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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a

Baba Mezi'a 82a

IF A MAN LENDS ANOTHER ON A PLEDGE is taught!1  — But [say thus:] There is no difficulty: in the latter case, he lent him money; in the former [sc. our Mishnah], provisions.2  But since the following clause states, R. JUDAH SAID: IF HE LENDS HIM MONEY ON A PLEDGE, HE IS AN UNPAID TRUSTEE; IF PROVISIONS, HE IS A PAID BAILEE; that proves that the first Tanna admits no distinction! — The whole [Mishnah] is according to R. Judah, but it is defective, and should read thus: IF A MAN LENDS ANOTHER ON A PLEDGE, HE RANKS AS A PAID TRUSTEE; this holds good only if he lends him provisions; but if money, he is an unpaid trustee. For R. JUDAH SAID: IF HE LENDS HIM MONEY ON A PLEDGE, HE IS AN UNPAID TRUSTEE; IF PROVISIONS, HE IS A PAID BAILEE. But if so, does not the Mishnah disagree with R. Akiba?3  Hence it is perfectly clear that our Mishnah does not agree with R. Eliezer.4

Shall we say [that the dispute arises] when the pledge is not worth the money lent, and that they differ in regard to Samuel's dictum? For Samuel said: If a man lends his neighbour a thousand zuz, and the latter deposits the handle of a saw against it, If the saw handle is lost, the thousand zuz is lost.5  — [No!] When the pledge is worth less than the loan, all reject Samuel's ruling.6  But here [the dispute arises] only if it is worth the loan, and they differ with respect to R. Isaac's dictum. For R. Isaac said: Whence do we know that the creditor acquires a title to the pledge?7  From the verse, [In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down…] and it shall be righteousness unto thee:8  if he has no title thereto, whence is his 'righteousness'?9  Hence it follows that the creditor acquires a title to the pledge.10  But is this reasonable? Verily, R. Isaac's dictum refers to a pledge, not taken when the loan was made;11  but did he say it with reference to a pledge taken at the time of the loan? — Hence where the pledge was not taken when the loan was made, all agree with R. Isaac. But here the reference is to a pledge taken at the time of the loan, and they differ as to the guardian of lost property. For it has been stated: He who is in charge of lost property — Rabbah said: He ranks as an unpaid bailee; R. Joseph maintained: As a paid bailee.12  Shall we say that R. Joseph's view is disputed by Tannaim? — No. With respect to one who guards lost property, all agree with R. Joseph. But here

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Which implies that it was given at the time of the loan.
  2. Since provisions deteriorate, the creditor derives a benefit from lending them, as he will have fresh provisions returned, and consequently he ranks as a paid bailee.
  3. Since R. Akiba maintains that if the pledge is lost the money too is lost, he treats him as a paid bailee even in the case of money. Whereas it is a general principle that an anonymous Mishnah is R. Meir's, and taught on the basis of R. Akiba's view; V. Sanh. 86a.
  4. I.e., the distinction between money and provisions cannot be maintained, the text of the Mishnah being correct, and therefore it definitely does not agree with R. Eliezer.
  5. Shebu. 43b. Thus, R. Akiba agrees with it; whilst R. Eliezer maintains, since the pledge is not worth the loan, it must have been meant merely as evidence of the loan. But if the pledge is worth the loan, all agree that it is a security, and therefore, if lost, the loan too is lost.
  6. According to R. Eliezer he bears no responsibility at all, according to R. Akiba his responsibility is limited to the value of the pledge.
  7. That whilst it is in his possession it is his, and hence he is responsible for all accidents.
  8. Deut. XXIV, 13.
  9. There is no particular righteousness in returning what does not belong to one.
  10. R. Eliezer disagrees. R. Akiba agrees with this.
  11. V. infra 113a, where the verse is interpreted as relating to such a case; the pledge then is obviously a surety for the money.
  12. V. supra 29a. R. Akiba, reasoning on the same lines as R. Joseph, regards the creditor as a paid bailee, since it is a positive duty to assist a fellow-man with a loan (cf. Lev. XXV, 35), whilst R. Eliezer regards him as an unpaid bailee.

