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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a

Baba Mezi'a 106a

What if they were separated by a different cereal?1  Further, is wheat as different seed in relation to barley, or not?2  What if others were smitten by blasting, and his by mildew, or others were smitten by mildew and his by blasting? The problems remain unsolved.

What if he [the lessor] said to him [the lessee], 'Sow it with wheat,' and he went and sowed it with barley, and then the greater part of the plain was blasted, and his barley too was blasted: do we say that he can argue, 'Had I sown wheat, it also would have been blasted'; or perhaps he can answer him, 'Had you sown it with wheat, [the Scriptural promise,] Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established for thee,3  would have been fulfilled unto me?'4  — It is reasonable that he can in fact answer him, 'Had you sown it with wheat, [the promise,] 'Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established for thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways' would have been fulfilled unto me.

What if all the lessor's fields were blasted, and this one was blasted, yet the greater part of the plain was unaffected? Do we say, Since the greater part of the plain was unaffected, he can make him no deduction? Or perhaps, since all his lands were blasted, he can say to him, 'This transpired on account of your evil fate,5  the proof being that all your fields have been blasted'? — It is reasonable that he can answer him, 'Had it been on account of my bad luck, a little would have remained [unaffected], as it is written, For we are left but few of many.'6

What if all the lessee's fields were blasted, and the greater part of the plain too, and this field also was blasted along with them? Do we say, Since the greater part of the plain was affected, he can deduct his? Or perhaps, since all his fields were blasted, he [the lessor] can say to him, 'It is due to your misfortune, the proof being that all your fields have been smitten'? — It is logical that he can indeed say to him, 'It is due to your misfortune.' Why so? Here too let him answer, 'Had it been on account of my ill-luck, a little would have remained to me, in fulfilment of the verse, For we are left few of many'? — Because he can retort, 'Were you worthy that aught should remain to you, something of your own would have escaped.'7

An objection is raised: If it was a year of blasting or mildew, or the seventh year, or years like those of Elijah,8  they are not included in the count.9  Now blasting and mildew are stated as analogous to years like those of Elijah: just as during the years of Elijah there was no produce at all, so in the former too. But if there were some harvests [elsewhere], it is accounted to him,10  and we do not term it an epidemic!11  — Said R. Nahman b. Isaac: There it is different, because Scripture says, According to the number of years of the harvests, he shall sell into thee,12  [meaning], years in which the world enjoys harvests.13  R. Ashi objected before R. Kahana: If so, the seventh should be included in the count, since there are harvests outside Palestine! — The seventh year, replied he, is excluded by royal decree.14  Mar Zutra, the son of R. Mari, said to Rabina: If so, the seventh year should not rank for rebate; why then did we learn, He must pay a sela' and a pundion per annum?15  — He replied, There it is different, because it [the seventh year] is fit for fruits to be spread out therein.16

Samuel said: This [sc. that a deduction may be made when there is a widespread epidemic] was taught only if he [the lessee] sowed it [the field], it [the crop] grew and was eaten by grasshoppers;17  but not if he failed to sow it altogether, because he can say to him, 'Had you sown it, the promise, They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,' and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied,18  would have been fulfilled for me.'19  R. Shesheth raised an objection: If a shepherd, who was guarding his flock, left it and entered the town; and then a wolf came and killed [a sheep], or a lion [came], and tore it to pieces, we do not say, 'Had he been there, he could have saved them,' but judge his strength: if he could have saved them, he is responsible; if not, he is exempt.20  But why so? Let him say to him, 'Had you been there, the verse, Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear,21  would have been fulfilled for me!' — Because he can answer, 'Had you been worthy that a miracle should happen on your behalf, it would have happened, as in the case of R. Hanina b. Dosa, whose goats brought in bears by their horns.'22  But cannot he reply, 'Granted that I am not worthy of a great miracle,23  yet am I worthy of a minor one!'24

