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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin
I was in that assembly of Rabbi, and my vote was taken first. [How could this be], seeing that we have learnt: 'In [taking decisions on] money matters and cases of cleanness and uncleanness, they commence from the principal [of those present]; in capital cases, they commence from the side'?1 Rabbah the son of Raba, or as some say R. Hillel the son of R. Wallas said: The voting at the court of Rabbi was different, as in all cases it commenced from the side.2
Rabbah the son of Raba, or as some say R. Hillel the son of R. Wallas also said: Between Moses and Rabbi we do not find one who was supreme both in Torah and in worldly affairs.3 Is that so? Was there not Joshua? — There was Eleazar [with him]. But there was Eleazar?4 — There was Phinehas [with him]. But there was Phinehas?5 — There were the Elders6 [with him]. But there was Saul?7 — There was Samuel [with him]. But Samuel died [before Saul]? — We mean, [supreme] all his life. But there was David? — There was Ira the Jairite8 [with him]. But he died [before David]? — We mean, [supreme] all his life. But there was Solomon? — There was Shimei ben Gera9 with him. But he killed him? — We mean, all his life. But there was Hezekiah? — There was Shebnah10 [with him]. But he was killed?11 — We mean, all his life. But there was Ezra? — There was Nehemiah son of Hachaliah with him. R. Aha son of Raba said: I too say that between Rabbi and R. Ashi there was no-one who was supreme both in Torah and in worldly affairs. Is that so? Was there not Huna b. Nathan [with him]? — We do not count Huna b. Nathan because he used to defer to R. Ashi.
MISHNAH. A DEAF-MUTE CAN HOLD CONVERSATION BY MEANS OF GESTURES.12 BEN BATHYRA SAYS THAT HE MAY ALSO DO SO BY MEANS OF LIP-MOTIONS,13 WHERE THE TRANSACTION CONCERNS MOVABLES. THE PURCHASE OR SALE EFFECTED BY YOUNG CHILDREN14 IN MOVABLES IS VALID.
GEMARA. R. Nahman said: The difference between Ben Bathyra and the Rabbis is only on the question of movables, but where a Get is concerned both agree that gestures [must be used].15 Surely this is obvious; Ben Bathyra says distinctly 'MOVABLES'? — You might take this to mean 'where movable also are concerned'; hence we are told [that this is not so].
THE PURCHASE OR SALE EFFECTED BY YOUNG CHILDREN IN MOVABLES. What is the youngest age [at which they can do so]?16 — R. Judah pointed out to R. Isaac his son: About six or seven. R. Kahana said: About seven or eight. In a Baraitha it was taught: About nine or ten. There is no contradiction: Each [child] varies according to his intelligence. What is the reason [why this is allowed in the case of movables]? — R. Abba b. Jacob said in the name of R. Johanan: In order that they may procure ordinary necessities.17
And he said to him that was over the meltaha. Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal.18 What is meltaha?19 — R. Abba b. Jacob said in the name of R. Johanan: Something which is drawn out thin by fingering20 [nimlal we-nimtah]. When R. Dimi came [from Palestine] he said in the name of R. Johanan: Bonias son of Nonias21 sent to Rabbi a sibni and a homes22 and salsela and malmela.23 The sibni and homes [folded tip] into the size of a nut and a half, the salsela24 and malmela into the size of a pistachio-nut25 and a half. What is malmela? Something which fingering draws out thin.26
Up to what point [can advantage be taken of] their mistake? — R. Jonah said in the name of R. Zera: Up to a sixth, as with a grown-up.27 Abaye inquired: What of the gift of such a one?28 — R. Yemar replied. His gift is no gift. Mar, the son of R. Ashi, however, said that it is a valid gift. The [members of the Academy] communicated this statement to R. Mordecai with the names reversed.29 He replied: Go and tell the son of the Master30 that this does not correspond with the facts. As the Master was once standing with one foot on the ground and one on the steps31 we asked him, What of his gift, and he answered us, His gift is a valid gift, no matter whether made when he is ill or when he is well, whether it is a big gift or a small one.
