Sanhedrin 25bסנהדרין כ״ה ב
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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25bכ״ה ב

קים לי בנפשאי דידענא טפי אבל תולה בדעת יונו אימא לא

I am certain of myself that I know better than my competitor how to win. But with regard to one who makes it dependent on the decision of his pigeon, say that he is not disqualified from bearing witness, as he is aware that he cannot guarantee the results and therefore resolves to transfer the money if he loses.

ואי תנא תולה בדעת יונו דאמר בנקשא תליא מילתא ואנא ידענא לנקושי טפי אבל תולה בדעת עצמו אימא לא צריכא

And conversely, had the mishna taught this halakha only with regard to one who makes it dependent on the decision of his pigeon, one might assume that only this type of gambler is disqualified, as he presumably says: The matter, i.e., the race, is determined by knocking on trees and other objects to speed up the pigeons, and I know how to knock better than my opponent. Therefore, he does not resolve to transfer the money if he loses. But with regard to one who makes it dependent on his own decision, say that he is not disqualified from bearing witness, as the roll of the dice is pure chance. Therefore, it is necessary for the mishna to teach both cases.

מיתיבי המשחק בקוביא אלו הן המשחקים בפיספסים ולא בפיספסים בלבד אמרו אלא אפילו קליפי אגוזים וקליפי רימונים

The Gemara raises an objection to the opinion that the expression: Those who fly pigeons, refers to an ara, from a baraita: With regard to the expression one who plays with dice, these are ones who play with pispasim, which are dice of marble or other types of stone. But the Sages did not mean to say that only one who plays with pispasim is disqualified from bearing witness, but rather even one who plays with nutshells or pomegranate shells is disqualified.

ואימתי חזרתן משישברו את פיספסיהן ויחזרו בהן חזרה גמורה דאפילו בחנם לא עבדי

And when is their repentance accepted, so that they may resume being fit to bear witness? Once they break their pispasim and repent of them completely, abandoning this occupation entirely, where they do not do this even for nothing, i.e., they do not play even without betting.

מלוה בריבית אחד המלוה ואחד הלוה ואימתי חזרתן משיקרעו את שטריהן ויחזרו בהן חזרה גמורה אפילו לנכרי לא מוזפי

The baraita continues: The expression: One who lends with interest, is referring to both the lender and the borrower. Both are disqualified. And when is their repentance accepted? Once they tear their promissory notes and repent of them completely, abandoning this occupation entirely, where they do not lend with interest even to a gentile.

ומפריחי יונים אלו שממרין את היונים ולא יונים בלבד אמרו אלא אפילו בהמה חיה ועוף ואימתי חזרתן משישברו את פגמיהן ויחזרו בהן חזרה גמורה דאפי' במדבר נמי לא עבדי

The expression: And those who fly pigeons, is referring to those who induce the pigeons to behave in this manner, i.e., they train them. And the Sages did not mean to say that only those who fly pigeons are disqualified; rather, even those who do this with a domesticated animal, an undomesticated animal, or any type of bird are disqualified. And when is their repentance accepted? Once they break their fixtures [pigmeihen] upon which they stand the competing animals, and repent completely, abandoning this occupation entirely, where they do not do this even in the wilderness, where there is no one from whom to steal.

סוחרי שביעית אלו שנושאין ונותנין בפירות שביעית ואימתי חזרתן משתגיע שביעית אחרת ויבדלו

The expression: Merchants who trade in the produce of the Sabbatical Year, is referring to those who do business with the produce of the Sabbatical Year. And when is their repentance accepted? Once another Sabbatical Year occurs and they refrain from selling its produce or from assuming ownership of such produce.

וא"ר נחמיה לא חזרת דברים בלבד אמרו אלא חזרת ממון כיצד אומר אני פלוני בר פלוני כינסתי מאתים זוז בפירות שביעית והרי הן נתונין במתנה לעניים

The baraita continues: And Rabbi Neḥemya said: The Sages did not say that verbal repentance alone is sufficient for a merchant who traded in the produce of the Sabbatical Year to be reinstated as a valid witness; rather, returning the money is also necessary. How can one return the money he gained from selling produce of the Sabbatical Year? He says: I, so-and-so the son of so-and-so, gathered, i.e., profited, two hundred dinars from trading in the produce of the Sabbatical Year, and as I gained it improperly, this sum is hereby given as a gift to the poor.

