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Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Bava Basra 21

BAVA BASRA 20-25 - sponsored by Harav Ari Bergmann of Lawrence, N.Y., out of love for the Torah and for those who study it.



(a) When Rav Yehudah Amar Rav used the term 'Zachur Oso ha'Ish Zachur la'Tov' - he was referring to Yehoshua ben Gamla, one of the more righteous Kohanim Gedolim in the time of the second Beis-Hamikdash, who prevented Torah from being forgotten, as we shall now see.

(b) If Torah would have been largely forgotten, it is on account of the Pasuk "ve'Limadtem Osam es Beneichem" - which obligates every father to teach his son Torah. This created a problem with children who had no fathers, and consequently no-one to teach them Torah.

(c) Based on the Pasuk "Ki mi'Tziyon Teitzei Torah ... " - Yehoshua ben Gamla set up Rebbes for the children in Yerushalayim, where they would be sent ...

(d) ... from the age of sixteen or seventeen to learn.

(a) The snag in Yehoshua ben Gamla's original Takanah was - that it was specifically those children who had fathers who would avail themselves of the opportunity and take them to Yerushalayim, appointing the Rebbes to substitute for them; whereas the children without fathers remained without Rebbes as before (since there was nobody to tend to them).

(b) So he amended his original Takanah - by arranging Rebbes for the children in every town and in every area.

(c) They would now send the stronger children to learn from the age of six and the weaker ones from the age of seven (Tosfos).

(a) Rav instructed Rav Shmuel bar Shilas ...
1. ... to accept a child in his Cheder from the age of six - and to stuff him with Torah like an ox.
2. ... to take a child who wasn't quite up to standard - and to let him sit with the others, because in the course of time, he would blend with the class.
(b) The Beraisa rules that if one resident of the Chatzer wants to become a doctor (a Mohel), a blood-letter, a weaver or a Melamed Tinokos - the other residents are entitled to object.

(c) We reconcile this with the Tana of our Mishnah, who disallows such a claim with regard to Tinokos shel Beis Raban - by establishing Melamed Tinokos as a teacher of Nochri children, who are learning a profession or Chumash (Rabeinu Gershom).

(d) Another Beraisa forbids a partner in a Chatzer to set up various practices, among them a 'Sofer Yehudi' - which is a Rebbe of Tinokos shel Beis Rabban.

(e) We reconcile this Beraisa with our Mishnah - by establishing it by the town's senior Rebbe, who gives teaching courses to other Rebbes, which involves a lot of people and is noisier than children learning.

(a) Rava says that from the times of Yehoshua ben Gamla and onwards, one is not permitted to move a child from a Cheder in one town to a Cheder in another - because the Satan prosecutes in time of danger (and every journey involves danger, as we learn from Ya'akov, who was unwilling to send Biyamin down to Egypt for this very reason).

(b) One may however - move him to another Cheder in the same town ...

(c) ... though even that is forbidden, if the move entails crossing a river.

(d) It remains permitted however, when there is ...

1. ... a Titura - a proper bridge ...
2. ... but not when there is just a Gamla - a plank spanning the river.
(a) According to Rava, the maximum number of pupils per class Lechatchilah is - twenty-five.

(b) If there are ...

1. ... fifty children - one divides the class in two and employs two Rebbes.
2. ... forty children - one employs an assistant who helps the children to understand what the Rebbe said (a sort of Meturgeman).
(c) The assistant is paid, at least partially - out of public funds.
(a) Rava also rules that one does not replace a knowledgeable Rebbe with one who knows more than him - because, he says, it will cause the latter to become complacent and teach carelessly.

(b) Rav Dimi from Neherda'a disagrees with him - on the basis of the principle 'Kin'as Sofrim Tarbeh Chochmah' (jealousy among Chachamim increases knowledge), causing the second Rebbe to be even more careful.

(c) Rava also rules that a Rebbe who possesses more knowledge takes precedence over one who is more meticulous - because he says, mistakes are easily rectifiable.

(d) Rav Dimi from Neherda'a disagrees with Rava on this issue too - because he maintains that once a mistake enters, it is difficult to eradicate.

(a) Rav Dimi substantiates his point with an incident that occurred in the time of David Hamelech, when Yo'av (his commander-in-chief) spent six months fighting with Edom (Amalek) - during which time he wiped out all the males of Amalek, but kept alive the females.

