THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
Ask A Question about the Daf
Bava Basra, 147
1) THE SOURCE FOR THE PRINCIPLE OF "MATNAS SHECHIV MERA"
QUESTION: Rebbi Zeira says in the name Rav, "From where in the Torah do we
know that a Shechiv Mera's [verbal command, without an act of Kinyan, to
make a] transaction is binding? We know it from [the extra word in the
verse], 'v'Ha'avartem' (Bamidbar 27:8)." Rav Nachman in the name of Rabah
bar Avuha derives it from the extra word, "u'Nesatem." The Gemara explains
why Rav Nachman does not learn the principle of Matnas Shechiv Mera from
"v'Ha'avartem," as Rebbi Zeira learns, and why Rebbi Zeira does not learn it
The Gemara seems to be saying, according to Rebbi Zeira and Rav Nachman,
that the principle of Matnas Shechiv Mera is mid'Oraisa; the verbal
instruction of a Shechiv Mera to give a gift is binding mid'Oraisa. The
Gemara later (147b), however, Rava in the name of Rav Nachman who says
himself that a Matnas Shechiv Mera is an enactment of the Rabanan which was
made in order to calm the Shechiv Mera and give him the assurance that his
word will be carried out. The Rabanan gave it the strength of a Kinyan
Why, then, does Rav Nachman here say that a Matnas Shechiv Mera is
(a) The MAHARSHA (to Tosfos DH Minayin) answers that Rava there is arguing
with the Gemara here. Rava maintains that Rav Nachman is of the opinion that
Matnas Shechiv Mera is mid'Rabanan. The Gemara here maintains that Rav
Nachman understands it to be mid'Oraisa.
The Maharsha points out that this is why the Gemara there says, "v'Rava Amar
Rav Nachman," meaning, "and Rava says that Rav Nachman holds...," and not
simply, "Amar Rava Amar Rav Nachman," which would mean that Rava is merely
quoting Rav Nachman.
(b) TOSFOS answers that, indeed, Rav Nachman maintains that a Matnas Shechiv
Mera is only mid'Rabanan. When Rav Nachman says that it is derived from the
verse of "u'Nesatem," he is merely saying that the verse is an Asmachta, a
scriptural support, to the enactment of the Rabanan, but that it is not
actually a Halachah d'Oraisa. (The Maharsha suggests that Tosfos had the
Girsa of "Amar Rava Amar Rav Nachman" in the Gemara on 147b; see (a) above.
Indeed, this is the way that Tosfos earlier (76b, DH Keni) and in Kesuvos
(85b, DH ha'Mocher) cites our Gemara, as the PNEI SHLOMO points out.)
Tosfos asks further that if finding a verse for the "source" of Matnas
Shechiv Mera is really only a matter of finding an Asmachta, then why is
there an argument, between Rebbi Zeira and Rav Nachman, concerning which
verse to use as the Asmachta, and why does the Gemara ask why one Amora does
not learn it from the same verse as the other Amora? Tosfos answers that it
is the style of the Gemara to ask why one verse is used as an Asmachta and
another verse is not, and he brings proof that this is legitimate Talmudic
methodology from the Gemara in Moed Katan (5a). However, he does not explain
the logic for why the Gemara should want to be so precise in finding a verse
as an Asmachta for the Takanah d'Rabanan.
It seems that Tosfos is following only one of the opinions expressed in the
Rishonim with regard to the nature of an Asmachta.
The RAMBAM, RAMBAN, and TASHBATZ maintain that an Asmachta is merely a way
of remembering the Takanah d'Rabanan by finding an allusion to it in a
verse. The law that the Rabanan established, though, is not actually the
intent of the verse. This is why it is called an "Asmachta" -- the Chachamim
"leaned" or "supported" their enactment on the verse as a memory tool.
The RITVA in Rosh Hashanah (16b), on the other hand, explains that every
Asmachta is a hidden intent in the verse which Hashem intended to teach as
the law, but which He did not make obligatory. Rather, Hashem gave the power
to the Chachamim to decide whether or not to make it obligatory as a
rabbinic law. He strongly rejects the view that it is merely a mnemonic
device and not the intent of Hashem conveyed in the verse.
Tosfos seems to agree with the second approach, that of the Ritva. Since an
Asmachta means that Hashem actually included this law in the intent of the
verse, it is important to find which verse is the Asmachta. If, however, an
Asmachta is merely a memory tool, then it does not matter which verse one
uses for that purpose.
2) THE STRENGTH OF A DYING MAN'S WORD
OPINIONS: Rav Nachman states that a lender who sells a loan document (Shtar
Chov) to a third party is still able to forego payment on the loan,
nullifying the borrower's debt to the third party. He further states that
even if the lender died, his heir is able to cancel the debt as well. The
exception, he states, is when the third party acquired the loan as a present
from a dying man distributing all of his possessions through a Matnas
Shechiv Mera. In such a case, when the benefactor dies, his heirs cannot
cancel the loan.
This law requires explanation. Why should someone have the right to negate a
loan he sold to someone else? Why is a Shechiv Mera different?
(a) The RID and RIAZ explain that the lender can still forgo the loan as
his sale of the document only gives the buyer the power of collecting the
loan, not ownership of the money loaned. This is because a loan is given to
use (Milveh l'Hotza'ah Nitnah), making the money post transaction too
intangible to be transferred to a third party. This results in his ability
to forgo the loan after its sale. A dying man's present is different, as he
is giving over all his rights on this world. Therefore, just as his word is
his transaction without needing to be tangible, he can also give over
(b) TOSFOS, ROSH, RASHBA, and RAN explain that the selling of a loan
document is only rabbinic in nature, while the obligation of a borrower to
a lender is of a Torah nature ( as opposed to the opinion of RABEINU TAM,
who says that a sale of a loan document is also of a Torah nature).
Therefore the original lender still owns the loan according to the Torah and
may forgo it. A deathly ill person is different because his transaction is
learned from the Parsha of inheriting, causing any of his transactions to
have the strength of a Torah transaction. This causes his inheritor to have
no more power than the person to whom he sold the loan, making him unable to
(c) RABEINU CHANANEL opines that the original owner can forgo the loan
because he can always claim that he had received payment before the sale
thereby negating the loan (see Riaz in Kesubos 86b that explains he would
have to reimburse the third party). A dying person is different because he
is exacting when distributing his belongings, and we assume he did not make
a mistake and was never paid for the loan.