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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
because of its poor quality.1
Now if a man wished to sell [a small field] for a hundred zuz, but finding [no purchaser for so small a field in spite of much seeking] he sold [a larger one] for two hundred [zuz] and made repeated calls for his money, it is obvious that he [the purchaser] does not acquire it.2 But what if he wished to sell for a hundred, did not find [a purchaser], though had he taken pains he could have found one; but he took no trouble and sold a field for two hundred, and now he makes repeated calls for his money? Is he as one who sells a field because of its poor quality, or not?3 — This problem remains unsolved.
IF HE HIRES AN ASS-DRIVER OR A WAGGONER … HE MAY HIRE [LABOURERS] AGAINST THEM, OR DECEIVE THEM. How far may he hire [labourers] against them? — R. Nahman said: Up to their wages.4 Raba raised an objection to R. Nahman: Even to forty or fifty zuz.5 — He replied: That was taught only if the bundle [of the workers, tools, etc.] had come into his possession.6
MISHNAH. IF ONE HIRES AN ASS TO DRIVE IT ON THE MOUNTAIN [TOP]. BUT DRIVES IT ON THE PLAIN, OR TO DRIVE IT ON THE PLAIN BUT DRIVES IT ON THE MOUNTAIN. EVEN IF BOTH ARE TEN MILS,7 AND IT PERISHES, HE IS LIABLE [FOR DAMAGES]. IF HE HIRES AN ASS TO DRIVE IT ON THE MOUNTAIN [TOP], BUT DRIVES IT ON THE PLAIN, IF IT SLIPS [AND SUSTAINS INJURIES], HE IS EXEMPT;8 BUT IF IT IS [INJURIOUSLY] AFFECTED BY THE HEAT, HE IS LIABLE.9 [IF HE HIRES IT] TO DRIVE ON THE PLAIN, BUT DRIVES IT ON THE MOUNTAIN, IF IT SLIPS, HE IS LIABLE; IF AFFECTED BY THE HEAT, HE IS NOT; YET IF IT IS ON ACCOUNT OF THE ASCENT,10 HE IS LIABLE. IF ONE HIRES AN ASS, AND IT IS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING,11 OR SEIZED AS A [ROYAL] LEVY:12 HE [THE OWNER] CAN SAY TO HIM, 'BEHOLD, HERE IS YOUR [HIRED] PROPERTY BEFORE YOU.'13 BUT IF IT PERISHES OR IS INJURED, HE [THE OWNER] MUST SUPPLY HIM WITH A SUBSTITUTE.
GEMARA. Why is no distinction drawn in the first clause [between the causes of death], whilst it is in the second? — The School of R. Jannai said: In the first clause it means that it died on account of the air, and so we say, The mountain air killed it, [or] the air of the plain killed it.14 R. Jose b. Hanina said: It means, e.g., that it died through fatigue.15 Rabbah said: It means that it was bitten by a serpent.16 R. Hiyya b. Abba said in R. Johanan's name: This [the first clause] agrees with R. Meir, who ruled: Whoever disregards the owner's stipulation
Baba Mezi'a 78b
is treated as a robber.1 Which [ruling of] R. Meir [shews this opinion]? Shall we say, R. Meir's [view] in respect to a dyer? For we learnt: If one gives wool to a dyer to be dyed red, but he dyed it black, or to dye it black and he dyed it red, R. Meir said: He must pay him for his wool. R. Judah said: If its increased value exceeds the cost [of dyeing], he [the wool owner] must pay him the cost: if the cost [of dyeing] exceeds the increase in value, he must pay him for the increase.2 But how do you deduce this? perhaps there it is different, for he gained possession thereof by the change [wrought by his] act!3 But it is R. Meir's ruling on Purim4 collections. For it has been taught: The Purim collections must be distributed for purim;5 local collections belong to the town,6 and no scrutiny is made in the matter,7 but calves are bought therewith [in abundance], slaughtered, and eaten, and the surplus goes to the charity fund.8 R. Eliezer said: The purim collections must be utilised for purim [only],9 and the poor may not buy [even] shoestraps therewith, unless it was stipulated in the presence of the members of the community [that such shall be permitted]: this is the ruling of R. Jacob, stated on R. Meir's authority; but R. Simeon b. Gamaliel is lenient [in the matter].10 But perhaps there too, the reason is that he [the donor] gave it only [that it be used] for purim and not for any other purpose?11 But it is this dictum of R. Meir. For it has been taught: R. Simeon b. Eleazar said on R. Meir's authority: If one gives a denar to a poor man to buy a shirt, he may not buy a cloak therewith; to buy a cloak, he must not buy a shirt, because he disregards the donor's desire.12 But perhaps there it is different, because he may fall under suspicion. For people may say. 'So-andso promised to buy a shirt for that poor man, and has not bought it;' or, 'so-and-so promised to buy a cloak for that poor man, and has not bought it!' — If so, it should state, 'because he may be suspected': why state 'because he disregards the donor's desire?' This proves that it is [essentially] because he makes a change, and he who disregards the owner's desire is called a robber.
IF ONE HIRES AN ASS, AND IT IS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING [WE-HIBRIKAH]. What is meant by we-hibrikah? — Here [in Babylon] it is translated, nehorita.13 Raba said: paralysis of the feet.14 A man once said, '[I saw] vermin in the royal garments.' Said they to him, 'In which: in linen15 or in wool16 garments?' Some say: He replied. 'In linen garments;' whereupon he was executed.17 Others maintain: He replied. 'In wool garments;' so he was set free.
OR SEIZED AS A [ROYAL] LEVY, HE CAN SAY TO HIM, 'BEHOLD, HERE IS YOUR PROPERTY BEFORE YOU.' Rab said: This was taught only in respect of a levy that is returned;18 but if it is a nonreturnable levy, he [the owner] must provide him with [another] ass [in its stead].19 Samuel said: Whether it is a returnable levy or not, if it is taken on the route of its journey, he [the owner] can say to him, 'Behold, here is yours before you;' but if it is not taken on its route, he is bound to supply him [with another] ass in its stead.20
An objection is raised: If one hires an ass, and it is struck by lightning or turns rabid, he [the owner] can say to him, 'There is yours before you.'21 If it perished or was seized as a levy, he must supply him with [another] ass.22 Now, on Rab's view, it is well, and there is no difficulty: there [in the Mishnah] the reference is to a levy that is returned; here [in the Baraitha], to one that is not. But on Samuel's view, is there not a difficulty? And should you answer, On Samuel's view too there is no difficulty: there [in the Mishnah] it means that it was seized on the route of its journey, whilst here [in the Baraitha] that it was not; yet surely, since the second clause states, R. Simeon b. Eleazar said: If it was taken on the route of its journey, he [the owner] can say to him, 'Behold here is yours before you.' but if not, he must supply him with [another] ass-does it not follow that according to the first Tanna there is no difference? — Samuel can answer you: Is there not R. Simeon b. Eleazar who agrees with me? Then my ruling is based on his. Alternatively, the whole [Baraitha] is based on R. Simeon b. Eleazar, but its text is defective, and was thus taught: If one hires an ass, and it is struck by lightning, or becomes rabid, he [the owner] can say unto him, 'Behold, here is yours before you.' If it perished, or was seized as a levy, he must supply him with [another] ass. This holds good [only] if it was not seized on the route of its journey; but if it was, he can say to him, 'Behold, here is yours before you.'
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