THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Bava Metzia, 92
BAVA METZIA 91-95 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi
publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.
1) A DONKEY'S RIGHT TO EAT
QUESTION: The Mishnah (91b) says that a donkey, while it unburdens the load
from its back, may eat from that load. The Gemara asks, "While it is
unburdening the load from its back, from where is it supposed to eat?" The
Gemara explains that the Mishnah means that the donkey may eat from the load
all the while that it is carrying it.
2) WITHHOLDING GOOD ADVICE
What exactly does the Gemara mean by its question, "While it is unburdening
the load from its back, from where is it supposed to eat?" Why can it not
mean simply that the animal may eat the produce while it is being removed
from its back?
(a) RASHI explains that the load on a donkey is removed all at once and then
taken away, and thus there is nothing from which the donkey can eat at the
moment that it is unloaded.
(b) The RA'AVAD, cited by the Shitah Mekubetzes, and the RITVA explain that
the Gemara is asking *how* it can be permitted for the donkey to eat the
produce while it is being unloaded from its back. At that moment, the donkey
is no longer doing any work with the produce, since it has finished
The Ra'avad and Ritva question this explanation. We find that a hired
laborer may eat from the fruits of the field even when he is returning from
the press, and when he is walking from one job to another (91b). Similarly,
it should be permitted for a donkey to eat the produce that it has finished
carrying before it is loaded with another batch!
1. The RA'AVAD answers that the Gemara is asking that the donkey should not
be permitted to eat after it has finished working with (i.e. transporting)
the produce, because the reason why one must let the donkey eat is because
of his obligation to prevent the owner of the donkey from incurring a loss.
However, his obligation to help the owner avoid a loss does not override his
obligation to the owner of avoiding Bitul Melachah, which will also cause
the owner a loss. Therefore, the donkey may not eat after it has finished
working, but while it is still carrying the load it may eat, since there
will be no Bitul Melachah.
(d) The RITVA answers that the reason we permit a laborer to eat while he is
returning from the press and while he is walking from one job to the next is
because if we allow him to eat only during the time that he is working, he
will have to take off time from his work, and this will cause Bitul
Melachah. Therefore, it is preferable to allow him to eat while he is
walking from one job to the next, before he begins his next task. An animal,
though, does not take off time to eat while it is working or carrying a
load, and there is no Bitul Melachah. Therefore, we allow the animal to eat
only while it is working and not after it has finished working. (I.
2. The Ra'avad offers a different answer and says that when the Mishnah
permits a hired laborer to eat from the fruits of the field on his way back
from the press (even though he has finished working), this does not mean
that he may take grapes from the press, for, indeed, his work is finished
with those grapes and he may not eat them (for it is no longer "b'Disho,"
"during the threshing" (Devarim 25:4), but rather it is "*after* the
threshing"). Rather, the Mishnah means that he may eat grapes that were not
yet harvested which he passes on his way out. He may eat them even though he
has not worked with them, since he is *going* to be working with them and
harvesting them. The donkey, though, may not eat from the produce that it
has finished transporting, since its work with that produce is finished.
3. The RAN answers that the difference between a hired laborer who has
finished working and a donkey that has finished working is that if a hired
laborer eats fruit while walking from one job to the next, then he will be
embarrassed to eat more from the second field and he will not eat more while
he is working. An animal, though, has no sense of shame, and thus even if it
eats from the produce that it has finished transported, it will eat more
from the next batch of produce that it transports.
QUESTION: The Tana Kama in the Mishnah states that a hired laborer may eat
fruit with which he is working even if it is worth a Dinar. Rebbi Elazar
Chasma says that a laborer may not eat more than the value of his wages. The
Chachamim permit him to eat more than the value of his wages. The Gemara
asks that the Chachamim seem to be saying the same thing as the Tana Kama.
The Gemara answers that the difference is that the Chachamim hold that while
it is permitted for the laborer to eat more than the value of his wages, we
instruct him not to be gluttonous, so that other employers will not be
opposed to hiring him. The Tana Kama, though, holds that we do not give him
Why, according to the Tana Kama, do we not instruct the laborer not to be
gluttonous? It is for his own benefit to give him such advice!
(a) RABEINU YEHONASAN, cited by the Shitah Mekubetzes, writes that we may
not give the laborer not any advice to limit the amount that he eats. Since
the Torah does not limit the quantity that he may eat, we may not take away
from him that which the Torah gives to him.
