Previous Folio / Gittin Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin
Perhaps the two cases are not on all fours. R. Eliezer's reason there [for allowing the owner of the field to acquire on behalf of the poor man] may be only because if he desires he can declare his field public property and so become himself a poor man and entitled to [the gleanings], and since he can acquire it for himself [we concede that] he can acquire it for his fellow; whereas [this reasoning] does not apply to our present case. And the Rabbis' reason in the case of the poor man may be only that in the text it is written thou shalt not glean, for the poor man,1 'thou shalt not glean for the poor man', but here they would not [apply the same principle]. What lesson then does R. Eliezer derive from these words, 'thou shalt not glean, for the poor'? — He sees in them an admonition to a poor man [who himself owns a field] in regard to his own gleanings.2
FOR IF HE CHOOSES NOT TO MAINTAIN HIS SLAVE, etc. We understand from this, [do we not,] that a master can say to his slave: Work for me but I will not support you! — [No!] Here we deal with the case in which the master says: Keep what you can earn as the equivalent of your maintenance. Similarly in the case of the woman3 we likewise must suppose that the husband says to her: Keep what you can earn as the equivalent of your maintenance. [But if this is so] why, in the case of the wife should he not [be permitted to refuse to maintain her]? — Because she cannot earn enough [for her keep]. But a slave too may not be able to earn enough for his keep? — If a slave's [work] is not worth the food he eats, what do his master and mistress want him for!
Come and hear: If a slave has fled to one of the cities of refuge,4 his master is under no obligation to support him; and moreover whatever he earns belongs to his master. We understand from this, do we not, that a master can say to a slave, 'Work for me, but I will not support you'? — We are dealing here with the case in which the master said to him, 'You may keep what you earn as the equivalent of your maintenance'. In that case why does it say that what he earns belongs to the master? — This applies to what he earns over and above his keep. There is surely no need to tell us that? — [There is, because otherwise] you might think that, since the master does not give him anything when he does not earn, he should not take anything from him when he does earn; but now you know [that this is not so]. But why should this rule apply specially to cities of refuge? — I might think [that cities of refuge are an exception],5 because the words 'that he might live' [used in connection with them6 are interpreted to mean that] special provision must be made [for one who is exiled there]; but now I know [that they are no exception].7 But now look at the continuation [of the passage quoted]: But if a woman is exiled to a city of refuge, her husband is under obligation to maintain her. Obviously this speaks of a case where the husband did not say to her, ['You may keep your earnings etc.',] because if he did, why should he have to support her? And since that is the case here, then we presume that the first part of the passage also deals with the case in which the master did not say to the slave, ['Keep your earnings' etc.]?8 — No. [The cases considered are those in which the master or husband] did say so, and the reason In the case of the wife9 is because she cannot keep herself. But look at the further continuation [of the passage]: If he says to her, I allow you to keep your earnings in place of your maintenance, he is within his rights. This shows, does it not, that the preceding clause deals with the case where he did not say so? — We interpret [the last clause] thus: If she can earn sufficient [for a living] and he said to her: Keep your earnings in place of your maintenance, he is within his rights. What is the point of bringing in the case where she can earn sufficient [for a living]? — You might think that even so she should not go about to earn a living because, as Scripture says, the honour of the king's daughter [i.e. the Jewish woman] lies it privacy;10 but now you know [that this is not so].
