Previous Folio / Baba Mezi'a Contents / Tractate List / Navigate Site

Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a

Baba Mezi'a 68a

that it should be redeemed at four zuz?1  So here too, it is in no way different.2  But he who holds it forbidden argues thus: 'a field of possession' is a matter of sanctification, which the Divine Law based upon [a fixed] redemption;3  here, however, it is a loan, and so it looks like interest.

R. Ashi said: The elders of the town Mehasia told me that an unconditional mortgage4  is for a year. What is the practical outcome [of this fact]? That, if he [the creditor] has enjoyed the usufruct for a year he can be forced to quit, but not otherwise.

R. Ashi also said: The elders of the town of Mehasia told me, What is the meaning of mashkanta [a pledge]? That it abides with him [the mortagee].5  In respect to what has this a practical bearing? — In respect to [the right of] pre-emption.6

Raba said: The law permits neither the credit interests of R. papa, nor the bonds of the Mahuzeans, nor the Narshean tenancies. The credit interests of R. Papa means the credit sales arranged by R. Papa.7  'The bonds of the Mahuzeans' they add the [estimated] profit to the principal and record it [the whole] in a bond;8  for who knows that there will be profit?9  Mar, the son of Amemar, said to R. Ashi: My father does so, but when they [his agents] come before him [and declare that they have earned no profit], he believes them. He replied: That is well whilst he is alive: but what if he dies and the notes are transferred to his heirs?10  (This [supposition] was 'an unwitting order which proceedeth from the ruler',11  and Amemar died.)

'Narshean tenancies': — for they wrote thus: A mortgaged his field to B, and then he [the debtor] rented it from him.12  But when did he [the creditor] acquire it, to transfer it to the debtor?13  Nowadays, however, that the note is drawn up thus: He [the creditor] hath acquired it from him, hath been in possession such and such a time,14  and then re-rented it to him, so as not to shut the door in the borrowers' faces;15  it is well. But, still this is no justification.16


GEMARA. It has been taught: [Unless he is paid] as an unemployed worker.22  What is meant by, 'as an unemployed worker'? —

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. That is the redemption price per annum of a field that requires a homer of barley seed. Shekel (Biblical) = sela' = 4 zuz.
  2. I. e., the fixed deduction may be less than the average value of the crops.
  3. I.e., to sanctify an inherited field is equivalent to dedicating a certain sum fixed by Scripture.
  4. I.e., where no conditions were stipulated as to its length.
  5. [H] is derived from [H], 'to abide.'
  6. When a person sells a field, the adjoining neighbour (of this field) has the first option to buy it.
  7. V. supra 65a.
  8. I.e., they supplied goods to their agents for sale on a profit-sharing basis, calculated their share, and then drew up a note against the agent for the entire amount.
  9. Hence they appear to be taking interest.
  10. They would simply see the debt, and might not believe the agents.
  11. Eccl. X, 5: such an order is nevertheless obeyed.
  12. At a fixed rental, paid in produce.
  13. Hence it is direct interest thinly disguised.
  14. Taking the usufruct at a fixed allowance on the debt.
  15. A proverbial expression. Unless the creditor received certain privileges, no man could ever borrow.
  16. Hence even this practice is forbidden.
  17. I.e., give him goods to sell in his shop and take half a share of the profits. Under this arrangement the retailer generally accepted complete responsibility for half the stock, and even if it depreciated, rendered payment in full. Consequently, the half is a loan, since its owner takes no risk whatsoever therein, and the labour of selling the second half for the owner's benefit is interest on the first, and hence forbidden. V. infra 104b.
  18. I.e., one may not give eggs to a fowl keeper for hatching, the latter to receive half the profits, but on the other hand, take full responsibility for half the eggs.
  19. As before, one may not commission a farmer to breed them, to receive half the profits, whilst bearing full responsibility for the present value of half the stock.
  20. No value was attached to them at all, but when grown, the breeder received half their worth for his labour. On the other hand, when they perished, he bore no responsibility: consequently it did not come within the category of a loan.
  21. It was customary to breed them to that stage before the profits were shared.
  22. Referring to the Mishnah.
Tractate List / Glossary / / Bible Reference

Baba Mezi'a 68b

Abaye said: As a labourer unemployed in his craft.1  Now they [the first two clauses of the Mishnah] are [both] necessary. For if the case of a tradesman were taught, I would think that only a storekeeper is it sufficient to pay as an unemployed worker, seeing that his efforts are not great;2  but [when one is advanced] money for buying provisions, his toil being great,3  I would think it insufficient to pay him [merely] as an unemployed artisan. Whilst if [the case of advancing] money to buy provisions were taught, I would think that only there must he be paid as an unemployed worker, since much work is involved; but for a shopkeeper, who makes very little effort, I would think a mere trifle sufficient, e.g., even if he just dipped [his bread] into his vinegar, or ate a dried fig of his, it is enough. Therefore both are necessary.

