Sunday, 26 March 2017

Bava Batra 63: Sharing Vs. Taking a Portion; Conditions on the Sale of Property

The rabbis have agreed that if a person says that another person can share in his/her property, that assumes that each person will get half of the property.  But what does it mean if a person says that another should have a portion of his/her property? The rabbis question what this might mean in a number of differing circumstance, including having a portion of the drink in one's cup.  They agree "a portion" is generally understood to mean at least one quarter of the person's property.

The rabbis consider cases where a Levite asks an Israelite to buy his property on the condition that he - and his sons after he dies - gets the first tithe.  Or in the case that this condition holds for as long as the Israelite owns the property.  Regarding the first case, the rabbis consider the prohibition against selling something that does not yet exist.  In that second case, a broken up ownership nullifies the condition.  Another case wonders whether it is valid that a person sells a home on the condition that the upper property belongs to the seller  The rabbis discuss the difference between an upper story that exists now and one that is built later.  They mention the balcony that is not considered to be a part of the house.  

Finally the Gemara discusses the condition that stretches beyond the physical realm.  Sellers should state that they are selling their properties "from the depth of the earth up to the height of the sky".   Would that suggest that the buyer is purchasing rights to any tunnels, cisterns or pits that run under the property in question?  Certainly a person would not gain such rights.  And whether or not these words, were spoken, wouldn't one assume that s/he is purchasing from the earth toward the sky in such a purchase?

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