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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah
There are some who say that the reason for not permitting [the sale of] shields is this: When they have no weapons left, they might use these for killing [in battles]. But there are others who say that shields may be sold to them, for when they have no more weapons they run away. Said R. Nahman in the name of Rabbah b. Abbuha: The halachah is with 'the Others'.
Said R. Adda b. Ahabah: One should not sell them bars of iron. Why? — Because they may hammer weapons out of them. If so, spades and pick-axes too [should be forbidden]! — Said R. Zebid: We mean [bars of] Indian iron.2 Why then do we sell it now? — Said R. Ashi: [We sell it] to the Persians who protect us.
CALVES AND FOALS. It has been taught:3 R. Judah permits [the sale of] a maimed one, since it cannot be cured or restored to health.4 Said they to him: Might she not be fit for breeding purposes, and since she proves fit for breeding purposes, she will be kept?5 He replied: You wait till she bears. This is to say, An animal [in such a state] will not let the male get near her.
BEN BATHYRA PERMITS IN THE CASE OF A HORSE. It has been taught: Ben Bathyra permits [the sale of] a horse, because it is only put to a kind of work which does not involve the bringing of a sin-offering.6 Rabbi, however, forbids it for two reasons: the one, because it comes under the prohibition of selling weapons,7 the other, because it comes under the prohibition of big cattle. It is quite right as regards the prohibition of weapons; there are [horses] which [are trained to] kill by trampling, but how does the prohibition of big cattle apply?8 — Said R. Johanan, when the horse gets old, it is made to work a mill on the Sabbath.9 Said R. Johanan: The halachah is with Ben Bathyra.
The following question was asked: What about an ox that has been fatted?10 This question applies both to R. Judah11 and to the Rabbis:12 It applies to R. Judah, for R. Judah only permits in the case of a maimed one, which can in no case be fit for work, whereas this one, which if kept long enough may be fit for work, might be forbidden; or it might be said that even according to the Rabbis it is only in that case [of a maimed one], which is ordinarily not intended for slaughter, that they forbid, but this one, which is ordinarily intended for slaughter, they might permit?
Come and hear: Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel that the House of Rabbi had to present a fatted ox [to the Romans] for their festival, and a sum of forty thousand [coins] was paid for the concession not to contribute it on the day of the festival but on the morrow; then another forty thousand was paid for the permission to present it not alive but slaughtered; then forty thousand was again expended to be freed altogether from presenting it. Now what is the reason [for not presenting it alive] if not to avoid its being kept?13 — But if that is the reason, what is the purpose of the concession of offering it on the morrow instead of on the day? Obviously, then, Rabbi was anxious to abolish the thing entirely, but he considered it advisable to do it little by little.14 But is [a fatted ox] if kept [and slimmed] healthy enough to do work? — Said R. Ashi: Zabida15 told me that a young bullock when kept [and slimmed] does the work of two.
MISHNAH. ONE SHOULD NOT SELL THEM BEARS, LIONS OR ANYTHING WHICH MAY INJURE THE PUBLIC. ONE SHOULD NOT JOIN THEM IN BUILDING A BASILICA,16 A SCAFFOLD, A STADIUM, OR A PLATFORM.17 BUT ONE MAY JOIN THEM IN BUILDING PEDESTALS [FOR ALTARS]18 AND ALSO [PRIVATE-] BATHS. WHEN HOWEVER HE REACHES THE CUPOLA IN WHICH THE IDOL IS PLACED HE MUST NOT BUILD.
GEMARA. Said R. Hanin, son of R. Hisda (some report, Said R. Hanan b. Raba in the name of Rab): To big beasts the same rule applies as to small cattle as regards struggling19 but not as regards selling,20 but my opinion is that it applies to selling also, so that in such places where it is the custom to sell,21 such sale is permitted, but where the custom is not to sell, it is forbidden.
Our Mishnah says: ONE SHOULD NOT SELL THEM BEARS, LIONS, OR ANYTHING WHICH MAY INJURE THE PUBLIC. The reason, then, is because they may injure the public, but were it not for fear of injury to the public would it be permitted?22 Said Rabbah b. 'Ulla: [Our Mishnah may refer] to a mutilated lion
‘Abodah Zarah 16bin accordance with the opinion of R. Judah.1 R. Ashi said: Generally, any lion may be regarded as 'mutilated' in regard to labour.2
An objection was raised: Just as it is forbidden to sell them big cattle, so it is forbidden to sell them big animals; and even in such places where they do sell small cattle [to heathen], big animals should not be sold to them.3 This refutes the opinion of R. Hanan b. Raba!4 It [admittedly] refutes it.
