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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a

Baba Mezi'a 107a

is lenient in the matter.1  — Said Abaye: R. Simeon b. Gamaliel's reason is in accordance With you, Master.2  For the Master said: If one wishes his land to become sterile, let him sow it one year with wheat and the following with barley, one year lengthwise and the following crosswise.3  Yet that is only if he does not plough it [after the harvest] and repeat [before sowing]; but if he does, no harm is done.

[IF RENTED FOR] CEREALS, HE MAY NOT SOW PULSE, etc. Rab Judah taught Rabin: [If rented for] cereals, he may sow pulse. Said he to him: But did we not learn, [IF RENTED FOR] CEREALS, HE MAY NOT SOW PULSEE? — He replied: There is no difficulty; this [sc. my ruling] refers to ourselves; the other, to them [the Palestinians].4

Rab Judah said to Rabin son of R. Nahman: My brother Rabin! The cress that grows among flax is not forbidden [to strangers] as robbery;5  but that which grows on the borders [of the field] is so forbidden. Yet if it has become hardened for sowing,6  even that which grows among the flax is forbidden as robbery. Why? — Because the damage is already done.7

Rab Judah said to Rabin son of R. Nahman: [Some of] these [fruits] of mine are really yours; and some of yours are really mine.8  And the practice of abutting neighbours is to regard a tree as belonging to the field whither its roots tend. For it has been stated: If a tree stands by the boundary line [between two fields]: Rab said: Whither each is inclined, there it belongs; Samuel said: They share [therein].9

An objection is raised: If a tree stands by the boundary, they [the owners of the adjacent fields] share therein. This refutes Rab's ruling! — Samuel interpreted this on Rab's views as meaning that it takes up the whole [breadth of] the boundary.10  If so, why state it? — It is necessary [to teach it] only when its weight overhangs in one direction.11  But even so, why state it? — I might think that he [one field owner] can say, 'Divide thus.'12  Therefore we are informed that he can reply, 'What reason is there for dividing in this manner? Divide it otherwise!'13

Rab Judah said to Rabin son of R. Nahman: My brother Rabin, do not buy a field that is near a town; for R. Abbahu said in the name of R. Huna in Rab's name: One may not stand over his neighbour's field when its crop is full grown.14  But that is not so! For when R. Abba met Rab's disciples, and asked them: what comments did Rab make upon these verses: Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out?15  They answered him: Thus did Rab say: 'Blessed shalt thou be in the city' — that thy house shall be near a synagogue; 'and blessed shalt thou be in the field' — that thy property shall be near the city; 'Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in' — that thou shalt not find thy wife in doubt of niddah16  on returning home from thy travels; 'and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out' — that thine offsprings shall be as thee.17  Whereupon he observed: R. Johanan did not interpret thus, but: 'Blessed shalt thou be in the city' — that the privy closet shall be near to thy table,18  but not the synagogue.19  R. Johanan's interpretation is in accordance with his opinion, viz., One is rewarded for walking [to a synagogue]. 'And blessed shalt thou be in the field' — that thy estate shall be divided in three [equal] portions of cereals, Olives, and vines. 'Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out' — that thine exit from the world shall be as thine entry therein: just as thou enterest it without sin, so mayest thou leave it without!20

