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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
A hired labourer [engaged for a period], on the expiration of his term swears and is paid.1 Thus, it is only the employee whom the Rabbis subjected to an oath, because the employer is occupied with his labourers. But here, the tenant is believed on oath.2
Raba said in R. Nahman's name: If one leased a house to his neighbour for ten years, and wrote a deed to that effect [but without dating it,] and then alleged, 'You have held it for five years,' he is believed.3 Said R. Aha of Difti to Rabina: If so, if A lent B one hundred zuz against a bond, and then B said, 'I have repaid you half,' is he also believed?4 — He replied: What comparison is there? In that case, the purpose of the bond is to ensure repayment. Had he really repaid him, he should have written the fact on it, or obtained a receipt. But here he can say, 'The reason I wrote you a deed was that you should not claim ownership through unbroken possession.'5
R. Nahman said: One can borrow [an article] 'in its good state' for ever.6 Said R. Mari the son of Samuel's daughter:7 Providing, however, that he formally acquired it from him.8 R. Mari son of R. Ashi observed: He must return him the handle.9
Raba said: If one asks his neighbour, 'Lend me a hoe for hoeing this garden,' he may hoe [only] that garden; 'for hoeing a garden,' he may hoe any garden; 'for hoeing gardens', he may hoe all his gardens10 and return him the handle.
R. Papa said: If one says to his neighbour, 'Lend me this well [for irrigation],' and it falls in, he cannot rebuild it.11 '[Lend me] a well,' and it falls in, he can rebuild it,12 [But if he Says: 'Lend me] the place for a well,' he can go on sinking shafts in his land until he chances upon [a water supply]. It is also necessary that he shall have formally acquired it from him.13
MISHNAH. IF ONE RENTS A HOUSE TO HIS NEIGHBOUR, AND IT FALLS IN [WITHIN THE PERIOD OF LEASE], HE MUST PROVIDE14 HIM WITH ANOTHER. IF IT WAS A SMALL ONE, HE CANNOT FURNISH HIM WITH A LARGE ONE, OR VICE VERSA. NOR CAN HE OFFER HIM TWO INSTEAD OF ONE, OR ONE INSTEAD OF TWO. HE MAY NEITHER DIMINISH NOR INCREASE THE NUMBER OF WINDOWS, EXCEPTING BY COMMON AGREEMENT.
GEMARA. What are the circumstances? If he stipulated, 'This house', then if it falls, he is quit [of any further obligation]. Whilst if he said, 'A house,' without specifying which, why cannot he provide two instead of one, or a large house instead of a small? — Said Resh Lakish: It means that he had said to him, 'The house which I let to you is of this length.' If so, why teach it?15 — But when Rabin came,16 he said in the name of Resh Lakish: It means that he said, 'I let you a house like this one.' But still [the difficulty remains,] Why state it? — It is necessary to teach it only if it [the house shewn as a model] stood on the river bank. I might think, what is meant by 'like this'? One situated on the river bank.17 Therefore we are taught [otherwise].
MISHNAH. IF ONE LEASES A FIELD FROM HIS NEIGHBOUR,1 WHERE IT IS THE USAGE TO CUT [THE CROPS], HE MUST CUT; TO UPROOT [THEM], HE MUST UPROOT [THEM]; TO PLOUGH AFTER IT,2 HE MUST PLOUGH AFTER IT. IT IS ALL DETERMINED BY LOCAL CUSTOM. AND JUST AS THEY DIVIDE THE GRAIN.3 SO THEY ALSO SHARE IN THE STRAW AND STUBBLE. AND JUST AS THEY DIVIDE THE WINE, SO DO THEY SHARE
Baba Mezi'a 103b
IN THE BRANCHES [CUT FROM THE VINE] AND THE CANES [USED FOR SUPPORTING THE VINES]. AND BOTH SUPPLY THE CANES.1
GEMARA. It has been taught: Where it is the usage to cut [off the crops], he must not uproot; to uproot, he must not cut. And each can restrain the other [from varying the usual procedure]. 'To cut, he must not uproot:' the one [the lessor] can say. 'I want my field manured with stubble;'2 and the other may say, 'It is too much labour3 [to uproot thus]'.4 'To uproot, he must not cut.' The one [the lessor] can say, 'I wish my field to be cleared [of stubble];' and the other, 'I need the stubble.'5 'And each can restrain the other [from varying the usual procedure].' Why state this?6 — This gives the reason. [Thus:] Why may he not uproot when the usage is to cut, and vice versa? Because each can restrain the other.
