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.

Jan 172017

Study Guide Bava Metzia 113

What are the laws regarding taking a collateral from a borrower in a case that he doesn’t return the loan on time?  The gemara analyzes how to understand the laws based on the verses in Shmot and Devarim that discuss the issue.  Is there a difference between the lender and the court acting as his representative?  Two different explanations are brought.

Jan 162017

Study Guide Bava Metzia 112

Halachot are derived from the various words in the verses about holding back another’s salary to match the 3 different opinions of the tannaim discussed in the previous daf.   Further drashot are made to explain all the exceptions to the halacha.  Do these laws apply also to a kablan – one who gets paid for the job and not per hour?  If there is disagreement between the employer and the worker about whether he was paid or not, if it was before the time he was supposed to get paid, we allow the worker to swear that he didn’t get paid and then the employer needs to pay.  This goes against the general principal that the one who swears is the one who doesn’t pay.  Why is that?  Is there a reason to protect the laborer more than the employer?  Various arguments are brought and rejected as the issue is complex.

Jan 152017

Study Guide Bava Metzia 111

Halachot regarding the obligation to pay a worker on time: what is the time frame?  Does it depend on when he worked?  How long did you hire him for?  Was it a week long job, etc.?  What time of day/night did he finish the job?  Does the same apply for a rental payment for one who rents animals or vessels?  To a ger toshav (one who keeps the seven Noachide commandments)?  These laws appear in the Torah in 2 different places.  The rabbis understand each section as referring to 2 different cases (day worker/night worker).  Do each of these apply to rentals also and to a ger toshav?  There is a 3 way tannaitic debate regarding this.

Jan 132017

Does a cultivator have to the increase in value of the field that happened while he was cultivating the property?  Can a cultivator leave in the middle of his agreement?  What if he does?  If he causes a loss to the field, can he be removed from his job?

Jan 122017

One needs to leave an area near the bank of the river bare so that the sailors who need to pull the boats have a place to stand and pull.  A story is brought about a rabbi who refused to cut his trees down.  Although he was jsutified in his argument, another rabbi came by without checking properly into the details and had them cut down.  Various cases are brought where one may be wrong for doing something; however by law he can’t be forced to undo it.  In the context of this, the gemara discusses the laws of bar metzra – one has the right to buy his neighbor’s property and even buy it from the purchaser once it was sold.  In which cases do those laws not apply?