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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
1 or 'In what case,'2 he merely aims at explaining the words of the Sages? [Whilst] R. Johanan said: 'When etc.' is explanatory, but 'In what case' indicates disagreement. Thus all agree that 'When etc. indicates explanation.3 — Do you oppose one amora4 to another?5 One Master [Rami b. Hama] holds that they [the Rabbis and R. Judah] differ; the other [R. Joshua b. Levi] holds that they do not.6 But do they really not differ? Has it not been taught:7 Whether he has another occupation or not, he is disqualified?8 — That is the view of R. Judah, stated on the authority of R. Tarfon. For it has been taught: R. Judah said on the authority of R. Tarfon: In truth, neither of them is a nazir, because a vow of neziruth9 must be free from doubt.10
A LENDER ON INTEREST … Raba said: A borrower on interest is unfit to act as witness. But have we not learnt: A LENDER [malweh] ON INTEREST [is disqualified]? — [It means] a loan [milweh]11 on interest [disqualifies the parties to the transaction].
Two witnesses testified against Bar Binithus. One said, 'He lent money on interest in my presence.' The other said, 'He lent me money on interest.' [In consequence,] Raba disqualified Bar Binithus [from acting as witness etc.]. But did not Raba himself rule: A borrower on interest is unfit to act as witness? Consequently he12 is a transgressor, and the Torah said: Do not accept the wicked as witness?13 — Raba14 here acted in accordance with another principle of his. For Raba said: Every man is a relative in respect to himself, and no man can incriminate himself.15
A certain slaughterer was found to have passed a terefah16 [as fit for food], so R. Nahman disqualified17 and dismissed him. Thereupon he went and let his hair and nails grow.18 Then R. Nahman thought of reinstating him, but Raba said to him: Perhaps he is only pretending [repentance]. What then is his remedy? — The course suggested by R. Iddi b. Abin, who said: He who is suspected of passing terefoth cannot be rehabilitated unless he leaves for a place where he is unknown and finds an opportunity of returning a lost article of considerable value, or of condemning as terefah meat of considerable value, belonging to himself.19
AND PIGEON TRAINERS: What are PIGEON TRAINERS? — Here20 it has been interpreted, [of one who says to another], 'If your pigeon passes mine [you win].'21 R. Hama b. Oshaia said: It means an Ara.22 On what ground does he who interprets [the phrase to mean] 'pigeon-racer' disagree with him who interprets it as Ara? — His answer is that the conduct of an Ara [is regarded as robbery] merely from the standpoint of neighbourliness.23 And he who interprets it as 'Ara', why does he not accept this view [sc. 'if thy pigeon etc.]? — His answer is, in that case it is identical with a dice player. And the former?24 — He [the Tanna of the Mishnah] deals with a case where he relies on his own capabilities. [i.e., dice-playing] and a case where he relies on the capabilities of his pigeon. And both are necessary. For had he dealt only with the case where a man relies upon himself, [I might have supposed that] only there was his promise without serious intent, since he thinks,
1 Again, had the Mishnah dealt only with a case where he relies on his pigeon's ability. [I might have assumed that only then was the gain illegal], as he might have thought: 'Surely winning the race depends on the use of the rattle,2 and I am the more skilled in its use;' but where he depends on his own abilities, I might have said that [the gain is] not [illegal].3 Hence both are necessary.
An objection is raised: Dice-players include the following: Those who play with checkers,4 and not only with checkers, but even with nut-shells and pomegranate peel.5 And when are they considered to have repented?6 When they break up their checkers and undergo a complete reformation, so much so, that they will not play even as a pastime.7 A usurer: this includes both lender and borrower.8 And when are they judged to have repented? When they tear up their bills and undergo a complete reformation, that they will not lend [on interest] even to a Gentile. Pigeon trainers: that is those who race pigeons,9 and not only pigeons, but even cattle, beasts, or other birds. When may they be reinstated? When they break up their pegmas10 and undergo a complete reformation, so that they will not practise their vice even in the wilderness.11 Sabbatical traders are those who trade in the produce of the Sabbatical year. They cannot be rehabilitated until another Sabbatical year comes round and they desist from trading.12 Whereon R. Nehemia said: They [the Rabbis] did not mean a mere verbal repentance, but a reformation that involves monetary reparation. How so? He must declare, 'I, so and so, have amassed two hundred zuz by trading in Sabbatical produce, and behold, here they are made over to the poor as a gift.13 At any rate, cattle too are mentioned.14 Now, on the view that it means pigeon racing, it is correct, for racing of beasts, is also possible. But if it means 'an Ara', are cattle suited to this [viz. to decoy other beasts]? — Yes, in the case of the wild ox,15 on the view that this is a species of cattle. For we have learnt:16 A wild ox is a species of cattle; R. Jose said: It is a wild animal.17
A Tanna taught: [To those enumerated in the Mishnah] were added robbers and those who compel a sale.18 But are not robbers [disqualified] by Biblical law?19 — [Yes, but] it [the addition] was necessary in respect of one who appropriates the finds of a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor.20 At first it was thought that this was of infrequent occurrence,21 or [that such appropriation was robbery only] judged by neighbourliness in general:22 but when it was seen that after all it was someone else's property23 that they seized,24 the Rabbis disqualified them.
'Those who compel a sale:' At first they thought, They do, in fact, pay money, and their pressure is incidental.25 But when they observed that they deliberately seized the goods,26 they made this decree against them.
'Herdsmen': At first they thought that it was a question of mere chance;29 but when it was observed that they drove them there intentionally, they made the decree against them.
'Tax collectors and publicans:' At first they thought that they collected no more than the legally imposed tax. But when it was seen that they overcharged, they were disqualified.
Raba said: The 'herdsmen' whom they [the Rabbis] refer to, include the herdsmen of both large and small cattle, [i.e., both cowherds and shepherds]. But did Raba actually say so? Did he not say: Shepherds are disqualified only in Palestine, but elsewhere they are eligible; while cowherds are qualified even in Palestine?30 — That applies to breeders.31 Logic too supports this. For we learnt: [If one says,] I HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THREE COWHERDS etc. [they are acceptable].32 Surely [that implies that they are normally ineligible] for witnesses? — No: for judges.33 This is also evident from the expression: THREE COWHERDS; for if it means, qualified as witnesses, why three? What then: it refers to judges? Then why particularly cowherds; the same applies to any court of three men unversed in law?34 — He [the Tanna] means this: Even such as these, who are rarely to be found in populous areas.35
R. Zera's father acted as tax collector for thirteen years. When the Resh Nahara38 used to come to a town, if he [R. Zera's father] saw the scholars [of the city] he would advise them, Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers.39 And when he saw the other inhabitants of the town he would say to them: The Resh Nahara is coming to the city, and now he will slaughter the father in the presence of the son, and the son in the presence of the father;40
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