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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
'Lend me a kor of wheat,' and stipulate a monetary return:1 if it depreciates, he returns wheat; if it advances, he repays its value [as at the time of borrowing]. But did he not stipulate?2 — R. Shesheth answered: It is thus meant: if no stipulation is made, and it depreciates, he takes wheat; if it advances, he repays its [original] value.
MISHNAH. A MAN MAY NOT SAY TO HIS NEIGHBOUR, 'LEND ME A KOR OF WHEAT AND I WILL REPAY YOU AT HARVEST TIME;'3 BUT HE MAY SAY, 'LEND ME UNTIL MY SON COMES, OR UNTIL I FIND THE KEY.'4 HILLEL, HOWEVER, FORBADE [EVEN THIS.] AND THUS HILLEL USED TO SAY: A WOMAN MUST NOT LEND A LOAF TO HER NEIGHBOUR WITHOUT FIRST VALUING IT, LEST WHEAT ADVANCES AND THUS THEY [THE LENDER AND BORROWER] COME TO [TRANSGRESS THE PROHIBITION OF] USURY.
R. Hiyya taught the following, which is in support of R. Isaac: [One may not borrow wine or oil for the same quantity to be returned, because] he has not a drop of wine or oil.7 Surely then, if he has, he may borrow a large quantity against it.8
HILLEL, HOWEVER, FORBADE [EVEN THIS]. R. Nahman said in Samuel's name: The halachah agrees with Hillel's ruling. The law is nevertheless not in accordance with him.9
AND THUS HILLEL USED TO SAY, A WOMAN MUST NOT LEND, etc. Rab Judah said in Samuel's name: This is Hillel's view, but the Sages maintain, One may borrow and repay unconditionally.
Rab Judah also said in Samuel's name: The members of a company who are particular with each other10 transgress [the prohibition of] measure, weight, number, borrowing and repaying on the Festival,11 and, according to Hillel, usury too.12
Rab Judah also said in Samuel's name: Scholars may borrow from each other on interest. Why? Fully knowing that usury is forbidden, they merely present gifts to each other.13 Samuel said to Abbuha b. Ihi: Lend me a hundred peppercorns for a hundred and twenty. And this is well.14
Ran Judah said in Rab's name: One may lend to his sons and household on interest, in order to give them experience thereof.15 This, nevertheless, is incorrect, because he will come to cling thereto.16
MISHNAH. A MAN MAY SAY TO HIS NEIGHBOUR, 'HELP ME TO WEED, AND I WILL HELP YOU; ASSIST ME TO HOE, AND I WILL ASSIST YOU.'17 BUT HE MAY NOT SUGGEST, 'DO YOU WEED WITH ME, AND I WILL HOE WITH YOU; DO YOU HOE WITH ME, AND I WILL WEED WITH YOU.'18
Baba Mezi'a 75b
ALL THE DAYS OF THE DRY SEASON ARE EQUAL,1 AND LIKEWISE OF THE RAINY SEASON.2 [BUT] ONE MAY NOT SAY, 'PLOUGH WITH ME IN THE DRY SEASON, AND I WILL PLOUGH WITH YOU IN THE RAINY SEASON'.3 RABBAN GAMALIEL SAID: THERE IS [A FORM OF] PREPAID INTEREST AND ONE OF POSTPAID INTEREST. E. G., IF ONE MADE UP HIS MIND TO BORROW FROM HIS NEIGHBOUR AND SENT HIM [A GIFT], SAYING, 'IT IS IN ORDER THAT YOU SHOULD LEND ME' — THAT IS INTEREST IN ADVANCE. IF HE BORROWED FROM HIM, REPAID HIS MONEY, AND THEN SENT HIM [A GIFT], SAYING, 'IT IS ON ACCOUNT OF YOUR MONEY WHICH, [AS FAR AS YOU WERE CONCERNED], LAY IDLE WITH ME' — THAT IS POSTPAID INTEREST. R. SIMEON SAID: THERE IS A FORM OF VERBAL INTEREST. [THUS:] HE [THE BORROWER] MAY NOT SAY TO HIM [THE LENDER], 'KNOW THAT SO-AND-SO HAS COME FROM SUCH AND SUCH A PLACE.'4
THE FOLLOWING TRANSGRESS NEGATIVE INJUNCTIONS: THE LENDER, THE BORROWER, THE SURETY, AND THE WITNESSES; THE SAGES ADD, THE NOTARY TOO. THEY VIOLATE: THOU SHALT NOT GIVE [HIM THY MONEY UPON USURY],5 TAKE THOU [NO USURY] OF HIM,6 THOU SHALT NOT BE TO HIM AS AN USURER,7 NEITHER SHALL YE LAY UPON HIM USURY,8 AND THOU SHALT NOT PUT A STUMBLING BLOCK BEFORE THE BLIND, BUT SHALT FEAR THY GOD: I AM THE LORD.9
GEMARA. It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Yohai said: Whence do we know that if a man is his neighbour's creditor for a maneh, the latter must not extend a greeting to him, if that is not his usual practice? From the verse, Usury of any word which may be usury, [teaching] that even speech is forbidden.
