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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin

Folio 47a

Redeem me. So he said:1  We have learnt, IF A MAN SELLS HIMSELF AND HIS CHILDREN TO A HEATHEN HE IS NOT TO BE REDEEMED, BUT HIS CHILDREN ARE TO BE REDEEMED AFTER THE DEATH OF THEIR FATHER, to prevent their going astray.2  All the more so then here, where there is a danger of their being killed. The Rabbis said to R. Assi: This man is a non-observant Israelite, who has been seen eating non-Jewish meat.3  He said to them: possibly he did so because he wanted4  [meat, and could get no other]? They said: There have been times when he had the choice of permitted and forbidden meat and he left the former and took the latter. He thereupon said to the man: Be off; they will not let me ransom you.

Resh Lakish5  once sold himself to the Lydians. He took with him a bag with a stone in it, because, he said, it is a known fact that on the last day they grant any request [of the man they are about to kill] in order that he may forgive them his murder.6  On the last day they said to him, What would you like? He replied: I want you to let me tie your arms and seat you in a row and give each one of you a blow and a half with my bottle. He bound them and seated them, and gave each of them a blow with his bag which stunned him. [One of them] ground his teeth at him. Are you laughing at me? he said. I have still half a bag left for you. So he killed them all and made off. As he was once seated [on the ground] eating and drinking,7  his daughter said, Don't you want something to recline on? He replied: Daughter, my belly is my cushion.8  At his death he left a kab9  of saffron, and he applied to himself the verse, And they shall leave to others their substance.10


GEMARA. Rabbah said: Although a heathen cannot own property in the land of Israel so fully as to release it from the obligation of tithe, since it says, For mine is the land,13  as much as to say, mine is the sanctity of the land,14  yet a heathen can own land in the Land of Israel so fully as to have the right of digging in it pits, ditches and caves, as it says, The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth he gave to the sons of man.15  R. Eleazar, however, said: Although a heathen can own land so fully in the land of Israel as to release it from the obligation of tithe, since it says, [The tithe of] thy corn,16  which implies, 'and not the corn of the heathen,' yet a heathen cannot own land in the Land of Israel so fully as to have the right of digging in it pits, ditches and caves, since it says, The earth is the Lord's.17  What is the point at issue between them? — One18  holds that [we interpret the word 'thy corn'] to mean 'thy corn and not the corn of the heathen' and the other holds that we interpret it to mean, 'thy storing and not the storing of the heathen.'19  Rabbah said: Whence do I derive my view? Because we have learnt: Gleanings, forgotten sheaves, and produce of the corner belonging to a heathen are subject to tithe unless he has declared them common property.20  How are we to understand this? Are we to say that the field belongs to an Israelite and the produce has been gathered by a heathen? If so, what is the meaning of 'unless he declared them common property,' seeing that they are already such?21  We must therefore say that the field belongs to a heathen and an Israelite has gathered the produce, and the reason why he has to give no tithe from them is because he declared them common property, but otherwise he would be liable!22  — This is not conclusive. I may still hold that [the field spoken of] belongs to an Israelite and that a heathen has gathered the produce; and as for your argument that it is already declared common property, granted that it is such in the eyes of the Israelite, is it such in the eyes of the heathen?23

Come and hear: If an Israelite bought a field from a heathen before the produce was a third grown and sold it back to him after it was a third grown, it is subject to tithe,24  because it was so already25  [before he sold it back]. The reason is [is it not] because it was so already, but otherwise it would not be subject?26  — We are dealing here with a field in Syria, and [the author of this dictum] took the view that the annexation of an individual27  is not legally counted as annexation.28  Come and hear: 'If an Israelite and a heathen buy a field in partnership.

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. [R. Ammi to the scholars present. The word 'to him' in current editions is to be deleted, v. BaH.]
  2. By learning the ways of the heathen, of which there was not so much danger when their father was alive.
  3. Lit., 'nebelah and terefah', i.e., meat from an animal not killed according to the Jewish rite or disqualified on account of some physical defect. V. Glos.
  4. Lit., 'for desire' to satisfy the appetite.
  5. In his early years Simeon b. Lakish was a brigand.
  6. Lit., 'his blood'. [Aruch 'that his blood may be sweet'. By fulfilling his wishes they will enjoy his blood without remorse].
  7. It was one of the characteristics of Resh Lakish that he never made provision for the morrow.
  8. It was his custom to lie on his stomach. Cf. Zeb. 5.
  9. A small measure.
  10. Ps. XLIX, 11.
  11. This is the rendering of Rashi. According to another reading, which Tosaf. considers preferable, we should translate 'Anyone who buys it from him has to bring the firstfruits etc.'
  12. I.e., to deter people from selling their land to heathens, or to stimulate them to redeem it if they have sold it.
  13. Lev. XXV, 23.
  14. That is to say, it remains holy even in the hand of the heathen, and tithe must be brought from it.
  15. Ps. CXV, 16.
  16. Deut. XIV, 23.
  17. Ps. XXIV, 1.
  18. R. Eleazar.
  19. [The obligation for tithing comes into force only after the crop has been finally turned into corn (v. Ma'as I, 6); and according to Rabbah the verse exempts only such corn as has been at that time in the ownership of the non-Jew. Where, however, a Jew had been responsible for the final process as owner, there is liability although the crop grew in soil belonging to a non-Jew, because a non-Jew cannot own property in Eretz Israel so fully as to release it from the obligation to tithe.]
  20. Pe'ah IV, 9.
  21. Ipso facto, even without any declaration on the part of the owner, v. Lev. XIX. 9, 10.
  22. Which would show that normally a field sold to a heathen is still subject to tithe.
  23. [Consequently should a Jew buy these gleanings from the non-Jew, he will have to give tithes unless the original owner had declared them common property.]
  24. Should another Jew buy the produce from the heathen and turn it into grain.
  25. The rule was that produce became liable for tithe as soon as it was a third grown. R.H. 12.
  26. Which would show that normally a field sold to a heathen is not subject to tithe.
  27. King David. V. supra p. 25, n. 3.
  28. [And ownership of a field in Syria by a heathen does release the produce from the tithing obligation, which is there merely of rabbinic origin.]

