Bava Metzia 5b:19בבא מציעא ה׳ ב:יט
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5bה׳ ב
1 א

ותקנתא לתקנתא לא עבדינן

Likewise, the halakha that if the defendant is suspect with regard to taking a false oath the plaintiff takes the oath and collects the money is also a rabbinic ordinance, and we do not institute one rabbinic ordinance upon another rabbinic ordinance. Therefore no oath is administered.

2 ב

ותיפוק ליה דהוה ליה רועה ואמר רב יהודה סתם רועה פסול

The reason cited for the lack of credibility of the oath of the shepherd is that he is guilty of robbery. The Gemara asks: But why not let Rabbi Zeira derive that he is disqualified from testifying or taking an oath because he is a shepherd; and Rav Yehuda says that an ordinary shepherd is disqualified from testifying? A shepherd is presumed to be a robber since shepherds allow the animals under their care to graze in the fields of other people.

3 ג

לא קשיא הא דידיה הא דעלמא דאי לא תימא הכי אנן חיותא לרועה היכי מסרינן והא כתיב (ויקרא יט, יד) לפני עור לא תתן מכשול אלא חזקה אין אדם חוטא ולא לו:

The Gemara rejects this: This is not difficult. That case, where he is presumed a robber, is a case where he herds his own animals, and this case, where he is not presumed a robber, is a case where he herds animals that belong to others. As if you do not say so, if even one who herds the animals of others is presumably a robber, how do we give our animals to a shepherd? Isn’t it written: “Do not put a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14)? It is prohibited to cause others to commit a transgression. Rather, there is a presumption that a person sins only for his own benefit, and one would not commit robbery for the benefit of animals that are not his.

4 ד

זה ישבע שאין לו בה פחות מחציה [וכו']: על דאית ליה משתבע או על דלית ליה משתבע אמר רב הונא דאמר שבועה שיש לי בה ואין לי בה פחות מחציה

§ The mishna teaches: This one takes an oath that he does not have ownership of less than half of it, and that one takes an oath that he does not have ownership of less than half of it, and they divide it. The Gemara asks: Does he take an oath with regard to the part that he has in his grasp, taking an oath that it is his, or does he take an oath with regard to the part that he does not have, i.e., that he does not have a claim to less than half of it? The latter wording of the oath is problematic, as he may mean that he does not have a claim to the garment at all. Rav Huna said: He must take an oath in which he says: I hereby take an oath that I have a claim to it, and I hereby take an oath that I do not have a claim to less than half of it.

5 ה

ונימא שבועה שכולה שלי ומי יהבינן ליה כולה

The Gemara asks: But let him say: I hereby take an oath that all of it is mine, as that is his claim. Why does he take an oath that merely half of it belongs to him? The Gemara answers: And would we give him all of it if he took such an oath? Since he will not be awarded the entire garment, it would be inappropriate for the court to administer to him an oath that he owns all of it.

6 ו

ונימא שבועה שחציה שלי מרע ליה לדיבוריה

The Gemara asks: But let him say: I hereby take an oath that half of it is mine. Why is the complicated formulation suggested by Rav Huna necessary? The Gemara answers: If he takes an oath to that effect he compromises his initial statement, i.e., his claim that the entire garment is his.

7 ז

השתא נמי מרע ליה לדיבוריה דאמר כולה שלי ולדבריכם שבועה שיש לי בה ואין לי בה פחות מחציה

The Gemara challenges: Now too, when he takes an oath according to Rav Huna’s formulation, he compromises his initial statement, as he takes an oath only with regard to his claim to half the garment. The Gemara answers: This is not so, as he makes the following statement to the court: All of it is mine; but according to your statement, I hereby take an oath that I have a claim to it and I do not have a claim to less than half of it.

8 ח

וכי מאחר שזה תפוס ועומד וזה תפוס ועומד שבועה זו למה אמר ר' יוחנן שבועה זו תקנת חכמים היא שלא יהא כל אחד ואחד הולך ותוקף בטליתו של חבירו ואומר שלי הוא

§ The Gemara questions the requirement that the litigants take an oath at all: But since this one is standing with half the item in his grasp and that one is standing with half the item in his grasp, and each party ultimately receives what is in his grasp, why is this oath necessary? Rabbi Yoḥanan says: This oath is an ordinance instituted by the Sages so that everyone will not go and seize the garment of another and say: It is mine.

9 ט

ונימא מיגו דחשיד אממונא חשיד נמי אשבועתא

The Gemara asks: But let us say that since he is suspect with regard to financial dishonesty, i.e., stealing another’s property and lying in court that it belongs to him, he is also suspect with regard to taking an oath, and his oath cannot be accepted.

10 י

לא אמרינן מיגו דחשיד אממונא חשיד אשבועתא דאי לא תימא הכי האי דאמר רחמנא מודה מקצת הטענה ישבע נימא מיגו דחשיד אממונא חשיד אשבועתא

The Gemara answers: In principle, we do not say that since one is suspect with regard to financial dishonesty he is suspect with regard to taking an oath. This is because even one who steals property is presumed to consider taking a false oath more severe. As if you do not say so, then with regard to that which the Merciful One states, that one who admits to part of the claim must take an oath, let us also say that his oath cannot be accepted, as since he is suspect with regard to financial dishonesty he is suspect with regard to taking an oath.

