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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 90a

and an 'Ukla. — How much is an 'ukla? — A fifth of a quarter [of a kab]. In the case of liquid measures one may make a hin,1  half a hin, a third of a hin, a quarter of a hin, a log,2  half a log, a quarter [of a log], an eighth [of a log], and an eighth of an eighth [of a log] which is a kortob.3  [Why should] one [not be allowed] also to make a two-kab [measure]?4  — It might be mistaken5  for a tarkab.6  This proves that people may err by a third;7  [but] if so, one kab [measure] also should not be made, since it might be mistaken5  for half a tarkab?8  — But this is the reason why a two-kab [measure] must not be made; it might be mistaken5  for half a tarkab. This proves that one may err by a quarter;9  [but] if so, half a toman and an ukla [measures, also,] should not be made?10  — R. Papa replied: People are familiar with small measures [and are not likely to mistake them for one another]. Should not one be forbidden to make a third of a hin [and] a quarter of a hin?11  — Since these [measures] were [used] in the Temple, the Rabbis have not enacted any precautionary prohibitions against their use. Let precautionary prohibitions be adopted in the case of the Temple [itself]? — Priests are careful.12

Samuel said:13  Measures must not be increased [even when all the townspeople have agreed to alter the standards of the measures] by more than a sixth, nor [even by general consent] may [the value of] a coin [be increased by] more than a sixth. And any profits on sales must not exceed one sixth. What is the reason why measures must not be increased by more than a sixth? If it is said, because market prices will rise [above due proportions],14  [then for the same reason one should] not [be allowed to increase] even [by] a sixth! But if [it be said], because of the overcharge,15  so that the entire purchase should not have to be cancelled;16  surely, Raba said: One may withdraw [from any transaction in which] anything [had been sold] by measure, weight or number, even [if the overcharge was] less than [the legal limit of] overcharge!17  But [if it be said that the reason why no more than a sixth may be added to weights is] that the dealer may not incur any loss;18  [has this law, then, been made, it may be retorted, on the assumption that a dealer] must incur no loss [but also] requires no profit? 'Buy and sell [at no profit] and be called a merchant!' — But, said R. Hisda: Samuel found a Scriptural text and expounded it. [It is written], And the shekel shall be twenty gerahs; twenty shekels, five and twenty shekels, ten and five shekels, shall be your maneh.19

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Hin, (v. loc. cit., n. 8) = a tarkab.
  2. Log, v. loc. cit. n. 9.
  3. Kortob = Sixty-fourth of a log.
  4. A third of a se'ah, as one is allowed to make a third of a hin.
  5. Lit., 'changed'.
  6. Owing to the comparatively small difference between them. (3 — 2 = 1 kab.)
  7. The difference between a tarkab and a two kab, being one kab = a third of a tarkab.
  8. Half a tarkab, equals one and a half kab. The difference between one and a half, and one kab = half a kab = a third of half a tarkab.
  9. The difference between half a tarkab (= one and a half kab), and two kab, equals half a kab = a quarter of two kab.
  10. The difference between half a toman (=one sixteenth kab) and an 'ukla (=one twentieth kab) is only one eightieth of a kab which is a fifth of the half toman, less than a quarter, so that these two measures could, accordingly, certainly be mistaken for one another.
  11. Since the difference between these two (a third — a quarter) is a twelfth of a hin, which is a quarter of the larger measure (1/3 hin).
  12. No precautions, therefore, are necessary in their case.
  13. Men. 77a.
  14. Traders arriving from other places, finding that the standard of the weights has risen, will raise prices in a still higher proportion.
  15. An overcharge of less than a sixth does not entitle any of the parties to cancel the sale. Only the overcharge is to be returned.
  16. If the increase in the weights will be more than a sixth, the seller, who did not know of this, and accepted the old price, would be losing more than a sixth and would, therefore, be entitled to cancel the entire sale.
  17. Since, in such cases, one may withdraw even when the overcharge was less than a sixth, nothing is gained by limiting the permitted increase in weights to a sixth.
  18. A dealer may, in accordance with what has been said before, make a profit of one sixth. When weights are increased by a sixth and a dealer sells at the old price, he does not lose thereby any of his principal, since what he loses by taking the old price and giving the increased weight, he makes up by the profit he gains on selling at a price which is higher by a sixth than his cost price.
  19. Ezek. XLV, 12.

Baba Bathra 90b

Was the maneh two hundred and forty [denarii].1  But three things are to be inferred from this. It is to be inferred that the holy maneh was doubled;2  it is to be inferred that the [standard of] measures3  may be increased,4  though that increase must not be more than a sixth;5  and it is to be inferred that the sixth is to be exclusive.6

R. Papa b. Samuel introduced a measure of three kefiza.7  They said unto him: Did not Samuel say that measures must not be increased by more than a sixth?8  — He said unto them: I have introduced a new measure.9  He sent it to Pumbeditha, but they did not adopt it. He sent it to Papunia and they adopted it and named it Roz-Papa.10

(Mnemonic Sign: Hoarders of fruit must not hoard, carry out, profit, twice in eggs. Prayers are offered and not caused to go out.)11

