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Bava Basra, 145

BAVA BASRA 145 (4 Elul) - dedicated l'Iluy Nishmas Chaim Yissachar (ben Yaakov) Smulewitz of Cleveland on his Yahrzeit, by his daughter and son in law, Jeri & Eli Turkel of Raanana, Israel.


OPINIONS: The Gemara concludes that when the recipient of a gift of Shushvinus was unable to reciprocate the gift to his friend because his friend died before getting married, he has no obligation to give the gift to his friend's heirs. He may claim, "Give me my friend so that I can rejoice with him." Since his friend is no longer alive, his obligation to reciprocate the Shushvinus is terminated.

What is the Halachah, though, in the opposite case, when the first recipient dies before his friend gets married? Are his heirs obligated to give the Shushvinus to their father's friend when he gets married?

(a) The RAMBAN writes that the heirs may *not* claim, "Since our father cannot rejoice with you at your wedding, he is no longer obligated to give you the Shushvinus." Rather, they are obligated to pay their father's "debt" of the Shushvinus to their father's friend when he gets married. The Ramban explains that the inability to come to rejoice at his friend's wedding is not a reason to exempt him (or his heirs) from giving the Shushvinus. We learn this from the Gemara later (145b) which says that even if the Chasan failed to inform his friend about his upcoming wedding and thus his friend did not come and rejoice at the wedding, he is still obligated to give the Shushvinus.

(b) The RI MI'GASH, RAMBAM, and RAN argue with the Ramban and maintain that the heirs of the friend who died are not necessarily obligated to give the Shushvinus to their father's friend when he gets married. Rather, such a case is similar to the case of a man who gave money of Kidushin to a woman, and then the woman died before the Nisu'in was performed. Whether or not the woman's heirs are required to return the money of Kidushin to the man depends on the prevalent custom of that place. (This is also the ruling of the TUR EH 60.)

Regarding the proof that the Ramban brings from the case of a Chasan who failed to inform his friend about his upcoming wedding (in which the friend is still obligated to give the Shushvinus), the Ran explains that the friend is obligated because it is his responsibility to find out when his friend is getting married (since it is not the manner for a Chasan to say to his friend, "I am making a wedding on such and such a date, so make sure to give me the gifts of Shushvinus"). Therefore, when the friend was not informed about and did not attend the wedding, he is still obligated to give the Shushvinus since it was his responsibility to find out about the wedding. In the case of the friend who died, it is logical to say that he (his heirs) are now exempt from giving the Shushvinus, since he had no opportunity to attend the wedding and his absence was beyond his control. Therefore, we follow the prevalent custom of the place.


QUESTION: The Gemara gives a number of metaphors for different types of scholars. The Gemara compares one who is a master of Agadah, the homiletic, non-Halachic, parts of Torah, to one who is rich with property that can be seen by all (fields, vineyards, olive trees, animals). He is compared to a publicly rich man because he is able to expound his knowledge of Agadah in all places to the masses, since hearing Agadah does not require great intelligence.

The Gemara compares one who is a master of Pilpul, erudition and deep understanding of the Torah, to one who is rich with coins and rich with oil, since he is constantly understanding new concepts and ideas, similar to the way one who deals with coins and oil constantly has an income.

The Gemara compares one who is a master of teachings and rulings to one who is rich with things that are stored (and not sold), since is able to reveal the ruling that he heard whenever it is needed.

Is the Gemara describing the different characteristics and strengths of each of these masters of learning, or is it describing them in an order of importance or preference?

ANSWER: The MAHARIK (#169) maintains that the Gemara is describing these masters of learning in an increasing level of prominence. Hence, the "Ba'al Pilpul" is greater than the "Ba'al Agadah" because his analytic ability and deep understanding enables him to learn and penetrate all areas of Torah so that he reaches the truth in all areas. The "Ba'al Shemu'os," however, has an advantage even over the "Ba'al Pilpul," because his knowledge is needed by all in their Avodas Hashem (just like wheat is a staple food needed by all). This is why the Amora'im in Eretz Yisrael proclaimed -- when asked whether "Sinai" is preferable (referring to Rav Yosef, who knew all of the Torah), or whether "Oker Harim" ("one who uproots mountains," referring to Rabah, who was able to penetrate to the roots of even the most complex issue) is preferable -- that "Sinai" is preferable (Berachos 64a, Horiyos 14a). (The Maharik concludes, however, that since it is a Machlokes Tana'im (Horiyos 14a) whether "Sinai" is preferable or "Oker Harim" is preferable, we cannot prove from our Gemara conclusively that "Sinai" is preferable because perhaps our Gemara is in only accordance with the opinion that says "Sinai" is preferable.) (See also TOSFOS RID.)

REBBI TZADOK HA'KOHEN (cited by YOSEF DA'AS) writes that this might also be the subject of the dispute between Rebbi Zeira and Rava (which the Gemara quotes next). Rebbi Zeira says that the phrase, "All of the days of the poor are bad" (Mishlei 15:15), refer to one who is a master of the Gemara ("Ba'al Gemara"), while the phrase, "and the good of heart has a constant feast" (ibid.), refers to one who is a master of the Mishnah ("Ba'al Mishnah"). Rava argues and says the opposite -- "All the days of the poor are bad" is the Ba'al Mishnah, while "the good of heart has a constant feast" is the Ba'al Gemara.

The Gemara (Bava Metzia 85a) relates that when Rebbi Zeira moved from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael, he fasted 100 fasts in order to forget all of the learning that was taught in Bavel. This was because the style of learning in Eretz Yisrael was that of "Sinai," broad knowledge of all parts of the Torah, while the style in Bavel was "Oker Harim," deep analysis. Rebbi Zeira chose the style of Eretz Yisrael for himself, and therefore he said that "the good of heart has a constant feast" refers to the Ba'al Mishnah (which means one who has broad knowledge). Rava argued and said that "the good of hear has a constant feast" refers to the Ba'al Gemara, because Rava preferred the style of deep analytical learning over broad knowledge, as we find earlier (Bava Basra 22a), and as the Gemara often refers to his deep questions as "Havayos d'Abaye v'Rava."

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