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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nedarim
MISHNAH. HE WHO VOWS [NOT TO BENEFIT] FROM THOSE WHO REST ON THE SABBATH, IS FORBIDDEN [TO BENEFIT] BOTH FROM ISRAELITES AND CUTHEANS.1 IF HE VOWS [NOT TO BENEFIT] FROM GARLIC EATERS, HE MAY NOT BENEFIT FROM ISRAELITES AND CUTHEANS;2 FROM THOSE WHO GO UP3 TO JERUSALEM, HE IS FORBIDDEN [TO BENEFIT] FROM ISRAELITES BUT FROM CUTHEANS HE IS PERMITTED.4
GEMARA. What is meant by 'THOSE WHO REST ON THE SABBATH'? Shall we say, 'those who observe the Sabbath,' why particularly Cutheans: even heathens [if they observe the Sabbath] too? Hence It must mean 'those who are commanded to observe the Sabbath.'' If so, consider the last clause: FROM THOSE WHO GO UP TO JERUSALEM, HE IS FORBIDDEN [TO BENEFIT] FROM ISRAELITES BUT FROM CUTHEANS HE IS PERMITTED. But why so: are they not commanded too?5 — Sand Abaye: In both clauses the reference is to those who are commanded and fulfil [their obligations]. Hence, in the first clause, both Israelites and Cutheans are commanded and observe [the Sabbath]; but those heathens who rest on the Sabbath do so without being obliged to. As for making pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Jews are commanded and observe it; but Cutheans, though commanded, do not.
MISHNAH. [IF ONE SAYS,] 'KONAM THAT I DO NOT BENEFIT FROM THE CHILDREN OF NOAH,' HE MAY BENEFIT FROM ISRAELITES, BUT NOT FROM HEATHENS.
GEMARA. But are then Israelites excluded from the children of Noah? — Since Abraham was sanctified, they are called by his name.6
MISHNAH. [IF ONE SAYS, 'KONAM] THAT I DO NOT BENEFIT FROM THE SEED OF ABRAHAM,' HE IS FORBIDDEN [TO BENEFIT] FROM ISRAELITES, BUT PERMITTED [TO BENEFIT] FROM HEATHENS.
MISHNAH. [IF ONE SAYS, 'KONAM] THAT I DO NOT BENEFIT FROM ISRAELITES', HE MUST BUY THINGS FROM THEM FOR MORE [THAN THEIR WORTH] AND SELL THEM FOR LESS.10 [IF HE SAYS, 'KONAM] IF ISRAELITES BENEFIT FROM ME, HE MUST BUY FROM THEM FOR LESS AND SELL FOR MORE [THAN THEIR WORTH], BUT NONE NEED CONSENT TO THIS.11 THAT I MAY NOT BENEFIT FROM THEM, NOR THEY FROM ME, HE MAY BENEFIT ONLY FROM HEATHENS.12
GEMARA. Samuel said: If one takes an article from an artisan13 on approval, and whilst in his possession it is accidentally damaged, he is liable for it. Hence we see that in his view the benefit is on the side of the buyer.14 We learnt: [IF ONE SAYS, 'KONAM] THAT I DO NOT BENEFIT FROM ISRAELITES,' HE MUST … SELL THEM FOR LESS. Hence he may not sell at its actual worth: but if the purchaser benefits [not the vendor], why not sell at its actual worth? — The Mishnah refers to an unsaleable article.15 If so, consider the first statement: HE MUST BUY FOR MORE THAN THEIR WORTH.16 Moreover, consider the second clause: [IF HE SAYS, 'KONAM] IF ISRAELITES BENEFIT FROM ME,' HE MUST BUY FROM THEM FOR LESS AND SELL FOR MORE THAN THEIR WORTH. But if this refers to unsaleable merchandise, even [to sell] at its actual worth [should be permitted]?17 — The second clause refers to 'keen' merchandise.18 If so, why must he purchase at a lesser [price]; he may even pay the full value?19 —
Nedarim 31bBut the Mishnah refers to average merchandise;1 whilst Samuel refers to an article that is eagerly sought.
