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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin

Folio 58a

of phylactery boxes1  were found on the heads of the victims of Bethar. R. Jannai son of R. Ishmael said there were three chests each containing forty se'ahs. In a Baraitha it was taught: Forty chests each of three se'ahs. There is, however, no contradiction; the one was referring to the phylactery of the head, the other to that of the arm.2

R. Assi said; Four kabs of brain were found on one stone. 'Ulla said: Nine kabs. R. Kahana — or some say Shila b. Mari — said: Where do we find this in the Scripture? [In the verse], O daughter of Babylon that art to be destroyed, happy shall he be that rewardeth thee … happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock.3

[It is written]: The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold.4  What is meant by 'comparable to fine gold'? Shall I say it means that they were covered with gold? [This can hardly be] seeing that in the school of R. Shila it was stated that two state weights of fine gold came down into the world, one of which went to Rome and the other to the rest of the world! No: what it means is that they used to eclipse fine gold with their beauty. Before that the notables of the Romans used to keep an amulet set in a ring in front of them when they had sexual intercourse, but now they brought Israelites and tied them to the foot of the bed. One man asked another: Where is that written [in the Scripture]? He replied: Also every sickness and every plague which is not written in the book of this law.5  Said the other: How far am I from that place? — He replied: A little,6  a page and a half. Said the other: If I had got so far, I should not have wanted you.

Rab Judah reported Samuel as saying in the name of Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel; What is signified by the verse, Mine eye affecteth my soul, because of all the daughters of my city?7  There were four hundred synagogues in the city of Bethar, and in every one were four hundred teachers of children, and each one had under him four hundred pupils,8  and when the enemy entered there they pierced them with their staves, and when the enemy prevailed and captured them, they wrapped them in their scrolls and burnt them with fire.

Our Rabbis have taught: R. Joshua b. Hananiah once happened to go to the great city of Rome,9  and he was told there that there was in the prison a child with beautiful eyes and face and curly locks.10  He went and stood at the doorway of the prison and said, Who gave Jacob for a spoil and Israel to the robbers?11  The child answered, Is it not the Lord, He against whom we have sinned and in whose ways they would not walk, neither were they obedient unto his law.12  He said: I feel sure that this one will be a teacher in Israel. I swear that I will not budge from here before I ransom him, whatever price may be demanded. It is reported that he did not leave the spot before he had ransomed him at a high figure, nor did many days pass before he became a teacher in Israel. Who was he? — He was R. Ishmael b. Elisha.

Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: It is related that the son and the daughter of R. Ishmael b. Elisha were carried off [and sold to] two masters. Some time after the two met together, and one said, I have a slave the most beautiful in the world. The other said, I have a female slave the most beautiful in the world. They said: Let us marry them to one another and share the children. They put them in the same room. The boy sat in one corner and the girl in another. He said: I am a priest descended from high priests, and shall I marry a bondwoman? She said: I am a priestess descended from high priests, and shall I be married to a slave? So they passed all the night in tears. When the day dawned they recognised one another and fell on one another's necks and bemoaned themselves with tears until their souls departed. For them Jeremiah utters lamentation, For these I am weeping, mine eye, mine eye drops water.13

Resh Lakish said: It is related of a certain woman named Zafenath bath Peniel (she was called Zafenath because all gazed [zofin] at her beauty, and the daughter of Peniel because she was the daughter of the high priest who ministered in the inner shrine)14  that a brigand abused her a whole night. In the morning he put seven wraps round her and took her out to sell her. A certain man who was exceptionally ugly came and said: Show me her beauty. He said: Fool, if you want to buy her buy, for [I tell you that] there is no other so beautiful in all the world. He said to him: All the same [show her to me]. He took seven wraps off her, and she herself tore off the seventh and rolled in the dust, saying, Sovereign of the universe, if Thou hast not pity on us why hast thou not pity on the sanctity of Thy Name? For her Jeremiah utters lamentation, saying, O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth and wallow thyself in ashes; make thee mourning as for an only son, for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us.15  It does not say upon thee,' but 'upon us:' the spoiler is come, if one may say so, upon Me and upon thee.

Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: 'What is signified by the verse, And they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage?16  A certain man once conceived a desire for the wife of his master, he being a carpenter's apprentice. Once his master wanted to borrow some money from him. He said to him: Send your wife to me and I will lend her the money. So he sent his wife to him, and she stayed three days with him. He then went to him before her. Where is my wife whom I sent to you? he asked. He replied: I sent her away at once, but I heard that the youngsters played with her on the road. What shall I do? he said. If you listen to my advice, he replied, divorce her. But, he said, she has a large marriage settlement. Said the other: I will lend you money to give her for her Kethubah. So he went and divorced her and the other went and married her. When the time for payment arrived and he was not able to pay him, he said: Come and work off your debt with me. So they used to sit and eat and drink while he waited on them, and tears used to fall from his eyes and drop into their cups. From that hour the doom was sealed; some, however, say that it was for two wicks in one light.17

IF A MAN BUYS FROM THE SICARICON etc. Rab said: This holds good only where he [the original owner] said to him18  [mere ly]: Go, take possession19  and acquire ownership. If, however, he gave him a written deed, he does acquire title. Samuel said: Even with a written deed he does not acquire title, unless he expressly makes himself responsible.20

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Not counting the straps (Rashi). [Others: 'capsules'; each phylactery box of the head contains four capsules or sections, v Aruch.]
  2. [Rashi assumes that the phylactery of the head consisting as it does of four capsules had a wider base than that of the arm.]
  3. Ps. CXXXVII, 8, 9. The 'dashing against the rock' will be 'measure for measure'.
  4. Lam. IV, 2.
  5. Deut. XXVIII, 61.
  6. Al. 'go on' (Jastrow).
  7. Lam. III, 51.
  8. This is obviously a conventional expression for 'very many'.
  9. [Perhaps in the year 95, v. Hor. (Sonc. ed.) p. 70, n. 12. Tosef. Hor. II omits Rome.
  10. Lit., 'his curly hair arranged in locks.
  11. Isa. XLII, 24.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Lam. I, 16.
  14. Heb. 'Pene'.
  15. Jer. VI, 26.
  16. Mic. II, 2.
  17. I.e., one woman marrying two men.
  18. To the buyer.
  19. By doing a little work on the property.
  20. For reimbursing him if his title should prove invalid.
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Gittin 58b

It has been taught in agreement with Samuel: 'R. Simeon b. Eleazar says: If a man buys [a married woman's property] from the wife and then buys it again from the husband, his purchase is effective. But if he first buys from the husband and then from the wife the purchase is invalid,1  unless she expressly makes herself responsible.' Are we to say that this confutes Rab's view? — Rab can answer you: What is meant by 'making herself responsible'? Giving a written deed.2

Our Rabbis have taught: If a man bought [property] from the sicaricon and had the use of it3  for three years in the presence of the original owner,4  and then sold it to another, the original owner has no claim against the [second] purchaser. How are we to understand this? If the [second] purchaser pleads, He bought it from you,5  the rule would be the same in the case of the first [purchaser].6  If he does plead, He bought it from you, then the rule does not apply to the second either?7  — R. Shesheth said: We do in fact assume that he does not advance this plea, [and yet the rule applies] because in a case like this we [the Beth din] suggest a plea to the heir and suggest a plea to the purchaser;8  whereas the first if he pleads [of his own accord] can acquire a title, but otherwise not.

Our Rabbis have taught: 'If [a heathen] seizes the land9  [of an Israelite] on account of a debt or of an anparuth10  this rule of sicaricon does not apply to it;11  [and land seized] on account of anparuth must remain in his hands twelve months.'12  But you just said that the rule of sicaricon does not apply to it? — What he means is, [Land bought from] the sicaricon itself must remain in his hands twelve months.13  R. Joseph said: I have authority for saying that there is no anparuth in Babylonia. But we see that there is? — You should say, the law of anparuth14  does not apply in Babylonia. Why so? — Since there is a Court and yet [the victim] does not go and complain, we presume that he has waived his claim.

