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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra
of the future world while they were still in this world, to wit, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Abraham [we know] because it is written of him, [The Lord blessed Abraham] in all,1 Isaac, because it is written, [And I ate] of all;2 Jacob, because it is written, [For I have] all.3 Three there were over whom the evil inclination4 had no dominion, to wit Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, [as we know] because it is written in connection with them, in all, of all, all.5 Some include also David, of whom it is written, My heart is wounded within me.6 And the other authority? — He understands him to be referring here to his distress.
Our Rabbis taught: Six there were over whom the Angel of Death had no dominion,7 namely, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we know because it is written in connection with them, in all, of all, all;8 Moses, Aaron and Miriam because it is written in connection with them [that they died] By the mouth of the Lord.9 But the words 'by the month of the Lord' are not used in connection with [the death of] Miriam? — R. Eleazar said: Miriam also died by a kiss, as we learn from the use of the word 'there' [in connection both with her death] and with that of Moses.10 And why is it not said of her that [she died] by the month of the Lord? — Because such an expression would be disrespectful.11
Our Rabbis taught: There were seven over whom the worms had no dominion, namely, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, Aaron and Miriam, and Benjamin son of Jacob. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob [we know] because it is written of them, 'in all, of all, all': Moses, Aaron and Miriam because it is written in connection with them, By the mouth of the Lord. Benjamin son of Jacob, because it is written in connection with him, And to Benjamin he said, The beloved of the Lord, he shall dwell thereon12 in safety.13 Some say that David also [is included], since it is written of him, My flesh also shall dwell [in the grave] in safety.14 The other, however, explains this to mean that he is praying for mercy.15
Our Rabbis taught: Four died through the counsel of the serpent,16 namely, Benjamin son of Jacob, Amram the father of Moses, Jesse the father of David, and Kilab the son of David. We know this only from tradition in regard to all of them save Jesse the father of David, in regard to whom it is stated distinctly in the Scripture, as it is written, And Absalom set Amasa over the host instead of Joab. Now Amasa was the son of a man whose name was Isra the Israelite, that went in to Abigal the daughter of Nahash, sister to Zeruiah Joab's mother.17 Now was she the daughter of Nahash? Was she not the daughter of Jesse, as It is written, And their [Jesse's sons'] sisters were Zeruiah and Abigail?18 What it means therefore is, The daughter of him who died through the counsel of the serpent [nahash].
MISHNAH. A MAN SHOULD NOT DIG A PIT [IN HIS OWN FIELD] CLOSE TO THE PIT OF HIS NEIGHBOUR,19 NOR A DITCH NOR A CAVE NOR A WATER-CHANNEL NOR A FULLER'S POOL,20 UNLESS HE KEEPS THEM AT LEAST THREE HANDBREADTHS FROM HIS NEIGHBOUR'S WALL21 AND PLASTERS [THE SIDES]. A MAN SHOULD KEEP OLIVE REFUSE,22 DUNG, SALT, LIME, AND FLINT STONES AT LEAST THREE HANDBREADTHS FROM HIS NEIGHBOUR'S WALL23 OR PLASTER IT OVER. SEEDS, PLOUGH FURROWS, AND URINE SHOULD BE KEPT THREE HANDBREADTHS FROM THE WALL. MILL — STONES SHOULD BE KEPT THREE HANDBREADTHS AWAY RECKONING FROM THE UPPER STONE, WHICH MEANS FOUR FROM THE LOWER STONE. AN OVEN SHOULD BE KEPT THREE HANDBREADTHS RECKONING FROM THE FOOT OF THE BASE,24 WHICH MEANS FOUR FROM THE TOP OF THE BASE.
