Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Bava Batra 93: Responsibility for Impurities and Imperfections

The Gemara voices counterarguments for each argument shared earlier.  Regarding the cow who was found gored beside her miscarried fetus, we do not need to use the 'majority' argument: most cows do not miscarry and thus this cow miscarried because it was gored or because it was frightened.  Instead,  we are uncertain about why the miscarried fetus died.  Uncertainty is resolved by splitting the damages in half.  The Gemara then compares this argument to a similar argument regarding cows.  

Next, the Gemara argues about the damages for seeds, even flaxseeds, which do not sprout.  Why specify flaxseeds?  Instead of arguing that most people use flaxseeds for purposed other than planting (and so the sale is valid), the rabbis suggest that the 'majority' could refer to the amount of seeds sold.    Different situations are shared regarding who might hold financial responsibility for the cost of seeds.  

A baraita is shared to shed light on these issues of who bears responsibility for food-based items.  At the end of the baraita, we learn two interesting facts.  The first describes a custom in Jerusalem.  If one purchased meat that was spoiled in its preparation, compensation is paid both for humiliation and for humiliation of one's guests.  The second described another custom in Jerusalem, this one regarding hosting a feast.  One would spread a large sheet over the great hall's entrance.  As long as the sheet was up, more guests would enter.  Once the sheet came down, it was understood that there was only food enough for the present number of guests.  Further potential guests would not be able to enter.  

A new Mishna teaches us that in the sale of large quantities of produce or other items, there will naturally occur a number of impurities or imperfections.  Exact figures are set out to define a reasonable number of impurities/imperfections in different items.  Permitted are one quarter kav per se'a of produce, ten infested figs per one hundred figs, ten barrels of souring wine per one hundred  barrels of wine, and ten inferior quality jugs of wine per one hundred jugs of wine.  

To begin the Gemara, Rabbi Ketina notes that we are referring to a quarter-kav of legumes per se'a of legumes and not a quarter-kav of dirt per se'a of legumes.  Isn't dirt permitted in such a sale?  Rabbi Ketina reminds us about earlier learning: when one removes even a pebble from another's threshing floor, that, the equivalent amount of wheat should be repaid.

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