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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra
beth se'ah may be ploughed in virtue of them.' What is the total area of the field? — Two thousand five hundred cubits. How much is that for each tree? — Eight hundred and thirty-three and a third. 'Ulla still claims more for his tree!1 — [We must suppose that] 'Ulla did not give an exact figure. [Is that so?] We may presume that an authority does not give an exact figure where by so doing he makes the law more stringent. But can I say that he does so where he makes the law less stringent?2 — You are assuming that 'Ulla was thinking of a square. In reality he was thinking of a circle. Let us see. The area of a square exceeds that of the [inscribed] circle by a quarter. Hence there remains for [the circle from which 'Ulla's tree sucks] seven hundred and sixty-eight cubits.3 But the space allowed [by the Mishnah] is still half a cubit more [in length]?4 — That is where 'Ulla was not exact, and he thereby made the law more stringent. Come and hear: 'If a man buys a tree and the soil around, he brings first-fruits from it and makes the declaration.5 ['Soil' means any quantity,] does it not, however small?6 — No: it must be sixteen cubits.
Come and hear: If a man buys two trees in another man's field, he brings first-fruits from them but does not make the declaration. [We infer] from this that if he buys three he does make the declaration. And any quantity of soil is sufficient, is it not?7 — No; here too it must be sixteen cubits.
Baba Bathra 27b
can be made out on the strength of it, and movables can be acquired by means of it'?1 — Here we are speaking of [the first-fruits of] wheat. This is indicated also by the expression in the Mishnah 'the very smallest'.2 Come and hear: If a tree is partly in Eretz Yisrael and partly outside of Eretz Yisrael,3 fruit subject to tithe and fruit not subject to tithe are mixed up in it. This is the opinion of Rabbi. Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel, however, says that that which grows where the obligation extends [i.e., in Eretz Yisrael] is liable and that which grows where the obligation does not extend [i.e.. outside Eretz Yisrael] is not liable.' The difference of opinion between them only consists in this, does it not, that the latter holds that we can decide retrospectively [which fruit belongs to which root] and the former holds that we cannot, but both agree that anything which grows where the obligation does not extend is not liable?4 — No. We here deal with the case where the roots are divided by a hard rock. If so, what is the reason of Rabbi [for declaring the two kinds to be mixed together]? Because they mix again higher up. Wherein then lies the ground of the difference between Rabbi and Rabban Simeon? — The former holds that the air mixes the saps [though coming from separate roots], and the latter holds that each remains separate.5
And must the tree be kept sixteen cubits from the boundary and no more? Have we not learnt that 'a tree must be kept a distance of twenty-five cubits from a pit'?6 — Abaye replied: Though the roots spread much further, they only exhaust the soil up to a distance of sixteen cubits, no more. When R. Dimi came,7 he reported that Resh Lakish had asked R. Johanan what the ruling was regarding a tree situated within sixteen cubits of the boundary, and he had answered: It is a robber, and first-fruits should not be brought from it. When Rabin came he said in the name of R. Johanan: The rule both for a tree close to the boundary of a neighbour's field, and for one which overhangs [another's field], is that the owner brings first-fruits and makes the declaration, since it was on that condition that Joshua gave Israel possession of the land.8
MISHNAH. IF A MAN'S TREE OVERHANGS HIS NEIGHBOUR'S FIELD. THE LATTER MAY CUT AWAY THE BRANCHES TO A HEIGHT SUFFICIENT TO ALLOW HIM TO USE THE OXGOAD OVER THE PLOUGH.9 IF THE TREE IS A CAROB OR SYCAMORE, HE CAN CUT DOWN [ALL THE BRANCHES] PLUMB [WITH THE BOUNDARY].10 IF THE FIELD IS AN IRRIGATED ONE. [THE BRANCHES OF ALL] TREES MAY BE CUT DOWN PLUMB.11 ABBA SAUL SAYS THAT THE BRANCHES OF ANY WILD FRUIT-BEARING TREE12 CAN BE CUT DOWN PLUMB.
GEMARA. The question was raised: Does Abba Saul's statement refer to the first clause in the Mishnah or the second?13 — Come and hear: Abba Saul says, If the field is an irrigated one, the branches of all trees may be cut down plumb, because the shade is injurious to an irrigated field. This shows that his statement refers to the first clause.14 R. Ashi said: The language of [his statement as recorded in] our Mishnah also indicates this, since it states ANY WILD FRUIT-BEARING TREE.15 If this refers to the first clause, the word ANY … [TREE] is in place, but if it refers to the second clause, it should say simply 'wild fruit-bearing trees'. This shows that it refers to the first clause.
MISHNAH. IF A TREE OVERHANGS A PUBLIC THOROUGHFARE THE BRANCHES SHOULD BE CUT AWAY TO A HEIGHT SUFFICIENT TO ALLOW A CAMEL TO PASS UNDERNEATH WITH ITS RIDER. R. JUDAH SAYS, SUFFICIENT FOR A CAMEL LADEN WITH FLAX OR BUNDLES OF VINE-RODS. R. SIMEON SAYS THAT [THE BRANCHES OF] ALL TREES SHOULD BE CUT AWAY PLUMB [WITH THE STREET] TO GUARD AGAINST UNCLEANNESS.
GEMARA. Who is the Tanna [of the Mishnah] who rules that in [making regulations to prevent] damage we consider only conditions as they are at present [and not as they are likely to become in the future]?16 — Resh Lakish replied: This ruling is not a unanimous one, and it follows the opinion of R. Eliezer. For we learnt: 'A cavity must not be made under a public thoroughfare, nor pits, ditches, or caves. R. Eliezer says it is permissible if the covering is sufficient to bear a moving cart laden with stones.'17 R. Johanan said: You may even say that the Rabbis [of that Mishnah] also concur [with the ruling here]. For there they prohibit because the cover may give way unexpectedly, but here every branch can be cut down as it grows.18
R. JUDAH SAYS: A CAMEL LADEN WITH FLAX OR BUNDLES OF VINE-RODS. The question was asked: Which is the higher limit, that of R. Judah or that of the Rabbis?19 — There can be no doubt that the limit of the Rabbis is higher, for if the limit of R. Judah is higher, how do the Rabbis manage with anything that [still] comes within the limit of R. Judah?20 You say then that the limit of the Rabbis is higher. How then will R. Judah manage with something which [still] comes within the limit of the Rabbis?21 — He [i.e. the rider] can bend down and pass underneath.
RABBAN SIMEON SAYS: [THE BRANCHES OF] ALL TREES SHOULD BE CUT AWAY PLUMB TO GUARD AGAINST UNCLEANNESS. A Tanna taught [in connection therewith]: 'Because [they can form] a tent over uncleanness.'22 This is self-evident, since we learnt, TO GUARD AGAINST UNCLEANNESS? — If I only had our Mishnah to go by I might say that [what it means is that] a raven may bring uncleanness23 and throw it on the branches, and therefore It is sufficient to thin out the branches.24 Now I know [that this is not sufficient].
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