Bava Kama 30 - 36
Not Getting What You Didn't Ask For
One claims that another owes him wheat which he loaned him. The defendant responds to this claim by admitting that he borrowed barley from him. The Sage Rabba bar Nosson rules that the defendant is exempt not only from repaying the wheat but from repaying the barley as well.
Bava Kama 35b
We can readily understand why there is no obligation to repay the wheat. The claim is not backed by any evidence nor has it elicited any admission. But why should he not have to repay the barley which he owes by his own admission?
A number of explanations have been offered:
- Since the claimant did not mention barley in his claim it is considered as if he said he was waiving any claim to barley.
Rashi and Tosefos
- Since he claimed the wheat was borrowed at a specific hour on a specific day it is considered an admission on his part that barley was not borrowed at that time. This admission negates the admission of the defendant and exonerates him.
Rabbeinu Asher (Rosh)
- An admission is irrevocable evidence of responsibility only when it is in response to a claim. Since there was no claim made regarding the barley the defendant can renounce his admission by claiming that he made it only in jest.
Rabbi Meir Halevi
Three Dimensions of Perfection
The very righteous men of old disposed of their thorns and broken glass by burying them in their fields three handbreadths deep to assure that a plow would not unearth them and threaten the security of others who might somehow be harmed by these objects.
How does one become a very righteous man?
"Fulfill the laws regarding damage to others", says Rabbi Yehuda.
"Fulfill the ethical guidelines in 'Ethics of the Fathers,'" says the Sage Rava.
"Fulfill the laws regarding making of blessings," say others in his name.
- Bava Kama 30a
A very righteous man is one who conducts himself in the best possible way. There are three categories of good deeds: Those done in relation to Heaven, in relation to fellow man, and in relation to self. Each of the Sages was focusing on one of these dimensions. One who fulfills the laws regarding damages will perfect himself in his relationship with others. Following the counsel in "Ethics of the Fathers" will enable a man to perfect his character and improve himself. Fulfilling the laws concerning blessings will perfect him in his relationship with Heaven.