י״ב בשבט ה׳תשע״ג (January 23, 2013)

Shabbat 112a-b: Tying Knots on Shabbat – II

As we learned on yesterday’s daf there is a fundamental principle that one is liable for tying or untying only a permanent knot, i.e., a knot designed to endure. This requirement precludes knots made to be immediately undone as well as knots meant to be undone in the near future. The Mishna teaches:

You have knots for which one is not liable to bring a sin-offering, such as a camel driver’s knot and a sailor’s knot; however, it is nevertheless prohibited to tie them. A woman may tie closed the opening of her robe with straps, as well as the strings of her hairnet and the laces of her girdle, i.e., a wide belt tied with laces. One may also tie the straps of a shoe or a sandal, as well as the spouts of wine or oil jugs.

On today’s daf the Gemara discusses the laws of tying such things as wine or oil jugs, which clearly are not meant to be permanent. The Gemara teaches:

And we learned in the Mishna: It is permitted to tie the spouts of wine or oil jugs.The Gemara says: This is obvious. The Gemara explains: It is only necessary to teach this halakha in a case where it, the jug, has two ears, i.e., two spouts. Lest you say: One of them, he voids it consequently defining the knot on that opening permanent and therefore prohibited, it teaches us that this is not the case.

Jugs were generally made from whole hides taken from different types of animals. These jugs were used for many purposes, and were especially useful for carrying objects and food items.
When the jug was used for liquids, such as water, wine or oil, care was taken to remove the animal’s hide intact, and they would not remove the hide of the legs. A spout, usually fashioned from a hollow reed tube, was inserted into one of the legs. This type of jug had only one spout, or ear, in the language of the Talmud. However, if an opening was created where the hide of the leg had been, it becomes a jug with two spouts.

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