Daf Yomi

For the week ending 1 August 2009 / 10 Av 5769

Bava Metzia 100 - 106

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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A Mixture of Miracles

The Rule: A man leases a field for the purpose of cultivating it but his crop is wiped out by a locust plague which strikes the entire area. Since he is the victim of a regional disaster and not just his individual poor fortune he may deduct his loss from the rent he owes. This is true, however, only if he actually planted the crop. If he failed to even plant he cannot claim that his crop would anyway have been annihilated because the owner can contend that he might have been the beneficiary of the sort of divine protection which is promised to the deserving by King David in Psalm 37:19.
The Challenge: A shepherd leaves the flock he is hired to watch and enters town. If the flock is attacked by a lion in his absence we make an evaluation of whether the shepherd would have been capable of successfully defending the sheep had he been there. The shepherd bears no responsibility if the evaluation is that he would have been helpless in normal circumstances. Why can his employer not claim that had the shepherd been there he might have been the beneficiary of divine protection and the shepherd would have overcome the attacker as young King David did the lion and the bear?
The Resoution: The shepherd can refute the challenge of his employer by arguing that if he was deserving of such miraculous protection then the animals would have protected themselves against their attackers as did the goats of the saintly Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa who returned from pasture with bears in their horns.

  • Bava Metzia 106a

Bypassing the Trespasser

A man who bought an entire shipload of wine and had no place to store it asked a woman if she would rent him space. When she refused he married her and received the storage area he needed. No sooner had he stored the wine than he wrote a get and divorced her. She retaliated by selling some of his wine to hire porters to remove the remaining wine from her storage place to the street.

  • Bava Metzia 101b

(Although this fellow got his just deserts and similar action can be legally taken against anyone who appropriates storage space without permission or through deceit, the Rambam notes that it is praiseworthy to go beyond the letter of the law by bringing the matter to the attention of the court so that it can rent space for the violator and save most of his goods.)

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