Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Bava Batra 157: Father and Son are Crushed: Who Died First?

We are introduced to a Mishna where a question is answered by Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel.  If a son and a father - or a person standing to inherit and the person who is giving the inheritance - die together when a house collapses on them, we need to know who died first in order to know whether the son's wife and creditors will be paid what they are owed or whether the father's inheritors will split the inheritance.  Beit Shammai say that we split the inheritance and the inheritors receive half while the son's wife and creditors receive half.  Beit Hillel say that we leave the inheritance as it was according to chazaka, and the inheritors each receive their inheritance.

The Gemara turns this situation upside down and inside out.  What if this, what if that?  They discuss entities that have not yet entered the world, collateral, the opinions of those with a stake in the outcome, the presence of witnesses, liens, orphans, promissory notes, postdated promissory notes, transferring ownership, enhancement of land that is then repossessed, profits above the cost of an enhancement, dividing and sharing the land.

It is as if today's daf allows the rabbis to demonstrate their knowledge of the interrelationships among all of the concepts that we have learned throughout Bava Batra all of these months.

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