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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin

Folio 54a

, but they do not reckon from Sabbaths. An alternative reason is that Israel are suspect with regard to the Sabbatical year but not with regard to Sabbath. Why give an alternative reason? — What he meant was this. Should you object that it sometimes happens that the thirtieth day [before the New Year of the Sabbatical year]1  falls on Sabbath, so that if he plants on that day he has a year [before the New Year], but otherwise not, then I give you an alternative reason that2  Israel are suspect with regard to the Sabbatical year but not with regard to Sabbath.3  Between the statements of R. Judah there is also no contradiction, since in the district of R. Judah the Sabbatical year was regarded as very important.4  For [when] a certain man there called after another, 'You are a stranger5  and your mother was a stranger,' he retorted, 'I do not eat fruit of the Sabbatical year like you.

Come and hear [a proof that R. Meir does not impose a fine for innocently breaking a Rabbinical rule]: 'If a layman [inadvertently] ate terumah, even unclean, he must make restitution with [ritually] clean non-sacred food. If he pays unclean non-sacred food, what is the law? Symmachus said in the name of R. Meir that if [he paid it] unknowingly this is accounted restitution,6  but if deliberately it is not so accounted, whereas the Sages said that in either case it is accounted restitution, but he has still to pay clean non-sacred food.'7  We were puzzled over this to know why [according to Symmachus] his restitution is not complete. Surely he deserves thanks8  for eating something which a priest cannot eat even when he is unclean9  and repaying him with something which he can eat at least when he is unclean!10  Thereupon Raba, or as some say Kadi,11  said that there is a lacuna, and we should read thus: 'If one ate unclean terumah, he repays in anything.12  If he ate clean terumah he repays clean non-sacred food. If he repaid unclean non-sacred food, what is the law? Symmachus said in the name of R. Meir that if [he repaid] without knowing, this is accounted a full restitution, but if deliberately it is not accounted a full restitution, whereas the Sages say that in either case it is full restitution, but he has still to pay him clean non-sacred food.' On this R. Aha son of R. Ika said that [R. Meir and the Sages] differ here on the question whether the innocent [act should be penalised on account of the presumptuous, R. Meir holding that the innocent act is not penalised on account of the presumptuous one13  and the Sages holding that it is!14  — Is this reasoning sound?15  Here the man wants to pay, and shall we get up and fine him?

Come and hear: 'If the blood [of a sacrifice] has become unclean and was yet sprinkled on the altar, if it was done without knowing then the sacrifice has been accepted [for the bringer of the sacrifice], but if deliberately, the sacrifice has not been accepted'?16  — R. Meir can reply: Is there any comparison? There the man17  really desires to make atonement,18  and shall we get up and penalise him?

Come and hear: 'If a man separates tithe on Sabbath,19  if inadver tently, the food may be eaten, but if deliberately, it may not be eaten'? — Is there any comparison? There the man is trying to do his duty, and shall we get up and penalise him? Come and hear: 'If a man dips vessels20  on Sabbath, if inadvertently they may be used, but if deliberately they may not be used'? — Is there any comparison? There the man is desirous of purifying his vessels, and shall we get up and fine him?

A contradiction was also pointed out between two statements of R. Judah with regard to rules of the Rabbis. For it has been taught:

