כי אתא רב דימי אמר יכול ילקה על התוספת ונסיב לה תלמודא לפטורא ולא ידענא מאי תלמודא ומאי תוספת
When Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he stated a tradition he had heard from the Sages in Eretz Yisrael: One might have thought that one would be flogged for the addition, but a teaching states an exemption from lashes. Rav Dimi noted: But I do not know what teaching or what addition this tradition is referring to.
רבי אלעזר אמר חרישה והכי קאמר יכול ילקה על חרישה דאתיא מכלל ופרט וכלל ונסיב ליה תלמודא לפטורא
The Sages disputed the meaning of this tradition. Rabbi Elazar said: The addition in question is plowing during the Sabbatical Year, for which there is no explicit prohibition in the Torah, and so it may be regarded as an addition to the labors explicitly enumerated in the Torah. And this is what it is say ing: One might have thought that one would be flogged for plowing during the Sabbatical Year, as it is derived by way of the hermeneutical principle of a generalization, and a detail, and a generalization that teaches that plowing is prohibited. But a teaching states an exemption from lashes for the labor of plowing.
דאם כן כל הני פרטי למה לי
This is logical, because if one is flogged for plowing, why do I need all these details that were enumerated in the verse, i. e., pruning and picking grapes? Rather, one must certainly conclude that these were singled out in order to teach that one is flogged only for these specific labors, but not for any other.
And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: This addition is referring to the extra days that the Sages added to the prohibition against performing agricultural labor, before Rosh HaShana of the seventh year, when the Sabbatical Year formally begins. And this is what it is say ing: One might have thought that one would be flogged for working the land during the additional period prior to Rosh HaShana of the Sabbatical Year, as this prohibition is derived from the verse:“ In plowing and in reaping you shall rest” (Exodus 34:21). This seemingly superfluous verse is understood as teaching that not only is working the land prohibited during the seventh year, but plowing a field during the sixth year to prepare the land for the seventh year, and reaping what grew in the seventh year during the eighth year are also prohibited. But a teaching states an exemption from lashes for these actions, as we are about to state below.
The Gemara elaborates: What are the extra days before Rosh HaShana? As we learned in a mishna ( Shevi’it 1: 1): Until when may one plow an orchard on the eve of the Sabbatical Year? Beit Shammai say: One may plow so long as the plowing is beneficial for the fruit already on the trees. Once the plowing serves to benefit only the tree itself and the fruit it will produce the following year, it is prohibited. And Beit Hillel say: One may plow until Shavuot . The mishna notes: And the statement of these, Beit Shammai, is close to being like the statement of these, Beit Hillel; i. e., in practice, there is little difference between the dates established by the two opinions.
ועד מתי חורשין שדה הלבן ערב שביעית משתכלה הלחה וכל זמן שבני אדם חורשים ליטע מקשאות ומדלעות
The mishna (see Shevi’it 2: 1) additionally states: And until when may one plow a white field, i. e., a grain field, on the eve of the Sabbatical Year? One may plow until the residual moisture in the fields from the rain ceases and so long as people continue to plow their fields in order to plant cucumbers and gourds, which are planted at the end of the winter.
Rabbi Shimon says: If it is so that no set time was established, then the Torah has given an individual measure of time into the hands of each and every individual. One may plow until a self-determined time, as he can always claim that he is plowing in order to plant during the sixth year. Rather, a fixed time must be established: In a white field one may plow until Passover, in an orchard one may plow until Shavuot , and Beit Hillel say: Until Passover.
And Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said in the name of bar Kappara: Rabban Gamliel and his court discussed and then voted about the prohibitions of these two periods, i. e., from Passover or Shavuot until Rosh HaShana, and nullified them, thereby permitting plowing until Rosh HaShana, the actual beginning of the Sabbatical Year.
Rabbi Zeira said to Rabbi Abbahu, and some say that it was Reish Lakish who said to Rabbi Yoḥanan: How could Rabban Gamliel and his court nullify an ordinance instituted by Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel, who were greater authorities than they were? Didn’t we learn in a mishna ( Eduyyot 1: 5): A court cannot nullify the ruling of another court unless it surpasses it in wisdom and in number?
אשתומם כשעה חדא אמר ליה אימור כך התנו ביניהן כל הרוצה לבטל יבוא ויבטל
Rabbi Abbahu “ was astonished for a while” (Daniel 4:16), and then said to him: Say that when Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel established their decree, they stipulated among themselves: Anyone who later wishes to nullify this decree may come and nullify it.
The Gemara asks: Is this ordinance theirs? Did Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel institute the ordinance and as such have the authority to attach stipulations to it? It is a halakha transmitted to Moses from Sinai. As Rabbi Asi said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Neḥunya from the valley of Beit Ḥortan: The halakha of ten saplings, the mitzva of bringing willow branches to the Temple on Sukkot and standing them up around the altar, and the halakha of water libation on Sukkot are all halakhot transmitted to Moses from Sinai. Consequently, the prohibition against plowing on the eve of the seventh year is a not a rabbinic ordinance from the Second Temple period, but rather an oral tradition dating back to Moses at Sinai.
Rabbi Yitzḥak said: When they learned this halakha as a tradition dating back to Moses at Sinai, the prohibition applied from only thirty days before Rosh HaShana. Afterward, these Sages of Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel came and instituted lengthier periods of restriction, from Passover and from Shavuot , respectively, but they stipulated among themselves: Anyone who later wishes to nullify this decree may come and nullify it. Rabban Gamliel and his court were therefore able to nullify extended restrictions instituted by Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel.
והני הלכתא נינהו קראי נינהו דתנן בחריש ובקציר תשבת רבי עקיבא אומר אין צריך לומר חריש וקציר של שביעית שהרי כבר נאמר שדך לא תזרע וכרמך לא תזמר אלא חריש של ערב שביעית
The Gemara raises another question: Are these prohibitions of plowing before the Sabbatical Year really halakhot transmitted to Moses from Sinai? They are actually prohibitions based on explicit verses. As we learned in a baraita with regard to the verse“ In plowing and in reaping you shall rest” (Exodus 34:21) that Rabbi Akiva says: It is unnecessary for the verse to speak about plowing and reaping during the Sabbatical Year, as it was already stated:“ But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord; your field you shall not sow, and your vineyard you shall not prune” (Leviticus 25:4). This teaches that during the seventh year all agricultural labor is prohibited. Rather, the verse comes to prohibit plowing on the eve of the Sabbatical Year