Rabina referred to the contradiction between our Mishnah and this Baraitha, but adjusted it: We learnt: ONE SHOULD NOT SELL THEM BEARS, LIONS OR ANYTHING WHICH MAY INJURE THE PUBLIC. The reason, then, is because they may injure the public, but apart from such injury they may be sold! This is contradicted [by the following Baraitha]: Just as it is forbidden to sell them big cattle, so it is forbidden to sell them big animals, even in such places where they do sell small cattle [to heathens] big animals should not be sold to them! — He then adjusted it by saying [that our Mishnah] refers to a mutilated lion, in accordance with the view of R. Judah. R. Ashi said: Generally, any lion may be regarded as 'mutilated' as regards labour.
R. Nahman objected: Who told us that a lion is to be regarded as a big animal? Let us regard it as a small animal.5
R. Ashi, on examining our Mishnah minutely, deduced therefrom the following refutation: We there learn, ONE SHOULD NOT SELL THEM BEARS, LIONS OR ANYTHING WHICH MAY INJURE THE PUBLIC. The reason is, evidently, that it is injurious, but were it not for the injury, it could be sold; furthermore, the reason why 'lion' is mentioned, is because a lion is generally regarded as 'mutilated' as regards labour, but to any other animal which is fit for labour the prohibition would not apply — this refutes the opinion of R. Hanan b. Raba.6 It admittedly refutes it.
But to what kind of labour could any big animal be put? — Said Abaye: Mar Judah told me that at Mar Johni's they work mills with wild asses.
Said R. Zera: When we were at the school of Rab Judah7 he said to us: You may take the following matter from me, for I have heard it from a great man — though I know not whether from Rab or from Samuel: To big beasts the same rule applies as to small cattle as regards struggling.8 When I came to Korkunia9 I found R. Hiyya b. Ashi who was sitting [in the academy] and saying in the name of Samuel, 'To a big beast the same rule applies as to small cattle as regards struggling' — Said I, 'That means then that it is in the name of Samuel that this has been stated' — But when I came to Sura I found Rabbah b. Jeremiah who was sitting and saying in the name of Rab, 'To a big beast the same rule applies as to small cattle as regards struggling' — Then said I, 'That means that this has been stated in the name of Rab as well as in the name of Samuel'. Now, when I went up there10 I found R. Assi sitting and saying, 'Said R. Hama b. Guria in the name of Rab: To a big beast the same rule applies as to small cattle as regards struggling'. Said I to him, 'Do you not hold, then, that the one who reported this teaching in the name of Rab is Rabbah b. Jeremiah?'11 He answered me: 'You
black-pot.12 Through me and you this report will be completed.'13 It has indeed been stated so: R. Zera said in the name of R. Assi, in the name of Rabbah b. Jeremiah, in the name of R. Hama b. Guria, in the name of Rab: To a big animal the same rule applies as to small cattle as regards struggling.
ONE SHOULD NOT JOIN THEM IN BUILDING A BASILICA, AN EXECUTIONER'S SCAFFOLD, A STADIUM OR A TRIBUNE.
Said Rabbah b. Bar-Hana in the name of R. Johanan: There are three kinds of basilica-buildings: those attached to royal palaces, baths, or store-houses. Said Raba: Two of these are permitted and one14 is forbidden; as a reminder [take the phrase], To bind their Kings with chains.15 Some report, Raba said: All [basilicae] are permitted. But have we not learnt, ONE SHOULD NOT JOIN THEM IN BUILDING A BASILICA, AN EXECUTIONER'S SCAFFOLD, A STADIUM OR A TRIBUNE? — This should be taken to mean a basilica attached to an executioner's scaffold, a stadium or a tribune.16
Our Rabbis taught:17 When R. Eliezer18 was arrested because of Minuth19 they brought him up to the tribune to be judged. Said the governor20 to him, 'How can a sage man like you occupy himself with those idle things?' He replied, 'I acknowledge the Judge as right.' The governor thought that he referred to him — though he really referred to his Father in Heaven — and said, 'Because thou hast acknowledged me as right, I pardon;21 thou art acquitted.'
When he came home, his disciples called on him to console him, but he would accept no consolation.22 Said R. Akiba to him, 'Master, wilt thou permit me to say one thing of what thou hast taught me?' He replied, 'Say it.' 'Master,' said he, 'perhaps some of the teaching of the Minim had been transmitted to thee
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