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. V. supra 78b. This proves that R. Simeon b. Gamaliel does not forbid a change of this description, where the original owner suffers no loss.
  2. Viz., Rabbah b. Nahmani; Abaye having been brought up in his house, he addressed him 'Mar', 'Master', 'Sir'.
  3. I.e., sowing in such succession injures the fertility of the soil. Therefore, if he leased it for wheat, he may not sow it with barley, in the opinion of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, lest wheat had been sown there the previous year.
  4. Palestine is not so well watered, and the impoverishment of the soil is a real danger; hence, if rented for cereals, pulse must not be sown, as they are a greater drain upon the soil. But Babylonian soil being more marshy and humid, there is no such danger. [According to Maim. Yad, Sekiroth, VIII, 7, the position of cereals and pulse is reversed throughout the passages, cf. p. 610, n. 8.]
  5. Because the injury it does to the flax is greater than its value, and the owner is pleased when people tear it out.
  6. I.e., fully grown.
  7. And it causes no further damage now.
  8. Their fields were contiguous, and each had trees planted near the intervening border. Rab Judah observed that some of his trees, though planted in his own soil, extended their roots into that of his neighbour and drew nourishment thence. Therefore those fruits really belonged to Rabin, and vice versa.
  9. Rashi translates: The tree stands near the boundary, whereon Rab rules that its ownership is fixed by the direction of its roots. Tosaf.: The tree stands actually on the boundary line, the roots spreading equally into both fields, and Rab rules that the ownership is fixed by its branches: it belongs to the field over which they preponderate.
  10. Rashi: The roots tending equally in both directions. Tosaf.: The branches overspread the whole boundary.
  11. Rashi: The weight of its branches and fruit are toward one side. Tosaf.: Though the branches are confined to the boundary, the fruit facing one field exceeds that which fronts the other.
  12. I.e., you take the fruit facing your field, and I will take that facing mine.
  13. E.g., instead of dividing the tree parallel to the length of the boundary, which gives one more than the other, divide it along its breadth.
  14. Lit., 'when it is with its standing crop'. The reason is that he might injure it through the evil eye.
  15. Deut. XXVIII, 3, 6.
  16. V. Glos.
  17. Translating the Heb. [H] 'in respect of that which goeth forth from thee.'
  18. Metaphorically: there shall be adequate and readily accessible sanitation.
  19. I.e., in his opinion it is not desirable that the synagogue shall be near at hand, because, as stated in the Gemara, one is rewarded for walking to the synagogue.
  20. Reverting to the interpretation given in the name of Rab, the second passage contradicts Rab Judah's remark.

Baba Mezi'a 107b

— There is no difficulty: the latter dictum is meant when it [the field] is surrounded by a wall and a hedge;1  the former, when it is not so surrounded.

And the Lord shall take away from thee all sickness.2  Said Rab: By this, the [evil] eye is meant.3  This is in accordance with his opinion [expressed elsewhere]. For Rab went up to a cemetery, performed certain charms,4  and then said: Ninety-nine [have died] through an evil eye, and one through natural causes. Samuel said: This refers to the wind. Samuel follows his views, for he said: All [illness] is caused by the wind. But according to Samuel, what of those executed by the State? — Those, too, but for the wind [which enters and plays upon the wound], an ointment could be compounded for them [which would cause the severed parts to grow together], and they would recover. R. Hanina said: This refers to the cold.5  For R. Hanina said: Everything is from Heaven, excepting cold draughts, as it is written, Cold draughts are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.6  R. Jose b. Hanina said: This refers to the excretions, for a Master said: The nasal and aural excretions are injurious when in great quantities, but beneficial in small. R. Eleazar said: This refers to [diseases of the] gall. It has been taught likewise: By mahala ['sickness',7  illness caused by the] gall is meant; and why is it called 'mahala'? Because it sickens the whole human frame. Alternatively, because eighty-three illnesses are dependent upon the gall,8  and all of them may be rendered nugatory by eating one's morning bread with salt and drinking a jugful of water.

Our Rabbis taught: Thirteen things were said of the morning bread: It is an antidote against heat and cold, winds and demons; instils wisdom into the simple, causes one to triumph in a lawsuit,9  enables one to study and teach the Torah, to have his words heeded, and retain scholarship;10  he [who partakes thereof] does not perspire, lives with his wife and does not lust after other women; and it kills the worms in one's intestines. Some say, it also expels jealousy and induces love.11

Rabbah asked Raba b. Mari: Whence comes the proverbial expression, 'Sixty runners speed along, but cannot overtake him who breaks bread in the morning;' also the Rabbinical dictum, 'Arise early and eat — in summer, on account of the heat, in winter, on account of the cold'? — He replied: Because it is written, They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the cold nor sun smite them.12  Thus, 'the cold or sun shall not smite them', because 'they shall not hunger nor thirst.' Said he to him: You deduce it from that verse; but I, from this: And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water:13  'And ye shall serve the Lord your God' — this refers to the reading of the shema'14  and prayer; 'and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water' — to bread and salt and a jug of water. Thenceforth: And I will take sickness away front the midst of thee.15

