THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Bava Metzia, 24
1) TELLING ABOUT ONE'S HOST
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that it is permitted for a Talmid Chacham to
alter the truth when someone asks him about his host. RASHI explains that
this means that if his host treated him hospitably, it is proper for him to
say that he was not treated hospitably, so that the host should not be
overburdened with unwanted guests.
2) ANNOUNCING THE FIND OF EVERY LOST OBJECT
How is it permitted for a person (a Talmid Chacham no less) to talk
derogatorily about his host? What is that not Lashon ha'Ra?
(a) Apparently, since it is in the host's best interest for the Talmid
Chacham to say this, the host wants him to say that he was not a good host
and he is thus Mochel the Talmid Chacham, and it is not considered Lashon
(b) The MAHARSHA explains, based on the ARUCH, that in all three cases in
which a Talmid Chacham is permitted to alter the truth, he does not lie
explicitly and say "no" instead of "yes," but rather he says "I do not know"
instead of revealing the truth. When the Gemara says that a Talmid Chacham
may alter the truth with regard to his host, it means that when he is asked
where he will stay tonight, he is permitted to say that he does not know,
even though he does know, in order to prevent people from sneaking in to his
room there and stealing things from him, as the Gemara says in Chulin
(c) The RAMBAM writes that a Talmid Chacham should say that he was hosted by
a *different* person instead of revealing the identity of his host.
However, although this will protect the privacy of the true host, it will be
detrimental to the person whom he claims was his host! Why is it permitted
to do this?
HE'OROS B'MASECHES BAVA METZIA answers that the Talmid Chacham mentions the
name of a person whom he is certain that others will not want, or be able,
to go to. Alternatively, no one is overburdened by one guest; it is only
when a flow of guests start coming that a person becomes overburdened.
Hence, by giving someone else's name as his host, the Talmid Chacham is
merely causing that person to receive a single guest, and not a second
QUESTION: Rebbi Shimon ben Elazar in the Mishnah (21a) teaches that when one
finds a brand new item, he does not have to announce it if it has no Siman,
because no one -- not even a Talmid Chacham -- will be able to identify it
through Tevi'us Ayin. The Beraisa adds that if the new utensil has been used
long enough for a Talmid Chacham to have Tevi'us Ayin in it, then the finder
is required to announce it.
3) RODS OF NEEDLES
Why should the finder be required to announce the find? Why should he
suspect that it belongs to a Talmid Chacham? If Rebbi Shimon ben Elazar
means that the finder is *always* obligated to announce a find that has no
Siman because of the possibility that its owner is a Talmid Chacham, then
why is it not necessary to announce any of the objects described in the
Mishnah (21a), which belong to the finder because they have no Siman?
(a) TOSFOS (DH u'Modeh) and the RAMBAN explain that for food items even a
Talmid Chacham cannot have Tevi'us Ayin. (Perhaps the same applies to raw
materials such as Gizei Tzemer and Pishtan, and to money, which constantly
(b) Tosfos and the Ramban add that according to Rebbi Shimon ben Elazar, the
finder is required to announce the object only when it was found in an area
frequented by Talmidei Chachamim (such as a Beis Midrash).
The RITVA and TOSFOS HA'ROSH add that if the finder saw the item fall from a
Talmid Chacham (but he did not notice which one), then he is obligated to
The SHITAH MEKUBETZES cites the RASH of VIDASH who adds that if the object
that was found is a Sefer or another object that is normally owned by
Talmidei Chachamim, then the finder must announce it.
(c) The RA'AVAŭD (cited by the Shitah Mekubetzes) explains that the finder
must indeed announce every object that he finds that has no Siman. However,
it is not necessary to announce it in the same manner that he announces an
object that has a Siman. It i sufficient for the finder to announce the
object only two or three times in places frequented by Talmidei Chachamim
(regardless of where it was found).
QUESTION: The Beraisa teaches that if a person finds a rod that holds
needles, or a rope that holds axes, which has no Siman, he does not have to
announce it and he may keep (when they have a standard number of needles or
axes attached to them; TOSFOS SHANTZ). However, if he finds two or more such
rods or ropes, then he must announce them, because the number of rods or
ropes that he finds is considered a Siman. It is clear from the Beraisa that
even two such items is considered an identifying number.
How can this be reconciled with what the Gemara teaches earlier (20b)? The
Gemara earlier rules that when a person finds two Shtaros bound together,
the number is not a Siman, because when the finder announces that he found
"Shtaros" (documents), everyone knows that the minimum number that he could
have found is two. Anyone will be able to claim the item and say that two of
them were lost! (RASHI 20b, DH Shtarei). (RITVA)
(a) The TOSFOS SHANTZ (cited by the Shitah Mekubetzes) and the RITVA answer
that when the finder announces that he found an object, he does not mention
the rods or ropes, but he simply says that he found needles or axes. If the
owner says that there were two of them, it indeed will not be a Siman. But
if he says that there were two *rods* of needles, or two *ropes* of axes,
then it *will* be a Siman.
(b) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES cites the "SHITAH" who points out that the ARUCH
(Erech Bad) and the RAMBAM (Hilchos Gezeilah v'Aveidah 16:1) seem to explain
the Beraisa differently. The Beraisa means that there is no standard number
of needles on a rod. Rather, if a rod was found containing a single needle,
then it is not a Siman, but if the rod contained two needles, then it is
considered a Siman. The "Shitah" explains that according to this
explanation, the finder announces merely that he found a needle-rod, or an
ax-rope, and the claimant tells him the number of needles or axes that were
According to this explanation, this Halachah cannot be compared to the
Halachah of a person who announces that he found "Shtaros," because it is
not implied in the finder's announcement that there are more than one needle