Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Bava Batra 30: Six Case Examples: Original Owner vs. Chazaka Claimant

The rabbis offer a number of cases which demonstrate the variation possible within the halacha of chazaka.  

The first case suggests that the name of one his fields is named incorrectly, there are two opinions.  Rav Nachman teaches that the seller must prove that only the name was an error.  Rava teaches that the buyer must prove that the seller bought it from the original seller since the seller still holds the property.

In the second case, a person claims that someone has been illegally squatting in his property while he has been far away for three years.  The squatter says that he has worked and profited from the land for three years, and so he has rights to the land based on chazaka.  In fact, he claims, witnesses will attest that he returned home for 30 days each year.  Rav agrees with the owner's argument, which states that he was so busy in the marketplace for those 30 days that he could not check on his property.  Thus the property remains in his possession.

Next we are told about a field that has been bought from someone who claimed to have bought it from someone else with no proof.  In such a case the original owner can take back the field even after three years of chazaka.

Our fourth case teaches that chazaka is not valid when one purchases a field on the advice of another person who later claims to be the original owner.  If a signed contract exists, the dispute must be settled in court.

Fifth case: When an original owner claims that one purchased his property from a thief, he can take back that land.  This is the case even if the original owner offered one money for the field before going to court.

Finally, our sixth case: A person might return to his land with a four-year old contract claiming that there should be no chazaka.  The one claiming ownership based on chazaka can say that he has worked the land for seven years - his initial claim of chazaka was not based on three years.  The rabbis determine that this person would need to claim seven years chazaka because that would allow him to have worked the land for three years before the returning person received his contract.

In each of these cases, we note that the rabbis attempt to balance the rights of both the person claiming chazaka and the original owner of the property.  How much of this deliberation has been handed down to current legal practice?

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