The twenty-fourth (and final) perek of Massekhet Shabbat begins on today’s daf. The halakhot discussed in this chapter relate primarily to what may and may not be done for animals on Shabbat. Some of these issues have already been addressed in earlier chapters, and Chapter Five was devoted to clarifying the laws of transporting items that are on an animal from one domain to another on Shabbat. This chapter addresses a more limited and specific issue, namely, the details of the prohibition of driving a laden animal on Shabbat. For example, what is the source of the prohibition? The Gemara considers whether the Torah expressly forbids driving a laden animal, whether the prohibition stems from a rabbinic decree not to make use of animals, or whether it is derived from the positive command to allow animals to rest. Similarly, the chapter examines the severity and scope of this prohibition.
With regard to the topic of driving a donkey on Shabbat, the Gemara cites that which Rami bar Hama said: With regard to one who drives his laden animal on Shabbat, if he does so unwittingly, he is liable to bring a sin-offering, and if he does so intentionally, he is liable to be executed by stoning. The Gemara asks: What is the reason for this ruling? Rava said that the verse states: “You shall not perform any manner of labor, neither you…nor your animal” (Shemot 20:9). From this he derived: His animal is similar to himself; just as he, if he performed a prohibited labor on Shabbat unwittingly, he is liable to bring a sin-offering, and if he did so intentionally, he is liable to be executed by stoning, so too, if he performed a prohibited labor by means of his animal, if he did so unwittingly, he is liable to bring a sin-offering, and if he did so intentionally, he is liable to be executed by stoning.
Rava’s explanation notwithstanding, the ruling quoted in the name of Rami bar Ḥama is ultimately rejected, as we will see on tomorrow’s daf.