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Bava Basra, 149


QUESTION: The Gemara inquires about the validity of a Shechiv Mera's statement of admission that he is holding money or property that was deposited with him by someone else. Do we treat his statement the same way we treat a healthy person's admission to owing money and he is believed ("Hoda'as Ba'al Din k'Me'ah Edim Dami")? Logically, it would seem that a Shechiv Mera's admission is certainly believed, since we find that a Shechiv Mera is invested with more power for making transactions than a healthy person (for example, his word alone suffices and a Kinyan is not necessary). What, then, is the basis for the Gemara's question?


(a) The RASHBAM explains that because, until now, we knew that the money or property belonged to him and we had no reason to assume otherwise, it must be that there is some other reason for why he is making this "admission." The Gemara in Sanhedrin (29b) discusses a similar case in which a dying man says that he owes money to someone else. The Gemara says that his word is *not* believed, and that he is making that statement merely in order for people not to say that he is rich (which will cause an "Ayin ha'Ra;" see RASHI there). The Gemara extends this reason for admission to his heirs, as he similarly does not want an "Ayin ha'Ra" cast upon them either.

If, however, the Gemara in Sanhedrin clearly says that we do not accept the admission of a dying man, then what is the question of the Gemara here? The Rashbam explains that the Gemara in Sanhedrin is discussing a case of an admission of money *borrowed*. When people think that the dying man borrowed a lot of money, it thwarts any "Ayin ha'Ra" because being a borrower is undesirable, as the verse states, "A borrower is a servant to the lender" (Mishlei 22:7). In contrast, our Gemara is discussing an admission of being entrusted to hold money or property for someone as a deposit. A custodian of someone else's money or property is certainly not considered a "servant" to the owner of the property. On the contrary, it is the custodian who is doing a favor for the owner by watching his property for him. The Gemara therefore asks whether or not the same reason applies here to disregard his admission. The Gemara learns from the incident of the money of Isur Giyora that a Shechiv Mera's admission indeed is valid.

(b) The RI (cited by Tosfos) and RABEINU CHANANEL explain that the Gemara is unsure if the Shechiv Mera's admission has the status of a Matnas Shechiv Mera, or the status of a gift given by a normal, healthy person. If it has the status of a Matnas Shechiv Mera, then if he gave away all of his property, when he recovers the gift is annulled. If his admission is like the admission of a normal, healthy person, then his gift remains valid and binding even when he recovers. The Gemara answers that it is like the gift of a normal person, as we see from the case of Isur Giyora. Isur Giyora did not have the power to give a Matnas Shechiv Mera (as the Gemara says, since he was a convert and thus was not able to inherit, and a Matnas Shechiv Mera works only for someone who is able to inherit). It must be that the admission of a Shechiv Mera is not like a Matnas Shechiv Mera, but rather it is like the gift of a normal, healthy person, and thus it is binding even if the Shechiv Mera recovers.

(c) TOSFOS cites a third approach (although he prefers the explanation of the RI) that explains that the Gemara is questioning whether a person has the ability to transfer the ownership of his money or object which he deposited with his friend for safekeeping. The case that the Gemara is discussing is that of a Shechiv Mera who deposited his own money or object with his friend, and now he wants to give that money or object as a gift to a third party. Does the fact that his money or object is not physically in his possession at the moment lessen his power to effect a transfer of ownership? The Gemara answers that we see from the case of Isur Giyora that one indeed may transfer the ownership of his own money while it is not in his physical possession at the moment (we derive, however, only that a Shechiv Mera may effect such a transaction, but not that a healthy person may do so, since a healthy person has more stringent laws of transaction).

According to this explanation, the Gemara could have asked this question in the case of a healthy person as well. In addition, had the Gemara answered that a Shechiv Mera may *not* transfer the ownership of such objects, then we would have known, too, that a healthy person certainly may not do so.

The NESIVOS (CM 60:32) notes that there is an underlying question in the case of the Gemara (it appears that this question applies according to both explanations cited by Tosfos). Do we allow admission, Hoda'ah, to be a valid vehicle of transaction (like a form of Kinyan) only when it is *possible* that the person's word is true (that is, we do not have any evidence that the person making the admission indeed owned the property and thus it may well be that it belongs to someone else), or do we accept admission as a valid vehicle of transaction even when it is clear to us that it is not true (that is, we know for certain that this person was always the owner of the property, or he himself said that he owned it until now, and now he says that he "admits" that it belongs to someone else). The Gemara answers that we do accept Hoda'ah as a valid means of transaction (there are some who suggest that this applies to a Shechiv Mera; see SHACH there). (In a case where the admission is plausibly truthful, it is obvious that it is effective.) (Y. Montrose)

QUESTION: The Gemara relates the incident involving the money of Isur Giyora which was deposited for safekeeping with Rava. Rava asserted that there was no way for Isur Giyora to transfer the ownership of that money to his son Rav Mari, and thus Rava was keeping the money. The incident concludes by Isur Giyora following Rav Ika's advice, as expressed in the Yeshivah of Rava, to "admit" that the money belonged to Rav Mari. When Isur Giyora stated his admission, Rava became upset. He exclaimed, "You are teaching people claims and thereby causing me to lose money!"

