Beitzah 8 - Earth

Having exhausted on the previous six pages the question of an egg laid on a Holiday (Yom Tov), the Talmud turns to the next question in the group - earth. Both questions deal with muktzeh - objects set aside from use, which should therefore not be used on Shabbat or Yom Tov.

One can slaughter, cook, and eat animals on a Yom Tov, because although work in general is prohibited, preparing food is permitted. Furthermore, if one slaughters foul or wild animals, he needs to cover their blood with earth . However, digging earth on a Yom Tov is prohibited, because it is akin to plowing or building, and in addition earth is muktzeh - set aside and not prepared for use on a Yom. Nevertheless, Beit Shammai permit one to dig with a spade and cover the blood with earth, whereas Beit Hillel require earth to be prepared on the previous day.

But how can digging be allowed? - It turns out that there are limiting conditions: the spade has to be inserted into the ground on the previous day. But he is crumbling the clods of earth, which is akin grinding? - We are talking about loose earth. And yet, why did Beit Shammai permit this outright, seeing that it is so close to violating Yom Tov and that Beit Hillel tell him not to? - Because they did not want to withhold from people the joy of a Yom Tov, which is a mitzvah in itself.

Art: Woman Digging in an Orchard by Camille Pissarro