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Steinsaltz

Perhaps that is not so. Perhaps this is not the point of dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and the Rabbis. There are two ways to explain why this might not be the case. First, it is possible that Rabbi Eliezer states his opinion only there, when the person took possession of the pe’a despite not being eligible to collect it for himself, since if the one who collected the produce desired, he could declare his property ownerless and become a poor person, and then the produce would have been fit for him to retain for himself. And since he could have acquired the pe’a for himself, he can likewise acquire it for another as well. However, here, where he seizes property on behalf of a creditor, he cannot seize this property for himself. Consequently, Rabbi Eliezer does not rule that he can do so when it is against the interests of another person.

Second, one can argue from the opposite perspective: The Rabbis state their opinion only there, that one cannot acquire on behalf of the poor person, as it is written: “The corner of your field you shall not reap and the gleaning of your harvest you shall not gather; for the poor you shall leave them” (Leviticus 23:22), and the Sages expounded this verse by reading it as though there were no break in the middle: You shall not gather for the poor, i.e., the poor person must collect the produce for himself. However, here, where one seizes property on behalf of a creditor, this verse does not apply, and therefore the Rabbis did not rule that the action of the third party is ineffective. Consequently, it is possible that the dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and the Rabbis is not with regard to the issue of whether one can seize property on behalf of a creditor in a case where it is to the detriment of others.

The Gemara asks: And as for Rabbi Eliezer, with regard to this verse: “You shall not gather,” what does he do with it? How does he interpret this phrase, from which the Rabbis derived that one may not collect pe’a on behalf of a poor person? The Gemara answers: He requires it to warn a poor person with regard to his own field, i.e., if a poor person had a field of his own he is not permitted to gather pe’a from it for himself, his poverty notwithstanding.

§ The mishna taught: As, if the master wishes not to sustain his slave he is allowed to act accordingly. The Gemara comments: Conclude from the mishna that the master is legally able to say to his slave: Work for me but I will not sustain you.

The Gemara rejects this claim: This is not a conclusive proof, as with what are we dealing here, in the mishna? We are dealing with a case where he said to the slave: Spend your earnings to sustain yourself. In other words, I will not provide for you; rather, you must work and earn money for your sustenance on your own. However, this does not mean that a master can force his slave to work for him without providing him with sustenance.

The Gemara asks: If so, in the corresponding situation in the mishna with regard to a wife, will one explain that he could have said to her: Spend your earnings to sustain yourself? The mishna rules that one cannot exempt himself from his obligation to provide sustenance for his wife. In the case of a wife, why may he not do so? It is certainly permitted for a husband to stipulate with his wife that she will keep her earnings and not receive sustenance from him, yet it is clear in the mishna that there is a difference between a slave and a wife with regard to his ability to refuse to provide sustenance. The Gemara answers: The wife mentioned in the mishna is one whose earnings are not sufficient for her sustenance, and in that case the husband may not stipulate in this manner.

The Gemara raises a difficulty: If so, the case of the slave also is referring to a situation where his earnings are not sufficient for his sustenance, and he is unable to sustain himself. Nevertheless, his master can refuse to sustain him. Therefore, one can conclude from the mishna that a master can say to his slave: Work for me but I will not sustain you. The Gemara explains: A slave who is not worth the bread that he consumes, for what is he needed by his master or his mistress? If the value of his labor does not even pay for the cost of his sustenance why is he needed at all? The mishna certainly does not refer to a case of this kind. By contrast, with regard to a wife, the marriage does not depend on her ability to provide for herself by means of her earnings. Consequently, one cannot prove from the mishna that a master can say to his slave: Work for me but I will not sustain you.

The Gemara suggests another proof: Come and hear a baraita (Tosefta, Makkot 2:8): With regard to a slave who unintentionally killed someone and was exiled to one of the cities of refuge, his master is not required to sustain him. And not only that, but his earnings in his city of refuge belong to his master. Conclude from the baraita that a master can say to his slave: Work for me but I will not sustain you, as in the case of a slave exiled to a city of refuge the master is entitled to his earnings despite not providing for him. The Gemara answers: With what are we dealing here? With a case where the master said to him: Spend your earnings to sustain yourself.

The Gemara raises a difficulty: If so, if the master said this to the slave, then why do his earnings belong to his master? After all, his master stipulated that he should sustain himself. The Gemara answers: This halakha is referring to his surplus earnings, i.e., if the slave works and earns more than the cost of his sustenance, his surplus income belongs to the master.

The Gemara asks: Isn’t it obvious that any surplus belongs to the master, as he owns the slave? The Gemara answers: This ruling is necessary, lest you say that since, when he does not work enough the master does not give him all he needs to eat, then when he has a surplus from his work the master should also not take it. Therefore, the baraita teaches us that despite this consideration the surplus belongs to the master.