THE FOLLOWING TRANSGRESS. Abaye said: The lender infringes all;10 the borrower: Thou shalt not cause thy brother to take usury,11 but unto thy brother thou shalt offer no usury,12 and thou shalt not put a stumbling block before the blind. The Surety and the witness: only, neither shall ye lay upon him usury.13
It has been taught: R. Simeon said: Those who lend on interest lose more than they gain.14 Moreover, they impute wisdom15 to Moses, our Teacher, and to his Torah, and say, 'Had Moses our Teacher known that there is profit in this thing [sc. usury], he would not have prohibited it.'16
When R. Dimi came,17 he said: Whence do we know that if one is his neighbour's creditor for a maneh and knows that he has nought [for repayment], he may not even pass in front of him? From the verse, Thou shalt not be to him as an usurer.18 R. Ammi and R. Assi say: It is as though he subjected him to a twofold trial,19 for it is written, Thou hast caused man to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water.20
Rab Judah said in Rab's name: He who has money and lends it without witnesses infringes, and thou shalt not put a stumbling block before the blind.21 Resh Lakish said: He brings a curse upon himself, as it is written, Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.22
The Rabbis observed to R. Ashi: Rabina fulfils all the Rabbinical requirements. He [R. Ashi] sent word to him [Rabina] on the eve of the Sabbath: 'Please, let me have [a loan of] ten zuz, as I just have the opportunity of buying a small parcel of land.' He replied, 'Bring witnesses and we will draw up a bond.' 'Even for me too!' he sent back. 'You in particular,' he retorted, 'being immersed in your studies, you may forget, and so bring a curse upon me.
Our Rabbis taught: Three cry out23 and are not answered. Viz., he who has money and lends it without witnesses; he who acquires a master for himself; and a henpecked husband. 'He who acquires a master for himself;' what does this mean? — Some say: He who attributes his wealth to a Gentile;24 others: He who transfers his property to his children in his lifetime; others: He who is badly-off in one town and does not go [to seek his fortune] elsewhere.
MISHNAH. IF A MAN ENGAGES ARTISANS AND THEY DECEIVE EACH OTHER, THEY CAN ONLY CHERISH RESENTMENT AGAINST EACH OTHER.25 IF HE HIRES AN ASS-DRIVER OR A WAGGONER26 TO BRING LITTER-CARRIERS AND PIPERS FOR A BRIDE OR FOR THE DEAD,27 OR LABOURERS TO REMOVE HIS FLAX FROM THE WATER OF STEEPING, OR ANYTHING WHICH WOULD BE IRRETRIEVABLY LOST,28 AND THEY [THE WORKERS] BREAK THEIR ENGAGEMENT;29 IF IT IS A PLACE WHERE NO OTHERS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE SAME WAGE, HE MAY HIRE [WORKERS] AGAINST THEM30 OR DECEIVE THEM.31 IF HE ENGAGES ARTISANS AND THEY RETRACT [AFTER DOING SOME WORK]. THEY ARE AT A DISADVANTAGE;
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