat of the sun].18  R. Hama taught [that those three] are improved wines: 'Strong'-is wine mixed with pepper; 'Bitter' — mixed with wormwood; 'Sweet' — is sparkling wine.19  Said R. Simeon b. Lakish: Karina becomes prohibited through being left uncovered. What is Karina? — Said R. Abbahu: Karina20  is a sweet wine which comes from Assia.21  Said Raba: In its own place, however, it is rendered unfit if left uncovered, the reason being that it is the 'local wine.'22

Raba said: Wine which has formed a film is made unfit by being left uncovered and is suspected of idolatrous use during the first three days;

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. If when it reached the heathen it was already in its prepared state and not in the form of wine.
  2. Shab. 140a.
  3. Because it is for drinking purposes, and may be prepared on the Sabbath.
  4. Which is for medicinal purposes, and must not be prepared, lest he might be led to grind the ingredients.
  5. The usual proportion is 2 water to 1 pure wine.
  6. As a snake does not drink it (cf. Ter. VIII, 4).
  7. Lit., 'On me and on my neck,' an idiom denoting the assuming of full responsibility.
  8. A learned Gentile, mentioned in several places in the Talmud. [E.g., Shab. 129a, 156b.]
  9. Wine touched by a heathen is suspected of being manipulated for idolatrous purposes.
  10. Lit., 'Blind its eyes.'
  11. [But not that it will not drink undiluted wine where it can do so without being seen.]
  12. A place in Upper Galilee. [R. Jannai had established there a school wherein the study of the Law went hand in hand with agricultural pursuits, v. Halevy, Doroth II, 273 ff.]
  13. [A famous interpreter of dreams, v. Ber, 56a.]
  14. [The fact that a snake has been seen to drink diluted wine is sufficient warrant to put us on our guard and apply the prohibition to diluted wine that has been left uncovered.]
  15. A Jewess; though women are not well versed in laws.
  16. They will therefore keep it covered for the sake of cleanliness.
  17. A wine with a very pungent taste.
  18. The taste of any of these being objectionable, a snake would not drink thereof even if left uncovered.
  19. [H] — Borag-water, 'a superior drink' (Rashi). [Krauss, Talm. Arch. II, 241, takes [H] in its Persian sense, meaning 'wine', and renders accordingly 'Barag wine'.] These three are also distasteful to snakes.
  20. Cf. L. carenum (Jast.)
  21. [H] taken by some to mean Asia Minor or a certain part of it; by others, Essa, a town E. of the Lake of Tiberias. V. Sanh, (Sonc. ed.) p. 151, n. 1.
  22. And snakes of that locality drink it.
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‘Abodah Zarah 30b

thence onwards neither the suspicion of idolatry nor the objection to being uncovered applies to it;1  those in Nehardea, however, said that even after the three days the objection to being uncovered still holds good, the reason being that occasionally even such wine is drunk [by snakes].

Our Rabbis taught: Wine in the first stage of fermentation is not subject to the rules relating to uncovered [liquids]; and how long does that stage last? Three days. Cress-dish2  is not subject to the rules relating to uncovered [liquids]. Those in the Diaspora3  made a practice of forbidding it [if left uncovered]; but only if there was no vinegar in it; for the vinegar that is in it deters4  serpents [from tasting it]. Babylonian Kutah,5  too, is not rendered unfit if left uncovered, though those in the diaspora have the practice of forbidding it. R. Manashi said: If it has traces of biting we must suspect [it of being bitten by a serpent]. Said R. Hiyya b. Ashi in the name of Samuel: Water that drips into a vessel is not subject to the rules in regard to uncovered [liquids].6  R. Ashi said: That is if the dripping is continuous. R. Hiyya b. Ashi said in the name of Samuel: The opening of a fig7  does not come under the rules relating to [liquids] left uncovered. This view accords with that of this Tanna: For it has been taught:8  R. Eliezer says, One may eat grapes and figs at night without suspecting any harm,9  for Scripture says, The Lord guardeth the simple.10

R. Safra said in the name of R. Joshua of the South: There are three kinds of venoms [of serpents]: that of a young one sinks to the bottom; that of one not quite young drops to about the middle; while that of an old one floats on top. Are we to take it that the older a serpent gets the more his strength diminishes? Has it not been taught:11  There are three whose strength increases as their age advances, these are: a fish, a serpent and a swine! — Its strength may indeed increase, but its venom becomes weaker.

'The venom of a young one sinks to the bottom'. — What practical application has this? — That of the following teaching: If a barrel was uncovered, even if nine persons drank of its contents with no fatal consequence, the tenth person is still forbidden to drink thereof. It happened indeed that nine people drank of such and did not die but the tenth one died; and R. Jeremiah said: It was a case of the venom sinking to the bottom. Likewise if a [cut] melon was left uncovered and nine persons partook thereof without fatal consequences, it is forbidden for a tenth person to partake thereof, for it once happened that nine persons ate of such a one and did not die and the tenth one who ate it died; and Rab said that it was a case of venom that sank to the bottom.

Our Rabbis taught: Water which had been left uncovered should not be poured out in a public road, or used for sprinkling the floor of a house, or for kneading mortar; nor should one give it to his animal or to his neighbour's animal to drink; nor should one wash one's face, hands or feet therewith. Others said: Only a part of the body that has an opening12  must not [be washed therewith] but where there is no opening it is permitted. Do not the 'Others' hold the same opinion as the first Tanna?13  — They differ in regard to the back part of the hand and of the foot, or the upper part of the face.14

The Master said: 'Nor should one give it to his own animal or to his neighbour's animal to drink'. But has it not been taught: One may, however, give it to his own animal to drink? — That teaching refers to a cat.15  Why then not to his neighbour's? — Because it deteriorates it. Then his own, too, would deteriorate? — But it subsequently recovers. Then his neighbour's would likewise recover? — It might so happen that he might wish to sell it and would suffer loss through it.16

R. Assi said in the name of R. Johanan who said it on behalf of R. Judah b, Bathyra: There are three kinds of wine: [i] Libation-wine,17  from which it is forbidden to derive any benefit, and of which a quantity of the size of an olive causes grave defilement;18

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. As its taste is then completely changed.
  2. Chopped cress mixed with wine.
  3. [H], All countries outside Palestine, with special reference to Babylonia, v. Glos. s.v. Golah.
  4. Lit., 'attacks'.
  5. A mixture consisting of sour milk, crusts of bread and salt (Jast.).
  6. As the noise caused by the dripping would frighten a serpent.
  7. Freshly plucked and left overnight.
  8. B.K. 116b.
  9. Though liquids must not be had in the dark.
  10. Ps. CXVI, 6.
  11. Shab. 77b.
  12. Where the poisonous matter would be retained and subsequently penetrate into the body.
  13. He too forbids the parts of the body, such as the face, hands and feet, which are liable to retain the poison.
  14. Parts which are smooth, which the others permit, but the first Tanna forbids.
  15. To which such drink is not injurious, v. Pes. 112b.
  16. He has a right to risk a loss to himself, but not to his neighbour.
  17. Yen Nesek, wine from which libation had been poured before an idol. V. Glos.
  18. Anyone coming in contact with it, or being in premises in which it is found, becomes ritually unclean, as in the case of a dead body. (V. supra 29b).
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