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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a

Baba Mezi'a 64a

In [denominations of] tens or fives.1  R. Aha the son of Raba asked R. Ashi: But what if he [the lender] is a hard man, who never gives presents? — He replied: He may have robbed him [on a previous occasion], and now included it in the total sum. For it has been taught: If one robbed his neighbour, and then included it in the account, he is quit [of his obligation]. But what if he [the lender] had come from elsewhere, and had never had business dealings with him? — He replied: He [the borrower] might have been robbed by some other person, and might say to him [the lender], 'When so and so borrows money from you, include this in the sum.'

R. Kahana said: I was sitting at the end of Rab's sessions,2  and heard him repeatedly mention 'gourds',3  but did not know what he meant. After Rab arose [and departed], I asked them [sc. the students], To what did Rab refer in his repeated mention of gourds'? — They answered me, Thus did Rab say: If a man gives money to a gardener for gourds, ten gourds of a span's length being priced [at a zuz], and says to him, 'I will give you [gourds] a cubit in length [for the money];' if he actually has them, it is permitted; but if not,4  it is forbidden.5  Is this not obvious? — I might think, since they naturally grow large [without requiring labour], it is in order. He therefore taught [otherwise]. With whom does this agree? — With the following Tanna. For it has been taught: If one is going to milk his goats, shear his sheep, or remove the honey from the combs, and meeting his neighbour, says to him, 'The milk which my goats will yield is sold to you; the wool sheared from my sheep is sold to you; the honey to be removed from my combs is sold to you;' it is permitted.6  But if he said to him, 'So much of my goats' milk yield is sold to you; so much of my sheep's shearings is sold to you; or so much of the honey which will be removed from the honeycombs is sold to you,'7  it is forbidden.8  Now, though such yield comes naturally,9  yet since it is non-existent just then [when the transaction is made], it is forbidden.10  Others Say, Raba ruled [in reference to the gourds]: Since they grow naturally, it is permitted. But it has been taught that 'so much and so much'11  is forbidden! — There, the increase is not in [the product] itself, for the present yield is taken and other comes in its stead;12  here, however, that itself [the produce he has in his garden] increases [in size], for if that is taken away, others do not grow in its place.13

Abaye said: A man may say to his neighbour, 'Here are four zuz for a barrel of wine; if it turns sour, it is in your ownership;14  but if it appreciates or depreciates [in value], it is in mine.' Said R. Sherabia to Abaye:

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. They used to count in fives and tens (Tosaf.). Now, if the amount should have been e.g., fifty, and it was fifty-five or sixty, the lender may have mistakenly counted eleven fives instead of ten, or six tens instead of five; but if it were fifty-two or-three etc., it is impossible that it should have been an error.
  2. [H]; the phrase seems to be a technical term denoting a special session at the end of a series of lectures devoted to the reviewing of the conclusions reached during the course. Kaplan J. op. cit. p. 257.]
  3. [As a kind of mnemonic, loc. cit.]
  4. His gourds being small, and the purchaser must wait until they grow.
  5. For he gives him larger gourds in return for waiting, which looks like usury.
  6. For it is a speculation: though the buyer may receive more than his money's worth (the price being fixed and paid in advance), the yield might also be poor, in which case he would lose.
  7. And in each case giving him a particular low quotation in return for advance payment.
  8. Since a definite quantity must be supplied, the lower quotation is usury.
  9. Should there not be an immediate sufficiency, the goats etc. will yield again.
  10. Thus Rab's dictum is in accordance with this Baraitha.
  11. Viz., the dealings stated above.
  12. Hence it is forbidden.
  13. Without replanting, since he supplies the gourds actually in his garden, it is not usury to keep them in the soil until they grow larger and then supply them.
  14. So that another must be supplied.
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Baba Mezi'a 64b

But that is near to profit [if it appreciates] and remote from loss.1  — He replied: Since he accepts the risk of depreciation, it is near to both [profit and loss].


GEMARA. R. Joseph b. Minyomi said in R. Nahman's name: Though it has been ruled, if one dwells in his neighbour's court without his knowledge, he need not pay him rent, yet if he lent him [money] and then dwelt in his court, he must pay him rent. What does he teach us? We have [already] learnt: IF A MAN LENDS [MONEY] TO HIS NEIGHBOUR, HE MUST NOT LIVE RENT-FREE IN HIS COURT, NOR AT A LOW RENT, BECAUSE THAT CONSTITUTES USURY? — If from the Mishnah, I might have thought that that holds good only of a court which exists for letting, and a man [sc. the creditor] who generally rents. But if it is a court which is not for letting, and a person who does not generally rent,2  I would say, It is not so:3  therefore he teaches us [otherwise].

Others say: R. Joseph b. Minyomi said in R. Nahman's name: Though it has been ruled, If a man dwells in his neighbour's court without his knowledge, he is not bound to pay him rent, [yet if he proposes to him,] 'Lend me money, and live in my court,' he [the creditor] must pay rent. Now, he who rules, [Even] if he had [already] lent him, [he must pay rent], will certainly hold the same if he proposed, 'Lend me [etc.].' But he who rules, [if he says,] 'Lend me,' [he must pay him rent], will, in the case where he has already lent him, hold that it is unnecessary. Why so? Since he did not originally lend the money for this purpose, there is no objection to it.4

R. Joseph b. Hama seized the slaves of people who owed him money and put them to service. Said his son Raba to him: Why does the Master do thus? — He replied: I agree with R. Nahman. For R. Nahman said: A slave['s labour] is not worth the bread he eats.5  Said he to him: perhaps R. Nahman said this only of such as his servant Daru, who went about dancing in taverns; but did he say this of other servants! — He replied: I am of the same opinion as R. Daniel son of R. Kattina, who said in Rab's name: If one seizes his neighbour's slave and puts him to service, he is free [from payment],

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Since he is safeguarded if it turns sour. Such an arrangement is forbidden infra 70a.
  2. Because he has his own property (Rashi).
  3. He is not bound to pay the rent.
  4. I.e., having lived there, he is not bound to pay the rent. The Mishnah then which says that he must not live rent free means that no condition to that effect is permissible.
  5. Hence, having to provide them with food, I gain nothing by their labour, and receive no interest.
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