“Only, the tree which you know to have been useless” (Dt.20:20)—
a fruit-bearing tree [that no longer bears fruit].
“Useless for food” (Dt.20:20)—
this refers to a barren tree [that has never borne fruit].
If we are ultimately going to include under the rule
a fruit-bearing tree [that no longer bears fruit],
what, then, does the Teaching mean by:
“The tree . . . useless for food”? (Dt.20:20)
This teaches that
[where two trees impede the siege],
the destruction of the barren tree
precedes that of the fruit-bearing tree.
Is it possible to say that
if the barren tree’s [wood] is more valuable
[than the fruit tree’s fruit, it should be spared]—
in accord with the view of R. Elazar b. R. Shimon?
The Teaching states:
“That one you may destroy and chop down” (Dt.20:20)—
using the wood for storage-bins or construction.
“And you may construct siege-works against the city” (Dt.20:20)—
by deploying against it various kinds of catapults,
and by bringing against it any sort of missile.
“Until it falls” (Dt.20:20)—
even on the Sabbath.