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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah

Folio 33a

he has already become attached to it he will go again and again. But has it not been taught: It is forbidden [to do any business transactions] with an Israelite going on a pilgrimage of idolatry either on his journey there or back? — R. Ashi said: That refers to an apostate Israelite, who is sure to go.

Our Rabbis taught: With an idolater going to a market-fair1  it is permitted to deal both on his journey there and back; but in the case of an Israelite going to such a fair, it is permitted on his journey thither but forbidden on his return journey. Now, how is it that in the case of an Israelite it is forbidden on his return journey? Because we say that he may have been selling articles of idolatry and has thus idolatry-money with him! Should we not likewise say in the case of an idolater that he may have sold articles of idol-worship and carries idolatry-money on him? It appears therefore that in the case of an idolater we say that he may have sold such things as a garment or wine. [If so] let us then say in the case of an Israelite, too, that it may have been such things as a garment or wine that he was selling! — If he had such things only he would have sold them here.


R. Simeon b. Lakish said: This teaching applies only if they do not form one band, but if they2  are keeping closely together it is forbidden, for we are to assume that each one has a mind to return again.


Our Rabbis taught: 'Skin bottles of heathens, if stripped,3  are permitted while new,4  but if old or pitch-lined5  they are forbidden. If an idolater pitched6  and lined and put the wine7  into it while an Israelite was standing by him there is no cause for suspicion.'8  But since it is the heathen who puts the wine into the bottles, of what avail is it that an Israelite does stand by him? — R. Papa said: What is meant is that if a heathen pitched and lined them and an Israelite poured wine into them while another Israelite was standing by there is no cause for suspicion. But if it is an Israelite that is pouring the wine into them, what need is there for another Israelite to stand by? — Lest while the Israelite is engaged in the pouring, the heathen pour some of it for idolatry without being detected by him.

R. Zebid said: The original wording can indeed stand, but here the reason is that when wine is poured into the fresh pitch it is as water that is poured in mortar.9  R. Papi said: From what was said by R. Zebid it may be deduced that if a heathen poured wine into the salt cellar of an Israelite [the salt] is permitted. R. Ashi demurred to this: How can these be compared? In that case the wine has disappeared, while in our case it has not disappeared!10

A certain Arab, Bar 'Adi, once seized a wine-skin from R. Isaac b. Joseph, and after keeping wine in it returned it to him. He came and asked about it in the House of Learning and R. Jeremiah said to him: Thus was the decision given by R. Ammi in a specific case:11  [The vessels] are to be filled with water for three days and then emptied; whereon Raba said: The water should be emptied every twenty-four hours. This was taken to apply to our12  [vessels if used by heathens] but not to theirs; when, however, Rabin came [from Palestine] he said in the name of R. Simeon b. Lakish: [It applies to] either ours or theirs. R. Aha b. Raba, sitting before R. Ashi, was of opinion that this only applies to skin-bottles but not to earthenware ones;13  but R. Ashi said to him: It makes no difference whether they be skin-bottles or earthenware ones.

Our Rabbis taught: Earthenware bottles of idolaters, if new and stripped, are permitted, but if old and pitched they are forbidden. If an idolater kept wine in them, the Israelite should put water into them;14  but though an idolater kept wine in them an Israelite may [immediately] put bran, or Muries15  into them without any scruples.16  The question was asked:

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. [The markets were associated with idolatrous festivals, v. Elmslie, p. 33.]
  2. [Those who come back and those who go there].
  3. Having no pitch coating.
  4. Not having been long in use, the skin would not have absorbed any wine: skin being more dense than earthenware.
  5. [Wine soaks into pitch.]
  6. [He poured the molten pitch into them (Rashi).]
  7. [While the pitch was still hot, wine was poured into it to remove its bitterness (Rashi).]
  8. Tosef. Ch. V.
  9. The reason why wine poured into a bottle freshly lined with pitch by a heathen is permitted is because the wine which first comes in contact with the pitch soaks thoroughly into it, like the water in the mortar, and does not exude again when the pitch hardens.
  10. [The flavour it imparted to the salt remains.]
  11. [H], lit., 'a decision for practice'.
  12. As in R. Isaac's case, where the vessel originally used by an Israelite had already absorbed a large quantity of permissible wine, while the absorption of the prohibited wine would be scant.
  13. Which absorb more.
  14. As above — on three days, changing the water every 24 hours.
  15. V. p. 156, n. 2. The sharpness of these annuls the taste of the wine.
  16. [Having regard to the question that follows, read with MS.M., 'and it is permissible.']
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‘Abodah Zarah 33b

[Does this apply to] deliberate action or to an act committed?1  — Come and hear: For R. Zebid b. Oshaia learned: If one buys earthenware bottles of an idolater, if they be new he may put wine into them; if old, he may use them for bran and Muries deliberately.

