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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
for I interpret the Mishnayoth in accordance with his views. For R. Oshaia taught: If a man was his neighbour's creditor for a maneh, and he went and stood at his granary and said, 'Repay me my money, as I wish to purchase wheat therewith,' and he [the debtor] replied, 'I have wheat which I will supply you; go and charge me therewith against my debt at the current price.' The time came for selling,1 and he said to him, 'Give me the wheat,2 which I wish to sell and purchase wine with the proceeds;' to which he replied, 'I have wine; go and assess it for me at the current price.' Then the time came for selling wine, and he said to him, 'Give me my wine, for I wish to sell it and purchase oil for it;' to which he replied, 'I have oil to supply you; go and assess it for me at the current price:' in all these cases, if he possesses [these commodities] it is permitted; if not, it is forbidden.3 [So in the Mishnah.] And what is meant by 'IF A MAN PURCHASED'? He purchased against his debt.4 Raba said: Three deductions follow from R. Oshaia: [i] the debt may be offset against provisions, and we do not say, it is not as if the issar had come to his hand;5 [ii] but only if he [the debtor] possesses [these commodities]; and [iii] R. Jannai's view is correct, viz., what is the difference between them themselves [sc. the provisions] and the value thereof?6 For it was stated: Rab said: One may buy on trust against [future delivery of] crops, but not against [repayment of] money at [future prices].7 But R. Jannai said: What is the difference between them themselves [sc. the crops] and the value thereof?8
An objection was raised: In all these cases, if he possesses [these commodities], it is permitted.9 — R. Huna answered in Rab's name: This means that he drew [the produce into his possession].10 If he drew it into his possession, need it be taught?11 — But, e.g., he assigned a corner [of the granary] to him.12 Samuel said: This is taught in accordance with R. Judah, who ruled: One-sided usury is permitted.13 For it has been taught: If a man was his neighbour's creditor for a maneh, for which he [conditionally] sold him his field;14 if the vendor enjoys the usufruct, it is permitted; if the purchaser, it is forbidden.15 R. Judah ruled: Even if the purchaser has the usufruct, it is permitted.16 R. Judah said to them: It once happened that Boethus b. Zunin [conditionally] sold his field, with the approval of R. Eleazar b. Azariah, and the purchaser took the usufruct. Said they to him: [Would you adduce] proof from thence? The vendor enjoyed its usufruct, not the purchaser. Wherein do they17 differ? — Abaye said: They differ with respect to one-sided interest.18 Raba said: They differ with respect to interest [received] on condition that it shall be returned.19
Raba said: Now that R. Jannai ruled:
Baba Mezi'a 63b
We reason, 'What is the difference between them themselves [sc. the crops] and their value?' we argue [conversely] too, 'What is the difference between their value and them themselves?' and [consequently] one may contract to supply [provisions] at the current market price even if he has none.1 R. papa and R. Huna the son of R. Joshua objected to Raba's [statement]: In all these cases, if he possesses [these commodities], it is permitted; if not, it is forbidden!2 — He answered them: There [the reference is to] a loan, here to a sale.
Rabbah and R. Joseph both said: Why did the Rabbis rule, A man may contract to supply [provisions] at the current market price, even if he has none? Because he [the purchaser] can say to him [the vendor], 'Take your favours and throw them in the bush! How do you benefit me? Had I money, I could have bought cheaply in Hini and Shili.'3 Abaye said to R. Joseph: If so, should it not be permitted to lend a se'ah for a se'ah, since he [the borrower] could say, Take your favours and throw them in the bush! For,' he could argue, 'would my wheat have gone to ruin in my granary?' — He replied: There it is a loan, here a purchase. R. Adda b. Abba said to Raba: But he would have to pay money to a broker!4 — He replied: He [the purchaser] must give that too to him. R. Ashi said: people's money is their broker.5
Rabbah and R. Joseph both said: He who advances money at the early market price6 must [personally] appear at the granary. For what purpose? If to acquire it — but he does not thereby acquire it!7 If that he [the vendor] may have to submit to [the curse], 'He who punished, etc.,'8 — even without his appearing there, he must submit thereto! — In truth, it is that he may submit to the curse; but he who advances money on an early market generally gives it to two or three people:9 hence, if he appears before him, [he shews] that he relies upon him [for supplies]; but if not, he [the vendor] can plead, 'I thought that you found better produce than mine, and bought it [intending that I should return your money].' R. Ashi said: Now that you say it is because of his relying upon him, then even if he met him in the market and said to him, ['I rely upon you',] he relies upon him.10
R. Nahman said: The general principle of usury is: All payment for waiting [for one's money] is forbidden. R. Nahman also said: If one gives money to a wax merchant, when it is priced at four [standard measures per zuz], and he [the vendor] proposes,'I will supply you five [per zuz];'11 if he possesses it, it is permitted; if not, it is forbidden. But this is obvious!12 — It is necessary [to teach this] only when he has [wax] credits in town:13 I might think that in such a case it is as though [he had said, 'Lend me] until my son comes, or until I find the key:'14 therefore he teaches, since it must yet be collected, it is as non-existent.
R. Nahman also said: If one borrows money from his neighbour and found a surplus therein, if it is an amount about which there could be an error, he must return it; otherwise, it is simply a gift. When is it 'an amount about which there could be an error'? — R. Abba, the son of R. Joseph said:
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