The Gemara asks: And what is different with regard to a slave who was exiled to one of the cities of refuge, concerning whom the baraita was stated? According to this reasoning, the surplus should belong to the master no matter where the slave is located. The Gemara answers: It might enter your mind to say that as the verse states with regard to one who is exiled to a city of refuge: “And that fleeing to one of these cities he might live” (Deuteronomy 4:42), one should act for him so that he has extra life, i.e., in this specific case the slave should be allowed to retain any additional amount he earns. Therefore, the baraita teaches us that no special obligation of this kind applies even if the slave had been exiled to a city of refuge.

The Gemara raises another difficulty: But from the fact that the latter clause of that baraita teaches: However, with regard to a woman who was exiled to one of the cities of refuge, her husband is obligated in her sustenance, by inference the baraita is dealing with a case where he did not say to her: Spend your earnings to sustain yourself, which is why he must sustain her. As, if he said this to her, why is her husband obligated to provide her with sustenance?

And from the fact that the latter clause of the baraita is speaking about a case where he did not say this to her, it may be inferred that the first clause is also dealing with a situation where he did not say to the slave: Spend your earnings to sustain yourself. The two clauses of the baraita must be referring to similar cases or they would not be taught together.

The Gemara rejects this claim: Actually, the baraita is referring to a case where the master said to the slave: Spend your earnings to sustain yourself, and the husband issued a similar statement to his wife. However, in the case of a woman it is referring to a situation when her earnings are not sufficient for her sustenance.

The Gemara raises an objection: But from the fact that the last clause teaches: And if the husband said to her: Spend your earnings to sustain yourself, he is permitted to act accordingly, it may be inferred that the first half of the last clause is referring to a case where he did not say this to her. The Gemara explains that this is what the baraita is saying: And if her earnings suffice to pay for her sustenance, and he said to her: Spend your earnings to sustain yourself, it is permitted for him to say that.

The Gemara asks: If the baraita is referring to a case where her earnings suffice, what is the purpose of stating this halakha with regard to one who was exiled to a city of refuge? The same halakha applies to all wives. The Gemara answers: It is necessary, lest you say that in light of the verse: “All glorious is the king’s daughter within the palace” (Psalms 45:14), from which it is derived that it is improper for a wife to spend too much time outside her home, this woman’s husband should be concerned that while his wife is in a city of refuge she should not work out of the home, but only in the home. Therefore, the baraita teaches us that there is no need to be concerned about this matter, and her husband may say to her: Spend your earnings to sustain yourself, even in a city of refuge.

With regard to the question of whether a master can decide to cease providing sustenance for his slave while the slave continues to serve him, the Gemara suggests: Let us say that this matter is the subject of a dispute between tanna’im, as it was taught that Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: A slave can say to his master in years of famine: Either sustain me from your property or emancipate me. And the Rabbis say: His master has permission to retain his ownership over him without sustaining him.

What, is it not correct to say that they disagree about this issue, that one Sage, the Rabbis, holds that a master can say to his slave that he should work for him and he will not sustain him. Consequently, he is not required to emancipate him even when he cannot provide for him. And one Sage, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, holds that the master cannot say this, and therefore he is required to free him.

The Gemara responds: And can you understand the dispute that way? If so, this expression: Either sustain me or emancipate me, is inaccurate, as the baraita should have said: Either sustain me or give me my earnings for my sustenance. And furthermore, if the dispute concerns this general issue, what is different about years of famine? The same dispute should apply in all years.

Rather, with what are we dealing here? This baraita is referring to a case where the master said to the slave: Spend your earnings to sustain yourself, and subsequently, during years of famine, the slave’s earnings do not suffice to provide himself with sustenance, as prices are higher than usual.

And Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel holds that in this case the slave can say to his master: Either sustain me or emancipate me, so that people will see me in my helpless state, and they will have mercy on me and provide me with charity. And the Rabbis hold that this is not a justification for emancipating a slave, as those who have mercy on freemen will also have mercy on a slave. Consequently, it is not necessary for the slave to be emancipated for him to receive help from generous people. According to this interpretation, the baraita has no bearing on the question as to whether a master can say to his slave: Work for me but I will not sustain you.

The Gemara offers another suggestion: Come and hear a proof from a statement that Rav said: In the case of one who consecrates the hands of his slave, so that all the work he does becomes Temple property, preventing the slave from working on his own behalf, then that slave borrows and eats, and afterward performs work and repays what he borrowed, as will be explained. Conclude from Rav’s statement that the master is able to say to his slave: Work for me but I will not sustain you. In this case the master has prevented his slave from working for himself, and yet he is not required to provide for him.

The Gemara answers: With what are we dealing here? This is referring to a case where the master provides sustenance for him. The Gemara raises a difficulty: If so, for what reason

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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