בור שהוא קרוב לאמה מתמלא ראשון מפני דרכי שלום
The Sages enacted that the pit that is nearest to the irrigation channel that supplies water to several pits or fields is filled first on account of the ways of peace. They established a fixed order for the irrigation of fields, so that people would not quarrel over who is given precedence.
מצודות חיה ועופות ודגים יש בהן משום גזל מפני דרכי שלום ר' יוסי אומר גזל גמור
Animals, birds, or fish that were caught in traps are not acquired by the one who set the traps until he actually takes possession of them. Nevertheless, if another person comes and takes them, it is considered robbery on account of the ways of peace. Rabbi Yosei says: This is full-fledged robbery.
מציאת חרש שוטה וקטן יש בהן משום גזל מפני דרכי שלום ר' יוסי אומר גזל גמור
Similarly, a lost item found by a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor is not acquired by him, since he lacks the legal competence to effect acquisition. Nevertheless, taking such an item from him is considered robbery on account of the ways of peace. Rabbi Yosei says: This is full-fledged robbery.
עני המנקף בראש הזית מה שתחתיו גזל מפני דרכי שלום ר' יוסי אומר גזל גמור
If a poor person gleans olives at the top of an olive tree and olives fall to the ground under the tree, then taking those olives that are beneath it is considered robbery on account of the ways of peace. Rabbi Yosei says: This is full-fledged robbery.
אין ממחין ביד עניי עובדי כוכבים בלקט שכחה ופאה מפני דרכי שלום:
One does not protest against poor gentiles who come to take gleanings, forgotten sheaves, and the produce in the corner of the field, which is given to the poor [pe’a], although they are meant exclusively for the Jewish poor, on account of the ways of peace.
גמ׳ מנה"מ אמר רב מתנה דאמר קרא (דברים לא, ט) ויכתוב משה את התורה הזאת ויתנה אל הכהנים בני לוי אטו אנא לא ידענא דכהנים בני לוי נינהו אלא כהן ברישא והדר לוי
GEMARA: The mishna teaches that at public readings of the Torah, a priest reads first, and after him a Levite. The Gemara asks: From where are these matters derived? What is the source of this halakha in the Torah? Rav Mattana said: As the verse states: “And Moses wrote this Torah, and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi” (Deuteronomy 31:9). The Gemara explains the inference: Is that to say I do not know that the priests are the sons of Levi? Why is it necessary for the verse to say this? Rather, the Torah was first delivered to the priests and afterward to the other Levites, and this serves as the source for the enactment that first a priest reads from the Torah, and after him a Levite.
רבי יצחק נפחא אמר מהכא (דברים כא, ה) ונגשו הכהנים בני לוי אטו אנן לא ידעינן דכהנים בני לוי נינהו אלא כהן ברישא והדר לוי
Rabbi Yitzḥak Nappaḥa said that this halakha is derived from here, as it is written: “And the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near” (Deuteronomy 21:5). The Gemara asks: Is that to say I do not know that the priests are the sons of Levi? Rather, the Torah was first given to the priests and afterward to the other Levites, and from this we learn that first a priest reads from the Torah, and after him a Levite.
רב אשי אמר מהכא (דברי הימים א כג, יג) בני עמרם אהרן ומשה ויבדל אהרן להקדישו קדש קדשים
Rav Ashi said that this halakha is derived from here: “The sons of Amram, Aaron and Moses; and Aaron was separated, that he should be sanctified as most holy” (I Chronicles 23:13). This indicates that Aaron and his descendants, the priests, are considered to be holier than the rest of the tribe of Levi. Consequently, they are given precedence in public Torah readings.