R. Judah Nesi'a2  asked of R. Ammi: What if he put them back into a furnace, so that they became heated? — He replied: If bran has a cleansing effect on them, how much more so fire! It has likewise been stated: R. Johanan said (according to others R. Assi said it in the name of R. Johanan): Flagons of heathens which had been placed back in the furnace, as soon as the pitch thereof has dropped off, are permitted. Said R. Ashi: You need not say 'until it has dropped off'; if it has only been loosened, even though it has not dropped off [it is enough]. [Where the pitch is removed by means of] lighted chips this is a matter of dispute between R. Aha and Rabina, the one forbidding [the use of the flask], while the other permitted. The law rests with the one who forbids.3

The question was asked: How about putting beer into such a vessel?4  — R. Nahman and Rab Judah forbid, but Raba permits it. Rabina declared it permissible to R. Hiyya the son of R. Isaac to pour beer into such a vessel, so he went and put wine into it; still he had no scruples about it, saying: It was only done casually.

R. Isaac b. Bisna had some vessels of heathens, made of boxwood;5  he filled them with water and let them stand in the sun,6  and they split. Said R. Abba to him: You have indeed rendered them forbidden for good!7  All that our Rabbis said is that such are to be filled with water; has it been said they should be left in the sun?

Said R. Yosna in the name of R. Ammi: A vessel of natron8  can never be rendered ritually clean. What is a vessel of natron? — Said R. Jose b. Abin: A vessel made of crystals coming from an alum-mine. Some of the men of the field-marshal Parzak9  seized some [earthenware] wine-casks from [Jews in] Pumbeditha, kept wine in them and then returned them. [The owners] came to ask Rab Judah about these, and he said: This is a case of vessels taken for temporary use, let them be rinsed with water and they will be permitted for use. R. 'Awira said: Those jugs of Arameans made of dark clay, since they do not absorb much, are permitted for use on being rinsed in water. R. Papa said: Those earthenware vessels coming from Be-Mikse10  may be used after being rinsed in water, as they do not absorb much.11  Cups12  are forbidden by R. Assi, but permitted by R. Ashi. If an idolater drank from it the first time it was used, no one disputes that it is forbidden,13  the dispute only arises if it was the second time. Some say that if it is the first or second time it is indisputably forbidden and that the dispute only arises if it is the third time. The law is, if it is the first or second time it is forbidden, if the third time it is permitted.

R. Zebid said: Vessels which are glazed, if white or black are permitted, but if green are forbidden because it contains crystals of alum;14  and if they have any cracks [in the glazing] they are all forbidden.

Meremar stated in his exposition15  that glazed16  vessels, whether black or white or green, are permitted. But why should this case be different from that of leaven on Passover? For Meremar [himself] was asked: How about using glazed vessels17  on Passover; we do not ask [they said] about green glazing which contains alum crystals which absorbs and thus [renders the vessel] forbidden; what we are asking about is white or black glazing; nor do we ask even about these if there are any cracks, for such unquestionably absorb and are forbidden; it is about smooth ones that we are asking you what [the law is]? — He answered

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Is it permitted ab initio or only as an accomplished fact?
  2. [The prince, Judah II.]
  3. [As the pitch in this case melts even before the fire could exercise a cleansing effect on the flasks themselves.]
  4. Is this to be forbidden as a safeguard against wine or not?
  5. [H], v. l. [H], 'Boxwood'; according to Rashi: made of clay and ordure.
  6. [As an additional precaution.]
  7. [I.e., you have destroyed them for no reason.)
  8. If used for wine by idolaters.
  9. [Funk, Die Juden in Babylonien, I, 105, renders: 'the great field marshal,' taking Parzak not as nom. prop., but as Persian [H], 'great,' v. infra p. 301, n. 3.]
  10. [Be-Mekse was a frontier town between Babylon and Arabia. V. Obermeyer, op. cit., 334.]
  11. The clay of this place was particularly hard.
  12. Earthenware cups which are used for drinking, but not keeping, wine.
  13. As it would absorb idolatrous wine while new and in a receptive state.
  14. Which absorb liquid freely.
  15. V. Pes. 30b.
  16. Kovia, 'powdered lime'.
  17. Which had been used for leaven.
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