(b) Yo'av attributed that mistake - to the fact that his Rebbe had never corrected him when, in his younger years, he had misread the Pasuk in Ki Seitzei "Timcheh es Zeicher Amalek" as "Timcheh es Z'char Amalek" ('Blot out the males of Amalek' instead of 'the memory of Amalek').

(c) When David ...

1. ... asked him what he had taught him - Yo'avs Rebbe replied "Timcheh es Zeicher Amalek" (only Yo'av, who had initially misread the word, did not rectify his mistake.
2. ... cited the Pasuk "Arur Oseh Meleches Hashem Remi'ah" - he replied with a request to leave him with the curse and to kill him.
(d) David then quoted the end of the Pasuk "Arur Mone'a Charbo mi'Dam". Some say he killed him, others say he didn't.



(a) Rava considers a children's Rebbe, a vine planter, a Shochet, a blood-letter and a Sofer (or a barber) are warned - meaning that if any of them errs, he loses his job, even though he did not receive a specific warning in advance (as other professionals do, before they can be sacked).

(b) This is based on the principle that whoever errs in a way that causes an irreparable loss does not require warning.

(a) Rav Huna says that if Shimon wants to set up a mill next to Reuven, a miller who lives in the same Mavoy - Reuven may stop him.

(b) The Beraisa forbids a fisherman to cast his nets within 'the space that a fish darts, from the fish' - referring to the 'hole' from which the fish emerge and next to which the fisherman spreads his nets.

(c) According to Rabah bar Rav Huna - the prohibition stretches for the distance of a Parsah (four Mil).

(a) We cite the above Beraisa - to substantiate Rav Huna's previous ruling (forbidding Shimon to set up a mill next to that of Reuven).

(b) We reject this proof however, on the grounds that fish are different - inasmuch as the fisherman who had already spread his nets is so sure to catch the fish that emerge, that it is considered as if he had already caught them (in which case for the second man to spread his nets anywhere in that vicinity is akin to theft).

(c) In a Mishnah in Bava Kama, Rebbi Yehudah forbids a store-keeper to distribute pop-corn and nuts to his customers - the Rabbanan permit it.

(d) Ravina asked Rava whether Rav Huna holds like Rebbi Yehudah, who forbids encroaching on a fellow-workers rights, to which Rava replied - that the Rabbanan might well agree with Rav Huna that the second fisherman is encroaching on the rights of the first one, who was there first. Their case is different inasmuch as there, where both storekeepers are already operating, the one can say to his competitor that if he is distributing nuts, why doesn't he distribute almonds?

(a) We reconcile Rav Huna with the Beraisa which specifically permits Shimon to open a store or a bathhouse next door to Reuven's, seeing as each one is operating in his own domain - by citing a Machlokes Tana'im, as we shall now see.

(b) With regard to the residents of a Mavoy stopping someone from opening a tailor-shop, a tanner or a Cheder in their Mavoy, if he is from ...

1. ... another Mavoy - the Tana of the Beraisa gives them right.
2. ... their Mavoy - they cannot stop him.
(c) Raban Shimon ben Gamliel - gives them right in the latter case too.

(d) Rav Huna will then hold like Raban Shimon ben Gamliel.

(a) Rav Huna B'rei de'Rav Yehoshua permits any resident of a town to stop a resident of another town from starting competition with him in his town - but not another resident from the same Mavoy (or from the same town).

(b) He ...

1. ... will treat someone from a different town as if he was from the same town however - if he pays taxes like the protestor does.
2. ... is uncertain though, as to whether the would-be professional has a right to open-up in competition against someone who preceded him or not - if he is from a different Mavoy.
(c) This She'eilah - remains unresolved.

(d) Rav Huna B'rei de'Rav Yehoshua (who is lenient regarding competition in the same Mavoy) argues with Rav Huna (who is strict).

(a) The reasoning behind Rav Yosef's statement, that Rav Huna's stringent ruling does not extend to a Melamed Tinokos who wishes to open up a Cheder next to an existing Cheder in the same Mavoy is - based on the principle 'Kin'as Sofrim Tarbeh Chochmah' (meaning that competition only causes each Rebbe to try harder, to the Talmidim's benefit).

(b) According to Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak, Rav Huna B'rei de'Rav Yehoshua concede that the prohibition of encroaching does not apply even to people from another town - with regard to peddlers, who sell trinkets and spices for women ...

(c) ... because, as Mar said, Ezra instituted that peddlers should travel from town to town selling these things (as we learned in Bava Kama).

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