Man, do our holy books crack me up sometimes.

Okay, so in this section of Talmud, we’re discussing various issues around how to preserve wine, and whether we should be concerned about certain kinds of wine being left out uncovered, because a snake might drink from it and leave poison the cask. (There is a halakhic issue somewhere back in there, never mind what or how we got over here).

For pure wine [the snake] will even endanger its life [and drink from an open container even if there are people around who might kill him for doing so] , while for diluted wine it will not face danger. [Another voice in the Talmud then asks,] And does it not face danger for diluted wine? For example, we have the story of R. Jannai who was at ‘Akbara (some say it was Bar-Hadaya that was at ‘Akbara) where people were sitting and drinking wine, and as there was some of it left over in the cask [when they were done] they tied a rag over [the top of the container so that the snake wouldn’t get into the pitcher.] He then saw a snake spitting water into the cask [repeatedly, filling his little snakey-mouth from a water source nearby] untill the cask was so filled that the wine level rose above the rag, and [the snake then] drank!
It may be said that what [the snake] himself dilutes, he is willing to drink, but he will not drink what others dilute.

Avodah Zarah 30a

Guess the snake is called “sly” for a reason. I bet he mixes a mean martini.

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