Wisdom and Temptation - Shabbat 11
“Raba b. Mehasia also said in the name of R. Hama b. Goria in Rab's name: If all seas were ink, reeds pens, the heavens parchment, and all men writers, they would not suffice to write down the intricacies of government.”
Is that not true for all times and places, and most certainly our own?
And again the “potpourri” quality of an individual Talmud page makes its appearance. We find a discussion of whether a man with a discharge of pus can go out on Shabbat with the bag required to catch the discharge, but in the more interesting context of whether an individual can go out wearing the instrument of their trade: a tailor with a needle, a moneychanger with a coin, a scribe with his quill, or a dyer with a color sample on his neck. If they are worn as clothing, one might think they would be allowed out. And Rabbi Judah says that artisans are liable for the tools of their trade, but all others would be exempt – so a non-tailor carrying a needle would be fine!
Why this differentiation? The initial Mishnah text under discussion makes clear that the overall objective is something else – a man and a woman with forbidden discharges are prohibited from even eating together mipney hergel aveira – because it could lead to sin/transgression. In other words, if one leaves home with the tools of one’s trade on Shabbat, one might be tempted to work. In our context, if you took your laptop computer, Blackberry, or cellphone with you on vacation, the changes of work being are that much greater. So to avoid “temptation,” leave them at home!
Rabbi Adam Chalom