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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra
AND HE GAVE [HIM] LESS, [EVEN IF ONLY BY] A FRACTION, [AN EQUAL SUM] IS TO BE DEDUCTED [FROM THE PRICE]. [IF] HE GAVE MORE, [EVEN IF ONLY BY] A FRACTION, IT IS TO BE RETURNED [TO HIM]. Thus [it is to be inferred that] had not [the expression 'measured by the rope'] been explicitly used [it would have been] just the same as if [the expression] 'more or less' [had been actually used]. Explain. [however], the concluding clause [which reads]: IF, HOWEVER, HE SAID, 'MORE OR LESS', THE SALE IS VALID EVEN IF HE GAVE [AT THE RATE OF] A QUARTER OF A KAB PER SE'AH LESS OR MORE. Thus [it is to be inferred that] had not [the expression, more or less'] been explicitly used [it would have been] just the same as if [the expression], 'measured by the rope' [had actually been used]! But, [one must conclude, that] nothing may be deduced from this [Mishnah].
Come and hear! [It has been taught: If a man says to another:] 'I sell you a beth kor of arable land', [or] 'I sell you about a beth kor of arable land' [or] 'I sell you [etc] more or less', the sale is valid even if he gave [at the rate of] a quarter [of a Rab] per se'ah less or more. This clearly proves that even when nothing1 had been specified it is the same as [if the expression]. 'more or less' [had been used]! That [supplies no proof; for it] is an explanatory statement [implying] the following: In which case is [the expression] a beth kor' regarded as [the expression] 'about a beth kor'? When one said to the other, 'more or less'.
R. Ashi demurred to this: If so,2 for what purpose is the expression. 'I sell you.' [thrice] repeated? Consequently, the deduction may be made that even when nothing1 had been specified it is the same as [if the expression], 'more or less' [had been used]. This proves it.
WHAT IS [THE BUYER] TO RETURN TO HIM? — THE MONEY etc. Does this [Mishnah] imply that we are to look after the interests of the seller and not after those of the buyer? Surely it has been taught: [If the land purchased was by] seven kab and a half per kor3 less, or by seven kab and a half per kor3 more [than the area agreed upon], the sale is valid. [If the surplus is] greater than this, the seller is compelled to sell and the buyer to buy!4 — There5 we deal with the case where land was first6 dear and is now7 cheap. [In such a case] the seller is told, 'If you [wish to] give him the land,8 give [it] to him at the present cheaper9 rate'. But has it not been taught: When he gives it10 to him, it must be at the rate at which he had bought of him? — That refers to the case where it was first cheap and is now dear.11
IF, THEREFORE. THERE WAS A SURPLUS IN THE FIELD OF AN AREA OF NINE KAB, etc. R. Huna said: The [law of] nine kab spoken of12 [applies] even in [the case of] a large valley.13 But R. Nahman said: Seven kab and a half must be allowed for every Kor,14
Baba Bathra 104b
and if there is a surplus1 amounting to nine kab it is to be returned. Raba raised [the following] objection against R. Nahman: IF, THEREFORE, THERE WAS A SURPLUS IN THE FIELD OF AN AREA OF NINE KAB. [Does] not [this refer even to the case] where two kor were2 sold?3 No; [only] when one kor4 was sold. [But the Mishnah further stated:] AND IN A GARDEN, AN AREA OF HALF A KAB; [does] not [this refer even to the case] where two se'ah5 were sold? — No; [only] where one se'ah was sold. [But the Mishnah also states]: AND, ACCORDING TO R. AKIBA, A QUARTER OF A KAB; [does] not this [refer even to the case] where a se'ah6 was sold? — No; [only] when half a se'ah was sold.
It has been taught: If [the field sold] adjoined [another] field of his,9 even if [the surplus10 was] ever so little,11 the land must be returned.12 R. Ashi inquired:13 Does a [water] cistern form a division?14 [If not,]15 does a water canal16 form a division? [If not,] does a public road17 form a division? Does a nursery of young inoculated palm-trees form a division? — The matter is undecided.
NOT ONLY THE QUARTER IS TO BE RETURNED BUT ALL THE SURPLUS. Is not18 the order reversed?19 Rabin, son of R. Nahman, has taught:20 [The Mishnah implies this]: Not only is the surplus21 to be returned but [also] all the quarters.22
MISHNAH. [IF THE SELLER SAYS]. 'I SELL YOU …23 MEASURED BY THE ROPE MORE OR LESS', THE [CONDITION OF] 'MORE OR LESS' CANCELS24 [THAT OF] 'MEASURED BY THE ROPE'. [IF HE SAYS]. 'MORE OR LESS, MEASURED BY THE ROPE',
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