For the week ending 13 June 2009 / 20 Sivan 5769

Bava Metzia 51 - 57

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Buyer and seller in regard to claims of deceit
  • Making a condition in a sale to avoid responsibility for overcharging
  • When coin received by seller is discovered to be missing in its silver content
  • How much time is allotted for making a claim regarding such a coin
  • Redemption of second tithe produce
  • The status of the chomesh which must be added to the money used for such redemption
  • Redemption of Sanctuary property
  • Five situations in which a perutah is a determining factor
  • Five situations requiring a chomesh added to the principle
  • Whether the Sages gave force to the laws they made similar to force of Torah law
  • To which things do the laws of claiming deceit not apply
  • When a claim of deceit applies to even the smallest amount
  • Which things are exempt from the special penalty for a thief and from the oath of a guardian

Rights and Righteousness

  • Bava Metzia 52b

If someone receives a coin in the course of a transaction and it turns out to contain substantially less silver than its purported value, he has recourse to demand a refund. Although there is a time limit on making such a demand – in a city until he has time to show it to a banker and in a village until people do their Shabbat shopping – if the one who gave him the faulty coin wishes to be an extremely righteous man who goes beyond the letter of the law, he should accept the coin even after a year upon recognizing that it is the one he gave the seller.

The mishna that teaches us this concludes with a puzzling statement that "he can only have hard feelings towards him". In its search for an explanation our gemara rejects the possibility that it is the righteous fellow who accepts the faulty coin so much later than what is required by law who has hard feelings towards the seller. The conclusion is that the mishna is referring to the fellow who sticks to his rights and refuses to accept the coin after so long a delay. Even though the latecomer has no legal recourse, he does have a right to have hard feelings towards the man who shortchanged him.

But why did the gemara reject the explanation that the righteous fellow has a right to have hard feelings for being put in such a situation? The answer is that if he is truly righteous it would be preferable to refuse to accept the faulty coin rather than have hard feelings, which might lead him to speak ill of the fellow whose coin he accepted.

What the Sages Say

"A faulty coin should not be passed on to others who might use it for cheating. A hole should be made in it and given to a child as a necklace."

  • Beraita - Bava Metzia 52a

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