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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
— The idolater has no title to the person [of the slave]1 and he can transfer to the Israelite only that which is his. And [the slave], since he forestalled him and performed ritual ablution for the purpose of acquiring the status of a freed man, has thereby cancelled the obligations of his servitude, in accordance with the ruling of Raba. For Raba stated: Consecration,2 leavened food3 and manumission4 cancel a mortgage.5
R. Hisda raised an objection: It happened with the proselyte Valeria6 that her slaves forestalled her and performed ritual ablutions7 before her. And when the matter came before the Sages they decided that the slaves had acquired the status of freed men.8 [From here it follows that] only if they performed ablution before her,9 but not if after her!10 — Raba replied: 'Before her' they acquire their emancipation whether the object of their bathing had, or had not been specified;11 'after her' emancipation is acquired only when the object had been specified,12 but not when it had not been specified.13
R. Iwya said: What has been taught14 applies only to one15 who buys16 from an idolater; but the idolater himself17 may well be acquired;18 for it is written in Scripture, Moreover from the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them may ye buy:19 you may buy of them but they may not buy of you, nor may they buy of one another.20 'But they may not buy of you'. — What can this refer to? If it be suggested [that it refers] to one's manual labour, may not an idolater, [it may be asked,] buy an Israelite to do manual labour? Surely it is written, Or to the offshoot of a stranger's family,21 and a Master said that by 'stranger's family' an idolater was meant?22 Consequently it must refer to his person;23 and the All Merciful said, 'You may buy of them,24 even their persons'. R. Aha objected: It25 might be said [to refer to acquisition] by means of money and ritual ablution!26 — This is a difficulty.
Samuel said: He27 must be firmly held28 while he is in the water;29 as [was done with] Menjamin, the slave of R. Ashi who wished to perform ritual ablution,30 and was entrusted to Rabina and R. Aha son of Raba. 'Note', [R. Ashi] said to them, 'that I shall claim him from you'.31 They put a chain32 round his neck, and loosened it and again tightened it. They loosened it in order that there might be no interposition.33 They then tightened it again in order that he might not forestall them and declare,34 'I perform the ablution in order to procure thereby the status of a freed man'. While he was raising his head from the water they placed upon it a bucket full of clay and told him, 'Go, carry it to your master's house.
R. Papa said to Raba: The master must have observed the men of Papa b. Abba's house who advance sums of money on people's accounts in respect of their capitation taxes,35 and then force them into their service. Do they,36 when set free, require a deed of emancipation or not? He replied: Were I now dead I could not have told you of this ruling. Thus said R. Shesheth: The surety for these people37 is deposited in the king's archive, and the king has ordained that whosoever does not pay his capitation tax shall be made the slave of him who pays it for him.38
R. Hiyya b. Abba once came to Gabla39 where he observed Jewish women who conceived from proselytes who were circumcised but had not performed the required ritual ablution;40 he also noticed that idolaters were serving41 Jewish wine and Israelites were drinking it,42 and he also saw that idolaters were cooking lupines and Israelites ate them;43 but he did not speak to them on the matter at all. He called, however, upon R. Johanan who instructed him: Go and announce that their children are bastards; that their wine is forbidden as nesek wine;44 and that their lupines are forbidden as food cooked by idolaters, because45 they46 are ignorant of the Torah.
'That their children are bastards', R. Johanan ruling in accordance with his view. For R. Hiyya b. Abba stated in the name of R. Johanan: A man cannot become a proper proselyte unless he has been circumcised and has also performed ritual ablution; when, therefore, no ablution has been performed he is regarded as an idolater; and Rabbah b. Bar Hana stated in the name of R. Johanan that if an idolater or a slave cohabited with the daughter of an Israelite the child [born from such a union] is a bastard.
'That their lupines are forbidden as food cooked by idolaters, because they are ignorant of the Torah'. [Would their lupines have been] permitted if the men had been acquainted with the Torah? Surely R. Samuel b. R. Isaac stated in the name of Rab, 'Any foodstuff that may be eaten raw does not come under the prohibition of food cooked by idolaters', and since lupines cannot be eaten raw the prohibition of food cooked by idolaters should apply!49 — R. Johanan holds the view as expressed in a second version. For R. Samuel b. R. Isaac stated in the name of Rab, 'Whatever is not served on a royal table as a dish to be eaten with bread is not subject to the prohibition of food cooked by idolaters The reason, therefore,50 is because they were ignorant of the Torah;51 for had they been acquainted with the Torah [their lupines would have been] permitted.
