Thursday, 29 December 2016

Bava Metzia 94: Exceptions Based on Torah Law, Conditions, Who is Present, Exact Wording

A new Mishna contradicts almost all that we learned in yesterday's daf.  It teaches that monetary matters can be negotiated by the individuals involved.  This means that borrowers might be exempt from payment for a loss, for example.  It is not permitted to contravene Torah law.  Further, a condition must precede the action in a negotiated contract.  

One of the examples used to explore this Mishna is the case of a man who give a woman a get.  The get stipulates that he will divorce her if she relinquishes her rights to food, clothing, and conjugal rights.  The monetary matters, food and clothing, are required by Torah law.  However, as monetary matters they can be negotiated.  Conjugal rights cannot be negotiated.

Laster, the rabbis discuss another example that is based on the halachot of gittin.  If a man offers his wife a get on the condition that she can fly, or that she can walk on water, those conditions are void.  The rabbis argue that these obviously ridiculous conditions should not mean anything at all in that contract, for they cannot have been intended as serious conditions.

Perek 8 is introduced in today's daf.  We learn that if Reuven borrows Shimon's cow and hires Shimon to help him at the same time, Reuven is not responsible if anything happens to the cow.  If Shimon is asked at a later time to help, then Reuven is liable for any damages to the cow.  This is based on Exodus 22:13, where a person is always responsible for his or her animal when s/he is present with that animal.

The second Mishna of our new Perek teaches us a proof for the halacha that a renter is not liable for loss or theft, but is permitted to take an oath swearing that the item rented was broken, taken captive, or died.  There are specific Torah instructions for items that have been stolen or lost.  

Our daf ends with a conversation about the word oh, and, as it can change meaning in different contexts.  For example, we know that a person is punished severely if he curses his mother "oh" his father.  But does oh mean "and" or "or"?  What if he curses only his mother?  A great discussion to end today's daf.

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