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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah

Folio 35a

proves that the dung of an animal from which no benefit may be derived is permitted. Again, since when R. JOSHUA GAVE AS THE REASON, BECAUSE THEY CURDLE IT WITH THE RENNET OF CALVES SACRIFICED TO IDOLS, R. Ishmael replied: IF THAT BE SO, WHY DO THEY NOT EXTEND THE PROHIBITION TO ANY BENEFIT DERIVED FROM IT, — this proves that the dung of animals used for idolatry is forbidden as to the derivation of any benefit.

Could he not, in reply, have given the reason that the forbidden matter is not present in substance? For take the case of Muries; is not the reason why the Rabbis did not forbid the derivation of any benefit from it because the forbidden matter is not there in substance? — I will tell you: Since it is [the rennet] that keeps the milk curdled it must be regarded as though the prohibited matter is there in substance.

DIVERTED TO ANOTHER MATTER etc. What is the meaning of the words, For thy love is better than wine?1  When R. Dimi came [from Palestine] he explained it thus: The Congregation of Israel declared to the Holy One, blessed be He: Master of the Universe! The words of thy beloved ones2  are more pleasant to me than the wine of the Torah.3

Why did he ask him just about this verse? Said R. Simeon b. Pazi (some say R. Simeon b. Ammi): He hinted at the beginning of this verse: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,4  [saying]: 'Ishmael, my brother, press thy lips one to the other and do not be eager to ask for an answer.'5  For what reason? — Said 'Ulla (some say R. Samuel b. Aba): This is a new ordinance about which one should not particularise. What [then] is the reason for this ordinance? — Said R. Simeon b. Pazi in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: [The probability of its] having been bitten [by a serpent]. Then why not tell him that the reason is the probability of its having been bitten? — Because of 'Ulla's ruling; for 'Ulla said: When an ordinance is made in Palestine, its reason is not revealed before a full year passes, lest there be some who might not agree with the reason and would treat the ordinance lightly. This6  was ridiculed by R. Jeremiah. If that be so [said he] then hard [cheese] should be permitted, and old [cheese], too, should be permitted. for R. Hanina said: [When any matter becomes] dry, it is permitted, because the [serpent's venom] would not let it get dry; [so also] when matured it is permitted,7  as it would not have allowed it to mature! — Said R. Hanina: [The reason for forbidding cheese is] because it is impossible for it not to have particles of milk.8  Samuel said: Because it is set in the skin of the rennet of a nebelah.9  This implies that the rennet itself is permitted — how could Samuel have stated so? Have we not learnt, 'The rennet of heathen's animals or of a nebelah is forbidden'?10  And when the question was asked, Is then any [slaughtered] animal of a heathen not a nebelah? it was Samuel himself who answered: These are meant to be taken together thus: The rennet of an animal slaughtered by heathens, which is nebelah, is forbidden! — There is no contradiction here.

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Cant. I, 2.
  2. The Heb. word here used, [H], stands for thy beloved ones as well as thy love.
  3. The verbal expositions of the sages are more precious than the written words of the Torah. [For it is the unwritten Law that supplements the written Law and completes it.]
  4. Ibid.
  5. To the question why heathen's cheese is forbidden.
  6. The reason given in the name of R. Joshua b. Levy.
  7. V. supra 31b.
  8. It is assumed that the milk out of which cheese is made is of clean animals, as milk of unclean ones does not curdle. There may however have been an admixture of milk of an unclean animal which would remain in the holes of the cheese.
  9. And though the rennet being mere 'refuse' is permitted, the skin is forbidden.
  10. Hul. 116a.
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‘Abodah Zarah 35b

The former [represents R. Joshua's opinion] before it was reversed;1  the latter after it was reversed, and the Mishnah was allowed to remain as it was.

R. Malkiah in the name of R. Adda b. Ahaba said: [Cheese is forbidden] because its surface is smeared with fat of swine. R. Hisda said: Because it is curdled with vinegar.2  R. Nahman b. Isaac said: Because it might be curdled with the sap of 'Orlah.3  Whose opinion does this [last answer] represent? — That of the following Tanna; for we learnt: R. Eliezer says: If milk is curdled with sap of 'Orlah it is forbidden because it is considered fruit!4  — You may even say that it also represents the opinion of R. Joshua,5  for R. Joshua only differs from R. Eliezer as regards the sap of the tree, but as regards that of the fruit he agrees with him, even as we learnt: R. Joshua said: I have heard explicitly that milk curdled with the sap of the leaves or with the sap of the root is permitted; but if with the sap of unripe figs it is forbidden, because this is a fruit.6

Whether the reason be the one given by R. Hisda, or by R. Nahman b. Isaac the prohibition ought surely to extend to the derivation of any benefit!7  — This indeed is a difficulty.

R. Nahman the son of R. Hisda gave the following exposition:8  What is the meaning of the verse, Thine ointments have a goodly fragrance [thy name is as ointment poured forth]? To what may a scholar9  be compared? To a flask of poliatum:10  When opened,11  its odour is diffused, but if covered up its odour does not diffuse; moreover things that are hidden become revealed to him, as it is said, Therefore do the maidens love thee:12  which may be read to mean 'the hidden [love thee].' What is more, even the Angel of Death loves him.for the words may be read to mean, 'The one [appointed] over Death [loves thee];' still more, he inherits both worlds — this world and the world to come — for the words may be read to mean, worlds [love thee].'


