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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
In [denominations of] tens or fives.1 R. Aha the son of Raba asked R. Ashi: But what if he [the lender] is a hard man, who never gives presents? — He replied: He may have robbed him [on a previous occasion], and now included it in the total sum. For it has been taught: If one robbed his neighbour, and then included it in the account, he is quit [of his obligation]. But what if he [the lender] had come from elsewhere, and had never had business dealings with him? — He replied: He [the borrower] might have been robbed by some other person, and might say to him [the lender], 'When so and so borrows money from you, include this in the sum.'
R. Kahana said: I was sitting at the end of Rab's sessions,2 and heard him repeatedly mention 'gourds',3 but did not know what he meant. After Rab arose [and departed], I asked them [sc. the students], To what did Rab refer in his repeated mention of gourds'? — They answered me, Thus did Rab say: If a man gives money to a gardener for gourds, ten gourds of a span's length being priced [at a zuz], and says to him, 'I will give you [gourds] a cubit in length [for the money];' if he actually has them, it is permitted; but if not,4 it is forbidden.5 Is this not obvious? — I might think, since they naturally grow large [without requiring labour], it is in order. He therefore taught [otherwise]. With whom does this agree? — With the following Tanna. For it has been taught: If one is going to milk his goats, shear his sheep, or remove the honey from the combs, and meeting his neighbour, says to him, 'The milk which my goats will yield is sold to you; the wool sheared from my sheep is sold to you; the honey to be removed from my combs is sold to you;' it is permitted.6 But if he said to him, 'So much of my goats' milk yield is sold to you; so much of my sheep's shearings is sold to you; or so much of the honey which will be removed from the honeycombs is sold to you,'7 it is forbidden.8 Now, though such yield comes naturally,9 yet since it is non-existent just then [when the transaction is made], it is forbidden.10 Others Say, Raba ruled [in reference to the gourds]: Since they grow naturally, it is permitted. But it has been taught that 'so much and so much'11 is forbidden! — There, the increase is not in [the product] itself, for the present yield is taken and other comes in its stead;12 here, however, that itself [the produce he has in his garden] increases [in size], for if that is taken away, others do not grow in its place.13
Abaye said: A man may say to his neighbour, 'Here are four zuz for a barrel of wine; if it turns sour, it is in your ownership;14 but if it appreciates or depreciates [in value], it is in mine.' Said R. Sherabia to Abaye:
Baba Mezi'a 64b
But that is near to profit [if it appreciates] and remote from loss.1 — He replied: Since he accepts the risk of depreciation, it is near to both [profit and loss].
MISHNAH. IF A MAN LENDS [MONEY] TO HIS NEIGHBOUR, HE MUST NOT LIVE RENT-FREE IN HIS COURT, NOR AT A LOW RENT, BECAUSE THAT CONSTITUTES USURY.
GEMARA. R. Joseph b. Minyomi said in R. Nahman's name: Though it has been ruled, if one dwells in his neighbour's court without his knowledge, he need not pay him rent, yet if he lent him [money] and then dwelt in his court, he must pay him rent. What does he teach us? We have [already] learnt: IF A MAN LENDS [MONEY] TO HIS NEIGHBOUR, HE MUST NOT LIVE RENT-FREE IN HIS COURT, NOR AT A LOW RENT, BECAUSE THAT CONSTITUTES USURY? — If from the Mishnah, I might have thought that that holds good only of a court which exists for letting, and a man [sc. the creditor] who generally rents. But if it is a court which is not for letting, and a person who does not generally rent,2 I would say, It is not so:3 therefore he teaches us [otherwise].
Others say: R. Joseph b. Minyomi said in R. Nahman's name: Though it has been ruled, If a man dwells in his neighbour's court without his knowledge, he is not bound to pay him rent, [yet if he proposes to him,] 'Lend me money, and live in my court,' he [the creditor] must pay rent. Now, he who rules, [Even] if he had [already] lent him, [he must pay rent], will certainly hold the same if he proposed, 'Lend me [etc.].' But he who rules, [if he says,] 'Lend me,' [he must pay him rent], will, in the case where he has already lent him, hold that it is unnecessary. Why so? Since he did not originally lend the money for this purpose, there is no objection to it.4
R. Joseph b. Hama seized the slaves of people who owed him money and put them to service. Said his son Raba to him: Why does the Master do thus? — He replied: I agree with R. Nahman. For R. Nahman said: A slave['s labour] is not worth the bread he eats.5 Said he to him: perhaps R. Nahman said this only of such as his servant Daru, who went about dancing in taverns; but did he say this of other servants! — He replied: I am of the same opinion as R. Daniel son of R. Kattina, who said in Rab's name: If one seizes his neighbour's slave and puts him to service, he is free [from payment],
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