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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a
[it could not be applied to this case], as he [the buyer] is dead.1 But according to the view [of R. Ashi, viz.,] 'he wished to vindicate his honesty,' [it could be applied even to this case], as he [the robber] would wish to vindicate his honesty before [the buyer's] children also. [But, it is argued,] would not the buyer's children call him [who sold the field to their father] a robber?2 — Therefore [we must say that] the difference between them would appear [in a case] where the robber died.3 According to the view [of Mar Zutra, viz.], 'he wished that he should not call him a robber,' [it could not be applied to this case,] as he [the robber] is dead.4 But according to the view [of R. Ashi, viz.,] 'he wished to vindicate his honesty,' [it could be applied even to this case,] as he [the robber] would wish that his honesty should be vindicated even when he is dead. [But, it is argued,] would not his children after all be called the children of a robber?5 — Therefore [we must say that] the difference between them would appear [in a case] where he [the robber] gave [the field] as a present: According to the view [of R. Ashi, viz.], 'he wished to vindicate his honesty,' [it could be applied even to] a present, [in regard to which] he would also wish to vindicate his honesty. But according to the view [of Mar Zutra, viz.], 'he wished that he should not call him 'a robber,' [it could not be applied to this case, for he could say [to the recipient of the gift], 'What have I taken away from you [that I should be called a robber]?'
It is obvious that if he [who robbed a field and sold it], subsequently sold it [to another person], or bequeathed it to his heirs, or gave it away as a present, [and then bought it from the original owner, we must assume that] he did not, [in buying the field,] intend to secure it thereby for the [first] buyer.6 If it came to him as an inheritance7 [we must assume this, too, for] an inheritance comes of itself, and he did not trouble himself to get it.8 If he took it in payment of a debt [due to him from the original owner of the field],9 then our attitude is [as follows]: if [the original owner] had other land, and [the robber] said, 'I want this,' [we assume that the robber, in acquiring the field,] intended to secure it thereby for the [first] buyer,10 but if not,11 [we assume] that he merely wanted to be paid [his] money.12
[In a case where the original owner] gave him [the robbed field] as a present, R. Abba and Rabina differ: One says, Gifted property is like inherited property, in that it [also] comes of itself.13 But the other says, Gifted property is like bought property, for if the recipient had not exerted himself to win the favour [of the donor, the latter] would not have given him the present, and the reason why he [the recipient] exerted himself to win the favour [of the original owner of the field] was that he [the recipient who first robbed the field] might vindicate his honesty. And till when does he wish to vindicate his honesty?14 — R. Huna says: Until [the buyer of the robbed field is] summoned to appear in court.15 Hiyya b. Rab says: Until he [the buyer] receives the decree of the Court [entitling him to seize the robber's property].16 R. papa says: Until the days of the announcement [of the public sale of the robber's property] begin.17 To this Rami b. Hama demurred:18 Seeing that this buyer acquired this land [from the robber] only by the deed of sale, [is not the sale invalid because] the deed is a mere potsherd?19 — Raba answered him: It is a case where [the buyer] believes him [the robber]: Because of the pleasure [it gives the robber] that he [the buyer] said nothing to him, but trusted him implicitly, he [the robber] exerts himself to acquire the field for him [the buyer], and determines to confer upon him the rightful ownership [of the field].20 R. Shesheth then asked: [It has been taught:21 If one says to another,] 'What I am to inherit from my father is sold to you,' [or,] 'What my net is to bring up22 is sold to you,' [it is as if] he [had] said nothing.23 [But if he says,] 'What I am to inherit from my father to-day is sold to you,' [or,] 'What my net is to bring up to-day is sold to you, his words are valid?24 — Rami b. Hama said [to that]: 'There is a man and there is a question!'25 Raba retorted: 'I see the man but I do not see [the force of] the question.'26 Here27 he [the buyer] relied on him [the seller]; there he did not rely on him: Here he relied on him that he would exert himself and acquire [the robbed field] for him [the buyer] so that he might not call him a robber; there he did not rely on him.28 [The question of R. Shesheth] was then submitted to R. Abba b. Zabda, [and] he said: This [question] does not need [to be brought] inside [the College].29 Raba said: It does need [to be brought] inside, and even to the innermost [part]:30 Here he [the buyer] relied on him [the seller]; there he did not rely on him. A case occurred in Pumbeditha, and the question [of R. Shesheth] was asked. R. Joseph then said to them [who asked the question]: This does not need to be brought inside [the College]. But Abaye said to him [R. Joseph]: It does need to be brought inside, and even to the innermost part: Here27 he [the buyer] relied on him [the seller]; there he did not rely on him. And wherein does the first part [of the teaching quoted by R. Shesheth] differ from the last part? R. Johanan said: The last part, [viz.] 'What I am to inherit from my father to-day' — because of his father's honour;31 'What my net is to bring up to-day'
Baba Mezi'a 16b
