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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
Precisely so: He is indeed thrown upon him, because it is written, and thine shall be the righteousness.1
The scholars propounded: Is an assessment made for a debtor? Do we adduce [the law of] 'poverty' [written here] from that of 'valuations'2 or not? — Come and hear: For Rabin sent word in his letter:3 I asked this thing of all my teachers, and they gave me no answer thereon. But in truth, the following problem was raised:4 If one Says. 'I vow a maneh for Temple purposes.'5 is he assessed?6 R. Jacob, on the authority of Bar Pada, and R. Jeremiah, on the authority of Ilfa, said: [It follows] a minori from an ordinary debtor: if no assessment is made even for a debtor, to whom [the p]edge] is returned;7 then in regard to hekdesh,8 where it [the pledge] is not returned, Surely, there is no assessment! But R. Johanan ruled: It is written, [When a person shall make] a vow by thy valuation [shall the persons be for the Lord]:9 just as a means test is applied for 'valuations', so also for a vow to hekdesh. And the other?10 — That is to teach the judgment [of a limb] according to its importance: just as in 'valuations' [a limb] is judged according to its importance, so in a vow to hekdesh too.11
But let there be an assessment for a debtor, a minori from 'valuations': If an assessment is made in the case of 'valuations', where [the pledge] is not returned: then surely there should be an assessment for a debtor, where [the pledge] is returned: — Scripture writes, But if he be poorer than thy estimation: 'he', but not a debtor. And the other?12 — This teaches that he must remain in his poverty from beginning to end.13
Now, in the case of [a vow to] hekdesh, let it [the pledge] be returned,14 a minori from a debtor: If it [the pledge] is returned to a debtor, for whom there is no means test, surely it is returned in the case of [a vow to] hekdesh, seeing that an assessment is made there! — The Writ saith, That he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee.15 thus excluding hekdesh, which needs no blessing. Does it not? But it is written, When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God!16 But Scripture saith, And it shall be accounted as righteousness [i.e., a charitable act] unto thee:17 hence it [the law of returning] holds good only for him [the creditor] for whom the act of righteousness is necessary.18 thus excluding hekdesh [as a creditor], which does not require [the merit of] righteousness.
Rabbah b. Abbuha met Elijah19 standing in a non-Jewish cemetery. Said he to him: Is a means test to be applied in favour of a debtor? — He replied: We deduce [the law of] poverty [written here] from that of 'valuations'. In respect of 'valuations' it is written, But if he be poorer than thy valuation […according to the means of him that vowed shall the priest value him]. Whilst of a debtor it is written, And if thy brother be waxen poor [… then thou shalt relieve him].
Baba Mezi'a 114b
[He asked him further:] Whence do we know that a naked man must not separate [terumah]? — From the verse, That He see no unclean thing in thee.1 Said he [Rabbah] to him: Art thou not a priest:2 why then dost thou stand in a cemetery?3 — He replied: Has the Master not studied the laws of purity?4 For it has been taught: R. Simeon b. Yohai said: The graves of Gentiles do not defile, for it is written, And ye my flock, the flock of my pastures, are men;5 only ye are designated 'men'.6 — He replied: I cannot even adequately study the four [orders]; can I then study six?7 And why? he inquired. — I am too hard-pressed,8 he answered. He then led him into Paradise and said to him: Remove thy robe and collect and take away some of these leaves. So he gathered them and carried them off. As he was coming out, he heard a remark, 'Who would so consume his [portion in] the world [to come] as Rabbah b. Abbuha has done?' Thereupon he scattered and threw them away. Yet even so, since he had carried them in his robe, it had absorbed their fragrance, and so he sold it for twelve thousand denarii, which he distributed among his sons-in-law.
Our Rabbis taught: And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep in his pledge:9 hence, if he is wealthy, thou mayest sleep thus. What does this mean?10 — Said R. Shesheth: This is the meaning: And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep whilst his pledge is in thy possession; but if he is wealthy, thou mayest do so.11
Our Rabbis taught: If a man lends [money] to his fellow, he may not take a pledge of him, nor is he bound to return it to him, and he transgresses all these injunctions.12 What does this mean? — R. Shesheth said: This: If a man lends [money] to his fellow, he may not [himself] take a pledge of him; and if he did take a pledge of him [by means of a court officer], he is bound to return it;13 whilst 'he transgresses all these injunctions' refers to the last clause.14 Raba said: It is thus meant: If a man lends money to his neighbour, he may not take a pledge of him [himself], and if he took a pledge of him [through the court], he must return it.15 Now, when is this? If the pledge was not taken at the time of the loan.16 But if it was taken at the time of the loan,17 he is not bound to return it to him.18 Whilst 'and he transgresses all these injunctions' refers to the first clause.19
R. Shizebi recited before Raba: Thou shalt return it unto him until the sun goeth down20 — this refers to night attire; in any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down — to an object of day attire. Said he to him: Of what use is an article of day attire by night,21 and a night attire by day? Shall I then delete it? he asked. — No, was his reply. It reads thus: Thou shalt return it unto him until the sun goeth down — this refers to an article of day attire, which may be taken in pledge by night; in any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down — to a night attire, which may be taken in pledge by day. R. Johanan said: If he took a pledge of him, [returned it,] and then he [the debtor] died, he may distrain it from his children. An objection is raised: R. Meir said: Now, since a pledge is taken, why is it returned?22 'Why is it returned?' [you ask.]23 — Surely Scripture ordered, Return it! But [say thus]: Since it is returned,
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