THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Bava Basra, 82
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1) SHOOTS THAT GROW FROM THE TRUNK OF A PALM TREE
QUESTIONS: Rav Nachman taught a tradition that a date-palm tree "has no
Geza." Rav Zevid thought that this meant that the owner of the tree does not
receive the shoots that grow from the trunk, even though, normally, the
owner of the tree receives such shoots, as our Mishnah says. A palm tree is
different because it is more likely to be uprooted from the ground that are
other trees. Therefore, the person who buys a palm tree has no intention to
acquire any shoots that grow from the trunk.
The RASHBAM explains that a palm tree is different because it tends to dry
out quickly, while other trees, even after their upper sections begin to dry
out the upper sections can be cut off and their stumps will regenerate.
Therefore, one who purchases a palm tree does not have in mind to purchase
the shoots that grow from the trunk, since the tree might die soon and will
not have time to produce offshoots. Other trees which live longer have a
greater chance of producing offshoots and therefore the buyer has in mind to
acquire those offshoots.
Rav Papa questions Rav Zevid's explanation from our Mishnah which says that
the buyer does have the rights to the shoots that grow from the trunk. Rav
Zevid answers that our Mishnah is discussing one who buys a tree for the
rights to harvest it for five years. Even if the palm tree does die, the
buyer may plant another tree in its place. Therefore, in that case, he does
have in mind to acquire any shoots that might grow from the trunk within
The Rashbam's explanation is difficult to understand for a number of
First, just because the tree might die is not a reason for the buyer to not
want to acquire the shoots that grow from the trunk! Why should the buyer
expect that he is buying a tree that is just about to die? (OHEL MOSHE)
Second, how can Rav Papa question Rav Zevid from our Mishnah? The Mishnah
might be discussing other trees, other than palm trees, which live longer
than palm trees!
(a) We can answer the first question by pointing out that a tree normally
does not generate shoots from its trunk, but rather from the area of the
foliage on top. The only time a tree generates shoots from the trunk is when
the top of the tree cannot produce shoots, either because the top has dried
out or because the top has been cut off. The difference between the two is
that if the tree dries out on top, then the dryness will rapidly spread to
the bottom of the tree, and the tree will not survive long enough to produce
shoots from its trunk. In contrast, if a person cuts off the top of the
tree, the bottom of the tree -- which is still healthy -- will eventually
produce shoots and will not dry out.
This is what the Rashbam means. When a person buys a different type of tree,
he has in mind to purchase the shoots that will grow from the trunk in the
event that the tree starts to dry up (on top) and he has to cut the top off.
A palm tree, in contrast, will not produce shoots if the top is cut off. It
will only produce shoots if the top dries out and the bottom produces the
shoots fast enough, before the dryness spreads to the bottom of the tree.
Since it is unusual to produce shoots under such circumstances, the buyer
does not have in mind to acquire them.
The Rashbam (DH Kashya) answers the second question by saying that the
Mishnah implies that this same Halachah of acquiring the shoots that grow
from the trunk applies to *all* trees, including the palm tree.
The Rishonim question the Rashbam's explanation. The Gemara's answer is an
"Ukimta," limiting the Mishnah to a specific case in which a person sells a
tree for five years. If the Gemara is limiting the case of the Mishnah, it
could just as well have said that the Mishnah is discussing other types of
trees and not palm trees. Because of this, the RAMBAN, citing RABEINU
YEHUDAH BEN YAKAR, explains that Rav Zevid understood that it is not only in
the case of a palm tree that the buyer does not acquire the shoots, but that
such is the law in the case of all trees. The buyer does not acquire the
shoots that grow from the trunk, since the tree produces shoots from its
trunk only under unusual circumstances (such as the top of the tree drying
out, and even if the top of the tree dries out, the buyer might not cut off
the top in time to save the bottom). Hence, the Gemara's question from the
Mishnah is clear -- both Rav Zevid and the Mishnah are discussing *all*
types of trees.
According to both explanations, the Gemara answers the question on Rav Zevid
by saying that the Mishnah is referring to a case in which one buys a tree
for five years. Why does buying the tree for five years give him greater
rights to the shoots that grow from the trunk? Perhaps the Gemara means
(according to the Rashbam) that even if the original tree was a palm tree,
if it dies within five years the buyer might plant *another* type of tree,
which does regenerate when the top is cut off. Consequently, the buyer has
in mind to acquire all of the shoots that grow from the trunk.
