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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 12a

A room that is shut up carries with it four cubits in the courtyard,1  but if the posts [of the door] have been taken down, it does not carry with it four cubits. If a room is shut up it does not render unclean all the space around it,2  but if the posts have been taken down it does render unclean all the space around it [to a distance of four cubits].3

Rabbah b. Bar Hana said in the name of R. Johanan: If the people of a town desire to close alley-ways which afford a through way to another town, the inhabitants of the other town can prevent them. Not only is this the case if there is no other way, but even if there is another way they can prevent them, on the ground of the rule laid down by Rab Judah in the name of Rab, that a field path to which the public have established a right of way must not be damaged.

R. 'Anan said in the name of Samuel: If the residents of alleyways which open out on to the public thoroughfare desire to set up doors at the entrance, the public [who use the thoroughfares] can prevent them. It was thought that this right extended only to a distance of four cubits [from the public thoroughfare], in accordance with what R. Zera said in the name of R. Nahman, that the four cubits [in the alley-way] adjoining the public thoroughfare are on the same footing as the public thoroughfare. This, however, is not the case. For R. Nahman's rule applies only to the matter of uncleanness,4  but here [in the case of the doors it does not apply because] sometimes people from the street are pushed in by the crowd a good distance.

A FIELD SHOULD NOT BE DIVIDED UNLESS THERE WILL BE NINE KABS' SPACE TO EACH. There is no difference [between this authority and R. Judah who said nine half-kabs]; each was speaking for his own district.5  What is the rule in Babylon? — R. Joseph said: [There must be] a day's ploughing [for each]. What is meant by a day's ploughing? If a day's ploughing in seed time,6  that is not a two full days' ploughing in plough time,7  and if a day's ploughing in plough time, that is not a full day's ploughing in seed time?8  — If you like I can say that a day's ploughing in plough time is meant, and in seed time [it takes a full day] where one ploughs twice,9  or if you like I can say that a day's ploughing in seed time is meant and in plough time [two full days are needed] where the ground is difficult.

If a trench is divided, R. Nahman said [enough must be left for each party to provide] a day's work in watering the field. If a vineyard, the father10  of Samuel said that three kabs' space must be left to each. It has been taught to the same effect: If a man says to another, I sell you a portion in a vineyard, Symmachus said, he must not sell him less than three kabs' space. R. Jose, however, said that this is sheer imagination.11  What is the rule in Babylon? Raba b. Kisna said: Three rows each with twelve vines, enough for a man to hoe round in one day.

R. Abdimi from Haifa said: Since the day when the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken from the prophets and given to the wise. Is then a wise man not also a prophet?12  — What he meant was this: Although it has been taken from the prophets, it has not been taken from the wise. Amemar said: A wise man is even superior to a prophet, as it says, And a prophet has a heart of wisdom.13  Who is compared with whom? Is not the smaller compared with the greater?14  Abaye said: The proof [that prophecy has not been taken from the wise] is that a great man makes a statement, and the same is then reported in the name of another great man.15  Said Raba: What is there strange in this? Perhaps both were born under one star.16  No, said Raba; the proof is this, that a great man makes a statement and then the same is reported

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. If ever it comes to be divided.
  2. If there is a dead body lying there.
  3. Because then it is regarded no longer as a room but as a grave. V. Tosef. Oh. XVIII.
  4. If there is a suspicion of uncleanness in the four cubits up the alley-way it is treated as if it occurred in a public place and is deemed clean. Toh. IV, II.
  5. I.e., in the district of the first Tanna, less than nine kabs was not reckoned a field worth sowing. V. Tosaf. s.v. [H].
  6. When the ground is soft, having been already broken up by the first ploughing in the autumn.
  7. But something between one and two days, so that the ploughman will not be able to hire oxen to advantage.
  8. And therefore again the ploughman will not be able to hire oxen to advantage.
  9. Both before and after putting the seed in, and so takes a full day.
  10. Abba b. Abbu.
  11. Lit., 'words of prophesying'.
  12. I.e., were not wise men prophets also before the Temple was destroyed?
  13. Ps. XC, 12. The word [H] in the text (E.V. 'that we nay get us') is taken here in the sense of 'prophet'.
  14. And here the prophet is compared with the wise man.
  15. The first having hit upon the same idea quite independently.
  16. And this was why they hit on the same idea.
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Baba Bathra 12b

in the name of R. Akiba b. Joseph.1  Said R. Ashi: What is there strange in this? perhaps in this matter he was born under the same star. No, said R. Ashi; the proof is that a great man makes a statement and then it is found that the same rule was a halachah communicated to Moses at Mount Sinai. But perhaps the wise man was no better than a blind man groping his way through a window?2  — And does he not give reasons [for his opinions]?3

R. Johanan said: Since the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken from prophets and given to fools and children. How given to fools? — The case of Mar son of R. Ashi will illustrate. He was one day standing in the manor of Mahuza4  when he heard a certain lunatic exclaim: The man who is to be elected head of the Academy in Matha Mehasia5  signs his name Tabiumi. He said to himself: Who among the Rabbis signs his name Tabiumi? I do. This seems to show that my lucky time has come. So he quickly went to Matha Mehasia. When he arrived, he found that the Rabbis had voted to appoint R. Aha of Difti as their head. When they heard of his arrival, they sent a couple of Rabbis to him to consult him.6  He detained them with him, and they sent another couple of Rabbis. He detained these also, [and so it went on] until the number reached ten. When ten were assembled, he began to discourse and expound the Oral Law and the Scriptures, [having waited so long] because a public discourse7  [on them] should not be commenced if the audience is less than ten. R. Aha8  applied to himself the saying: If a man is in disfavour [with Heaven] he does not readily come into favour, and if a man is in favour he does not readily fall into disfavour.