May we say that the same difference of opinion is found between the Tannaim [mentioned in the following passage]? [For it was taught:] Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says: A slave can say to his master in a year of scarcity, 'Either maintain me or let me go free'; whereas the Sages say that the master can do as he pleases. Shall we say that the point at issue between them is this, that the one authority holds that a master can say to his slave, 'Work for me but I will not support you', and the other holds that he cannot? — Do you really think so? In that case why does it say, 'either maintain me or let me go free'? It should Say, 'either maintain me or let me keep my earnings in place of my maintenance'. And besides, why should the rule apply specially to years of scarcity? The fact is that the case put is one in which the master has said to the slave, 'Keep your earnings as the equivalent of your maintenance',11 and in a year of scarcity he cannot earn enough. [In that case] Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel holds that the slave can say to the master, 'Either maintain me or let me go free, so that people may see me and have pity on me', whereas the Rabbis hold the view that those who pity free men pity also slaves.12
Come and hear: Rab said: If a man dedicates to the Sanctuary13 the hands of his slave, that slave may borrow money, eat, work and repay [his loan with his earnings].14 We may conclude from this, [may we not,] that the master can say to the slave, 'Work for me, but I will not maintain you'? — [No.] The case contemplated here is one in which the master provides the slave with his keep. If so, why
does he borrow for his food? — He borrows for extras. But the Sanctuary can say to him, 'Just as you could do without extras hitherto, so you can do without extras now'? — The Sanctuary itself prefers this, so that its slave should be in good condition. You say that he works and pays from his earnings. How can he do this, seeing that every penny as he earns it becomes sanctified?1 — [He keeps on paying his earnings] before they amount to a perutah.2 This view [that Rab's dictum refers to the case where the master provides the slave's keep] is borne out by this other dictum of Rab: If a man sanctifies the hands of his slave, that same slave can go on working for his keep, for if he does not work, who will look after him? If you say that the first dictum refers to the case where the master provides [the slave's keep], and that in consequence a master is not at liberty [to say to his slave, 'Work for me, but I shall not maintain you'], and that the latter dictum refers to a case where he does not provide for him, all is plain; but if you say that the first dictum refers to the case where the master does tot provide the slave's keep, and [so we rule that] he can say [to the slave, 'You must work for me etc.', what is the sense of saying [in the second dictum], 'if he does not work who will look after him?' Let anyone who will look after him!3 We conclude therefore that the ruling is that a master cannot say [to his slave, 'Work for me, but I shall not support you.']
Come and hear: R. Johanan says that if a man cuts off the hand of another man's slave, he must make good to his master his 'loss of time'4 and the cost of his medical attendance, and the slave must live on charity. We understand from this,5 [do we not,] that the master can say to the slave, 'Work for me, but I shall not maintain you'? — No. Here we are dealing with a case in which the master does provide the slave's keep. If that is so, why [does it say that] he must live on charity? — This refers to extras. If that is so, it should say not 'live on' but 'be supported by'? We therefore conclude that the master can say [to the slave, 'You must work for me etc.']. This proves it.
The Master said: 'He must make good to his master "loss of time" and the cost of his medical attendance'. [What need is there to tell me this in] the case of the 'loss of time', which is obvious? — The 'loss of time' is mentioned because the medical costs [had to be mentioned]. Surely the medical costs go to the slave, for he needs them for his cure? — This must be stated in view of a case where it was calculated that he requires five days [treatment] and by the application of a painful remedy he was cured in three. You might think that in this case [the whole of the estimated medical cost goes to the slave since] the extra pain is his; but now know [that it does not].
It has been taught R. Eliezer said: We said to R. Meir, Is it not a benefit for the slave to obtain his liberty? — He replied, It is a disability for him, since if he was the slave of a priest he can no longer eat of the terumah. We said to him: If the priest chooses not to give him his keep, is he not at liberty to do so?6 — He replied: If the slave of a priest runs away, or if the wife of a priest flouts her husband,7 they can still eat of the terumah, but this one cannot. For a woman, however, certainly it is a disadvantage [to be divorced] since she becomes disqualified to eat the terumah [if she was married to a priest] and forfeits her maintenance [in any case].8 What did they mean by their question and what was the point of [R. Meir's] remark, [If a priest's slave runs away etc.]? — What he said in effect was this: 'You have refuted me in the matter of maintenance,9 but what answer can you give in the matter of the terumah? For if you should say that, if the master likes, he can throw the writ of emancipation to the slave and so disqualify him [and therefore giving the writ to a bearer is not a disadvantage to the slave], [I answer that] the slave can [prevent this by] leaving him and running away.10
- To Next Folio -