R. Shimon b. Elazar allows one to rent the field to the non-Jew because if the Jew tells him not to work on hol hamoed, the non-Jew will listen.
The Samaritan will not listen to a Jew who tells him not to work on hol hamoed. The Samaritan believes that he knows more than the Jew, and in their system of laws, working a field on hol hamoed is permitted.
The Talmud notes that there is an additional reason for why it is prohibited to rent a field to a Samaritan. This will give the Samaritan an opportunity to work the field on hol hamoed. Providing a person with an opportunity to transgress is considered placing a stumbling block before the bling. Thus there are really two reasons why one should not do this.
Today’s sugya deals with cases of partnerships between Jews and non-Jews where the Jew takes the profit from what is permitted to him (for instance, the work done on Sunday) and the non-Jew takes the profit from the part that the Jew is not allowed to profit from (Shabbat).
Rava allowed the Jew and the non-Jew to share ownership of the field. The non-Jew would work the field on Shabbat, and receive the full profits from that day, and the Jew on Sunday.
The baraita rules that if the field is already jointly owned by the Jew and the non-Jew, the Jew cannot let the non-Jew take the profits for the work done on Shabbat in return for the Jew taking the profit for work done on Sunday. They can only do this if they make the arrangement at the outset before they join into the partnership agreement. Evidently, Ravina thought that the saffron growers did not make their arrangement before Shabbat.
At first Rava is embarrassed that he allowed them to share the profits in this way. In the end, they learned that the partners had made the condition at the outset, and therefore the arrangement was permitted.
Rav Gavihah has a different version of the story. The partnership was not made to get around the issue of Shabbat, it was to get around the problem of orlah—the prohibition of eating the fruit of a tree during its first three years of growth. Rava allowed this deal to exist. Rashi explains that this agreement is more acceptable with regard to orlah than it is with Shabbat.
According to this version of the story, Ravina did not raise a difficulty on Rava from the first half of the baraita, he was supporting Rava from the second half. Indeed, there is really nothing controversial about this act at all (according to Rashi). And Rava was never embarrassed.
What if the partners did not make any arrangements, neither before nor after? Can the Jew take the profits from Sunday and the non-Jew from Saturday? In the end, the baraita cannot answer this question. The first half would lead to the ruling that without any explicit arrangements it is prohibited. And the second half would lead to the opposite.
Congratulations, you have finished the first chapter of Avodah Zarah. It’s the longest chapter, so we’re about ¼ of the way through the Tractate. Keep up the great work!
This mishnah teaches that non-Jewish idol worshippers are suspected of several heinous sins: bestiality, sexual licentiousness and murder. This mishnah adopts a very harsh attitude towards the idolaters at the time. We should remind ourselves that according to later Jewish law, non-Jews who did not engage in such practices were not subject to these laws.
Non-Jewish idolaters are suspected of bestiality. Therefore Jews should not place animals in their inns. By doing so they would be encouraging the non-Jew to engage in bestiality, which according to Jewish ideology is also forbidden to non-Jews. It is one of the seven “Noahide” commandments which are incumbent upon non-Jews to observe.
Jewish women should not be alone with non-Jewish idolaters for they are suspected of being rapists. Jewish men should not be alone with non-Jewish idolaters for they are suspected of being murderers.