GEMARA. Why should we feel concern about milk [that it is prohibited]? If on account of the possibility that there may have been a substitution [of animals], [the milk of] a clean animal is white and of an unclean animal greenish in colour! If, on the other hand, it is on account of the possibility of a mixture [of a clean animal's milk with that of an unclean animal], let him curdle it, because a Master has declared: The milk of a clean animal curdles but that of an unclean animal does not! — [This test is all right] if he required [the milk for the purpose of making] cheese; but with what circumstance are we dealing here? When he requires it as a diet! Then let him take a small quantity and curdle it! — [This test would not be conclusive], because even with the milk of a clean animal there is the whey which does not curdle, so nothing can be proved thereby. Or if you wish I can say that even should you maintain that the milk is intended for cheese [the test is not conclusive because drops of milk] remain between the holes.22

THEIR BREAD. R. Kahana said in the name of R. Johanan: Their bread was not permitted by the Court.23  Is it to be deduced from this statement that anybody does allow it? — Yes, because when R. Dimi came [from Palestine] he said: On one occasion Rabbi went out into the field, and a heathen brought before him a loaf baked in a large oven from a se'ah of flour. Rabbi exclaimed: How beautiful is this loaf; why should the Sages have thought fit to prohibit it! 'Why should the Sages have thought fit to prohibit it?' As a safeguard against intermarriages! — No, what he meant was: Why should the Sages have thought fit to prohibit it in a field!24  [As the result of this remark] people imagined that Rabbi permitted the loaf [of a heathen] but it was not so; Rabbi did not permit it. R. Joseph — according to another version, R. Samuel b. Judah said: The incident was not so;25  but it is said that Rabbi once went to a certain place and observed that his disciples experienced difficulty in obtaining bread; so he asked, 'Is there no baker here?' people imagined that his inquiry was for a Gentile baker, but he really intended an Israelite baker. R. Helbo said: Even according to those who maintain [that he inquired for] a Gentile baker, [the permission] would only apply where there was no Israelite baker and not where such was to be found. R. Johanan, however, said: Even according to those who maintain [that he inquired for] a Gentile baker, [the permission] only holds good in a field, and not in a city as a safeguard against intermarriages. Aibu used to bite and eat [Gentiles'] bread at the boundaries [of the fields];26  but Raba-according to another version, R. Nahman b. Isaac-said to the people, 'Hold no converse with Aibu because he eats the bread of Gentiles.'27

AND THEIR OIL. As regards oil Rab said: Daniel decreed against its use; but Samuel said:

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. The Mishnah in Hul. 116, stating that the rennet of a nebelah is forbidden, represents the opinion of R. Joshua in our Mishnah before he retracted in deference to the objection raised by R. Ishmael.
  2. Of wine that turned sour, which is forbidden; v. supra.
  3. Produce of a tree during its first three years.
  4. 'Orlah I, 7.
  5. V. ibid. * [The translation from here to the end of the Tractate is by the Rev. Dr. A. Cohen.]
  6. Ibid.
  7. Since vinegar and 'Orlah are both so forbidden.
  8. Of Cant. I, 3, following the verses cited above.
  9. [H], lit., 'a disciple of a sage.'
  10. [G], a fragrant ointment.
  11. [Applied to the scholar it means that he does not keep his knowledge to himself.
  12. Ibid. The Heb. word here used for maidens, [H] may be read: 'Alummoth-hidden ones; 'Al-Maweth — upon death; 'Olamoth-worlds.
  13. They may not form part of the diet of a Jew, but he is allowed to dispose of them to Gentiles.
  14. The reference is to R. Judah II, the grandson of the R. Judah who compiled the Mishnah. The parenthesis must therefore be a later interpolation.
  15. The prohibition is not caused by the presence of yen nesek (v. Glos.), but is due to the fear of close social intercourse resulting in mixed marriages (Rashi).
  16. Lit., 'pressed', viz. in brine.
  17. Since it is minced, the identity of the fish is in doubt and it may have belonged to an unclean species.
  18. The kalbith was a kind of stickleback which was supposed to breed only in brine formed with the clean species of fish.
  19. Probably the Latin allec, a sauce made from small fish; and there is a doubt whether the fish of which it was made is allowed.
  20. The bark from which it was obtained was presumably cut with a knife which had been used for prohibited food.
  21. Traditionally explained as salt used by the Romans as a condiment which was mixed with fat. But Krauss (TAI p. 500) suggests that the word salkundith is a corruption of istroknith, i.e., Ostracena, a town on the border between Palestine and Egypt where salt was produced.
  22. Even when the milk is derived from a clean animal. So it is not possible to determine with certainty whether forbidden milk was mixed in the cheesemaking.
  23. Of R. Judah the Prince, although they permitted the oil.
  24. As distinct from an inhabited area like a city where the reason, viz. the danger of mixed marriages, could not apply.
  25. As related by R. Dimi.
  26. To take advantage of the rule which allows the bread to be eaten outside the city.
  27. [Ran reads: Do not report (any teaching) in the name of Aibu.]
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