TO PLOUGH AFTER IT, HE MUST PLOUGH AFTER IT. Is this not obvious? — It is necessary only for a place where weeding is not done [whilst the corn is standing]; and he [the lessee] went and weeded it. I might think that he can plead, 'I weeded it in order to be exempt from [subsequent] ploughing.' Therefore we are taught that he should have distinctly stated this [beforehand].
IT IS ALL DETERMINED BY LOCAL CUSTOM. What does ALL include?7 — It includes that which our Rabbis taught: Where it is customary to lease the trees together with the field, they are leased;8 where it is not customary to do so, they are not leased. 'Where it is customary to lease the trees together with the field, they are leased.' But is this not obvious? — It must be taught only where [fields] are generally leased for a third [share to be the owner's]; and he went and leased it for a quarter share. I might think that he can plead. 'I gave it to you at a lower rental on the understanding that you would receive no share of the trees.' Therefore we are informed that he should have distinctly stated this [beforehand].
'Where it is not customary to do so, they are not leased.' But is it not obvious? — It must be taught only where it is generally rented for a quarter share, and he [the lessee] went and rented it for a third [to be received by the lessor]. I might think that he can plead. 'I offered you a higher rental on the understanding that I would receive a share of the trees.' We are therefore informed that he should have distinctly stated this.
JUST AS THEY DIVIDE THE GRAIN, SO THEY ALSO SHARE IN THE STRAW AND STUBBLE. R. Joseph said: In Babylon it is the practice not to give [a share of the] straw to the aris.9 What is the practical bearing of this? — That if there is a person who does give, it is his generosity, and he creates no precedent.10
R. Joseph said: The lowest, the middle and the uppermost layers11 and the thorn stakes12 must be furnished by the landowner; the shrubs themselves, by the tenant. This is the general principle: whatever is essential for guarding the boundary line [of the field] must be provided by the landlord; that which is required for additional protection, by the aris.
R. Joseph said: The mattock, shovel, [irrigation] bucket and hose must be furnished by the lessor; whilst the tenant must cut the dykes.13
AND JUST AS THEY DIVIDE THE WINE, SO DO THEY SHARE IN THE BRANCHES AND CANES. What is the purpose of canes? The School of R. Jannai said: [The reference is to] smooth canes, used for propping up the vines.
AND BOTH SUPPLY THE CANES. Why state this?14 — This gives a reason. Why do they both share the canes? Because they BOTH SUPPLY THE CANES.
MISHNAH. IF ONE LEASES A FIELD FROM HIS NEIGHBOUR,15 WHICH IS DEPENDENT ON IRRIGATION, OR IS STOCKED WITH TREES, AND THE SPRING [WHICH IRRIGATED THE FIELD] DRIES UP, OR THE TREES ARE FELLED, HE CANNOT REDUCE THE RENTAL. BUT IF HE SAYS, 'LEASE ME THIS FIELD WHICH REQUIRES IRRIGATION,' OR 'THIS FIELD, WHICH CONTAINS TREES,' AND THE SPRING DRIES UP OR THE TREES ARE FELLED, HE MAY MAKE A DEDUCTION FROM THE RENTAL.
GEMARA. How is it meant? Shall we say. the main river16 dried up; then why cannot he reduce the rent? Let him say. 'It is a universal blow!'17 — Said R. Papa: It means that the tributary dried up, [by which the water was brought to the field,] so that he [the lessor] can say to him,
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