For the week ending 15 August 2009 / 24 Av 5769
Bava Metzia 114 - 119
|The Case:||A landlord says to his tenant when they make a lease: "I am renting you the upstairs which is on top of this house which I live in." During the period of the lease the ceiling between them collapses. The landlord refuses to make the repairs necessary for the upstairs to be habitable again and offers instead to provide the tenant with living quarters in one of his other houses.|
|The Ruling:||The tenant has the right to move in downstairs with the landlord until he makes the necessary repairs for enabling him to return upstairs.|
|The Reason:||Had the landlord only been obligating himself to providing living quarters for the tenant it would have sufficed for him to say "I am renting you the upstairs of the house," since he pointed out the upstairs of the house he lives in. By adding the words "which is on top of the house which I live in" he placed a legal claim on his downstairs apartment to serve as a base for his tenant's living quarters. He must therefore make the necessary repairs for it to support the upstairs apartment or to allow his tenant to utilize it as temporary quarters until such repairs are made.|
- Bava Metzia 116b
When Reason Is NOT Enough
The Torah's prohibition to take anything of value from a widow as security for a loan extended to her, says Rabbi Shimon, is limited to a poor widow. Since you must return this item to her when she needs it and reclaim it when she does not, you will be seen regularly entering her home and thus giving her a bad reputation. This, he concludes, is inapplicable to a widow of means who is not in need of the collateralized item. The prohibition therefore does not relate to her.
Rabbi Shimon's approach of limiting the application of Torah law in accordance with our understanding of the law's reason is not accepted by the majority view and the ruling is that the aforementioned prohibition applies to any widow, rich or poor.
- Bava Metzia 116a