Bava Kamma 113b:8בבא קמא קי״ג ב
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113bקי״ג ב

שלא ימשכנו ויצא יכול יגלום עליו ת"ל (ויקרא כה, נ) וחשב עם קונהו ידקדק עם קונהו

indicating that one should not take a Hebrew slave by force and thereby allow him to leave the gentile’s jurisdiction. Rather, the Jew must be freed by legal means. One might have thought that it is permitted to deceive him in order to free the Jew. Therefore, the verse states: “And he shall reckon with him that bought him” (Leviticus 25:50), in order to teach that one must be precise in the financial dealings with the purchaser of a Hebrew slave, and one must pay him the appropriate sum without employing any form of deception. This indicates that it is prohibited to steal from a gentile.

אמר רב יוסף לא קשיא הא בכנעני הא בגר תושב

The Gemara answers that Rav Yosef said: It is not difficult, as this ruling that permits the court to deceive a gentile is issued with regard to a regular gentile, whereas that verse, which teaches that it is prohibited to deceive a gentile, is stated with regard to a gentile who resides in Eretz Yisrael and observes the seven Noahide mitzvot [ger toshav].

אמר ליה אביי והא תרוייהו גבי הדדי כתיבי לא לך אלא לגר שנאמר (ויקרא כה, מז) לגר ולא לגר צדק אלא לגר תושב שנאמר לגר תושב

Abaye said to Rav Yosef: How is it possible to differentiate between a gentile and a ger toshav? Aren’t both of them written next to each other, indicating that the same halakha pertains to both? As it is taught in a baraita: One who violates the prohibitions of the Sabbatical Year will be punished by having to resort to selling himself as a slave. And he will sell himself not to you, but to a stranger, as it is stated: “And sell himself unto the stranger” (Leviticus 25:47), and not to a stranger who is a convert, but to a ger toshav, as it is stated: “And sell himself unto the stranger who is a settler [ger toshav] with you” (Leviticus 25:47).

משפחת גר זה העובד כוכבים כשהוא אומר או לעקר זה הנמכר לעבודת כוכבים

The verse continues and states: “Or to the offshoot of a stranger’s family.” When it says “a stranger’s family,” this is referring to the gentile family members of a ger toshav, who are idolaters. When it says “or to the offshoot,” this is referring to a Jew who is sold to idol worship, i.e., to work in a temple dedicated to idolatry. Since it is subsequently stated: “He shall reckon with him that bought him” (Leviticus 25:50), it is apparent that this reckoning applies equally to each of the above, including the gentile. This contradicts Rav Yosef’s answer.

אלא אמר רבא לא קשיא כאן בגזילו וכאן בהפקעת הלוואתו

Rather, Rava said: It is not difficult because here, in the case of the slave, the halakha is stated with regard to an actual act of robbery committed against a gentile, but there, in the case of the baraita, where it would be permitted to employ deception if not for the desecration of God’s name, the halakha is stated with regard to abrogating his loan. Abrogating a loan owed to a gentile is permitted because it does not entail actually taking money.

א"ל אביי עבד עברי הפקעת הלוואתו הוא רבא לטעמיה דאמר רבא עבד עברי גופו קנוי

Abaye said to Rava: The release of a Hebrew slave from his gentile master is akin to the abrogation of his loan. The purchase price paid by the master is considered as a loan that the slave pays back over the years of his servitude until he goes free at the Jubilee. Consequently, deceptively bringing about his early release is akin to abrogating a loan, yet Rabbi Akiva derives from the verse that it is prohibited to do so. The Gemara answers that Rava conforms to his standard line of reasoning, as Rava says: The body of a Hebrew slave is owned by his master, and retaking him from the gentile by deceptive means would therefore constitute actual robbery.

אמר רב ביבי בר גידל אמר ר"ש חסידא גזל כנעני אסור אבידתו מותרת גזילו אסור דאמר רב הונא מנין לגזל הכנעני שהוא אסור שנאמר (דברים ז, טז) ואכלת את כל העמים אשר ה' אלהיך נותן לך בזמן שהן מסורים בידך ולא בזמן שאינם מסורין בידך

The Gemara cites another statement related to stealing from a gentile. Rav Beivai bar Giddel says that Rabbi Shimon Ḥasida says: It is prohibited to rob a gentile, but it is permitted to retain his lost item, i.e., one is not required to return it to him. The Gemara examines the basis for each of these rulings: It is prohibited to rob a gentile, as Rav Huna says: From where is it derived that it is prohibited to rob a gentile? It is derived from a verse, as it is stated: “And you shall consume all the peoples that the Lord your God shall deliver unto you” (Deuteronomy 7:16), indicating that it is permitted to consume the other nations’ property only when they are delivered into your hand, i.e., in times of war, but not when they are not delivered into your hand.

