Thursday, 23 February 2017

Bava Batra 32: Discussion of Property Disputes Through Case Examples

The Gemara uses a case example to discuss halachot regarding testimony.  Based on community knowledge, a man was presumed to be a kohen, a priest, the son of a kohen.  A rumour stated that his mother was either a divorcee or a chalutza, and kohanim of these statuses are not permitted to marry priests.  The man's status as a priest was removed.  One witness claimed that this man was in fact a priest of 'unflawed' lineage.  The man's status as a kohen was restored.  Then his status was removed when two other witnesses claimed that he was the son of a divorcee or a chalutza.  One witness disputed this. All believe that the two single witnesses combine to create a valid argument for his status as a priest of unflawed lineage.

Some of the rabbis questions include:

  • Can one witness reverse the decision of a court?
  • Should we be concerned about reversing decisions and being in contempt of the court?
  • Must single witnesses testify at the same time or can their testimonies be stated on different days?
The Gemara uses another case to clarify their thinking.  One person says that he has a signed contract stating that land belongs to him.  He approaches the person currently working the land, who says that the contract was forged.  The person admits to Rabba that he did forge the bill of sale, but he had lost the original.  

The rabbis ask a number of questions:
  • Why would he lie?  
  • Is this a case of migo?
  • Is the forged bill of sale anything other than a shard?
  • Should we learn from a similar case where a promissory note was forged and then was worthless?
  • Should money always remain where it is?

Another case offers more insights.  A guarantor shows a contract to his debtor and demands payment of 100 dinars.  But I already paid you, says the debtor.  Yes, replies the guarantor, but you borrowed from me a second time.

Some questions:
  • Is it permitted to use one document for more than one transaction?
  • In this case should the money remain where it is, with the debtor?
  • Is this a case where money that was repaid was not useful currency and that is why the debt was still owed?
Today's daf ends with the beginning of a new case.   Rava bar Sharshom was rumoured to benefit from land belonging to orphans.  Abaye asked him how this rumour was started.  Rava says that he was holding the land as collateral for the orphan's deceased father.  He was was profiting from the land for the one-year period where he was holding the land as collateral.  This was done only because he was owed a further debt from the deceased father but had no collateral for that second debt.  Tomorrow's daf will offer more discussions of the issues related to this case.

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