Shabbat 81 - Using a bathroom

Of the amounts carrying which entails a Shabbat violation, here are the last items. Clay - enough for sealing cargo sacks - says Rabbi Akiva, but the Sages say - enough to seal a letter. Fertilizer - enough for a cabbage - that is Rabbi Akiva, and the Sages say - enough for a leek. A reed - enough for a small pen, and if unusable for a pen - enough to cook an egg on a skillet; and which egg cooks the fastest? - that of a chicken.

At that time, they used stones to wipe after relieving themselves. Zonin came to the study hall and asked, "My teachers! How many stones can one take to the bathroom?" Normally, stones are not prepared for Shabbat use and are therefore muktzeh, not to be handled. Additionally, one should not carry them - unless he goes less than four steps at a time and then stops, thus staying below the prohibited distance.

The Sages told him, "He can use the same sizes that he uses on weekdays: the first the size of an olive, the second the size of the nut, and the third the size of an egg." They thus told him that the Shabbat prohibitions are relaxed to accommodate the unavoidable needs of people. Still, Zonin insisted, "Shall he bring a balance scale with him, to ascertain the weight?" After discussion, they voted to allow a handful of stones.

Art: Vincent Van Gogh - Still Life With Cabbage And Clogs