קתני מיהת בהמה בשלמא למאן דאמר אי תקדמיה יונך ליון היינו דמשכחת לה בהמה אלא למ"ד ארא בהמה בת הכי היא

The Gemara explains the objection: In any event, it is taught in the baraita that the status of one who flies pigeons applies to one who uses a domesticated animal in the same manner. Granted, according to the one who says that the term: One who flies pigeons, is referring to those who race pigeons, saying: If your pigeon reaches a certain destination before my pigeon I will give you such and such an amount of money, this is how you find a parallel case of one who races a domesticated animal against another animal. But according to the one who says that the term pigeon flyer means an ara, is a domesticated animal capable of luring other domesticated animals?

אין בשור הבר וכמאן דאמר שור הבר מין בהמה הוא דתנן שור הבר מין בהמה הוא רבי יוסי אומר מין חיה

The Gemara answers: Yes, the baraita states this with regard to the wild ox, which can be lured away from its owner’s property because it is not a completely domesticated animal. And the baraita states this according to the one who says that the wild ox is a species of domesticated animal, as we learned in a mishna (Kilayim 8:6): The wild ox is a species of domesticated animal. But Rabbi Yosei says: It is a species of undomesticated animal.

תנא הוסיפו עליהן הגזלנין והחמסנין

§ It was taught in a baraita: The Sages added the robbers and those who force transactions, i.e., who compel others to sell to them, to the list of those who are disqualified from bearing witness.

גזלן דאורייתא הוא לא נצרכא אלא למציאת חרש שוטה וקטן

The Gemara asks: A robber is disqualified by Torah law; why is it necessary for the Sages to add such an individual to the list? The Gemara answers: It is necessary only to add one who steals an item found by a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor, who acquire those items by rabbinic law only (see Gittin 59b). Since these people are not considered halakhically competent, by Torah law they do not acquire an item that they find, and consequently one who steals such an item from them is not in violation of a prohibition by Torah law.

מעיקרא סבור מציאת חרש שוטה וקטן לא שכיחא אי נמי מפני דרכי שלום בעלמא כיון דחזו דסוף סוף ממונא הוא דקא שקלי פסלינהו רבנן

One possibility is that taking such an item is prohibited by rabbinic law because it constitutes robbery. Nevertheless, initially the Sages did not disqualify such an individual from bearing witness, as they assumed that the case of an item found by a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor is uncommon. Therefore, it was not deemed necessary to disqualify one who robs them of such an item. Alternatively, the Sages may have reasoned that taking such an item is prohibited merely on account of the ways of peace, i.e., to foster peace and prevent strife and controversy, and is not considered actual robbery. When they realized that ultimately these people were taking property from others and were likely to perform actual robbery, the Sages disqualified them.

החמסנין מעיקרא סבור דמי קא יהיב אקראי בעלמא הוא כיון דחזו דקא חטפי גזרו בהו רבנן

Similarly, with regard to those who force transactions, initially the Sages did not disqualify them, as they assumed that their behavior could be excused for two reasons: They would pay money for the items they took, and their forcing transactions was merely occasional; it was not a common practice. When they realized that these people were snatching items regularly, the Sages issued a decree that they are disqualified from bearing witness.

תנא עוד הוסיפו עליהן הרועים הגבאין והמוכסין

§ It is taught in a baraita: The Sages further added the following to the list of those disqualified from bearing witness: The shepherds, who shepherd their animals in the fields of others and are therefore considered like robbers; the collectors of government taxes, who collect more than the amount that people are legally liable to pay; and the customs officials, who collect customs in an illegal manner.

