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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 22a

that 'the jealousy of scribes increaseth wisdom'.

R. Nahman b. Isaac said: R. Huna the son of R. Joshuah also agrees that itinerant spice-sellers cannot prevent one another from going to any given town, because, as a Master has stated, Ezra made a rule for Israel that spice-sellers should go about from town to town so that the daughters of Israel should be able to obtain finery. This, however, only means that they are at liberty to go from house to house [in the strange town], but not to settle there. If, however, the seller is a student, he may settle also, a precedent having been set by Raba in allowing R. Josiah and R. Obadiah to settle, in despite of the rule. The reason he gave was that, as they were Rabbis, they would be disturbed in their studies [if they had to return to their own town].

Certain basket-sellers brought baskets to Babylon [to sell]. The townspeople came and stopped them, so they appealed to Rabina. He said, 'They have come from outside and they can sell to the people from outside.'1  This restriction, however, applied only to the market day, but not to other days; and even on the market day only for selling in the market, but not for going round to the houses.

Certain wool-sellers brought wool to Pum Nahara. The townspeople tried to stop them from selling it. They appealed to Rab Kahana, who said, 'They have a perfect right to stop you.' They said, 'We have money owing to us here.' 'If so.' he replied. 'you can go and sell enough to keep you till you collect your debts, and then you must go.'

R. Dimi from Nehardea brought a load of figs in a boat. The Exilarch said to Raba, 'Go and see if he is a scholar, and if so, reserve the market for him.'2  So Raba said to R. Adda b. Abba, 'Go and smell his jar.'3  The latter accordingly went out and put to him the following question: 'If an elephant swallows an osier basket and passes it out with its excrement, is it still subject to uncleanness?'4  He could not give an answer. 'Are you Raba?' he asked R. Adda. The latter tapped him on his shoe5  and said, 'Between me and Raba there is a great difference, but at any rate I can be your teacher, and so Raba is the teacher of your teacher.' They did not reserve the market for him, and so his figs were a dead loss. He appealed to R. Joseph. saying: 'See how they have treated me.' He said to him, 'He who did not delay to avenge the wrong done to the king of Edom will not delay to avenge the wrong done to you. as it is written, Thus saith the Lord, For three transgressions of Moab, yea for four I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime.'6  Shortly afterwards R. Adda b. Abba died. R. Joseph said: It is through me that he has been punished.7  because I cursed him. R. Dimi from Nehardea said: It is through me that he has been punished. because he made me lose my figs. Abaye said: It is through me8  that he has been punished. because he used to say to the students, 'Instead of gnawing bones in the school of Abaye. why do you not eat fat meat in the school of Raba?'9  Raba said: It is through me that he has been punished, because when he went to the butcher's to buy meat he used to say to the butchers, 'Serve me before the servant of Raba, because I am above him.' R. Nahman b. Isaac said: It is through me that he has been punished. How was this? R. Nahman b. Isaac was the regular preacher [on Sabbaths]. Every time before he went to give his discourse,10  he used to run over it with R. Adda b. Abba; and only then would he attend the Kallah. One day R. Papa and R. Huna the son of R. Joshua got hold of R. Adda b. Abba because they had not been present at the concluding discourse [of Raba on the tractate Bekhoroth],11  and said to him: Tell us how Raba discussed the law of the 'Tithing of cattle.'12  He then gave them a full account of Raba's discourse.13  Meanwhile dusk had set in and R. Nahman b. Isaac was still waiting for R. Adda b. Abba. The Rabbis said to him: Come, for it is late; why do you still sit, Sir? He said: I am waiting for the bier of R. Adda b. Abba. Soon after the report came that R. Adda b. Abba was dead. The most likely opinion is that R. Nahman b. Isaac was the cause of his punishment.14


GEMARA. [HE SHOULD NOT BRING ANOTHER WALL etc.] How came the first wall to be close up?17  — Rab Judah said: The Mishnah must be understood as follows:

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. People who had come into Babylon from other towns.
  2. So that no one else should sell till he has disposed of his stock.
  3. To see whether the wine is good; i.e. test his scholarship.
  4. I.e., is it regarded as being still a basket or as excrement.
  5. As if to say that he would do better to go further.
  6. Amos II, 1.
  7. By an untimely death.
  8. For the insult offered to me.
  9. Where the teaching is so much superior.
  10. Heb. kallah, v. Glos.
  11. According to another interpretation given by Rashi: 'Because they had not been present at the meeting when R. Nahman was appointed the official preacher.'
  12. Name of the last chapter of Tractate Bekhoroth.
  13. Lit., 'He said to them: Thus said Raba and thus said Raba.'
  14. According to Tosaf., each of these Rabbis lamented the fact that through him punishment had befallen R. Adda b. Abba, because of the dictum (Shab. 249). 'Whoever is the cause of punishment befalling his fellow man is not permitted within the inner circle of the Holy One, blessed be He.'
  15. The meaning of this is discussed in the Gemara which follows.
  16. The reason is given in the Gemara, infra.
  17. The point of this question apparently is that the first wall also ought to have been four cubits away.