Giddal son of Re'ilai took a field15  from the owners of a certain stretch16  on condition of paying the tax on it.17  He paid in advance the money for three years. The first owners eventually18  came back and said to him: You paid the tax for the first year and have had the produce. Now we will pay and I will have the produce. They appealed to R. Papa, who was minded to make him out a warrant against the owners of the stretch.19  R. Huna the son of R. Joshua, however, said to R. Papa: This will mean applying the law of sicaricon?20  No, said R. Huna the son of R. Joshua; he has risked his money and lost.21

THIS WAS THE FIRST MISHNAH. THE SUCCEEDING BETH DIN RULED THAT ONE WHO BUYS FROM THE SICARICON SHOULD GIVE THE ORIGINAL OWNER A QUARTER. Rab said: This means either a quarter in land or a quarter In money;22  Samuel said: It means a quarter in land,23  which is [equivalent to] a third of the money. What is the ground of their difference? — One [Samuel] holds that he buys the land for a quarter less than its value,24  and the other that he buys the land for a fifth less than its value.25  An objection was raised: 'This was the first Mishnah. The succeeding Beth din laid down that one who purchases from the sicaricon gives to the original owner a fourth, the latter having his choice of taking the payment either in land or in money. When is this the case? So long as he is not himself in a position to buy. But if the original owner is in a position to buy, he has the right of pre-emption. Rabbi assembled a Beth din and they decided by vote that if the property had been in the hands of the sicaricon twelve months the first comer had the right to purchase, but he had to give the original owner either a fourth in land or a fourth in money'?26  — R. Ashi replied: That teaching applies, after the money has come into his hands.27

Rab said:

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. I.e., apparently, even if she gives him a written deed.
  2. Without a guarantee of reimbursement.
  3. Lit., 'he ate'.
  4. Without him protesting.
  5. In which case the onus probandi would be on the claimant.
  6. I.e., this plea would be valid in the mouth of the first purchaser, and a fortiori in that of the second. Why then was not the rule stated in connection with the first?
  7. On the principle that, to confer usucaption, occupation, even if unchallenged, must be supported by a plea of right. V. B.B. 41a.
  8. On the ground that they were not likely to know whether the first had in fact purchased it or not.
  9. Lit., 'he who comes'.
  10. A debt payable by instalments, v. supra 44a.
  11. If he retains it for twelve months and then sells it to a Jew, the purchaser cannot be quit of the original owner by giving him merely a quarter, but he has to return him the whole, since he has never waived his title. [Trani reverses: The original owner has no claim to the field since he could have redeemed it, or in the case of anparuth recovered it at court (v. infra) and therefore it is to be assumed that he waived his right to the field. This interpretation is more in keeping with the reading, 'the rule of sicaricon does not apply', which varies but slightly from that of the Mishnah, whereas in Rashi's interpretation it is taken in a different sense.]
  12. Apparently, as in the case of the sicaricon.
  13. Before it can be sold to a Jew.
  14. That the purchaser has to restore the land gratis to the original owner.
  15. The owners of which had gone away.
  16. Who were assessed for the land-tax jointly.
  17. I.e., the pro rata share of that field.
  18. After one year.
  19. For the two years' tax which he had paid in advance.
  20. [By making the other owners pay him, just as the purchaser of a field from the sicaricon pays the original owner a quarter; and this is not right, since there is no question of sicaricon here, as no one forced him to pay three years' tax in advance.]
  21. Lit., 'he has put his money on the horn of the deer', an expression used for a risky speculation.
  22. [That is, the quarter of the purchase price is repaid to the original owner either in land or in money (v. Tosaf.).]
  23. A quarter of the field bought.
  24. I.e., he buys land which is worth four manehs for three manehs. Hence a quarter of the value of the land is equal to a third of the purchase price.
  25. I.e., he buys land which is worth five manehs for four manehs. Hence he returns either a fifth of the land which is the equivalent of the quarter of the purchase price, or one maneh.
  26. As stated by Rab, and in contradiction of Samuel.
  27. I.e., it is a fourth of the total sum paid by the purchaser both to the sicaricon and to the owner.
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