For the week ending 13 May 2017 / 17 Iyyar 5777

Bava Basra 107 - 113

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Where Do We Draw the Line

Case 1
Case 2
The Cases: Reuven contracts to sell Shimon half of his field which has sections of varying value, without specifying which half. When it comes to dividing the field Shimon claims that it should be evenly divided into two parts. Reuven, however, argues that he intended to sell him half the total value of the field which he wishes to give him from the parts of inferior value since he prefers to have a smaller amount of better land to having much inferior land. This time the two parties specify that the southern half of the field is being sold. Shimon claims this means a geographical half of the field and again Reuven counters that he only intended to sell half the value of the field.


numbers indicate price of field in shekalim.

Up is North

Total Value:110
Due to Buyer: 55

Rashbam - We make an evaluation of the total southern half of the field (65) and allow the seller to give it from the inferior parts of his field.

Rambam - We make an evaluation of half of the total value of the field (55) which the buyer receives in the southern part of the field.
The Rule: Since no specification was made the seller has the upper hand and can give him half the total value of the field from its inferior parts. In regard to the Gemara's ruling in this case there are two interpretations by the major commentaries diagrammed above.
  • Bava Basra 107b

Dimensions of Dignity

"Skin a carcass in the marketplace to earn money," the Sage Rav advised his disciple Rabbi Cahana "and don't hesitate to do so because it is unbecoming to a man of you stature."

Rashbam points out that although a Torah scholar is required to maintain his dignity because of the Torah he represents - the Gemara in Masechta Shabbos (114a) warns that a Torah scholar who appears in public with a fatty stain on his clothes is deserving of a death penalty for disgracing the Torah in the eyes of his beholders - working for a livelihood in any honest fashion is not considered an indignity.

  • Bava Basra 110a

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