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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah
GEMARA. Why is it 'NEEDLESS TO MENTION FIELDS'? Shall we say because it offers two [objections]: the one, that the heathen settles on the soil, and the other that [the produce] becomes exempt from tithes? If it be that, then houses too offer two objections: the one, that the heathen settles on the soil, and the other that they become exempt from having a mezuzah.3 Said R. Mesharsheya: It is upon the occupant that the observance of mezuzah devolves.4
IN SYRIA HOUSES MAY BE LET TO THEM, BUT NOT FIELDS. Why is selling [of houses] not allowed — lest it lead to selling [houses] in the Land of Israel? Why then not make a safeguard in the case of letting also? — Letting5 is in itself a safeguard;6 shall we then go on making another safeguard to guard it? But is not the letting of a field in Syria a safeguard to another safeguard,7 and yet it is upheld? — That is not a mere safeguard, it follows the opinion that even the annexation by an individual is to be regarded as annexed [to Palestine];8 hence, in the case of a field, which offers a twofold objection9 our Rabbis ordained a safeguard;10 but in the case of houses, since there is no such double objection, no safeguard was made by our Rabbis.
ABROAD, HOUSES MAY BE SOLD AND FIELDS LET TO THEM. Because in the case of a field, which offers a twofold objection, our Rabbis ordained a safeguard;11 but in the case of a house, since there is no such double objection, no such safeguard was made by our Rabbis.
R. JOSE SAYS: IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL, WE MAY LET TO THEM HOUSES BUT NOT FIELDS. What is the reason? — In the case of fields, which offer the twofold objection, our Rabbis ordained a safeguard, but in the case of houses, since there is no such double objection, no safeguard was made by our Rabbis.
IN SYRIA, WE MAY SELL THEM HOUSES AND LET FIELDS, What is the reason? — [R. Jose] holds that the annexation made by an individual is not regarded as a proper annexation; hence in the case of fields, which offer the twofold objection, our Rabbis instituted a safeguard, but in the case of houses, since there is no such double objection, no safeguard was made by our Rabbis.
BUT ABROAD, THE ONE AS WELL AS THE OTHER MAY BE SOLD. What is the reason? — Because, on account of the distance [from Palestine], the principle of safeguard does not apply.
Said Rab Judah in the name of Samuel: The halachah is with R. Jose.12 Said R. Joseph: Provided he does not make it a [heathen] settlement. And how many [tenants] constitute a settlement? — A Tanna taught that at least three persons constitute a settlement. But should we not fear lest, after this Israelite has sold the property to one idolater, the latter may go and sell a part thereof to two others?13 — Said Abaye: We need not be particular overmuch.14
EVEN IN SUCH A PLACE WHERE LETTING HAS BEEN PERMITTED. This implies that there are places where letting is not permitted —
‘Abodah Zarah 21bwhich proves that R. Meir's view is accepted.1 since according to R. Jose letting is permitted everywhere.
NOWHERE, HOWEVER, MAY ONE LET A BATH-HOUSE, etc. It has been taught: Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel said: One should not let his bath-house to a heathen, for it is called by the owner's name, and the idolater will work in it on Sabbath and festivals.2 It would seem, then, that to a Cuthean3 it may be let? But might not a Cuthean do work in it on the intermediate Days?4 — We, too, are permitted to do [such] work on the Intermediate Days.5 [Again] it would seem that in the case of a field, letting to a heathen is permitted! What is the reason?6 — Because people will say that he is merely a metayer working for his tenancy.7 Why then not apply the same principle to a bath-house? — People do not generally let a bath-house on terms of metayage.
It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Eleazar says: One should not let one's field to a Cuthean, for it is called by the owner's name and that Cuthean will do work in it on the intermediate Days.8 So that to an idolater such letting is permitted? Because it will be said that he is a metayer working for his own tenancy. If so, why should it not be said in the case of a Cuthean, too, that he is a metayer working for his own tenancy?
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