The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 16 January 2010 / 29 Tevet 5770

Bava Basra 149 - 155

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Deathbed Decisions

The Rule: A man who makes a deathbed bequest of all his possessions and subsequently recovers can retract his gift because it is obvious that he intended giving away everything he owned only because he expected to die.
The Issue: What if he sold all his possessions on his deathbed and subsequently recovered - can he back out of the deal?

This question was put to Rabbi Yehuda. On one occasion he quoted his teacher, the Sage Rav, as ruling that he could not back out. On another occasion he quoted him as ruling that he could.

The Problem: How do we reconcile these apparently conflicting rulings?
The Solution: We examine what the seller did with the funds he received from the sale. If he kept them in his possession it is an indication that his sale was entirely conditional on his death and he therefore wished to have the money available to refund the buyer. But if we find that he used those funds to pay his debts it indicates that he intended the sale to be final regardless of whether he lived or died and he therefore cannot back out.
  • Bava Basra 149a

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