For the week ending 1 August 2009 / 10 Av 5769

Bava Metzia 100 - 106

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Dispute over ownership of something sold
  • When there is cause for an oath to be taken
  • Olive trees purchased or received through flood
  • Tithing produce of a field rented from a non-Jew
  • Planting trees or building house on another's property
  • How long can the tenant remain when no limit was mentioned
  • What must the landlord provide for the tenant
  • When does someone's property acquire something for him
  • Payment for rent of the extra month in a leap year
  • The landlord's obligation to provide another home for the tenant if the first one collapsed
  • Restrictions on sharecroppers of renters of fields
  • Interpreting the terminology of ordinary people
  • The dual nature of capital invested in a business
  • When a sharecropper wishes to back out because the field is not producing
  • When disaster strikes a rented field

The "Protective" Mezuzah

If someone rents a home it is his obligation to put mezuzot on his doorposts and not the obligation of the landlord.

Rashi cites as the source for this the gemara in Mesechta Menachot (34a) which interprets the word beitcha (your home) in the passage about mezuzah as biyatcha (your entry). This indicates that the one who enters and exits the home – the tenant – is responsible for affixing mezuzot.

The popular concept that the reason for the mezuzah is protection for residents of the home has a source in the story of the convert Onkeles (Mesechta Avodah Zarah 11a). When the Roman emperor sent troops to fetch him he succeeded in convincing them to convert as well by pointing out that in contrast to a mortal king whose servants stand outside his palace to protect him, the mezuzah represents G-d posted in the doorway to protect the Jews inside.

Although fulfillment of the mitzvah of mezuzah provides protection, as does the fulfillment of any mitzvah, it is wrong to assume that this is the basic reason for this mitzvah. Rambam (Laws of Tefillin 5:4) sharply criticizes those who view the mezuzah as some sort of protective amulet rather than a "great mitzvah reinforcing our belief in the Oneness of G-d, our love for Him and our service to Him."

  • Bava Metzia 101b

What the Sages Say

"Let the field become weaker rather than the man who rented it."

  • A folk saying quoted by Rabbi Ashi - (Bava Metzia 104b)

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