BEZAH (Egg) 5 Chapters. Lays down the limitations within which food may be prepared on Festivals.
The general rule laid down in the Bible in the words "No servile work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that alone may be done of you", is assumed as clear and known; and this rule was held to constitute the difference between "all servile work", prohibited on holy days, and "all manner of work", prohibited on the Sabbath. But certain problems resulting from these principles had to be solved; and these are discussed in the five chapters of this treatise. Chapter i.: The main theme of this chapter is the law of "mukzeh," "a thing laid aside" so as not to be used for the present. The opposite of mukzeh is "mukan," "a thing kept ready" for use. This distinction is based on the divine command (Ex. xvi. 5), "And they shall keep ready what they bring in"—in reference to the manna, which had to be kept ready for the Sabbath from the sixth day. Traditional interpretation generalized the idea expressed in this commandment as follows: A thing which before the commencement of the Sabbath or holy day was not intended for use on these days is mukzeh, and must not be used or handled on these days. There are various degrees of mukzeh; e.g., "mukzeh mehamat issur"—mukzeh on account of some forbidden act which its use would necessitate; "nolad" (born), that which has not existed on the eve of the Sabbath or holy day, and is therefore mukzeh. There is a difference of opinion between the schools of Shammai and Hillel as to the force of the above law of mukzeh. The preparation of food permitted on holy days sometimes necessitates the carrying of things out of the house, or fetching of things from outside into the house—an act forbidden on the Sabbath, under the title of "hozaah" (taking out) (Mishnah Shab. vii. 2), as "taking out," one of the thirty-nine kinds of work included in the precept "Thou shalt do no manner of work." The application of this prohibition to holy days forms a point of difference between the aforenamed schools. Chapter ii.: The permission to prepare food on holy days is restricted to food required for those days; but if a holy day is closely followed by the Sabbath, the food for the Sabbath may be prepared on that holy day, provided such preparation has commenced on the eve of the festival. This first instalment of the preparation for the Sabbath on the eve of a holy day is called "'erub tabshilin," "the link that unites the cooking" for the Sabbath on the eve of the holy day with that done on the holy day, and causes the latter to be permitted. The next point discussed in the chapter is the question whether things other than the preparing of food, if required for the celebration of the festival, or for the well-being of man—such as slaying certain sacrificial animals, or warming water for a foot-bath—may be done on a holy day. Chapters iii., iv.: The permission to prepare on a holy day the food wanted for the day does not include hunting, fishing, or the purchase or fitting of implements required for the preparation of food (e.g., whetting the slaughtering-knife, burning charcoal, etc.). Chapter v.: On certain acts which are prohibited, not as "servile work," but as a preventive ("gezerah") against breaking any of the divine laws concerning the holy day. Such prohibitions are termed "shebut" (abstention from doing), commanded by the Talmudic sages. (From JE s.v. Bezah.)