Gittin 47b

tebel and hullin1  are inextricably mixed up in it.2  This is the view of Rabbi. Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says that the part belonging to the heathen is exempt [from tithe], and the part belonging to the Israelite is subject to it'.3  Now [are we not to say that] the extent of their difference consists in this, that the one authority [R. Simeon] holds that a distinction can be made retrospectively,4  while the other holds that no distinction can be made retrospectively, but both are agreed that a heathen can own land in the land of Israel so fully as to release it from the obligation of tithe?5  — Here too we are dealing with land in Syria, and [R. Simeon] took the view that the annexation of an individual is not legally regarded as annexation. R. Hiyya b. Abin said: Come and hear. IF ONE SELLS HIS FIELD TO A HEATHEN, HE MUST BUY FROM HIM THE FIRSTFRUITS AND TAKE THEM TO JERUSALEM, TO PREVENT ABUSES. That is to say, the reason is to prevent abuses, but the Torah itself does not prescribe this?6  — R. Ashi replied: There were two regulations. At first they [the sellers of the fields] used to bring the firstfruits as enjoined in the Torah. When [the Sages] saw that they made the recital [over them]7  and still sold [fields], being under the impression that the fields still retained their holiness, they ordained that [the firstfruits] should not be brought. When they saw that those who were short of money still sold and the fields remained in the hands of the heathen, they ordained that they should be brought.8

It has been stated: If a man sells his field in respect of the produce only,9  R. Johanan says that [the purchaser] brings the firstfruits and makes the recital [over them],7  while Resh Lakish says that he brings them but makes no recital.10  R. Johanan who says that he brings and recites is of the opinion that the possession of the increment is equivalent to possession of the [parent] body, while Resh Lakish who says that he brings without reciting is of opinion that the possession of the increment is not equivalent to the possession of the [parent] body.11

R. Johanan raised an objection against Resh Lakish [from the following]: [And thou shalt rejoice in all the good which the Lord hath given to thee] and to thy house:12  this teaches that a man brings the firstfruits of his wife13  and makes the recital! — Resh Lakish rejoined: There is a special reason there,14  because the text says 'his house'.15  According to another report, Resh Lakish raised an objection against R. Johanan [by quoting to him]: 'And to thy house:' this shows that a man brings the firstfruits of his wife and makes the recital. This, [continued Resh Lakish,] is the rule in the case of the wife, because the text says and to thy house, but in other cases not! — R. Johanan replied: I derive my reason also from the same verse.16  He [then] raised an objection [from the following]: 'If while he was on the road bringing the firstfruits of his wife he heard that his wife had died, he brings them and makes the recital,' which means, [I take it], that if she did not die he does not make the recital?17  — No, [he replied]; the rule is the same even if she did not die, but it had to be stated also in regard to the case of her dying, [for this reason]. It might have occurred to us that [in this case] we should as a precaution prohibit [the husband from reciting] on account of the ruling of R. Jose b. Hanina who laid down that if a man gathered his grapes and commissioned another man to bring them [to Jerusalem] and the person commissioned died on the way, he [himself] brings them but does not make the recital, because it says, and thou shalt take …18  and thou shalt bring,19  which implies that the taking and the bringing must be performed by the same person.20  We are therefore told [that we do not take this precaution].

R. Johanan and Resh Lakish are herein true to their own principles, as stated elsewhere: If a man sells his field

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Tebel is produce from which tithe and other dues have not yet been separated. Hullin is produce which may be consumed without scruple by laymen.
  2. Even if they each take the produce of a separate half of the field.
  3. Tosef. Ter. II.
  4. Lit., 'there is bererah', (v. Glos.). I.e., we suppose that the part which the heathen took eventually was intended for him from the beginning.
  5. Which refutes Rabbah.
  6. I.e., according to the Torah, the heathen is the legal owner, and therefore tithe need not be brought, which refutes Rabbah.
  7. V. Deut. XXVI, 1-11.
  8. So that they should be impelled to buy the fields back.
  9. I.e., on the understanding that the purchaser is to acquire the produce for a certain number of years but not to become owner of the soil.
  10. Because the recital contains the words the fruit of the ground which thou, O Lord, hast given me, which could be said with propriety only by the owner of the soil.
  11. As appears later, the difference here between R. Johanan and Resh Lakish in respect to firstfruits refers to the time when the law of Jubilee was no longer in force, i.e., after the tribes of Reuben and Gad were carried off by Sennacherib (v. 2 Kings XV, 29) till the rebuilding of the Second Temple.
  12. Deut. XXVI, 11.
  13. From the so-called 'property of mulug' (v. Glos.) which belonged to the wife but of which the husband had the management and usufruct. 'House' here as in many cases is taken by the Rabbis as equivalent to 'wife'.
  14. Why the firstfruits are brought by one who does not own the soil.
  15. The Torah has made a special exception in the case of the wife's produce.
  16. I.e., R. Johanan takes the case of the wife as being not exceptional but typical.
  17. Presumably because his relation to the field is still that of purchaser.
  18. Deut. XXVI, 2 and 10.
  19. This is implied in the text, which thou shalt bring (ibid) cf. verse 10.
  20. And here the husband having in the interval been transformed from a purchaser into an heir is in a way no longer the same person.