11 יא

התם אשתמוטי קא משתמיט ליה כדרבה

The Gemara rejects this proof: There, the debtor is presumably evading the creditor temporarily, in accordance with the explanation of Rabba that the debtor really intends to repay the entire debt, and the reason that he admits to owing only part of it is because he wants to buy time until he can afford to repay the entire debt.

12 יב

תדע דאמר רב אידי בר אבין אמר רב חסדא הכופר במלוה כשר לעדות בפקדון פסול לעדות

The Gemara adds: Know that this distinction is correct, as Rav Idi bar Avin says that Rav Ḥisda says: One who denies a claim that he received a loan and is contradicted by witnesses is fit to bear witness in a different case. By contrast, if one denies receiving a deposit and witnesses testify that he is lying, he is disqualified from bearing witness in other cases. The reason for this distinction is that since money is borrowed to be spent, the assumption is that the debtor did so, and his denial is merely an attempt to buy time until he can repay the debt. A deposited item, by contrast, may not be used by the bailee, so if he denies having received the deposit he presumably stole it. Therefore, he is disqualified from bearing witness. This demonstrates the distinction between lying in court about a debt and lying about property.

13 יג

אלא הא דתני רמי בר חמא ארבעה שומרין צריכין כפירה במקצת והודאה במקצת שומר חנם והשואל נושא שכר והשוכר נימא מיגו דחשיד אממונא חשיד אשבועתא

The Gemara asks: But if one who denies having received a deposit is considered a robber, this is contradicted by that baraita that Rami bar Ḥama teaches: All four types of bailees mentioned in the Torah require denial of part of the claim and admission of part of the claim in order to be liable to take an oath: These four are an unpaid bailee, and a borrower; a paid bailee, and a renter. Since a bailee has no need to buy time, let us say that the court cannot administer an oath to the bailee, as since he is suspect with regard to financial dishonesty he is suspect with regard to taking an oath as well.

14 יד

התם נמי אשתמוטי קא משתמיט סבר משכחנא לגנב ותפיסנא ליה א"נ משכחנא ליה באגם ומייתינא ליה

The Gemara answers: There too, in the case of a bailee, it is conceivable that the bailee is not a robber; rather, the deposit was stolen and the bailee is evading the depositor temporarily, thinking: If I have enough time I will find the thief and seize the deposit and return it. Alternatively, if the deposit was lost, the bailee is thinking: I will find the deposit in the marsh and I will bring it back to him. Therefore, he is not considered a robber but merely one seeking to buy time.

15 טו

אי הכי הכופר בפקדון אמאי פסול לעדות נימא אשתמוטי קא משתמיט סבר עד דבחשנא ומשכחנא ליה

The Gemara asks: If so, then why is one who denies receiving a deposit disqualified from bearing witness? Let us say in that case too, that he is evading the depositor, thinking: I will buy time until I search and find the item.

16 טז

כי אמרינן הכופר בפקדון פסול לעדות כגון דאתו סהדי ואסהידו ביה דההיא שעתא איתיה לפקדון בביתיה והוה ידע א"נ דהוה נקיט ליה בידיה

The Gemara answers: In an ordinary case, one who denies receiving a deposit is not disqualified from testifying. When we say that one who denies receiving a deposit is disqualified from bearing witness, it is with regard to a case where witnesses came and testified against him that at that time, when he denied the owner’s claim in court, the deposit was in his house and he knew that it was there. Alternatively, it is with regard to a case where he was holding the item in his hand. In those circumstances, it is obvious that he was not buying time, but rather he intended to keep the item.

17 יז

אלא הא דאמר רב הונא משביעין אותו שבועה שאינה ברשותו נימא מיגו דחשיד אממונא חשיד אשבועתא

The Gemara asks: But if one who is suspected of financial dishonesty cannot be administered an oath, that which Rav Huna says with regard to the halakhot of bailees is difficult, as Rav Huna says that if a bailee did not return the deposit, claiming that it was lost or stolen, and says that he is prepared to pay for it, the judges nevertheless administer an oath to him that the item is not in his possession. Let us say that since he is suspected of financial dishonesty, he is suspect with regard to taking an oath as well.

18 יח

התם נמי מורה ואמר דמי קא יהבנא ליה

The Gemara answers: There too, the bailee is not suspected of outright robbery, as even if he took the deposited item for himself, he could rationalize his behavior, saying to himself: Since I gave him money for the item, I did nothing wrong. Therefore, his oath is deemed credible and an oath can be administered to him.

19 יט

אמר ליה רב אחא מדיפתי לרבינא והא קא עבר על לאו (שמות כ, יג) דלא תחמוד

Rav Aḥa of Difti said to Ravina: But by paying for the deposit instead of returning it, doesn’t the bailee violate the prohibition of: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his slave, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:14)? One transgresses this prohibition by taking an item from another by force or deceit, even if one pays for it.

20 כ

לא תחמוד לאינשי בלא דמי משמע להו

The Gemara answers: The prohibition “You shall not covet” is understood by most people as referring to taking an item without paying money. Since the bailee may have been unaware that he was acting criminally, his testimony and his oath are deemed credible.