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. If a tree was planted more than thirty days before the entry of the Sabbatical year, that period was counted as one of the years of 'uncircumcision'. Hence if the thirtieth day before the Sabbatical year fell on a Sabbath, and he planted on it, this would be remembered and might be taken as a precedent. How then can you say that the Jews do not reckon from Sabbaths?
  2. Lit., 'come and hear'.
  3. [So that there is a special reason for R. Meir's ruling in the case of planting in the Sabbatical year and it cannot be contrasted with his ruling in the case of cooking on Sabbath.]
  4. And therefore in this particular case he sees no need to impose a fine for unwittingly breaking it.
  5. I.e., proselyte.
  6. It receives the character of unclean terumah.
  7. As a fine, but this does not become terumah; v. Yeb. 90a.
  8. Lit., 'may blessing come upon him.'
  9. Unclean terumah could in no circumstances be eaten, but it could only be used as food for cattle or for fuel.
  10. Viz., unclean non-sacred food.
  11. Or, 'an unknown authority'; v. B.K. (Sonc. ed.) p. 3, n. 3.
  12. I.e., clean or unclean non-sacred food. Although, as stated supra p. 243 n. 6, the food receives the character of terumah, he nevertheless had the intention to repay him food which he could eat at all times (Rashi).
  13. And therefore if he repaid without knowing that it was unclean he is not penalised by having to pay again.
  14. [This proves that R. Meir does not penalise the innocent for the presumptuous where the breach of a rabbinical law is concerned. Here the transgression involved is rabbinical, since according to the Torah he has discharged his liability by repaying the amount he had eaten. V. Yeb. 90a.]
  15. Lit., 'how so'. i.e., can we ascribe this to R. Meir as a general principle, seeing that here there is a special reason, namely that here etc.
  16. And the Rabbis ordained that the flesh may not be eaten, though expiration has been made for the bringer of the sacrifice.
  17. I.e., the priest.
  18. I.e., he desires to do a meritorious action, which is not the case with one who mixes terumah with other food, etc. Hence we do not penalise his error.
  19. This was forbidden by the Rabbis but not by the Torah, v. Bezah 36a.
  20. For ritual purification. This also was forbidden by the Rabbis on Sabbath; v. Bezah, 18a.
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Gittin 54b

If these nuts [of 'uncircumcision']1  fell among others and were then broken, whether [the act was done] inadvertently or deliberately they are not merged in the mass.2  This is the ruling of R. Meir and R. Judah. R. Jose and R. Simeon, however, say that if [it was done] inadvertently they are merged, but if deliberately they are not. Now here is a case where according to the rule of the Torah [the forbidden element] loses its identity [if its proportion is not more than] one to two, and it is the Rabbis who decreed [that the proportion must be less than one to two hundred], and yet R. Judah imposes the line [in the case of innocent transgression]? — R. Judah there is influenced by the special consideration that [without this penalty] the offender may act with guile.3  A contradiction was also pointed out between two statements of R. Jose. For we have learnt: If a sapling of 'uncircumcision or of the mixed plants of the vineyard becomes mixed up with other saplings, its fruit should not be gathered,4  but if gathered it becomes merged in two hundred and one times the quantity [of permitted fruit], provided, however, that the gathering was not done with that purpose in view. R. Jose says, Even if it was gathered deliberately, it is merged in two hundred and one times [its own quantity!]5  — [This is no difficulty] since with reference to this it has been recorded: Raba said: The presumption is that a man does not make his whole vineyard forbidden for the sake of a single sapling.6  So too when Rabin came [from Palestine] he said in the name of R. Johanan: The presumption is that a man will not make his whole vineyard forbidden for the sake of a single sapling.


GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: If a man is helping another to prepare ritually clean things, and he says to him, The clean things that I have prepared with you have been defiled, or if he is helping him with sacrifices and he says to him, The sacrifices with which I have been helping you have been rendered piggul, his word is taken. If, however, he says, The clean things which I was assisting you to prepare on such and such a day have become unclean, or the sacrifices with which I was assisting you on such and such a day have been rendered piggul, his word is not taken. Why is the rule different in the first case from that of the second? — Abaye replied: So long as it is in his power to do [again what he says he has done], his word is taken.9  Rab said: [Where we do not believe is] if, for instance, he came across him and said nothing to him and then came across him again and told him.10

A certain man said to another: The clean things which I helped you to prepare on such and such a day have become unclean. He applied to R. Ammi, who said to him: According to the strict letter of the law, you need not believe him. R. Assi observed to him: Rabbi, this is what you say, but R. Johanan has distinctly said in the name of R. Jose: What can I do, seeing that the Torah has declared him credible?11  Where has it declared him credible? — R. Isaac b. Bisna replied: The proof is from the high priest on the Day of Atonement, since if he says [that his sacrifice12  was] 'piggul', we believe him. Now how do we know [that he made it 'piggul' when he was doing the service], seeing that it is written, And there shall be no man in the tent of meeting?13  The reason must therefore be that he is credible. But perhaps this is because we heard him make it 'piggul'?14  — If he were not credible, we could not believe him even if we heard him, since he might have said this after performing the ceremony.15  But perhaps it means that we saw him through the pispas?16  — This is indeed a difficulty.17

