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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nedarim
Rabbi and R. Jose son of K. Judah came to a certain place when most of the knives had been folded. Rabbi ate;2 R. Jose son of R. Judah did not. Their owner came and said to them, 'Why do the Rabbis not eat? most of the knives have been folded!' Nevertheless R. Jose son of R. Judah did not eat, believing that the man had spoken [sarcastically] in a grudging spirit.
R. Mama son of R. Hanina came to a place when most of the knives had been folded. He ate; but [when] he offered [some] to his attendant, he would not eat. 'Eat,' said he; 'thus did R. Ishmael son of R. Jose tell me on his father's authority: When most of the knives have been folded, they [the remaining figs] are permitted [to strangers] as far as theft is concerned 'and are exempt from tithes'.
R. Tarfon was found by a man eating [of the figs] when most of the knives had been folded, [whereupon] he threw him into a sack and carried him, to cast him in the river. 'Woe to Tarfon,' he cried out, 'whom this man is about to murder!' When the man heard this,3 he abandoned him and fled. R. Abbahu said on the authority of R. Hananiah b. Gamaliel: All his lifetime that pious man grieved over this, saying. 'Woe is me that I made [profane] use of the crown of the Torah!'4 For Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in R. Johanan's name: Whoever puts the crown of the Torah to [profane] use, is uprooted from the world.5 This follows a fortiori. If Belshazzar, who used the holy vessels which had become profaned, as it is written, For the robbers shall enter into it, and profane it:6 [teaching], since they had broken in, they were profaned; yet he was uprooted from the world, as it is written, In that night was Belshazzar slain:7 how much more so he who makes [profane] use of the crown of the Torah, which endureth for ever!
Now since R. Tarfon ate when most of the knives were folded, why did that man ill-treat him? — Because someone had been stealing his grapes all the year round, and when he found R. Tarfon, he thought that it was he. If so, why was he grieved [at revealing his identity]?8 — Because R. Tarfon, being very wealthy, should have pacified him with money.9
It was taught: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him:10 [This means] that one should not say, I will read Scripture that I may be called a Sage.' I will study, that I may be called Rabbi, I will study,11 to be an Elder, and sit in the assembly [of elders];12 but learn out of love, and honour will come in the end, as it is written, Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart,'13 and it is also said, Her ways are ways of pleasantness;14 also, She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is everyone that retaineth her.15
R. Eliezer son of R. Zadok said: Do [good] deeds for the sake of their Maker,16 and speak of them17 for their own sake. Make not of them a crown wherewith to magnify thyself, nor a spade to dig with.18 And this follows a fortiori. If Belshazzar, who merely used the holy vessels which had been profaned, was driven from the world; how much more so one who makes use of the crown of the Torah!
Raba said: A man may reveal his identity where he is unknown, as it is said, but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.19 But as for the difficulty of R. Tarfon,20 — he was very wealthy, and should have pacified him with money.
Raba opposed [two verses]: It is written, But I thy servant fear the Lord for in my mouth,' whilst it is also written, Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth?21 One refers to a place where he is known; the other, to where he is unknown.
Raba said: A rabbinical scholar may assert, I am a rabbinical scholar; let my business receive first attention;22 as it is written, And David's sons were priests,'23 just as a priest receives [his portion] first, So does the scholar too. And whence do we know this of a priest? — Because it is written, Thou shalt sanctify him therefore, for he offereth the bread of thy God:24 whereon the School of R. Ishmael taught: 'Thou shalt sanctify him' — in all matters pertaining to holiness:
Nedarim 62bto be the first to commence [the reading of the Law],1 the first to pronounce the blessing,2 and first to receive a good portion.3
Raba said: A rabbinical scholar may declare, I will not pay poll-tax, for it is written, [also we certify to you, that touching any of the priests … or ministers of this house of God,] it shall not be lawful to impose mindah [tribute,] belo [custom,] or halak [toll,] upon them:4 whereon Rab Judah said: 'mindah' is the king's portion [of the crops]; 'belo' is a capitation tax, and 'halak' is arnona.5 Raba also said: A Rabbinical scholar may assert, 'I am a servant of fire, and will not pay poll-tax.'6 What is the reason? Because it is [only] said in order to drive away a lion.7 R. Ashi owned a forest, which he sold to a fire-temple. Said Rabina to R. Ashi: But there is [the injunction]. Thou shalt not put a tumbling-block before the blind!8 — He replied: Most wood is used for [ordinary] heating.9
MISHNAH. [IF HE VOWS,] 'UNTIL THE HARVEST,' [IT MEANS] UNTIL THE PEOPLE BEGIN REAPING THE WHEAT HARVEST, BUT NOT THE BARLEY HARVEST.10 IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE PLACE WHERE HE VOWED:11 IF IN A HILL-COUNTRY. THE HILL-COUNTRY [HARVEST]; IF IN THE PLAIN, [THE HARVEST OF] THE PLAIN [IS MEANT].12 [IF HE VOWS,] 'UNTIL THE RAINS,' [OR], 'UNTIL THE RAINS SHALL BE', [IT MEANS] UNTIL THE SECOND RAINFALL DESCENDS.13 R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAID: UNTIL THE [NORMAL] TIME FOR THE [FIRST] RAINFALL IS REACHED.14 [IF HE VOWS,] 'UNTIL THE RAINS CEASE,' [IT MEANS] UNTIL THE END OF NISAN:15 THIS IS R. MEIR'S VIEW. R. JUDAH SAID: UNTIL PASSOVER IS PAST.
GEMARA. It was taught: He who vows in Galilee, 'until the fruit-harvest,' and then descends to the valleys, though the fruit harvest has begun in the valley, he is forbidden [by his vow] until the fruit-harvest in Galilee.
[IF HE VOWS,] 'UNTIL THE RAINS,' [OR] 'UNTIL THE RAINS SHALL BE,' [IT MEANS] UNTIL THE SECOND RAINFALL DESCENDS. R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAID, etc. R. Zera said: The dispute is only if he said, 'until the rains';16 but if he declared, until the rain,' he [certainly] meant, until the time of the [first] rain.17
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