MISHNAH. THE FOLLOWING RULES WERE LAID DOWN IN THE INTERESTS OF PEACE.32 A PRIEST IS CALLED UP FIRST TO READ THE LAW33 AND AFTER HIM A LEVITE AND THEN A LAY ISRAELITE, IN THE INTERESTS OF PEACE. AN 'ERUB34 IS PLACED IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN PLACED,35 IN THE INTERESTS OF PEACE.36
THE PIT WHICH IS NEAREST THE [HEAD OF THE] WATERCOURSE1 IS FILLED FROM IT FIRST,2 IN THE INTERESTS OF PEACE. [THE TAKING OF] BEASTS, BIRDS AND FISHES FROM SNARES [SET BY OTHERS] IS RECKONED AS A KIND OF ROBBERY,3 IN THE INTERESTS OF PEACE. R. JOSE SAYS THAT IT IS ACTUAL ROBBERY.4 [TO TAKE AWAY] ANYTHING FOUND BY A DEAF-MUTE, AN IDIOT OR A MINOR IS RECKONED AS A KIND OF ROBBERY,5 IN THE INTERESTS OF PEACE. R. JOSE SAYS: IT IS ACTUAL ROBBERY. IF A POOR MAN GLEANS ON THE TOP OF AN OLIVE TREE, [TO TAKE THE FRUIT] THAT IS BENEATH HIM6 IS COUNTED AS A KIND OF ROBBERY.7 R. JOSE SAYS IT IS ACTUAL ROBBERY. THE POOR OF THE HEATHEN MAY NOT BE PREVENTED FROM GATHERING GLEANINGS,8 FORGOTTEN SHEAVES,9 AND THE CORNER OF THE FIELD,10 IN THE INTERESTS OF PEACE.
GEMARA. [A PRIEST IS CALLED UP FIRST TO READ THE LAW]. What is the warrant for this? — R. Mattenah said: Because Scripture says, And Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests the sons of Levi.11 Now do we not know that the priests are the sons of Levi? What it means therefore is that the priests [are first] and then the sons of Levi. R. Isaac Nappaha said: We derive it from this verse, viz., And the priests the sons of Levi shall draw near.12 Now do we not know that the priests are the sons of Levi? What it signifies therefore is that the priests are first and then the sons of Levi. R. Ashi derived it from this verse, The sons of Amram were Aaron and Moses, and Aaron was separated to sanctify him as most holy.13 R. Hiyya b. Abba derived it from the following, And thou shalt sanctify him,14 This implies, [Give him precedence] in every matter which involves sanctification. A Tanna of the school of R. Ishmael taught: 'And thou shalt sanctify him', to wit, [give him precedence] in every matter involving sanctification, to open proceedings, to say grace first, and to choose his portion first.15
Said Abaye to R. Joseph: Is this rule only [a Rabbinical one] in the interests of peace? It derives from the Torah? — He answered: It does derive from the Torah, but its object is to maintain peace. But the whole of the Law is also for the purpose of promoting peace, as it is written, Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace?16 — No, said Abaye; we have to understand it in the light of what was said by the Master,17 as it has been taught: Two persons wait for one another with the dish,18 but if there are three they need not wait.19 The one who breaks bread20 helps himself to the dish21 first, but if he wishes to pay respect to his teacher or to a superior he may do so.22 Commenting on this, the Master said: This applies only to the table,23 but not to the synagogue, since there such deference24 might lead to quarrelling. R. Mattenah said: What you have said about the synagogue is true only on Sabbaths and Festivals, when there is a large congregation, but not on Mondays and Thursdays.25 Is that so? Did not R. Huna read as kohen26 even on Sabbaths and Festivals? — R. Huna was different, since even R. Ammi and R. Assi who were the most distinguished kohanim of Eretz Israel paid deference to him.
Abaye said: We assume the rule to be that if there is no kohen there, the arrangement no longer holds.27 Abaye further said: We have it on tradition that if there is no Levite there, a kohen reads in his place. Is that so? Has not R. Johanan said that one kohen should not read after another, because this might cast a suspicion on the first,28 and one Levite should not read after another because this might cast a suspicion on both? — What we meant was that the same kohen [should read in the place of the Levite].
Why just in the case of the Levites should there be a reflection on both of them? Because, [you say,] people will say that one [or other] of them is not a Levite? If one kohen reads after another, they will also say that one of them is not a kohen? — We assume that it is known that the father of the second was a kohen.29 But in the same way we may say that it is known that the father of the second [Levite] was a Levite?30 — They might say that he [the father] married a bastard or a nethinah31 and disqualified his offspring. In the same way they might say that [the father of the second priest] married a divorced woman or a haluzah32 and disqualified his offspring? — In any case [if he were suspect] would he read as Levi?33 And who would suspect him? Those who remain in the synagogue?34 They see [that he counts as one of the seven]!35 — It must be then, those who go out of synagogue.36
The Galileans sent to inquire of R. Helbo: After them [the kohen and levi,]
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