The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 6 February 2010 / 21 Shevat 5770

Bava Basra 170 - 176

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Breaking the Impasse

The Case:

Rabbi Yitzchak ben Yosef loaned some money to Rabbi Abba but lost the note which the borrower had given him. When he asked for the money in court Rabbi Abba demanded that he present the note so that there would be no danger of it ever being used for collection again. Rabbi Yitzchak explained that he had lost the note but offered to write a receipt. The borrower refused to accept this solution because if he subsequently lost the receipt he would be vulnerable to a second collection of the debt which he already paid.

The Impasse:

Whichever way we rule we place someone at a disadvantage. If we don't allow for the writing of a receipt we force the lender to lose his ability to collect his debt simply because he lost his note. If we do allow him to collect in return for a receipt we expose the borrower to the danger of being forced to pay a second time if he is not careful in guarding his receipt and the allegedly lost note reappears.

The Solution: Although this issue is a subject of debate amongst the Sages the court ruled in favor of Rabbi Yitzchak and such is the ruling of the post-Talmud Halachic authorities. The reason for favoring the lender over the borrower is based on a passage in Mishlei 22:7: "The borrower is servant to the lender." As the one who benefited from the kindness of the lender it is he who must suffer the disadvantage in breaking the impasse caused by the losing of the note.

  • Bava Basra 171b

Secrets of Success

"One who wishes to gain wisdom," said Rabbi Yishmael, "should devote himself to the laws of financial matters, for they are like an ever flowing spring. And one who wishes to devote himself to the study of the laws of financial matters should serve the Sage Shimon ben Nanas."

The author of "Iyun Yaakov" (quoted in Ein Yaakov) points out two secrets of success offered by this statement in the closing pages of the three tractates (Bava Kama, Bava Metzia and Bava Basra) which form the very heart of the Talmudic laws of financial matters. Judging a financial lawsuit requires extremely astute examination of the protagonists and the witnesses in order to expose any deception. This develops a cleverness and an ever increasing awareness comparable to the ever flowing waters of the spring.

Serving the sage is the formula for success rather than just learning from him as our Sages have already indicated (Masechta Brachos 7b) that serving the Torah teacher achieves even more for the disciple than learning from him.

  • Bava Basra 175

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