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Babylonian Talmud, Book 9: Tracts Maccoth, Shebuoth, Eduyoth, Abuda Zara, and Horioth, tr. by Michael L. Rodkinson, [1918], at


"Pieces of wine extract." The Mishna speaks of Hadrianic potsherds. What are these potsherds? Said R. Jehudah in the name of Samuel: It is meant thereby the potsherds of the King Hadrianus; and R. Dimi on his return from Palestine explained the nature of these potsherds as follows: The Romans were wont to find a plot of virgin soil, which they would work out and plant with grapes; the wine thus obtained they used to pour into new white earthern pitchers and leave it therein until the pitchers would absorb as much of the wine as they could; then the Romans would empty the pitchers of the remaining wine and break them into pieces; which potsherds they used to take along with them on their military expeditions, and whenever they wanted some wine they would pour water on such

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potsherds and these would turn the water to wine. R. Jehoshua b. Levi added with reference to this that our best wine is not so good as the third pouring of these potsherds.

It was asked whether it is allowed to fasten with such potsherds the legs of a bedstead, since here the potsherds are wanted not for the wine they contain but for another purpose? Come and hear: R. Eliezar and R. Johanan who were asked on this point, expressed contrary opinions; the one allowing the potsherds for this use and the other forbidding them (which latter opinion prevails as the Halakha).

An objection was raised from the following: Wine poured into pitchers or leather bags of a heathen is forbidden to drink, any other benefit, however, may be derived from it. And Simeon b. Guda said to the son of R. Gamaliel, that even his father, R. Gamaliel. himself, drank at Ako such wine, which story found, however, no belief. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said in the name of R. Jehoshua b. Kapusai: The leather bags of a heathen are absolutely prohibited, so that even a cover for an ass is not allowed to make of them. Thus you see that here the leather bags are wanted not for the wine they contain, but for making a saddle or so for an ass, and yet they are forbidden? But again, how is then the Boraitha to be understood? Why then are not all vessels, earthen as well, prohibited to sell to, or buy from, a heathen? What difference is there between leather bags and earthen pitchers? Said Rabha: The following was the cause why leather bags were prohibited: it was namely feared that the Israelite might mend his own leather bag with the leather of the heathen's bag.

But how can he who prohibits to derive any benefit from the heathen's leather bag, account for the fact that the selling and buying of pitchers was not forbidden? He may say that as regards pitchers one can easily detect whether there was wine in them; hence, if it is found that such contained no wine, one is allowed to buy them. But as to Hadrianic potsherds, it is certain that they contain wine, hence they are absolutely prohibited.