Our Rabbis taught: 'If a proselyte was circumcised but had not performed the prescribed ritual ablution, R. Eliezer said, 'Behold he is a proper proselyte; for so we find that our forefathers52 were circumcised and had not performed ritual ablution'. If he performed the prescribed ablution but had not been circumcised, R. Joshua said, 'Behold he is a proper proselyte; for so we find that the mothers53 had performed ritual ablution but had not been circumcised'. The Sages, however, said, 'Whether he had performed ritual ablution but had not been circumcised or whether he had been circumcised but had not performed the prescribed ritual ablution, he is not a proper proselyte, unless he has been circumcised and has also performed the prescribed ritual ablution.
Let R. Joshua also infer from the forefathers, and let R. Eliezer also infer from the mothers! And should you reply54 that a possibility55 may not be inferred from an impossibility,56 surely [it may be retorted] it was taught: R. Eliezer said, 'whence is it deduced that the paschal lamb57 of later generations58 may be brought from hullin59 only? Those in Egypt were commanded to bring60 a Paschal lamb and those of later generations were commanded to bring a Paschal lamb; as the Paschal lamb spoken of in Egypt could be brought from hullin59 only, so may also the paschal lamb which had been commanded to later generations be brought from hullin only'. Said R. Akiba to him, 'may a possibility be inferred from an impossibility!'61 The other replied. 'Although an impossibility, it is nevertheless a proof of importance and deduction from it may be made'!62 — But
all agree1 that ritual ablution without circumcision is effective; and they differ only on circumcision without ablution. R. Eliezer infers from the forefathers,2 while R. Joshua [maintains that] in the case of the forefathers also ritual ablution was performed. Whence does he3 deduce it?4 If it be suggested, 'From that which is written, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their garments,5 if where washing of the garments is not required6 ablution is required,7 how much more should ablution be required where washing of the garments is required',8 [it may be retorted that] that9 might have been a mere matter of cleanliness.10 — It is rather from here:11 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people,12 and we have a tradition that there must be no sprinkling without ritual ablution.13
R. Hiyya b. Abba stated in the name of R. Johanan: A man can never become a proselyte unless he has been circumcised and has also performed the prescribed ritual ablution.16 Is not this obvious? [In a dispute between] an individual and a majority the halachah is, surely, in agreement with the majority!17 — The expression 'Sages' is in fact meant for18 'R. Jose'. For it was taught: If [a proselyte] came and stated, 'I have been circumcised but have not performed ritual ablution' he is 'permitted to perform the ablution19 and [the proper performance of the previous circumcision] does not matter;20 so R. Judah.
R. Jose said: He is not to be allowed ablution,21 Hence22 it is permissible for a proselyte23 to perform the prescribed ablution on the Sabbath;24 so R. Judah. R. Jose, however, said: He is not to be allowed to perform the ablution.25
The Master said, 'Hence it is permissible for a proselyte to perform the prescribed ablution on the Sabbath; so R. Judah'.26 Seeing that R. Judah stated that one27 suffices is it not obvious that, if circumcision has been performed in our presence, he is permitted to perform ablution! Why then, 'Hence'?28 — It might have been assumed that in the opinion of R. Judah, ablution forms the principal [part of the initiation],29 and that ablution is not to take place on the Sabbath because, thereby, a man is improved;30 hence we were taught31 that R. Judah requires either the one or the other.32
'R. Jose, however, said: He is not to be allowed to perform the ablution'. Is not this obvious? Since R. Jose said that both33 are required [ablution must be forbidden as] the improvement of a man34 may not be effected on the Sabbath! — It might have been assumed that in the opinion of R. Jose circumcision forms the principal [part of the initiation] and that the reason there35 is because the circumcision had not been performed in our presence36 but where the circumcision had taken place in our presence37 it might have been assumed that a proselyte in such circumstances38 may perform the prescribed ablution even on the Sabbath, hence we were taught39 that R. Jose requires both.33
Rabbah stated: It happened at the court of R. Hiyya b. Rabbi — (and R. Joseph taught: R. Oshaia b.40 Rabbi;41 and R. Safra taught: R. Oshaia b. Hiyya)41 — that there came before him a proselyte who had been circumcised but had not performed the ablution.42 The Rabbi told him, 'Wait here until tomorrow43 when we shall arrange for your ablution'. From this incident three rulings may be deduced. It may be inferred that the initiation of a proselyte requires the presence of three men;44 and it may be inferred that a man is not a proper proselyte unless he had been circumcised and had also performed the prescribed ablution; and it may also be inferred45 that the ablution of a proselyte may not take place during the night.
Our Rabbis taught: As it might have been assumed that if a man came and said, 'I am a proselyte' he is to be accepted,50 hence it was specifically stated in the Scriptures With thee,51 only when he is well known to thee. Whence is it inferred that if he came, and had his witnesses with him, [that his word is accepted]? — It was specifically stated in Scripture, And if a proselyte sojourn … in your land.52
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