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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
EIGHT PUNDIONS, WHICH IS TWO PUNDIONS PER DENAR.1 UNTIL WHAT TIME IS HE [THE DEFRAUDED PARTY] PERMITTED2 TO RETRACT? IN TOWNS, UNTIL HE CAN SHEW [THE COINS] TO A MONEY-CHANGER; IN VILLAGES,3 UNTIL [THE FOLLOWING] SABBATH EVE.4 IF HE RECOGNISED IT, HE MUST ACCEPT IT BACK FROM HIM EVEN AFTER A TWELVE MONTH; AND HE HAS NOTHING BUT RESENTMENT AGAINST HIM.5 AND ONE MAY REDEEM6 THE SECOND TITHE THEREWITH AND HAVE NO FEAR,7 BECAUSE IT IS MERE CHURLISHNESS.8
GEMARA. Now, the following is opposed [to the Mishnah]: To what extent is the sela' to be deficient to involve overreaching?9 — Said R. Papa. There is no difficulty: Our Tanna reckons in an ascending fashion,10 whilst the Tanna of the Baraitha reckons in a descending fashion.11 Wherein do a sela' and a garment differ, that there is a dispute on the former but not the latter?12 — Said Raba: Which Tanna is the authority for [one-sixth in the case of] a garment? R. Simeon.13 Abaye said: In the case of a garment, one forgives [overreaching] up to a sixth, because people say, 'overpay for your back, but [give] only the exact worth for your stomach.'14 But as for a sela', since it does not [readily] circulate,15 one does not forgive [a deficiency].
[To turn] to the main text: To what extent is the sela' to be deficient to involve overreaching? R. Meir said, Four issars, which is one issur per denar; R. Judah said: Four pundions, which is one pundion per denar; R. Simeon said: Eight pundions, which is two pundions per denar. Above that, it may be sold at its [intrinsic] worth — By how much may it depreciate that it shall still be permissible to keep it? In the case of a sela', [it can depreciate] as far as a shekel;16 in the case of a denar, as far as a quarter.17 If it is an issar less, it is forbidden.18 One may not sell it to a merchant, highwayman, or murderer,19 because they cheat others with it, but should pierce and suspend it around the neck of his son or daughter.20
The Master said: 'In the case of a sela', as far as a shekel; in the case of a denar, as far as a quarter.' Wherein does a sela' differ from a denar, that [the permitted deficiency of] a sela' is [only] as far as a shekel [i.e., half its value], whereas [that of] a denar is 'as far as a quarter? — Said Abaye: What is meant by 'a quarter?' A quarter shekel.21 Said Raba: This may be proved too, since he [the Tanna] teaches. 'as far as a quarter',22 and not a fourth part;23 this proves it. But why should the denar be correlated to the shekel?24 — He [the Tanna] thereby incidentally informs us that there is a kind of denar which is derived from a shekel.25 This supports R. Ammi. For R. Ammi said: A denar which is derived from a shekel may be kept; from a sela', it may not be kept.26
'If it is an issar less, it is forbidden.' What does this mean? — Abaye said, It means this: if the sela' depreciated by an issar more than the standard for overreaching,27 it may not be [expended].28 Raba demurred: If so, even [if the depreciation exceeds it but] slightly, it is likewise so!29 But, said Raba, if the sela' depreciated an issar to the denar, it is forbidden [to offer it as a sela'], this anonymous ruling agreeing with R. Meir.
We learnt elsewhere: If a sela' became unfit,30 and it was prepared31 for use as a weight, it is [liable to become] unclean.32 How much may it depreciate that it shall still be permissible to keep it? In the case of a sela', up to two denarii.33 [When it is worth] less than this, it must be cut up.34 What if [it is worth] more than this? R. Huna said: if worth less, it must be cut up, and if worth more than this, it must [also] be cut up.35 R. Ammi said: If worth less, it must be cut up; but if worth more than this, it may be kept [as it is].
