Jan 292017

Rav Chama brings 4 halachot – 3 relating to whether people have the right to make others living next door/on top of them tear down walls, houses, etc. to make their living space better.  The third relates to concern over people taking advantage of orphans and forging documents to get out of repaying a loan.   For what things can we force members of a courtyard to share costs for?  Do residents of the town need to share the costs for a wall to protect the city and a door and lock?  Do all the residents need to partake in an equal manner or do the wealthy need to pay more or do the ones living closer to the wall need to pay more as they need the protection more?  Do talmidei chachamim need to pay at all because they are considered protected from God?  2 different verses are brought to show that they do not need protection.  However Rabbi Yehuda Nesia insisted the talmidei chachamim pay.

Jan 272017

If a neighbor is surrounded on three sides by one land owner and that land owner put up 3 walls, the inner neighbor doesn’t need to pay.  But if a fourth wall is put up, he does.  There is a debate about whether it matters who put up the fourth wall and whether or not the inner neighbor needs to share the costs of just the 4th wall or all the walls.  Or whether he needs to pay according to the actual cost of the wall or only according to the cheapest market rate for a wall or possibly even only for what it would cost to hire a watchman to protect the field.  A story is brought about Ravina and Runia who were neighbors and got into a court case about this as Runia didn’t want to share in the costs.  If a wall between 2 neighbors falls, even if the wall was higher to begin with, one need only chip in to build a four cubit high wall.  However if one builds an inner walls and plans to attach a roof from the high was to the new inner wall, one shows that the high wall serves his needs and needs to share the cost.  The mishna makes assumptions about in which situations we can assume the neighbor has already paid and in which not.  The gemara attempts to connect this with assumptions about one was can be believed that one returned a loan if the lender says he/she did not.  The gemara rejects the connection between the cases.

Study Guide Bava Batra 5

Jan 262017

How did Herod who began as a slave end up being a king?  And how did he end up being the one who renovated the Beit Hamikdash?  What are the halachot in a garden or in a field where there is no custom?  In a case where one cannot force the other to build a wall, one builds it on one’s property exclusively and puts a sign on it.  What is the sign?  Why in the case where both build the wall does the mishna say to put up a sign on both sides?

Jan 252017

A version of the previous sugya is brought – in the exact opposite direction – the gemara leans toward the explanation that mechitza means to split the property and it is a property that is small (less than 4 amot by 4 amot for each side).  As a result, various questions are brought on that reading, much like in the previous sugya where the gemara sided with the explanation that mechitza is a wall and various questions were brought on that interpretation.  The size of the bricks and stones mentioned in the mishna is discussed.  Then a halacha of Rav Chisda is brought: one cannot knock down a shul unless one already has a new shul in its place.  This leads in to a story about Herod.

Jan 242017

Study Guide Bava Batra 2

Relations between partners who want to divide property are discussed.  Can one force the other to build a wall – both to help with paying for it and for using the space in his property to build it.  The mishna is explained in two different ways and the gemara discusses each of these explanations.  The basis of the argument is do we say that looking into another’s courtyard is considered damages or not.

Jan 232017

A contradiction is brought between our mishna and a braita about whether or not an employer can insist that the worker takes his wages in the items he is working with rather than in money.  Rav Nachman brings 3 different explanations (as the first two are rejected) to explain the contradiction.  From this the gemara discusses whether or not one can acquire items from hefker by watching them (without lifting them).  If one puts items in the public domain, how long can they be left there?   Even if one is allowed to leave them there by law, if they damage another is the person wh left them responsible to pay for damages?  If a group of people work together – each doing a different part of the work – to build something and after it is built, it breaks and damages someone, which one is responsible to pay?  If one field is higher than another and something grows from the side of raised area that borders the two fields, to whom does it belong?  In many ways the end of the masachet mirrors the beginning.

Jan 222017

Study Guide Bava Metzia 117

The gemara discusses various issues concerning those who share a house (one upstairs one downstairs) as to who is responsible for fixing a leak in the limestone that covers the floor upstairs.  Does is connect to a basic argument relating to whose responsibility is it to prevent future damage – the one who is damaging or the one whose items may become damaged?  If a house falls down and the lower owner does not want to rebuild, what options does the upper floor owner have?   Is there a pattern that can be found in various halachic decisions that Rabbi Yehuda made that he holds that one cannot benefit from money/property of another without his consent?   In rebuilding a house that fell apart, the upstairs and downstairs owners much each be careful to use the same type bricks/ceilings/height/number of windows as before unless the change he makes will not negatively affect the other owner.  The gemara discusses which changes are good/bad for each owner.  If one’s tree fell into the street, the tree owner is not responsible for damages.  If it fell into another’s property, what are the rights of the neighbor to the debris?  If one clears it up, can one insist to get paid by the owner?

Jan 202017

If one seizes as collateral of any item that is used for one purpose but made up of two parts, one is obligated in two negative commandments.  This is learned from the verse about the millstone, which is made of two parts.  If one took a collateral, he needs to return it but there is a debate about whether or not he needs to then go to court to prove he is owed money for the loan or is he believed that he is at least owed the amount of the value of the item he took based on a migo – since he could have claimed that he purchased it.  A house that has joint ownership – one lives in the main floor and one upstairs – and it fell apart, how do they split the pieces that fell?  If one rents out the upstairs of his house and the floor gets ruined, who is responsible to fix what parts?  If the owner doesn’t fix his part, the renter can move in downstairs.  Various questions are raised regarding exactly how this arrangement works out?

Jan 192017

In the event of the borrower’s death, if one had taken a collateral, he can keep it as payment for the loan.  If there was no collateral and no land to collect from, the lender would lose his money.  Does the collateral need to be in his hands at the time of death or is it enough that he took a collateral earlier?  Can we expound the reason for mitzvot in the Torah or not?  There is an argument between Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Yehuda about this regarding not taking collateral from a widow.  Is it only a poor widow (so that when he reutrns it everyday, people won’t speak negatively about the widow that a man is visiting her house everyday) or any widow?  The gemara questions this as the opinions seem switched in a different area (a king not being allowed many wives).  The issue is resolved.  It is forbidden to take the millstone as collateral and the verse adds “because he is taking his soul (livelihood)”.  Is that adding on an extra negative commandment or is it coming to include other items that are essential to his existence?  There is an argument about this and the gemara tries to see whether this argument matches the argument between Rava and Abaye regarding not eating the Pesach sacrifice raw or uncooked as the verse also adds “because it needs to be roasted” – if one eats it raw, is he transgressing 2 commandments or one.  The gemara rejects the comparison.

Jan 182017

If one collects an object as collateral, in the event that he sells it to pay back the loan, if the borrower needs the object, does the lender need to downgrade the object and leave the borrower with something more basic in its stead?  This is called mesadrim, which is a law learned in a case of erchin, valuations (when one promises the value of a person to the beit hamikdash).   Would the law also apply to hekdesh (a case where one promises the value of an object to the beit hamikdash).   The similarities and differences between these 3 cases are discussed.