For the week ending 12 September 2009 / 22 Elul 5769

Bava Batra 23 - 29

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Ecological hazards and laws concerning them
  • Determining ownership of a lost fledgling bird
  • When statistics clash with proximity
  • Protecting the environs of a city
  • All about the different winds
  • The clash between tree and pit
  • Protecting a field from the plowing of the neighbor
  • When one cannot bring bikkurim from fruits of his tree
  • Obstructions in the public thoroughfare
  • When one can claim he purchased a property without producing documentation of sale
  • The pattern of goring which makes an ox a habitual offender
  • When protest against contested ownership is effective

Branches and Holes

  • Bava Batra 27

If the branches of someone's tree extend into the public thoroughfare and interfere with animal traffic, those branches must be removed to the level that a camel and its rider are able to pass underneath without obstruction.

This trim is considered a sufficient safety measure by the Sages in our mishna, despite the fact that those branches will eventually grow back and pose a danger and require removal once again. In apparently sharp contrast with this position is the ruling by Sages that one may not create pits and cisterns beneath the public thoroughfare, even if a wagon filled with rocks can now safely pass over the area of his excavation without causing the street to collapse, because there is the danger of collapse at a later time.

Rabbi Yochanan offers a resolution of the apparent contradiction.

In regard to digging below street level there is the likelihood that deterioration of the surface will not be noticed in time to avoid a dangerous collapse. Such digging is therefore categorically forbidden. Should branches grow back on the tree they will be immediately noticed and then removed so that there is no need to effect a permanent removal right away.

What the Sages Say

"A communal pot is never hot and never cold (because each person relies on the other to watch it – Rashi)."

  • Rabbi Cahana - Bava Batra 24b

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