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except for water. If one mixes water with other water, it is not considered diluted and does not count toward the number of cups. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Even water joins the number of cups. Rav Pappa said: We said this statement only about hot water poured into cold water, and cold water poured into hot water. Rabbi Yoḥanan maintains that these cups are considered diluted. However, everyone agrees that hot water poured into hot water or cold water poured into cold water, no, they are not considered diluted.

The Gemara cites more statements concerning superstitions and witchcraft. Reish Lakish said: There are four matters. The one who performs them, his blood is upon his own head, and he is held liable for his own life, due to the evil spirit that rests upon him: One who relieves himself in a spot between a palm tree and a wall, one who passes between two palm trees, one who drinks borrowed water, and one who passes over spilled water, even if his wife poured it out in front of him.

The Gemara elaborates: With regard to one who relieves himself between a palm tree and a wall, we said that he places himself in danger only when there are not four cubits of space between the two objects. However, if there are four cubits, we have no problem with it. The demons have enough room to pass, and he will not obstruct them. And furthermore, even when there are not four cubits, we said there is a problem only when the demons have no other route besides that one. However, if they have another route, we have no problem with it.

And with regard to one who passes between two palm trees, we said that he is in danger only if a public domain does not cross between them. However, if a public domain crosses between them, we have no problem with it, as demons are not permitted to cause harm in a public place. And with regard to one who drinks borrowed water, we said it is dangerous only if a minor borrowed it. However, if an adult borrowed the water, we have no problem with it.

And even if a minor borrowed it, we said this poses a danger only if it occurred in a field, where water is not found. However, in a city, where water can be found, we have no problem with it. And even in a field, we said there is cause for concern only in a case of borrowed water; however, with regard to wine and beer, we have no problem with it.

And with regard to one who passes over spilled water, we said he places himself in danger only if no one sprinkled dirt over it and no one spat in it. However, if someone sprinkled dirt over it or spat in it, we have no problem with it. And we said this is a concern only if the sun did not pass over it, i.e., it occurred at night, and sixty steps of people walking in the area have not passed over it. However, if the sun passed over it and sixty steps passed over it, we have no problem with it. And we said this concern only if he was not riding a donkey and not wearing shoes; however, if he was riding a donkey and wearing shoes, we have no problem with it.

The Gemara comments: And all this applies only where there is no reason for concern for witchcraft, as no one is interested in harming him. However, where there is reason for concern for witchcraft, even if all of these limiting conditions are in place, we are nevertheless concerned. And this is similar to what happened to a certain man who was riding a donkey and wearing shoes. Nevertheless, he passed over water and his shoes shrank and his feet shriveled up.

The Gemara continues to discuss this issue. The Sages taught: Three objects should not be allowed to pass between two people walking along a road, and people should not walk between two of them: A dog, a palm tree, and a woman. And some say: Also a pig. And some say: Also a snake. All of these were associated with witchcraft.

The Gemara asks: And if they pass between them, what is the remedy to prevent one from harm? Rav Pappa said: He should begin reciting a verse that starts with the word God and conclude with a verse that ends with the word God. In other words, he should recite the passage: “God Who brought them out of Egypt is for them like the lofty horns of the wild ox. For there is no enchantment with Jacob, nor is there any divination with Israel; now is it said of Jacob and of Israel: What has been performed by God” (Numbers 23:22–23). This verse indicates that spells do not affect the Jewish people.

Alternatively, he should open with a verse that begins with the word lo, no, and should conclude with the same verse that ends with lo: “No [lo] man is God that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent. When He has said will He not do it, or when He has spoken will He not [lo] make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).

Similarly, these two men, between whom a menstruating woman passes, if she is at the beginning of her menstruation she kills one of them, i.e., she causes the death of one of the two men. If she is at the end of her menstruation she does not kill, but she causes a fight between them. What is his remedy? He should open with a verse that begins with the word God and he should conclude with a verse that ends with the word God, as explained above.

The Gemara further states: These two women, who are sitting at a crossroads, one on this side of the road and the other on the other side, and they are facing each other, they are certainly engaging in witchcraft. What is the remedy for one who walks by? If there is another route, he should go by it. And if there is no other route, if there is another person with him, they should hold hands and switch places. And if there is no other person with him, he should say as follows: Iggeret, Azlat, Asiya, Belusiya are killed by arrows. These are names of demons invoked by witches.

The Gemara cites a related statement: One who meets a woman when she is ascending from the ritual immersion of a mitzva, after her menstruation, if he has intercourse with any woman first, a spirit of immorality overtakes him; if she has intercourse first, a spirit of immorality overtakes her. What is his remedy? He should say this: “He pours contempt upon princes, and causes them to wander in the waste, where there is no way” (Psalms 107:40).

Rav Yitzḥak said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Psalms 23:4)? This is a person who sleeps in the shadow of a single palm tree, and in the shadow of the moon. Despite his dangerous position, he trusts God and is not afraid. The Gemara qualifies the previous statement: And with regard to one who sleeps in the shadow of a single palm tree, we said he is in danger only if the shadow of another palm tree does not fall upon him. However, if the shadow of another palm tree falls upon him, we have no problem with it.

The Gemara asks: But what about that which was taught in a baraita: With regard to one who sleeps in the shadow of a single palm tree in a courtyard and one who sleeps in the shadow of the moon, his blood is upon his own head. What are the circumstances? If we say that the shadow of another palm tree does not fall on him, he would also be harmed if he were in a field. Rather, must one not conclude from this baraita that if one is in a courtyard, even if the shadow of another tree fell on him, it remains dangerous? The Gemara concludes: Indeed, learn from it that this is so.

The Gemara adds: And with regard to the shadow of the moon, we said it is dangerous to sleep there only at the end of the month when the moon shines in the east, and therefore its shadow is in the west. However, at the start of the month, when the moon shines in the west and its shadow is in the east, we have no problem with it.

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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