TalmuDigest

For the week ending 26 September 2009 / 7 Tishri 5770

Bava Batra 37 - 43

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • If owner of trees in another's field owns any of the land
  • Must protest against a squatter be made in his presence
  • The proper text for a formal protest
  • How frequently must the protest be made
  • Disclaimer made before forced transaction
  • The need for a claim to accompany three-year possession as proof of purchase
  • The flood-wrecked boundary mistakenly replaced
  • When there is a consensus of testimony despite a conflict between witnesses
  • When several parties make up the three-year possession used as proof of purchase
  • Those who cannot claim ownership on the basis of possession
  • When judges and witnesses are ineligible to rule or testify because of conflict of interest
  • Other examples of such conflicts which disqualify witnesses

An Unreliable Silence

  • Bava Batra 39a
"I won't tell anyone what you said."

This is what the witnesses told the man who stated in their presence a protest against someone squatting on his field. Does their statement rule out the effectiveness of the protest in preventing the squatter from claiming ownership of the field?

The position of Rabbi Papa is that since they declared that they would not tell anyone about the protest we can safely assume that word of it will not get back to the squatter. This will allow him to claim that since he never heard of any protest during three years of possessing the field, he no longer held on to the document that proved that he purchased the field.

Rabbi Huna, the son of Rabbi Yehoshua, challenges this opinion. His argument is that we can assume that word of the protest will eventually get to the squatter because the witnesses are likely to mention it to someone. Despite the fact that they said that they would not tell anyone, we cannot take their statement seriously because when revealing something has no relevance for a person he does not take his pledge to heart.

What the Sages Say

"Anything which is not a person's responsibility to keep as a secret he is likely to unwittingly reveal."

  • Rabbi Huna ben Rabbi Yeshoshua - Bava Batra 39a

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