Sunday, November 25, 2012

Letting your animals rest

The fifth and sixth chapters of Shabbat discuss what items may be carried in public on the body of a person or animal, as clothing or as jewelry, and are thus excluded from the prohibition of hotsa'ah.

If you were to ask me how these laws should be organized, I would say that the Mishnah should start by discussing what items may be worn by people, followed by what items may be worn by an animal. But the fifth perek deals with animals, and the sixth perek deals with people. Why is that?

The Yalkut Bi'urim in the Mesivta offers a few answers from the aharonim. I suggest that the Mishnah begins with the more interesting, “haviva leih” topic.

The prohibition of hotsa'ah for animals is unique in its sources and in its application.

There are three places where the Torah includes animals in the prohibition against work on Shabbat. First is in Exodus 20:9, in the fourth of the Ten Commandments:

וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַה׳ אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כָל מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתֶּךָ עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ וּבְהֶמְתֶּךָ וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ:

Then in Exodus 23:12, in the context of social justice:

שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲשֶׂה מַעֲשֶׂיךָ וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי תִּשְׁבֹּת לְמַעַן יָנוּחַ שׁוֹרְךָ וַחֲמֹרֶךָ וְיִנָּפֵשׁ בֶּן אֲמָתְךָ וְהַגֵּר:

And again when Moshe retells the Ten Commandments, with some changes, in Deuteronomy 5:13:

וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַה׳ אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כָל מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתֶּךָ וְעַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתֶךָ וְשׁוֹרְךָ וַחֲמֹרְךָ וְכָל בְּהֶמְתֶּךָ וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לְמַעַן יָנוּחַ עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ כָּמוֹךָ:

Thus the principle of shevitat behemto, that a person’s animal must rest just as he must rest, is well-established. This shevitah includes all 39 melakhot. This is as opposed to kelim, which, at least fundamentally, do not have to rest on Shabbat if they work by their own power.

But in addition to shevitat behemto, the Gemara on 153b discusses a second prohibition regarding animals, called mehammer ahar behemto (מחמר אחר בהמתו). Mehammer would literally translate as “driving a donkey,” I guess, and its prohibition applies specifically to guiding an animal carrying a load on Shabbat. That Gemara cites three different versions of the punishments for mehammer, leading to discussion of when we apply punishments in general and how mehammer fits into the picture.

For the purposes of our perek, how do shevitat behemto and mehammer relate?

Tosafot on 51b distinguish bewteen the sources for each. The fifth perek, say Tosafot, is about the positive commandment of shevitat behemto, whose source is Exodus 23. They note that mehammer has an additional negative commandment from Exodus 20, as Rava states on 153b. In their words:

במה בהמה יוצאה — דאדם מוזהר על שביתת בהמתו דכתיב למען ינוח וגו' ומיהו לאו דלא תעשה מלאכה אתה ובהמתך ליכא אלא במחמר אחר בהמתו כדמוכח בריש מי שהחשיך (לקמן קנג.)

The Rambam agrees, in Hilkhot Shabbat 20:1–2:

הלכה א — אסור להוציא משא על הבהמה בשבת שנאמר +שמות כ"ג+ למען ינוח שורך וחמורך, אחד שור וחמור ואחד כל בהמה חיה ועוף, ואם הוציא על הבהמה אף על פי שהוא מצווה על שביתתה אינו לוקה לפי שאיסורו בא מכלל עשה, לפיכך המחמר אחר בהמתו בשבת והיה עליה משאוי פטור.

הלכה ב — והלא לאו מפורש בתורה שנאמר +שמות כ'+ לא תעשה כל מלאכה אתה ובנך ובתך ועבדך ואמתך ובהמתך, שלא יחרוש בה וכיוצא בחרישה ונמצא לאו שניתן לאזהרת מיתת בית דין ואין לוקין עליו.

The Rambam writes that the prohibition of shevitat behemto carries no punishment as an aseh. The Rambam also learns a negative commandment prohibiting a melakhah that you do directly with your animal, but that also has no punishment for technical reasons discussed on 153b–154a. The rishonim disagree as to how these reasons work, which should make for an exciting blog post one hundred days from now. 

The mefarshim also discuss the difference in scope between shevitat behemto and mehammer. For example, shevitat behemto only applies to your own animal; most rishonim hold that mehammer applies with any animal.

The commentary Yosef Da'at (.pdf), published by the Dafyomi Advancement Forum, mentions some interesting outlying shittot (page 191). For example, the Meiri rejects an opinion that hotsa'ah is not included in shevitat behemto, and is prohibited for animals only because of mehammer.

The work Rosh Yosef, via Yalkut Bi'urim, suggests that women could be exempt from shevitat behemto because it's an aseh sheha-zeman gerama. The Yalkut Bi'urim outlines how this became a hot topic among aharonim. (Rosh Yosef is by Rav Yosef Escapa, a rosh yeshivah in Solonika and Izmir in the seventeenth century, and the teacher of the Shabbatai Zevi, whom he excommunicated.)

There's a lot of material here for iyyun. How do the different sources teach us the different prohibitions? How do we understand their differences in scope? What exactly is the person’s relationship to the animal, such that the former can violate Shabbat through the latter?

Rav Herschel Schachter said in a Q&A session today that it's better to leave a question as tsarikh iyyun than to offer poorly processed peshatim. So for now... tsarikh iyyun.

No comments: