For the week ending 30 May 2009 / 6 Sivan 5769

Bava Metzia 37 - 43

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Mysteries of who was the victim of an admitted theft and who gave the larger sum for safekeeping
  • Dealing with doubt in monetary matters
  • Guardian of fruits on verge of rotting
  • Caring for property of someone in captivity or otherwise incapable of managing it
  • The unrecognized brother
  • Calculating how much loss can be claimed by guardian of produce, wine or oil
  • Honesty in selling oil
  • Guardian's responsibility for breakage during moving
  • When a guardian assumes total responsibility by making unauthorized use of item in his custody
  • What is considered proper care of money given for safekeeping
  • Which sort of guardian may use money given for safekeeping
  • What is considered unauthorized use by guardian

Recognizing a Brother

  • Bava Metzia 39b

A stranger from Bei Chazai came before Mari bar Issak claiming that he was his brother and entitled to a share of his inheritance. Mari replied that he did not recognize him. When the case came before Rabbi Chisda he cited a historical precedent for a person not being able to recognize his own brother.

When the brothers of Yosef came to Egypt to purchase food and were brought before Yosef, the Torah (Bereishet 42:8) relates that he recognized them but they did not recognize him. The explanation for this is that when Yosef left his brothers he was only seventeen and had no beard, while now he had a full beard.

This explanation assumes that Yosef was able to recognize his brothers because they already had beards when he left them. The difficulty with this is that Yisachar and Zevulun were only slightly older than Yosef and probably had no beards when they parted.

In his commentary on Chumash, RaMbaN offers two resolutions. One is that since he recognized the older brothers who already had beards at that time he was able to recognize the younger ones as well. Another approach is that Yosef expected his brothers to arrive in Egypt in search of food for their famine stricken families, whereas the brothers could not imagine that the youngster they had sold into slavery had become a ruler of Egypt.

What the Sages Say

"A man prefers one kav of his own produce to nine kavim of another's."

  • Rabbi Cahana - Bava Metzia 38a

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