אבידתו מותרת דאמר רב חמא בר גורי' אמר רב מנין לאבידת הכנעני שהיא מותרת שנאמר (דברים כב, ג) לכל אבדת אחיך לאחיך אתה מחזיר ואי אתה מחזיר לכנעני

It is permitted to retain his lost item, as Rav Ḥama bar Gurya says that Rav says: From where is it derived that it is permitted to retain the lost item of a gentile? It is derived from a verse, as it is stated with regard to the mitzva of returning a lost item: “With every lost thing of your brother’s” (Deuteronomy 22:3), indicating that it is only to your brother that you return a lost item, but you do not return a lost item to a gentile.

ואימא הני מילי היכא דלא אתי לידיה דלא מחייב לאהדורי בתרה אבל היכא דאתי לידיה אימא ליהדרה אמר רבינא (דברים כב, ג) ומצאתה דאתאי לידיה משמע: תניא ר' פנחס בן יאיר אומר במקום שיש חילול השם אפי' אבידתו אסור

The Gemara questions this derivation: But say that this applies only where the item has not yet come into the Jew’s hand, as he is not obligated to pursue it in an effort to find the lost item and return it. But in a case where the item had already come into his hand, say that he must return it to the gentile. The Gemara answers that Ravina said: It is understood from the verse itself, as it states: “And so shall you do with every lost thing of your brother’s, which he has lost, and you have found” (Deuteronomy 22:3), which indicates that the verse refers even to an item that has already come into one’s hand. It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir says: In a case where there is a concern that retention of an article lost by a gentile will result in the desecration of God’s name, it is prohibited even to retain a gentile’s lost item.

אמר שמואל טעותו מותרת כי הא דשמואל זבן מכותי לקנא דדהבא במר דפרזלא בד' זוזי ואבלע ליה חד זוזא

The Gemara adds: Shmuel says that it is permitted to financially benefit from a business error of a gentile, i.e., it need not be returned. The Gemara notes that this is like that incident where Shmuel purchased a golden bowl [lakna] from a gentile in exchange [bemar] for the price of an iron bowl, which was four dinars, and Shmuel included one additional dinar in the payment so that the gentile would not realize his mistake.

רב כהנא זבן מכותי מאה ועשרים חביתא במאה ואבלע ליה חד זוזא אמר ליה חזי דעלך קא סמיכנא רבינא זבן דיקלא הוא וכותי לצלחא א"ל לשמעיה קדם ואייתי מעיקרו דכותי מניינא ידע

The Gemara relates another incident: Rav Kahana purchased one hundred and twenty barrels from a gentile for the price of one hundred barrels, and he included one additional dinar in the payment. Rav Kahana said to him: Take note that I am relying upon you to check that the transaction has been carried out properly. The Gemara records a third episode: Ravina and a gentile purchased a palm tree together in order to chop it up and split the wood between them. Ravina said to his attendant: Hurry and precede the gentile so that you can bring my share of the wood from the trunk of the tree, which is thicker than the upper part of the tree, as the gentile knows only the number of logs that he is due to receive and will not realize that you are taking thicker pieces.

רב אשי הוה קאזיל באורחא חזא שיבשא דגופנא בפרדיסא ותלי בה קיטופי דעינבי אמר ליה לשמעיה זיל חזי אי דכותי נינהו אייתי אי דישראל נינהו לא אייתי לי שמע ההוא כותי דהוה יתיב בפרדיסא אמר ליה דכותי שרי א"ל כותי שקיל דמי ישראל לא שקיל דמי

The Gemara relates a final anecdote: Rav Ashi was traveling on the road and he saw a branch of a grapevine in an orchard, and there were clusters of grapes hanging on it. He said to his attendant: Go see to whom these clusters belong. If they are owned by a gentile, bring some to me, but if they are owned by a Jew, do not bring me any. A certain gentile who was sitting in the orchard overheard Rav Ashi’s instructions. The gentile said to him: Is it permitted to steal the property of a gentile? Rav Ashi said to him: A gentile takes money for his grapes, and I intended to pay for them, but a Jew does not take money for his grapes and I did not want to take them without paying for them.

גופא אמר שמואל דינא דמלכותא דינא אמר רבא תדע דקטלי דיקלי וגשרי גישרי ועברינן עלייהו

§ The Gemara relates to the matter of civil law itself. Shmuel says: The law of the kingdom is the law, and the halakhic principle is that Jews must obey the laws of the state in which they reside. Rava said: Know that this principle is true from the fact that the municipal authorities cut down palm trees without the consent of their owners and construct bridges from them, and yet we cross over them. Evidently, the wood is not considered stolen property, which one is prohibited from using, because the law of the kingdom is the law.

