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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Mezi'a

Baba Mezi'a 102a

in a woodentube.1

Our Rabbis taught: If one rents a house to his neighbor, the tenant must provide a mezuzah. But when he quits it, he must not take it with him, excepting if it be leased from a Gentile, in which case he must remove it when he quits. And it once happened that a man took it away with him, and he lost2  his wife and two children. A story is quoted in contradiction!3  — Said R. Shesheth: It refers to the first clause.4

THE DUNG BELONGS TO THE LANDLORD, AND THE TENANT IS ENTITLED ONLY TO THAT WHICH ISSUES FROM THE OVEN OR THE POT RANGE. To what does this refer? Shall we say, to a courtyard which was rented to the tenant, and to oxen belonging to the tenant, then why is it [the dung] the landlord's? But if a courtyard which was not leased to the tenant,5  and the landlord's oxen are meant, is it not obvious? — It is necessary to teach this only in respect of a courtyard belonging to the landlord and oxen that had strayed thither from elsewhere.6  Now, this supports R. Jose son of R. Hanina, who said: A man's courtyard effects a title on his behalf even without his knowledge.7

An objection is raised: If a man declared, 'Any lost property that may enter therein to-day, let my courtyard effect possession thereof on my behalf,' his declaration is valueless. Now if R. Jose son of R. Hanina's ruling, that a man's courtyard effects a title on his behalf even without his knowledge, is correct, why is his declaration valueless? — The reference here is to an unguarded courtyard.8  If so, consider the second clause: If a rumour was spread in town that he had found something,9  his declaration holds good. Now if it is an unguarded courtyard, what if such a rumour did spread? — Since a rumour was spread, people keep aloof from it [in recognition of his ownership], and so it becomes as a guarded courtyard.

An objection is raised: The manure [i.e., the ashes] which comes forth from the oven and the pot-range, and that which is caught from the air,10  belong to him [the tenant]; but that of the stable and the courtyard, to the landlord.11  Now if R. Jose son of R. Hanina's dictum is correct, [viz.,] that a man's courtyard effects a title for him even without his knowledge, then when he [the tenant] catches it up from the air, why does it belong to him? Is it not the air of his [the landlord's] courtyard?12  — Abaye answered: It means that he fastened a utensil to the body of the cow.13  Raba answered: [An object in] the air, in which it is not destined to come to rest, is not regarded as at rest.14  But does Raba regard this as certain? Did he not propound: What if one threw a purse by one door and it issued from another — is [an object in] the air, in which it is not destined to come to rest, regarded as at rest, or not?15  — In that case, there is nothing whatsoever to stop it;16  but here a utensil is interposed.

'But that of the stable and the courtyard [belongs] to the landlord.' Need both be taught?17  — Abaye said: It means thus: But that of the stable in the courtyard belongs to the landlord.18  Said R. Ashi: From this it follows that he who rents his courtyard in general terms does not rent the stable therein.

An objection is raised: [Wild] doves of the dovecote, and doves of the loft,19  are subject to the laws of sending away,20  and are forbidden as robbery, [but only] for the sake of peace.21  Now if R. Jose son of R. Hanina's dictum, that a man's courtyard effects a title on his behalf without his knowledge, is correct, then apply here the verse, If a bird's nest chance to be before thee,22  excluding that which is [always] at thy disposal!23  — Raba explained: As for the egg, when the greater part of it has issued [from the body of the fowl], it is subject to the law of sending away,24  whilst he [the owner of the court] does not acquire it until it falls into the courtyard; and when it is stated, 'They are subject to the law of sending away,' [it means] before it falls into the court. If so, why are they forbidden as robbery?25  [That refers] to the dam. Alternatively it may refer to the eggs, after all: but when the greater part thereof has issued, his intention is set thereon.26  But now that Rab Judah said in Rab's name: The eggs must not be taken as long as the dam is sitting upon them, for it is written, But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go [first, and only then] take the young to thee,27  you may say that it holds good even if it [the egg] fell into his courtyard: [nevertheless it is subject to the law of sending away, because] wherever he himself might acquire it, his courtyard acquires it for him; but where he himself might not acquire it,28  his courtyard cannot acquire it for him either. If so, are they forbidden as robbery [only] for the sake of peace? If he [the stranger] sends the dam away, it is real robbery;29  whilst if not, she is to be sent away!30  — This refers to a minor, who is not obliged to send her away.31  But is a minor subject to provisions enacted for the sake of peace?32  — It means thus: The father of the minor must return them for the sake of peace.


