The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 18 March 2017 / 20 Adar II 5777

Bava Basra 51 - 57

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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How Did It Get There?

The Case: After the death of Reuven a suit was brought by Shimon against his heirs for recovery of a pair of tailors' scissors and a book which he claimed their father had borrowed during his lifetime. The court raised the possibility that Reuven may have in fact purchased these items from Shimon and that they therefore rightfully belonged to his heirs.
The Ruling: The Sage Rava ruled that since there was no doubt that the items had originally belonged to Shimon and a doubt as to whether they had been purchased or borrowed they must be returned to Shimon.
The Problem: If someone lays claim to an object which he once owned but is now in someone else's home the defendant is believed with his counter-claim that he purchased the object since there is no other reasonable explanation as to how it reached his home (see Weekly Daf of 12-18 Kislev, 15-21 November). Although Reuven is not around to make this counter-claim it should be the court's responsibility to make it on behalf of the orphans and allow them to retain the disputed items.
The Solution: The aforementioned rule applies only to items which are not customarily loaned or rented to others because if we can attribute their presence in their new location to the fact that they were borrowed or rented we no longer believe the unsupported claim that they were purchased. Since the father's claim would have no credibility the court does not make it on behalf of the orphans.
  • Bava Basra 52a

A Safe Investment

We should not accept for safekeeping an item given to us by a child living in the home of others. There is a suspicion that the child may have stolen the item from his host. If we accept it we may be accomplices to the theft while if we refuse it we may force him to return it to its owner.

If we overlooked this rule and have already accepted the item we must put aside our suspicion and relate to the item as belonging to the one who gave it to us. But we cannot return it to him while he is still a child because this would be tantamount to destroying it since he is incapable of guarding it. We cannot invest it in business because of the risk that it will be lost. We therefore make a safe investment like buying a Sefer Torah (or other sefarim in our own day) which the child can use for study and still retain the principle or a fruit-bearing tree which also offers immediate returns and security.

  • Bava Basra 51b

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