Thursday, 13 April 2017

Bava Batra 81: Buying Two Trees and Their Surrounding Land

The rabbis consider the sale of trees.  Our new Mishna queries: Does one acquire land if s/he buys two trees?  Rabbi Meir says that s/he does.  If those trees grew, is the seller permitted to cut branches that grow so long that they shade his field?  The Mishna teaches that the buyer owns whatever grows from the stump while the seller owns what grows from the roots.  It the trees died, the buyer is not permitted to replant.  And if the seller buys three tres, s/he doe acquire their land as well.  The rabbis suggest that the seller may cut branches that grow too long, and that the buyer may plant new trees if the old trees die.

One of the methods of determining ownership is to establish who should bring bikurim and whether or not that person also recites the declaration that goes along with bikkurim (the land that You, G-d, gave to me).  Rabbi Meir says that both of these things are done.  The rabbis disagree. 

Why would the rabbis believe that a person who buys two trees brings bikkurim while Rabbi Meir said that this is done for one tree?  Rabbi Elazar called out that this reason was never explaand and that the questioner was trying to embarrass him.

The rabbis continue to discuss this item.  They relay other cases in which something is brought but now declaration is made.  None of these cases is quite analogous.  At the end of our example, one suggests that making a declaration of acquisition would appear wrong.  No one wants to imply that a person owns land where in fact they only own the trees.

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