Thursday, 20 April 2017

Bava Batra 88: Responsibility, Punishment, and Ethical Dealings

A brief review of today's daf:

The rabbis continue their discussion about responsibility for bought items.   Their examples of similar cases include the return of a lost animal, borrowing a sheep without permission, if an item is stolen from a customer's hand while at a shop, deciding to purchase vegetables and the timing of tithing.  Each of these examples demonstrates the rabbis' different opinions about who is responsible when an item is missing.

A new Mishna teaches that wholesalers clean their measures every thirty days while a person selling from their home cleans their measures every year.  Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel says the opposite.  A grocer cleans his measures twice each week, his weights once each week, and his scale after each weighing. Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel states that this is only necessary for liquids but not dry things which do not stick to the measures.  Details are shared regarding how grocers, wholesalers and home-based sellers should ensure that their measures are accurate.  The Gemara shares proofs and information about how much extra should be added to measures that are not already heaping.

The Gemara debates the severity of punishments assigned to those who measure falsely.  More severe than incest?  The rabbis walk through an analysis of a verse to prove that similar words evoke similar meanings.  They then consider whether stealing from a person is worse than stealing from the collection of consecrated items.  Looking at proofs, the rabbis share their perspectives on the higher, holy and communal needs compared with the needs of any one person.