Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Bava Batra 149: Inheritance, Gifts, Deathbeds, Admissions, and Land

We begin with the Gemara resolving (or leaving unresolved) some outstanding questions.  If a  man on his deathbed says that someone should benefit from his property, is all or some of that property a gift?  What if he says that someone should be seen in his property, or someone should stand in his property, or someone should rely on the property?  These dilemmas remain unresolved.  

If a person sells his property on his deathbed and then he survives, the rabbis disagree about whether or not the sale can be retracted.  Rav Yehuda says that Rav held both views at different times.  The resolution: the sales can be retracted only if the dinars from the sales available.  If they have been used to pay off debts, one cannot retract the sales.

What if one admits to a debt on his deathbed?  Is that considered a gift to the person who benefits from the truth?  We are told of Issur the convert who left 12000 dinars with Rava while his son, Rav Mari, questioned the ownership of those coins.  Rav Mari was conceived before his father's conversion.  He was born after his father's conversion.  

Could Rav Mari acquire these dinars as an inheritance?  He is not considered his father's son because of the timing of his conception.  Could Rav Mari acquire these dinars as a deathbed gift?  Could they be acquired through pulling or symbolic exchange?  Or though acquisition of land?  Rav Ika solved this problem by suggesting that Issur admit that the dinars belong to Rav Mari.  Rava was angry with this resolution, for teaching people legal claims caused him a financial loss.  Or, our notes teach, he was angry because he wished to give the dinars to Rav Mari as an act of piety.

Our last Mishna teaches that a person on his deathbed can reserve for himself any amount of land, his gift stands if he recovers.  The Gemara questions how much is "any".  Enough to provide for his livelihood?  Or could that be covered by movable property?  The rabbis argue about whether or not "land" always refers to land.  An example is provided from Masechet Pe'a regarding freeing a slave through giving him land.  But the owner might keep a tiny portion of the land for himself, nullifying the emancipation.

Hopefully we will dig deeper into this particular question tomorrow.

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