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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah
And as to R. Huna?8 — [His statement is necessary] because the Mishnah has not [retained its original] order,9 so that it might be said that the anonymous statement was quoted earlier and the differing opinions later. But if that were so, you can apply to every case of differing opinions followed by an anonymous one the argument that the Mishnah has not retained its original order!10 R. Huna, however, [could reply thus]: The argument that the Mishnah has not its original order could not be admitted in regard to the same Tractate, but it could be used in regard to two Tractates.11 And as to R. Joseph?12 — He holds that all [those dealing with] torts13 are to be regarded as one tractate; or, if you wish, it could be said, because this rule is included among legal and fixed decisions, thus: 'The party which changes an agreement has the lesser right; and whichever party alters his mind has the lesser right.14
Our Rabbis taught:15 One should not say to another [on the Sabbath], 'We shall see whether you will stay on with me [to do work] this evening.'16 R. Joshua b. Karha says: One may say to another, 'We shall see whether you will stay on with me this evening.' Said Rabbah b. Bar-Hana in the name of R. Johanan, the halachah is according to R. Joshua b. Karha.
Our Rabbis taught: If one consulted a sage who declared [the person or article] as unclean, he should not consult another sage who might declare it as clean; if one sage declared as forbidden, one should not consult another sage who might declare as permitted. If of two sages present one declares as unclean and the other as clean, one forbids and the other permits, then if one of them is superior to the other in learning and in point of number17 his opinion should be followed, otherwise, the one holding the stricter view should be followed. R. Joshua b. Karha says: In laws of the Torah18 follow the stricter view, in those of Soferim19 follow the more lenient view.20 Said R. Joseph: The halachah is according to R. Joshua b. Karha.
Our Rabbis taught: If they21 reverted [to their usual practices] none of them should ever be accepted.22 This is the opinion of R. Meir. R. Judah says: If they reverted in secret matters, they should not be accepted,23 but if in things done in public they should be accepted.24 Some say that, if they observed [in their penitent state] even secret things, they should be accepted,
‘Abodah Zarah 7bbut if only things done in public they should not be accepted. R. Simeon and R. Joshua b. Karha say: Whether in the one case or in the other they should be accepted, for it is said, Return, O backsliding children.1 Said R. Isaac, the native of Kefar Acco, in the name of R. Johanan: The halachah is according to the latter pair.
MISHNAH. R. ISHMAEL SAYS ON THE THREE PRECEDING DAYS AND THE THREE FOLLOWING DAYS IT IS FORBIDDEN;2 BUT THE SAGES SAY BEFORE THEIR FESTIVITIES IT IS FORBIDDEN, BUT AFTER THEIR FESTIVITIES IT IS PERMITTED.
GEMARA. Said R. Tahlifa b. Abdimi in the name of Samuel: According to R. Ishmael it should always be forbidden [to transact business with idolaters because of] Sunday.3
BUT THE SAGES SAY, BEFORE THEIR FESTIVITIES IT IS FORBIDDEN, BUT AFTER THEIR FESTIVITIES IT IS PERMITTED. Is not [the opinion of] the Sages identical with that of the first Tanna?4 — The exclusion of the festivals themselves is the point on which they differ. The first Tanna holds that the period is exclusive of the festival, but these latter Rabbis hold that it includes the festivals. Or it might probably be said that they differ on the question of business transactions carried out,5 the first Tanna holding that [the proceeds of] such transactions are permissible, while our latter Rabbis hold that [the proceeds of] these transactions are forbidden. It might also be said that this ruling of Samuel is a matter on which they differ. For Samuel said:6 In the Diaspora7 the prohibition is limited to their festival day only. The first Tanna accepts Samuel's ruling, while our last Rabbis do not hold with Samuel. You may further say that they differ in the ruling of Nahum the Mede. For it is taught:8 Nahum the Mede says, The prohibition applies to only one day before their Festivals. The first Tanna does not accept the ruling of Nahum the Mede, and our latter Rabbis do agree with Nahum the Mede's ruling.
To revert to [the above text]: 'Nahum the Mede says: The prohibition applies to only one day before their festivals.' Thereupon they said to him: 'This matter ought to be suppressed and left unsaid.'9 But are there not our latter Rabbis who hold the same opinion?10 — Our latter Rabbis may be none other than Nahum the Mede.11
Another [Baraitha] taught: Nahum the Mede says, One may sell [to idolaters] a male or old horse in war time.12 Whereupon they said to him: This matter ought to be suppressed and left unsaid. But is there not Ben Bathyra who holds the same opinion; for we learnt: Ben Bathyra permits [the sale of] a horse?13 — Ben Bathyra makes no distinction between the sale of horses and mares, whereas Nahum the Mede, who does make that distinction will share the opinion of the Rabbis;14 but according to the Rabbis: This matter ought to be suppressed and left unsaid.15
It is [further] taught: Nahum the Mede says: The dill plant is subject to tithe whether [in its state of] seeds, or vegetables, or pods.16 Whereupon he was told: This matter ought to be suppressed and left unsaid. But is there not R. Eliezer who holds the same opinion; for we learnt: R. Eliezer said: The dill plant is subject to tithe whether in its state of seeds, or vegetable, or pods?17 — There the garden variety is meant.18
Said R. Aha b. Minyomi to Abaye: A great man has come from our place,19 but whatever he says he is told that it ought to be suppressed and left unsaid. He replied: There is one instance in which we do follow his ruling. It is taught: Nahum the Mede says: One may ask for one's own needs in the course of the Benediction [concluding with] 'Who heareth prayer.'20 — As to this ruling, he said, an exception had to be made, for it is hanging on strong ropes!21 It is taught: R. Eliezer says: One should first pray for his own needs and then recite The Prayer.22 as it is said; A prayer for the afflicted [himself] when he is overwhelmed, and [then] poureth forth his meditation before the Lord;23 and by 'meditation,' only prayer is meant, as it is said, And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide.24 But R. Joshua says: One should first recite The Prayer and then ask for his own needs, as it is said, I pour out my meditation25 before Him [then] I declare my [own] affliction before Him.26 Now, as to R. Eliezer, what of the verse, I pour out my meditation etc.? — He interprets it thus, 'I pour out my meditation before Him when I had already declared my [own] affliction.' And as to R. Joshua [how does he explain] the verse, A prayer for the afflicted when he is overwhelmed etc.? — He explains it thus: When is the [personal] 'prayer for the afflicted' offered? When he had poured forth his meditation before the Lord. Well now, as for these scriptural verses, they prove no more the statement of the one than they prove that of the other; is there any [principle] underlying their dispute? — It is the one explained by R. Simlai; for R. Simlai gave the following exposition:27 One should always recount the praises of the Omnipresent and then offer his supplications.28 Whence do we learn it? From [the prayer of] our Teacher Moses which is recorded thus: O Lord God, Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness etc., and then only, Let me go over, I pray Thee, and see the good land.29
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