Our Rabbis taught: Concerning those who hoard fruit,12  lend money on usury, reduce the measures and raise prices, Scripture says, Saying: 'When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may set forth corn? Making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances of deceit.13  And [concerning these] it is [further] written in Scripture, The Lord hath sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their works.14  Who, for instance, may be classed among fruit hoarders?15  — R. Johanan said: [A person], for instance, like Shabbethai the fruit hoarder.16  Samuel's father used to sell fruit during the [prevalence of the] early [market] price[s]17  at the early price.18  Samuel his son retained the fruit and sold them, when the late [market] prices [were current], at the early [market] price.19  Word was sent from there:20  'The father's [action] is better than the son's.' What is the reason? — Prices that have been eased remain so.21

Rab said: A person may store his own kab [of produce].22  The same has also been taught [elsewhere]:23  Fruit [and] things which are life's necessities as, for instance, wines, oils and the various kinds of flour, must not be hoarded; but spices, cumin and pepper may. The prohibitions mentioned apply [only] to one buying from the market, but [in the case of him] who brings in [for storage] of his own, [this is] permitted. In Palestine24  one may store fruit for [the following] three years: The eve of the Sabbatical year,25  the Sabbatical year, and the conclusion of the Sabbatical year.26  In years of famine one must not hoard even a kab of carobs,27  because thereby one brings a curse on the market prices. R. Jose b. Hanina said to his attendant Puga: Go, store away for me fruit for [the following] three years: The eve of the Sabbatical year,28  and the Sabbatical year, and the conclusion of the Sabbatical year.29

Our Rabbis taught:30  One must not carry out of Palestine31  fruit [and] things which are life's necessities such as, for instance, wines, oils and the various kinds of flour. R. Judah b. Bathyra permits [it] in [the case of] wine, because [thereby] one diminishes levity. And as it is not permitted to carry away out of the land [of Palestine] into a foreign country, so it is not permitted to carry away out of Palestine29  to Syria.32  And Rabbi permits this

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. The maneh, according to Ezekiel, was twenty + twenty-five + ten + five shekels= sixty shekels =two hundred and forty denarii (one shekel =four denarii). But elsewhere it is stated that the maneh contains only twenty-five shekels or sela'im = only a hundred. (Cf. Keth. 10a).
  2. The ordinary maneh contained twenty-five shekels. Having added a sixth milbar, [H] (from outside the quantity) = a fifth milgaw [H] (from inside), the value of the maneh rose to thirty shekels. The holy shekel, being doubled, is, therefore, worth sixty shekels or two hundred and forty denarii.
  3. I.e. measures and coins.
  4. As the maneh had been increased from twenty-five to thirty shekels, (in the case of the ordinary shekel) and from fifty to sixty shekels (in the case of the holy shekel).
  5. As the increase of the maneh was by no more than a sixth.
  6. Lit. 'from the outside'. The quantity is divided into five parts and a sixth is added 'from the outside'. A sixth milbar = a fifth milgaw. Cf. n. 1.
  7. [H] [G], Persian Kamij, a measure containing three log. Measure of three kefiza nine log. Others hold that the kefiza contained one log only. and R. Papa's new measure contained, accordingly. three log.
  8. A nine-log measure is bigger than half a tarkab (6 log) by a third milbar (a half milgaw). According to the second statement in the previous note, the comparison is between the half-kab (two log) and the kefiza (three 10a), the difference between which is also a third milbar.
  9. Not an enlargement of an old one. No mistaken charges would consequently take place.
  10. [ [H] or [H] Riz (Obermeyer. op. cit. p. 242. n. 2), a Persian measure, accordingly, Papa's measure.]
  11. The mnemonic consists of key-words or phrases in the teachings of the Rabbis that follow.
  12. To sell it later when prices have risen. 'To corner'.
  13. Amos VIII, 5.
  14. Ibid, v. 7.
  15. Lit., 'fruit hoarders like whom?'
  16. Who accumulated fruit and sold them to the poor when prices rose.
  17. The prices prevailing immediately after the harvest.
  18. I.e., cheap, so that others also might be induced to sell, and thus keep prices down throughout the year.
  19. Thus enabling the poor to purchase fruit cheaply when prices were high and beyond their means.
  20. I.e., Palestine.
  21. If prices are kept down from the very beginning (as Samuel's father helped to do) they remain at a low level throughout the year. If, however, they have once been forced up, some cheaper selling later (as Samuel did) will not easily bring them down.
  22. The prohibition is only against hoarding for trading purposes.
  23. Tosef. A.Z. V.
  24. Lit., 'the land of Israel'.
  25. The sixth year of the Septennial period, when produce has to be stored away for the following (Sabbatical) year when no cultivation of the land is allowed, and for the year following it when there will be no yield of produce till its conclusion.
  26. I.e., the year beginning with the conclusion of the Sabbatical year. viz. the first year of the next Septennial period. V. previous note.
  27. I.e., even the cheapest fruit.
  28. V. p. 373, n. 13.
  29. V. loc. cit., n. 14.
  30. Tosef. A.Z. ibid.
  31. V. p. 373. n. 12.
  32. Though it had been included in the land of Israel in the time of David.