Babylonian Talmud, Baba Kama 91b
תלמוד בבלי מסכת בבא קמא דף צא עמוד ב
אמר רבי אלעזר: שמעתי, שהמקרע על המת יותר מדאי - לוקה משום בל תשחית, וכ"ש גופו; ודלמא בגדים שאני, דפסידא דלא הדר הוא! כי הא דרבי יוחנן קרי למאני מכבדותא, ורב חסדא כד הוה מסגי ביני היזמי והגא, מדלי להו למאניה, אמר: זה מעלה ארוכה, וזה אינו מעלה ארוכה!
Rabbi Eliezer said: "I heard that a person who excessively tears his/her clothing in mourning receives a lashing [the punishment] for the prohibition against being wasteful (bal tashchit). How much more so [should one be liable for damaging] one's body." But maybe clothes are different, because [rending one's clothes] is damage that will not be undone?!...Whenever Rav Hisda passed through thorns and thistles he would lift up his garment, saying, [my body] can be healed, but [my clothes] can't be "healed."

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1) Why do you think Rabbi Eliezer thinks that damaging your body is a violation of Bal Tashchit? How does the story about Rav Hisda challenge this assumption?

2) Rabbi Eliezer is known to be rather wealthy and Rav Hisda is known to be impoverished. How do you think their respective financial situations affect their opinions here, if at all?

3) What concern do both Rav Hisda and Rabbi Eliezer share despite their difference in opinion?

4) Which opinion resonates more with you?

Time Period: Rabbinic (Maccabees through the Talmud)