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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
It is written, And I will fetch a morsel of bread;3 but it is also written, And Abraham ran unto the herd:4 Said R. Eleazar: This teaches that righteous men promise little and perform much; whereas the wicked promise much and do not perform even little. Whence do we know [the latter half]? — From Ephron. At first it is written, The land is worth four hundred shekels of silver;5 but subsequently, And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant;6 indicating that he refused to accept anything but centenaria,7 for there is a place where shekels are called centenaria.8
It is written, Knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth;11 but it is also written, And he took butter and milk, and the calf;12 yet he brought no bread before them! — Ephraim Maksha'ah,13 a disciple of R. Meir, said in his teacher's name: Our Patriarch Abraham ate hullin14 only when undefiled,15 and that day our mother Sarah had her menstrual period.16
And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, She is in the tent:17 this is to inform us that she was modest.18 Rab Judah said in Rab's name: The Ministering Angels knew that our mother Sarah was in the tent, but why [bring out the fact that she was] in her tent? In order to make her beloved to her husband.19 R. Jose son of R. Hanina said: In order to send her the wine-cup of Benediction.20
It has been taught on the authority of R. Jose: Why are the letters ejw in elajw dotted?21 The Torah thereby taught etiquette, that a man must enquire of his hostess [about his host].22 But did not Samuel say: One must not inquire at all after a woman's well-being?23 — [When enquiry is made] through her husband, it is different [and permitted].
After I have waxed old, I have had youth.24 R. Hisda said: After the flesh is worn and the wrinkles have multiplied, the flesh was rejuvenated, the wrinkles were smoothed out, and beauty returned to its place.
It is written, And my lord is old;25 but it is also written, [And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child,] seeing that I am old?26 the Holy One, blessed be He, not putting the question in her words! — The School of Ishmael taught: Peace is a precious thing, for even the Holy One, blessed be He, made a variation for its sake, as it is written, Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old, shall I have pleasure, my Lord being old also; whereas it is further written, And the Lord said unto Abraham etc…seeing that I am old.27
And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck?28 How many children then did Sarah suckle?29 — R. Levi said: On the day that Abraham weaned his son Isaac, he made a great banquet, and all the peoples of the world derided him, saying, 'Have you seen that old man and woman, who brought a foundling from the street, and now claim him as their son! And what is more, they make a great banquet to establish their claim!' What did our father Abraham do? — He went and invited all the great men of the age, and our mother Sarah invited their wives. Each one brought her child with her, but not the wetnurse, and a miracle happened unto our mother Sarah, her breasts opened like two fountains, and she suckled them all. Yet they still scoffed, saying, 'Granted that Sarah could give birth at the age of ninety, could Abraham beget [child] at the age of a hundred?' Immediately the lineaments of Isaac's visage changed and became like Abraham's, whereupon they all cried out, Abraham begat Isaac.30
Until Abraham there was no old age;31 whoever wished to speak to Abraham would speak to Isaac, and the reverse.32 Thereupon he prayed, and old age came into existence, as it is written, And Abraham was old and well-stricken in age.33 Until Jacob there was no illness:34 then Jacob came and prayed, and illness came into being, as it is written, And one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick.35 Until Elisha no sick man ever recovered, but Elijah came and prayed, and he recovered, for it is written, Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died,'36 thus proving that he had been sick on previous occasions too,37 [but had recovered].
Our Rabbis taught: On three occasions did Elisha fall sick: once when he repulsed Gehazi with both hands;38 a second time when he incited bears against children;39 and a third with the sickness whereof he died, as it is written, Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died.36
BUT, BEFORE THEY BEGIN WORK, GO OUT AND TELL THEM, '[I ENGAGE YOU] ON CONDITION THAT YOU HAVE NO OTHER CLAIM UPON ME BUT BREAD AND PULSE' etc.