To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Lit., 'the tube of a reed.' And attached to the doorpost; i.e., it is not essential to have a cavity at all.
  2. Lit., 'buried'.
  3. Assuming that it referred to a Gentile landlord.
  4. Where he had rented it from an Israelite.
  5. I.e., he had rented the house only.
  6. And it may be assumed that the owner of the oxen renounces his rights to the dung, and so the courtyard gives the landlord a title thereto.
  7. V. supra 11a. Just as here, though the landlord is ignorant that dung is being deposited in his courtyard, it immediately becomes his.
  8. Which cannot effect possession; v. supra loc. cit.
  9. E.g., that a hind with a broken leg had entered his field and could go no further, or that the river's overflow had deposited fish in his land.
  10. I.e., if the tenant placed a utensil to catch the manure as it falls, before it reaches the ground.
  11. This was understood to refer to a courtyard not rented to the tenant.
  12. I.e., before it even falls into the tenant's utensil, it must have entered the air of the landlord, and is therefore his.
  13. So that the dung is immediately received by it, without going through the air at all.
  14. The air above one's ground is accounted as the ground itself, in respect of an object that may enter it, only if it will eventually come to rest on that ground. Here, however, though the dung passes through the air of the landlord's courtyard, it will not come to rest there on account of the tenant's utensils, and therefore the air does not effect possession for him.
  15. V. supra 12a.
  16. From coming to rest — excepting, of course, its own momentum.
  17. Surely one is sufficient, since the same principle operates in both cases.
  18. Even if the courtyard is rented to the tenant.
  19. In both cases they seek their food abroad, but come to nest in the dovecote or the loft.
  20. I.e., when they are sitting on eggs, one must not take both them and the eggs, but must send the dam away, Deut. XXII, 6f.
  21. I.e., strictly speaking, they are ownerless, being semi-wild; nevertheless, for the sake of peace, the Rabbis recognised the title of the owner of the dovecote, and so another must not take them.
  22. Deut. XXII, 6.
  23. I.e., the law applies only to wild doves, under no ownership, but not when they are thine and in thy courtyard.
  24. In the case of a wild bird, if one wished to take the egg at that moment, he would have to send the dam away.
  25. Since the courtyard has not yet effected possession for him.
  26. Therefore, though in strict law they are not yet his, for the sake of peace a stranger may not take them.
  27. Ibid. 'The young' is understood to mean the eggs too.
  28. Since the dam is sitting upon it.
  29. Since, on the dam being sent away, the eggs immediately become the property of the courtyard owner.
  30. Before the eggs can be taken, so that they are forbidden in any case.
  31. Not being of an age when precepts are incumbent upon him.
  32. Surely not!
  33. The Jewish year is partly lunar, partly solar. I.e., it consists of twelve months, which give 355 or 356 days. But at the same time, the Festivals must fall in the proper seasons, Passover in the vernal equinox and Tabernacles in the autumnal equinox. Since this depends on the solar year, which consists of 365 days, the deficiency was made good by the addition periodically of an extra month to the year; v. Sanh. 11a.
  34. He cannot be charged rent for the extra month.
  35. Though a lease for an unspecified period is for a year, the lessee must pay rent for the extra month.
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Baba Mezi'a 102b


GEMARA. A story is quoted in contradiction [of the ruling given]! — The text is defective, and is thus meant: But if he said to him, '[I let it to you] for twelve golden denarii per annum, at a golden denar per month,' they must share. And IT HAPPENED IN SEPPHORIS THAT ONE RENTED A BATHHOUSE FROM HIS NEIGHBOUR FOR TWELVE GOLD DENARII PER ANNUM, AT A GOLD DENAR PER MONTH, AND THE MATTER CAME BEFORE RABBAN SIMEON B. GAMALIEL AND R. JOSE, WHO ORDERED THEM TO DIVIDE THE INTERCALATED MONTH.

