Thursday, 22 June 2017

Bava Batra 151: What is Property?, Stories About Retractions

A brief summary of today's daf, which offers a number of examples to illustrate deathbed gifts as they have been discussed.  Here are a few examples:

  • animals, birds and tefillin are considered to be property as they can be sold even if they are consecrated
  • a sefer Torah is not called property if we know that it cannot be sold; it is called property because we could in fact sell it to learn Torah or to marry - thus this question is left unresolved.
  • Rav Zutra bar Tuvya's mother wrote her property to him to protect it before she married Rav Zevid who then divorced her.  Can she retract the gift?  The rabbis agree that she can, for she gave the gift only in order to marry and now she is not married.
  • Rami bar Chama's mother signed her property to Rami bar Chama at night and then again to Rav Ukva bar Chama the next morning.  She died.  Did she retract her first gift?  The rabbis agree that she can, for one may retract in order to keep it or to give it to someone else.
  • Rav Dimi bar Yosef's sister would give her orchard to him when she was sick and then retract it.  Once he refused to take it, and so she offers no retraction.  Instead he left a part for her and took the rest.  She recovered and retracted, standing in front of Rav Nachman. Rav Dimi did not come to court because she had kept a part of the land and thus it was a healthy person's gift - he need not return it.  Rav Nachman threatened Rav Dimi, which upset his sister who said "I will die without seeing him".  Rav Nachman said, aha! She believed she would die!  Thus she can retract!
  • if a healthy giver recovers from a minor illness, he cannot retract
  • a gift given from one's deathbed does not require a formalized process of acquisition
  • The rabbis discuss the intricate rules around acquisition, deathbed gifts, and in-between circumstances.

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