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. If it be resolved that fodder is not a separation, what if it was surrounded by fields of different cereals, but still for human beings; these being unaffected, whilst those beyond, which were the same, being affected?
  2. If it be answered that fields of different seed break the continuity and are disregarded, what if a wheat field was surrounded by fields of barley?
  3. Job XXII, 28.
  4. I.e., the promise that my hopes and prayers would be fulfilled; but these were for wheat, not barley.
  5. [ [H], lit., 'cause'; Ginsberg, L. MGWJ, LXXVIII, p. 19.]
  6. Jer. XLII, 2. When misfortune is decreed upon a person, it is not absolute. That itself proves that in this case it was not due to the lessor's bad fortune, but was a natural phenomenon.
  7. Where all the lessor's fields have been affected, he can argue, 'Something has in fact been left to me, viz., the rent I receive, even though reduced. This proves that it is my fate that something should be left to me, and therefore if this blasting were due to my evil fortune, some of my fields would have escaped, in accordance with the verse. But nothing at all has been left to you, which shews that you are excluded from that promise; so that after all it may be your peculiar fate that is responsible' (Tosaf.).
  8. I.e., of drought.
  9. 'Ar. 29b. This refers to a sale of land when the law of Jubilee was in force. The vendor always retained the option of repurchase, but not before the estate had been in the vendee's possession for at least two years. But if one of these was a year of blasting, etc., it was not counted.
  10. The vendee is regarded as having enjoyed a year's harvest, to be taken into account in assessing the redemption price, which was calculated on a pro-rata basis, according to the number of years to the Jubilee and the length of time the vendee had been in possession.
  11. To be charged to the first owner. This contradicts the Mishnah.
  12. Lev. XXV. 15.
  13. And this is the verse from which pro rata redemption after two years is deduced ('Ar. 29b). Hence, even if there is a widespread blight in which the whole plain is smitten, yet since some harvests are reaped elsewhere, the year is taken into account.
  14. I.e., since Scripture forbade sowing in the seventh year, it was specifically excluded from the years of produce; hence is regarded as non-existent.
  15. 'Ar. 25a. The reference is to Lev. XXVII, 16-19: And if a Man shall sanctify unto the Lord a field of his possession, then thy estimation shall be according to the seed thereof an homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver. If he sanctify his field from the year of jubilee, accordingly to thy estimation it shall stand. But if he sanctify the field after the jubilee, then the priest shall reckon unto him the money according to the years that remain, even unto the year of jubilee, and it shall be abated from thy estimation. Now, the Mishnah states that according to this reckoning, for every year that remains a sela' and a pundion, which is 1/48th of a sela', is due. This shews that the fifty shekels are divided into 49, the number of years in a jubilee (excluding the jubilee itself). But if the Sabbatical years, not being years of seed, are excluded, there are only 42 years of seed into which the fifty must he divided, which gives almost a sela' and a denar per annum.
  16. I.e., some use can be made of the seventh year, and the Bible did not specify 'years of harvests' in this connection.
  17. I.e., blighted.
  18. Ps. XXXVII, 19.
  19. Therefore no deduction can he made, notwithstanding the widespread epidemic.
  20. Supra 41a.
  21. I Sam. XVII, 36.
  22. Complaints being made that his goats were damaging the crops, he exclaimed, 'If it be so, let bears devour them; if not, let them capture bears and bring them in by their horns.' In the evening his goats came in, drawing the bears by their horns! V. Ta'an. 25a.
  23. That my flock should be saved even in your absence.
  24. That it should be saved through your presence.

Baba Mezi'a 106b

— This indeed is a difficulty.

One [Baraitha] teaches: He [the tenant] must sow it [the field] the first and second time, but not the third.1  But another [Baraitha] teaches: He must resow it a third time, but not a fourth! — There is no difficulty: the former is according to Rabbi; the latter, R. Simeon b. Gamaliel. The former is according to Rabbi, who maintained that a presumption is established by an occurrence happening twice. The latter, R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, who held that a presumption is established only when it occurs three times.2

Resh Lakish said: This was taught only if he sowed it, it grew, and was devoured by locusts. But if he sowed it, and it did not grow at all, the lessor can say to him, 'Go on repeatedly sowing [the field] during the extra period of sowing.' And until when is that? — Said R. Papa: Until the aris3  comes from the field and kimah is situated overhead.4

An objection is raised: R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said on the authority of R. Meir, and R. Simeon b. Menasya said likewise: [The second] half of Tishri, Marcheshvan, and the first half of Kislev is seed-time; [the second] half of Kislev, Tebeth, and half Shebat are the winter months; [the second] half of Shebat, Adar, and [the first] half of Nisan, cold months; [the second] half of Nisan, Iyar, and [the first] half of Sivan is the period of harvests; [the second] half of Sivan, Tammuz, and the first half of Ab are summer; the second half of Ab, Ellul and the first half of Tishri, hot months. R. Judah counted [these periods] from [the beginning of] Tishri; R. Simeon, from Marcheshvan.5  Now, who gives the most lenient interpretation?6  R. Simeon [who counts from Marcheshvan]; and yet he does not extend the [sowing] season so far! — There is no difficulty. The latter refers to a field leased for early sowing;7  the former, to one leased for late sowing.8

R. JUDAH SAID: IF HE LEASES IT ON A MONEY RENTAL. A certain man leased a field by the bank of the River Malka Saba9  on a money rental, for sowing garlic. But the River Malka Saba became dammed up.10  When he came before Raba, he said to him, 'It is unusual for the River Malka Saba to become dammed; this is a widespread blow; [therefore] go and deduct.' But the Rabbis protested to Raba, did we not learn, R. JUDAH SAID: IF HE LEASED IT ON A MONEY RENTAL, THEN IN BOTH CASES HE MAY MAKE NO DEDUCTION? — He replied: None pay heed to this ruling of R. Judah.