ר' חייא בר אבא אמר מהכא (ויקרא כא, ח) וקדשתו לכל דבר שבקדושה תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל וקדשתו לכל דבר שבקדושה לפתוח ראשון ולברך ראשון וליטול מנה יפה ראשון
Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba said that this halakha is derived from here, as it is stated with regard to a priest: “And you shall sanctify him” (Leviticus 21:8), giving a priest priority for every matter of sanctity. And with regard to this verse, a Sage from the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: “And you shall sanctify him,” giving a priest priority for every matter of sanctity: To open the discussion in the study hall first, to recite the blessing of Grace after Meals first, and to take a fine portion at a meal first, meaning that he can choose any portion at a meal for himself.
א"ל אביי לרב יוסף מפני דרכי שלום דאורייתא היא א"ל דאורייתא ומפני דרכי שלום
Abaye said to Rav Yosef: According to this, why does the mishna teach that the priest reads first from the Torah on account of the ways of peace, indicating that this is a rabbinic enactment? Is it not by Torah law that he reads first? Rav Yosef said to Abaye: Indeed, it is by Torah law, but the reason that the priest reads first is on account of the ways of peace.
כל התורה כולה נמי מפני דרכי שלום היא דכתיב (משלי ג, יז) דרכיה דרכי נועם וכל נתיבותיה שלום
Abaye objected: Aren’t the halakhot of the entire Torah also given on account of the ways of peace, as it is written: “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17)? Consequently, this halakha is no different from the other halakhot in the Torah, all of which were given to increase pleasantness and tranquility in the world.
אלא אמר אביי לכדמר דתניא שנים ממתינין זה לזה בקערה שלשה אין ממתינין הבוצע הוא פושט ידו תחלה ואם בא לחלוק כבוד לרבו או למי שגדול ממנו הרשות בידו
Rather, Abaye said: The mishna’s statement that a priest reads first from the Torah on account of the ways of peace is in accordance with what was said by my master, Rabba. As it is taught in a baraita (Tosefta, Berakhot 5:3): When two people are eating together from a single dish, they must wait for each other, but if there are three, each eats when he wishes and they do not need to wait for each other. Generally, the one who breaks bread extends his hand to take food first, but if he wishes to show respect to his teacher or to one who is greater than he and allow him to take first, he has permission to do so.
ואמר מר עלה לא שנו אלא בסעודה אבל בבהכ"נ לא דאתו לאינצויי
And the Master, Rabba, said with regard to this baraita: They taught this with regard to a meal, that one may show honor to a person of greater stature and allow him to take food first. But in the synagogue, one may not show another honor, because the congregants are liable to come to quarrel about who is the most distinguished among them. Accordingly, the ruling of the mishna is that to prevent strife and controversy, it is not permitted for a priest to honor an Israelite and allow him to read first from the Torah in his place.
אמר רב מתנה הא דאמרת בבהכ"נ לא לא אמרן אלא בשבתות וימים טובים דשכיחי רבים אבל בשני ובחמישי לא
Rav Mattana said: With regard to this matter that you stated, that in the synagogue a priest is not permitted to honor an Israelite and allow him to read first, we said this only concerning Shabbatot and Festivals, when many people are present for the services, but not on Mondays and Thursdays, when only a small number of people are there. On those days it is permitted for one to honor his superior, and there is no concern that this will lead to a quarrel.
איני והא רב הונא קרי בכהני בשבתות ויו"ט שאני רב הונא דאפילו רבי אמי ורבי אסי כהני חשיבי דא"י מיכף הוו כייפי ליה
The Gemara asks: Is that so? Is it actually prohibited for a priest to honor his teacher and allow him to read first in his place? But didn’t Rav Huna, who was not a priest, read the Torah section ordinarily reserved for priests, even on Shabbatot and Festivals? The Gemara answers: Rav Huna is different, as even Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi, the most important priests in Eretz Yisrael, were subject to his jurisdiction. Therefore, there was no concern about a quarrel, because everyone agreed that he was the leading authority of the generation and it was fitting that he should read from the Torah first.