It was taught in agreement with Samuel: If one takes articles from a tradesman [on approval] to send them [as a gift] to his father-in-law's house, and stipulates: 'if they are accepted, I will pay you their value, but if not, I will pay you for their goodwill benefit':2 if they were accidentally damaged on the outward journey, he is liable;3 if on their return journey, he is not liable, because he is regarded as a paid trustee.4
A middleman [once] took an ass5 to sell, but could not sell it. On his way back it was accidentally injured, [whereupon] R. Nahman held him liable to make it good. Raba objected: 'if they were damaged on the outward journey, he is liable; if on their return journey. he is not!' — Sand he to him: The return journey of a middleman counts as an outward journey, for if he finds a purchaser even at his doorstep, will he not sell [it] to him?
MISHNAH. [IF ONE SAYS,] 'KONAM THAT I DO NOT BENEFIT FROM THE UNCIRCUMCISED, HE MAY BENEFIT FROM UNCIRCUMCISED ISRAELITES BUT NOT FROM CIRCUMCISED HEATHENS; THAT I DO NOT BENEFIT FROM THE CIRCUMCISED,' HE IS FORBIDDEN TO BENEFIT FROM UNCIRCUMCISED ISRAELITES BUT NOT FROM CIRCUMCISED HEATHENS, BECAUSE 'UNCIRCUMCISED' IS A TERM APPLICABLE ONLY TO HEATHENS, AS IT IS WRITTEN, FOR ALL THE NATIONS ARE UNCIRCUMCISED AND ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL ARE UNCIRCUMCISED IN THE HEART.6 AND IT IS FURTHER SAID, AND THIS UNCIRCUMCISED PHILISTINE SHALL BE [AS ONE OF THEM],7 AND IT IS FURTHER SAID, LEST THE DAUGHTERS OF THE PHILISTINES REJOICE, LEST THE DAUGHTERS OF THE UNCIRCUMCISED TRIUMPH.8 R. ELEAZAR B. 'AZARIAH SAID: THE FORESKIN IS LOATHSOME, SINCE IT IS A TERM OF OPPROBRIUM FOR THE WICKED, AS IT IS WRITTEN, FOR ALL THE NATIONS ARE UNCIRCUMCISED. R. ISHMAEL SAID, GREAT IS [THE PRECEPT] OF CIRCUMCISION, SINCE THIRTEEN COVENANTS WERE MADE THEREON.9 R. JOSE SAID, CIRCUMCISION IS A GREAT PRECEPT, FOR IT OVERRIDES [THE SEVERITY OF] THE SABBATH.10 R. JOSHUA B. KARHA SAID: GREAT IS [THE PRECEPT OF] CIRCUMCISION, FOR [NEGLECTING] WHICH MOSES DID NOT HAVE [HIS PUNISHMENT] SUSPENDED EVEN FOR A SINGLE HOUR.11 R. NEHEMIAH SAID, GREAT IS [THE PRECEPT OF] CIRCUMCISION, SINCE IT SUPERSEDES THE LAWS OF LEPROSY.12 RABBI SAID, GREAT IS CIRCUMCISION, FOR [NOTWITHSTANDING] ALL THE PRECEPTS WHICH ABRAHAM FULFILLED HE WAS NOT DESIGNATED PERFECT UNTIL HE CIRCUMCISED HIMSELF, AS IT IS WRITTEN, WALK BEFORE ME, AND BE THOU PERFECT.13 ANOTHER EXPLANATION: GREAT IS CIRCUMCISION, SINCE BUT FOR THAT, THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE, WOULD NOT HAVE CREATED THE UNIVERSE, AS IT IS WRITTEN, BUT FOR MY COVENANT BY DAY AND NIGHT,14 I WOULD NOT HAVE APPOINTED THE ORDINANCES OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.15
GEMARA. It was taught: R. Joshua b. Karha said, Great is circumcision, for all the meritorious deeds performed by Moses our teacher did not stand him in stead when he displayed apathy towards circumcision, as it is written, and the Lord met him, and sought to kill him.16 R. Jose sand, God forbid that Moses should have been apathetic towards circumcision, but he reasoned thus: 'If I circumcise [my son] and [straightway] go forth [on my mission to Pharaoh], I will endanger his life, as it is written, and it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore.17 If I circumcise him, and tarry three days, — but the Holy One, blessed be He, has commanded: Go, return unto Egypt.18 Why then was Moses punished?
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