The YAD DAVID concurs with the approach of Rabeinu Yehonasan. He adds
explanation as follows. We know that all of the commandments of Hashem are
upright (c.f. Tehilim 19:9). If we were to instruct the laborer not to eat
so much, then we would be implying that the Torah of Hashem is lacking and
that this Mitzvah is not correct, for the Torah gives the laborer permission
to eat more than his wages. The Chachamim, though, are not afraid for this,
because although the Torah gives a laborer the rights to eat as much as he
wants, we know that there are instances in which the Torah addresses a
person's Yetzer ha'Ra (Kidushin 21b). It is the laborer's choice to take
advantage of his full rights to eat as much as he wants, or to conquer his
Yetzer ha'Ra and to limit what he eats.
(b) The RITVA YESHANOS writes that, in truth, the Tana Kama and the
Chachamim are not arguing. The Tana Kama agrees that it is permitted to
instruct the laborer not to eat so much. The difference between the Tana
Kama and the Chachamim is not a difference in Halachah; the only difference
is that the Tana Kama does not mention in his words that he give the laborer
advice, while the Chachamim specify explicitly that we are to instruct the
laborer not to eat so much.
(c) It could be that the Chachamim maintain that we are obligated to
instruct the laborer not to be gluttonous, while according to the Tana Kama
we are permitted, but not obligated, to instruct him not to be gluttonous.
(This is the way the D'VAR YAKOV understands the view of the ROSH.) (I.
3) THE FRUIT EATEN BY THE SON OF THE LABORER
QUESTION: The Gemara asks whether the fruits that a laborer is permitted to
eat while he is working are considered to belong to him, or whether they do
not belong to him but rather the Torah gives him permission to eat them. The
Gemara cites a Mishnah in Ma'aseros (2:7) which states that if a laborer who
is being hired to harvest and dry out figs stipulates with his employer that
he will work on condition that he and his son are permitted to eat from the
figs, then the laborer himself may eat the figs and is not obligated to
separate Ma'aser (since the figs have not yet been cut open to dry and thus
they have not reached their final stage of processing). The son, however,
must separate Ma'aser from the fruits that he wants to eat. It must be,
suggests the Gemara, that the fruits that a laborer eats does not actually
belong to him, because if they did then his son would not have to separate
Ma'aser from them (just like the laborer himself does not have to separate
Ma'aser). Ravina answers that perhaps the fruit does belong to him and the
fruit is not obligated in Ma'aser, but the Chachamim required the son to
separate Ma'aser because it *looks* like a transaction of a "Mekach." RASHI
(DH u'Vno Ochel) explains that the son is like a Loke'ach, a purchaser, who
buys fruit from the laborer. Just as a Loke'ach is obligated immediately to
separate Ma'aser from the fruit that he buys, so, too, the son must separate
The Rishonim ask that in this case, the Melachah of the figs has not been
completed ("G'mar Melachah"), as Rashi says (DH Harei Zeh Ochel). There is
one opinion (Beitzah 35a) which maintains that purchasing fruit does *not*
make it obligated in Ma'aser unless the fruit already had "G'mar Melachah."
According to this opinion, why should the son be obligated to separate
Ma'aser, even if he is like a Loke'ach? The figs have not yet had "G'mar
(a) The TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ answers that the Mishnah is referring to a
case in which the son wants to eat two figs at a time. When one eats in such
a manner, the fruit is considered to have had "G'mar Melachah" (since it is
being used for a proper meal, as it were) and thus the "G'mar Melachah"
together with the "Mekach" obligate it in Ma'aser.
(b) The TIFERES YISRAEL (Ma'aseros 2:41) answers that the Mishnah is
referring to a case in which the fruit has already been brought into the
Chatzer. Therefore, even though the "G'mar Melachah" has not yet been done,
the fruit is obligated in Ma'aser due to the combination of it being like a
"Mekach" when the son takes it, and the fact that it has entered the
Chatzer. (The reason why the Chatzer does not make the obligation of Ma'aser
take effect even without there being a "Mekach" is because his intention is
to do further work with the figs (to dry them out). The Mishnah in Ma'aseros
(3:1) says that entering the Chatzer does not obligate fruit in Ma'aser when
they were brought in with intention to be dried. When the fruit is sold to a
Loke'ach, though, it is considered to have reach the "G'mar Melachah," since
"Loke'ach -- Einav b'Mekcho.") (I. Alsheich)