The baraita quoted here clearly prohibits selling them large wild animals. This rejects R. Hanan b. Rava who said that it depends on custom.
This section continues to discuss selling wild animal to non-Jews. The material here is the same as we learned yesterday but presented in a different fashion.
Ravina notes a direction contradiction between the mishnah and a baraita. The mishnah implies that as long as the animal is not dangerous it may be sold to non-Jews. But the baraita prohibits selling large wild animals under any circumstances.
These are the same opinions we saw yesterday. Rabbah b. Ulla says that the mishnah refers to a maimed lion and follows R. Judah who allows selling maimed animals. R. Judah does not allow selling maimed dangerous animals. If it is not dangerous, it may be sold. But other wild animals may not be sold even if they are not dangerous.
Ashi says that lions cannot perform work in any case. Therefore, they cannot be sold if they are dangerous. But animals that could possibly be put to work may be sold.
Nahman objects to the entire difficulty. Perhaps a lion is not a large animal. Perhaps it is to be considered a small animal. As we have seen, in places where the custom is to sell small animals to non-Jews, they may be sold. Thus a lion may not be sold because it is dangerous. But other small animals may be sold.
Ashi reads the mishnah such that it refutes R. Hanan b. Rava who allowed selling non-dangerous large wild animals to non-Jews. We should note that this is yet another organization of the same material we have seen above.
This is probably a question you had earlier—what kind of work can a wild animal perform? The answer is that it can be tied to a mill and made to grind grain.
The entire halakhic content of this sugya is the statement that a large animal has the same rule as small cattle when it comes to “struggling.” I explained this concept in section 2 of this daf, where I wrote, “‘Struggling’ refers to an animal that was dying before it was slaughtered. If after it was slaughtered it ‘struggles’ then we can assume that it was alive and the animal may be eaten.” The section we learned today is not really about the content of this halakhah but about the attribution. This sugya does open a window as to how important attributions were to Babylonian amoraim and also to how those attributions were formed.
Zera begins his adventure by learning at the school of R. Judah. There he learns the statement, but Rav Judah does not know whether he learned it from Shmuel or from Rav, the two great amoraim of the first generation in Babylonia.
At Korkunia, he hears another sage reciting the tradition in the name of Shmuel, so he believes that it originated with him.
Sura is Rav’s home town. There R. Zera learns that Rav issued the same statement.
When R. Zera gets to Israel (if you learned Ketubot, you might remember that at the end of the masechet he makes Aliyah) he hears the statement attributed by a different amora to Rav. He asks R. Assi if this is indeed the correct transmission.
Assi insults R. Zera in return for his doubts about the attribution of the statement and then orders him to transmit it the way that R. Assi does.
In the end, everyone gets their name attached to Rav’s statement. Now, was that so hard?
Today’s section begins to explain the next section of the mishnah, which prohibited joining idolaters in building certain structures.
Yohanan says that there are three kinds of basilicas, and Rava elaborates that only one of these is prohibited—the basilica associated with the king. One may build with idolaters basilicas associated with bath-houses and store-houses.
In this version of the material Rava permits all basilicas to be built with non-Jews accept for those attached to the other structures mentioned in the mishnah that one may not build with a non-Jew.
As we often see, there is a tendency towards leniency in these passages.
Today’s section contains the famous story of the great R. Eliezer being caught by the Roman emperor for having heretical beliefs.
As always, I would urge caution in viewing these stories as historically accurate. First of all, they were composed over the course of hundreds of years, and this version was probably not completed until several hundred years after R. Eliezer’s death. Second, they were not intended to be history. They may to a certain extent reflect the concerns of the authors of the story, but they are not bald descriptions of events that actually happened.
Eliezer finds a tricky answer with which to respond to the governor. Daniel Boyarin has noted that this is a different strategy towards trials than that typically adopted and celebrated by early Christians. Rather than martyr himself, R. Eliezer finds a way of saying the right thing to the governor without actually betraying his God. We will have stories of martyrdom elsewhere in the Talmud. This story could be considered an “anti-martyr” story—when faced with accusations of heresy, choose life over death.
Akiva, R. Eliezer’s star pupil, discerns (somehow) that R. Eliezer may have enjoyed something he heard from a heretic. As we shall see, these “heretics” are early Christians.