How could Rava become upset over such a thing? Rava certainly followed the dictum of the Gemara earlier (10a) which states that a person's income, including all profits and losses, is fixed for the entire year on Rosh Hashanah. How, then, could Rava be upset that he lost money, if he knew that such was the decree that was decreed on Rosh Hashanah?


(a) The CHAZON ISH (LIKUTIM 21) explains that Rava was trying to procure the money for Tzarchei Tzibur, for the needs of the poor, as indicated by the Gemara in Ta'anis (20b) which quotes Rava as declaring, with regard to Rav Huna's charitable acts, that he could do all of those acts that Rav Huna did, in addition to having all needy people come and eat in his home whenever they want. The Chazon Ish infers that Rava actually did these things (as he was not boasting untruthfully). Therefore, Rava needed to make extra effort to obtain money for the poor, because that money was not part of his own income, and thus it was also possible that he could lose that money.

(b) The YOSEF DA'AS quotes RAV M. MAZOZ who explains that Rava was not seriously upset at losing the money. Rather, he wanted his students to discuss the difficult case and try to find a solution whereby the money of Isur Giyora could be transferred to Rav Mari, in order for them to sharpen their minds. When Rav Ika found an acceptable solution, he proclaimed in jest, "You are causing me to lose money!" (As related in Yosef Da'as, Rav Mazoz says that after he said this explanation, Rava came to him in a dream and blessed him with Birkas Kohanim.) (Y. Montrose)


OPINIONS: The Mishnah (146b) states that if a Shechiv Mera gives away his property but leaves "any amount of land" for himself, his gifts are considered absolute and unconditional gifts (like the gifts of a healthy person), and he may not retrieve them if he recovers. The Gemara asks how much is "any amount" of land. Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav says that this refers to enough land necessary to support himself. Rav Yirmeyah bar Aba states that it is not necessary to leave over land for the gifts to be binding; it suffices to leave over any type of property, even Metaltelin (movable objects), in the amount necessary to support himself.

The Gemara attempts to refute both the assertion that it is necessary to retain a minimum amount of property (enough to support himself) in order to be considered a Matnas Shechiv Mera b'Miktzas, and the assertion that Metaltelin, and not only land, suffices. The Gemara, however, does not come to any definite conclusion. What, then, is the Halachah? Is it necessary to leave over land or does Metaltelin suffice as well? Is it necessary to leave over enough property to support oneself or does any amount suffice?

(a) The RIF rules that the Halachah follows neither Rav Yehudah nor Rav Yirmeyah bar Aba. The Rif proves this from the Gemara later (150b) in which Rava (150b) states that there are five cases of a person who transfers (or receives) property in which the law does not change until he or she gives away all of his or her property (that is, in each case there is a difference between giving a way part of one's property and giving away all of one's property). One of these cases is that of a Shechiv Mera. By including all of the five cases in one statement, Rava implies that the case of Shechiv Mera is similar to the other cases. Since, in the other cases, leaving over any amount of property suffices, the same applies to the case of a Matnas Shechiv Mera. Thus, leaving over any amount will make it a Matnas Shechiv Mera b'Miktzas.

(b) The ROSH writes that this ruling of the RIF is perplexing, because the Gemara here does not mention any opinion that maintains that the Mishnah literally means that any amount suffices to make the gift a Matnas Shechiv Mera b'Miktzas. No Amora is mentioned as arguing with Rav Yehudah. Therefore, the Rosh explains that when Rava (150b) groups the five cases together, he does not mean to equate them in all aspects. For example, every Kesuvah needs to have some land left over. The Rosh explains that logic dictates that a Shechiv Mera who gives away his property unconditionally (by giving only part of his property away) would do so only if he keeps for himself enough to support himself in the event that he recovers, like Rav Yehudah says. Therefore, the Shechiv Mera's gift is only considered to be an unconditional gift if he retains a sufficient amount of whatever commodity he used to support himself (whether it was land or Metaltelin) to continue support himself in the event that he lives, like Rav Yirmeyah bar Aba says. (It seems from the Rosh that the amount that must be left over is the amount necessary to support himself for the rest of his life.)

The S'MA and NESIVOS (see CM 250:4) point out that the Rosh holds that if the Shechiv Mera leaves over land, then he must have enough land to support both himself *and his family*, because he needs people (his family members) to help him farm his land and thus he must support them. If, however, he earns an income through other means that does not require workers, then in order for his gift to be considered a Matnas Shechiv Mera b'Miktzas he must leave over only the amount that he needs for his own support, and not the amount that he needs for his family's support. The ARUCH HA'SHULCHAN disagrees with this approach in the Rosh and asserts that regardless of his occupation, he must leave over enough to support himself and his family.

(c) The BA'AL HA'ITUR explains in a way similar to that of the Rosh. However, the Ba'al ha'Itur adds that the Shechiv Mera must leave for himself enough to support himself for *twelve months* in order for his gift to be considered a Matnas Shechiv Mera b'Miktzas.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (CM 250:4) follows the opinion of the RIF (a), while the REMA cites the opinion of the Rosh (b). (Y. Montrose)
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