A certain man appeared before R. Ammi and said to him: In a scroll of the Law which I have written for So-and-so I have not written the names [of God] with proper intention.18  He asked him: Who has the scroll? — He replied: The purchaser. Whereupon he said to him: Your word is good to deprive you of your fee, but it is not good to spoil a scroll of the Law. Said R. Jeremiah to him: Granted that he has lost his fee for the names, is he to lose it for the whole of the scroll? He replied: Yes, because a scroll in which the names of God have not been written with proper intention is not worth anything. But cannot he go over them with a pen and so sanctify them? What authority would allow this? Not, we would say, R. Judah; for we have learnt, 'Suppose the scribe had to write the tetragrammaton, and he intended [instead] to write Yehwdah [Judah]19  and he made a mistake and left out the daleth,19  he can go over it with a pen and sanctify it. So R. Judah. The Sages, however, say that this name is not of the best'? — You may even say that he is in accord with R. Judah. For R. Judah would allow this only in the case of one mention of the Name, but not throughout a whole scroll, because it would make it look bizarre.

A certain man came before R. Abbahu saying, I have written a scroll of the Law for So-and-so but did not prepare the parchments for the purpose.20  He asked him, Who has the scroll? — He replied, The purchaser. He said to him: Since your word is good to deprive you of your fee, it is also good to spoil the scroll.

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. I.e., in the first three years after the planting of the tree. V. Lev. XIX, 23. Certain species of nuts, on account of their particular value, as long as they are whole do not lose their identity in whatever large mass they may happen to become mixed up. When cracked, however, they are treated like ordinary nuts and are neutralized if their proportion to the permitted element is not more than one to one hundred. 'V. 'Orlah III, 6-8.
  2. Lit., 'they do not rise in the scale', i.e., they are not neutralized, but still retain their identity as something forbidden.
  3. I.e., he will mix them purposely and pretend that it was done innocently.
  4. Because it still retains its identity as long as it is attached to the soil, and is not merged in the field as a whole.
  5. V. 'Orlah, I, 6. Which seems to conflict with R. Jose's ruling with regard to the nuts.
  6. By planting in it one sapling of 'uncircumcision' without some clear sign. Such a thing being exceptional, we do not impose a special penalty for an offence to which it may accidentally lead.
  7. By declaring at the time of bringing the sacrifice that they intended the flesh to be eaten after the prescribed time. V. Supra, p. 239, n. 5.
  8. I.e., to provide a fresh sacrifice, since the first owing to their action has not brought expiation.
  9. We understand the Baraitha therefore to be speaking of a case where he says this while he is still helping the other; e.g., while the blood is being sprinkled he may say that the killing was piggul. We then believe him because he can still render the sprinkling piggul.
  10. Because then we suppose that he merely says this to vex him. But otherwise we do believe him, even if he only says so afterwards. According to Raba we have to translate, 'If a man was helping … and afterwards said etc.'
  11. Even when he declares if after some time.
  12. I.e. his ceremonies in the inner shrine. V. Lev. XVI, 12-17.
  13. Ibid. 17.
  14. He was heard to say, e.g., that he sprinkles the blood with the intention to burn the fat after the specified time.
  15. In which case it would not be piggul.
  16. One of two small gateways between the inner part of the Temple (hekal) and the place where the knives were kept. Zeb. 55. He was seen through the pispas to make the piggul declaration whilst sprinkling the blood.
  17. Against the dictum of R. Isaac b. Bisna.
  18. V. infra.
  19. Thus leaving the letters of the divine name, YHWH, written however without proper intention.
  20. Which would disqualify the scroll. V. supra 20a.
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