Rab said: Were I there, I would have awarded the whole of it to the owner. Now, what does this teach us — that the last expression alone is regarded?1  But Rab has already said it once. For R. Huna said in the name of the college of Rab:2  [If the agreed price is] an istera, a hundred ma'ahs, then a hundred ma'ahs [are due];3  if a hundred ma'ahs, an istera [are arranged], an istera [is meant]?4  — If from there, I might have thought that [the second term] defines the first;5  therefore we are informed otherwise.6

Samuel said: We refer to a case where he [the landlord] comes [to claim rent] in the middle of the month. But if he comes at the beginning, it is all the landlord's; at the end, it is all the tenant's.7  Now, did Samuel reject the principle that the last term only is regarded? But Rab and Samuel both said: [If A says to B,] 'I sell you a kor for thirty [sela'im],' he can retract even at the last se'ah.8  [But if he says,] 'I sell you a kor for thirty, a sela' per se'ah,' then as he [the vendee] takes each, he acquires it!9  — The reason there is that he has taken possession;10  so here too, has he not taken possession?11

But R. Nahman ruled: Land remains in the presumptive possession of its owner.12  Now, what does this teach us — that the last term is decisive? But that is Rab's teaching!13  [He informs us that it is thus] even if the terms were reversed.14

R. Jannai was asked: If the tenant maintains, 'I have paid [rent],' and the landlord pleads, 'I have not received [it],' upon whom rests the onus of proof? But when [does the dispute take place]? If within the term, we have learnt it; if after, we have [likewise] learnt it! For we learnt: If the father died within the thirty days, the presumption is that he [the firstborn] has not been redeemed, unless proof is adduced to the contrary; after thirty days, he is presumed to have been redeemed, unless told that he was not!15  The question is only [when the dispute arises] on the day that completes the term: does one pay on the day which completes the term, or not? — R. Jannai replied: We have learnt it:

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. I.e., if an agreement is made, of which the two terms are contradictory, as here, the latter alone counts.
  2. Though the expression be Rab may simply mean 'the schoolmen', without any particular reference to Rab (cf. Weiss, Dor. III. 141, and Bacher, Ag. der Bab. Am. 2), it is here understood as the college of Rab, the dictum being assigned actually to him.
  3. An istera is half a zuz = 96 Perutahs or ma'ahs.
  4. Which shews that in all cases the second expression is decisive.
  5. I.e., an istera, for which I will accept 100 light-weight ma'ahs, so that they are only worth an istera. In that case, the second term is binding because it defines the first.
  6. That the two terms are indeed contradictory, both there and here, and that the second is decisive.
  7. Reverting to the Mishnah, which states that R. Simeon b. Gamaliel and R. Jose ruled that the intercalated month is divided, he applies to it the principle that possession establishes a title. Hence, if the landlord comes to demand the rent for the extra month in the middle of the month, the tenant retains the half month which he has already enjoyed, but must pay for the second half, since the house undoubtedly belongs to the landlord, whilst the ownership of it for the next half month is disputed. The rest of Samuel's dictum is based on the same principle.
  8. If the vendee begins to carry it away, the possession is not effected until meshikah is performed upon the whole, which ranks as a single purchase, and even when only a se'ah remains, both parties can cancel the bargain.
  9. Each se'ah counting as a separate transaction, which is completed when meshikah is performed thereon, v. B.B. 105a. This shews that the second expression, 'a sela' per se'ah,' is the decisive one, not the first, and so contradicts Samuel's previous dictim.
  10. Actually, it is doubtful whether the first or the last term is binding, and on that account the vendee acquires each se'ah as he takes it, since he is then in possession.
  11. Therefore the tenant does not pay for what he has already enjoyed.
  12. Hence the intercalated month belongs to the landowner, and he may demand rent even at the end of the month.
  13. Why then should R. Nahman state it?
  14. Because it does not depend on order, but on presumption.
  15. Bek. 49a. This refers to the redemption of the firstborn. Cf. Num. XVIII, 16: And those that are to be redeemed from a month old shalt thou redeem. Hence, if the father died within the month, it is assumed that he had not redeemed the child before the obligation matured; on the other hand, if he died after, it is assumed that he had redeemed him at the proper time. Now, rent is payable at the end of the year, and the same principle holds good.
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