How has prophecy been given to children? A case in point is that of the daughter of R. Hisda. She was sitting on her father's lap, and in front of him were sitting Raba and Rami b. Hama. He said to her: Which of them would you like? She replied: Both. Whereupon Raba said: And let me be the second.9

R. Abdimi from Haifa said: Before a man eats and drinks he has two hearts,10  but after he eats and drinks he has only one heart, as it says, A hollow [nabub] man is two-hearted,11  the word nabub occurring also in the text nebub luhoth,12  which we translate 'hollow with planks'. R. Huna the son of R. Joshua said: If a man is a wine drinker, even though his heart13  is closed like a virgin, the wine opens14  it, as it is said: New wine shall make open out [yenobeb] the maids.15

R. Huna the son of R. Joshua said: That the portion [of a field assigned to a first-born]16  as a first-born and the portion assigned to him as an ordinary son should be contiguous goes without saying. What is the rule in the case of a brother-in-law?17  — Abaye replied: It is just the same. Why so? Because the Divine Law calls him 'first-born'.18  Raba, however, said: The text says: And he shall be the first-born: this means that he is regarded as a firstborn, but the assignment is not made to him as to a firstborn.19

A certain man bought a field adjacent to the estate of his father-in-law.20  When they came to divide the latter's estate, he said: Give me my share next to my own field. Rabbah said: This is a case where a man can be compelled not to act after the manner of Sodom.21  R. Joseph strongly objected to this, on the ground that the brothers22  can say to him: We reckon this field as specially valuable like the property of the family of Mar Marion.23  The law follows R. Joseph.

If there are two fields24  with two channels [running by them],25  Rabbah said: This is a case where we can apply the rule that a man can be compelled not to act after the manner of Sodom. R. Joseph strongly objected to this on the ground that sometimes one channel may continue running while the other dries up.26  The law follows R. Joseph. If, however, there are two fields adjoining one channel, R. Joseph says that in such a case we do compel a man not to act after the manner of Sodom.27  Abaye objected to this strongly on the ground that the one [who has two fields in the middle] can say, I want you to have more metayers.28  The law, however, follows R. Joseph; the increase in the number of metayers is not a matter of consequence.

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Who certainly was a much greater man, so that the explanation that they were born under one star will not hold.
  2. I.e., he hit on the idea by chance.
  3. Hence we must say that his agreement with Moses was due not to chance but to the spirit of prophecy. [This is another way of expressing the belief that revelation did not cease with the extinction of prophecy. V. Herford, Talmud and Apocrypha, 72ff.]
  4. [A town on the Tigris, South of Bagdad. On the manor of Mahuza, Rostaka di Mahuza, v. Obermeyer, op. cit., 172.]
  5. A position previously held by his father. For Matha Mehasia v. p. 10 n. 1.
  6. In connection with R. Aha's appointment (Rashi).
  7. Lit., 'a discourse in the kallah'. [Name given to an assembly at which the Law was expounded to scholars, as well as to the half yearly assemblies of the Babylonian Academies. The word has been variously explained as 'bride', because of the declaration of love and loyalty to the Torah, or from 'crown', with reference to the round formation of the sitting accommodation or again [G] = school. On further suggestions, v. Krauss, S., in Poznanski's Memorial Volume, 142ff.]
  8. When he saw that he had lost his chance.
  9. [This was fulfilled, v. Yeb. 34b.]
  10. I.e., he finds it hard to make up his mind for one thing.
  11. Job XI, 12. E.V. 'Vain man is void of understanding.'
  12. Ex. XXVII, 8.
  13. 'Heart' here seems to have the sense of 'mind' or 'understanding'.
  14. Lit., 'makes it open-eyed'.
  15. I.e., maiden-hearts, Zech. IX, 17.
  16. The first-born received a double portion in his father's inheritance, Deut. XXI, 16.
  17. A man who marries his brother's widow if he has died without offspring, and who is also entitled to a double portion. The question is, can he claim that the two portions should be contiguous without making compensation to the other brothers?
  18. Deut. XXV, 6: And it shall be that the first.born which she beareth. The Rabbis, however, translate for halachic purposes thus: 'And he (the brother) shall be the first-born; she shall be one capable of bearing'.
  19. Lit., 'His being is as a first-born, but his assignment is not as a firstborn'. I.e., he receives a double portion as a first-born, but cannot demand that the two portions shall be contiguous like a first-born.
  20. Whom we must suppose to have had only daughters. Rashi, however, translates 'father', though this is not the usual meaning of [H].
  21. I.e., not to adopt a dog-in-the-manger attitude, refusing to confer a benefit which costs him nothing.
  22. According to another reading, 'sisters'. V. Tosaf. s.v. [H]
  23. So Rashi. This, however, does some violence to the word [H], and Tosaf. translates: The brothers can even say to him, We value this field like those of Mar Marion's (and demand compensation accordingly).
  24. Left by a father to two sons.
  25. And one brother demands the field adjoining land he already possesses.
  26. Hence the other brother has a right to insist on having the fields equally divided so that he should have a field by each channel; seeing that each field has a channel, the other brother stands to lose nothing by acceding to the request.
  27. And to allow the other to have two fields contiguous to one another.
  28. If his two fields are separated, he will want more men to work them, and therefore the fields of the other which are in between will be better guarded.
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