TalmuDigest

For the week ending 20 August 2005 / 15 Av 5765

Shabbat 107 - 113

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Guarding a trapped creature
  • Trapping and wounding creeping creatures
  • Killing lice and other insects and removing fish from water
  • Trapping a threatening snake to avoid being bitten
  • On which skins Tefillin chapters may be written
  • First encounter of the Sages Rav and Shmuel
  • The saltwater issue in food and the salty waters of the Dead Sea
  • The importance of washing hands in the morning
  • Treatment of wounds and use of medicine
  • A variety of cures
  • Right and wrong use of vinegar
  • Permissible and forbidden tying and untying of knots
  • The Sages whose shoestrings snapped
  • Tying a water drawing pail and folding clothes
  • Honoring Shabbat with clothes, speech and manner of walking
  • Insights on Boaz and Ruth

Eyes at the Dead Sea

"No one ever drowned in the Sea of Sodom!"

This revelation by Rabbi Dimi concerning the unique nature of the body of water in Eretz Yisrael commonly known as the Dead Sea was not intended to serve as a lesson in geography or geology but rather as information affecting the laws of Shabbat.

Our Sages prohibited using medicines or applying medical treatment on Shabbat unless there was serious danger to life or limb. The reason for this prohibition is that taking medicine might lead to crushing the ingredients required by prescription, an activity which is forbidden by the Torah.

The saline waters of the Dead Sea were considered to possibly have a therapeutic effect for some condition of the eyes. The question therefore arose whether it was permissible for someone on Shabbat to wash his face in these waters to achieve a partial impact on the eyes and to even open and close his eyes in order to allow these waters to enter them in greater force. Rabbi Dimis observation regarding the nature of these waters determined that they indeed had medicinal value. It was therefore concluded that it was permitted for one to wash his face in those waters despite their therapeutic effect since such an action could be interpreted as mere washing and does not appear to be intended for medicinal purposes and could therefore not lead to any mistaken sanction for preparing medicine. To open and close the eyes in order to have them absorb the waters, however, is forbidden since this is obviously done for a therapeutic purpose and therefore comes under the general ban on medicines.

What the Sages Say

"My clothes honor me," declared Rabbi Yochanan, an insight which helped us understand the command of the Prophet Yishayahu to "honor Shabbat" as an instruction to ensure that the clothes you wear on Shabbat should not be the same as you wear on weekdays.

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