— because of the need to support himself.1 R. Huna said in the name of Rab: If one says to his neighbour: 'The field which I am about to buy shall, when I have bought it, be sold to you from now,' [the neighbour] acquires it.2 Raba said: It stands to reason that Rab's decision is right [when applied to a case where the seller refers] to a field in general, but in [a case where the seller points out the land sold by saying] 'this field' [it would] not [be right, for] who can say whether [the owner of that field] will sell it to him?3 But — by God! Rab himself did maintain that even when [the seller says] 'this field' [the sale is valid], seeing that Rab stated his law in accordance with [the view of] R. Meir, who said that a man may convey [to another person] a thing which has not yet come into existence, as it has been taught: If one says to a woman: Be betrothed to me after I shall become a proselyte, [or,] after thou shalt become a proselyte, [or,] after I shall be set free, [or,] after thou shalt be set free, [or,] after thy husband will have died, [or,] after thy brother-in-law will have given thee halizah,4 [or] after thy sister will have died, [the woman] is not betrothed.5 R. Meir says: She is betrothed.6 Now, the woman [in this case] is like 'this field,'7 and [yet] R. Meir says that she is betrothed.8
Samuel said: If one finds a deed of transfer9 in the street one shall return it to the owners.10 For even if [this were objected to] on the ground that [the deed] may have been written for the purpose of a loan and the loan may [in fact] not have been granted [the objection would not be valid] because [the borrower] pledged himself.11 And if [this were objected to] on the ground that [the loan] may [in the meantime] have been repaid [the objection would not be valid either] because we are not afraid of repayment [having taken place], as [we assume that] if [the borrower] had repaid [the loan] he would have torn up [the deed]. R. Nahman said: My father was among the scribes of Mar Samuel's court when I was about six or seven years old, and I remember that they used to proclaim: 'Deeds of transfer which are found in the street should be returned to their owners.' R. Amram said: We have also learned so [in a Mishnah]: All documents executed by a court of law shall be returned [when found],12 which shows that we are not afraid of repayment. [But] R. Zera said to him: Our Mishnah treats of documents containing decrees of the Court which confirm the creditor's right to belongings appropriated from the debtor,13 and of documents authorising a creditor to search for the debtor's belongings and to seize them wherever they may be found,14 which [documents] are not concerned with repayment. Raba [then] said: And are not such [documents] concerned with repayment? Have not the Nehardeans15 said: [Property assigned in] valuation16 returns [to the debtor] until [the end of] twelve months,17 and Amemar said: I am from Nehardea and I am of the opinion that the [property assigned in] valuation always returns?18 Therefore Raba said: There19 the reason20 is this: we say: He has himself to blame for the loss, for at the time when he paid [the debt] he should have torn up the document, or he should have [asked for] another document to be written [entitling him to claim the property], as according to law [the creditor] need not return the property], and it is only because [of the command], And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the Lord21 that the Rabbis declared that it should be returned: therefore he [the debtor] is [in the position of one who is] buying [the property] anew, and he ought to ask for a deed of sale to be written [and given to him].22 [But] in regard to a note of indebtedness,23 what may be argued [in favour of the return thereof is] that if it had been paid he should have torn up the note?24 [To this] I say: He [the creditor] may have given an excuse by telling him [the debtor], 'I shall give it to you to-morrow, as I have not got it with me just now,' or he [the creditor] may have kept it back until he is refunded the scribe's fee.25
R. Abbahu said in the name of R. Johanan: If one finds a note of indebtedness in the street, even if it contains the endorsement of the Court,26 it shall not be returned to the owners: It is undoubtedly so when it does not contain the endorsement of the Court, as it may then be said that it was written for the purpose of a loan, and that [in fact] the loan was not granted. But even if it does contain the endorsement of the Court, which means that it is officially confirmed,27 it shall not be returned, because we are afraid that [the loan] may [in the meantime] have been repaid. R. Jeremiah objected [to the ruling of] R. Abbahu [from the following Mishnah]: 'All documents executed by a Court of Law shall be returned [when found]'? [R. Abbahu] answered him: Jeremiah my son, not all documents executed by a court of law are alike! Indeed, [the Mishnah refers to a case where the debtor] has been found to be a liar.28 Raba [then] said: And because he has been found to be lying once [must it be assumed] that he would not pay [his debts] any more?28 — Therefore Raba said: Our Mishnah treats of a document containing a decree of the Court which confirms the creditor's right to belongings appropriated from the debtor, and of a document authorising a creditor to search for the debtor's belongings and to seize them wherever they may be found — and in accordance with [the interpretation of] R. Zera [given above].29 As we have just dealt with the case of [one who was found to be] a liar, we shall say something [more] about it. For R. Joseph b. Manyumi said in the name of R. Nahman: If they [the members of the Court] said to him [the debtor], 'Go [and] give him [what you owe him];'
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