(b) RABEINU YONAH cites RABEINU CHANANEL who explains the Gemara
differently. When Rav Zevid says that the buyer of the palm tree does not
receive the shoots that grow from it, he means that he does not have the
shoots that the Mishnah discusses, but rather he has *more* -- he has all of
the shoots, even those that grow from the roots. This is also the way the RI
MI'GASH explains (the Ri mi'Gash even amends the Girsa to read that "the
*owner of the land*" does not have the shoots, which is even more consistent
with this explanation).
These Rishonim explain that Rav Zevid was discussing a case in which a
person buys a palm tree in order to use its wood. The Gemara (80b) teaches
that a palm tree, unlike other trees, may be totally uprooted when it is
sold for its wood and the buyer is not required to leave the seller a stump,
since it cannot regenerate once its top is cut. Because of this, the seller
loses hope of getting any shoots that grow from the roots, and he grants
even those shoots to the buyer. Rav Papa challenges Rav Zevid from our
Mishnah, which says that if a person buys a single tree, the seller gets to
keep the shoots that grow from the roots, even though the buyer can uproot
the tree and take it all for himself (even if it was not a palm tree, since
the tree was sold completely and not just for its wood). The Gemara answers
that in the case of the Mishnah, the seller stipulated that the sale would
be for only five years, and only for the fruit; he did not give the buyer
the rights to uproot the tree itself.
2) LETTING THE BRANCHES GROW
QUESTION: The Gemara attempts to prove that our Mishnah does not follow the
opinion of Rebbi Akiva who maintains that a seller sells "b'Ayin Yafah." The
Mishnah states that the seller is permitted to trim the branches of the
buyer's trees that extend over his property past the original extent of the
branches (at the time the trees were bought). Rebbi Akiva, who maintains
that the seller sells "b'Ayin Yafah," presumably would say that the seller
sold to the buyer the rights for his branches to grow more and hang over his
property. Thus, the Mishnah does not follow the opinion of Rebbi Akiva.
How does that prove that the Mishnah holds that a seller does not sell
"b'Ayin Yafah?" Perhaps he does sell "b'Ayin Yafah," and the only reason why
the branches may be cut is because if they are left on the tree, the buyer
might claim later that this was the original extent of the branches of the
tree when he purchased it! As a result, he will claim that the land beneath
the branches belongs to him, since the Halachah is that the buyer owns all
of the land beneath the trees that he buys! The Gemara (82a) mentions a
similar logic when it says that the buyer must cut down branches that grow
out of its trunk because perhaps the earth will cover the bottom of the
branch and he will claim that he bought three trees and not two, and he will
thereby be entitled to the land beneath the trees.
(a) The RAMBAN writes that the possibility that the buyer will make such a
claim -- that the land beneath the outgrowth of the branches is his --
cannot force the buyer to cut the branches, because we could instead require
simply that the seller make a border fence to demarcate the edge of the
buyer's land. In the case of the Gemara earlier, that of the shoots that
grow from the trunk, building such a fence is not a solution since in that
case the buyer has no land at all. There is no way for the seller to show
that the buyer has no land, and thus the buyer is forced to cut the
(b) However, RABEINU YONAH (cited by the TUR) indeed rules that the buyer
must cut the branches that grow from his trees, even if they are within the
radius of the space of "Oreh v'Salo," so that he not be able to claim that
this was the original extent of the tree's foliage and he is entitled to the
space of "Oreh v'Salo" beneath the additional growth of the branches.
Apparently, he rules that the problem cannot be solved by a simple fence,
and therefore the branches must be cut. Why, then, is this not the reason
for why Rebbi Akiva also requires the branches to be cut?
The RASHBA writes that, indeed, the Gemara could have given this reason for
why Rebbi Akiva requires the branches to be cut, but it chose a better way
of refuting the assertion that the Mishnah does not follow the opinion of
(c) The PNEI SHLOMO suggests that if the seller sells "b'Ayin Yafah," then
he would even allow the buyer to grow his branches, even though letting them
grow might eventually be to the seller's detriment in that the buyer will
claim that the land beneath the branches belongs to him. Even though the
seller might suffer such a loss, since he has the option of building a
fence, it is possible that he sold the trees "b'Ayin Yafah" and he is
relying on building a fence to prevent suffering a loss.
However, according to the Gemara's conclusion that the seller does not sell
"b'Ayin Yafah" when doing so will cause him considerable loss, the seller
will not sell "b'Ayin Yafah" to allow the buyer to keep his branches and to
claim that the land is his. Rabeinu Yonah, who rules that the buyer must cut
the branches, is following the conclusion of the Gemara which maintains that
the rights to keep branches are not included in the "Ayin Yafah" element of