Saturday, 25 March 2017

Bava Batra 62: Fields with Multiple Boundaries

The rabbis discuss contracts that are not specific enough to know exactly which piece of land has been bought or sold by another person.  Land might be shaped like a triangle, or like a gam, a Greek gamma, and three different owners could be implicated in the transaction.  The Gemara focuses on possible scenarios in some detail. 

Next the rabbis consider contracts that name three of the four boundaries of the property for sale.  Can the fourth boundary be assumed?  They look at whether or not there is a row of trees there or  land fit for sowing nine kav.  Might these forbid or demarcate the fourth boundary? The rabbis argue about whether or not the entire field can be purchased under these questionable circumstances.  Could one purchase a half of the field?  

What if one owns land together with a partner?  Complicated sales would not be appropriate.  Is a partner's silence about an upcoming sale enough to assume that the partner has no problem with those plans?

These discussions are directed at very real, very complex situations that might arise still today.  The rabbis were very careful to analyze and debate any concept introduced to them.  It seems as though they believed that they could control the observance of halachot over centuries.  And it worked, to a large degree.  The rabbis covered so many possibilities that we have been able to address issues that arise in real estate law (and many, many other areas) with some ease.  The underlying principles are most helpful, however.  We continue to use the rule of law that was created to address the sale of irregular fields.

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