A sentence towards the bottom of Sanhedrin page 5b speaks of kneading dough in a state of impurity.

דתניא פעם אחת הלך רבי למקום אחד וראה בני אדם שמגבלין עיסותיהם בטומאה ...‏

In the English Koren edition, Rabbi Steinsaltz translates this as meaning the people were impure.

As it is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi once went to a certain place, and he saw people there kneading dough while they were in a state of ritual impurity ...

This reflects the Hebrew Steinstalz edition:

דתניא [שכן שנינו בברייתא]: פעם אחת הלך רבי למקום אחד, וראה בני אדם שמגבלין (לשים) עיסותיהם בטומאה, שלא היו מקפידים בטהרת עצמם בשעת לישה ...‏

Rashi, by contrast, interprets this passage as saying that the vessels the people used were impure:

בטומאה - לא הוו מקפידין לטהר כליהם:‏

In a state of ritual impurity - They weren't careful to purify their vessels.

(Mi Yodeya community translation)

The Schottenstein Edition reflects Rashi's interpretation. Why might Rabbi Steinsaltz have interpreted this ambiguous sentence in a way contradictory to Rashi (who is the most influential commentator)? Are there any Rishonim who support his interpretation?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Isaac Moses
    Aug 7, 2020 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


If he deliberately meant to differ from Rashi, he should have explained in a note, so it is probably an oversight. No translation is completely reliable, but the Steinsaltz version in particular has some notable detractors. Here is a long critique by R' Aharon Feldman shlit"a.


And see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Talmud:_The_Steinsaltz_Edition

  • 1
    I realize he just passed away and the timing of my answer is unfortunate, but so it goes.
    – N.T.
    Aug 8, 2020 at 1:14
  • The translation that Rabbi Feldman critiqued (in 1991) was not the Koren edition (2012) that the OP is quoting (though I haven't checked if this comment is also present in the original edition)
    – b a
    Aug 8, 2020 at 18:07
  • Did the Koren make significant changes to the text of the translation? If not, the reviews of the original are still relevant.
    – N.T.
    Aug 10, 2020 at 5:59

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