For the week ending 8 October 2016 / 6 Tishri 5777

Bava Metzia 9 - 15

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Gaining possession of a lost or sold animal
  • Acquiring something for another at the expense of others
  • Taking possession of lost object through falling upon it
  • Requisition by virtue of proximity or through object being in one's home or field
  • No agency for sinning
  • The forgotten crops awarded to the poor
  • Rabban Gamliel and other Sages on a ship
  • Who owns the objects found by his children, slaves or wife
  • The power of a minor to acquire possession
  • How to deal with a lost debt document
  • The lien on the borrower's property
  • When it turns out that one sold a field which was not his
  • When one buys a field knowing that it is not the seller's

Minding Somebody's Business

  • Bava Metzia 14a

Reuven sold a field to Shimon which in turn was about to be confiscated by Levi in payment of a debt which he claims Reuven owes him. When Reuven comes to court to contest this claim so that the field will remain in Shimon's possession, Levi tries to disqualify him as a litigant because he is not directly affected by the confiscation procedure.

The Sage Abaye rules that Reuven is entitled to be a litigant. If he guaranteed the sale to Shimon he is certainly affected because Shimon will turn to him for compensation if he loses the field. But even if there was no such guarantee, Reuven can intercede as an affected party because he wishes to avoid having Shimon complain to him that he deceived him by selling a field he did not own.

Tosefot raises the question as to what advantage there is for Reuven to enter the picture. If he is intent on claiming that the debt was paid, this argument could be presented by Shimon as well.

One answer is that Shimon has already admitted in court that he has no witnesses to prove that Reuven paid his debt to Levi. Even if he eventually comes up with witnesses their testimony will not be accepted (see Mesechta Sanhedrin 31a), while Reuven is still able to bring them.

Another is that if it is indeed true that Reuven paid the debt it is more likely that Levi will lack the audacity to confront him with a denial since Reuven knows the truth, whereas he will not hesitate to do so to Shimon who only has Reuven's word for it.

What the Sages Say

"When one seizes money from a debtor on behalf of a particular creditor his collection is not valid because it is at the expense of the other creditors."

  • Rabbi Nachman and Rabbi Chisda - Bava Metzia 10a

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