Babylonian Talmud, Bava Batra 7b
1א
תלמוד בבלי מסכת בבא בתרא דף ז עמוד ב מתני'. כופין אותו לבנות בית שער ודלת לחצר; רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר: לא כל החצרות ראויות לבית שער. כופין אותו לבנות לעיר חומה ודלתים ובריח; רשב"ג אומר: לא כל העיירות ראויות לחומה. כמה יהא בעיר ויהא כאנשי העיר? י"ב חדש. קנה בה בית דירה - הרי הוא כאנשי העיר מיד. גמ'. למימרא, דבית שער מעליותא היא, והא ההוא חסידא דהוה רגיל אליהו דהוה משתעי בהדיה, עבד בית שער ותו לא משתעי בהדיה! לא קשיא: הא מגואי, הא מבראי. ואי בעית אימא: הא והא מבראי, ולא קשיא: הא דאית ליה דלת, הא דלית ליה דלת. אבע"א: הא והא דאית ליה דלת, ולא קשיא: הא דאית ליה פותחת, הא דלית ליה פותחת. אי בעית אימא: הא והא דאית ליה פותחת, ולא קשיא: הא דפותחת דידיה מגואי, הא דפותחת דידיה מבראי.
Mishna: [A resident of a building located on courtyard] may be forced [by the other residents] to [contribute to] the building of a guardhouse and doors for the courtyard. Gemara: This would seem to show that a guardhouse is an improvement. Yet how can this be, given that there was a certain pious man with whom [the prophet] Eliyahu used to converse until he (the man) built a guardhouse, after which [Eliyahu] did not converse with him any more? [In other words, the man appears to have done something wrong because Eliyahu stops talking to him. But this seems to contradict the first text, which implies that building a gatehouse must be something good to do since residents can be compelled to help build one. ] There is no contradiction: in the one case [where Eliyahu stops talking to the man and therefore building the gatehouse must have been wrong] we suppose the guardhouse is inside [the courtyard]. [But in the other case, where residents must help build the gatehouse, it must be the case that] the gatehouse was built on the outside [of the courtyard]. Or, if you like, I can [explain away the apparent contradiction by] saying that in both cases we suppose the guardhouse to be outside, and still there is no difficulty, because in the one case [where the gatehouse is a societal good] there is a door and in the other [where Eliyahu disses the man] there is no door. Or, if you like, we may suppose that in both cases there is a door, and still there is no difficulty, because in the one case there is a latch [on the door] and the other there is no latch. Or, if you like, I may say that in both cases there is a latch and still there is no difficulty, because in the one case the latch is inside and in the other outside.
2 ב

Suggested Discussion Questions:

Explain each case. What’s going on? Under what circumstances are gatehouses and latches acceptable?

What values and outcomes this text trying to balance?

What might be the modern equivalent of the gatehouse?

How might society look different if this text informed the way that most people behaved?

How, if at all, does this text relate to your life? Where do you erect “gatehouses”?

3 ג
Time Period: Rabbinic (Maccabees through the Talmud)