Rab Judah said to R. Adda the surveyor: Do not treat surveying lightly. because every bit [of ground] is fit for garden saffron.16  Rab Judah [also] said to R. Adda the surveyor: The four cubits on the canal banks you may treat lightly, but those on the river banks do not measure at all.17  Rab Judah is in harmony with his views, for Rab' Judah said: Four cubits on the banks of a canal belong to the estate owners it serves; but those on the banks of a river are common property.18

R. Ammi announced: Cut down [all vegetation] in the shoulderbreadth of bargees on both sides of the river.19  R. Nathan b. Hoshia had sixteen cubits thus cut down. Thereupon the people of Mashrunia20  came and smote him. He thought that it is as a public thoroughfare.21  But that is incorrect; only there [for a public road] is so much necessary, but here it [the clear space] is required for hauling the ropes; therefore the full shoulderwidth of the bargees is enough.

Rabbah son of R. Huna possessed a forest by the river bank. Being requested to make a clearing [by the water's edge], he replied, 'Let the owners above and below me first clear [their portion], and then I will cut down mine.' But how might he act so? Is it not written, Gather yourselves together, yea, gather:22  which Resh Lakish translated, First adorn yourself, and then adorn others?23  — In that Instance the [neighbouring] forests belonged to Parzak, the Field-marshal.24  Therefore he [Rabbah] said: 'If they cut down [their forests], I will do so likewise; but if not, why should I? For if they can still haul their ropes,25  they have room for walking;

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Which shut it out from sight; then it is advantageous to have it near the town, for convenience of transport, whilst at the same time it is not subject to the evil eye.
  2. Ibid. VII, 15.
  3. Rab translates: will take away from thee the cause of all sickness, which in his view is the evil eye.
  4. Lit., 'did what he did,' and so translated by Rashi. By means of whispering certain charms over the graves he learnt what had caused the death of their occupants.
  5. Deriving [H] from [H] to blow; others: cold and heat, connecting [H] with [H], a glowing coal. V. A.Z. (Sonc. ed.) p. 11, n. 2.
  6. Prov. XXII, 5; i.e., sickness brought about through these causes are avoidable, but through all others are not.
  7. With reference to Ex. XXIII, 25.
  8. The numerical value of [H] is 83. V. B.K. (Sonc. ed.) p. 535, nn. 6-7
  9. The contentedness and tranquility which result from it enables the litigant to make the best of his plea.
  10. All these as in preceding note.
  11. Rashi: when man's mind is confused, be is easily angered — hence. 'feed the brute.'
  12. Isa. XLIX. 10.
  13. Ex. XXIII. 25.
  14. V. Glos.
  15. Ibid.
  16. A particularly choice quality of saffron. As a surveyor, he measured out land in business transactions, divided inheritances, etc.
  17. No sowing was permitted within four cubits of the border of a canal so as not to damage its banks. These four cubits were marked off, and Rab Judah told R. Adda that he was not to be particular to measure them exactly. The four cubits on river banks were similarly treated, and Rab Judah observed that these need not be measured at all, but simply guessed.
  18. Therefore they must be given very liberally, hence he told him merely to guess the measurement.
  19. The bargees pulled the laden boats whilst they walked on the river bank. They naturally walked in a slanting fashion, bearing away from the river, and the full breadth that they might need had to be kept clear.
  20. To whom the forest belonged.
  21. For which sixteen cubits are given; B.B. 99b.
  22. Zeph. II, I.
  23. By connecting [H], the root of [H], with [H], 'to adorn.' Be just yourself, before demanding it of others.
  24. V. supra p. 295, n. 8.
  25. Notwithstanding that the noble's forests are not cleared.