An objection is raised:
Baba Mezi'a 52b
Above that,it may be sold at its [intrinsic] worth.1 Surely that means that it depreciated by more than the limit for overreaching?2 — No; 'above that' [means it is worth more] not yet having depreciated to an extent involving overreaching: then it may be sold at its intrinsic value.
An objection is raised: By how much may it depreciate that it shall still be permissible to keep it? In the case of a sela', [it can depreciate] as far as a shekel. Surely that means that it depreciated little by little?3 — No; it means that it fell into a fire and so lost in value all at once.
The Master said: 'He should pierce and suspend it around the neck of his son or daughter.' But the following contradicts it: One must not employ it4 as a weight,5 cast it amongst his scrap-metal nor pierce and suspend it around the neck of his son or daughter; but must either pound it [to dust], melt it down, mutilate or cast it into the salt sea! — Said R. Eleazar — others state, R. Huna in R. Eleazar's name: There is no difficulty; the former refers to the middle [of the coins], the latter to its edge.6
UNTIL WHAT TIME IS HE [THE DEFRAUDED PARTY] PERMITTED TO RETRACT? IN TOWNS, UNTIL HE CAN SHEW [THE COINS] TO A MONEY-CHANGER; IN VILLAGES, UNTIL [THE FOLLOWING] SABBATH EVE. Why is a distinction [between towns and villages] made in respect to a sela' but not to a garment? — Abaye answered: Our Mishnah too, when it treats of a garment, refers to towns — Raba said: As for a garment, everyone has expert knowledge therein;7 whereas in regard to a sela', since not every man can value it save a money-changer alone, it follows that in towns, where a money-changer is available, [he can retract] only until he shews it to a money-changer; whereas in villages, where none is available, [the period is] until Sabbath eve, when they [the villagers] go up to market.8
IF HE RECOGNISED IT, HE MUST ACCEPT IT BACK FROM HIM EVEN AFTER A TWELVEMONTH etc. Where [is this]? If in towns? But you have said, UNTIL HE CAN SHEW [THE COINS] TO A MONEY-CHANGER! Again, if in villages? But you have said, UNTIL [THE FOLLOWING] SABBATH EVE! — Said R. Hisda: Here a measure of piety was taught.9 If so, consider the second clause: AND HE HAS NOTHING BUT RESENTMENT AGAINST HIM. To whom does this refer? If to the pious man,10 let him neither accept it nor bear resentment against him!11 But if to the one from whom he accepted it, then after having had it accepted from him, should he bear resentment? — It means thus: but as for another person,12 even if he does not re-accept it from him, he [to whom it was given as a full coin] HAS NOTHING BUT RESENTMENT AGAINST HIM.
AND ONE MAY REDEEM THE SECOND TITHE THEREWITH AND HAVE NO FEAR, BECAUSE IT IS MERE CHURLISHNESS. R. Papa said: This proves that he who is exacting in respect to coins13 is dubbed a churl;14 providing, however, that they [still] circulate.
This [the Mishnah] supports Hezekiah, for Hezekiah said: When he comes to exchange it, he must exchange it as its intrinsic value; if he comes to redeem therewith, he estimates it at a proper [coin].15 What does he mean?16 — He means this: Though when he comes to exchange it, he exchanges it at its present value,17 yet when he redeems [second tithe] therewith, he may estimate it as a good [coin].18 Shall we say that Hezekiah holds that the second tithe may be treated disparagingly?19 But did not Hezekiah say: With respect to second tithe [produce] worth less than a perutah, one may declare, 'It, together with its fifth,20 is redeemed with the first money [of redemption];'21 because it is impossible for a person to calculate his money exactly!22 — What is meant by 'a proper [coin]'? On the basis of the proper value [of the coin], because it [the second tithe] may not be lightly treated in two respects.23
The [above] text stated: 'Hezekiah said: With respect to second tithe [produce] worth less than a perutah, one may declare, "It, together with its fifth, is redeemed by the first money [of redemption];" because it is impossible for a person to calculate his money exactly.' An objection is raised: For terumah and the first fruits24 one is liable to death and [the addition of] a fifth;25
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