אמר אביי נקטינן אין שם כהן נתפרדה חבילה ואמר אביי נקטינן אין שם לוי קורא כהן
§ Abaye said that we have a tradition that if there is no priest there in the synagogue at the time of the Torah reading, the bundle is separated, i.e., a Levite is not shown precedence over Israelites. And Abaye said that we have a tradition that if there is no Levite there in the synagogue, a priest reads in his place.
איני והאמר רבי יוחנן כהן אחר כהן לא יקרא משום פגמו של ראשון לוי אחר לוי לא יקרא משום פגם שניהם כי קאמרינן באותו כהן
The Gemara asks: Is that so? But didn’t Rabbi Yoḥanan say: One priest should not read after another priest, because people might mistakenly think that the second priest was called to read due to a flaw that was found in the status of the first one, i.e., that he was found not to be a priest. And one Levite should not read after another Levite, because people might mistakenly think that there is a flaw in both of them. If two Levites read one after the other, people might say that the second is not a Levite but an Israelite, or else that the first was not a Levite, and therefore a real Levite was called to read in his place. The Gemara answers: When we said that when there is no Levite present a priest reads in his place, we were speaking of the same priest who had already read from the Torah, for in that case there is no concern that people will think that a flaw had been found in his status.
מ"ש לוי אחר לוי דאיכא פגם שניהם דאמרי חד מינייהו לאו לוי הוא כהן אחר כהן נמי אמרי חד מינייהו לאו כהן הוא כגון דמוחזק לן באבוה דהאי שני דכהן הוא
The Gemara raises a question with regard to Rabbi Yoḥanan’s statement: What is different that in the case where one Levite reads from the Torah after another Levite, Rabbi Yoḥanan says that there is concern that people might mistakenly think that there is a flaw in both of them? It must be that he is concerned that people might say that one of them, either the first or the second, is certainly not a Levite. If so, in the case where one priest reads from the Torah after another priest, he should also be concerned that people might say that one of them, either the first or the second, is certainly not a priest. Why, then, was Rabbi Yoḥanan concerned only about suspicions that might be raised about the first priest? The Gemara answers: He speaks about a case where we have a presumption concerning the father of the second one, that he is a priest.
ה"נ דמוחזק לן באבוה דהאי שני דלוי הוא אלא אמרי ממזרת או נתינה נסיב ופסליה לזרעיה הכא נמי אמרי גרושה או חלוצה נסיב ואחליה לזרעיה
The Gemara asks: If so, here too, in the case of the Levites let us say that we have a presumption concerning the father of the second one, that he is a Levite. Rather, the concern here is that even if it is known that he is the son of a Levite, people might say that perhaps the father married a mamzeret, a daughter born from an incestuous or adulterous relationship, or a Gibeonite woman, and thereby disqualified his children, so that they are considered Israelites rather than Levites. If so, then here too, in the case of the priests, there is concern that people might say that perhaps the priest’s father married a divorced woman or a yevama who underwent ḥalitza [ḥalutza] and thereby disqualified his children from the priesthood (see Leviticus 21:7).
סוף סוף לוי מי קא הוי
The Gemara answers: Ultimately, is he a Levite? If the priest is disqualified from the priesthood owing to his blemished lineage, he has the status of an Israelite, not a Levite. Therefore, if he reads from the Torah after another priest, and it is known that his father is a priest, then it must be that he too is a qualified priest. Therefore, the only reason for concern is that people might say that there is a flaw in the status of the first priest.
ולמאן אי ליושבין הא קא חזו ליה אלא ליוצאין
With regard to the concern itself, the Gemara asks: And about whom is there a concern? Who might mistakenly think that the first priest’s status is blemished? If you say that the concern is for those sitting in the synagogue until the end of the Torah reading, that is not a valid concern, as they see that he is counted as one of the seven who must read from the Torah, and therefore he must certainly be a qualified priest. Rather, the concern is for those who leave before the conclusion of the reading, and do not know that he was counted among the seven readers.
שלחו ליה בני גלילא לרבי חלבו אחריהן
The people of the Galilee sent a question to Rabbi Ḥelbo: After them, the priest and the Levite,