Monday, 27 March 2017

Bava Batra 64: What is Included in the Price When Buying Property? Generous and Ungenerous Sellers

We are introduced to a new Mishna after the rabbis consider whether or not a roof is considered to be part of the sale of a home.

The Mishna teaches Rabbi Akiva's suggestion: when a person sells his/her home, unless otherwise specified the sale does not include an underground pit or cistern - even if the seller sells "the depth and the height of the home".  A path through the home must be purchased by the seller to access that property.  The rabbis disagree.  Rabbi Akiva concedes that the seller need not buy a path if s/he specifies that the pit and/or cistern are included in the sale.  However, Rabbi Akiva states that one who only sells his underground property need not sell a path through his/her home to access that purchased property.  The rabbis disagree and suggest that purchasing a path is necessary in this situation.

The Gemara first considers the differences between a pit and a cistern, which may be few.  Is a pit simply a hole, while a cistern has masonry walls?  The rabbis then discuss why Rabbi Akiva's suggestions might be ridiculous to them.  Would a person believe that s/he will fly to their property? In fact, we learn, the difference between Rabbi Akiva and the rabbis is that Rabbi Akiva believes that sellers sell generously, and the rabbis believe that sellers sell sparingly.

The Gemara attempts to understand the assumptions of sellers and buyers.  They look to the sale of other properties as examples.  A dovecote, a winepress - even a field - do buyers assume that they will be able to access to their purchases included in the price?  Do buyers assume a degree of privacy when they purchase fields?  Are they opposed to anyone, including the seller, walking on the field and potentially damaging its usefulness?  

In tomorrow's daf, the rabbis continue this conversation about Rabbi Akiva and the rabbis regarding generous sellers and more careful sellers.

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