רועים מעיקרא סבור אקראי בעלמא הוא כיון דחזו דקא מכווני ושדו לכתחילה גזרו בהו רבנן: הגבאין והמוכסין מעיקרא סבור מאי דקיץ להו קא שקלי כיון דחזו דקא שקלי יתירא פסלינהו

The Gemara explains: Shepherds were not disqualified at first, as the Sages initially assumed it was merely incidental that they would let their animals graze in the fields of others. When they realized that they would intentionally send the animals to the fields of others from the outset, the Sages issued a decree that they are disqualified from bearing witness. The collectors of taxes and the customs officials were not disqualified at first, as the Sages initially assumed they would take the set amount they were instructed to take. When they realized that these officials were taking more than that, they disqualified them.

אמר רבא רועה שאמרו אחד רועה בהמה דקה ואחד רועה בהמה גסה

Rava says: The shepherd that the Sages said is disqualified from bearing witness is referring to both a shepherd of small livestock and a herder of large livestock.

ומי אמר רבא הכי והאמר רבא רועה בהמה דקה בא"י פסולין בחוצה לארץ כשרין רועה בהמה גסה אפילו בא"י כשרין ההוא במגדלים איתמר

The Gemara asks: And does Rava say this? But doesn’t Rava say: Shepherds of small livestock in Eretz Yisrael are disqualified from bearing witness, as besides grazing in others’ fields they also ruin the land? Outside of Eretz Yisrael they are fit to bear witness. By contrast, herders of large livestock, even in Eretz Yisrael, are fit to bear witness. The Gemara answers: That was stated with regard to those who raise their animals on their own land, without herding them on land in the public domain.

ה"נ מסתברא מדקתני נאמנין עלי שלשה רועי בקר מאי לאו לעדות

The Gemara suggests a proof for Rava’s opinion that a herder of large livestock is also disqualified: This too stands to reason, from the fact that the mishna (24a) teaches that a litigant may state: Three cattle herders are trusted for me in court; by inference, cattle herders are generally disqualified. What, is it not with regard to bearing witness that cattle herders are disqualified, in accordance with Rava’s statement?

לא לדינא דיקא נמי דקתני שלשה רועי בקר ואי לעדות שלשה למה לי

The Gemara rejects this proof: No, it is with regard to sitting in judgment. The Gemara comments: The language of the mishna is also precise according to this interpretation, as it teaches: Three cattle herders are trusted for me. And if it is with regard to bearing witness, why do I need three witnesses? Two are enough.

ואלא מאי לדינא מאי איריא שלשה רועי בקר כל בי תלתא דלא גמרי דינא נמי

The Gemara asks: But rather, with regard to what are cattle herders disqualified? If it is with regard to sitting in judgment, why does the mishna mention specifically three cattle herders? Any three people who did not study halakha are also disqualified from serving as a court.

הכי קאמר אפילו הני דלא שכיחי ביישוב

The Gemara answers: This is what the mishna is saying: The litigants can accept as judges even those cattle herders who dwell in the fields and do not frequent the settled area, and are therefore not proficient in the ways of business.

א"ר יהודה סתם רועה פסול סתם גבאי כשר

Rav Yehuda says: An ordinary shepherd is disqualified from bearing witness unless the court recognizes him as one who does not let his animals graze in the fields of others. An ordinary tax collector is fit unless the court determines he is one who collects more than people are obligated to pay.

אבוה דר' זירא עבד גביותא תליסר שנין כי הוה אתי ריש נהרא למתא כי הוה חזי רבנן א"ל (ישעיהו כו, כ) לך עמי בא בחדריך כי הוה חזי אינשי דמתא אמר ריש נהרא אתא למתא והאידנא נכיס אבא לפום ברא וברא לפום אבא

The Gemara relates a story about a tax collector: The father of Rabbi Zeira collected taxes for thirteen years. When the head tax collector of the river region would come to the city, Rabbi Zeira’s father would prepare the residents ahead of time. When he would see the rabbis, he would say to them as a hint: “Come, my people, enter into your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself for a little moment until the indignation has passed” (Isaiah 26:20). He said this so that the head tax collector would not see the rabbis, and it would be possible to lower the taxes of the city. When he would see the ordinary people of the city, he would say to them: Beware, as the head tax collector of the river region is coming to the city, and will now slaughter the father, i.e., take one’s money, before the son, and the son before the father.