Shabbat 63 - Weapons

On Shabbat, a man may not go out into a public area with his sword, bow, shield, club, or spear, and if he did, he needs to bring a sacrifice. Rabbi Eliezer says, "These are his ornaments," since they enhance his appearance. However, the Sages, who forbid it, say that it is nothing but a disgrace, following the Isaiah that " They will beat their swords into plowshares ."

If so, what is the reason of Rabbi Eliezer? He quotes the psalms, " Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one, for it is your glory and your splendor ." However, Rav Kahana said in explaining this verse, "This is talking about the words of Torah. Just as a sword is always ready, so should be your learning, and this ability to recall it at will is your glory and splendor." Then Mar, the son of Rav Huna, told him, "You may be right, and learning is the main import of this phrase, but what about the rule that a literal meaning of any verse is never completely discarded!?"

To this Rav Kahana replied, "When I was eighteen, I already learned the entire Talmud, but I never knew this rule!" Why did he have to tell us this? - To teach that one may learn even without understanding, just accumulating knowledge, and afterwards reason about it. So too Rav Kahana did not completely understand the reason of Rabbi Eliezer, yet he persevered in his studies.

Art: John Singer Sargent - Charles Stewart, Sixth Marquess of Londonderry