א"ל אביי ודלמא משום דאייאוש להו מינייהו מרייהו אמר ליה אי לא דינא דמלכותא דינא היכי מייאשי

Abaye said to Rava: Perhaps the reason the bridges may be used is because their owners despaired of retrieving them and not because the law of the kingdom is the law. Rava said to Abaye: If not for the fact that the law of the kingdom is the law, how would the despair of the owners of the trees allow us to use the bridges? The fact that the owners have despaired of retrieving their wood does not effect a transfer of property, and it therefore still belongs to them.

והא לא קא עבדי כדאמר מלכא מלכא אמר זילו וקטלו מכל באגי ואינהו אזלו וקטלו מחד באגא

The Gemara questions Rava’s understanding: But the municipal authorities do not act as the king said. The king said: Go and cut down a bit of wood from all the valleys in the area so that each individual loses only a small amount of wood. They, however, disobey the king and go and cut down all the wood needed for the bridge from one valley. Therefore, even if the law of the kingdom is the law, this cannot be the reason that the halakha permits Jews to cross over such bridges, as the authorities are not enforcing the law of the kingdom, but rather their own unlawful inclinations.

שלוחא דמלכא כמלכא ולא טרח ואינהו אפסיד אנפשייהו דאיבעי להו דאינקוט מכוליה באגי ומשקל דמי

The Gemara answers: An agent of a king is like the king himself, and he is not expected to trouble himself to collect wood proportionally from each valley. They, the owners of the land where the wood is cut, cause themselves a loss, as they should collect compensation from all the other residents of the valleys and take money from them for this purpose. Since the land owners whose wood was used have permission to collect compensation from all the residents in the area, the authorities are acting within their rights by confiscating wood from a single location.

אמר רבא מאן דמשתכח בבי דרי פרע מנתא דמלכא וה"מ שותפא אבל אריסא אריסותיה הוא דקא מפיק

Similarly, Rava says: When the king’s agents come to collect the king’s share of the grain from a field owned by several partners, the one who is found in the granary must pay the king’s share for the entire property, as the agents are not expected to locate and exact payment from each individual proprietor separately. The partner who paid may later claim reimbursement from the other owners for covering their share of the tax. And this statement applies only to partners who share ownership of the field. But a sharecropper collects his portion from the crop but does not own a share of the land. Consequently, the tax may not be collected from his produce, and doing so would constitute robbery.

ואמר רבא בר מתא אבר מתא מיעבט וה"מ דברלא ארעא וכרגא דהאי שתא אבל שתא דחליף הואיל ואפייס מלכא חליף

And Rava also says: Property that belongs to a town dweller may be taken as security for the tax owed by another town dweller. And this statement applies only to the property tax and head tax of that year, but with regard to taxes from the previous year, since the king has already been appeased, the ability to take property belonging to someone else has passed. The tax collector has already paid the entire amount he must pay the king for the previous year, and everything else he collects is his own profit. Although he has the right to collect this extra amount, he may not take property for one person as security for the taxes of someone else.

ואמר רבא הני דדיירי דרי בתוך התחום אסור ליקח מהן מאי טעמא משום דמערבא חיותא דמתא בהדייהו

And Rava says: With regard to those gentiles who construct pens for their animals inside the city limits and charge a fee to bring their animals through the fields around the city to fertilize the fields, it is prohibited to purchase animals from them. What is the reason? It is because the livestock of the Jewish residents of the town become intermingled with their livestock, and it is possible that the animal one would buy is actually stolen property.

חוץ לתחום מותר ליקח מהם אמר רבינא אם היו בעלים מרדפים אחריהם אפילו חוץ לתחום אסור

Rava adds: If the pens were outside the city limits, it is permitted to purchase livestock from them, as it is unlikely that a Jew’s livestock became intermingled with the seller’s livestock. Ravina said: If the owners of the livestock were pursuing the animals, then even if the pens were outside the city limits, it is prohibited to purchase livestock from the owners of the pens.

מכריז רבא ואיתימא רב הונא דסלקין לעילא ודנחתין לתתא האי בר ישראל דידע סהדותא לכותי ולא תבעו מיניה ואזל ואסהיד ליה בדיני דכותי על ישראל חבריה משמתינן ליה מאי טעמא דאינהו מפקי ממונא

§ Apropos the discussion of legal dealings between Jews and gentiles, the Gemara relates: Rava declared, and some say that it was Rav Huna who declared: All who ascend upward to Eretz Yisrael and all who descend downward to Babylonia agree that in the case of a Jew who knows of evidence concerning the legal claim of a gentile, and the gentile did not demand from him that he testify, and the Jew nevertheless went and testified for him in a gentile court, against his fellow Jew, we excommunicate him. What is the reason that we excommunicate him? It is because they, the gentile courts, expropriate money