now, since this is redundant in respect of money neshek, as it is already written, Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother,1 utilise the subject [to teach that the prohibition of] ribbith [applies to] money.2 [From this] I know it only of the borrower:3 whence do we know it of the lender? Neshek is stated in reference to the borrower; also in reference to the lender:4 just as with respect of the neshek written in reference to the borrower, no distinction is drawn between money and provisions, neshek and ribbith,5 so also, in respect to neshek written in reference to the lender, you must draw no distinction between money and provisions, neshek and ribbith. Whence do we know to extend [the law] to everything?6 From the verse, neshek of anything that is lent upon usury.
Rabina said: There is no need of any verse [to teach] either that the prohibition neshek in respect of victuals, or of ribbith in respect of money, [applies to the lender]. For were it written, 'Thy money thou shalt not give him upon neshek, and thy food upon marbith,' [it would be] even as you say.7 Since, however, it is written, Thy money thou shalt not give him upon neshek and upon marbith thou shalt not lend thy victuals,8 read it thus: 'Thy money thou shalt not give him upon neshek and upon marbith, and upon neshek and upon marbith thou shalt not give thy victuals.'9 But does not the Tanna state, 'it is said…it is said'?10 — He means this: if the verse were not written [in such a way], I should have adduced a gezerah shawah: now, however, that the verse is couched [thus], the gezerah shawah is unnecessary. Then for what purpose do I need the gezerah shawah? — In respect of neshek of anything for which usury may be given, which is not written in connection with the lender.11
Raba said: Why did the Divine Law write an injunction against ribbith, an injunction against robbery, and an injunction against overreaching?12 — They are necessary. For had the Divine Law stated an injunction against ribbith [only], [no other prohibition could be deduced therefrom] because it is anomalous,13 the prohibition lying even upon the debtor.14 Again, had the Divine Law written an interdict against robbery [I might argue that] that is because it is against his [the victim's] wish,15 but as for overreaching, I might maintain [that it is] not [forbidden].16 And were there a prohibition in the Divine Law against overreaching only, [I might reason,] that is because he [the defrauded] does not know [of his loss], to be able to pardon.17
Now one could not be deduced from another: but cannot one be derived from the other two? — Which could be [thus] deduced? Should the Divine Law omit the prohibition of usury, that it might follow from these [robbery and fraud]? [But I would argue,] The reason why these are [forbidden] is because they lack [the victim's] consent:18 will you say [the same] of usury, which is [taken] with his [the debtor's] consent? And if the Divine Law omitted the injunction against overreaching, that it might be deduced from the others, [I would argue:] The reason why the others are [forbidden] is because commerce19 is not carried on thus!20 — But the Divine Law should not have stated the prohibition of robbery, and it would have followed from the others. For what objections will you raise: as for interest, that it is an anomaly? Then let overreaching prove it.21 [Should you argue,] As for fraud, [the reason of the prohibition] is that he [the victim] is in ignorance thereof, and cannot pardon: then let interest prove it.22 And thus the argument revolves: the distinguishing feature of one is not the distinguishing feature of the other, and vice versa. The characteristic common to both is that he robs him. So also may I adduce [actual] robbery [as prohibited]! — I will tell you: That indeed is so. Then what is the need of an injunction against robbery? In respect of withholding the payment of a hired worker. But [the prohibition against the] withholding of such payment is explicitly stated: Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy! … at his day thou shalt give him his hire!23 — To teach that he [who withholds payment] transgresses two negative precepts.24 Then let it25 be referred to interest or fraud, that [in their case] two negative commands are transgressed?26 — It is a matter deduced from its context,
Baba Mezi'a 61b
and it [the injunction against robbery] is written in connection with a hired worker.1
What is the need of the injunction, Ye shall not steal,2 which the Divine Law wrote? — For that which was taught: 'Ye shall not steal,'3 [even] in order to grieve;4 'ye shall not steal,' [even] in order to repay double.5
R. Yemar said to R. Ashi: For what purpose did the Divine Law state [separately] the prohibition against [false] weights?6 — He replied: [To forbid] the steeping of weights in salt.7 But that is pure robbery! — [To teach] that one transgresses at the very moment that this is done.8
Our Rabbis taught: Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, and in weight, or in measure:9 'meteyard' means land measurement, [and] it forbids measuring for one in summer and for another in winter.10 'In weight', prohibits the steeping of weights in salt; and 'in measure' [teaches] that one must not cause [the liquid] to foam.11 Now surely, you can reason a minori: if the Torah objected to a [false] mesurah, which is but a thirty-sixth of a log, how much more so a hin, half a hin, a third of a hin, and a quarter of a hin; a log, half a log or quarter log.12
Raba said: Why did the Divine Law mention the exodus from Egypt in connection with interest, fringes and weights?13 The Holy One, blessed be He, declared, 'It is I who distinguished in Egypt between the first-born and one who was not a first-born;14 even so, it is I who will exact vengeance from him who ascribes his money to a Gentile and lends it to an Israelite on interest,15 or who steeps his weights in salt, or who [attaches to his garment threads dyed with] vegetable blue16 and maintains that it is [real] blue.'17
Rabina happened to be in Sura on the Euphrates.18 Said R. Hanina of Sura on the Euphrates: Why did Scripture mention the exodus from Egypt in connection with [forbidden] reptiles?19 — He replied: The Holy One, blessed be He, said, I who distinguished between the first-born and one who was not a first-born, [even] I will mete out punishment to him who mingles the entrails of unclean fish with those of clean fish and sells them to an Israelite.20 Said he: My difficulty is 'that bringeth you up'! Why did the Divine Law write 'that bringeth you up' here?21 — [To intimate] the teaching of the School of R. Ishmael, he replied. Viz., The Holy One, blessed be He, declared, 'Had I brought up Israel from Egypt for no other purpose but this, that they should not defile themselves with reptiles, it would be sufficient for me.'22 But, he objected, is their reward [for abstaining from them] greater than [the reward for obeying the precepts on] interest, fringes and weights?23 — Though their reward is no greater, he rejoined, it is more loathsome to eat them [than to engage in the other malpractices].24
AND WHAT IS TARBITH? THE TAKING OF INTEREST ON PRODUCE. E.G., IF ONE PURCHASES WHEAT AT A GOLD DENAR, etc. Is then the preceding example25 not interest? — R. Abbahu said: Hitherto it [i.e., the first instance] is interest in the Biblical sense, but from here onward by Rabbinical law.26 And Raba said likewise: Hitherto it is interest in the Biblical sense, but from here onward in the Rabbinical sense. So far,27 He [sc. the wicked] shall prepare it, and the just shall put it on.28 'So far' and no further?29 — But, [say] even thus far, 'He shall prepare it, and the just put it on.' Thus far it is direct30 interest, from here onward it is indirect interest.31
R. Eleazar said: Direct interest can be reclaimed in court,32 but not indirect interest. R. Johanan ruled: Even direct interest cannot be reclaimed in court. R. Isaac said: What is R. Johanan's reason?33 The Writ saith, He hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations:34 For it [this transgression] death is prescribed, but not return [of the money]. R. Adda b. Ahaba said: Scripture saith, Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God:35 fear is prescribed, but not return. Raba said: It follows from the essential meaning of the verse, He shall surely die: his blood shall be upon him;36 thus those who lend upon usury are compared to shedders of blood:37 just as those who shed blood can make no restitution, so those who lend upon interest can make no restitution.
R. Nahman b. Isaac said: What is R. Eleazar's reason?38 Scripture saith,
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