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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a

Baba Mezi'a 89a

Now consider: everything is included in this prohibition of muzzling, because we employ the analogy of 'ox' written here and in the case of the Sabbath:1  then Scripture should have written, 'Thou shalt not thresh with muzzled [animals]:' why write, 'ox'? To assimilate the muzzler [sc. man] to the muzzled [sc. ox and animals in general], and vice versa. Just as the muzzler [man] may eat of what is attached, so the muzzled may eat of what is attached; and just as the muzzled may eat of what is detached, so the muzzler may eat of what is detached.

Our Rabbis taught: 'Threshing':2  just as threshing is peculiar in that it applies to what is grown in the earth, and the labourer may eat whilst employed thereon; so also, of everything which is grown in the earth, the labourer may eat. Hence milking, pressing thick milk,3  and cheese-making are excluded: since they are not earth-grown, the labourer may not partake thereof. But why is this needed? Does it not follow from, 'When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard'? — It is necessary: I might think, since 'kamah' is written to include everything that stands upright,4  it also embraces what is not earth-grown; therefore we are taught otherwise.

Another [Baraitha] teaches: 'Threshing': just as threshing is peculiar in that it is an employment at the completion of its labour,5  and the worker may eat whilst engaged thereon; so during every thing which is done at the completion of its labour, the worker may eat. Hence weeding amongst garlic and onions is excluded: as it is not the completion of the work,6  the labourer may not eat. But why is this necessary?7  Does it not follow from, but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel?8  — It is necessary, [to intimate that he may not eat] even when removing small onions from amongst large ones.9

Another [Baraitha] taught: 'Threshing': just as threshing is peculiar as being a process which does not complete its work [to render it liable] to tithes, and the labourer may eat thereof; so also during everything which does not complete the work [to subject it] to tithes, the labourer may eat. Hence separating dates and dried figs [sticking together] is excluded: since its work is finished in respect of tithes, the worker may not eat. But has it not been taught: When separating dates and dried figs, the worker may partake thereof? — R. Papa replied: That refers to half-ripe dates.10

Another [Baraitha] taught: 'Threshing': just as threshing is peculiar in that it is a process which does not finish its work for hallah,11  and the labourer may eat whilst engaged thereon; so during every process which does not finish its work in respect of hallah, the labourer may eat. Thus kneading, shaping [the dough] and baking are excluded; since its work is completed in respect of hallah, the worker may not eat whilst engaged thereon. But its work is complete in respect of tithes!12  — There is no difficulty: the reference is to the Diaspora,13  where there are no tithes. If so, hallah too is not practised!14  — But after all, this refers to Palestine, yet there is no difficulty. For the reference is to the seven years of conquest and seven years of division.15  For a Master said: In the seven years of conquest and the seven of division there was a liability to hallah, but not to tithes. But is it the tithing that is responsible? It is the finishing of the work that is responsible!16  — But, said Rabina, combine [the two Baraithas] and read [thus]: 'Threshing': just as threshing is peculiar in that its work is not complete in respect of tithes and hallah, and the worker may eat whilst engaged thereon, so during everything, the work of which is not complete in respect of tithes and hallah, the labourer may eat.17

The scholars propounded: Is the labourer permitted to parch [the ears of corn] at a fire and eat them? Is it the equivalent of [eating] grapes together with something else,18  or not?19  — Come and hear: An employer may give his employees wine to drink, that they should not eat many grapes; [on the other hand,] the labourers may dip their bread in brine, that they should eat many grapes!20

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. V. B.K. 54b. Just as 'ox' is singled out in connection with the Sabbath, yet at the same time Scripture adds that all animals must rest (Deut. V. 14), so by 'ox' here all animals are meant.
  2. I.e., the law forbidding the muzzling of an ox during 'threshing', 'treading out the corn', from which it was deduced that both man and beast may eat of that upon which they labour.
  3. In the process of making a certain kind of cheese,
  4. V. supra.
  5. Sc. of harvesting.
  6. Of producing these vegetables.
  7. Sc. the analogy from threshing.
  8. Deut. XXIII, 25. V. p. 505, n. 9.
  9. I.e., onions which never grow to a large size. These were removed to give the others room for more vigorous growth. Now, although these are 'Put into the employer's basket,' the labourer may not eat, not being engaged upon the completion of the work.
  10. I.e., a kind of date and fig which does not fully ripen on the tree but only in the house. The 'separating' spoken of here means before they have ripened in the house, and so are not finished in respect of tithes.
  11. V. Glos.
  12. And, as stated above, that alone forbids the worker to eat; why then base the ruling upon hallah?
  13. Lit., 'outside the land,' sc. Palestine.
  14. Though a small Portion of dough is separated and burnt even in the Diaspora, that is only symbolical; but the real law of hallah requires that a definite portion be given to the priests, and that is not practised outside Palestine.
  15. I.e., the Baraitha treats of the fourteen years during which Palestine was conquered and allotted to the tribes by Joshua.
  16. As deduced by analogy from 'threshing'. And therefore, whether the law of tithes is in force or not, once the stage of threshing or its equivalent is reached, when there would be a liability to tithes if the law were in force, the labourer may not eat. And so the difficulty remains: why exclude kneading on the grounds of liability to hallah, seeing that threshing preceded it?
  17. Hence, if it is a process which completes the work for tithes, and there is no further stage to subject it to hallah, e.g., the separating of dates, the labourer may not eat. If, however, its final stage is liability to hallah, e.g., wheat, the last stage of which is the kneading, when it is subject to hallah, if the worker is engaged upon an earlier stage, though it is already liable to tithes, he may eat. Rashi and Tosaf.
  18. Which is forbidden. Supra.
  19. For it may be argued that since grapes may not be eaten with bread, because thereby an unreasonably large quantity is consumed, the same holds good of parched corn, which is more palatable than unparched.
  20. The moistened bread creating an appetite. So, by analogy, a labourer may parch the corn.
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Baba Mezi'a 89b

