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Steinsaltz

then, if the package remains in the possession of the seller, i.e., the seller accepts upon himself responsibility for any accidental damage that occurs along the way, it is permitted, as the transaction is not a loan. But if it is in the possession of the buyer, meaning that the buyer accepts responsibility for accidental damage, then the transaction is prohibited, as it is considered a loan with interest.

With regard to one who transports produce from one place to another place, if another finds him and says to him: Give the produce to me now and I will repay you with produce that I have in that place to which you are going, then, if he actually has produce in that place, it is permitted, but if not, it is prohibited. But donkey drivers who transport merchandise from one place to another may accept money and set prices in a place where goods are sold at expensive prices according to the rate in effect in another place, where goods are sold at inexpensive prices, and need not be concerned, as this practice is permitted.

The Gemara asks: What is the reason this is permitted? Rav Pappa says: It is satisfactory to them to sell merchandise at a discounted rate, because by doing so the gates to the new market are opened for them, as in this way they begin to do business in this area and gain new customers. Rav Aḥa, son of Rav Ika, said: It is satisfactory to them because the prices are reduced for them in the places where they make their purchases. Since the sellers there hear that the donkey drivers will need to resell the merchandise at a lower price, the sellers give a discount to the donkey drivers. According to either opinion, the donkey drivers provide the additional produce to the customer not as interest on the loan but as a discount to promote their business.

The Gemara asks: What is the difference between these two reasons to allow this practice? The Gemara answers: The difference between them concerns a merchant who is new in the area. According to the one who holds that the reason he may sell the produce is in order to open the market for him, it applies especially to a merchant in this situation. But according to the one who holds that the reason is that he can procure his merchandise inexpensively, the sellers will not believe him if he is new to his trade, and they will not sell it to him at a discount.

The Gemara relates: In Sura, four se’a of wheat were going for a sela, and in the nearby town of Kafri they were going for six se’a for a sela. Rav gave money to donkey drivers to purchase wheat in Kafri and accepted upon himself responsibility for any accident that might happen on the way, rendering it permitted for him to set a price according to the rate in effect in Kafri, and he accepted five se’a of wheat for one sela from them. The Gemara challenges: Since he accepted responsibility for damage that might occur as a result of an accident, the produce was his at the time it was purchased, and therefore there was no loan. Consequently, he should have accepted six se’a for a sela. The Gemara explains: An important person is different, as he has to be more stringent with himself and more careful to avoid the appearance of interest.

Rabbi Asi asked Rabbi Yoḥanan: What is the halakha about doing so with metal scraps [bigerutaot]? Is it permitted to make an agreement to purchase metal scraps at the low rate in effect elsewhere, just as it is permitted with wheat and other produce? Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosei, wanted to do so with linen garments and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi did not allow him to do so. There are those who say a different version of this exchange: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi wanted to do so with metal scraps, and Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosei, did not permit him to do so.

With regard to one who wants to purchase the produce of an entire orchard, in advance of the harvest, at a cheaper price, Rav prohibits this practice and Shmuel permits it. The Gemara explains: Rav prohibits it because in the future the produce will be worth more, so it appears that the seller is paying interest to the buyer for waiting before receiving the produce, and that has the appearance of interest. And Shmuel permits it, as, since there can be spoilage in the produce of the orchard and the buyer took upon himself responsibility for any losses, it does not appear that the seller is paying interest to the buyer for waiting before receiving the produce, as the buyer may either gain or lose.

Rav Shimi bar Ḥiyya said: Rav concedes to Shmuel that an arrangement like this would be permitted in a case where one arranges to purchase young oxen at a later date, as their loss is likely to be great. Since it is common for one to incur a discernible loss when raising oxen, as some may die, this arrangement is regarded as an investment.

Shmuel said to those who purchase branches of grapevines and pay in advance for the vine shoots that will be harvested later: Since the risk in this transaction is small, it has the appearance of interest and therefore you should turn over a bit of the land yourselves, i.e., perform some labor in farming the orchard, so that you acquire some of the land itself for yourselves, and by doing this you become partners with the owner. And this action is necessary because if you do not do this it will be like a loan for you and it will be prohibited for you to accept the branches.

Similarly, Rava said to those who guard fields [bagei] until the harvest is complete and receive their wages from the crops when the harvest is over: Go out and turn over some of the crops in the threshing floor, and thereby assist the owners in their work in order that the wages for your hire are not payable until that time. If you assist in the actual farming work, the halakhic period of your employment will continue until the processing of the grain is complete, and according to the halakha that the obligation to pay a person’s wage is incurred only at the end of the period for which he was hired, it is then that the owners make a reduction for the guards by giving them the crops at a reduced rate, and it is not payment of interest for delaying the wages that they should have been paid earlier. Consequently, such an arrangement is permitted.

The Rabbis said to Rava: The Master, meaning Rava, consumes interest. They explained: Everyone else who leases his field to a sharecropper receives four kor of grain as payment, and the owners accept this payment and remove the sharecropper from the field in the month of Nisan. But the Master waits until the month of Iyar and then takes six kor from them. Consequently, they accused Rava of accepting an additional payment for waiting an extra month to take back his field.

Rava said to them: On the contrary, you are the ones who are acting unlawfully, as in truth all of the land is liened to the sharecropper until he finishes working it and harvests all that he can from it. If you remove sharecroppers from the field in Nisan you cause them to lose a great deal, as they do not have enough time to harvest all the produce from the field. I wait for them until Iyyar, and in this way I enable them to profit a great deal. Consequently, I act in accordance with halakha and receive a suitable payment for leasing the field for the proper length of time, whereas you deprive the sharecroppers of what is due to them, even though you receive less direct remuneration.

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)
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