The story about Rabbi Elazar the son of Rabbi Shimon leads to discussions of his obesity which leads to a discussion of the size of various rabbi’s sexual organ which leads to a discussion of Rabbi Yochanan’s beauty which leads to the famous story of Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish from the day they meet until their tragic deaths. The story then moves back to Rabbi Elazar’s conscience from his earlier actions which compels him to ask God to make him suffer. The remainder of his life is discussed including his death where he asks to be left in the attic since he knew the rabbis would not want to bury him. Eventually (approximately 20 years after his death), they bury him in a cave next to his father’s burial place. The major thread that unites all these stories is the arrogance of the rabbis and the harshness of their words that brings upon their downfall. The stories can be viewed as a critique of the rabbis of the Babylonian study houses where arrogance permeated their learning.
If one carries a load for another and it breaks what is the level of responsibility of the worker who breaks it? Various opnions are brought. However the gemara ends with a story relating to a talmid chacham who is held to a higher standard and is told to act beyond the letter of the law. The seventh chapter continues with labor relations – how long a day does one need to work? Does the employer need to provide food? Is travel time included in the standard work day? In the context of this discussion, a verse from tehillim is brought which is also used to reference that the evil doers will receive their punishment and the righteous will be rewarded in the world to come. A story is then brought about Rabbi Elazar, the son of Rabib Shimon bar Yochai and his methods of getting rid of evil doers. He is criticized for his actions, however he continues.
At what point does a borrower no longer responsible for accidental damage on the item he borrowed? Is it only once it is in the possession of the owner? What if the time for borrowing is up and therefore he is no longer using the item? What if he returned the item with a messenger sent by the original owner? The same question relates to a worker who has my item in his possession to fix. The mishna says he is like a shomer who gets paid for his work. But does he still assume that level of responsibility once he is finished fixing it? Shmira b’baalim is an exemption for one who watches an item of someone he works for. This concept is brought to question our mishna and a resolution is brought. When one asks a friend to watch something and he answers “put it down” – does he mean put it down and I will watch it or does he mean put it down and take care of it yourself?
The mishna continues to deal with cases where one rented a item with certain conditions and then used the item in a different way and damage was caused. If the damage was caused because of the change, he is responsible. What if one pt more weight or more volume on the animal than the standard. What if he uses a different item that is lighter, in which case the volume will be greater. The next mishna discusses various laws related to the responsibility of a worker to an item he is fixing/working on, and other laws of shomrim.
The mishna discusses a case where one rents a donkey and it gets seized by the king. Rav and Shmuel disagree about the case and a tosefta is brought in to question Shmuel’s explanation. Some answers are given. The gemara then brings in sources that discuss situations where one rents and the item rented dies/sinks halfway through. The conclusions are questioned and the gemara tries to establish what the exact situation is in order to explain the halacha. In the context of this discussion, a debate between Rav and Shmuel is brought about whether one can sell the carcass of an animal he rented in a way that the principal will no longer exist (meaning he can sell it and use the difference to rent a new animal). Rav’s opinion is questioned by a tosefta and resolved. A case is brought with a boat that was rented to carry wine sinks and the gemara discusses the particulars of the case – did he rent “this boat” or “a boat” and was it to carry “this wine” or “any wine.” TWo other cases are brought which explain what more rights of the renter – how much can he load on a donkey he rented to ride (and how much can the driver load) and if the donkey was rented to a man to ride on, can a woman ride instead or the reverse?
If one tries is selling something and is desperate for the money then the sale isn’t final until he receives all his money. But if he is trying to get rid of bad property, then the sale is final even before he receives all the money. The mishna brings cases where one rents an item for a certain purpose and then uses it for a different purpose. If the animal died because of the change, the renter is obligated. In the first line of the mishna, it seems to imply that the renter is responsible for all cases where a change was made – not necessarily depending on how it died – which is different from the second part of the mishna where it depending on how it died. The gemara gives 4 answers – 3 establish the mishna in cases where the animal died because of the change. The fourth says that the first part is Rabbi Meir’s opinion and the second part if the rabbis opinion. And that Rabbi Meir holds that anyone who goes against the owner’s wishes is called a robber. The gemara then tries to figure out where this statement of Rabbi Meir was said.
Various dealings in employer/ worker relations are brought where a worker can’t do the job and depending on the circumstances (could he have anticipated from the beginning that may be the case?) it is assessed who should bear the responsibility. RAbbi Dosa and the rabbis disagree abotu whether a worker who reneges on an agreement in the middle should always get paid for all the work he did or does he need to compensate the emplioyer in a case where the employer will now need to pay more to get workers to finish the second part. Rav holds like Rabbi Dosa; however this seems to contradict a different statement that Rav said elsewhere. Several answers are brought. in that context, a braita is mentioned about a seller or buyer reneging after the buyer paid part of the money. This case is also then discussed in the gemara.
What happens when a worker or an employer back out of an agreement? Various circumstances are discusses in the gemara in an attempt to understand the case brought in the mishna.
The gemara enumerates more cases revolving around business dealings and discusses ramifications pertaining to interest, commitments (whether or not one can back out of a deal), shlichut, etc. A debate between Rav and Shmuel is brought relating to the definition of “yesh lo” when one has the produce – how many steps can be left in the process before the final product will be ready and it can still be considered yesh lo? Both opinions are questioned based on the details brought in our mishna and are resolved.
Various cases of business transactions – many of them actual cases that were going on at the time of the amoraim – are brought and analyzed as to whether or not they are allowed or should be forbidden because they are considered interest payments or they looks like interest payments.