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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
And the other? — That is needed, even as it has been taught: And he setteth1 his soul [i.e., life] upon it: why did this man [the labourer] ascend the ladder, suspend himself from the tree, and risk death itself; was it not that you should pay him his wages?2 Another interpretation: And he setteth his soul upon it [teaches]: he who withholds an employee's wages is as though he deprived him of his life. R. Huna and R. Hisda [differ on this]: one says. The life of the robber [is meant];3 the other, The life of the robbed. The view that the life of the robber is meant is based on the verse, Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:4 which is followed by, For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.5 Whilst the opinion that it means the life of the robbed follows from, So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; he taketh away the life of its [rightful] owner.6 And the other too: is it not written, he taketh away the life of its [rightful] owner? — It means, of its present owner.7 And the other too: is it not written, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them? — That states a reason. Thus: Why shall he spoil those that spoiled them? — Because they took their lives.8
WHEN IS THAT? ONLY IF HE DEMANDED IT OF HIM; BUT OTHERWISE, THERE IS NO INFRINGEMENT. Our Rabbis taught: The wages of him that is hired shall not abide all night. I might think this holds good even if he did not demand it. Therefore Scripture writes, 'with thee,' meaning., by thy desire.9 I might think that even if he lacks it, he is still guilty: but Scripture states, 'with thee,' meaning, only when it [the hire] is with thee. I might think that it [the prohibition] is in force even if he gave him an order to a trader or a money-changer in his favour; but Scripture teaches, 'with thee',10 but not if he gave him an order to a trader or a money-changer on his behalf.
IF HE GAVE HIM AN ORDER TO A SHOPKEEPER OR A MONEYCHANGER ON HIS BEHALF, HE IS NOT GUILTY OF INFRINGEMENT. The scholars propounded: Can he [the employee] return [to the employer] or not?11 — R. Shesheth ruled: He cannot return [to him]; Rabbah held: He can return. Rabbah said: Whence do I infer this? — Since it is taught: HE IS NOT GUILTY OF INFRINGEMENT, it is implied, there is only no infringement, yet he can return to him [for payment].12 But R. Shesheth explained: What is meant by, HE IS NOT GUILTY OF INFRINGEMENT? He is no longer within the ambit of infringement.13
R. Shesheth was asked: Does the injunction. 'The wages of him that is hired shall not abide all night' hold good in respect of a contract or not?14 Does the artisan obtain a title in return for the improvement [he effected] in the article, so that it [his wages] rank as a loan, or does he not, and hence it is considered wages?15 — R. Shesheth replied: One does transgress [the law]. But has it not been taught: There is no transgression [in this case]? — There it means that he gave him an order to a shopkeeper or a money-changer.
Shall we say that the following supports him: If one gave his garment to an artisan [i.e., cloth, to make a garment, which he completed and then informed him [that it was ready], even after ten days he does not transgress [the law], 'Thou shalt not keep all night'. But if he delivered it to him [even] at midday, as soon as the sun sets upon it he is guilty of the transgression. Now, should you say that the artisan obtains a title in return for the improvement [he effects upon] the article, why is he guilty [of that transgression]? — R. Mari son of R. Kahana said: This refers to the removal of the woolly surface of a thick coat.16 But why did he give it to him [to do this]? [Surely] to soften it! Then that is its improvement?17 — But this holds good only if he engaged him for stamping,18 every stamping manipulation for a ma'ah.19
Baba Mezi'a 112b
A HIRED LABOURER, WITHIN THE SET TIME, SWEARS AND IS PAID. Why did the Rabbis enact that a hired labourer should swear and receive [payment]?1 — Rab Judah said in Samuel's name: Great laws were taught here.2 Are these then [traditional] 'laws'?3 They are surely merely [Rabbinical] measures! — But said Rab Judah in Samuel's name: Important enactments were taught here. 'Important'? Does that imply the existence of unimportant ones?4 — But, said R. Nahman in Samuel's name: Fixed5 measures were taught here. Thus: The oath is the employer's privilege, but the Rabbis took it away from the employer and imposed it upon the employee, for the sake of his livelihood. And on account of the employee's livelihood, are we to cause loss to the employer?6 — The employer himself is pleased that the employee should swear and be paid, so that workers should engage themselves to him. [On the contrary], the employee himself is pleased that the employer should take an oath and be exempt, so that he should engage him! — The employer is bound to engage [labourers]. But the employee too is forced to seek employment! — But [the reason is that] the employer is busily occupied with his labourers.7 If so, let us award it [the wages] to him without an oath! — [The oath is] in order to appease the employer. Then let him pay him in the presence of witnesses.8 — It is too much trouble. Then let him pay him in advance!9 — Both prefer credit.10 If so,11 even if the dispute concerns a stipulated amount,12 it should be likewise so. Why then has it been taught: If the labourer maintains, 'You arranged with me for two [zuz].' and the other [sc. the employer] pleads, 'I arranged only for one,' the plaintiff must furnish proof?13 — The stipulated wage is certainly well remembered. [Again] if so, even if the set time passed, he should also be believed. Why did we learn: BUT IF HIS SET TIME PASSED, HE CANNOT SWEAR AND RECEIVE PAYMENT? — It is a presumption that the employer will not transgress [the law]. The wages of him that is hired etc. But have you not said that he is busy with his employees? — That is only before his obligation matures;
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