(Mnemonic:4  How much are goats and fowls assessed?) Our Rabbis taught: How much must he be paid?5  Whether much or little [it matters not]: this is R. Meir's view. R. Judah said: Even if he merely dipped [his bread] into his vinegar, or joined him in a dried fig, that is his pay. R. Simeon b. Yohai said: He must remunerate him in full.

Our Rabbis taught: Neither goats, sheep, nor anything which does not toil for its food6  may be assessed on halfprofits.7  R. Jose, son of R. Judah, said: Goats may be assessed, because they yield milk; and sheep, because they yield wool by being shorn, by passing through water8  and by being plucked;9  and fowls, because they lay [eggs] for their food. But [what of] the first Tanna: are the shearings and milk insufficient to pay for his labour and food?10  — As for the shearings and milk, all agree [that they are adequate]. The conflict refers to whey and wool refuse:11  the first Tanna is of R. Simeon b. Yohai's opinion, who maintained that he must remunerate him in full;12  whilst R. Jose son of R. Judah agrees with his father, who ruled that even if he merely dipped [his bread] into his vinegar, or joined him in a dried fig, that is adequate payment.

Our Rabbis taught: A woman may hire a fowl to her neighbour in return for two fledglings.13  If a woman proposes to her neighbour, 'I have a fowl, and you have eggs: let us equally share the fledglings,'14  — R. Judah permits, whilst R. Simeon forbids it. But [what of] R. Judah: does he not require payment to be made for labour and food? — There are the addled eggs.15

Our Rabbis taught: Where it is the usage to make a payment for shouldering beasts,16  such payment may be made, and general custom must not be abrogated. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: A calf may be assessed with its mother, and a foal with its mother, and even where it is customary to make a monetary payment for shouldering.17  But R. Simeon b. Gamaliel! Does he not require payment for his labour and food?18  — There is the dung.19  But the other?20  — The ownership of dung is renounced.21

R. Nahman said: The halachah is as R. Judah; the halachah is as R. Jose son of R. Judah; and the halachah is as R. Simeon b. Gamaliel.

A bond was issued against the children of R. 'Ilish, stipulating half profits and half loss.22  Said Raba: R. 'Ilish was a great man, and he would not have fed [another person] with forbidden food.23  It must be taken to mean:24  either half profit and two thirds loss;

- To Next Folio -

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. E.g., if he was originally a carpenter, who works very hard, and accepted a commission to sell provisions instead on half profits, he must be paid in addition as much as the average man would demand for changing over from strenuous labour to work of a lighter nature.
  2. The goods being given him.
  3. As in addition to selling he has the work of buying too.
  4. A few words or letters, each being the catchword of a subject, strung together and generally forming a simple phrase, as an aid to the memory.
  5. Referring to the Mishnah.
  6. Lit., 'and eats'.
  7. I.e., on an arrangement such as is forbidden in the Mishnah; v. p. 397, n. 6. But if it toils for its food, e.g., an ox that ploughs or an ass that bears burdens, the breeder has the profit of its work in return for its food and his own labour, and therefore it does not fall under the ban of usury.
  8. Subjected to a vigorous washing, which removed their wool; v. Hul. 137a.
  9. In passing through bushes, etc. (Jast.)
  10. Surely not!
  11. [Where the breeder is allowed only these.]
  12. Hence whey and wool refuse are insufficient.
  13. I.e., she may receive the eggs from her neighbour, set her own fowl to brood upon them, and receive two fledglings for her trouble.
  14. [In this case, the owner of the fowl, while assuming full responsibility for half the eggs, receives no extra compensation for her trouble.]
  15. These cannot be hatched, and the egg-owner receives them in return for her labour. This, of course, is very little, but R. Judah has already stated above that even the smallest payment is sufficient. — Addled eggs may be eaten, and hence are of some slight value.
  16. I.e., where calves and foals are given to breed at half profits, but the breeder is paid for having to carry them on his shoulder whilst they are very small.
  17. If both the mother and the young are given to breed on a profit sharing basis, the profit which the breeder receives from the work of the mother is adequate compensation for both, and no further payment is necessary.
  18. The objection is raised on the hypothesis that unless the breeder receives some separate payment for the young, the arrangement amounts to usury; v. p. Mishnah 68a.
  19. Which has a monetary value.
  20. The first Tanna, who insists upon payment.
  21. The owner does not want it in any case, and so it constitutes no payment.
  22. I.e., a bond whereby R. 'Ilish had undertaken to trade on these terms: this arrangement is forbidden as usury; v. infra 104b.
  23. He would not have made an arrangement whereby another should enjoy the illegitimate profits of usury.
  24. Lit., 'whatever be your opinion.'
Tractate List / Glossary / / Bible Reference