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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
GEMARA. How do we know it? — For our Rabbis taught: [Then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges …] For all manner of trespass:1 Beth Shammai maintain: This teaches that he is liable on account of [unlawful] intention just as for an [unlawful] act. But Beth Hillel say: He is not liable until he actually puts it to use, for it is said, [to see] whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour's goods. Said Beth Shammai to Beth Hillel: But it is already stated, For any word2 of trespass! Whereupon Beth Hillel retorted to Beth Shammai: But it is already stated, [to see] whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour's goods! If so, what is the teaching of, for any word of trespass? For I might have thought: I know it only of himself;3 whence do I know [that he is liable if] he instructed his servant or his agent [to use it]? From the teaching, For any word of trespass.4
IF HE INCLINES THE BARREL, etc. Rabbah said: This was taught only if it is broken: if, however, it soured, he must pay for the whole of it. Why? It was his arrows that affected it.5
BUT IF HE LIFTS IT, AND TAKES [A REBI'ITH] FROM IT, etc. Samuel said: 'TAKES' is not meant literally, but once he lifts it up in order to take [he is henceforth responsible] even if he does not take it. Shall we say that in Samuel's opinion [unlawful] use need not involve loss?6 — I will tell you: That is not so, but here it is different, because he desires that the whole barrel shall be subservient to this rebi'ith.7
R. Ashi propounded: What then if he lifts up a purse in order to take a denar therefrom? Is it wine alone that can be guarded only by means of other wine,8 whereas a zuz can be guarded [by itself]; or perhaps, the care given to a purse is not the same as that of a [single] denar?9 The question stands.
MISHNAH. GOLD ACQUIRES SILVER, BUT SILVER DOES NOT ACQUIRE GOLD; COPPER ACQUIRES SILVER, BUT SILVER DOES NOT ACQUIRE COPPER; CANCELLED COINS ACQUIRE CURRENT ONES, BUT CURRENT COINS DO NOT ACQUIRE CANCELLED COINS; UNCOINED METAL ACQUIRES COINED, BUT COINED METAL DOES NOT ACQUIRE UNCOINED METAL; MOVABLES ACQUIRE COINS, BUT COINS DO NOT ACQUIRE MOVABLES. THIS IS THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE:10 ALL MOVABLES ACQUIRE EACH OTHER. E.G., IF [A] DREW INTO HIS POSSESSION [B'S] PRODUCE WITHOUT PAYING HIM THE MONEY, HE CANNOT RETRACT. IF HE PAID HIM THE MONEY BUT DID NOT DRAW INTO HIS POSSESSION HIS PRODUCE, HE CAN WITHDRAW. BUT THEY [SC. THE SAGES] SAID: HE WHO PUNISHED THE GENERATION OF THE FLOOD AND THE GENERATION OF THE DISPERSION,11 HE WILL TAKE VENGEANCE OF HIM WHO DOES NOT STAND BY HIS WORD. R. SIMEON SAID: HE WHO HAS THE MONEY IN HIS HAND HAS THE ADVANTAGE.12
GEMARA. Rabbi13 taught his son R. Simeon: Gold acquires silver. Said he to him: Master, in your youth you did teach us, Silver acquires gold; now, advanced in age, you reverse it and teach, Gold acquires silver. Now, how did he reason in his youth, and how did he reason in his old age? — In his youth he reasoned: Since gold is more valuable, it ranks as money; whilst silver, which is of lesser value, is regarded as produce: hence [the delivery of] produce effects a title to the money. But at a later age he reasoned: Since silver [coin]
Baba Mezi'a 44b
is current, it ranks as money; whilst gold, which is not current, is accounted as produce, and so the produce effects a title to the money.
R. Ashi said: Reason supports the opinion held in his youth, since it [the Mishnah] teaches: COPPER ACQUIRES SILVER. Now, should you agree that silver ranks as produce vis a vis gold, it is well: hence it states, COPPER ACQUIRES SILVER, to show that though it is accounted as produce in relation to gold, it ranks as money in respect of copper; but should you maintain that silver ranks as money in respect of gold, then [the question arises:] If in relation to gold, which is more valuable, you say that it ranks as money, is it necessary [to state so] in relation to copper, seeing that it is both more valuable and also current?1 — It is necessary:2 I might have thought that the [copper] coins,3 where they do circulate, have greater currency than silver:4 therefore we are taught that since there is a place where they have no circulation,5 they rank as produce.
Now, R. Hiyya too regards gold [coin] as money. For Rab once borrowed [gold] denarii from R. Hiyya's daughter. Subsequently, denarii having appreciated, he went before R. Hiyya.6 'Go and repay her current and full-weight coin,' he ordered. Now, if you agree that gold ranks as money, it is well.7 But should you maintain that it is produce, it is the equivalent of [borrowing] a se'ah for a se'ah [to be repaid later], which is forbidden?8 — [That does not prove it, for] Rab himself possessed [gold] denarii [when he incurred the debt], and that being so, it is just as though he had said to her, 'Lend me until my son comes', or 'until I find the key.'9
Raba said: The following Tanna is of the opinion that gold is money. For it has been taught: The perutah which they [the Sages] spoke of is an eighth of an Italian issar.10 What is the practical bearing thereof? In respect of a woman's kiddushin.11 The issar is a twenty-fourth of a silver denar. What is the practical bearing thereof? In respect to buying and selling.12 A silver denar is a twenty-fifth of a gold denar. What is the practical bearing thereof? In respect to the redemption of the firstborn.13 Now, if you agree that it [gold] is accounted as money, it is well: the Tanna thus assesses [the coins] on something of fixed value.14 But should you say that it ranks as produce; can the Tanna give an assessment on the basis of that which rises and falls in value? Sometimes the priest may have to give him change.15 whilst at others he [the father] will have to give an additional sum to the priest!16 Hence it is proved that it ranks as money. This proof is conclusive.
We learnt elsewhere: Beth Shammai say: One must not turn [silver] sela's into gold denarii; but Beth Hillel permit it.17 Now, R. Johanan and Resh Lakish [differ thereon]: One maintains that the dispute concerns exchanging sela's for denarii. Beth Shammai holds that silver [coin] ranks as money, whereas gold counts as produce, and money may not be redeemed by produce.18 Whilst In the opinion of Beth Hillel, silver [coin] ranks as produce and gold as money, and produce may be redeemed by money. But all agree that [actual] produce may be redeemed by [gold] denarii. Why so? By analogy with silver [coin] on the view of Beth Hillel. [Thus: consider] silver according to Beth Hillel, though ranking as produce vis a vis gold, it nevertheless counts as money in respect to [real] produce. So is gold too according to Beth Shammai; though accounted as produce vis a vis silver, it ranks as money in respect to [real] produce. But the other maintains: The dispute concerns the exchanging of [real] produce for [gold] denarii too,19
Now, on the view that the dispute concerns the exchanging of [real] produce for [gold] denarii too, [then] instead of stating their dispute in reference to the exchange of sela's for denarii, let them state it with reference to [actual] produce for denarii!-If the dispute were thus taught, I might have thought that it applies only to the exchange of produce for denarii; but as for exchanging sela'im for denarii, Beth Hillel concede to Beth Shammai that gold vis a vis silver ranks as produce and that [silver] may consequently not be redeemed [by gold]: therefore we are informed [that it is not so].
It may be proved that it is R. Johanan who holds that it may not be redeemed thus.20 For R. Johanan said:
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