GEMARA. A man leased a field to grow fodder for [several] kors of barley. [The field] having produced a crop of fodder,14  he ploughed and resowed it with barley, which was, however, blighted. So R. Habiba, of Sura on the Euphrates,15  sent to Rabina: How is it in such a case? Is it analogous to the law, IF IT WAS SMITTEN, HE CAN PAY HIM THEREOF, or not? — He replied: How compare? In that case the soil had not performed the owner's behest; but here it had.16

A certain man leased a vineyard from his fellow for ten barrels of wine: but that wine17  turned sour. Now, R. Nahman thought to rule, This is the same as our Mishnah: IF IT WAS SMITTEN, HE CAN PAY HIM THEREOF. But R. Ashi said to him: What analogy is there? There the soil had not performed its duty, whilst here it had.18  Yet R. Ashi admits in the case of grapes that had become wormy, or a field whose sheaves were smitten.19


GEMARA. R. Hisda said: What is R. Simeon b. Gamaliel's reason? — Because it is written, The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth.22

An objection is raised: The Purim collections must be utilized for Purim only, and no scrutiny is made in the matter. The poor may not even buy shoestraps therewith, unless this was stipulated in the presence of members of the community: this is the ruling of R. Jacob, who stated it in the name of R. Meir; but R. Simeon b. Gamaliel

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Having sown the field once, and it was blighted, he must resow it; otherwise he can make no deduction even if the epidemic was widespread. But if it was smitten again, he need not sow it a third time.
  2. V. Sanh. 81b. Hence, the crops having been twice blighted, there is a presumption that they will be smitten a third time too, according to Rabbi; and therefore without sowing a third time, he may deduct. But in the view of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, they must be blighted three times before he may presume thus.
  3. V. Glos.
  4. Kimah is the name of a constellation, conjectured by Jast. to be Daco, not the Pleiades. In the month of Adar, corresponding to mid-February to March, the kimah appears to be overhead at the time the peasant finishes his work, viz., about four in the afternoon. Thus R. Papa states that the seed time is up to Adar.
  5. The passage is an explanation of the terms mentioned in Gen. VIII, 22: While the earth remaineth, seed-time ([H]) and harvest ([H]), and cold ([H]) and heat ([H]), summer ([H]) and winter ([H]), and day and night shall not cease.
  6. Who starts the seasons latest, and so gives the latest period for seed-time.
  7. E.g., Wheat and rye.
  8. Barley and pulse, which are sown in Adar.
  9. [The large canal in the district of Mahuza; v. Obermeyer, op. cit. p. 170.]
  10. At a higher point than the field, so that it was insufficiently watered for garlic to grow.
  11. The crops being blasted or mildewed.
  12. Of the crops grown in that field, notwithstanding their poor quality.
  13. [This Mishnah, too, obviously deals with a fixed rental.]
  14. This requires only thirty days.
  15. [Whilst the town of Sura lay on the Sura canal, its west side was situated on the Euphrates, Obermeyer, op. cit. 293.]
  16. I.e., in the Mishnah it had been leased for barley, and the barley had been smitten. Therefore the lessor must accept his rent out of the crop. Here, however, the fodder, for which it had been rented, had not been affected, and it had never been leased for barley; consequently, he must supply him with sound barley, as the original understanding had been.
  17. Viz., which was manufactured from the grapes of that vineyard.
  18. The grapes were sound; therefore he must buy him good wine.
  19. Then the lessor must accept payment out of the crop. Though the sheaves were already detached from the soil, yet since they had to be spread out on the field for drying, they still needed the soil, and therefore it is as though they were smitten whilst growing.
  20. Because wheat exhausts the soil more than barley. This can refer only to a fixed rental; for in the case of a percentage rental, since a wheat crop is of greater value than a barley crop, he may sow wheat, as stated supra 104a: Let the field be impoverished, rather than its owner.
  21. The reasoning is the same as in the case of barley and wheat. [MS.M. reverses the position of cereals and pulse, a reading adopted by Maim. and Alfasi, cf. n. 5 below.]
  22. Zeph. III, 13.