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Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna, by D. A. Sola and M. J. Raphall, [1843], at


§ 1. He who builds, how much must he build to become guilty? Whoever builds at all [be it ever so little], whoever chops a stone, strikes with a hammer, or uses a plane, or bores a hole; [whosoever] at all [does either of these] is guilty. The rule is, whosoever does any work, which is lasting and durable, 1 on the Sabbath, is guilty. R. Simeon ben Gamaliel saith, "He [likewise is guilty] who strikes with a hammer on an anvil, because it appears as if he prepared [or finished off] work.

§ 2. Whoever ploughs at all, or weeds, or clears [away parasite branches; whoever] at all [does either of these], is guilty. Whoever gathers wood, if to [clear], improve [the] ground, any quantity, [however small]; if to burn, sufficient to boil a light egg. Whoever gathers herbs, if to [clear], improve the ground, any quantity, [however small]; if for [feeding] a beast, sufficient for a kid's mouthful.

§ 3. Whoever writes two letters, whether with his right or with

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his left hand, whether the one letter [twice], or two [different] letters, or with different inks, in any language [or character], is guilty. R. José saith, "The writing of two letters was prohibited, solely because [they may serve] to mark [withal]; for the boards of the tabernacle were thus lettered, to know how to match them." Rabbi saith, "We find short names, [which are abbreviations] of larger ones; as ‏שם‎ [Sam or Sim], from Samuel or Simeon; ‏נח‎ [Noah], from Nahor; ‏גן‎ [Dan], from Daniel; ‏גד‎ [Gad], from Gadiel.

§ 4. Whoever, on one occasion, unwittingly [off-hand at once] writes two letters, is guilty; whether he write with ink, or paint, or ruddle, or gum, or vitriol, or any [other] substance that leaves a [lasting] mark. [Moreover, whoever writes] on the two [angles forming] corner walls, or on two tablets [leaves] of an account-book, 3 so that the two correspond, 4 is guilty. Whoever writes on his [own] flesh, is guilty. Whoever scratches [alphabetical characters] on his own flesh, R Eleazar [pronounces] bound to bring a sin-offering; but R. Joshua absolves him.

§ 5. Whoever writes with [any kind of dark] beverage [liquid], or with the juice of fruit, or with dust from the road, or with writing sand, or with any [other] substance which is not durable, is absolved; [whoever writes] with the back of his hand, or his foot, or his mouth, or his elbow, or if he writes [adds] one letter to writing [which is already written], or writes over writing; [moreover], if he intended to write [the letter] ‏ח‎, but actually wrote two ‏ז‎, [or wrote] one [letter] on the ground, and one on the boards [partition], or wrote on two walls of the house, or on two leaves of an account-book, which do not correspond [cannot be joined], so that the writing may be read [as a whole]; [whoever does either of these] is absolved. Whoever writes one letter of notaricon 5 is, by R. Joshua ben Bethera, pronounced guilty; but the sages absolve him.

§ 6. Whoever unwittingly writes two letters on two [different] occasions, [as], one in the morning, and one towards evening, is, by Rabbon Gamaliel, pronounced guilty; but the sages absolve him.


54:1 Such work as is done on the Sabbath remains, either per se, or as an integral portion of something else, in statu quo, after the Sabbath.

55:3 ‏פנקס‎, derived from the Greek πινακος, pinacos, and used by the Mishna to designate books of account, such as are used by commercial men.

55:4 I.e. So that the two can be joined, and the letters matched, to be read as forming one whole.

55:5 A kind of short-hand used by law-writers [notaries, from whom it derived its name], and formed by the initial letters of the different words composing a sentence.

Next: Chapter XIII