— As for making the man fit [to eat more], of that there is no question: our problem is only whether the food may be rendered more appetising?1  What is the ruling? — Come and hear: Labourers may eat the top most grapes of the [vine-] rows,2  but must not parch them at the fire! — There it [the prohibition] is on account of loss of time:3  but our problem arises when he has his wife or children with him; what then?4  — Come and hear: He [the labourer] may not parch [the crops] at the fire and eat, nor warm them in the earth,5  nor crush them on a rock; but he may crush them between his hands and eat them! — There [too] it is on account of loss of time. That too is logical: for should you think it6  is because he [thereby] makes the fruit tasteful, what tastefulness is there [acquired by crushing them] on a rock? — [No; the reasoning is incorrect,] because it is impossible for it not to become slightly [more] tasteful.

Come and hear: Workers engaged in picking figs, harvesting dates, vintaging grape, or gathering olives, may eat, and are exempt [from tithes],7  because the Torah privileged them. But they must not eat these with their bread, unless they obtain permission from the owner, nor dip them in salt and eat!8  — Salt is certainly the same as grapes and something else.9

[It has just been stated:] 'Nor dip them in salt and eat.' But the following contradicts it: if one engages a labourer to hoe and to cover up the roots of olive trees, he may not eat.10  But if he engages him to vintage [grapes], pluck [olives], or gather [fruit], he may eat, and is exempt [from tithes], because the Torah privileged him. If he [the labourer] stipulates [that he is to eat], he may eat then, singly, but not two at a time.11  And be may dip them in salt and eat. Now, to what [does this refer]? Shall we say, to the last clause? But having stipulated, he can [obviously] eat just as he wishes! Surely then it must refer to the first clause!12  — Abaye answered: There is no difficulty: here it [the second Baraitha] refers to Palestine; there [the first] to the Diaspora. In Palestine, dipping [in salt] establishes [a liability to tithes]; in the Diaspora, it does not.13  Raba demurred: Is there aught for which dipping establishes [a liability] in Palestine, but not in the Diaspora, so that it is permitted from the very outset?14  But, said Raba, both in palestine and without, for one [fig] salting does not establish [liability],15  but for two it does. But if he [sc. the labourer] stipulates [that he is to eat], whether he salts or not, he may eat [them] one by one, but not in twos. [Hence:] If he neither stipulates nor salts them, he may eat them two by two; if he salts them, he may eat them one by one, but not two by two, even if he obtained the employer's permission,16  because they become tebel in respect of tithes, the salting establishing [that liability].17  And whence do we know that salting establishes [liability only for] two? — Said R. Mattena: Scripture saith, For he hath gathered them as the sheaves to the threshing floor.18

Our Rabbis taught: When cows stamp [hullin] grain19

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Lit., 'fit'.
  2. They may conserve their appetite till they reach these, which being more exposed to the sun than the lower ones, are sweeter (Rashi).
  3. Lit., 'cessation of work'.
  4. There is no loss of time, as they can singe it.
  5. By placing them in warm soil.
  6. I.e., the Prohibition referred to.
  7. V. p. 507, n. 3.
  8. Now, it was assumed that dipping in salt is forbidden because it renders it more appetising, and therefore parching too will be forbidden.
  9. I.e., no deduction may be drawn from this, for salt is an addition. Yet it may be permissible to parch corn, since nothing is added.
  10. Of the olives, because it is not the finish of the work.
  11. Two together count as a store, therefore are subject to tithes. Since the labourer stipulates that he is to eat, it is part of his payments and hence ranks as bought, and therefore he may not eat them; v. supra 88a.
  12. Where no stipulation was made: hence it contradicts the first Baraitha.
  13. When one dips an olive in salt he shews that he attaches value to it, which renders it completely ready for eating, and precludes further storing. Hence, in Palestine, where tithing is Biblical, the dipping imposes a liability. But in the Diaspora, where it is only Rabbinical and consequently less stringent, it does not.
  14. Sc. to partake thereof without having rendered the tithes. Though tithes in the Diaspora are only Rabbinical, the Rabbis formulated the law on the same conditions as in Palestine, and therefore, whatever establishes a liability there establishes it in the Diaspora too.
  15. Being of insufficient value.
  16. For otherwise, not having stipulated, he may not salt them at all, as stated above.
  17. V. p. 515, n. 7. Only when the stage of liability is reached it is called tebel. — Thus the first Baraitha refers to eating two at a time; no stipulation having been made, they may not be dipped in salt, But the second refers to a case where a stipulation was made; since the mere stipulation establishes a liability for two, it follows that he must eat the fruit singly, and that being so, the Tanna can state in general terms that he may salt them.
  18. Mic. IV, 12. Thus there can be no threshing floor, i.e., storage, the final stage of which imposes liability, without gathering, and there cannot be gathering of less than two (actually, the Heb. has [H] sing., but the plural must be understood).
  19. V. Glos. Barley grain was soaked in water, dried in an oven, and threshed by the treading of cows, which removed the husks.
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