R. Aha, the son of R. Joseph, said to R. Hisda: Did we learn, 'Bread [made] of pulse,' or 'bread and pulse'? — He replied: In very truth, a waw ['and'] is necessary40 as large as a rudder on the Libruth.41
R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAID: IT WAS UNNECESSARY [TO STIPULATE THUS]: EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON LOCAL CUSTOM. What does EVERYTHING add?42 — It adds that which has been taught: If one engages a labourer, and stipulates, '[I will pay you] as one or two townspeople [are paid],' he must remunerate him with the lowest wage [paid]: this is R. Joshua's view. But the Sages say: An average must be struck.43
MISHNAH. NOW, THE FOLLOWING [LABOURERS] MAY EAT [OF THAT UPON WHICH THEY ARE EMPLOYED] ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURAL LAW: HE WHO IS ENGAGED UPON THAT WHICH IS ATTACHED TO THE SOIL WHEN ITS LABOUR IS FINISHED,44 AND UPON THAT WHICH IS DETACHED FROM THE SOIL BEFORE ITS LABOUR IS COMPLETED,45 PROVIDING THAT IT IS SOMETHING THAT GROWS FROM THE EARTH. BUT THE FOLLOWING MAY NOT EAT: HE WHO IS ENGAGED UPON THAT WHICH IS ATTACHED TO THE SOIL
Baba Mezi'a 87b
GEMARA. Whence do we know these things? — It is written, When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard, then thou mayest eat.3 We have found [this law to be true of] a vineyard: whence do we know it of all [other] things? We infer [them] from the vineyard: just as the vineyard is peculiar in that it [sc. its products] grow from the earth, and at the completion of its labour4 the labourer may eat thereof; so everything which grows from the soil, the labourer may eat thereof at the completion of its work. [But, might it not be argued:] As for a vineyard, [the worker's privilege may be due to the fact] that it is liable to [the law of] gleanings, [which other cereals are not]? — We, deduce it5 from the standing corn. But how do we know it of standing corn itself? — Because it is written, When thou comest into the kamath [standing corn] of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand.6 But [may you not argue:] as for standing corn, that is because it is liable to hallah?7 (And how do you know that this kamah means [only] such standing crops as are liable to hallah: perhaps Scripture means all standing crops?8 — That is derived from the use of kamah in two places. Here it is written, When thou comest into the kamath [standing corn of] thy neighbour; whilst elsewhere it is written, from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the kamah [corn]:9 just as there, a kamah which is liable to hallah is meant, so here too.) [Hence, repeating the difficulty] one may refute [the analogy drawn from standing corn]: as for standing corn, that is because it is liable to hallah! — Then let the vineyard prove it. As for a vineyards that is because it is liable to [the law of] gleanings! — Let the standing corn prove it. And thus the argument revolves: the peculiarity of one is not that of the other, and vice versa. The feature common to both is, they grow from the soil, and the worker may [thus] eat of them when their labour is being finished; so also, everything which grows from the soil, when at the completion of its labour, the worker may eat of it. [No, this does not follow, as it might be argued that] their common feature is that both are used in connection with the altar;10 and so olives will be inferred too, since they also are thus used?11 (But are olives inferred through [partaking of] a common feature? They themselves are designated kerem,12 as it is written, And he burnt up both the shocks and the standing corn, and also the olive kerem.13 — R. Papa said: It is designated olive kerem, but not simply kerem.) But still, the difficulty remains!14 — Samuel answered: Scripture saith, and a sickle [thou shalt not move unto thy neighbour's standing corn], which [i.e., the 'and'] extends the law to everything which requires a sickle. But this word 'sickle' is needed [to intimate that] when the sickle [is used] you may eat, but not otherwise!15 — That follows from, but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel.16 Now, this [deduction] is satisfactory in respect of that which requires the sickle, but what of that which does not?17 — But, said R. Isaac, the Writ says, kamah,18 to extend the law to everything which stands upright [from the soil].19 But have you not employed the analogy of kamah, written twice, to shew that it means [only] such standing crops as are liable to hallah?20 — That was only before the word 'sickle' was adduced: now, however, that 'sickle' has been quoted, everything which needs a sickle is embraced, even if not liable to hallah; hence, what is the purpose of kamah? To include everything which stands upright.
But now that we infer [these laws] from 'sickle' and kamah, what is the need of, 'When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard'?21 — To teach its [detailed] laws, replied Raba. As it has been taught: When thou comest — 'coming' is mentioned here; and elsewhere too it is said, [Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant … At this day thou shalt give him his hire,] neither shall the sun come down upon it:22 just as there Scripture refers to an employee, so here too. 'Into thy neighbour's vineyard', but not into a heathen's vineyard.23 Now, on the view that the robbery of a heathen is forbidden, it is well: but if it be held permitted — does an employee need [a verse to grant him permission]!24 — He interprets 'into thy neighbour's vineyard', as excluding a vineyard of hekdesh.25
'Then thou mayest eat', but not suck out [the juice]; 'grapes', but not grapes and something else;26 'as thine own person', as the person of the employers, so the person of the employee: just as thou thyself27 mayest eat [thereof] and art exempt [from tithes], so the employee too may eat and is exempt.28 'To thy satisfaction': but not gluttonously; 'but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel': [only] when thou canst put it into thine employer's baskets, thou mayest eat, but not otherwise.29
R. Jannai said: Tebel30 is not liable to tithes
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