Baba Mezi'a 82b

they differ where the creditor needs the pledge;1  one Master [sc. R. Akiba] maintaining that he fulfils a religious precept in making the loan, and therefore ranks as a paid bailee; whereas the other Master [sc. R. Eliezer] holds that he fulfils no religious precept thereby, since he desires his own benefit; therefore he is an unpaid bailee.2

ABBA SAUL SAID: ONE MAY HIRE OUT THE PLEDGE OF A POOR MAN, FIXING A PRICE AND PROGRESSIVELY DIMINISHING THE DEBT. R. Hanan b. Ammi said in Samuel's name: The halachah is as Abba Saul. But even Abba Saul ruled thus only in respect of a hoe, mattock, and axe, since their hiring fee is large whilst their depreciation is small.


GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: If a man moved a barrel for his neighbour5  from one place to another and [in doing so] broke it, whether a paid or an unpaid bailee, he must swear; this is R. Meir's view. R. Judah ruled: An unpaid bailee must swear; whereas a paid trustee is responsible.6

R. ELIEZER SAID: [I TOO HAVE LEARNT THAT] BOTH MUST SWEAR, YET I AM ASTONISHED THAT BOTH CAN SWEAR. Shall we say that in R. Meir's opinion one who stumbles [and thereby does damage] is not regarded as [culpably] negligent?7  But it has been taught: If his pitcher was broken, and he did not remove it; or if his camel fell down, and he did not raise it up — R. Meir holds him liable for any damage they may cause; whilst the Sages rule: He is exempt by laws of man, but liable by the laws of Heaven;8  and it is an established fact that they differ on the question whether stumbling amounts to negligence!9  — Said R. Eleazar: Separate them! The two [Baraithas] are not both by the same teacher.10  And R. Judah comes to teach that an unpaid bailee must swear, whilst a paid bailee must make it [sc. the damage] good, each in accordance with his own peculiar law.11  Whereupon R. Eliezer observes: Verily, I have a tradition in accordance with R. Meir; nevertheless I am astonished that both should swear. As for an unpaid bailee, it is well; he swears that he was guilty of no negligence. But why should a paid bailee swear? Even if not negligent, he is still bound to pay!12  And even with respect to an unpaid bailee it [the ruling] is correct [only] if [the accident happened] on sloping ground; but if not on sloping ground, can he possibly swear that he was not negligent!13

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. For use of which he remits a portion of the debt.
  2. Nor does his use of it make him a paid bailee, since he makes an allowance on the debt in return.
  3. That it was due to negligence.
  4. To be freed from responsibility. The grounds for his astonishment are discussed below,
  5. [MS.M. omits 'for his neighbour'.]
  6. Even if it was not caused by his negligence.
  7. For if the barrel was broken in the course of being moved, at the very least it is as though it were damaged through his stumbling; and since R. Meir rules that he must swear that he had not been negligent, it follows that stumbling is not negligence.
  8. V. B.K. 29a.
  9. R. Meir maintains that it does; consequently, if his pitcher broke — due to his stumbling or any other similar cause — he is culpably negligent. and therefore liable for damages. Thus this contradicts his ruling in the Mishnah!
  10. Lit., 'he who taught this one did not teach the other.' They are irreconcilable and reflect two opposing views on R. Meir's opinion.
  11. On the assumption of the first Baraitha that R. Meir does not regard stumbling as negligence. R. Judah agrees with R. Meir. Consequently the unpaid bailee must swear that there was no negligence; but the paid bailee is responsible for damage caused by stumbling even though it is not accounted as negligence; hence he does not agree with R. Meir that both bailees must swear.
  12. As explained in n. 2.
  13. For stumbling on level ground is certainly negligence.