Baba Bathra 17b
GEMARA. The Mishnah [in the first sentence] begins by speaking of the neighbour's PIT and finishes by speaking of his WALL. [How is this]? — Said Abaye [or according to others Rab Judah]: The word WALL must here be understood to mean the wall [i.e. side] of his pit. But still why does not the Mishnah say, 'but he should keep them at least three handbreadths from his neighbour's pit'?1 — The use of the word WALL teaches us that the wall of the pit must itself be three handbreadths thick.2 This ruling has a practical bearing on cases of sale, as it was taught: If a man says to another, 'I will sell you a pit and its walls,' the wall must be not less than three handbreadths thick.
It has been stated: If a man desires to dig a pit close up to the boundary [between his field and his neighbour's]. Abaye says he may do so and Raba says he may not do so. Now in a field where pits would naturally be dug,3 both agree that he may not dig close up. Where they differ is in the case of a field where pits would not naturally be dug; Abaye says he may dig, because it is not naturally a field for digging pits [and therefore his neighbour is not likely to want to dig one on the other side]. while Raba says he may not dig; because his neighbour can say to him, 'Just as you have altered your mind and want to dig, so I may alter my mind and want to dig.' Others report [this argument as follows]: In the case of a field where pits would not naturally be dug, both [Abaye and Raba] agree that he may dig close up to the boundary. Where they differ is in the case of a field where pits would naturally be dug. Abaye says that in such a field the owner may dig, and would be allowed to dig even by the Rabbis who lay down that a tree must not be planted within twenty-five cubits of a pit;4 for they only rule this because at the time of planting the pit already exists, but here when the man comes to dig the pit there is no pit on the other side. Raba on the other hand says that he may not dig, and would not be allowed to dig even by R. Jose. who laid down that [in all circumstances] the one owner can plant within his property and the other dig within his;4 for he only rules thus because at the time when the former plants there are as yet no roots which could damage the pit, but in this case the owner of the other field can say to the man who wants to dig the pit, 'Every stroke with the spade which you make injures my ground.'
We learnt: A MAN SHOULD NOT DIG A PIT CLOSE TO THE PIT OF HIS NEIGHBOUR. [From this it appears that] the reason [why he must not dig] is because there is another pit in existence, but if there is not, then he may dig. Now this would be in order if we accept the version [of the argument reported above] according to which Abaye and Raba agree that in a field where pits would not naturally be dug the owner may dig close up to the boundary; we may then interpret the Mishnah to speak of a field where pits would not naturally be dug.5 If, however, we accept the version according to which Abaye and Raba differ in regard to a field where pits would not naturally be dug, then, while the Mishnah is in order according to the ruling of Abaye,6 it presents a difficulty [does it not], according to that of Raba? — Raba could reply to you: It has already been reported in this connection that Abaye [or it may be Rab Judah] said that the word WALL in the Mishnah means 'the wall of his pit'.7
Others report this discussion as follows. [The Mishnah says that a man should not dig a pit close to the pit of his neighbour,] and it has been reported in this connection that Abaye [or it may be Rab Judah] said that WALL here must be explained to mean the wall [side] of his neighbour's pit. Now all will be in order if we accept the version of Abaye and Raba's argument according to which in a field where pits would naturally be dug both agree that he should not dig close to the boundary; for in this case we explain the Mishnah [also] to refer to a field where pits would naturally be dug.8 If, however, we take the version according to which Abaye and Raba differ in regard to a field where pits would naturally be dug, while the Mishnah is in order according to the ruling of Raba, it presents a difficulty [does it not], according to that of Abaye? — Abaye might reply that the Mishnah speaks of the case where both owners want to dig at the same time.9
Come and hear: If the soil at the boundary is of crumbling rock10 and the one owner wants to dig a pit on his side and the other owner on his side, the one keeps three handbreadths away from the boundary and plasters the sides of his pit, and the other does likewise?'11 Crumbling rock is different. But how could the questioner have raised the question at all?12 The questioner thought that the same law would apply to ordinary soil, but that it was necessary to specify the rule about crumbling rock, as otherwise I might think that, since it is crumbling [i.e. soft] rock, an even greater space was required for it. Now the Baraitha tells us [that it is not so].
Come and hear: A MAN SHOULD KEEP OLIVE REFUSE, DUNG,
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