Baba Bathra 22b

If a man wants to build a wall alongside of his neighbour's wall, he must not do so unless he keeps it [at least] four cubits away. Raba strongly objected to this, on the ground that it says. IF A MAN [ALREADY] HAS A WALL RUNNING ALONGSIDE OF HIS NEIGHBOUR'S WALL. No, said Raba: what it means is this: If a man had a wall running alongside of his neighbour's wall at a distance of four cubits and it falls down, he must not bring another wall alongside unless he keeps it four cubits away,1  the reason being that the treading of the earth between [by foot passengers] is good for the walls [on both sides].2

Rab said: This Mishnah applies only to the wall of a vegetable garden,3  but [if] the wall [is that] of a courtyard, he may bring [his wall] as close to it as he likes. R. Oshiah, however, said: It makes no difference whether it is a vegetable garden or a courtyard. he must not bring his wall closer to it than four cubits. R. Jose b. Hanina says: There is no conflict between Rab and R. Oshiah; the former speaks of [a courtyard in] an old town4  and the latter of [one in] a new one.5

We learnt: IF THERE ARE WINDOWS [IN THE NEIGHBOUR'S WALL] HE MUST LEAVE A CLEAR SPACE OF FOUR CUBITS, WHETHER ABOVE OR BELOW OR OPPOSITE; and in a Baraitha commenting on this it is stated that a space must be left 'above' so that he should not be able to peep into the other one's room, and 'below' so that he should not stand on tiptoe and look in, and opposite' so that he should not take away his light. The reason then [why the second wall must be kept away from the first] is that he should not take away his light. and not, as you say, that the ground between should be trodden?6  — Here [in the Baraitha] we are dealing with a wall which runs at right angles to the first wall.

How far [must such a wall be kept away so as not to take away the other's light]?7  — R. Yeba the father-in-law of Ashian b. Nidbak said in the name of Rab: The breadth of a window. But cannot he still look through?8  — R. Zebid says: We presume that he makes the top of the wall slope.9  But does not our Mishnah say. [at least] four cubits? — There is no contradiction: in the one case the wall running at right angles is on one side [only of the window].10  in the other [there are walls at right angles] on both sides [of the window].11  Come and hear: The wall must be kept away from the [neighbour's] roof-gutter four cubits, so as to allow room for setting a ladder.12  The reason, it appears, is that there may be room for a ladder, but not that there may be room for treading? — Here we are dealing with an overhanging gutter,13  where there is no need to make allowance for treading, because there is room to walk under the gutter.


GEMARA. Shall I say that the Mishnah does not concur with R. Jose. who has laid down that 'the one may dig [a pit where he likes] in his property. and the other may plant [a tree where he likes] in his property'?15  — You may say that even R. Jose would concur with the Mishnah here. For R. Ashi has told us that 'when we were with R. Kahana, he said to us that R. Jose admitted that a man was responsible for the damage of which he is the cause.'16  Here too, it may happen that while the man is setting the ladder the weasel is sitting in a hole close by and jumps on to it. But here he is merely the indirect cause? Said R. Tobi bar Mattanah: This is equivalent to saying that it is prohibited to cause damage indirectly, [even where the damage, if caused, need not be paid for].

R. Joseph had some small date trees

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Tosaf. points out that this would imply that according to Raba the second wall must be four cubits away only if the first was also, which is incorrect.
  2. By strengthening the foundations.
  3. Because there is no treading from the inside.'
  4. Where the ground has already been well trodden.
  5. Where the ground still requires treading; hence a space must be left between the walls.
  6. And therefore if there are no windows he need not leave a space.
  7. This question has reference to the Baraitha just mentioned, where no exact measurements are mentioned.
  8. If the second wall is not considerably higher than the first.
  9. So that he cannot stand or sit on it.
  10. And therefore a small space is sufficient to let in light.
  11. And therefore a space of full four cubits is required.
  12. In case he wants to climb up to the gutter to clean it. V. next Mishnah. [This interpretation follows Rashi; for other explanations, v. H.M. Tur and Beth Joseph 154.]
  13. Which projects from the roof over the neighbouring courtyard.
  14. V. p. 113. n. 7.
  15. Whereas here the man may not place the ladder where he likes in his own property. V. infra 25b, and supra 17b.
  16. Lit., 'for his arrows', i.e., for damage resulting from an action which is in itself legitimate.